Grant Parkus Malarkus is what we called him. Oh, he was a wild one!
Grant found us. The day after Thanksgiving one year (1999, I believe), Jake took Maple for a walk. He was cruisin’ up Grant Street when this black and tan dog came up to them both and started following them. He had a collar but no tags and was not neutered. Jake even tried to lose him, and he would disappear down a street or behind a house only to find them again. He followed Jake and Maple all the way home and sat outside our fence gate patiently waiting to be allowed in. Jake called me, I was at work, story of my life, and tells me he found this “huge dog”. Mind you, Jake grew up with Bassett Hounds and I grew up with a St. Bernard/Black Lab mix and a full-size Collie. I came to discover that Grant was not huge. But he had a HUGE personality!
Grant lifted his leg in the house, chased the cats, constantly wanted to hump and spar with Maple, he was BUSY! We quickly found his niche, agility! In addition to basic obedience, we always trained our dogs in advanced obedience which included off leash commands, but Grant was the first to try agility and he was a natural. We didn’t seek out competitions, it was more just for fun and to wear him out. He did win a prize once; at a fundraising gig they had a best trick contest, and he could easily jump the police barricades like a gazelle! The crowd was so impressed, I’m sure the Atlanta police were impressed that we snagged one of their barricades for the contest, oh well.
Grant was a people pleaser. He was always trying so hard to do the right thing but in the process was annoying to most of our friends and family. He was that dog that dropped the slobbery ball in your lap, licked you and pawed at you for attention, but he was also a cuddler and loved nothing more than to curl up on the couch with you like a little deer fawn. It was always remarkable how small he could make his 80-pound self. After a lot of training and home modifications to help meet the cat’s needs vertically, he achieved his canine good citizenship and even cuddled with the cats, and they groomed him.
Clearly Grant's behavior improved around he cats and he thought they were pillows!
When Yukon came along, the purebred German Shepard, we felt Grant and Maple needed some fancy titles too. So, Grant became our “Georgian Rodent Tracker” and Maple our “Scandinavian Rabbit Hound”! We thought these were quite clever!
Grant was a bold dog. He went nuts when Jake would skate in the driveway and even jumped the fence to join him. He would pick the skateboard up in his mouth and carry it like a bone! He even tried to battle with the lawnmower. It did not scare him when it was on and when it was off, he would pick it up by one of the wheels and drag it around the yard! I’m telling you; this dog had some energy!
He lived hard and died young, at the age of 9 years he met the same fate that multiple of our subsequent dogs would succumb to later in life. Fine one minute gone the next is the story of the ruptured splenic mass. Went for his usual walked the day he died, reached up to the kitchen sink to grab an empty can of cat food and lick out its contents and then he was suddenly acutely lethargic. We rushed him to the ER and did the surgery despite many warnings it would be futile. He only made it 9 days post op.
We brought him home to say goodbye. First, I took him to the stone bridge that he routinely jumped on in Grant Park so he could see it one last time. Then, when we got back home, he jumped out of the car on his own despite a painful abdomen filling with blood, lifted his leg one last time on the deck railing and walked right up the stairs, laid down on his bed and there he rested. We were in awe of his strength. We have come to learn that splenic cancer is quite common in large and giant breed dogs and since it often takes them so young, they are still quite strong and able-bodied when afflicted. It impressed us, nonetheless. We tried to keep him from peeing on inappropriate things his whole life but marking the deck railing as his last hurrah was absolutely perfect. Aptly so, his ID tag was a fire hydrant! The biggest, boldest, and naughtiest leave the biggest holes.