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World's Tallest Dog Visits Battle Creek

11:07 AM, Jan 29, 2013   |    comments
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Don't leave any food on the counter at the Doorlag residence unless you're willing to never see it again.

"The safest places are the microwave and the top of my fridge," said Kevin Doorlag, an Otsego resident.

That's because it's also the home of Zeus, a 4-year-old Great Dane who was named the world's tallest dog by the Guinness World Records 2013 book. The 165-pound dog stands 44 inches at the shoulder; he stands at 7-foot-4 on his hind legs.

But don't let the intimidating stature fool you - the worst Zeus will do is slobber, Doorlag said.

The famous dog visited Battle Creek Thursday, where he greeted some 20 visitors with friendly licks in exchange for pets. The dog, whose black coat has hints of white behind his paws, is used to traveling - he usually visits patients at Bronson Battle Creek once a week as a therapy dog.

Doorlag said he and his wife, Denise, had to buy a van and took out the backseat to drive the dog around.

Battle Creek resident Donna Myer, 81, contacted Doorlag after seeing a photo of Zeus and learning that he was from her hometown. She asked if she could travel to Otsego, about 45 minutes away, to visit the dog; Doorlag suggested they come to her instead.

"I said, 'Well, you don't have to do that," Myer said, "but he insisted."

And there was no way Zeus was going to fit in her house, she said - so he came to the Enquirer newsroom instead.

Doorlag said Zeus was 8 weeks old when they brought him home. His father was big, but his mother was quite small, Doorlag said. He also came from a litter of 15. "We had no idea he was going to be this big," Doorlag said.

And he is big. Zeus eats a 30-pound bag of food every two weeks and is about a foot taller than the average size of a Great Dane. His friend at home, a German Shepherd named Segan, runs right between his legs with ease while they play, Doorlag said.

After seeing the height of the previous record-holder, Doorlag said they applied. It took about a year to receive confirmation Zeus was the new winner, he said. When the family traveled with the dog to New York City in September to claim the record, the returned home to 20 voicemails inquiring about the dog.

"It's just been a wonderful experience," Doorlag said.

But the record has also brought criticism, he said.

Many people have commented online that Zeus appears too skinny and even malnourished. Doorlag, who works for a veterinarian, said his thin frame is "actually a blessing in disguise" that helps with his bones and legs. The comments are hurtful, he said, but all tests and vet appointments point to a healthy dog -- and a family member that Doorlag says they feel "honestly blessed to have."

Doorlag said although time has passed since Zeus was proclaimed the record holder, he still gets calls from folks like Myer hoping to meet the dog.

Every Thursday, he drives the 45 minutes to take Zeus to Bronson Battle Creek, and often takes him to schools. It's time-consuming, he said, but "I think that's what it's all about."

Written By: Jennifer Bowman, Battle Creek Enquirer

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