PHOENICIA–No matter where she goes, Kerryth Kilduir gets pretty much the same reaction.
Motorists crane their necks. Children squeal in delight. Strangers enthusiastically approach.
They all want to get close to Dunkan, a behemoth Great Dane often seen walking lazily through the hamlet on a summer day.
Kilduir said the 5-year-old, 170-pound animal loves all the attention, even though it’s hard to get him off the couch and out the door for his daily exercise.
Whenever she and Dunkan do set out for a stroll and encounter the curious, Kilduir loves to talk about the dog she bought from a breeder in Niagara Falls.
“He’s 40 inches, and when he stands straight up, he’s 7-feet-tall,” she said. “He rivals the
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not (biggest) Great Dane. He’s a big boy. He’s about six inches bigger than your normal Dane.”
She’s apparently done her homework.
According to the website http://www.all-about-great-danes.com/, the average height of a male Great Dane is between 33 and 36 inches. Females can top off at 34 inches. The height is measured at the withers–the highest part of the back between the shoulder blades.
The Guinness World Record title currently belongs to Freddy, a Great Dane from England that is 7 feet, 6 inches tall when standing on his hind legs.
Before that, others like Zeus held the title. The Great Dane from Otsego, Mich., that died in recent years, measured 44 inches from foot to withers–the same size as an average donkey.
Dunkan isn’t far off, and Kilduir said he’s the pride of the popular Catskill Mountains hangout. In fact, Dunkan is the mascot of the hamlet and MF Whitney Firehouse.
“Most of the people think he’s quite original and want to know where the saddle is. They say, ‘You’re walking your horse today?’ Yeah, that’s me,” Kilduir said.
“It can take us a half hour to get past Brio’s (pizzeria) on the weekend in the summer
because everyone wants to come out and pet him and take his picture, which is fine. He loves it.”
The beloved beast also happens to be blind and partially deaf. Kilduir said when she bought him as an 8-week-old puppy, she was told he was in perfect health.
She later discovered that Dunkan had no vision and could only hear out of his right ear.
“He has perfect hearing on that side. Whenever I open a candy wrapper, he hears it. His favorite is Werther’s Original,” Kilduir said.
The easygoing dog, though regal in appearance, also evokes a certain amount of pity. His left eye is missing due to an ulcer that wouldn’t heal, making him even more of a people-magnet.
In the span of about five minutes on a recent afternoon, passersby stopped to inquire about Dunkan and motorists stretched their necks to get a better look.
Kilduir said he is trained to handle all the attention, no matter who approaches.
“He loves kids, especially when they smell like candy or milk. He loves to lick their little faces–babies, too. He’s very gentle with all of them,” Kilduir said.
As for his appetite, Dunkan consumes five measured cups of grain-free dog food per day and an occasional whole, raw chicken–bones and all. Phoenicians further fuss over their favorite fellow.
“The lady in the deli saves the ends of the cold cuts and cheeses for him. Everybody carries
biscuits and puts out water for him. This is very much a dog-town. People here love dogs, and they welcome the dogs with bowls of water at the outdoor restaurants.”
Kilduir said she is gearing up for the tourist months ahead. Phoenicia recently was ranked the top destination outside New York City, so Dunkan’s owner is prepared for all the rubbernecking.
“It’ll happen. It always does, but he’s cool with that,” she said.