Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Who Rescued Whom?

Gracie at age 2 (click on photos to enlarge)

Our big dog Gracie just turned ten years old on Monday. According to (click link to learn all about the breed), the average life expectancy for a Bernese Mountain Dog is 6 to 7 years. Cancer is a big problem for the breed, and this one has had a close call. As of today she is well. She is now in the age range I once read about when researching the breed back in the early 90's: Life expectancy was then 10 to 12 years! The Swiss say, "Three years a young dog, three years a good dog, and three years an old dog." I have to say Gracie seems to be right in the middle of being a GOOD dog. She likes to give a literal good morning hug, but no longer does whirling leaps in the air and barks as her morning greeting. That was in her wilder days. She loves to have her ears rubbed, and to have her coat either vacuumed with the Kirby or fluffed with the leaf blower.....that is really funny to see! She prefers to drink from running water--from a pitcher being poured into her bowl or from an outdoor faucet or garden hose.

We found Gracie in December of 2002. Our male Berner, Fritz, had died earlier that year in June at age 9. The house was just not the same without him, and Christmas was coming. I saw an ad in the Atlanta Journal for an 18 month old female in Tiger, Georgia. She needed a home because her owner had sustained a serious back injury. When I first mentioned it, no one at home was interested, but you know what they say about the magic of Christmas. On Saturday morning, December 14th, the Colonel said to me over breakfast, "If you really want to go see this dog, I will go with you." Honestly, that statement was all I wanted for Christmas. We made our way to the Northeast Georgia mountains, found the farm, and there she was in the miniature stables with miniature horses! It was too charming for anyone to resist! Giving her up was as sad for the owner as it was joyous for us! We were all weeping when is was time to load her up and head back home. Her father was a major show dog, but Gracie has lived a quiet, happy life , along with her spaniel sisters and the one and only Deusey the Cat. I know she would say her life is good in

"Sweet Auburn, loveliest village of the plain.

Where health and plenty cheer'd the labouring swain"

~~~~~Oliver Goldsmith "The Deserted Village"

Gracie at age 4

It was about this time that I began reading and hearing about more and more Berners serving as therapy dogs. This is a favorite photo taken by my niece Nancy. This is classic Gracie the Therapy Dog behavior: Her paw resting comfortingly on your knee and a look that says, "You just go ahead and pet me as much as you need to and tell me all your troubles.
I am listening."



Tess Kincaid said...

Happy Birthday, beautiful Gracie! I can't imagine a dog loving the leaf blower. Ours ran from all loud appliances!

FireLight said...

Tess, it is so much fun to see! I must try to get a video!

Char said...

she is a beauty

~T~ said...

We know two Bernese Mountain Dogs, in families around here. They're beautiful and sweet, though a bit heavy if they sit on your foot during therapy. Gracie sounds like a treasure!

RSA Now said...

Gosh she is a little beauty!

kim said...

Pets can really be your friend when you want them to be one . They are the only living beings who can hang out with you without boring you with their silly problems besides lending you ear for your problems.
Ideal Pet
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Recreational scholar, former high school and junior college English teacher. Animal lover (especially horses, dogs, and people), live in the South, sometimes poet and essayist... "Ireland, Scotland, Britain, and Wales...I can hear those ancient voices calling..." Van Morrison from Celtic Heartbeat