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Tag: great dane

World’s tallest dog dies of “old age” — at 5

zeus

Zeus, the world’s tallest dog, is dead.

The Great Dane passed away earlier this month — two months shy of his sixth birthday — from “symptoms of old age,” according to his owner.

Great Danes have shorter life spans than most dogs — most likely the result of breeders intent on making the breed larger yet, and the strain that size puts on their organs — which only makes the death of Zeus doubly sad.

“We’ll really miss him,” said Zeus’ owner, Kevin Doorlag, of Otsego, Michigan.

Doorlag and his wife, Denise say Zeus was a “wonderful dog” — famous both for Guinness World Record-setting size, and for his work as a therapy dog in their hometown.

He stood 44 inches at the shoulder — 7 feet, 4 inches on his hind legs. He claimed the Guinness World Record in 2012, and still held the title in the 2013 and 2014 editions.

The previous World’s Tallest Dog was Giant George, a Tuscon, Arizona, Great Dane. He died at age 7.

Kevin Doorlag said one of the things he will miss most is seeing the joy Zeus brought to others.

The death of Zeus is, first and foremost, a time to remember and celebrate Zeus.

But if it makes us question why, in the name of seeking extremes, we accept purebred breeding practices that lead to ill health and short lives, that’s fine, too. They’re in need of questioning.

What there’s less need for — whether it’s in pursuit of ribbons, world records, or sales — is making fluffy dogs fluffier, long and skinny dogs longer and skinnier, short snouted dogs even more shortly snouted.

We don’t need (sorry, Marmaduke) cartoonish dogs, or dogs that, through breeding them with close relatives, become exaggerated caricatures of their breed.

Healthy dogs will do just fine.

(Photo: Kalamazoo Gazette)

Bartender gets $1,000 tip to help pay for her dog’s surgery

Man leaves $1,000 tip for dog's surgeryThe paw-print tattoo on Christina Summitt’s wrist often gets conversations started — not that, in her job bartending at a Holiday Inn in New Jersey, she needs any help with that.

A week ago Saturday, two customers asked her about it, and whether she had a dog of her own.

Indeed she does, one of whom is a Great Dane-Labrador mix named Tucker who, she told the man and woman, was at the veterinary hospital having emergency surgery after he swallowed a tennis ball.

The man commented about how expensive that was probably going to be, and Summitt confided that she’d received an estimate of $2,700.

But Tucker, who she adopted in 2011, was her baby, she explained, and she’d sell her car, if necessary, to pay for the operation.

After the conversation, Summitt got busy behind the bar of the Clinton Holiday Inn, and the couple ordered more drinks and dinner. When it was time to close out their $80 tab, the man filled out a tip for her on the receipt — for $1,000.

tipUpon seeing the amount, Summitt said she started crying and showed the receipt to her sister, who tends bar with her. She wanted to make sure there really were three zeros after the 1.

“I went back over and said ‘Sir, I cannot accept this, what is this for, why would you do this?’’” Summitt said. He told her to put it toward Tucker’s medical costs.

“I just stood there in shock. I walked around and hugged this couple.”

Summitt, in addition to working three jobs, is  a volunteer with a pit bull rescue group, according to CNN, which initially carried her self-reported story as an iReport.

Man leaves $1,000 tip for dog's surgerySummitt, 37, wrote a Facebook post about, and it went on to appear, on Easter morning, on the Facebook page “Why Bartenders and Servers Hate People.”

Not everyone believed it initially, but it was true.

Hotel manager Michelle Satanik told CNN she tracked down the customer to verify that the gesture was legitimate.

“Apparently this man does this quite frequently. Just a really nice guy and humanitarian,” Satanik said.

In case that’s not a happy enough ending, Tucker’s operations was a success, and he’s recovering at home.

(Photos: Tucker being dropped off for surgery; the receipt; bartender Chrstina Summitt; by Christina Summitt/iReport)

The soon-to-be world’s tallest dog?

