One year ago today we brought home the big lug, Titan. In the last year he’s been totally converted to a true goober dog. He’s one of da’ fam. Here’s a picture from his first day.
One year ago today we brought home the big lug, Titan. In the last year he’s been totally converted to a true goober dog. He’s one of da’ fam. Here’s a picture from his first day.
I hope you’re sitting down because I’m about to BLOW YOUR MIND.
Last year (2008) after we came back from Costa Rica, I began the search for my first dog. We spent the weeks before and especially the time in Costa Rica preparing for, planning for, and learning about, getting a Bernese Mountain Dog, and now that we were home I was SO ready. I emailed a few people I knew from the BMDCGS club and put out the feelers to see if there were any older dogs out there needing a new home. On February 27th I emailed the club president, Terri, and asked her. On the 28th she responded back and said that Robin knew of two young dogs, a male and a female, who needed a new home and to contact her if I wanted more info. So, contact her, I did. Talk for hours with her and Dave & Shirley, I did, and quickly come home with my bestest buddy Titan, I most certainly did. That story is well known. Who was that other young dog? We never discussed the girl, Robin and I only talked about Titan. One of the first questions Robin asked me was if I wanted a boy or a girl, and I was definately looking for a boy but wouldn’t say no to any girl who would be a good fit too. Occasionally over the year, I wondered who that other dog was.
Here’s the freaky part. On February 25, 2008, Robin had orthopedic xrays done on one of her young girl dogs. She was 9 months old at the time and the xrays showed a flaw in one of her elbows. Robin was heartbroken to find this out, and was facing the decision to have to rehome this girl. At the same time she would have found out that Titan, one of her Rocky pups, was also failing orthopedics, and needed to be homed. Conversations ensued with Dave & Shirley, Terri, and others, and word was out that these dogs were becoming available. So, when I emailed Terri and she mentioned the two dogs, this dog of Robin’s was most likely one of the two she presented as options. And who was this young female? We have placed it all together and I am convinced that it was Gigi! I have the emails, the vet bills, and Robin’s side of the story to pull together a case to make it appear that from DAY ONE of my dog search that these two young pups were Titan & Gigi, and that while Titan was ready to come to our family immediately, Gigi needed more time to grow and be ready, and Theresa needed her, and we needed more time to prepare for her, but ultimately she was destined to be ours from the get-go. This star-alignment freakiness would be a hoot all by itself, but to couple it with how Gigi magically came into the picture at just the right moment when we were working with Robin & Cherokee, out of seemingly nowhere, just takes the cake.
My mother would say that I created all this a year ago when I was working on visualizing and creating a dog. She would say that I spent so much time creating Titan that I actually created both of them, in kind of an ‘overflow’ way. I think that’s all poppy-cock, but… still… sometimes things are just too freaky to assume that chance is the only thing in play.
I knew from the moment she arrived that Gigi was our girl and Titan’s friend, and now I believe she was always our 2nd Berner, the Dog of Destiny.
Gigi turned 20 months old on January 17th. She was born on May 17, 2007. She is 7 days less than 6 months younger than Titan. She is a direct import from the Von’t Stokerybos Kennell in Belgium. Her mom was over 8 years old when she had this litter (unheard of for Berners). Her dad lived to be 12, I think. She’s got a lot of longevity in her family. She weighs about 85lbs, she’s slightly shorter than Titan and thinner. She has great markings, and her muzzle white moves up into her eyes higher than Titan, combined with a very white cotton ball on the end of her tail makes her resemble a fox. Foxy… lady… She is a high energy dog, very smart, very affectionate, and loves to be loved. She is happy all the time and when you look at her face you can’t help but smile at her permanent smile.
Gigi was named Gai Chateau von’t Stokerybos, which means “Happy Home” + the Kennel name. Her call name is Gigi. Perhaps we can also call her “Homey”. :) Robin imported her as a 2 month old puppy, with the intention of using her as a show and breeding dog. Unfortunately for Robin, but fortunately for the rest of us, Gigi developed a small deformity or potential for problem, with one of her elbows. This meant that she couldn’t pass her OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) clearances for her joints, which in turn meant that she couldn’t breed or show, which meant she had to be fixed, which wasn’t in Robin’s plans, which meant she had to be rehomed. Sound familiar? This happens to many Berners. It’s bad because you want to think that they’re all healthy and any could be breed/show quality, but it is good because it allows people like me to get these otherwise WONDERFUL and BEAUTIFUL dogs as pets, and let them live the good life. It shows an incredible quality standard and ethic of people to choose NOT to breed these dogs that they spend so much time and money on and with. Robin could have bred her, but she knew she needed to pass. Robin spent a lot of money on her, and she LOVES her doggies, and to not have her clear must have been heartbreaking.
