Larger Than Life Kind of Love

23A dog serves many different purposes for all different kinds of people. For some, they are like a child, apart of Christmas card photos and milestone family moments; for others, a companion for the kids or a way to teach responsibility, and keep active. Regardless of the role a canine plays in your life, one thing is universally undeniable among owners: your pet is always there to loving greet you after a hard day, letting you know they think of you as the doggone greatest. For us humans, the hustle and bustle of life sometimes makes it hard to be a constant beacon of light, greeting loved ones with a big, unbiased smile, regardless of any circumstance. But for man’s best friend, showing us a love larger than life is their top priority. We’ve all witnessed the trend of teacup pooches popping out of handbags, accompanying their owners every move. But, what about the big boys? Breeds like Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, German Shepard’s and Boxers may not be able to fit in a baby sling, but they are as equally eager to be your constant companion and the worlds greatest “roll dog.” Even in the early age of our existence, large dogs made their way into hieroglyphic stories and some of the very first human recordings. Domesticated dogs date back to the Upper Paleolithic Period (the Late Stone Age) and archeologists credit the Aurignacian people of Europe for first recognizing the many joys and benefits of a large, domesticated dog.

21From there, large breeds were present throughout world history, battling beside soldiers and aiding survival as they lessoned their owners’ load, providing assistance in hunting and gathering, all while offering protection and friendship. After spending quality time with some of the big paws of San Joaquin, one thing is undeniable: although these breeds are no longer crucial to our survival, the joys they bring to every-day life, and any type of family or individual, are bountiful; even in the advanced, technology-driven world we live in today. Patti Crowder of Stockton doesn’t depend on her three Great Danes for their assistance in bringing down large game like bear and deer, but when her future husband introduced her to the breed nearly 20 years ago, she fell in love with their gentle, silly demeanor and loving personality. “My husband Dan and I were still dating, and the second time he came to my home he brought his dog with him…” Crowder remembers blurting out, “what is that thing?!” unable to hide her surprise as she examined the 120 pound companion sitting by her husband’s feet. Dan proceeded to inform Crowder that if his dog wasn’t welcome in her home, he wasn’t interested in coming in, either. Growing up with Great Danes, Dan’s devotion to his dog, and this particular breed, was strong. Needless to say, both Dan and his dog found themselves in Patti’s living room, which ultimately led to many years of marriage and many more Great Danes.

Mauricio Moreno understands Patti and Dan’s breed devotion. Although his 70-pound Boxer, Moose, seems small standing next to one of Crowder’s Great Danes, Moreno has found an equally strong connection with the Boxer breed. “I had gotten my first boxer before our first daughter was born, so he and my daughter really grew up together,” Moreno explains. Knowing that the breed is a great family dog, he decided to welcome another Boxer into his home, but this time, for a slightly different purpose. “I have a house full of women now, so Moose and I hang out in the garage, in our man cave,” Moreno chuckles. “He even rides shot-gun in my truck!” The energetic, active and adventurous nature of large breed dogs definitely make them seemingly masculine, but Marie Gwin can just as easily connect to the novelty found in owning her nearly 100-pound Doberman Pinscher, Rostid, says, “I like feeling totally protected. I can walk down the street in the middle of the night and not be scared.” Although protection is a perk for Gwin, she is most grateful for the loving bond she and Rostid share. Because Gwin has no children, she credits her pointy-eared companion for blessing her with the experience of having a child. “Although it’s a fur-faced child,” she smiles. For Lindsey Claire, the joy “little sister” Birdie brings her three-year-old daughter, Averie, makes motherhood even sweeter. Averie was even with her mom and dad when they went to pick up the now 120-pound Presa Canario.

22 “Birdie was the little one at first,” explains Lindsey. “Averie would hold her and say, “My puppy!” Despite the fact that Birdie has now out-grown Lindsey’s daughter by almost 100 pounds, Averie still treats the full-grown Presa Canario like a puppy. When describing her daughter’s relationship with their family dog, Lindsey laughs, saying, “Avery just grabs onto her collar and says, ‘Come on Biride, let’s go!”’ The value a three year old finds in friendship with a large breed dog is equally notable to 18-year-old Jed Sprague. The Sprague family’s English Mastiffs, Lucy and Lilly, weigh in at about 130 pounds each. According to Jed, their “gentle giant” demeanor and loving loyalty seriously enrich his family. Lucy and Lilly simply brighten everyone’s day, and as Jed puts it, “its hard to be mad after you’ve had a bad day, because they think you’re the greatest!” Kathy McKenzie of Manteca is now retired, with two grown children and two grandchildren. For McKenzie, her 13-month-old German Shepard Ella and all the personality that comes with her, brings laughs and light every day. Kathy smiles as she describes her loving, loyal dog eyes, and how her stares speak volumes. “Whether Ella is asking to play, go out, or for a treat, she always lets us know with her eyes, they are so full of personality”  It’s these aspects of Ella’s personality that really establish her in the McKenzie family. She is great with the grandkids, keeps grandma and grandpa excellent company, and her energetic breed inspired the family to keep active. Kathy rides her bike, while Ella runs at her side, for three to five miles each day. “It’s something great we can enjoy together every day,” Kathy says. Just as different people from across the world enjoyed large breeds at the beginning of time, San Joaquin’ers from different backgrounds do just the same. From large families and fathers looking for a male compadre to young women and three year old’s, large breed dogs prove their versatility and loving nature, as they become staples in all different types of families. Although they may clear a sidewalk and hog a king sized bed, owners of large breeds understand a bigger dog means bigger kisses and hugs, and of course, love.