***EXCLUSIVE***  SOUTHEND-ON-SEA, UNITED KINGDOM - UNDATED: Britain's biggest dog, 18 month old great Dane, Freddy seen realxing on the sofa with it's owner Claire Stoneman at their home in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England.  Canine colossus Freddy is believed to be Britain's biggest dog. The Great Dane has been measured at 7ft 4in (2.24m) on his hind legs by owner Claire Stoneman. Although no official measurement has yet been made, that would make Freddy as tall as world-record holder Zeus, and significantly larger than Britain's current biggest dog Samson, who is 6ft 6in (1.98m). The gigantic dog began life as the runt of the litter, but experienced an astonishing growth spurt to reach his current size. Claire, a 38-year-old taxi driver from Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, who drives a Barbie-pink cab, lives with Freddy and his sister Fleur.   PHOTOGRAPH BY Matt Writtle / Barcroft Media  UK Office, London. T +44 845 370 2233 W www.barcroftmedia.com  USA Office, New York City. T +1 212 796 2458 W www.barcroftusa.com  Indian Office, Delhi. T +91 11 4053 2429 W www.barcroftindia.com

Freddy, an 18-month-old Great Dane from Great Britain, already stands 7-foot-4 on his hind legs, and he appears headed to taking the world’s tallest dog title away from a Great Dane in Michigan.

***EXCLUSIVE***  SOUTHEND-ON-SEA, UNITED KINGDOM - UNDATED: Britain's biggest dog, 18 month old great Dane, Freddy stands on its hind legs as owner Claire Stoneman feeds him outside her home in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England.  Canine colossus Freddy is believed to be Britain's biggest dog. The Great Dane has been measured at 7ft 4in (2.24m) on his hind legs by owner Claire Stoneman. Although no official measurement has yet been made, that would make Freddy as tall as world-record holder Zeus, and significantly larger than Britain's current biggest dog Samson, who is 6ft 6in (1.98m). The gigantic dog began life as the runt of the litter, but experienced an astonishing growth spurt to reach his current size. Claire, a 38-year-old taxi driver from Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, who drives a Barbie-pink cab, lives with Freddy and his sister Fleur.   PHOTOGRAPH BY Matt Writtle / Barcroft Media  UK Office, London. T +44 845 370 2233 W www.barcroftmedia.com  USA Office, New York City. T +1 212 796 2458 W www.barcroftusa.com  Indian Office, Delhi. T +91 11 4053 2429 W www.barcroftindia.comHe’s outgrown Britain’s previous tallest dog, and has long since surpassed, in terms of height, his owner, Claire Stoneman, who stands 5 feet 4 inches.

Stoneman said Freddy was the runt of the litter, but he has grown quickly on a diet of regular dog food ($100 worth a week), peanut butter on toast, and sofas, of which he has destroyed — but not consumed — 14.

Stoneman said it took a while for Freddy, who now weighs 154 pounds, to get used to her small home in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.

Stoneman said she and Freddy get up early for walks so they won’t encounter other dogs.

“If he wants to run after a dog, I wouldn’t be able to stop him,” she said.

The current world’s tallest dog is Zeus, a Great Dane from Otsego, Mich., who was 7-foot-4 (standing on his hind legs) when he was recognized by Guinness World Record in 2012.

You can find more photos of Freddy at the New York Post (click the link for the full slide show).

Freddy now measures 41 inches from foot to shoulder blade, compared with Zeus’ 44 inches.

(Photos: Bancroft Media via New York Post)

Supersize me: Americans turning to big dogs

SONY DSC

Big dogs — not that they ever left — are coming back.

In its annual report on breed popularity in the U.S., the American Kennel Club notes that, while the Labrador retriever is again the most popular dog breed, other large breeds are quickly moving up the list, including Dobermans, giant schnauzers and Great Danes.

According to the AKC, it could be a sign of an improving economy.

“Owning bigger breeds – an economic indicator of sorts – has been on the rise during the past five years,” said Lisa Peterson, AKC spokeswoman. “As the economy has improved, people are turning back to the big dogs they love, which cost more to feed and care for than the smaller breeds that saw a rise in popularity in 2007 and 2008.”