So, Gigi went to live with Theresa at about 9-12 months old, not sure. Theresa had other dogs, including 2 German Shepards, another Berner, cats, etc. Gigi took to it all very well, learned her obedience, learned to love to swim, love other dogs, sit for things, beg for attention, and be her happy playful self with the Shepards and her berner friend, Gracie. Theresa took great care of her with training, diet, activities, and Gigi grew into a very happy young dog. At some point though, Theresa realized that due to her circumstances that she wasn’t going to be able to provide Gigi the environment she felt Gigi needed. This had to be a very hard decision to make, but I applaud Theresa for being able to think of Gigi’s best interest before her own.
On or around January 5th, I got a rather out of the blue call from Robin. We had Cherokee at our house for about 3 weeks, and by that time Robin was really missing her. Cherokee was fine, we had been working through some health issues, training her for the house rules, getting to know her, but it just… it just wasn’t the right fit. Cherokee is a great dog and I will always love her, but she’s Robin’s dog. So here’s this call from Robin stating that she got a call from her friend Theresa, and she was looking to rehome Gigi. The timing couldn’t have been better. Her description was perfect. She just seemed to fit. She was close in age to Titan, loved to play, was very smart and trainable, etc etc… Then we saw the pictures, and I knew it as soon as I saw the goofy tongue hanging out the side of her mouth.
On January 19th we took Cherokee back home and met Gigi. She was adorable. Very high energy, loved to give up the belly, played with Titan, had good recall.. and… oh my was she cute. After some discussion of timing and what not, we decided to go ahead and bring her home. She felt like our dog, and our search for Titan’s buddy was over.
In the almost 2 weeks since, she has made her mark. She’s so different from Titan that I’m having to learn Dog all over again. She’s smart, but she learns differently from Titan. She’s very much a dog, in every typical sense. Titan is a-typical, much like most of the pets in my life; the cat who thought she was people; the duck who didn’t like to swim, etc…. He’s not your average dog. Gigi is VERY much a dog. It’s cool.
We’re going to need to get Gigi involved in activities like agility, carting, tracking, herding, etc, to keep her mind stimulated and that motor of hers appeased.
Gigi is beautiful, fun, loving, playful, and while sometimes you want to just smack her, you can’t because she’s so cute and loving. And she knows it.
Gigi and Titan wrestle like puppies, and sometimes you have to break it up. They get along great. Titan makes a great buddy, older brother, whatever. He keeps an eye on her and is always very happy to see her when she’s back from being away from him.
Titan & Gigi. The Dynamic Duo. Love ‘em both.
Gigi is about 20 months old. She’s a Belgium import from the same kennel as Titan’s dad Rocky, Stokerybos. She is a little pistol of a girl. High energy, very smart, and a great little 85lb girl who loves to play and is basically happy all the time.
Gigi comes to us courtesy of Robin LeClair, again, who seems to be our dog pimp. :) She imported her as a young pup, but when her elbow didn’t clear about a year ago she went to live with another lady, Theresa. Well, turns out that Theresa thought that she wasn’t able to provide Gigi with the home she deserved due to some complications in their family and how energetic she is, so she returned her to Robin for placement. This all happened right in the middle of Cherokee’s visit. I chatted with her and Robin about her for hours. When I saw the pictures…. I just knew it.
Cherokee is Robin’s dog, and she will always be Robin’s dog. Gigi came out of nowhere and everything just fit, at a time where all parties were starting to realize that Robin needed Cherokee, and that maybe Cherokee was only visiting. From the moment we heard about her, she sounded good. Things aligned, similarities to how Titan developed ensued, and before long there we were, returning Cherokee home, and meeting this happy bouncy young Berner girl. Everything felt right, and we took her home. She’s been with us since Monday and it is coooool. She plays with Titan regularly, she loves attention, she’s starting to learn to listen to us… and she’s got the sweet goofy berner face that I love. She’s fast, she’s energetic, she’s hella smart, and she’ll be a great hiking dog. She could also do agility, rally, or drafting. She’s totally a puppy. She makes Titan look calm and mature. She’s a great girl.
Welcome to your new home, Gigi.
