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Great Dane named Cliff gives great chase

Wednesday - 7/6/2011, 8:05am  ET

Cliff Great Dane (Frederick News-Post/Sam Yu)
Missing for more than a day, Cliff, a Great Dane, was back at home Monday. With the family pet are Paula Dougherty and her son, Grant, 13. (Frederick News-Post/Sam Yu)

Cop tries to catch Great Dane attached to restaurant table

WTOP's David Burd reports

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Big even by Great Dane standards and dragging a table leg behind him, Cliff didn't exactly blend into a crowd.

So after Cliff's owners went two days without finding anyone who had seen their dog since he bolted from an outdoor eating area in downtown Frederick, they worried he had been hurt or stolen. A stream of calls to animal control, scores of fliers and trips to search the area hadn't turned up any sign of Cliff, a gray 3-year-old Great Dane, Paula Dougherty said.

"Nothing was coming up 'Cliff,'" she said.

Dougherty, her husband, Andrew, and their children had decided to take their 170-pound dog -- a "gentle giant" -- downtown to grab a burger Saturday. While the family ordered lunch inside Five Guys on Carroll Creek Way, Dougherty's son, Grant, 13, stayed outside with Cliff and tied his leash to the leg of a restaurant table.

Suddenly, without explanation, Cliff took off, hauling the table with him.

The chase was on.

"The manager of Five Guys and I went chasing after my son, who was chasing after the dog, who was attached to the table," Dougherty said.

But Cliff was faster than Dougherty, her son and the people dining outside at other restaurants. Not even a police officer was able to stop Cliff in his tracks.

Cpl. John Corbett had just started his foot patrol of Carroll Creek Linear Park when yelling and the sound of a table clattering along the street caught his attention. He then saw a Great Dane was charging toward him.

"It took a second to process because the animal was so large," said Corbett, an officer with the Frederick Police Department.

Corbett crouched and tried to stop the dog, but instead, the dog slammed into the officer, knocked him to the ground and kept running. The officer retrieved nothing except for fragments of the cafe table.

Cliff, with his leash freed of everything except one table leg, sped up. His pursuers soon lost sight of him.

Dougherty said her family started putting up posters Saturday evening, but nobody downtown had seen their dog, she said. Concerned that someone would try to sell Cliff, she even combed through Craigslist pages to check for a posting about a Great Dane.

"It was devastating. We couldn't lose him," she said. "We got him as a puppy, and he's a huge part of our family."

Finally, on Monday morning a phone call from Corbett delivered the news Dougherty had been waiting to hear: Cliff had turned up behind some law offices in the 100 block of West Patrick Street. A clanking sound had led someone to the place where Cliff was stuck, his leash and the table leg caught in a fence, Dougherty said.

Cliff was dehydrated, and his paws were torn, but he was OK. After a trip to the emergency veterinarian, he came home and collapsed on his blanket at long last.

"We can't stop looking at him. We think about how lucky we are," Dougherty said.

As for Corbett, the officer said he's not holding a grudge against Cliff for their rough introduction.

"We were glad to find him," the officer said.

Copyright 2011 The Frederick News-Post. All rights reserved.