Labs took the top spot for the 23rd straight year, the longest consecutive reign of any dog in the annual ranking. The rankings are based on the number of AKC dog registrations across the country.

Here are the top 10, with links to their AKC profiles:

1. Labrador Retriever
2. German Shepherd Dog
3. Golden Retriever
4. Beagle
5. Bulldog
6. Yorkshire Terrier
7. Boxer
8. Poodle
9. Rottweiler
10. Dachshund

Comparing those rankings to the 2009 list, there’s evidence of a decline in small dog popularity — Yorkies dropped three places, from third, dachshunds dropped two, from eighth, and shih tzus fell out of the top 10 entirely.

Some smaller breeds saw a gain in popularity, like the French bulldog (now 11th). But far greater gains were made by greatly sized dogs: Doberman Pinschers rose from 22 to 12; Great Danes from 27 to 16; and Bernese Mountain Dogs from 47 to 32.

The AKC announced its rankings Friday, in advance of the upcoming Westminster Kennel Club dog show at Madison Square Garden.

Three new breeds will compete this year: rat terriers, Chinooks, and Portuguese Podengo Pequenos.

(Photo: Ash, a lab, or perhaps a lab mix (we didn’t ask for his papers), at play; by John Woestendiek)

Traumatized dog finds some deer friends

Eleven days after Lacy, a Great Dane, ran away from a highway accident in Michigan she was found and returned to her owner.

But the odd part of this story came at the nine-day mark, when Lacy’s owner, Jamie Brill, who’d been searching for days with her boyfriend, spotted her dog in a field, through a pair of binoculars.

Lacy was standing next to two adult whitetail does and two fawns.

“Mark handed me the binoculars and said, ‘Do you believe this?’ I looked, and Lacy was licking the head of one of the fawns,” Brill told Lansing State Journal columnist John Schneider.

When Brill tried calling Lacy from afar, she didn’t budge, remaining instead with the deer.

Brill, stationed with the U.S. Navy in Grand Rapids, rolled her Mini Cooper on Interstate 96 on Aug. 11. Her two dogs – Lacy and Koko – were in the car. Brill was taken to the hospital. Koko was taken to a veterinarian, and Lacy ran off.

Two days after Lacy was spotted hobnobbing with the deer, Schneider, the newspaper columnist, got a call from a man who had spotted Lacy — whose disappearance by then had become a big story.

Schneider called Brill in Grand Rapids, and she called a Lansing veterinarian who had been involved in the search and agreed to check out the sighting.

Veterinarian Leslie Ortlieb drove to the vacant house and on its porch saw Lacy, who was described as being a skittish sort even before the accident.

But Ortlieb apparently said the right words: “Do you want to go see Koko?”

The Great Dane walked up to her and got into her car.

Lacy was emaciated and had a small cut on her leg, but otherwise appeared in good health.

Roadside Encounter: Clyde

Name: Clyde

Breed: Great Dane mix

Age: About 1

Encountered: At Riverside Park in Baltimore

Backstory: We ran into this handsome Great Dane mix at the park Friday. Clyde was found last year at a school near Patterson Park. Signs were posted seeking his owners, who eventually responded and said they didn’t want him anymore, according to his new owner.

Clyde has been in his new home since October, adopted through a rescue organization.

He was a new face, for us, and even though Clyde seemed very mellow and non-threatening, Ace, contrary to his normal behavior, seemed to feel the need to let Clyde know who was in charge.

Generally, Ace doesn’t throw his weight around, unless he sees some dogs fighting, or some humping going on. Then he responds swiftly, letting both parties know they need to break it up.

While Ace always acts like he’s the sheriff of the park, he usually doesn’t go all macho — but with Clyde he did, following him around, leaning his head over Clyde’s back, and seemingly challenging him to a showdown at the water fountain.

A couple of times he has met dogs he, at first, didn’t seem to like — usually large black male ones, especially if they still have all their boy equipment. He’ll do a bit of posturing, but usually nothing comes of it and they end up friends.

