Welcome Home, Minnie (the mini-Great Dane)!

For those of you who know Joe’s and my canine clan, this is not one of Huff’s baby pictures. No, yesterday, we adopted Minnie, a one-year old Great Dane from the award-winning Virginia Beach SPCA!

The spitting image of our 160 pound, 5 1/2 year old Huff, only 100 pounds lighter (we’re working on that), Skinnie Minnie has the sweetest disposition. And she’s such a happy dog, though she doesn’t necessarily look like it in the picture.

She was trapped by Animal Control in a trailer park and kept at their kennel for the required number of days. No one called to claim her, so an employee from our SPCA, where my husband is the president, brought her over to their facility. Last weekend–very blue and missing our recently deceased Webster–I had no sooner emailed Sharon Adams, their extraordinary executive director, to say “if anyone special shows up needing a home, be sure to let us know,” than she notified Joe about Minnie.

He met her last Tuesday at a meeting; I met her that night. It was love at first sight. When she gave me kisses, I was a goner. Then, Thursday night, we went for an official meet-n-greet with our dogs and the kennel manager, Barbara Gibson. Barb is such an experienced pro and knew just how to “manage” the dogs…and us! Poor dogs didn’t know what was expected of them–sort of like us–and it turns out that our big boy Huffie is quite jealous of, especially, my affections. He got his first two tastes of Bitter Apple, but he responded as we needed for him to with, “Oh, I guess that was inappropriate behavior.”
I was admittedly worried about the get-acquainted period. Would it be 2 days or 2 weeks and would Huff ever accept her? I’ve seen Huff out of control once–with Pyttle–and it was ugly. Plus, he’s so big that he’s not easily controlled. But that was years ago, so I had high hopes for his acceptance of Minnie who is extremely friendly and submissive, though not timid. It seems that whoever owned her previously socialized her well.

Thank goodness we had our good friends Marc and Juliane Curvin here for the weekend (they used to belong to a schutzhund club). It was very helpful to have additional pairs of knowledgeable and calm hands on board. Juliane and I went to pick Minnie up and, when we got home, the boys brought Huff out to meet her. He was somewhat aggressive, so we immediately took them for a walk which, being on neutral territory, broke the initial ice. Still, back in the house, we kept both of them on their leashes with a bottle of Bitter Apple at the ready, which we had to use a couple of times. There were lots of feelings bubbling beneath the surface, and a few signs of trash talkin’ aggression from Huff, though Pyttle seemed mostly okay with what was happening.

To compress the last 24 hours into a few words, suffice it to say that, after literally having to wake Minnie up at 7 a.m. in her crate, there was more of the same posturing this morning, though better. But, at some point, someone dropped his leash and nothing catastrophic happened. So the other dropped his and, pretty soon, Huff and Minnie were just wandering around and acting quite normal, if a little unsure. Pyttle was mostly keeping her distance, though coming down to check on things periodically.

Barb had told us that when Huffie bowed in the play position, we were as good as home-free. And he did it this morning on the deck! However, lest we get too comfortable, he lunged at Minnie later in the house, and she squealed like she’d been dealt a death blow, though he hadn’t even touched her.

We found that, as we started going about our quasi-normal Sunday morning activity, the dogs followed suit. Without us refereeing, they were fine. I guess the phenomenon is akin to when parents get too involved in issues that their kids just need to work out. The palpable change was evident to the guys too, who had gone to the gym at around 10. When they walked in, Marc said, “Are they a pack now?” and it was clear that they were.

At around 11:30, we went with the Curvins to brunch and then dropped them at the airport. When we got home, we saw this brindle dog stand up on the sofa, stretch, and step down. We assumed it was Huff, but it was Minnie who we’d left in her crate! We quickly looked around for signs of mayhem, but all was quite well. She had found a way out and was napping on the sofa while the other two were following suit upstairs, unfazed. Still, we’re going to batten down the hatches for our first day back at work tomorrow so that our pet sitters don’t find her on the lamb again.

A mere 24 hours after she came home to live with us, she has been 99% accepted by her pack and 110% loved and adored by her “parents.”
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  1. What a sweetheart! So glad she's been accepted by the clan. I have ALWAYS dreamt of having a Great Dane–I just think they are the most beautiful dogs, and I love large dogs–but I do live with another human (and 2 smaller dogs) who all don't think a giant canine would work at our home (sniff, boo hoo). She looks just lovely!

