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Tag: george

Great Dane helps girl find her balance

Fifth grader Bella Burton has gained both confidence and mobility since a service dog came into her life last year — a dog that outweighs her three to one.

George, a Great Dane who tips the scales at 131, was paired with Bella through the Service Dog Project, an Ipswich, Mass.-based non-profit organization that trains and matches Great Danes with people who have mobility and balance limitations.

Bella, who turned 11 last week, has a rare genetic disorder called Morquio Syndrome, or Mucopolysaccharidoses (MPS) IV.

“She used to pretty much be confined to a wheelchair or have to use crutches to get around, but with George, she’s become so much stronger and active,” said Bella’s mom, Rachel.

Since George loped into the picture late last year Bella has gone from dreading school to enjoying it.

“I couldn’t play on the playground, and I had to use crutches when I was at home,” Bella said. “Now, I’m running outside and I love to go to school.”

Bella and George were featured on ABC News last week.

Next month, George will be honored by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as one of five dogs to receive the Award for Canine Excellence, at the AKC’s national championships in Orlando, Fla.

The Burtons spent about a year trying to find Bella the right balance support dog. Once Bella met George, the two bonded almost immediately.

Last October George started staying with the Burtons on weekends. By January, George was permanently placed with the Burtons, who have two other non-service dogs.

Bella and family plan to donate the $1,000 cash prize from the AKC to the Service Dog Project.

“Between the training and adoption fees, it probably costs around $20,000,” Rachel said. “They didn’t want a dime when they placed George with us.”

From homeless heroin addict to popular artist, with help from a dog named George


A formerly homeless man who once sold his sketches for pocket change on the streets of London’s now sells them for thousands of dollars at exhibits — and credits his dog for turning his life around.

Up until a few years ago, John Dolan, 43, had been a heroin addict whose life had seen more than 300 criminal convictions, 30 stints in prison and long stretches of homelessness.

He was living on the streets when he took in George. The young Staffordshire bull terrier had been living with another homeless couple who had had acquired him in exchange for a can of beer. They’d found housing, but not dog-friendly housing, and George needed a home.

Dolan, who hadn’t exactly been living a life of responsibility, was worried about whether he was up to having a dog.

“How was I going to cope with him? I couldn’t even cope with myself,” he told the Guardian.

georgeBut George, he noticed, had a way of looking him in the eye when he talked, and the two quickly bonded. Dolan says it was the fear of losing George if he went to prison again that led him to give up crime.

“He’s like my child in a sense and I feel obliged to keep a roof over his head and keep him warm,” he said.

Of course, George was helping Dolan out in other ways, too. Dolan made more money panhandling when George was at his side. Still, Dolan says, he felt embarassed by begging.

“Sitting there holding out my hand was so embarrassing, so degrading. I didn’t like to look at people as they went past. I picked up the pen mainly so I could bury my head in a drawing pad.”

He started drawing the buildings, and drawing George, and, sitting with his dog on the sidewalk, he would sell the drawings for whatever he could get.

Then he was discovered. First he was commissioned to do some drawings for a book. Then a gallery director, Richard Howard-Griffin, asked if he would draw some large streetscapes for him.

dolanbookLast fall he had his first exhibit. His second is now underway at the Howard Griffin Gallery in London, with proceeds being donated to The Big Issue Foundation and Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. 

Another exhibit, in Los Angeles, is in the works. And Dolan has published a book, “John and George: The Dog Who Changed My Life.”

Dolan has a home now, but  still sits on the street and draws, with George.

“I feel like he’s a guardian angel. If it hadn’t been for him I’d have never picked up my pen.”

(Top pPhoto: David Levene / the Guardian)

The Grapes of George (and other crops)

I’m not sure who’s behind it, but in the flatlands of eastern Washington — before the westbound traveler gets to the far more magnificent side of the state — someone has decided to label the crops.

“Crop names in fence lines next 14 miles,” reads a sign on Interstate 90, somewhere west of Moses Lake and east of a town named George.

I like this idea. For one thing, it turns a fairly boring drive into a learning experience. For another, possibly, it makes people a little more aware of/involved in the place they’re at — as opposed to the text they’re sending, the video game they’re playing, or the cell phone on which they’re blabbing.

It’s kind of like a picture book for kids: Here is the field corn, here is the alfalfa. You don’t even have to turn the page, just your head. On your left, potatoes; on your right, peppermint. Here is a field of … wheat. Here is a field of … grapes (wrathless variety, it appeared). Here is some Timothy. Timothy? (It’s a kind of hay.)

For 14 miles, on both sides of the highway, I got a lesson in agriculture — thanks to, I’d guess, the state or some agricultural commission. I wanted to learn more about crops, including why every state seems to package its hay differently. But the lesson came to an end; and as I progressed west, instead of crop signs, the only ones I saw in the fence lines — not counting those of politicians — said “For Sale.”

It struck me as a good idea, though, all this labeling and identifying — one that, if carried to extremes, could both create jobs and lead to a more informed public.

