We originally brought her home in 2000 as a companion to the English Mastiff, Paladin, who died in summer of 2006 at the ripe old age of nearly-11. (For a giant breed dog, that's the equivalent of well into his nineties.) I'd had our names on a waiting list with the SPCA for a while--we were looking for a giant-breed female who was good with cats and other dogs.
When they called me about this dog, the woman I spoke to said, "She'll be a challenge. She's a neglect case."
I said, "How bad?"
She said, "You'd better come look at her before you make up your mind."
Well, we loaded the Giant Dog (as he was fondly known around the house) into the car and drove the 45 minutes through Vegas traffic to the shelter, and they brought the silly spotty dog out to meet us...
The silly spotty dog is a natural-eared blue merle Great Dane; her name is Signy; she's ten years and one month old, and when I first met her as a two-year-old she was a starveling shelter rescue so thin I could span her waist with my hands. She came out on a leash beside the volunteer who had called me, a walking skeleton--and she'd been in rescue for a week at that time; she was down to 85 pounds when we got her, and this is a dog that was skinny and lean (but fit) at 115--and the first thing she did when she saw me and the mastiff was give a little bounce and drop down on her elbows to beg him to play.
Yeah, She came home with us the next day.
Four months after that, she suffered a full gastric torsion (on New Year's Eve, 2000) and one emergency surgery and 44 surgical staples later, she was a healthy and vibrant dog. Who spent six happy years beating the snot out of that mastiff (who was twice her size) and any other dog brave enough to stand up to her. Not that she was mean--but she's a tank, and she plays rough with any dog big enough to take it, and she was an amazing athlete in her youth. I have seen this dog clear a four-foot wall without breaking stride, jump over another dog her own size from a standing start, and run like a galloping horse for hours because she hated standing still.
She put a broken stick into her chest once, and the only reason I found it was because the mastiff insisted on licking the wound. Because she wasn't about to complain about anything as minor as a two-inch puncture wound. It was beneath her notice.
She is sweet and fearless and good, and I've seen her mother an abandoned puppy we had as a rescue foster for two weeks, and let an eight-pound cat sleep on her butt and pin her head down to a desk and wash inside her ears.
And when I say she's a silly dog--I have known many dogs. And this is the silliest dog I have ever met. With her ridiculous spots and her pointy, poky nose and her willingness to put up with absolutely any indignity--I have painted her toenails and made her wear devil horns and taught her to let the cats pick through her dinner before she gets to eat any of it. And she has tolerated this all as part of the fun. She is a cheerful dog of relentless good humor and endless tolerance, and all she ever wanted from life was an open space to run long and hard in, enough to eat, somebody to hug, and a warm soft place to sleep in. Usually in completely ridiculous positions, like a lanky teenaged girl sprawled across the sofa on the phone.
She was known affectionately as The Gloose, because with her ears pricked up and an alert interested expression, she looked just like one.
I keep thinking that we cheated death for her twice, and really, is a third time too much to ask? But she's old; she has spinal degeneration (it's how it is with giant breed dogs; if their hearts don't fail them, their skeletons do, because dogs are simply not meant to be that big) and she's suffering intermittent paralysis of her hind legs now.
So it's going to be time very soon, and I am sad. (The tiny black cat will be heartbroken. That's his dog.)
If there is a good dog in your life, please go hug her for me, because I can't go back to Nevada to say goodbye to my silly spotty dog. And I miss her very much.
*who is also my ex-husband