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Thursday, January 19, 2012

If you love dogs.....even if you do not.....MEET GEORGE!

Meet George the Great Dane

 The  first time we saw George, our beloved Great Dane, he was  no more than a tiny, cowering  ball of fuzzy fur. As my wife Christie opened the door of the crate he’d traveled in, he  teetered to a standing position  and looked out at us, moving his head slowly from  side to side, taking in the wonder of it  all. Finally, as if weighing us up and deciding we were acceptable, he tentatively  pushed his little nose forward  and gave Christie her first lick.

 Puppy love: A young George with  Dave's wife Christie. Even as a pup he had  comically large paws .  He came into our lives in January 2006, just a few months after  we had married and set up home in Arizona . We both had busy jobs, Christie selling medical equipment while I was a  property developer, but she had  always planned that, once she had a house of her own, she would also have a dog.
She wanted a Great Dane as they make great family pets, so we tracked down a litter of 13, born 1,000 miles away in Oregon .  Their owner emailed us a photo showing a chaotic jumble of paws, snouts  and tails. Twelve were entangled with one another, but  our eyes were drawn to one pup  standing apart from the rest. He was clearly the runt, endearing him to Christie immediately.
Though it didn’t really register, George’s  paws were comically large even  then. But all we saw was this cute puppy. We certainly  never dreamed he would one day  become the biggest dog in the world, standing nearly 4ft high at the shoulder, 7ft long  and weighing 252
pounds. Right now, he just looked bewildered.

George made the long  journey from Oregon to Phoenix by plane and  we picked him up from the freight area,  tired but unshaken.. As soon as  George settled into our home, we discovered our plans to be  fair but firm parents were  wishful thinking. All the things that make  Great Danes wonderful pets — their lack of  aggression and their attachment  to humans — make them more emotionally sensitive  than other dogs. They need to  be with their ‘pack’ at all times and at night the cute pup with intensely blue eyes turned  into a caterwauling banshee  whenever we tried to leave him alone in the kitchen.
No matter how much we  reminded ourselves that he had every home comfort (warm dog bed, warm blanket, warm  kitchen, squeaky bone), each  whimper created a picture in our heads of a  tragic, abandoned pup, desperate for his  mother. Eventually, we gave in  and shunted George’s dog bed into our bedroom.  

Magnificent: George measures more than  7 ft from nose to tail and weighs 252 pounds- one and is the world's biggest dog, but he's  terrified of Chihuahuas...
In the coming months,  Christie really threw herself into being a  mum to George. As well as a photo album,  he had a growth chart — we were  soon reading it in awe. At five months he still acted like  a puppy, chasing his tail and  playing games of fetch and tug-of-war with his favorite bit of rope. But he was already the size of a fully-grown   Labrador . He was putting on more than a pound a day  and he bounded around like Bambi,  skittering on our wooden floors and hurling himself at everything he fancied,  including us humans. His  displays of affection could leave you pinned temporarily against
a wall or a piece of furniture.
His size did not go  unnoticed in the outside world. Our local park  had a section for puppies but we were  bullied out of it by other owners, who were scared George would hurt their pups  — but the opposite was  true.
The smaller dogs ran around and under him, and he’d  be constantly
sidestepping them, obviously anxious and  jittery. Slowly we realized that our enormous puppy was a big softie. Besides  his terror of being left alone,  he had a fear of water. He’d growl anxiously at the side of
our swimming pool, alarmed that his ‘pack’ members would so willingly place
themselves in danger of drowning.  If the pool  was his most-hated place, his favorite was our bedroom. 
Eventually he outgrew the single mattress we placed there for him and preferred instead the  comfort of our king-sized bed — sprawling between us like some over-indulged prince  while we spent half the night  clinging onto the edges.