With Clyde, Ace continued following and  hovering over and around him until he left.  Clyde didn’t seem bothered by the attempted indimidation. All the Great Danes I’ve known seem cool that way. Their ability to take things in stride is as huge as their actual stride.

Ace, would go on acting strange, long after our encounter with Clyde. Later that night, he switched into wimpy, ultra-sensitive mode, as he’ll do sometimes when there’s a loud noise. He was antsy, his tail between his legs, seemingly afraid to be outside. The heavy winds seemed to be bothering him, or maybe, someone suggested, the full moon was the cause.

In any event, he had, in a matter of  hours, gone from Bruce Willis to Woody Allen. He’s quite complex, my dog, with moods as interchangeable as my own, which is all OK. As long as he doesn’t start acting like Mel Gibson.

Roadside Encounters: Mikey and Soju

Names: Mikey and Soju 

Breeds: Pug and Great Dane 

Encountered: At Riverside Park in Baltimore

Backstory: I got to spend some time with two of my favorite local dogs yesterday — a day whose warm temperatures led both humans and canines to linger at Riverside Park, in no particular hurry to get back home.

Even if it’s not here to stay, the mild weather was welcome — especially to Ace, after a winter of being rushed through the dog walk by an owner hoping to quickly get the “mission” accomplished and himself back indoors …

“C’mon, do your business, my toes are frozen. It’s too cold. Let’s go.”

In retrospect, in this past month, I’ve probably been, in Ace’s eye, a bit of a buzzkill.

Doing his duty, I don’t think, has ever been the foremost mission in Ace’s mind during trips to the park (hence the urging). He sees it as more of a happy hour, or preferably two – a chance to add to his scent portfolio, visit old dog friends, meet some new ones, and track down those folks who, at some point in history, have provided him with a treat.

Yesterday was the kind of visit he likes best — a long one, with good dog friends to play with, new ones to sniff out, and lots of humans to mooch off. (If you have treats in your pocket, Ace will determine which pocket and, should you need prompting, attempt to insert his nose inside it. When it comes to freeloading, I think I have learned some of his skills, and he has picked up some of mine.)

We got to catch up with our old friend Soju — he’s named after the vodka-like (but sweeter) Korean beverage. Soju and Ace are old friends, and they used to wrestle endlessly at Riverside, a true up-on-the-hind-legs, paw-swinging battle of the titans. When one of them went down, you could almost feel the earth shake.

They went at it for a bit yesterday, with Ace, the older of the two, watching as Soju galloped around him in circles, then tackling him like a lazy linebacker when Soju veered close enough.

Mikey stayed out of the fray — a wise choice given he’s not much bigger than a football. Mikey, a therapy dog with one of the more expressive faces you’ll ever see, generally avoids the roughhousing, choosing instead to sit at your feet, looking up at you with big brown bulging eyes until you give him a treat, no matter how long it takes.

Good things, he seems to know, come to those who wait – and spring is one example. Yesterday didn’t mark it’s arrival, but even a false precursor was welcome, and dogs and humans soaked it up. It occurs to me that we should send thank you notes to spring — perhaps that would lead her to stay around a little longer and forestall the inevitable arrival of her evil sister summer, who always comes to early and stays past her welcome.

Speaking of staying past one’s welcome, Ace and I — after a glorious month in a friend’s empty house in Federal Hill — will be hitting the road again next week.

As of now, it appears we will be heading south, where we plan to stay in an undetermined location for an indeterminate period of time. How’s that for a plan?

Once again, we’ll tear ourselves away from Baltimore, where — in addition to promoting my new book — the last month has allowed us to get ourselves organized, experience a semblance of stability, soak in a hot tub on a rooftop deck (just me, not Ace) and savor the pleasures of our old neighborhood.

I’ll miss my corner bar. Ace will miss his favorite park. But, as I think I said nine months ago — when Ace and I first embarked on our journey to discover America, its dogs and the people who love them — there’s one thing we’ll miss most of all:

Friends … big and small.

(To see all our Roadside Encounters, click here.)