With his big, flapping ears, long tongue and overall giant presence, George was a huge hit from the moment he arrived.
George, a Great Dane, visited fourth-grade classes Thursday at Allison Park Elementary to help the Chartiers-Houston students celebrate Pennsylvania Pride Week.
Donned in blue and gold, the state’s colors, the fourth-graders huddled together under the shelter next to the school. They giggled and cheered as George, whose full name is Steel Valley King George Terlingo, made his rounds around the group, and exploded in cheerful chatter when he choose one lucky child’s lap to sit on.
“He’s tall enough that he can just back up and sit down like a person,” George’s owner, Kristy Terling, said.
Sharing a bit of George’s background – he’s 11 months old and weighs 145 pounds – Terling explained the reason behind their visit. “Great Danes were named the Pennsylvania state dog in 1965.”
Terling, of Chartiers Township, went on to add that much like the state, Great Danes went from a hunting breed to a working breed.
“Pennsylvania was originally a hunting commonwealth that became a working community.”
Hailing from England, the breed’s personality and temperament made it the perfect fit for state dog.
“They are loyal and hardworking,” Terling said of the breed. “They are very similar to the people of Pennsylvania.”
In addition to meeting George, the students also heard presentations from representatives of Pennsylvania Game Commission, Washington County Parks and Recreation Department, Meadowcroft Museum of Rural Life and Washington County Historical Society. To finish the day, students celebrated with banana splits, which were first created in Latrobe.
Lindsay Mermon, a fourth-grade teacher, said George was a great addition to the school’s yearly celebration.
“The kids are more excited for him than they will be for anything else (Thursday).”
Principal Annette Caruso said the school is fortunate to have community members and parents who are so willing to help enhance the students’ learning experience.
“(The students) are learning without even realizing that they are learning,” Caruso said.
Terling was “thrilled and honored” to spend her morning at the school. Like the students, she said she learned a lot from Thursday’s presentation.
“At first, I didn’t know why they wanted me to bring my puppy,” she said. “I didn’t know (George) was the state dog.”