It was a perfectly lovely afternoon, thought Thunder as she rolled over and stretched in the sun. The butterfly she was watching as she fell asleep was back again and drifting in and out of the roses that ringed the courtyard. The family was out and while there was no doubt that Thunder loved her humans, especially the little ones, she also loved her peace and quiet. After all, they didn't call them the lazy days of summer for nothing. Besides, Thunder worried at lot about her humans this time of year. For some reason she would never understand, they insisted on paddling around in the big pond in the middle of the backyard. They called it a pool and seemed to think it entirely appropriate to dip themselves in the water for hours at a time. With seemingly no regard for how nervous it made Thunder, they even let her precious little ones in the water and the splashing and shrieking forced Thunder to patrol the edge of the water and howl just to keep them safe. Thunder didn't like it one bit. The only relief came with the sunset when the dad human would light the grill and then Thunder's world went from dreadful to delicious in one bite.
Thunder coaxed herself off the soft grass and took a sip of cool water from the marvelous stone goblet her humans kept in the center of the garden. It was very kind of them to do it and they were forever refilling it each time Thunder took a sip. The only trouble was that the birds liked it almost as much as she did and so she had to chase them off from time to time. Thunder was convinced that the birds would understand it belonged to her if only her humans would stop referring to her goblet as a birdbath. No wonder the birds were confused. Still, Thunder could not abide the notion of all those dirty bird bottoms splashing about in her goblet. Anyone could look at it and see it was designed for a Great Dane and not a bird. It was the perfect height and depth for her to have a drink without having to bend down and stretch her neck. Bliss, even if she did have to constantly reeducate her feathered friends.
The toot of the car's horn heralded her humans' return and Thunder sailed over the rose bushes and trotted up to the gate. When the little ones opened the door there was the familiar sound of laughter and the scent of cheerios and sticky fingers. Then the wind shifted.
What was that awful stench? Couldn't they smell that? Good grief, what is that? That's when she saw it. Thunder's life was about to change forever. At that moment, the children stepped aside and a huge, grey drooling machine practically fell out of the car and promptly left a big, steaming pile of gross on the driveway. Talk about a dirty bottom!
The humans seemed to take it in their stride, but Thunder was utterly insulted. Her horror quickly turned to disbelief, however, when Alexandra, one of her favorite people on the whole planet of Thunder's world, opened the gate and ushered this beast into Thunder's peaceful and previously clean and orderly world.
The whole human side of the family was smiling and bringing Thunder over to meet this brute. Meet her? Thunder had already discovered more about this abomination to animal-hood than she ever wanted. Then, she spoke.
"Sorry about that, I guess I don't like cars much. Are you my pet Thunder? I heard them telling me all about you in the car. They said you'd play with me and make sure I was right at home. Do me a favor and get me a drink would ya?"
For the first time in her life, Thunder was speechless. Then, before she could get her wits about her, this mongrel lumbered right over the roses and crushed them. Not that she even noticed, because a moment later she was practically snorkeling in Thunder's stone goblet. Suddenly, birds splashing in the water didn't seem so bad.
Meanwhile the humans kept on talking about lightning. Thunder couldn't see a cloud in the sky, but the humans kept calling out about it. The only big, wet thing Thunder saw was just surfacing from Thunder's goblet and shaking her gigantic, slobbering joules all over the courtyard. Still, the humans didn't seem to understand how serious this situation was rapidly becoming.
"Don't worry, I'll get this place sorted out pretty soon. By the way, I'm Lightning."
Thunder jumped to her feet released a howl the likes of which had never been heard before. Every hair on her back stood up at attention. She charged over to her humans and gave them her best big, sad brown eyes. Don't they realize this lump of filth and arrogance thinks she can stay? Why don't they do something?
"What do think Thunder? You must be so happy to have a new buddy. This is Lightning and she is your best friend."
The family kept talking and petting her, but Thunder was no longer listening. She was too busy trying to absorb the shock. This was Lightning and she was Thunder and they would now have to be a team. Thunder's head began to pound and she decided the best solution would be to have a sip of water and a nice long nap. With a little luck, she thought to herself, this whole thing would be nothing but an egregious nightmare. Thunder Strolled over to her goblet and was just about to take a sip when an alarming odor made her take another look. The strings of drool and chewed food that lay in the bottom of her empty goblet meant only one thing. This was no nightmare.
