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Tag: great danes

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.)

We all need somebody to lean on


Among the dogs we met in Charlotte during our visit to The Dog Bar, were Skyler and Pierce, two white Great Danes who — one being half blind, one being deaf, neither having the distinct black markings harlequin Great Danes are supposed to have — were headed to the kind of future “defective” dogs often face.

Namely, no future at all.

They were part of a larger litter that turned out to be unprofitable. All the pups were affected by a strain of distemper — but because of their additional handicaps, Skyler and Pierce, the breeder decided, couldn’t even be given away, and therefore should be put down.

That’s when Laura Moss and Fred Metzler stepped in. Laura was working at an animal emergency clinic at the time. The litter of Great Danes ended up there. She already had three dogs at home, so she asked Fred, her friend of several years, to adopt the two future-less siblings.

Fred, a sales manager for a company that makes automatic doors, agreed. But, because he traveled a lot, he often called upon Laura to pet sit the duo — Skyler, the deaf one, and Pierce, the blind one — when he was out of town.

At Fred’s house, Laura noticed, the two pups — as they did at the hospital — continued to stay at each others’ sides. When they went to sleep, Skyler would lay her head on top of Pierce.

“That way, if he hears something, he’ll react. Then she’ll be the police dog and go check it out. They’ve been that way since they were babies,” Laura said. “There’s no way we could separate them.”

Skyler, named for her sky blue eyes, is 106 pounds; Pierce, named, for his handsomeness, after actor Pierce Brosnan, is 175 pounds. Despite their handicaps, they manage, with help from each other, to do all that dogs do.

Fred and Laura have come up with a system of sign language to communicate with Skyler, including more than 20 commands. The two dogs have become a striking and familiar sight in Charlotte’s NoDa neighborhood. They even march in the local St. Patrick’s Day parade.

And they get along fine with Laura’s other dogs — a miniature pinscher named Jade, a Boston terrier named Halley and a dalmatian named Dax, who she also brought home from the animal hospital. His former owner dropped him off and, once learning he had heartworm, never picked him up.

Since she talked him into adopting the dogs, Laura and Fred have become a couple, and now share a residence with all five of their dogs.

Laura doesn’t give the Great Danes full credit for bringing two humans together — but maybe, on some level, the relationship between the two big white dogs represents a lesson to be learned: Having someone in your life you can turn to, and depend on, and whose strengths can compliment your weaknesses, has its advantages.

Or maybe that’s reading too much into it.

“The friendship is what brought us together,” Laura says, “but the Great Danes didn’t hurt.”

Giant George ousts Titan as world’s tallest dog

giantgeorge

 
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)

Which Dane is Greater? Titan vs. George

titan2georgeWhen is the world’s tallest dog not the world’s tallest dog?

When there’s quite possibly a taller one, but that one’s owner doesn’t get the paperwork into Guinness World Records officials in time.

Titan, left, was crowned the world’s tallest dog Thursday by Guinness World Records officials. But Arizona Realtor Dave Nasser, who has been campaigning to get his dog George, right, named the world’s tallest, says his dog, by some measurements at least, is three-fourths of an inch higher.

After his dog was measured at 42 inches, Nasser got a second and third opinion on his dog’s height, which, respectively, showed George to be 42.625, or 43 inches tall at the shoulder.

Proving, I guess, that the top of the shoulder is in the eye of the beholder.

As a result of all the measurement seeking, Nasser didn’t get the application into Guinness in time to compete with Titan, who is owned by Diana Taylor of San Diego, and is 42.25 inches tall.

“It’s just bad timing. I can’t say anything bad about Guinness,” said Nasser. “We sent the paperwork to them Tuesday and they got it Thursday. The winner had a plaque in hand Thursday. … we were just late to the game.”

Nasser said he wasn’t aware of a deadline, or that Nov. 12 was Guinness World Record Day, Phil Villarreal reported in the Arizona Daily Star.

Nasser said he spoke on the phone Friday with a Guinness representative in London, who said the company was verifying George’s application and that there was no time frame as to when a decision will be made on whether George will displace Titan..

“Guinness World Records received a massive influx of claims after the death of Gibson (the previous world’s tallest dog) this year. The organization is familiar with George’s claim but is still assessing proper evidence before properly authenticating,” a Guinness spokesman told the Star on Friday … Verifying record proposals is a meticulous process that is not done overnight. It could take months for the research team to make the decision. ”

Nasser says he has offered to bring George and Titan together to see which dog is bigger.

For an update on this story, click here.

It’s a life of luxury for many dogs in India

In a country of more than a billion mostly poverty-stricken people, the status of dogs –  purebreds at least — is reaching new heights.

India, home to nearly half of the world’s hungry, has seen a surge in pricey dogs (including pugs, like the one pictured, featured in the advertising of a cell phone company, Vodaphone) and pricey dog goods and services.

it’s not uncommon for wealthy families to spend more on imported dog food in a week than the weekly budget of the 420 million Indians officially classified as poor.

Pets are becoming big business in India, and predictions are that the industry will continue to experience annual growth of 10-15 percent, Agence France-Presse reports — even though about 40 percent of India’s population lives below the global poverty line of less than $1.25 a day.

India’s pet industry is valued at around $45 million dollars annually, according to the research firm Euromonitor, compared to the annual $40 billion dollars of the U.S. market.

Experts say that thanks to the economic boom of the past decade, pets have become status symbols in a society that is seeing shifts in its family structure.

