Aristotle was a long time coming. Or did it just appear that way? His registered kennel name is Carry on the Legacy. He has some pretty big paws to fill but I’m confident that he’s up for the job.
Let me roll back the clock a little some there is some context around what prompts this entry.
Years ago while out running my wife and I saw a dog sitting outside a Starbucks and it was absolutely stunning. It was so stunning that I had to stop and ask the guy who was waiting beside it just what kind of dog it was. His answer: “It’s a Bernese Mountain Dog”. I was captivated by the markings and the appearance of this magnificent beast. Everything about it was amazing.
I couldn’t get the image of the dog out of my head. My wife and I already owned an aging Border Collie but after much discussion and a ton of research (on the breed) we decided we were going to buy one and add to our family. We wanted to find a Canadian Breeder and did some research and found what we believed to be the find of finds. We contacted the Breeder and made all the arrangements. Birthing day came and so the waiting began. When the specified time for pick up was finally arranged we made our way to just North of Toronto, and went to pick up our first Bernese Mountain Dog. We named him Socrates.
Now we had read that the Breed was prone to cancers and had very delicate Immune Systems but we were confident we could handle everything. Turns out I was wrong….I couldn’t handle much of what began to unfold. Long story short…from the get go Socrates had a compromised immune system and over the course of a few years, 4 to be exact he was taken from us with a rare form of Bernese Cancer. I was devastated to say the least. I told my wife, there is no way I will ever own another Bernese Mountain Dog, but man was I wrong.
The Breed has the uncanny ability to weave themselves into the very fabric of your life and I had been smitten in a big way. The acceptance of what happened began to let go of it’s ugly grip on my emotions and I began to feel small pangs of ownership needs. The pain of loss was dwarfed by the joy and love that Socrates had brought into my life and I wanted more of “THAT”. I wasn’t sure what “THAT” was but I knew I wanted more of it.
This here is the guy who really started it all and he was the one who truly captured my heart. Little did I know what kind of torture I would endure because of his compromised Immune System.
Still I couldn’t let go of the need to have another in my life. My wife felt pretty much the same way despite all the trauma, so after much discussion we began a search to find a new breeder because when we had announced the demise of our beloved pet the breeder we had purchased him from simply stated in a very unemotional way, yes I know it’s why I don’t breed them any more I’ve left that to my Mother!!!!!
We really couldn’t believe it. And so the quest for a more concerned breeder began and after much searching we found the perfect match for us. I can say that because they wouldn’t even put us on their list of potential owners until we made the treck to Penetanguishene where their farm was located. At first we were PO”d but soon began to realize that it was because they cared so much about their pups. Our minds began to shift on that front and we decided we were going to drive up to meet them and introduce ourselves. I wanted to make sure they were the real deal so we didn’t announce we were coming until we were almost there. We wanted to catch a glimpse of what the Kennel was all about without them knowing we were coming. We weren’t disappointed. We were warmly greeted and soon realized that it wasn’t for them to meet us but it was to watch how all the dogs reacted and how we interacted with all the dogs. We sat and chatted for a while and then were unemotionally walked back to our car and told we would be getting a response via e-mail to let us know if they thought we were viable candidates for pup ownership. We must have made a good impression because we got a call from them almost before we hit the end of their laneway and were told we could have a pup.
Now the wait for a litter to show up so we could get another Bernese. It was painful but the time passed and soon Plato was born and we were advised of the official pick up date. We couldn’t wait. The pick up date arrived and we were off to Mount Magic to pick up our prized pup.
We got to the Kennel and were greeted by a pack of yelping pups who by this point in time had their own little hut to live in as they had been weaned and were building their independance. We recognized Plato instantly and after our discussion and signing of the official transfer papers we were off on our road to get our new found treasure home. As a pup Plato was very affectionate and loved to just cuddle and play whenever the chance arose. I lived with apprehension for the first few months based on my experience with Socrates, but Plato never so much as had a sneeze.
The comfort of Berner ownership began to unfold and he was an amazing addition to our family that now contained Presto our Border Collie. The two of them got along famously and all was well in the world. We were happy as clams and the excitement continued as they loved to hang out together and became best of friends. I often wish we had the sense that dogs do and love how they interact with each other how they really interact with us as their human counterparts. I don’t know that I’d ever call my myself the “owner” because I think in reality they “own” us.
Time passed and the joy that we experienced with Plato continued to unfold, never a dull moment and the days were filled with affection, love, kindness and time just passed, 4 years of bliss to be exact.
We were sitting out in the yard at our fire pit just having fun in conversation and enjoying everything in life when my wife looked back at Plato and said to me, why are his gums so white? My heart fell to the pit of my stomach because that is just a very bad sign. It indicates severe anemia. I immediately called his Vet. We had so many problems with Socrates that the relationship that developed between the Vet and us had a created a need for her to share her cell phone number and even her home number with us. One of the many reasons we knew we were dealing with the right Dr. for our dogs. We made arrangements to take Plato in first thing in the morning and it turns out he had a very rare form of Cancer and we didn’t leave the clinic with him. Another very difficult goodbye had taken place and we were beyond consoling.
