That said, as long as I'm here, I'll try to lend some insight into what life is like with a nearly 7-year-old Berner. Sadly, that is getting near the end-of-the-line for Bernese Mountain Dog life expectancy, but fortunately for Homer, nobody gave him that memo.
Homer is quite frankly and most honestly the same dog he was 5 years ago. He still looks like a puppy and acts like one too. We're really hoping he turns out to be one of those 12-year+ Berners.
Lately, he's taken to jumping over the fence (a very tall fence!) in order to visit our friendly neighbors. As I'm told, his days are quite interesting playing with the neighbors and roaming their yards. Well, at least more interesting than my cubicle-filled days! The only downside to his near-daily escapades has been an uptick in the number of ticks (uptick...ticks...I'm so clever!). Berners are like walking tick hotels with their long fur but giving Homer a short summer cut has seemed to fix the issue.
As always, I'm terrible about pictures but here's one from a few months ago...Homer waiting for Max. :)
Unbeknownst to us, Bernie had been developing tumors on his spleen for several months and one of them finally ruptured while he lay sleeping next to our bed. Thankfully, the death was painless and he showed no symptoms or illness leading up to his death. I'm so glad he didn't suffer as so many dogs do who develop cancer.
We miss you boy...
It sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Take the following ingredients:
1) 120 pound Berner
2) 80 pound Berner
3) 15 pound baby
To me, it sounds like BOOM!!!
I thought we might be in for some trouble with a new baby, but to my surprise (and relief), it turns out Berners are extremely gentle around babies! Both dogs lick the baby on his feet from time to time but nothing more.
The dogs are also very protective of the baby. A few weeks ago, while the dogs were in the kennel outside, our new nanny stepped out on the balcony and Max started crying. The dogs, hearing a stranger with the baby, went bonkers and literally broke down the fence to get out and get closer to the situation. I am still in disbelief that the dogs literally brought down a fence that has held them for years. Amazing.
Today was 'that day' when you accept that summer, and yes, even fall is gone. Rain. Cold. Perfect Berner weather but not great spoiled Californian weather. :(
Here is a picture of Homer trailblazing on the Sonoma Coast when the weather was better. Wish that tomorrow could be this day...
Well, the little "kennel" area we constructed was a qualified disaster. So, we've got some mason guy coming over to give us an estimate ($$$$$$) on redoing the whole thing. We'll probably do something nice like have several terraced areas and an easy way to clean up the poo. They'll still have a fair sized laundry room to hang out in when it's sunny or raining as well, so they should be covered.
Kinda off-topic...but what's the deal with how expensive everything is here in California?!? I just had a bunch of work done on a rental house in Texas and the cost, quality and overall experience was very good. Here, if you can EVEN get a guy to come out when he says he will, it's at least $1000 just for them to blow some snot on a tissue.
Anyhow, I need to get some new pictures of the dogs on here. For the meantime, here's an old pic of Bernie...enjoy.
We went away to the Trinity River for the Labor Day Weekend and put Bernie and Homer in a kennel. It was their first time in and according to the proprietors at It's A Dog's Life, they had a really good time playing with all the other dogs...
...but we're glad to get them back where they're stuck with us!
On the long drive home, we were trying to remember the funniest thing Bernie has ever done. The winning story was obvious:
Bernie once got a thorn from the field near our house stuck in his skin. As is typical, we panicked and took him to the vet. They pulled the thorn out, cleaned everything all up and sent us home with a bottle of antibiotic pills.
Fast forward 1 day.
Bernie gets bottle of antibiotic pills from kitchen shelf (how I don't know) and then proceeds to eat every pill in the bottle. We discover this right away and rush him to the vet. On the way there, he throws up said pills all over the back seat of Fen's car.
Fast forward to the vet.
Bernie sees large, unsteady woman and decides to rush her for affection. Lady falls to the ground, cursing wife and dog.
Hmmm....maybe you had to be there?
Unlike the pound, when you get a "pure-bred" dog, you get this little binder with all sorts of official documents, family trees and various pictures of other dogs in show poses. It's really quite official feeling.
