Madeleine Crum, The Huffington Post: The following is an excerpt from "Giant George" [Grand Central Publishing, $24.99], a memoir by the owner of the biggest dog in the world. Ironically, Dave was a reluctant pet owner, and ignored the warning signs that George would far exceed standard Great Dane height. Still, as he remarks at the end of the first chapter of the book, he's happily "committed" to his huge, lovable pet.
"The parents are real big,” the woman told me, once I’d got through and told her I was interested. “The mom is one hundred and sixty pounds, and the dad is two hundred.” And in an incredible feat of not really listening to what she was telling me (Why did that even matter? Great Danes were big dogs, weren’t they?), I took this in and then completely forgot about it, as I was more interested in jotting down all the other stuff she was telling me about which of the pups were still available for sale.
“Tell you what,” she said, “why don’t I e‑mail you a picture of them all, then you and your wife can decide which one might be suitable for you?”
Christie was understandably excited when she came home from work, particularly when she learned that the puppies were ready to leave their mother (they’d been born on November 17), and even more so when she looked at the picture. It was a real sight— a chaotic jumble of paws and snouts and tails. There were thirteen in the litter altogether. Twelve of these were entangled with one another, as young puppies tend to be, but our eyes were immediately drawn to one pup who was standing apart from the rest. He seemed the runt of the siblings, the outsider in the family, and that endeared him to Christie immediately.
He was also the perfect color. Pedigree Great Danes come in a number of shades and patterns, and the different types of marking make a real difference in the show world. There are harlequins and brindles, merles and mantles, and then the pure colors, like black and fawn and blue. If your Great Dane is a pure color, there must be no other color fur on it anywhere. None of this mattered to me in the least. A puppy was a puppy was a puppy to my mind. But to Christie, being a girl (though I wasn’t stupid enough to say that), color did matter. She had her heart set on a blue one. Happily, our little outsider was just that. In fact, he was blue as blue could be. His fur was almost the exact same steely blue as his eyes, and he had no white on him at all, which was very rare.
“Oh, Dave,” she cooed. “Look at that one! That one’s sooo cute! Let’s see if she can send a bigger picture.”
The woman kindly obliged, sending a whole stream of photos, and she confirmed that the one we’d picked, which she called “the cute runt,” was one of the six puppies left for sale.
It seemed like an omen and we made arrangements right away for her to ship the puppy from Oregon to Phoenix by air. On the road trip up from Tucson to Phoenix— a journey of some two hours— Christie was pretty excited, and I knew, despite my initial reluctance to become a dog owner, that this had been the right thing to do. The only nagging doubt was about the timing, as I also knew that, because of our respective jobs, the day‑to‑day business of looking after our new pet would be a burden that would mostly fall on me.
Christie worked as a sales executive for a big medical equipment company, which meant she spent a lot of time on the road, visiting clients. It wasn’t the sort of situation that worked well with a puppy, since there was no way she could take him along with her. I, on the other hand, worked for myself. I was a real estate agent, buying and fixing up houses for rental, which meant I was my own boss and could do what I liked— well, at least within reason I could do what I liked. I knew Christie figured that me taking a puppy to work came under the banner of “hey, no big deal.” Personally, I wasn’t so sure about that, but this was the plan we’d agreed on, this puppy, and I knew my wife couldn’t wait to meet him. It would be just fine, I told myself, as we made our way north to pick up the newest member of our little family. “So,” said Christie, as we headed up the interstate. “What are we going to name this pup of ours?”
What to name him wasn’t something I’d given a whole lot of thought to. I was much more concerned with what we were going to do with him than with naming him. But she was excited and I knew I had to make an effort to be too. “I dunno,” I said, trying to think on the hoof. “How about something like... um... Biggie?” She laughed out loud at this— real loud. “Biggie?” she spluttered. “What kind of a mad name is that?” She shook her head. She seemed to find my suggestion funny. I didn’t think I’d ever fully understand women and their foibles. What the hell was wrong with Biggie for a dog?
“It’s a good name!” I countered, though, in truth, it really wasn’t. I imagined calling it in a park: “C’mon, Biggie! Biggie, here!” Nope. Biggie sucked. “He’ll be big,” I added anyway. “You know. He’s gonna be a big dog. So we call him Biggie. What’s wrong with that? It’s logical, isn’t it? C’mon. It is! Or, I don’t know, Fido, or Pluto? Or... hell, I don’t know!” She laughed again. “Pluto? Come on, hon. No. I think he should have a man’s name. I like dogs with men’s names.” She’d clearly decided already, I realized. “What?” I asked her. “You mean something like Richard?” She pulled a face. “No, stupid. Something more... you know. More...” She paused. “I know!” she said finally. “How about George?” “George?” “Yes. George is a cool name. You like George?”
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