BY Nicole Carter
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER, Wednesday, June 2nd 2010, 4:00 AM
Rikke Brogaard says her sweet-tempered, 120-pound Great Dane, Olive (pictured in her apartment in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn) is comforting to friends who are stressed out.
Stanley, a 185 lb. American mastiff, fills up the kitchen in owner Julee Whalin’s Brooklyn apartment.
150-pound Great Dane Stu gets his own bedroom in owner Mike Sullo’s Williamsburg pad.
You wanna put a saddle on that dog?
Julee Whalin hears that question almost every time she walks her 190-pound American Mastiff puppy (yes, puppy), Stanley.
“People stop me on the street and want to know how much he weighs, what he eats and even how much he poops,” says Whalin. “They want to know everything about how we live.”
Fascination with these pony-size pups will hit new heights when the “Marmaduke” movie, about the naughty Great Dane from the funny pages, hits theaters Friday. For the few New Yorkers who own a giant-breed dog, it’s art imitating life.
“He’s needs a lot of attention and is practically on my heels everywhere I go,” says Whalin, who also owns two tabby cats and a mellow beagle named Mitsy. “Gabby [one of the cats] rules the house and totally puts Stanley in his place. He’s actually afraid of the cats.”
Whalin, along with her husband, Greg, got Stanley a little more than a year ago as a companion for aging Mitsy. Stanley was 18 pounds when they picked him up from the breeder — and he gained a pound a day for more than two months straight.
When he’s done growing, he will be 225 pounds. Stanley eats 10 cups of dry dog food a day plus a steamed organic sweet potato to help his digestion.
And though Stanley, whose head is the size of a lion’s, can easily clear the countertop in the Whalins’ kitchen, he’s too timid to swipe a snack without permission.
“He thinks the potatoes are treats and runs off with them to scarf down in secret,” says Whalin, a communications manager.
Stanley spends his days sniffing around the Whalins’ one-bedroom apartment in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.
“A repairman was here the other day and Stanley was all up in his business, sniffing his tools and trying to play with him,” says Whalin.
Like any puppy, Stanley has more energy than older dogs, which forces his owners to come up with creative ways to tire him out.
“I blow bubbles in his face, and he hops up to bite them. About an hour later, he’s too tired to care,” she says, adding she’s thankful for her ground-floor apartment: “He also really likes to sit on the couch and look out the window at people that pass by.
Though Stanley has always been friendly toward other dogs, as he got bigger, the Whalins realized he couldn’t play with pups his age. So the couple started Brooklyn Giant Breeds, a meet-up group that now has more than 50 members, from mastiffs to Great Danes.
“He’s the biggest in the group, but it’s great for him to have friends his size,” she says.
Stanley’s sweet nature has even earned him celebrity status in the neighborhood.
“Bars and shops that aren’t necessarily dog-friendly let him in because they love him so much,” says Whalin.
This is also true for Mike Sullo’s floppy-eared Stu, a Great Dane named after the Italian-American slang word “stunad,” which means goofy.
“Everybody knows Stu, and Stu loves everybody. We run errands together and he can go into all the stores and businesses,” says Sullo, who lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. “People love him because he is a goof. He runs into street poles and tip-toes around subway grates.”
Stu, 8, is a hefty 150 pounds, with a handsome gray muzzle and gentle brown eyes. Unlike the snoopy Stanley, Stu is laid-back, sleeps most of the day and likes to bask in the sunny spots of his grassy backyard.
Sharing an NYC apartment with a big-breed dog can be tough. So Sullo gave Stu his own bedroom.
“It’s his sanctuary,” says Sullo of Stu’s private boudoir, which features such amenities as a queen-size bed.
It’s not the only concession Sullo’s had to make. Since the graphic designer adopted Stu from the Mid Atlantic Great Dane Rescue League a few years ago, he’s bought a car to bring Stu to vet appointments and on trips outside the city.
“He goes everywhere with me and needs to be by my side all the time. If I’m on the couch, he’s literally draped across my lap,” he says. “In fact, my command to get him to behave is, ‘Do you want to be alone?’ It’s like the worst thing he could ever imagine happening.”
He has that in common with Olive, a lanky, brown-eyed Great Dane who lives in Clinton Hill.
“I have friends who come over just to get their ‘Olive fix,’” says Olive’s owner, dog behaviorist Rikke Brogaard. “She
lays across their laps and just sleeps. It’s really therapeutic for people when they are stressed out.”
Olive, 4, shares the two-bedroom apartment with Brogaard, her 8-year-old daughter and a 100-pound mastiff named Vinny.
“I would describe Olive as slow-moving furniture,” says Brogaard, who has owned seven Great Danes.
She notes, “They are such great dogs. But people should realize they aren’t all the same. You can get a supermellow one, like Olive, or one that’s bouncing off the walls. But most have a very irresistible sweetness.”
Olive’s days are spent much like Stanley and Stu’s, a mix of lengthy naps and short spurts of play.
“I can take Olive for a quick run outside or just snuggle up and watch TV,” says Brogaard, who had to buy a bigger couch to accommodate Olive’s tendency to stretch out.
But at the end of the day, Brogaard says, life with a giant dog is like life with any other pooch.
“I love her because she is the right dog for me. She matches my lifestyle. She just happens to be enormous.”