The first time Dave Nasser and his wife Christie saw their beloved Great Dane George, he was no more than a tiny, cowering ball of fuzzy fur.
George came into the Nassers’ lives in January 2006, just a few months after they had married and moved to Arizona. Christie always wanted a Great Dane so they managed to track down a litter of 13, born 1,000 miles away in Oregon. Their owner emailed them a photo showing a chaotic jumble of paws, snouts and tails. but their eyes were immediately drawn to one particular pup standing apart from the rest. George, as the Nassers came to name him, was clearly the runt, endearing him to Christie immediately.
The Nassers soon made the long journey from Oregon to Phoenix, Arizona by plane and picked him up from the freight area, tired but unshaken. And though it didn’t really register at the time, George’s paws were comically large even then. Never did they dream he would one day become the biggest dog in the world, standing nearly 4ft high at the shoulder, 7ft long and weighing nearly 252 lbs! All they saw was this cute puppy.
But as the Nassers were soon to learn, all the things that make Great Danes wonderful pets — their lack of aggression and their attachment to humans — make them more emotionally sensitive than other dogs. They need to be with their ‘pack’ at all times and at night the cute pup with intensely blue eyes turned into a caterwauling banshee whenever they tried to leave him alone in the kitchen to sleep. Of course, George eventually won, and his dog bed was soon placed in the Nasser’s bedroom where it stays till this day.
At five months George still acted like a puppy, but he was already the size of a fully-grown Labrador. Yet for all his size, George is a gentle giant. At the local dog park, as the smaller dogs ran around and under him, George constantly sidestepped them, obviously anxious and jittery. His biggest terror however, as the Nassers soon learned was water. George would growl anxiously at the side of their swimming pool, alarmed that his ‘pack’ members would so willingly place themselves in danger of drowning.
But as the Nassers were also soon to discover, George is not only big in stature, he also possesses a giant heart. When Christie miscarried, George was tuned into her grief and was a constant presence at her side. When she sat, he sat too. When she stood, he stood and padded alongside her to wherever she was going.
Today George is brother to the Nassers’ three old daughter Annabel, and is listed in the Guiness Book of World Records as the world’s tallest living dog (43 inches from paw to shoulder) as well as the tallest dog ever. He even made an appearance the Oprah Winfrey Show
But while their cherished pet may have become a global celebrity, to the Nassers, George is just one of the family.