“Often both parents work and there’s no longer any grandparents around for the children to come home to, only the maid,” said Linda Brady Hawke, publisher of Indian pet care magazine Creature Companion. “An animal is something which will greet the children with love,” she said.

Among the breeds seeing increasingly popularity are Great Danes, dalmatians, Afghan hounds and pugs, which soared in popularity after one was featured in a mobile phone TV advertisement.

Labradors and golden retrievers have shown staying power, with owners willing to spend up to 300,000 rupees (6,000 dollars) for a championship-level imported purebred specimen — and to leave the air-conditioning on so thick-coated breeds such as giant St. Bernards won’t perish in the summer heat, the article says.

Money’s not an object, either, with many clients of ScoobyScrub, offering such services as “full body massage” and hair streaking, which can cost up to 1,000 rupees, more than most maids earn in a week.

“Families want to spend more on pets whether it’s branded foods or toys — that’s part of the ‘humanization’ process” of the animal, said Euromonitor researcher Yvonne Kok.

Doghouses of the rich and famous

“Completely dog-mad.”

That’s how a publicist describes a wealthy accountant and his doctor wife who are spending a quarter of a million pounds — just under $400,000 — on a house for their two Great Danes.

The doggie domicile will feature a 52-inch plasma TV; a retina-scan entry system that will allow the Danes, but no other dogs, entry; two bedrooms and a separate lounging area; two elevated temperature-controlled beds lined with sheepskin, from which the dogs can see out through the giant windows; automatic dispensers of food and chilled, filtered water; a temperature-controlled pool/spa; and an outdoor adventure play area — all of which can be controlled and viewed by the owners via computer from anywhere in the world.

The 1,000-square-foot kennel will adjjoin the main house, both of which are being built on the exclusive Lower Mill Estate near Cirencester, Gloucestershire, according to the London Daily Mail

Work is due to start next April and take around 18 months. The owners have requested anonymity. 

“All we can say is that they are a retired couple who are completely dog-mad,” a publicist said. “They said: ‘We want the perfect living space for us and our dogs’ and that’s what they are getting.”

(Illustration by London Daily Mail)

Shih-what? Mispronounced dog breed names

    Here are my favorite mispronunciations of dog breeds, all of which I’ve actually heard.

    1. Akeeter. Because of his curly tail, my dog Ace is often suspected to have some of this Japanese breed in his mix. As in, “He got any Akeeter in ‘em?”

    2. Burmese Mountain Dog. Alas, these behemoths are not from Burma, but a section of Switzerland that is also home to the Bernese Alps. Not the Alpos, the Alps.

    3. Datsun. A few months back I saw a sign posted on a light pole by a family that was having to find a new home for their “Datsun,” which was good with children and up to date on its shots.

    4. Great Dames. I’ve known a few, and none were dogs. I don’t think they were Danes, either.

     5. Rock Wilder. I’ve had several people tell me that my dog appears to have some “Rock Wilder” in him. They’re correct about that part, at least — if not the porn star-sounding name of the breed.

    6. Saint Barnyard. Protectors of all the cows, pigs, goats and chickens? Hay, that can’t be right. 

  7. Snoozers. You’ve got your standard Snoozers and your miniature Snoozers. Most of the miniature ones I’ve known, however, don’t snooze much, or allow anyone else to, either.

shih (long pause) tzu

   8. Sharpie. It’s Shar-Pei, not Sharpie. Make a note of it.

    9. Rhyme-a-whiner/Wisenheimer. I had one of these sleek, silver-grey, highstrung dogs while growing up, and while she did sometimes whine, she was, bless her heart, anything but wise.

    10. Welch Corky.  No, it’s not what keeps the grape juice in the bottle. It’s the dog breed that got short-changed when they were handing out the legs — the Welsh Corgi.

Monday: The hardest-to-pronounce dog breed of all.

Chihuahuas in the limelight

If you’re a Chihuahua these days, you take the good with the bad. They’re the topic of a soon-to-be-released major movie, devoted to their churlish, tenacious and persnickety ways. But they’ve also taken some raps in recent studies.

First came this one — designating Chihuahua’s second only to dachsunds on a list of the most aggressive dog breeds. The study rated the aggression level of 33 breeds and concluded smaller breeds might be more genetically predisposed towards aggressive behavior.

Now, a study by Esure, a British pet insurer, has ranked them second again — this time to Great Danes — in terms of destructiveness.

According to the survey, Chihuahuas destroy $1,376 dollars worth of stuff during their lifetimes, compared to $1,420 dollars for Great Danes.

Bulldogs, dachshunds and beagles also made the top 10, with pugs, saint bernards and pointers among the least ruinous, according to an article about the study.

The survey of more than 3,000 UK dog owners found the items most often damaged were soft furnishings and electrical goods – used as makeshift chew toys – and vases and lights, knocked over by wagging tails.

Most of the damage was done during puppyhood, according to the study, which concluded a dog’s size had little bearing on its wrecking ability.

So, take note — and take a pointer, Weimaraner, or Rottweiler – all you apartment owners, hotels managers and others who set an arbitrary weight limit on the dogs you allow. Size, at least in this particular area, doesn’t matter.

And take note, too, all those who might fall into the trap of rashly getting a Chihuahua when the movie propels the breed into even more of a fad. Make sure you’re willing to invest the time. And money. Chihuahua’s are also atop another list, as the most expensive breed of dog to maintain.

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