We went to look at him anyway. He was huge! Standing on his hind legs, he would top Jorge's 6" frame. Noble had had two toes on his hind leg amputated. He was kept in a kennel about 10 x 6' - tiny for such a big dog. He had scaled the high fence around the kennel a couple of times to get to the bitch in season in the next kennel, thus tearing his toes. He was a champion dog whose sole purpose in life was to make puppies. With his toes amputated, he had lost his usefulness to the breeders (and I'm glad). We took him home.
I watched him carefully for the next few weeks, never leaving him alone with Tatiana, aged 2 at the time. He passed the test when one day, as he was lying just in the door, she went to sit on him. I moved closer... just in case. Note, I don't approve of children sitting on dogs and she got a scolding for it, but I had lots of children visiting and I needed to know how this dog would react. He turned his head and fastened his jaws around her arm and ever-so-gently pulled her off his back. I was dumbstruck... he didn't even leave a tiny dent on her arm and not a squeal from the child (who, normally, would have been bellowing up a storm). That clinched it... he was there to stay.
Its a Great Dane trait that. When someone arrived at the gate, he would go up to them, take their arm in his jaws and 'guide' them to the front door. We had many a laugh at the reactions of our guests. Our gentle giant. Though he could be not-so-gentle. One person (not to get the title of guest and definitely no friend) arrived one day and boasted he could topple our dog. Noble was incredibly stable on his feet. When he leaned against you, you knew it. He walked up to Noble, grabbed the two legs furthest from him and whipped them out of under him. From that moment on, the 'visitor' was never allowed to come close to either Tat or I. If you've ever had a Great Dane growl at you, you keep your distance. His 'thanks' to the visitor was to go up to his small truck (a little Datsan bakkie) and cock his leg against the windscreen. Lesson learnt... don't mess with a Great Dane.
He did that a lot. Our neighbours had 6 German Shepherds that constantly barked at Noble. Noble just stared at them. I think he reached his limit one day when he walked up to the fence and cocked his leg, spraying the Shepherd pack. I think they weren't impressed. He was so cool calm and collected. Laid back personified... or would that be dogified?
Noble disappeared twice in the time we had him. The first time, he went for 5 days. Behind our property was a black settlement. There were many strays there. I can only assume a bitch in season. He came back starved and dehydrated. He next disappeared on our own property, but for a shorter time. That was how we discovered someone was setting snares to catch the small duiker (a small deer) and we learnt that brindle dogs have the best camoflage, as we couldn't find him. He had been caught in a snare, somehow snapping the cable (it was bicycle break cable). We nearly lost him. He nearly choked to death. How he broke that cable and came home in that condition amazes me to this day. He carried the scar of that snare for the rest of his days.... His fur turned white there, giving him a pure white 'collar'.
His favourite passtime was chasing horses. He would run along the fence racing the horses as they rode by. I honestly believe he thought he was a horse. He used to race the car too. Our driveway was very long and he loved racing the car to the gate. We were convinced his brakes would fail one day and he'd run into the fence. At top speed, he would stop his front legs and his back legs would kind of overtake his front legs. It was too funny to watch.
I miss my Noble hugs. He would lean against me and I'd put my arms around his smooth, strong neck (a bit like hugging a horse), feeling his soft, silky ears against my cheek. One day, I'll have a Great Dane again, but it will never be Noble.
* A bit of Great Dane information. They don't eat you out of house and home. They're the gentlest creatures, but will defend you with their lives. No one messes with those jaws. They can smell a bitch in season 5km (3 miles) away - a lesson we learnt the hard way. They do well as (and prefer to be) indoor dogs, but need lots of space and plenty of exercise.