The next morning Thunder and Lightning went for their first walk together around the garden. The dad human took them for a nice walk around their neighborhood earlier and Thunder was so delighted with the sights and sounds of Main Street that she barely even noticed Lightning's relentless campaign to mark every fire hydrant and tree along their path. Now, in the garden, things would be different. Thunder was determined to explain to Lightning that there was a right way and a wrong way to conduct oneself and that, should she ever be in any doubt which was which, Thunder would be her guide.
"Perhaps we should start over," Thunder began. "I'm Thunder and this has been my family for nearly two years now, which, as you must surely realize, will always be longer than you. Still, as I see it, while they are determined to offer you shelter, we will need to work together."
Lightning looked at Thunder and raised her eyebrows.
Undeterred, Thunder continued. "Rule number one, no snorkeling in the water bowls or goblets. Lower lip and tongue only and as for food, you touch it; you take it. Don't flick it up in the air, play with it or suck on it and then put it back in the bowl where it may contaminate my food. As for doing your business." Thunder was just about to show Lightning the grove of trees at the bottom of the garden when she heard a strange noise. The whole human family was shouting and no one was laughing this time. The little ones were crying and the mom human was trying to get them to go back inside. The dad human kicked off his shoes and dived into the pool. Lightning had wandered away from Thunder and right into the deep end of the pool.
The abject fear in Lightning's eyes as she surfaced broke Thunder's heart. The dad hauled her out of water and they both sat soaking and shivering on the edge. Thunder came over to check on them and in a moment the whole family was hugging each other and admonishing Lightning to stay away from the pool.
"Everyone knows Great Danes don't go in the water." Said little George. "Silly Lightning."
More must have surely been said, but once again, Thunder was stuck on what she had just heard.
"You are a GREAT DANE???" Thunder stammered. Lightning nodded and shook herself off.
From that moment on, Thunder knew that she would spend the rest of life with Lightning and that she would teach her everything she needed to know. She was more than a nuisance to be endured; she was a fellow Great Dane, the only breed with its greatness proclaimed in the breed name. Thunder knew she had found her life's work. What she didn't know was that Lightning had made some discoveries of her own.
"What are you talking about? I may be a Dane, and of course I'm great, but I am not a dog like you."
"Clearly you are not like me, but..."
"Wait a minute," Lightning interrupted. "I'm not a dog. My previous home understood that. I slept in a bed, I ate their food and I watched Animal Planet on T.V. when I was home alone. Are you suggesting that these nice folks are somehow confused about that? Last night, I slept on that beautiful couch in the living room and I have fresh running water in a nice porcelain bowl in a place they call a Bathroom. I thought they understood. Maybe you are the one who is confused."
Thunder wondered if Lightning hit her head in the pool. Why would any self-respecting creature choose to be anything less than the magnificence of a Great Dane? Thunder felt genuinely sorry for Lightning. She loved being a Great Dane and couldn't imagine wanting to be anything else.
"Look, I'm a Great Dane and by some fluke of nature, so are you. This family isn't like your other humans. They want you to be the great dog that must be hiding in there somewhere. I can help you."
Lightning smiled, "Look, I know you mean well, but I don't need to learn how to eat. I've never gone hungry yet. I did need to know that the blue stuff in the middle of the grass could drown a person."
"Sorry about that. I thought you knew." Thunder smiled. Together the two dogs walked over to the grove of trees. They toured the garden and even shared a laugh about the birds trying to get into goblet. That night, after their humans were in bed, Thunder and Lightning went from room to room to check on them. Thunder liked to know they were all home and safely tucked in. Lightning was choosing which bed she wanted. Thunder curled up on her cushion and fell asleep. A few minutes later, Lightning made her decision. She had found the perfect bed for her.
Lightning lay down and snuggled up to the warm buddy sleeping beside her. She had to move her buddy over a little, but it wasn't long before Lightning was settled in and snoring. Thunder had never heard snoring quite like it. It sounded like a train chugging up a steep hill with a million cows and one dying moose on board. No way the family could sleep through that. Thunder opened her eyes and realized why the snoring was so loud. The bed Lightning was on was Thunder's. Normally, Thunder would have been appalled, but it was kind of nice to have a bedtime buddy. Thunder snuggled in and closed her big brown eyes. It was confusing for sure, but Thunder concluded that Lightning was right where she belonged.