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The Gentle Giant Among Us

Great Dane Antics in A College Apartment

By Xine SegalasPublished 6 months ago Updated 6 months ago 6 min read
By Medic1photography/Wirestock - Adobe Stock

The following is a chapter from my book, Xine's Pack of Strays & Others - A Memoir.


When I was a sophomore at Boston University, my roommate Sarah brought her dog to our apartment for a semester. We both love dogs and somehow, my roommate from Southern California had her family's 7-year-old Great Dane in our Boston apartment.

It was great having Alex around. I could walk to the packie with him late at night and not be afraid of being bothered. People would see us coming and either cross the street to walk on the other side of the block or simply walk in the street, keeping as far away from Alex as they could. Alex was not mean, or aggressive.

He walked like an old, distinguished gentleman with a little arthritis. We had to sometimes help Alex get up and down off our squishy sofa, it was so painful for us both, him to get up and for us to watch and physically help him. I wasn't yet a dog owner and knew nothing about how to care for an aging dog, compared to now. Not that it would have made much of a difference, Alex wasn’t my dog.

Our apartment wasn't big, a 3-bedroom that stretched from the front of Commonwealth Ave where my bedroom was, to the back of the building which looked out onto an alley where Sarah's bedroom was. It was long and narrow. One morning, I woke up to the sound of Alex trotting up and down the hallway between Sarah’s and my room. The sounds of his paws galloping back and forth on the hardwood floors are what first jolted me awake but then, I was met with the most disgusting odor I have yet faced in my short 20 years period to this day.

I wish I had simply crawled out the front windows of my third-floor apartment that morning. I was scared to open my bedroom door and did so very slowly and carefully – not knowing exactly where Alex was. The odor was 10x worse and my eyes were met with the sight of diarrhea splattered all over the foyer and down the long hallway to Sarah's room and back. Way too much to stomach right after waking up after a night of partying. Or anytime, for that matter.

“Sarah! Your fucking dog got sick!” I yell from the threshold of my bedroom. I had a 10 AM class, I had to catch the T and was now met with an insurmountable obstacle course of runny poo everywhere. The front door had been bombed there was no way out.

“Sarah, get out here!”

It became clear I would have to clean up in order to get to class. I'd have to clean by the front door so that it wouldn’t swoop over the poo and we'd smell it forever.

“Sarah!” I tip-toed my way to the kitchen, gagging all the way.

“Sarah! Your fucking dog got sick!” I continued to scream out as I got the bucket, paper towel and whatever resembled cleaning fluid. “Sarah, get out here!”

By Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

Skinny from all the coke I consumed back then. Food is something I don't even remember eating in college. Drugs and alcohol, yes. Food occasionally, but not a big memory for me. I cleaned the small area just around the door so I could slip out. I didn’t want to clean up more than I had to. It was Sarah’s mess to clean, not mine. “Sarah! Get Up!”

After washing myself up and before leaving the apartment, I had to go down the hallway of poo to Sarah’s room. I knew she would still be passed out in the bed. Sarah and I met when we were 15 years old on Putney Student Travel Trip in the summer of 1980.

She was a Southern Californian girl who rebelled against being a Southern California girl. We kept in touch after our trip, which in the early 80’s was not as easy to do without things like the Internet and Facebook. No, back then to stay in touch, we would have to write a letter, find an envelope, stamp and mail it. Or call one another on the telephone, which was sometimes attached to the wall. And since it was a coast-to-coast call, that’s long-distance, so you could only do that when the rates were lower at night.

That worked well enough if the East Coast was calling the West Coast, but more difficult the other way around due to the time difference. When we both discovered we were going to Boston University, we decided to room together.

Sarah eclectically decorated our dorm room and our apartment, filling both with an assortment of animals in our two short years living together. Our dorm room was on the girls’ side of C Tower in Warren Towers, which looked towards the boy's side of B Tower. This made for some fun viewing of the boys and girls of BU getting ready for their nights out.

Sarah wallpapered her side of the room with aluminum foil and then taped postcards and posters of her favorite rock bands. Siouxsie and the Banshees -- one of her favorites. I woke to Siouxsie staring at me most mornings with that deadpan look of disgust, her arms neatly folded behind her back against a bright orange backdrop. She wore a Star of David t-shirt and big chunky gold cross dangled from her neck.

By Pacto Visual on Unsplash

At some point freshman year, Sarah brought home a stray cat to our dorm room. Have I mentioned I'm not a cat person? This is when I discovered this fact. This cat, whose name I don't even remember – nor does Sarah - did more damage to my stereo and radio antenna, plus destroyed the underneath part of my bed's boxspring. Shredded it.

When we moved off campus and had our own apartment, she bought a hamster. Jake, the hamster who Sarah likes to think ran away to a farm or got smooched in the couch. I think the Boston rats ate him for dinner or somehow turned him into a bad ass hamster living in the back alleys of Allston. I prefer to think the latter happened to him. Those who adapt will survive.

Next, she brought in a rabbit she named Voltaire. She would let him hop around the apartment now and then keeping a much better eye on Voltaire than she did Jake. We also didn’t just have one animal at a time. Sarah would have one of her family’s dogs around for extended stays.

By Matt Pike on Unsplash

One morning, I was heading down the hallway to the bathroom which was next to Sarah's room, and noticed something wasn’t right. I looked at Voltaire’s cage which sat outside her bedroom door on the floor, he looked stiff as a board. He was stretched out like he'd been frightened; Alex was in the living room, deep in the couch, perhaps searching for Jake.

“Sarah,” I knocked on her door. “Sarah. Voltaire doesn't look so good. I think he might have had a heart attack or something.“ Poor little Voltaire's body was stretched out like he was trying to flee for his life but had nowhere to go. We had both heard Alex trotting up and down the hallway the night before, it was his dog run from my room to Sarah's.

After Alex, sometime after spring break, she brought Scroggins, their other family dog. Scroggins was a Jack Russell terrier and the opposite in every way shape, and form than Alex, the Great Dane. High energy, I recall Scroggins being a maniac, but that's it. I spent more time with Alex, and Great Danes have always held a special little place in my heart because of Alex.


If you enjoyed this glimpse into my adventures with Alex the Great Dane, you’re in for a treat with the rest of Xine's Pack of Strays & Others - A Memoir. Each page is filled with heartwarming, humorous, and sometimes outrageous tales of the various animals that graced my college years and beyond.

These stories are about the unbreakable bonds we formed, the laughter we shared, and the lessons these dogs unwittingly taught me. For more laughter, a few tears, and a whole lot of furry fun, I invite you to dive into the full collection of my memories. Join me on a journey that celebrates the joy and chaos animals bring into our lives.


About the Creator

Xine Segalas

Exploring life through writing, art, and photography, drawing inspiration from the natural world and beloved tales. Author of "Xine's Pack of Strays & Others," about life with my dogs, I review books, hoping to encourage others to read.

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Comments (2)

  • Daphsam6 months ago

    What a fun read!

  • Shirley Belk6 months ago

    Great gift for my brother, the real dog lover in our family. Thank you for letting me get to know Sarah and Alex...and you better :)

Xine SegalasWritten by Xine Segalas

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