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 realised 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 favourite 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. … 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 vigour 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 about 14 stone, 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 recognised 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 nine to 11 stone, but by Christmas 2007 George weighed 15 stone — 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 18 stone. 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.’ …