“Avett was born on January 25th, 2013. By the end of March, he was in our loving arms. I’ll never forget the first night we had him how curious he was watching me deep clean the kennel we had bought for him. He was by far the most curious animal.
He was so afraid of stairs initially. As a puppy, we have a video of him trying to get down the stairs from our apartment to go outside. He made it halfway down, full of confidence, then came to a dead stop and just started whining until we picked him up. Shortly, he got used to stairs. It’s funny because the last few days of his life he reverted back to that. He started stopping midway down the stairs in our house now, which he never did. I couldn’t carry him at this point, but I would walk by his side which gave him the confidence to go down.
He was diagnosed with DCM while we were living in Colorado Springs before he was 2 years old. At the time, the specialists gave us 3-6 months with him. About a month later, we were able to come back to the Denver area, and we started seeing a cardiologist. I’ll never forget the line he told us: Don’t count him out at 3-6 months. He has a lot of puppies in him to fight this heart disease. Throughout the 6 YEARS we had him, we just had a blast. He loved life- and he loved his daddies. It was a pretty perfect combination. Despite having the disease, we were determined to make whatever time we had left as meaningful for him as possible. Quality of life was always, 100%, our top priority.
I would say Avett’s daily routine consisted of the following:
-Sleeping in as late as possible in the bed, either between us or under the covers like the 132 pound baby he was.
-Peeing for a solid 4 minutes straight when he finally got up.
-Coming back inside and either going back to bed or getting up on the couch to hang out with us, until it was time to go for a….
-WALK. Not only his all-time favorite thing to do but also his favorite word. Saying it would almost always trigger the famous Great Dane head tilt.
– Maybe eat. Food wasn’t a favorite of his until we grilled or boiled some chicken, also another favorite word.
-Laying/sleeping the rest of the day. Maybe laying in the grass in the back yard if there was a sunny spot he could find to roll around and bask in.
-Back to sleeping in bed with daddies to have a perfect day all over again the next.
Avett had a few fun adventures in his lifetime. As he got older, we found it too stressful for him to be boarded. So at that point for the last few years, whenever we went on vacation…. he just came with us. We have a family cabin in the black hills in South Dakota. Avett came with us 4 times during the last few years of his life. He LOVED it. Some of the best walks he’s ever had, but more importantly to him- the best sleeping spots in front of a fire! On the first cabin trip, we then drove up to spend a week in Montana with my family. Avett was with us the whole time and absolutely loved the road trips. While Avett didn’t have any doggie siblings at home, he probably preferred that as he only wanted Jake and I’s attention 100% of the time. However, we do have 2 cats- Allegra and Jackson. Jackson and Avett were the best of buds, usually found taking naps together and exploring the backyard together. Allegra and Avett had, let’s just call it, the usual dog and cat relationship. She didn’t really care for or about his presence and he was so curious and also terrifies of her because she had, as Avett liked to say, “claws for fingers.” Up until the last 9 months of his life, we had the apartment lifestyle. Luckily, for Great Danes…. this worked out. He had a TON of friends at the dog park whom he played with all of the time throughout the years… it’s funny looking back on it now because the last few months and with him having a private home and a backyard he really just preferred to have a backyard that was his where he could sunbathe whenever he wanted to and go on walks every day. It seemed the last few months were definitely more about relaxation, rather than playing with other dogs every day.
Avett was never much into toys or treats. There are 4 exceptions worth noting. The first would be Greenie’s. He gobbled them up (and really helped his teeth) and these toy keys we got when he was a puppy that he loved to just lay down a chew on. I went through all of his toys the other day while making a memorial shadow box for him; I counted 15 keys. So we bought way more than we thought, and he just loved them! The third item is chicken. While originally a treat, it became a mix into his daily meals. Sometimes it was hard to get him to eat with the meds- and the chicken always did the trick. The 4th is peanut butter. While he didn’t really care about it for the last year, up before then you could definitely find him pretty perked up at the idea and smell of it! If there was 1 thing that Avett loved more than any treats or toys though- it was his puppy blanket. He had it up until the day he died, and it will now forever live in his memorial box. He nursed it nightly and it was just his thing!
I couldn’t tell you a favorite memory. There are just SO many. He was the best boy and forever has left a mark on our hearts. ONE of our favorite memories is when he met a horse for the first time… A few minutes after meeting the horse, Avett managed to get off of the leash, and CHASE said horse. For at least 10 minutes straight. The horse bucked its owner off, so just Avett and this horse were running wild. We could have sworn that day his heart was going to stop then and there and we were trying to chase him, while the owner of the horse was chasing the horse. Obviously all turned out ok- but maybe the most naughty thing he did as well. Another favorite memory was when he was a puppy. He had to be less than a year old and we made a big bowl of pasta for dinner and left it on the counter to go take a shower before eating. Coming back, we learned very quickly that while he never counted surfed before, he certainly had the ability to. He ate the entire bowl of pesto pasta. We ended up calling a vet and they gave us some tips to regurgitate it. It was hilarious. Huge piles of vomit just all over the apartment. Needless to say, I can’t think of another time that Avett counter surfed. Unless he knew it was just chicken or steak up there. Avett had a great 8th birthday on January 25th of 2021. We made him the dinner of champions: which included bacon, sunny side up eggs, yogurt, blueberries, potatoes cooked in the bacon grease, and a filet mignon.
The last week he knew he was dying, his eyes looked different and he was more observant about life. The last few days were perfect- he and I had a full day off together. Upon returning from the pet store with 2 new toys that I knew he’d only play with once was worth it along with some treats to entice his appetite as he barely ate the last week. We ended up playing in the backyard, going for a great walk outside in the sun in the wind which he hates because it made his ears twitchy. Lots of naps and snuggles.
Medicine is a beautiful thing. We know it gave us so long with him. What’s more beautiful though is love. The life he gave us, the things he taught us. To slow down, and enjoy the sunshine. To be humble. These, among so many other things, are what we keep with us each day, along with all of the memories to keep us warm at night! Since Avett has passed, I’ve started volunteering with the Rocky Mountain Great Dane Rescue to let his story and legacy live on through things I can about in my heart. The Great Dane breed specifically is one of those things. Thank you so much for allowing us to share his story.