Great Dane: Life Coach Guru

I was not planning to write this today. As a matter of fact I did not plan to write anything at all. (This may not even make the blog; I’ll leave that up to my editor, Lauri.) My career has been keeping me busy. That word, career, seems odd to me right there, to think of my paying job as a career, but in reality that’s what it is. I think about it when I’m home. I even have remote access and work at times after I’ve put in a full day in the office or on weekends. Officially I’m on-call 24/7, as an IT Engineer if you can believe that. Some days I can’t, but it’s true; that’s my official title. It turns out that having a job is a good thing. It really beats pushing 40 and not being able to provide for my family. Ask almost anyone, I’m not afraid of much, but the thought of not being able to provide for my family scares me to my core. I try not to hold that thought often, because what you resist persists. But I’m human and my ego or conscious mind, does get in the way at times. I’ve been stressing lately over what I know are insignificant life events mostly, not the least of which is my job. It’s not in jeopardy, just evolving.

I can hear it now, what’s your point? What does this have to do with Casper? Good questions, and as it turns out, it has everything to do with a service dog. Actually, it has everything to do with all of our companions, but especially a service dog. If any of you have been a dog handler or even caught an episode of a Caesar Milan show (pick one, he’s had more than one series) you know that what you emote travels down the lead. (Leave what you personally feel about his methods; he’s just someone that comes to mind for me.)  I have known this simple fact since childhood but it always seems to come back for pleasant reminders.

The simple facts of life with dogs are amplified when that dog just happens to also be a tool that is there to assist you. In my case, he replaced a cane. Know this; I hate strongly dislike (hate is not part of my vocabulary), thinking of my lovable secret service Dane as tool, but that is one reason why he has come to me and my family. Truth be told, I don’t even like “service dog” as a label. To me, he and I have entered into an agreement to work together. He provides me a better life by assisting me with my stability issues, and in any other way he can. To me, by that definition he is simply: family. I strongly doubt I’d have an easy time getting him into buildings with patches on his service vest that read “Family Dog” “Do Not Pet”, so legally service dog it is.

Over the months that he has been a partner to me, he has shown me when I need to check my frustrations, worries or the like, at the proverbial door. I have found that he is a second barometer for my emotions. (Lauri is my first; there is no way for me to hide anything from her either.)   **Editor’s Note: This is true. His first reaction when I ask, “What’s wrong?” is “Nothing. I’m fine.” Between you and me… that is a load of Dane Poop! Casper and I are always feeling the tension when he is stressed even when he does his best to act like he is doing fine. He is the King of Fine and that title is just rubbish.**   When I’m happy, so is he. When I’m sad he is there leaning on me, literally, he leans on me! When I’m frustrated, mentally drained, or otherwise letting myself be a grouch he doesn’t respond to me in the ways I need him to as a service dog. I can’t even be in a hurry for him to “do his business” or he won’t. If I get upset, now things take as long as they take period, end of story. If I’m anywhere near angry, he will keep his distance. He never runs, just stays about three feet away and looks at me backing down until I can not only change my tone, but truly change my feelings behind the tone. Think about that for a moment…If you have a pet that you leave home you can walk out and leave him/her there. I cannot do this. We have a contract that we both refuse to break (the term dogged determination comes to mind). When we encounter a new environment I have to be calm and steady. If I’m not, neither is he. When he reacts to his surroundings differently and gets “spooked” he is not working for me.

