One of the great things about blogging (or posting content) at the Yahoo Contributor Network is you can step away from topics you might normally write about and choose something totally out of the ordinary. Not only is it allowed, it’s encouraged. So, today I take a break from blogging about video games and instead blog about dogs, specifically, the Saint Bernard.
If you’ve ever considered owning a Saint Bernard, a word of advice – don’t. I’m kidding of course, but certainly before bringing one home there are some things you should know about them.
According to the American Kennel Club, “originally used to locate freezing and helpless travelers during snowstorms, the Saint Bernard now uses his intelligence and strength in conformation and obedience competitions, cart pulling and weight pulling. Although powerful and muscular in build, Saints possess a gentle and dignified temperament. Their coats can be long or short and range in color from deep brown to brown-yellow. White markings are required.”
I’ve had a lot of dogs throughout my life but up until a few years ago I never had a Saint Bernard and honestly didn’t really even have a desire to have one. My only exposure to a Saint Bernard was watching the movie Beethoven. Of course when I did watch that movie, I dismissed most of the crazy antics as Hollywood exaggerating the dog’s behavior to get the audience to chuckle. Hah, little did I know it was a lot closer to reality than what I imagined. They can be very rowdy and rambunctious.
Anyway, in all fairness, it’s not really my fault I came into possession of this dog, it’s my wife’s. The story goes I was deployed to Iraq and had been there a few months. On a routine phone call home she told me she found something she wanted on Craig’s List, something she wanted more than anything in this world, and asked me if she could have it. I didn’t even know they sold dogs on Craig’s List so I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be that. Well, when you’re separated from your spouse for any length of time and they tell you they really want something, historically you agree to it because (A) you want them to be happy (B) you feel guilty for being gone for so long (C) you’re gone so it’s not like you’re there to stop them from doing it anyway (D) All the above.
Now that I think about it, I think I did say no after she told me or at least said we would talk about it and when I finally relented and said yes it didn’t really matter because she had already picked up the new little puppy. For the record, a Saint Bernard puppy is about the size of most normal dogs. She emailed me pics and there was no denying she was a cute little thing.
In the years since, I’ve learned a couple things about the Saint Bernard.
They’re a big dog. There are other dogs that are bigger like the Mastiff and New Foundland, but the Saint Bernard can get pretty big. I think last time I actually got her to stand still on the Pet Smart scale long enough she clocked in at 180+ pounds.
Big dogs equal big everything.
Big veterinary bills. Big bags of dog food. Big bowls of dog food going in and big piles of digested dog food coming out. Big holes dug in the backyard. Big hair balls when it’s shedding season.
When you go to Pet Smart or any other store that sells pet products you’ll notice anything you buy, from flea and tick medicine to rawhide chews, the bigger the dog the bigger the price tag on the item. Want a kennel for that Saint Bernard? Well plan on getting the biggest one they make. If you have little kids they can use it as a fort when the dog’s not in it, it’s that big. You’ll need a big car to haul your big kennel home or your big dog to the dog park. And when that big dog decides to climb over the seats to get to the front seat, there’s a big chance that you’ll almost cause a big car accident.
Yeah, that wasn’t fun.
The Saint Bernard also has this problem with drooling; a big problem with drooling. This is one thing I thought the Beethoven movie exaggerated, and it did to a degree, but it is definitely something to be aware of. I don’t know how many unsuspecting people at the dog park would say, “Aw, look a Saint Bernard” and go to pet her, dismissing our warning that she drools a lot. Their hands and shirt would be covered in slobber and even though we always apologize you can’t help but think, “I told you so.” You can literally make a Saint Bernard drool on command, if you have a tasty treat with you. Just hold it in front of them and the waterworks will commence. And yes, when they shake their head it flies everywhere. If it sounds gross, it’s because it is.
You might think big dogs just lie around and don’t do much. Not so. Granted there are times when that is all they do but there are also times when they feel the need to burn off some of that stored up energy. Having a 180+ pound dog run through the house is like having a wrecking ball on the loose. Stand clear and watch out, because if you don’t you might get knocked over.
Okay, so at this point I’ve said Saint Bernards eat a lot, make big messes, drool and are otherwise a handful. Why on Earth would anyone ever want to own one? Well, big dogs also have big hearts. It’s true. I’ve owned a lot of dogs, most of them larger breed dogs and there is something unique to them that little dogs don’t really have. Little dogs no matter how big their barks are always, to a degree, seem fragile and delicate. Certainly not as beefy and substantial as a large breed dog.
But when a big dog that weighs as much as some people do, walks over to you and submissively lays their head on your knee or tries to crawl up into your lap obediently; when they look at you with those big respectful eyes and they come barreling down the stairs to greet you at the door; when they put themselves between you and other dogs no matter how fierce the other dog seems; when they crawl up in bed next to you practically kicking you onto the floor or sit on your feet just to be close to you – that’s when having a big dog with a big heart and big amounts of loyalty makes having them a big joy.
The Saint Bernard – lots of reasons not to own one, but one big reason to:
The bigger the dog, the bigger the best friend.