Our maremmas, Buster and Bear, started out as shy, skittish little fluff balls. When we brought them home, I held the two of them on my lap in the car. For years, they were almost completely uninterested in us. We could barely get near enough to pet them. All they wanted to do was romp around in the backyard (the deeper the snow, the better they liked it) or lie in their corner, wrapped around each other, shying away from our urges to pet them. Now, the world has turned. They are mature, propably even past middle age in dog years and they can’t wait to be with us. Buster has started standing at the door, eyeing us constantly, waiting to come in. Or he gets up on his hind legs (a trick he learned from my favorite cat, Shrimpy) and scrapes at the glass with his claws until we let him in. When they enter the house, it’s not just tails, but entire white butts swinging happily, great big smiles on their faces as they come for their pats. They were born shy, even stand-offish working dogs and have become integral members of the family, would spend every waking hour glued to us if we let them. They are sensitive souls and would turn away and write us out of their wills if we treated them badly. But we love them deeply and show it at every opportunity. And now, it’s tough to imagine better companions. The gentlest, deep-voiced giants you’ve ever seen. One of them came back from a walk the other day with some beast’s skull to chew on. Am I ever worried about going for a walk in the back field? With cougar, coyote and wolf nearby? Yeah, no. Not one bit.