In addition to crop identifiers, why not farm animal identifiers: Sheep, goats, cows, llamas? Tree identifiers that would help us differentiate between our birch and our aspen? Factory identifiers that tell us what’s being made inside that big building? A much needed explanation of what silos (a) hold and (b) are for? The American public would get a better understanding of the importance of farming, and everything else we take for granted.

(Label this idea satire, but only kind of.)

Of course we don’t want drivers reading signs so much that they neglect their driving, but it’s nice to see signs that inform, instead of those that merely advertise, or give harsh orders — as if we were dogs or something: “No this … No that … Stay in lane … Right lane must exit … ”

I’m tired, too, of the signs that scare us: Dangerous Crosswinds Ahead, Watch for Ice, High Accident Area, Gas: $3.15.

We tend to readily identify dangers, we profusely post rules, we slap advertising everywhere — so why not label the run of the mill good stuff, like cows and creeks, steaming bowls of oatmeal and doers of good deeds?

My label-everything-on-earth plan could help the economy. Think of all the jobs. Think of the stimulus. We would need more signmakers, more sign putter-uppers, more sign repairers, more sign changers — for when the crops are rotated, or the landscape changes.

Maybe knowing what’s what would help us appreciate our Earth a little more, teach us to better “live in the moment.” Or maybe not. In any event, here’s the one I want to see:

A sign that the economy is improving.

Giant George ousts Titan as world’s tallest dog


The Great (Dane) Debate is over:  The “World’s Tallest Dog” is Giant George of Tucson, Guinness World’s Records has proclaimed.

The 250-pound blue Great Dane wrested the title away from Titan, a white, partly blind Great Dane from San Diego who held it little more than three months.

Guinness World Records says George is the tallest dog ever on record, standing 43 inches tall at the shoulder, three-quarters of an inch taller than Titan.

Titan was named World’s Tallest Dog last November after the death of the previous title-holder, Gibson, a harlequin Great Dane from Grass Valley, Calif., who died of bone cancer.

Giant George was in the running then, but disputed measurements and late paperwork left his owner, David Nasser, unable to qualify.

Guinness officials say there were conflicting reports about Giant George’s height, so they sent a judge to verify it.

Guinness made the announcement this morning, and George and Nasser appeared this afternoon on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

Diana Taylor, Titan’s owner, told the San Diego Union-Tribune she didn’t intend to watch the show because she was busy Monday trying to find a swim vest that would fit Titan, her 190-pound deaf, epileptic and partly blind “special needs dog,” for his first water therapy session.

A blog post on Titan’s website site argues that Titan should still be tops. Taylor says she intends to lodge a dispute but won’t exert a lot of energy on a challenge if Titan’s reign is officially over.

Giant George, we should point out, has his own website as well, which, according to Taylor, was part of a massive public relations effort to steal the title away from her dog.

“Regardless of whether he’s the world’s tallest dog or not, he’s still this beautiful deaf and blind Great Dane, and no one can take that away from him,” Taylor said of Titan.

The blog post read, in part:

“Despite the fact that it detracted from our mission of helping rescue and special-needs dogs, I strived to take the high road. But now, after months of having our accomplishment overshadowed by this media blitz-kreig of poor sportsmanship (and on the eve of this dog actually being on Oprah) I’ve decided it’s time to let the public know the truth about ‘Giant’ George.

“…Confused at how to measure his dog, this owner took two official measurements… one at the shoulder and another halfway up the neck. Guinness requirements state an animal must be measured at the shoulder. See below — when measured correctly George is only 39 1/8″ compared to Titan’s certified height of 42.25″.

“George’s ‘record-breaking’ 43″ is based on a measurement halfway up the neck, a procedure that does not follow industry standards or meet Guinness requirements…”

Guinness spokeswoman Jamie Panas said last week that Nasser’s claim to the title was one of more than 100 the company received since late last year.“It’s a huge record for us,” she said. “The pet records resonate the most with our readers.”

(Photo: Courtesy of Guinness World Records)

My dog is bigger than your’s

daneLast week we showed you Boomer, the Landseer Newfoundland whose owner hopes to have him proclaimed the world’s tallest dog by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Now, the owner of a Great Dane in Arizona has come forward and plans to give Boomer a run for his money.

Realtor Dave Nasser’s 4-year-old dog, George, stands 42 inches tall and weighs 245 pounds, the Associated Press reports.

Nasser and some friends plan to launch a public relations drive they hope will lead to tallest dog honors, talk shows and maybe even a movie deal.

A Guinness World Records spokesman says since the death last August of Gibson, a 42.2-inch-tall Great Dane, there is no confirmed world’s tallest dog.

After reading of a North Dakota woman’s effort to get her Newf proclaimed World’s Tallest Dog, Nasser and friends decided to launch their own effort as well.

Nasser is working through an application, which requires vital stats recorded by a vet, verification of the dog’s statistics by other witnesses, a video and a press conference.  He and his friends are also planning a Facebook fan page for George.