Less than two weeks after Toby died, we found ourselves meandering off the freeway on our way home from a trip to IKEA – headed for a local no-kill shelter called Pets ‘n Pals. Since I’m obsessed with saving every animal on the planet, I knew (by name) that there were a couple dogs in there who could potentially fit into our pack. And since we were passing by anyway… well, it didn’t hurt to look, right?!
It was near closing time, so we just cruised around with a kennel attendant and learned a bit more about a few of the dogs than what was posted online. The next day, we loaded Nikki up and planned on introducing her to three young males to see if she would even consider tolerating another “brother.” We chose to meet “Rollo” first, and had to laugh because we seem to have a thing for adopting dogs named after candy (Nikki’s original name is “Snickers”).
To make a long story short, they sniffed each other and she wasn’t terrified of his size and didn’t try to kill him. So we let them play in an enclosed yard for a few minutes. He loped around like an adolescent who’s not used to his giant feet, and tried to get Nikki to play with him. And she still wasn’t scared, and still didn’t try to kill him. He was gentle with the kids, and warmed up to us right away. So we didn’t bother getting the others out of their kennels. We knew he would be ours.
Did I mention he’s 28 inches tall at the shoulders and weighs a whopping 108 pounds (even though he’s practically skin and bones!)? He’s a handsome German Shepherd, likely mixed with either Mastiff or Great Dane. And apparently he was a ranch dog whose owners surrendered him because they were afraid he’d spook their horses. We think that’s a load of hooey… he probably just got too big for them to handle.
His time in our home was pretty touch-and-go at first. It’s been a loooooong time since we’ve had a puppy in the house. And while he’s technically an adult, he’s a very young one (19 months) and still has lots of puppy energy and curiosity… which is amplified by his size. To make another long story short, we recognized right away that he has incredible potential, but I wasn’t sure if we could wait for his hormones to deplete (he was neutered the day we brought him home), and to get him trained before any irreparable damage was done to the house or the kids. He has obviously had some experience living inside, as he hasn’t had an accident, and sleeps well all night on his bed. But he brings counter-surfing to a whole new level! He can pull a plate out of the bottom of the sink, and he steals ev-er-y-thing. So we’re being trained right along with him, and our house has never been so tidy for so long. That’s not so bad, eh?
His most prized possession is his ball, which is also our best tool for wearing him out quite sufficiently. He also loves his NylaBone and rope toy (which now only has three knots instead of five, thanks to his T-Rex teeth). He takes treats gently… and very willingly. And when you rub his cheeks, he snuffs like a horse and melts into a giant puddle at your feet. He loves to watch the boys play outside, and Nikki loves to rub in the fact that she can roam around wherever she pleases while he’s attached to the tie-out.
I’m really enjoying introducing him to people and watching their jaws drop. It never fails… every single person has said, “WOW! He’s… big!” One day we had a man come to measure our sliding glass door for a new track, and he chuckled nervously and said, “He’s already eaten today… right?!” 😀 It’s amazing how small Nikki looks now, in comparison. They’ve had a few little tiffs here and there (including two hair-flinging, blood-letting fights), but overall, they’re learning to live together in relative peace. Nikki even seems to have a little pep back in her step (sometimes).
And by the way, if you’re wondering about his name change, here’s the scoop. I was a little frustrated that he wasn’t responding when we called him, and eventually found out that his given name is Lobo. When he was surrendered, the shelter already had a German Shepherd by that name, so the director renamed him Rollo because of his coloring. The first time we called him Lobo, he snapped to attention like *that* and leaned in hard on my leg as if he finally felt safe and loved by hearing someone use his name. It’s not the name I would’ve chosen, but since we can’t agree on anything else, we’ll go with what works.
For those who have met him, we appreciate the patience you’ve exhibited, and the love you’ve shown by learning how to help us teach him his manners. For those who haven’t yet had the pleasure, we hope you get the chance to come by and meet our sweet new boy soon!