big love

There is a question that's been on my mind more and more lately, a consequence of the pandemic having led me down a path of introspection about what I want from life moving forward. It's a decision I have to make, that, in the scheme of things, is among the biggest and most important I'll ever make. 

I'm talking of course about what kind of dog to get next.

I've known from the earliest days of having Chaucer that I was forever after going to want big dogs, and only big dogs. There's just nothing comparable for me. It isn't only about having something large enough to wrap my arms around, to feel the whole length of my body against when we snuggle - though that is a visceral comfort I miss every single day. Having a giant dog makes a sort of statement about you and your place in the world. I don't mean in some classist way, like Look at me, I can afford this expensive beast with the appetite of four regular-sized dogs. 

Having a giant dog is a way of unapologetically taking up more space in the world - of taking up space for two. And if you raise your dog right, and your dog is right for you, it's also a way of creating a unique, endless source of energy. Big love, if you will. Big, inescapable, unavoidable, unmissable love. Love that goes with you everywhere you take your dog. Love that gets attention, and amazement, and smiles, and laughter. Love that rolls out a sort of red carpet of joy, everywhere you walk together. Love that creates an incredible feedback loop: 

A stranger loves your giant dog. 

You love the stranger for loving your giant dog. 

Dog is happy. Stranger is happy. You're happy. It's suddenly a beautiful moment of interspecies connection, here on the sidewalk, on an otherwise unremarkable Tuesday afternoon. 

I know, of course, that this kind of delight has the potential to be created by every loving pet owner. All dogs get admired, get fussed over and pet by strangers. But when you've got a really big dog, it's never ending. Every walk, every visit, every interaction. There's no hiding your pup. There's no scooping him up into your arms, or scuttling him out of the way. He's there, he's a bear, get used to it. 

In ten years of having Chaucer, I always acknowledged that not everyone is charmed by dogs, period, much less ones sized like horses. But when they are? When someone comes into your life that adores your massive beast as much as you? That. That is an incredibly powerful thing. In fact every single relationship I was in during my Chaucer years was hugely colored by their relationship with him. 

The way to my heart was (and will be, again) through my dog's, and though this was an implicit rather than explicit corollary to a relationship with me, I'm sure all my boyfriends knew this. I'm sure they all sensed that they were being heavily graded on how much genuine affection, care, and patience they showed Chaucer. Truly, half the reason I stayed with one boyfriend as long as I did was because he was unbelievably good to Chaucer. And half the reason I got over another in < two weeks was how obviously lukewarm his affection had been for my best canine friend. I never forgot it. 

Anyway, I'm going to get a Great Dane. 

I've somewhat surprised myself with this conclusion. I'd pretty much ruled them out, due to life span. I was looking at a range of large and giant breeds, many of them rare, European, and probably incredibly difficult to get. I explored mixed breeds, too, and wow are there some absolutely gorgeous hybrid pups out there. I've weighed everything: temperament, health, lifespan, sociability, grooming requirements, climate requirements, living space requirements. I thought about another mastiff, but even a different variety (a Neopolitan, for instance) would be too close to Chaucer. And Chaucer is irreplaceable. Chaucer will stand alone for the rest of my life as the thing that saved my life. As the great love of my life. Out of respect to him, I don't want to even try to replicate that experience. So, something different. And at some future date I'll post about what cemented my choice for a Dane.

It's not going to happen anytime soon. There are things that need to be in place before I can do it. I have big plans for myself, for the next five years. And slowly, step by step, I'm working towards creating a life that once again has the resources - and the room for - big love.