Paws for thought: George's giant feet  dwarf Dave's hand
In the summer of  2006, we solved this problem by buying him his  own queen-sized mattress, which he still  sleeps on today at the bottom  of our bed. But soon we encountered another challenge  as George reached doggie  puberty. Once he had grabbed life by the lapels, now he was grabbing onto legs — table legs,  chair legs, human legs, he  wasn’t picky — and doing what all male dogs do with  the vigor of a canine  giant.
He calmed down in the furniture department after we  had him neutered, but then he  took up a new hobby, eating as if it were an Olympic sport. A sausage on the barbecue was like  a siren to a passing sailor.  You couldn’t turn your back for a minute. And he  was so tall that he actually  had to bend down to pinch food off kitchen  counters.
He could reach the  high shelves as well, so we had to hide everything  away in cupboards. Soon, he was getting  through around 100lb of dry dog  food every month.
As he approached his first birthday in  November 2006, weighing 196 pounds, it was getting physically impossible to make him  go anywhere he didn’t want to —  including the vet’s surgery. He had not forgotten the time he went there in possession  of his manhood — and came out  less than whole. As soon as he recognized the  entrance, he  refused to  move. So I had to take him around to the less  familiar back door  instead.
For all these troubles, George gave us plenty in  return, not least the following  year when Christie lost the baby she was carrying.  Evidently tuned in to her grief, George  was a constant presence at her  side. When she sat, he sat too. When she stood, he stood  and padded alongside her to  wherever she was going.
His personality grew  more delightful the bigger he got. A male Great Dane typically weighs from 126 to 154 pounds,  but by Christmas 2007 George  weighed 210 pounds — bigger than most men. At this  point, he loved being chauffeured around  in my golf cart and would sit  in it, his haunches on the seat and front legs on the  floor. By Christmas 2008, our  canine colossus weighed 252 pounds. A friend  suggested he might be a contender for the  Guinness Book of Records, but  we had other things to think about: Christie had  discovered that she was pregnant again. 

With size comes problems: George the  giant barely fits in the back of his owner's SUV
The trouble was, when  our daughter Annabel arrived that September  George made it clear he wanted nothing to  do with this interloper. He was  used to spending nights in delightful oblivion at the foot  of our bed. Annabel’s  high-decibel presence simply wasn’t on. When she cried, he’d wake, harrumph and then turn  over in annoyance. Once it was  clear the racket was going to continue, he’d exhale  heavily again, till one of us finished  that mysterious feeding thing we did with the noisy intruder.
But while he might  not have cared much for Annabel, George loved  her dolls, especially a stuffed green one  that played a nursery rhyme  when squeezed. Whenever he could, he placed it  between his paws and pressed it  so he could hear the tune. It was like a security blanket. It was a period of such big  adjustment for him that if it  made him happy, then it was fine by us and our patience  was rewarded.  Slowly,  George understood that Annabel was our pack’s  youngest member and in need of  his affection and protection. And on Christmas morning, he ended his three-month sulk,  acknowledging her presence with  a lick of her hand. It was the best present we  could have had — although the beginning of  2010 brought more good news. 

A doggone miracle: George the Great  Dane with the Nasser's daughter Annabel at home in Arizona  Over the  previous weeks, while Annabel slept, Christie had  applied to the Guinness World  Records people on George’s behalf. That February, one of their adjudicators came to watch  George being measured in the  presence of a vet. He was officially declared not  just the world’s tallest living dog (43  inches from paw to shoulder) but the tallest dog ever.
The following week we  flew to Chicago to appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show and were put up in one of the city’s  most luxurious hotels. We had a  huge sitting room, dining area and even a bar —  but there was just one problem. There was  nowhere for George to sleep.
As we enjoyed a gourmet meal and a bottle  of red wine that night, he  struggled to settle on two roll-out divans provided for  him. Infuriatingly, they  wouldn’t stay together. So he had his head on  one and back end on the other, but his  stomach was sagging onto the  carpet.
‘You know what we need to do,’ I joked. ‘Give George our bed to sleep on and
have the couches in this room ourselves.’
Christie looked at me  with a telltale gleam in her eye and I knew  immediately my joke had been a fatal  error. An hour later, our boy was sprawled in splendor in our huge, fluffy  king-size bed.
‘Well,’ whispered Christie, ‘George is the  star here, after all.’  She was right, of course, and since his appearance on  TV, Giant George has built a  following around the world, with his own fan club,  website and 70,000 fans on  Facebook.
None of this, of course, means anything to George.  He still spends his days doing  what he has always liked best: eating, playing and  sleeping. Our cherished pet may have  become a global celebrity — but  really, he’s just one of the family. 

Man's biggest friend: Devoted owner  Dave Nasser with George. 


Angela said...

All I can think about is that I used to weigh more than the biggest dog ever! Crazy!

Stacey said...

I cannot imagine having to do poopy patrol in that yard! Yikes!

MandaPanda said...

He's adorable! Reminds me of the Clifford stories.

Ronnie said...

Aww, I love him. :)