  2. Oh, Ricki, I am so relieved. It was very stressful fearing for her potential safety and fearing that we might have to take her back if she was rejected. But it was short-lived and there is peace in the valley. She's a lovely reminder of what this season is all about. I hope you get your Dane one day. People always ask if one needs a large house and yard for them, and my response is always, "Oh, no. Just a big sofa."

  3. Oh I am SO HAPPY to have a new niece!!!!! Welcome to the family beautiful Minnie!!! I can't wait to meet her and give her a big hug. She is just gorgeous!! xo Terri Ann

  4. what a sweet puppy! a great story too. so glad she has found a good home and you have found a good pet!

  5. Thanks you guys. She's eager to meet her Aunt Terri Ann. And, VV, we keep discovering new things to love about her. We let her sleep in our room on her bed last night, only her second night–out of the crate–and once she figured out what she was supposed to do, she built herself a little nest, settled down and didn't move all night.

  6. I find it an ever interesting and challenging affair to share my queen size bed with a 12 pound Jack Russell (who loves to get under the covers to nest)…I take great delight in the image of sleeping with 'a pony' on the bed!! …where's Huff???

  7. theunlikelyathlete

    What a wonderful addition! Thanks for sharing. Minnie is beautiful!

  8. Thank YOU for sharing our joy, Unlikely Athlete! Don't you think she's an HRM pet issue cover dog?

    And, Merci, I typed you a long reply last night and thought I posted it, but today it wasn't here. Hmmm… Anyway, Huff sleeps on the bed where he has slept since the day we got him as a pup. (Minnie sleeps in her bed on the floor on my side of the bed and Pyttle sleeps out in the hall where there is a confluence of potential traffic and she can keep an eye on things, herding if need be.) Our thinking with Huff was that he would be crated all day as a youngster, so we didn't want him crated all night too. And, surely if we put him between us, we would hear him stir and could help him find his way out. That was 5.5 years and 120 lbs. ago. Our plan worked on one level: he didn't have nighttime accidents, but mostly because he has slept through virtual every night since in cozy bliss while pushing us farther and farther to the parameters of the bed. I sleep far better when away from home. But I miss them when we're gone.

  9. The Voracious Vegan

    CONGRATULATIONS! This post made me SO happy for you and your family, and extra super happy for Skinny Minnie – she couldn't have asked for a better home. What a lucky girl! She is gorgeous, by the way, what sweet and soulful eyes.

    Great idea for the getting acquainted period. Whenever I'm introducing two dogs that I have any doubts about I make sure they meet far away from either of their homes and take a walk together. I've averted many disasters that way. It is almost fail safe, neither of them feels like they have any ownership of the place, neither of them feels overly confident and they usually end up being best buds.


  10. Thanks VV! It's touching to know you share our joy. I just hosted my annual Christmas Curry & Cakes party tonight for my best girlfriends and I wasn't sure how they'd act around all the food and I wasn't sure if Huff would get jealous of people's affection. But, they didn't bother anyone for their food and there was PLENTY of love for everyone. It was really touching to see how well they behaved and interacted with the guests and each other. Everyone left having fallen in love with Minnie and happy to have reconnected with Huff and Pyttle.

    Yes, we are all about the walk-n-talk for getting acquainted. You can just feel the tension draining away–theirs and ours!

  11. Is this the lovely new addition you were talking about today! She looks like a gentle giant, a real sweet heart! 🙂

  12. The very one. She is incredibly gentle–great adjective–and sweet. She's not a giant, though. (It's hard to read scale in that photo.) Are there such things as mini-Great Danes for real? She's quite petite even apart from the malnourishment, including her feet! At this moment, she and Huff are curled up in bed on top of my husband, Joe-she-can't-sleep-on-our-bed DiJulio, otherwise known as "The Pushover." That proclamation lasted about 10 seconds (thank goodness)!

  13. What a beauty that Minnie is! So happy for your heart and hers
    ❤ K

  14. Thank you, Karin. Iona will have to tell you all about her. I think every animal is special, of course, but this girl is like none I've ever come across. She's simply perfect. oxo

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