This is really a reflection of the way I think we need to align our thinking. If we dwell on the apparent negative moments in life they will erode your well being and not allow you to enjoy the positive. Casper has given me an appreciation for that bumper sticker or meme we’ve all seen: DOG is GOOD. For me, Dog is great! Dog is unconditional love. Dog also shows me when I need an attitude adjustment. Maybe, he’s also showing me that even though I may be Alpha in his world, that doesn’t always mean I am a great leader. Maybe Danes are really life coaches on four paws?   **Editors Note: I think this goes for most, if not all animals, but I also believe a service dog, when properly bonded to his/her handler is a guru. **

written by DFS
edited by LJS

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24 thoughts on “Great Dane: Life Coach Guru

  1. Melanie October 3, 2013 at 4:37 pm Reply

    Hi guys! I am really glad that you all decided to write this blog. I watch Michelle and Lola go through these same issues. There are times when Michelle is in a hurry and her legs will shake, and Lola leans over and wraps her head around Michelles leg….slow down Mum! Or is Michelle is uneasy is a new surrounding you can see Lola is very cautious and on high alert. There are days when Michelle is just too sick to even get our of bed and Lola just knows. She remains right by her side and knows who to allow near her and who not.

    We recently were having work done to the house and the same 4 men showed up daily for 3 weeks and Lola was content with them in her domain. During the 2nd week Michelle just was not well and was laying on the couch. The men walked in the same way they always do and as soon as they reached the threshold to the living room Lola let out a very low growl. She has never ever done that ever! The men stayed out of the living room and all was fine. Next day Michelle was up and about feeling much better and Lola ran up to the same men when they showed up wagging her tail. A few days later Michelle was ill again, same low growl. They are an extension of you, and they just know!

    • casperthedane October 3, 2013 at 4:40 pm Reply

      I the non-handler myself, I am fascinated about how strong the bond is. And aren’t we lucky to be loved by those big protective angels, too? I watch the two of them sometimes and I am in awe of them. I can’t even imagine them apart now. My boys. Your girls. It is so special and we are all so blessed. (I am so jealous you guys have a girl! I SO want to paint Casper’s nails. lol)

      • Melanie October 3, 2013 at 4:55 pm

        The bond is amazing! I watch them working together and it still amazes me and brings tears to my eyes.

        Do not be too jealous! Michelle refuses to let me paint Lola’s nails and it makes me so sad! We have 2 girl dogs and they are SUCH tomboys! Roll in the mud, wrestle, drool. In the picture we were given of our girl Daisy Mae, she was wearing a pearl necklace and propped up on pillows. I was in pink painted toenail heaven. BOY was that false advertisement!

      • casperthedane October 3, 2013 at 4:59 pm

        Haha!!! So funny. Luckily our youngest human puppy is a girly-girl!

  2. Tina Shonk September 26, 2013 at 11:37 am Reply

    Wonderful post… thank you for sharing your deepest thoughts with us, this one had me in tears (again)… sometimes from funny things, sometimes from sad things – it’s a miracle the way Casper and Dan have bonded, and it will only get deeper as time goes by.

    Nancy – so very sorry for your loss…

  3. Nora McDaniel-Odum September 26, 2013 at 9:47 am Reply

    Lauri, Dan and Casper, you are such a gift to me! When I`m having a bad day I can come and read the blog and usually have tears or a laugh and the day immediately changes for the good! I`m so happy you`re writing this and I look forward to reading it. May God bless you!

    • casperthedane September 26, 2013 at 9:49 am Reply

      Thank you for that. Sometimes we feel like we are doing this for nothing and then we get such sweet comments that it keeps us going.

  4. Nan Kan September 25, 2013 at 8:29 pm Reply

    This was your most amazing post, yet. I’m really glad you decided to write and publish it. You and Lauri both are great at putting your feelings into meaningful words (and Casper, too, of course), a rare gift. Thank you.

  5. Hilda September 25, 2013 at 6:28 pm Reply

    What else can be said? Dan and Casper; you were made for each other….priceless.

  6. Sharon September 25, 2013 at 5:59 pm Reply

    I’ve said it before but will say it again…..Dan, you and Casper enrich and improve each others lives and that is a beautiful thing.

  7. Barbara Lee September 25, 2013 at 5:04 pm Reply

    Very, very wise words. I truly enjoy watching(or reading) ALL your insights. You & Casper are not only a gift to each other, but have been a gift to me.