And Cherokee… we all miss you, especially Titan. But we’re glad we had you for the month and hopefully we’ll be able to see you often and rub that big momma belly! You’re happy back at home, and things worked out well for all.
Here’s a little snippet of a wrestling session during the first day of Gigi’s arrival. They play just like Berner pups do, lots of wrestling and chewing. Titan loves to chew on her and make his little bear noises, and she obviously drives him crazy. After these initial play sessions, they cuddled on the floor and slept.
They’ve had a month to develop their friendship. I think they’ve done a good job of it. You watch this video, and you be the judge…
Cherokee’s adjusting well, and Titan’s adjusting well too. She’s now been here for about 30 hours, and we’re all getting along fine. Titan & Cherokee have slept close, played some, and even had some spats. The first night was a bit stressful because Cherokee was unsure about it all, so that combined with plenty of adventures into the foot of fresh snow with the crazy pup Titan has helped to tire her out.
Titan’s good. He’s been a good boy, a good gentlemen, and a gracious host. Then he turns into crazy pup and demands her to play with him. That’s how he got his ear bitten. It’s all good though. There’s a good dynamic there, but they just have to work through it. Titan’s a good, GOOD boy and he’ll figure it all out. Cherokee will learn that she’ll get more lovins here than she would ever have imagined possible, and everyone will be fine.
Meanwhile, naps are good.
This is Cherokee von Alpentraum. She currently owns Robin, and has had puppies with Titan’s dad, Rocky. Cherokee is 5.5 years old, about 90lbs, and is about 13 weeks removed from hatching her third litter, which included puppy Autumn, who we smuggled last weekend. She has not been spayed yet. She’s a total sweetheart. Very motherly, very loving, very snuggly. She’s absolutely adorable.
Cherokee is coming to stay with us for awhile, and maybe, a long while. We’ve been talking with Robin about her for about a month, determining if she’s a good Berner for us. We’ve been looking for the right one to come along, and we’re going to ‘try her out’ for awhile, while Robin determines exactly what she wants to do with her. See, she’s such a good girl and has such beautiful puppies, and her joints are excellent. She might have one more litter left in her, so we don’t want to do anything yet to cut short her options. This all works out great as in the next few months all of us, Cherokee, Robin, Titan, and the human petting units will know what Cherokee’s future looks like. My gut says that in 1 month we’ll be so smitten with her that there will be no going back. Whether she has puppies again or not… dunno.
Cherokee and Titan get along great. They’ve met a couple times and Cherokee will be higher in the pack than him, unless he asserts himself to her challenges. I don’t see that happening. This is the same dog who let uber-beta Duncan hump his face in a dominance test. She’ll have fun with his puppy tendencies, too. I bet she mothers him. She’ll also have fun putting all his toys away. They’re her ‘babies’, and they have to go back to their place.
She’s a total sweetheart snuggler Berner and we can’t wait. She arrives on December 20th. Be sure to say hello if you get a chance, and check out a few pictures here: http://www.guidothesquid.com/pics/thumbnails.php?album=79
Friday we took the day off to go up to Victoria, BC to see Nine Inch Nails live for the 3rd time in 18 months. This would be the 5th time we’ve seen them. We planned this trip months ago when the show was announced, but it recently was made more interesting by the addition of bringing a Bernese puppy back from Victoria for Robin. Of COURSE we jumped at the opportunity to spend a few hours with a 12 week old Cherokee (sssshhhh!) puppy.
We arranged to leave Titan with Lisa Ebnet overnight. She lives up in Ferndale, just south of the Canada border. I thought it would be a good test for him, as he’s never spent the night elsewhere, and he just might enjoy romping with the girls she still has at the farm. We hung out for a bit, then ducked out while he was trying to get Cami to play with him.
The border crossing was a breeze and we were pressing to make the 1:00 Tsawwassen ferry. Goob had a meeting with a colleague in Victoria at 3:30, which would have worked out great with a 1.5 hour ferry crossing. We got on the boat and sat down to listen to some Canucks play some decent music while we waited for the food service line to get shorter than 300 people. About 20 minutes into the crossing, and right after the first song, the boat’s alarms sounded, the captain called all hands to stations, and the boat took a sharp turn. We looked out the right side and saw a cloud of orange smoke. Turns out, some joker jumped off the boat. They rescued the guy, got him on board, and we headed back to the Tsawwassen terminal. They had to cancel the next ferry, but we left later without issue, and only 1.5 hours behind schedule. I hope that the dude who jumped had a real good reason for doing that. If not, then he should be jailed.