I don't understand showing dogs. The idea is to groom them to the point where they look and smell better than you...and then, as if that indignity weren't enough, the dogs are supposed to stand in this one crazy position like a big stuffed animal. Quite frankly, if you ask me, the whole thing is just freaking weird. But to each his own, right?
Homer is a funny little dog. The dogs sleep in the bedroom with us, but Fen is pretty insistent that the dogs shouldn't be up on the bed with us (although, sometimes, even she bends the rules!). Homer has found a way around Fen's rules by waiting for her to leave in the morning. Once she's out of the room, Homer is up on that bed like clockwork! Not only that, he curls up against me, flips over and puts his head on her pillow. The whole thing is hilarious.
Here's a picture of him when he was 4 months old.
Past destruction includes:
- Living room furniture
- Books (their favorite books are library books)
- Garden hoses
- Chewed holes through drywall
- Remote controls
- Cell phone (they love SIM cards)
- Electrical cords (plugged in or not)
- Duvet cover for bed
- Dug hole through carpet
There's probably more, but that's what comes to mind right now.
Because of all that destruction, we decided to prepare a special kennel area on our sloped side yard for them to be in when we're away from home. Over two weekends, we carefully terraced and graded the area so there would be flat bits for the dog. We then laid landscaping fabric and pebbles down to keep things clean.
Two Bernese dogs and 1 day later, we have:
When I was a kid, getting a dog meant going to the pound and picking out a nice little pooch that didn't bark too much and wasn't foaming at the mouth.
Now, it seems having a trendy dog is as important as making sure you have the latest video iPod or cell phone that doubles as a PDA that also doubles as an electric razor.
Around the Bay Area, you see a lot of upwardly mobile young professionals keeping Bernese Mountain Dogs as pets. Although you don't see many at the dog park, you see them with pretty regular frequency in the back of Land Rovers and other luxury SUVs zooming by on the freeway. Apparently, Bernese Mountain Dogs are the new Golden Retrievers. Everybody wants them.
My wife saw her first Bernese Mountain Dog at Costco in September of 2004. We'd been talking about getting a dog for awhile, and were also in the process of selling my 1 bedroom house in order to buy something with more space for the (gasp) future
Little did we know that $1800 was just a drop in the bucket compared to what we'd end up spending because of him in a one-year period:
$1800 - dog
$600 - getting him neutered, some sort of problem, yada, yada, yada...
$2000 - special eye surgery because his membrane or something like that doesn't close right
$600 - Miscellaneous vet emergency bills
$500 - Stolen food from the counter or dinner table while we weren't looking
$400 - Ruined clothes and shoes
$4000 - Ruined furniture, carpet and sheetrock (wtf!) in new house
Grand total: $9900
Holy mackeral!!! That's more than what my car is worth!!!
Naturally, I think we did what any rational couple would do when faced with dishing out $10K on a dog: get another!
But that's a story for later...
As a software developer, I spend a lot of time reading blogs. Mostly, it's just work-related and I'm looking for some copy-and-paste code sample or secret insight to save me from the unthinkable: thinking for myself.
But one thing I could never understand were all these blogs by people about...well...nothing. Who are these people? And where do they find the time to blog all the time? Heck, I don't know. I guess they're in the same club as those cafe people you see when driving to work, or during lunch when frantically trying to squeeze in a few errands. You know the types. They have that glazed-over happy look. Somehow, some way, they don't have to work. But you and I do. Bastards.
Anyhow, I'm kind of liking this blog thing. Basically, I started this blog to chronicle what it's like for normal people - not those scary dog-nut types - to keep and raise two BIG dogs. So, if you're the type of person who sometimes misses a walk and finds it hard to be strict because your canine companion is too cute for punishment, then this is the blog for you.
Without further adue, allow me to introduce Bernie and Homer, two rambunctious Bernese Mountain dogs that love people almost as much as they love destroying things. Bernie, the larger one, has all the looks. Homer, the smaller one (but still growing) isn't quite the looker, but has all the brains.