Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas in Germany

Merry Christmas! Maybe it's a day late, but when you blog, you're allowed to be late. These are the rules.

Sigh. Where to begin? Christmas was very much bittersweet this year. It was so hard to be away from our families and the traditions and surroundings that are familiar to us. It changes your perspective on a lot of things...

BUT I have yet to have a meltdown and this is owed almost entirely to the fact that our Christmas gift this year (from us, to us) was an adorable, precious, sweet Great Dane puppy named Olive.

Here she is...I mean, can you even stand it? 

I fell in love with Great Danes in college (one of my good friends had one) and decided that when I finally got a dog, it would be a Dane. Z loves big dogs and was on board from the beginning...but the timing of this pup was all his doing. He is a wise man and new that this time of year would be especially hard for me, so he arranged for us to get a puppy right around Christmas in hopes of distracting me cheering me up. 

It worked. Anytime I felt especially sad or headed towards the depths of despair, Olive would do something adorable or hilarious or terrible (she IS a puppy, after all) and my emotions would be re-directed. Anytime I voiced my sadness to Z, he'd smile sympathetically and say "go hug your puppy". You really can't argue with that...there is something downright medicinal about hugging a puppy.

So allow me to avoid talking about missing our families and traditions and trying to make Christmas special for just the two of us thousands of miles away and just let me be an obnoxious puppy parent, just for this one post. Please? It's therapeutic.

We stumbled upon Olive almost by accident...when Z told me a few months ago that we'd get our puppy around Christmas, I immediately started looking for breeders and doing a lot of research. Fun fact, Great Danes are not actually "Danish" at all, but German! Their true name is "German mastiff" and the German standards for breeding Great Danes are INCREDIBLY high and very strict with lots of involvement of vets and officials from the Great Dane Club of Germany, so we knew we'd be getting a top dog. I did a lot of searching (which wasn't always easy with 95% of the breeder's sites exclusively in German) and finally found a breeder that we were very comfortable with. She had puppies due in December, ready to bring home in January. We anxiously refreshed the website the week of their due date only to find out that there had been a problem and either it was a false pregnancy or none of the pups survived (translating the German proved difficult here). We were bummed out, big time. 

Back to the internet. I spent about a day searching for German breeders and sending inquiry emails about planned litters or available puppies. I sent all of the emails in German, but always asked if the breeder spoke English, hoping against all odds that we could find a breeder to clearly communicate with us, but expecting to have to proceed in whatever broken German we could use, plus Google Translate. I heard back from 4 or 5 promising breeders, but still hadn't found one I felt really good about. BUT email pops up from a breeder, in ENGLISH, stating they had two puppies available that would be 8 weeks and ready to go home by December 22nd. AND one of the available puppies was a female merle, EXACTLY what we were looking for. We knew we wanted a female (they don't get as big as the males) and we really loved the merle colored dogs. After a phone call with the breeder (IN ENGLISH!) and a LOT of questions on our part, we decided she was the puppy for us.  

The Saturday before Christmas we drove across the country (which isn't that bad when it's a smaller country) to get our girl. I cannot even handle how precious it was to walk into this family's backyard to 7 wiggling, clumsy, adorable puppies running around. I don't even know how they get anything done; I would just watch the puppies all day long. 

So we spent some time with the family talking about Olive and puppy care, etc. and then it was time to put her in the car and head home. Oh you guys. This poor puppy. 8 weeks old, just removed from her only familiar environment, taken away from her mom and siblings, stuck in a car with strangers...she was terrified. She was shaking like a leaf and making this pitiful moaning/grumbling sounds. I lasted about 15 minutes before I told Z I needed to drive and he had to sit with the puppy. I just couldn't handle it. I almost cried; I felt so bad for her!

Now she's home and happy, still scared when put in a new situation with new surroundings (we haven't QUITE mastered the concept of "going on a walk") but she's still just a baby...she'll get there. 

We LOVE her; it's ridiculous. She is such a smart puppy, picking up on house-training so quickly, sleeping in crate without too much whining, pushing the limits but always responding to a firm "NO!". She is going to be HUGE, so we're enjoying the time where she can sit on our laps when we get down on the floor to play with her, and being able to pick her up and move her when we need to (those days will be over soon for me, she's already heavy enough!). She's  hilarious and clumsy and so ridiculously cute. We don't stand a chance. She grumbles more than she whines or cries, and that is mostly amusing. She gets a wicked case of hiccups anytime she is scared or startled or we yell NO! when she's doing something she shouldn't. That's probably my favorite quirk about her. She shoves her nose into our legs or feet when she wants to feel close to us. She sleeps on Z's slippers. It's all just too much cuteness to handle.

We really feel like we hit the puppy jackpot, and she certainly made this Christmas away from our families more bearable...a true miracle. 

We hope your Christmas was filled with family and fun and laughter and joy. Merry Christmas, for our home to yours!
Our little German Christmas tree

No fireplace, so this is where the stockings were hung

At one of the Christmas markets (freezing our buns off)

1 comment:

  1. Olive is absolutely darling! How very intuitive of Zach to meet his wife's needs before she even knew she had them. I know you're making incredible memories! Merry Christmas with love!