Cannon: Tips for living with (and loving) a giant dog

This is an archived article that was published on in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

I went to a professional conference last week where I wanted to appear — you know — professional. So I went around wearing my professional name tag, giving people professional handshakes while making professional-type observations such as "I sure hope they feed us during the breaks."

Anyway, I totally nailed the professional thing … until I went into the bathroom and noticed I had dried dog slobber on my jacket. A lot of it. Well, hello there, folks! Nothing says "professional" like dried dog slobber on your jacket.

You couldn't miss it, and I'm sure people didn't. Except for me. Apparently I forgot to check myself in the mirror one last time after our Newfoundland, Zora, gave me a goodbye kiss earlier that morning.

OK, in case you, too, have wandered around in public with large-animal slobber on your clothing (and who hasn't?), you may be interested in the following Tips for Living With a Dog So Huge and So Hairy That People Think Bigfoot Resides at Your House.

You're welcome!

1. Always check yourself in the mirror one last time after your dog gives you a goodbye kiss. (See above.)

2. Wipe your dog's mouth often. Preferably with a beach towel.

3. Invest in an industrial-strength vacuum cleaner because there will be dog hair, people. Oh yes. There will be hair.

4. Also invest in an industrial-strength washing machine. You know. Like the kind they use in institutions such as hospitals or prisons. You're gonna need that, too.

I'm not kidding. You'll find drool everywhere. On the floor. On the walls. Even on the ceilings, so yeah. Have fun with that!

Drool isn't the only issue you'll encounter when living with a giant dog. For one thing, giant dogs take up a lot of room. When Zora stretches out on the floor, she pretty much reaches from here to Mainland China.

Furthermore, she doesn't always get up and move when you tell her to. It's not that she's willfully disobedient. Zora's just really, really busy … lying there. "Just lying there," in fact, features prominently on her daily to-do list.

In light of these things, plenty of people wonder why we bother with a big dog. One thing's certain: It's not for protection. If someone broke into our house, Zora would lift her head, look at the intruder and go, "Seriously, dude? You don't have anything better to do with your time?" Then she'd drop her head and go straight back to sleep.

So it's hard to explain why we own such a big dog. Still. I can't imagine our lives without her. There's something comforting about her presence. It's solid. Really solid. And huge. Really huge.

I love her chill attitude, too, which is like, "Hey. Don't sweat the small stuff. And it's all small stuff. Except for me. Just lying here. In the middle of your kitchen. Hoping to ingest some stray potato chips in much the same way a whale ingests plankton."

Also! Her eyes! When Zora leans into me and looks up, my heart melts, not unlike cheese fondue in that avocado-green fondue pot my mom had back in the 1970s. "I'm all yours," her expression says, and you know what?

She's right.

Ann Cannon can be reached at or