Greatest Dane – Now a Guinness record holder, Gibson retains his roots as a therapy dog
Some of them stood, the weight of their bodies bolstered by the steel walkers beside their feet.
Some of them sat in wheelchairs, their eyes as big as gauze pads.
They scanned the glass doors recently looking out from Meadow View Manor, waiting for their own brush with fame.
“As soon as they hear Gibson’s coming, they gather around the front door,” said Maureen Betancourt, the activities director at the Grass Valley nursing home. “He’s developed quite a following.”
The world’s tallest dog, as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records, Gibson stands 43 inches high at the shoulders.
As soon as Gibson padded in, followed by owner Sandy Hall, the small knot of white-haired men and women peeled back the years, erupting into cheers and clapping as if they’d just been visited by Artie Shaw.
Nurses clamored around the bookshelf-sized pooch, snapping photos with their cell phones.
The Grass Valley Great Dane obliged the masses like a modern-day rock star, lifting his front paw to shake hands, plant raspberries on ladies’ cheeks, even plopping his 160-pound frame into 92-year-old Ruth Eddy’s lap.
“He’s always friendly to me. He gave me a kiss and almost took out half my cheek,” Eddy cackled, patting the dog’s football-sized head.
About the only thing Gibson didn’t do was sign autographs. Seems nobody had a pen handy.
Since his birth three years ago, Gibson’s climb to superstardom has been as fast as his growth rate.
In the past year, the Harlequin Great Dane has appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” barked on the “Mark and Brian” nationally syndicated radio program and been a guest on several Sacramento-area news programs.
He’s also been the featured attraction at various fund-raisers supporting the building of the Golden Empire Humane Society’s no-kill animal shelter on Rough and Ready Highway.
Told they were standing next to history on a recent Wednesday, visitors to Meadow View Manor dropped their jaws at the sight of Gibson the Great Dane.
“That’s insane,” said Eric Martin, delivering office supplies to the convalescent home Wednesday.
One little girl, walking up to Gibson in the parking lot, said he looked like a horse.
“That’s OK, Gibson,” Hall cooed, patting Gibson’s shoulders and adjusting the collar that a dog-food outlet has paid him to wear. “You’ve been called a lot worse.”
Before Gibson became famous, Hall had him certified as a therapy dog for hospital patients.
Hall never figured Gibson would be larger than life. In fact, the dog’s mother can stand upright in between Gibson’s legs, Hall said.
Gibson eats eight to 10 cups of dry dog food a day, supplemented by lightly cooked hamburger and chicken. On special days, the Sicilian-bred Hall gives her pal bits of cheese pizza and linguini.
“I keep all that stuff in the freezer for him,” said Hall, who worked in the home health field and moonlighted as a jazz guitarist in San Jose before moving to Nevada County a few years ago and starting a dog-breeding business.
The diet fortifies Gibson after long road trips either in a rented stretch limousine or in the back seat of Hall’s 1961 Ford Falcon, where the dog’s head bobs out one window, his tail the other.
He needs a new ride, his owner said. Pronto.
And so, Sandy Hall left Meadow View Manor gently imploring Gibson’s fans to spread the word.
Bring your wallets, because Gibson’s ready for his close-up.
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