He just settled back down to sleep. 7:20, the school bus comes. He jumps up, the futon shaking, and barks loudly at the small, hooded figures with backpacks, their parents shadily waiting in their cars, probably planning on breaking into our house. They all disburse, the bus drives away, and Gandalf sleepily settles back down on his bright pink futon and begins to snore.
We did our research on the Great Pyrenees. I like to thoroughly read everything possible. They can be pretty vicious. Like, you may want to put signs up warning people. If they aren’t socialized, they can be impossible to have around people and animals. We laughed as we watched a video before getting Gandalf about how this gentle giant breed will guard you against predators, strangers, lawn chairs, birds, the wind….yea, we didn’t really get it. They bark. “Good!” I said, I want a guard dog. They shed. “Ha! I have had nine cats at one point, he can’t shed more than them!” Ha ha…yea, he can. We will train him! You don’t train this breed. They do what they want. Dogs are how you raise them, right? But there are definite breed traits that one must know before committing to the lifetime of a dog. You cannot train hundreds of thousands of years out of any particular breed.
There are growing populations of Great Pyrenees in shelters. These adorable fluff balls of polar bear proportions are just about too much cuteness not to fall in love with. They grow quickly. Comparing Gandalf to dogs at the dog park, he is probably over 180 pounds. He’s still growing. We have socialized him. I have a lot of clients, students, and friends over and he has been fawned over and given treats for over a year now. But he is very sensitive and even a benign person with too much energy makes him very wary and, let’s be honest, scary. I keep him in the back yard if people are coming over. At the dog park, he is fine. Off duty, he plays and has a great time, turning into a puppy again. At home, he is on guard.
When people say they bark, it is not like a heeler or lab. His bark is deep and bellowing and can be heard blocks away. Intended to keep predators from flocks of sheep, the bark of a Great Pyrenees is meant to frighten away any dangers before confrontation. In the city that means that anyone walking a quarter a mile away gets barked at. He barks nearly all the time. Loudly. All. The. Time. Now, that may sound great if you are concerned about security, but your neighbors may not think that is a great way to wake up Sunday morning. His bark doesn’t change much. Could be a burglar, could be a neighborhood cat.
He sheds. No, no…he sheds! The interior of my car was black when I bought it. I will bring dog hair with me on my clothes, find it in my coffee at the coffee shop, the couch is plastered in it, the floors have tumbleweeds of dog fur flying about every time the furnace kicks in.
He did snap at a child that he didn’t know who took food from him. That is any dog. With Maryjane, he is the gentlest, sweetest, most attentive companion and I do not worry about her playing outside by herself with him by her side. Even at the dog park, children will hang off of him. He does live up to his Gentle Giant status.
When we take walks, he pulls Doug. If we are walking with someone who has their dog off leash, he pulls. I was nervous the other day to take him by myself around the lake. He has a different mindset with just me. If Doug is not there, he feels his entire job is to watch after me. The leash stayed slack, he kept looking up to me. My beautiful, great leader. He has a beautiful spirit. He is playful, and adorable, and a great companion. I love my loud, shedding polar bear.
He matches his breed. There are so many huskies, heelers, and other beautiful dogs in shelters because they are amazingly cute puppies but someone didn’t take the time to understand their innate breed traits. Gandalf is a lot to handle, but I don’t regret adopting him. He is part of our family. He spends most of his day outdoors by choice, but right now he is happily snoring on the couch.