A Great Dane is one of the biggest dogs in the world and, due to their massive size, have a fairly short lifespan, usually six to eight years, and only some will even make it to 10 years of age.

Bella May Cupcake, an AKC registered Great Dane, was born February 22, 2009, and has spent 11 years as a remarkable family companion pet to Emily and Rick Kroytz and their three children.

Kroytz, a registered nurse at St. Charles, told The Nugget, “I had always wanted a Great Dane and after checking out about them and finding that they are known to be calm and good with kids, I found a breeder in Fresno, California, where we lived. Bella was only six weeks old when we took her home.”

Kroytz’ husband Rick is a Sisters High School (SHS) counselor, and their three children are Keegan, 13; Addie, 15; and Titan, 17, who will be a senior at SHS.

Kroytz said, “We moved to Sisters in 2011 because we wanted a great place to raise our kids.”

A couple of weeks ago the Kroytz kids came up with an idea. After a lot of online research, they concluded that Bella is possibly the oldest living Great Dane in the world.

“As a family we thought it would be fun to apply to the Guinness Book of World Records,” Kroytz said.

Right now, Enormous Freddy — who is over seven feet tall standing on his back legs — turned eight years old, making him the oldest known living Great Dane in the world.

Kroytz noted, “It will take 12 weeks for paper work that I will fill out for Bella. Then another 12 weeks for yes or no. So, it’s certainly not official yet.”

Big, brave, and beautiful, Bella weighs in at about 145 pounds and holds a special place in her human family’s heart. Great Danes are known to be fantastic family pets that are very good with small children.

Titan remembered when he was younger, he would use Bella as a pillow to play his Gameboy on.

He said, “She was always with us, and just like a kid she would dig in the dirt with me. When I lived in California we walked to school and she would hang over the fence and watch us leave.”

Great Danes are known as “gentle giants” for a reason. They love to spend time with their family members and are generally very gentle and sweet.

“I never had a day in my life without her,” Keegan said. “I used to crawl on her.”

Addie added, “I will always remember when Bella was younger, she would play outfield when we played baseball. We would hit the ball and she would go after it.”

Bella hiked and went on camping trips with the family.

Kroytz noted, “I remember when Keegan was a toddler he would sleep on a mattress on the floor and Bella would get into the bed with him and take up so much space he would end up against the wall.”

Great Danes are patient, loving, and can be protective of their family members when necessary.

“She really connected with me since she was a pup and still follows me around,” Kroytz said. “One time when we had just moved to Sisters, I went next door to my neighbor’s house, and I locked our door. Somehow Bella unlocked the door and walked right into the neighbor’s house looking for me.”

She added, “She can also figure out baby locks and opens sliding door with her nose.”

Two things Bella really doesn’t like are baths and pickle jars.

Addie explained, “When you mention the word bath, she runs. I have to get out the hose and chase her around.”

Nobody knows why she’s afraid of a pickle jar, but when the kids take the jar out, she leaves the room.

So, how does the Kroytz family account for Bella’s longevity?

“Just having her as a member of our family,” Emily said. “She’s a huge part of us and has been involved as much as possible although she can’t go on long walks anymore. Bella still plays and runs around some, it’s just harder for her to get up now.”

Titan added, “I think Bella will survive until I’m out of high school.”

Recently, during COVID-19, Bella was able to go to their drive-in church with the whole family in the car. Addie lost her seat when Bella took it over.