Zeus, our Great Dane

In December of 2018, my wife brought home a Great Dane. Although, unless it’s a young puppy, one never really brings home a Great Dane: it moves in.

Zeus moved in with us just before Christmas that year. We were empty-nesters, despite already being owners of three other dogs and three cats.

What’s different with the other pets is we can still carry on our lives with some independence. Aside from ensuring their health, food, water, shelter and potty breaks our decision-making process for most other things didn’t involve four-legged creatures.

Zeus weighed 113 lbs. at the time, making him the third-largest member of our household. It’s curious, though, that he manages to take up three times more space on the couch.

I mention the couch because my wife and I, on several occasions, have backed away from purchasing a newer and nicer sofa strictly out of concern for Zeus not having a place to sit or sleep.

We’re not tall people, but we have thought about the advantages of having a taller kitchen island because Zeus’ head is cuttingboard-level.

He brings a Cookie Monster-style of wasted consumption to his water bowl, leaving ponds of water throughout the kitchen. He’s never hard to find: just follow the trail of puddles.

Having a Great Dane in your home is like having a bull in a china shop, but the bull is also made of china. For all their size and rambunctiousness, they are fragile dogs. It’s dangerous for them to eat too fast, so we put his food in a muffin tray. He can’t play 45 minutes before or after he eats. As much as he loves to do so, he shouldn’t stand on his hind legs to give hugs to his favorite humans.

We learned what “zoomies” are, thanks to Zeus. Let’s just say it’s like watching a giraffe trying roller skate: It’s entertaining and destructive.

I used to tell people that owning a Great Dane is like having someone drive a car inside your house at all times. Another person described it as having a roommate who doesn’t pay rent and burps all the time.

Zeus is going on three-years-old and now weighs almost 150 lbs., making him the biggest member of our household. If a Great Dane is fond of you, he will lean on you. He will also take your entire forearm in his mouth and guide you around.

My wife, who is a teacher, has spent a great deal of time at home lately. She limits her trips out of the house and we generally don’t let anyone come over. Despite Zeus’ size, shows of affection, couch presence and fragile needs, she says she couldn’t imagine getting through this time without him. He doesn’t pay rent, but he will watch TV with her. He will let her know when the mail — or ANYTHING else — has arrived. 

She talks to him. Plays the radio for him. Gets frustrated with and pushed around by him. But he’s never not there for her.

It’s important that people recognize the role our pets have played in getting us this far during the pandemic. The arts, books, Netflix and video games deserve high praise for keeping us sane, but our pets have kept us company.

By-the-way, the Orange County Animal services is an excellent resource for finding a good friend, many of them smaller than a Great Dane. The staff is careful and uses social distancing and wear masks.