Now what i’m about to share might not make sense to many, but it does to us and I believe that is what’s important for this story. Having already shared what what kind of bonding takes place with our dogs. We’ve come to the conclusion that the joy and happiness they bring to the relationship far outweighs the pain and emotional hurt that is delivered abruptly with their passing. So getting another dog right away isn’t an emotional challenge for us. Not in the least. We understand that we aren’t replacing our passed friend, the grieving continues, missing that special time is not diminished because we know that out there another companion is in need of the love and home we have as much as we have needs to have them enter our lives.
We called the Breeders to inform them of what happened and they were as devastated as us because they knew what we had gone through with Socrates. After the initial shock had subsided we were asked if we could give them about an hour so they could check some things and they would call us back. The hour passed and the call came. It wasn’t anything we expected because they were in somewhat of a quandary and were wondering what they were going to do their 3 year old Yukon, because they had just imported a new Male for their breeding program and couldn’t have two intact males in the pack. All of this unfolded because Yukon had been such a prolific stud that all of the females they had kept for their program were all his daughters. He was in need of an outside home. A home with someone who had experience with intact males and they were interested in co-ownership because they had plans for breeding him once new female lines were introduced to their program.
They made us an offer neither my wife nor I could refuse. We set out the following Saturday to pick up Yukon. The ride home was somewhat of a challenge because he’d never 1. worn a collar, 2. been away from the farm and the pack and so to say he was stressed once we got him into the car was somewhat of an understatement. My wife sat in the back with him as I drove the 5 to 6 hour drive home. We ended up having to change spots because being such a big boy he was dancing on my wifes thighs in the back seat of our venza and she just couldn’t take the bruising any more. After a long stressful drive home we arrived and cautiously let him out of the car and walked him to the backyard so he could enjoy the beginnings of his new life. He roamed and never stopped panting. He finally settled down in my office after about two and half hours of pacing and panting and let out a huge sign and surrendered to his new state. He went another two days without eating or doing anything other than simply sitting and allowing us to love on him. He quickly became a regular part of the family and turned out to be one of the gentlest and most affectionate dogs we have ever had in our home or hearts. He spent the next year just weaving his gentleness and affection in our lives and was a joy to be around. He loved all of our grandkids and was just an amazing companion. Well as stated we co owned him with the Breeders and the time had come when they were going to be seeking his special talent for procreating and delivering the most outstanding pups. Well there really is no way of controlling when the females go into heat so we allowed things to unfold and that just happen to take place during time we had scheduled to be in the Southern States.
We made arrangements with our Boarding Kennel to have Bart come down with the female and they were able to accommodate everything because they themselves are large animal breeders and very familiar with the required space and procedures that need to take place. We were in the deep south enjoying ourselves and got a text that afternoon that Bart had made his way down to the kennel and they were about to proceed with the breeding. After the first session they noticed that Yukon was extremely listless and that he was very lethargic. They brought him back to the air conditioned portion of the kennel thinking that maybe he had overheated and he seemed to come around a little once in the cooler temperature. Then things took a turn for the worse and his breathing became very laboured and they had to rush him to the Kennel owner’s vet because he was so stressed and in dire need of oxygen.
The clinic he was in didn’t have overnight supervision so the decision was made to transfer him to the emergency service in Ottawa so he could be under supervision. He never made the transfer. He died in the back seat of the Kennel owners truck, lying next to her daughter. All of this transpired on the 29th of August and we got the call that evening telling us what had happened. I think the fact that this was the first of our pets that we weren’t with as they transitioned over Rainbow Bridge was the worst thing for us, but in saying that had I ever been given the choice of handpicking people I wanted him with should any of that happen the ones he was with are the ones I would have picked. Turns out Yukon died of Cardiomyopathy, a very random condition that is undetectable and no warnings.
Now that you know that both my wife and I have made the conscious decision to never live with the void that is left with the passing of our dear companions, we asked if we could be first on the list to own one of the males should the breeding Yukon was involved in come to fruition. The breeders agreed and so the waiting began. Time passed painfully slowly and then we got the all that the mother’s system had absorbed the pups and she wasn’t pregnant.
We were heart broken because we really wanted a pup from Yukon’s lineage and didn’t know how that was going to happen. God has a neat way of allowing things to unfold and it just happened that his daugther Zelda got pregnant and we were first on the list for any male that would come into the world. It was touch and go for a while but turns out things just took place just as they were meant to and Zelda delivered three beautiful females and one male who’s Registered name is Carry on the Legacy, and his call name is Aristotle. We love this little guy and are enjoying his presence in our home. He’s the biggest male pup that’s ever been delivered by them and is the perfect specimen of all things that make up champion Bernese Mountain Dogs.
We aren’t so concerned with that because the richness that these dogs bring into a relationship is like nothing else i’ve ever experienced. Aristotle was a long time coming but he has a home that he is cherished in, we have a dog that is automatically a big part of this family and the world is unfolding exactly as it should.
To check out our Breeders please visit Mount Magic
If you know anyone who’s suffered the untimely death of a pet, please direct them to this and ask them to call me if they want to talk about anything. In the meantime i’m heading out to the back yard to hang out with all my dogs.
Have a great day…unless you have other plans.