  8. Nancy Nyberg-Pennel September 25, 2013 at 4:12 pm Reply

    I enjoyed this blog tremendously and it came just when I needed it. I have two beautiful senior great danes that we adopted since seniors need love and good homes also. I love them dearly. My husband passed away unexpectedly this week and their distress is similar to mine. You have given me a reason to love my dogs more and hope we both continue on our journey to the next level life brings to us. Thank you for the inspiration.

    • casperthedane September 25, 2013 at 4:22 pm Reply

      Nancy, you made me (Lauri) cry, both in sadness for your loss and in joy that you have 2 danes who can give you comfort. I am overjoyed that you adopted seniors who need a home. Dan and I have said that we would like to do that for a dog one day. I am glad we were able to inspire you to comfort your dogs and look to them for the comfort you need as well. I know Dan will be so happy (and sad) when he reads this. Our thoughts are with you in this tough time.

      • Nancy Nyberg-Pennel September 25, 2013 at 6:44 pm

        Thank you Lauri. And Caspers blogs make me smile and laugh with each one that you have Casper tell this trials and tribulations. I am originally from the Springfield area and you are not far from where I am from which especially makes me feel like that I am back home. Again thank you and keep writing for Casper. He is a lucky Dane and happy to hear that he is helping Dan.

    • Barbara Lee September 25, 2013 at 5:05 pm Reply

      Oh Nancy. I am so sorry for your loss.

      • Nancy Nyberg-Pennel September 25, 2013 at 6:45 pm

        Thank you so very much

    • Hilda September 25, 2013 at 6:26 pm Reply

      So sorry for the loss of your dear husband. My heart goes out to you. Our pets feel the loss as well, how can they not? I’m so happy that you have these two Danes to “lean on” and they have you. I had a Malti-Poo, Bella, who would jump up on my lap, crawl up and put both front paws on my shoulders and licked my whole face when I cried. She wouldn’t stop until I started laughing, pulling me out of my sad mood in seconds. Enjoy your lives together; all three will be enriched. Much love and laughter…. ❤

      • Nancy Nyberg-Pennel September 25, 2013 at 6:53 pm

        Thank you kindly. They are seeing my stress and reacting to it so I have to change my levels when they are around and have private time when the dogs are not around. The cats are not impressed with the danes attitudes at the moment. But all will come around. Again Hilda thank you for your kind words

    • Casper September 25, 2013 at 7:58 pm Reply

      Nancy, I’m (Dan) so sorry for your loss. I’m also blown away that anything I could say could be of help during this time. Thank you.

  9. Linda Craig September 25, 2013 at 3:31 pm Reply

    Dan, I am glad this writing became part of your blog. It is obvious that you and Casper are made for each other. He is devoted to you in every sense. While Casper learns from you, he teaches you to be aware of your behaviour and the effect it has on others. I can’t think of a more giving and loving relationship! I admire you, Casper, and your family!

    • casperthedane September 25, 2013 at 3:33 pm Reply

      Casper and Dan are such an amazing pair. They are so bonded that I can barely remember life before Casper came to us. He is a real gift.

  10. Laura Fahey Hron September 25, 2013 at 3:13 pm Reply

    Dear Dad, as Carlene would say when she is training the pups, it sounds like both you and Casper “get it”. In order for you to work together you have to “listen” to each other and it definitely sounds like you are doing that. You are making an awesome team and will only get better and better with time.

    • casperthedane September 25, 2013 at 3:33 pm Reply

      I totally agree. Casper was young when he came to us and I know Carlene was a tiny bit worried. She knows what she is doing, though, and this is proof. They were meant to be together. Dan has done wonders with the little training that remained and Casper continues to teach each of us daily. It was a match made in heaven.

    • Barbara Lee September 25, 2013 at 5:11 pm Reply

      LISTEN. I have learned more & more in my life how important it is to be a good listener. The MOST important part of a conversation. My favorite Maya Angelou quote, “Listen to the whisper.”

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