Raz, my Great Dane was 7 feet tall on his hind legs; weight, 210 pounds and had a subwoofer bark that could shatter glass. But as a canine companion, there was none better, he was a true gentle giant. A genetic mistake from a famous show dog line, his breeder only offered him to me as a puppy because he was so far over breed standard, she said “I can’t win with him – he’s just someone’s pet.” The breeder’s rejection became my pet, Razputin Alexander Dances with Squirrels, my constant companion and yes, truth be told, my writing partner and co-creator of “The Devolution Chronicles” [as Koda, wolf-dog shaman]. But the immense size for which he became known far and wide ultimately was his downfall; after 3 major surgeries, he left us far too soon. The vet’s only answer was “giant breeds have health issues, the deck was stacked against him.” For several years I contemplated that thought; I love the personality of a Great Dane, but now accept that the price of their giant personality is the potential for a litany of health issues and ultimately, a shorter life span. For me, that is a hard choice for an animal companion, but one worth making.
Raz can never be replaced in my heart, but what if… we could build a better dog? Every dog is special, but a dog with the personality of a Great Dane, genetics engineered and targeted to address the health issues of a Great Dane, and perhaps, increase longevity? I’d build a giant breed dog with more agility, more intelligence; a lethal hunting lapdog with hypoallergenic fur and a built in 4G Wi-Fi hotspot… Ok, wait - improved phone reception may be a stretch for now, but we have the technology to achieve those other traits.
My Great Doodle experiment begins today with NELI, the purposeful cross between a Great Dane and standard Poodle. She comes from a breeder with a line of winning show dog parents, and is named NELI [Devolution Chronicles] Wildfire [native American tradition of what the Chief sees at birth] Bu Chi Wo [Chinese for "don't eat me"] Mkateewa Wii'ši [Shawnee for Black Dog].
Life’s a journey, not a destination; for me, this is a risk worth taking. As Commander Ryker says – “Better strap yourself in, cowgirl, this could get a little bumpy."