Our beloved dog Skadi just celebrated her 5th birthday yesterday, on April 2nd, and we are so grateful to have her in our life. She is a Great Pyrenees, an immensely powerful large-breed dog originally from the Pyrenees mountains located in southwestern Europe, which form a natural border between Spain and France. My well-read children named her after Skadi, the Norse goddess of winter, ice and mountains, who was also known to be a giantess, which is perfect since our Skadi resembles a large polar bear.
She was the cutest little pup ever! Click on any of the photos on this page for a full view.
The Great Pyrenees are working dogs bred to protect sheep from wolves, bears and other predators on snowy mountain tops. Because of this they are known for their independence, patience, and courage. For the Great Pyrenees, their whole intent and purpose in life is to be a loyal and devoted guardian.
They also make great therapy dogs, which my family and friends can attest to, since Skadi loves nothing more than to share affection and to be cuddled; we probably kiss her sweet face at least a hundred times a day, and if she had her way it would be way more than that. Everyone who has been lucky enough to love such a wonderful breed is familiar with the “Pyrenees Paw,” which is what they use to “nudge,” or rather to smack you with in the hopes of gaining your attention: whack, whack, whack, they are very hard to ignore!
Skadi lives to love and be loved.
Her coat is thick and silky, and so soft to the touch, that she’s like a lush teddy bear come to life roaming from room to room, but what I find most amazing is how self-cleaning she is. Our Skadi will race outside, careening around the yard, barking at everything in sight, while tromping through inches of thick, oozy, muddy muck. She will then come back inside with her beautiful white paws covered and dripping with the elements. Once dry again, she somehow returns to her clean fur, with not a speck of dirt anywhere. I am sure it’s all over my home, but it’s no longer on her. Amazing!
Despite her largeness, (she’s average size for a female, the males can be as much as 160 lbs), she moves through the house with a natural grace on her softly padded paws. I call her a ghost dog: one minute I am tripping over her in the kitchen, and the next to my great bewilderment, she is suddenly out of sight like a thief in the night. Seriously, she is very sneaky, and I have to quickly go look for her to make sure she hasn’t got into any mischief between my peeling and chopping. Most times I find her laying in the bay living room window, guarding the neighborhood from her high perch from any intruders, or cozy on my bed, surveying her domain from my bedroom windows.
Though sometimes I catch her in action, eating my mail, or holding something stolen in her mouth with a defiant look just to get my attention. Believe me, it is a terrifying thing to see her standing there with a pair of scissors, or some kind of kitchen utensil she snatched off the counter. She will then lead me on a merry chase around the coffee table, while I scream myself hoarse telling her to “drop it now!” Eventually she will, but usually only if I offer her something better in trade. You may wonder who has trained whom, but if any of you out there are blessed to know this breed, you will fully understand that they will do nothing, absolutely nothing, unless they want to. I’ve seen photos of people actually carrying their dog home from a walk during which they have decided they were done and refused to take another step. Laugh if you must, but it’s true.
Skadi loves to sit in chairs, it’s so funny to look over and see her sitting next to me.
Here she is on perched on the back of our couch like a large vulture, or like in one of my favorite children’s book, ‘Horton Hatches the Egg.’
Great Pyrenees are also known for their intelligence, and without a doubt she keeps us all on our toes. Sometimes I look into her eyes and a shiver of awareness floods my body at the depth of knowledge I see shining out. Honestly, it’s like living with a fantasy creature from another world. I am sure Great Pyrenees run with the unicorns somewhere in an alternative universe.
She will stand on everything to get a better view and because she’s so curious.
Over the years, my family has always had pets. I cannot think of a time since I was a young child that we didn’t have some kind of creature companion: cats, dogs, fish, hamsters, birds, rabbits, lizards, tortoises, snakes, frogs, turtles, and let’s not forget the giant millipedes and hissing cockroaches. I tried to be an open-minded, adventurous kind of mother, especially since we home-schooled. I wanted to make sure my children had many wonderful experiences, which is why I allowed the two hissing cockroaches from Madagascar to be in a lidded container in my house. It’s inevitable that one actually escaped, but with the passing of time and perhaps a forced amnesia I soon forgot. Fast forward to many months later, one night for dinner I prepared for my family a bountiful and delicious salad. Later, when I returned to the kitchen to clean-up, there on the pile of vegetable scraps stood our very healthy and especially large missing pet, waiving his little antennas and hissing at me claiming dominance from its leafy mountain. Of course I screamed refusing to go even close, and with much pleading, and possibly some dire threats, I made my children re-capture and place him back into the home with his lonely friend, by this time greatly dwarfing him in size. I shudder to think of the many days and nights in which he apparently thrived living off of who knows what and I don’t even want to think about who knows where.
For all of you fellow pet owners, I am sure you can relate to the immense love we have in common for our dearest companions, whether they be covered with fur, scales, feathers or fluff, (maybe not with antennas, but who am I to judge)! We only get to be with them for such a short while in the big scheme of things, so it’s important to treasure every bit of precious time we have together. The heartache of losing our beloved friends is unbearable and I try not to project myself so far into the future where I live in dread of having to feel that again. Over the years since Skadi has graced us with her presence I have gone through significant heartache and trials, but with her sweet comfort and the happy smiles she brings to all of us, I have been able to persevere with grace. I tell her every single day how much she is loved, and how pleased we are to have her in our family. In the here and now, my sweetest most devoted friend in the world is laying next to me while I type this up, with her big head nestled against my side. I am immensely thankful to be blessed with such a holy being such as herself reminding me daily of the beauty of life.
The many faces of Skadi
Happy Birthday Dear Skadi, Happy Birthday to you….and many more!!!!
My daughter Tiana loves to take photo shoots with her, they are both so photogenic
I would like to add that if anyone is interested in this breed that they do their research first. These dogs are wonderful, but can also be difficult. Many people consider them working dogs and don’t interact with them the way our family does. They are known to bark a lot, and like I mentioned before they are very strong-minded, and hard to control. They need training, and patience. We were rather impulsive and ignored many of the warnings…haha…she is hard to walk because of her strength and doesn’t like other dogs. They also need space to roam, with large fences. For our sweet baby she demands a ton of affection, which we are happy to give. Great Pyrenees are not for the faint of heart, but certainly worth all the time and energy you can invest.
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