'We wanted dogs that wrinkled more than we did:' Silver giant makes splash at the beach

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - If you're someone who visits Lowe's, Tanger Outlets, The Market Common and one specific dog park frequently, chances are good you've seen a silver giant before.

It turns out, he's gained quite the following.

"Everywhere we go, people know him. Like people come up to us like, 'Oh my God, that's Dino; we've heard about him!' People are sharing pictures of him at parties and we have no idea who these people are," said Andrew Groelinger, as he laughed with his wife, Apryll.

A blue-eyed Neapolitan Mastiff named Dino has reached local celebrity status in Myrtle Beach.

"I was at the furniture store the other day looking at new couches. Someone in the store pulls the saleswoman away and comes back, and she's like, 'Someone told me I should ask you about your Neo.' I'm like, 'Who?' He's like this little local celebrity. It's funny," Andrew said.

Andrew and Apryll's dog, Dino, is a 107.2-pound sweetheart, with a lot of growing left to do. The couple said they've thought about buying informational T-shirts with a removable sticker for Dino's age, because everyone wants to know more about the gentle giant.

However, Dino's original looks, movie star transportation and rock star demeanor make him hard to miss. The dog has his own Jeep.

Andrew traded his car for a Jeep when they got eight-month-old Dino. It didn't stop there.

The Jeep is 'Dino-ed' out with 'Mastiff Transportation Vehicle' and 'Dinosaster' among the phrases written on it.  The vehicle also lets Dino get as dirty as he wants at the dog park without mom and dad worrying about his slobber and mud in the car.

"He could be a celebrity wherever he goes," Dino's dog park friend, David Teal, said.

Joe Pollack agreed.  His 10-pound dog, Tank, plays with Dino regularly.

"He hears his name and comes over and visits all of us. Dino's a great dog, man," Pollack said.

When Dino enters the gates of the Barc Parc, all you hear is "Dino!"  His presence is hard to miss.

So what inspired the Groelingers to get a dog almost as big as them?

"We wanted dogs that wrinkled more than we would," Apryll said.

Dino added to their dog family, which started with an English bulldog named Lilly. Another, Ringo, was next. He was followed by Ebi, a French bulldog.

Sadly, Ringo passed away, and Lilly followed him last May. Apryll wanted a friend for the aging Ebi, and remembered a chance encounter a decade ago at a dog breed event.

"I met a couple, they're breeders, husband and wife. They had a dog with them, male, with the name of Merlin. And I got to love on Merlin and he was just so sweet and so massive. And I was like, 'This is our next dog,'" she said.

That memory of a Neapolitan Mastiff named Merlin at the breeder event led the Groelingers to explore breeders in the Carolinas. They ended up with a North Carolina breeder and brought little Dino home.

Little did they know, a few months after having Dino home, Merlin would magically come back into their lives in a different way.

Apryll stays connected with Dino's breeder via social media. Through a Facebook Timehop post a few months ago from Dino's breeder, Apryll saw Merlin again.

"It was 10 years ago, of her (the breeder) at Meet the Breeds with Merlin. So Merlin is Dino's grandfather," Apryll said. "So it was like, 'Oh my god!' We had no idea that this breeder was the same breeder I met. It was meant to be."

Dino kept the genes his grandfather had shown Apryll, those of a sweet-tempered, gentle giant.  Maybe that's why he's garnered so many fans.

"An easy 20 to 25 people following him at any given moment. (It's) his own little puparazzi," Andrew said.

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