A YOUNG Parkton family is happily raising a Great Dane named Duke who is black and white, healthy and friendly.
Duke hogs the television, sleeps with family members, is spoiled and thinks he is a person. But the family is convinced if their safety was challenged Duke would be their protector.
Duke's owners, Cindy and Larry Price, and their two children, Larry Jr., 13, and Barbara, 4, don't know Duke's weight exactly, but they say Duke doesn't seem as large to them now as he did when he was a puppy three years ago when they purchased him.
''At just a few weeks, Duke was so big as a puppy, he could already reach to kiss Barbara,'' says Cindy, who had insisted upon a dog and she wanted a big one.
The couple, in their 30s, are deeply religious and dedicated to the Church of God.
All four family members attend Sunday school and church on Sunday, go back for evening services and on Wednesday evening attend a family training class at church. The couple sings in the choir and Cindy teaches Sunday School. And they are members of groups one of which helps the needy in their area. Called the Hope Committee, Mr. Price explains, ''we seek out those who are needy and we offer both spiritual and material help.''
Duke is considered a member of the family and he sleeps where he chooses.
''His favorite spots include on the floor beside our bed, at the top of the stairs, on the couch or Barbara's bed," Cindy says. "And every morning, too early, I can count on his face looking right into mine, letting me know he wants to go outside,'' adds Cindy Price who helps out with family expenses by cleaning houses for people.
''I can make my own hours," she says of the cleaning job. "Plus, on most jobs I can take my little daughter with me. That way I am sure of the person who is watching her."
Mr. Price is a burner technician who has been with Yeaton/Marex Fuel Company for four years. He loves carpentry work and also is a deer hunter.
''I get three dear a year and that feeds my family," he says. "My father taught me to hunt but I won't be teaching Larry Jr., because he is not interested, does not want to kill and I respect his choice,'' says his father.
Mr. Price jokes that their Duke hogs the TV. ''To settle down, he walks round and round on the carpet and always settles directly between us and the TV," he explains. "The size of his head gives him viewing advantage . . ."