Once we finally got to Victoria the rest of the evening went swimmingly, pun sorta intended. The NiN show was great, although the energy of the crowd was pretty low. 2/3rds of our section didn’t stand up until towards the end. Trent always puts on a tremendous visual performance, and even though they were lower energy, the crowd dug the show. It was a small venue too, maybe only 10,000 people? It was over around 11:00, and we stopped at a pub for a quick beer before heading back to the hotel to crash. We had business to take care of in the morning!
Saturday morning we got up and headed back out towards the ferry. We arranged to meet the puppy, Autumn, at a grocery store enroute at around 9:15. She was living with some breeders at a kennel there, Swiss Kiss Berners, and we met Jeff as scheduled. Autumn is adorable. We have pictures and will post some. We hung out for a bit to let her get used to us before heading to the ferry. Everything was fine until we put her in her crate. Then she freaked out. So…. out of the crate she came and Goob played with her in the back. When we got to the ferry line she was totally fine again. That’s the nice thing about puppies, they get past things quickly and return to being themselves. She romped around the soggy muddy grass at the terminal for awhile, getting wet and muddy, and attracting throngs of people who just had to pet her and say hi. If you don’t want to attract attention to yourself, don’t be seen in public with a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy. The ferry ride back was uneventful, and we stayed on the car deck the whole time, playing with Autumn and plotting schemes to keep her instead of giving her back to Robin.
The line to get across the border was about 1.25 hours long. Bleah. So it was a good thing we had a cute puppy to play with and entertain us. When we were finally about 5 cars behind the booth, the border guards came out with their sniff dogs. We had just watched a German Shepard work while we were at the ferry line in Edmonds on Thanksgiving and he was all business. This dog… a young golden lab, was too playful. I don’t think she took her job seriously. We watched her sniffing along, kinda la-dee-daa happy go lucky, until she got to our car. Boy, she liked our car. The two officers took note of that, and to avoid false positives they take dogs away and let them continue on smelling other cars, then circle back to the offending car to confirm. Well, when they came back, she was VERY curious and totally dug our car. They’re trained to react when they smell drugs or bombs or explosives or certain chemicals or what not, but otherwise be calm. Goob and I were laughing, because here we are with this puppy in the car, the same car that within the last couple weeks has been to 2 different breeder farms, PLUS had Titan smells all over it… And this dog DUG our car. I was watching the officers and of course, they’re all serious and official. They radio up to the guy in the booth. When we get to the booth, they’re waiting in our lane in front of us. We go through our normal thing, where we went, how long, etc. Then the booth officer says “We’re going to ask you to pull over to the left for a little vehicle processing”, and sticks this orange sticker-form on our windshield.
So, we pull over to the left and the two very serious officers are discussing things, then the one without the dog comes over and asks me to shut off the car, and to give him the orange form. He walks off-camera while the dog handling officer takes ’super-happy sniff dog’ around the car. When he gets around to my open driver side window, this dog jumps up into the window to say hello. We’re laughing the whole time in amusement. When the dog finishes her circle, the other guy comes back up to talk to us.
Officer 1, “Is it just the two of you in the car”
Me, smiling, “Yep, just us two. And a puppy.”
Officer 1, “You have a puppy in the car with you?”
Us, full grins, “Yep. 12 weeks old!”
Officer 1, fighting a smirk, “Please wait.”
Officer 1 speaks to Dog Officer. Dog officer glances at car, rolls his eyes, and also fights a smile. He pets sniff dog and I swear he laughed.
Officer 1 returns to car, “We’re going to have you back up. You’re free to go.”
The drug/bomd dog loved our car because it was a haven of doggie smells, AND I’m sure because we had the puppy. I think these guys have had this sort of false positive before, based on their reaction. So funny. I will remember this little episode forever. We’d been joking all week about smuggling a puppy across the border, and then this little sniff dog took a shine to us for that exact reason. So funny.
Anyway, we made it back to Lisa’s to pick up Titan. He was wrecked. He was dirty from trying to play with the Ebnet girls. Most of which wouldn’t play with him. He was also tired and hungry because his overnight didn’t go so well. He hadn’t eaten. But, he got us and a puppy to play with a bit so that helped him calm down. As soon as we were in the car and on our way home, he was zombie dog the whole way.
We got home about 5:00 and Robin came by at 6:15 to get Autumn and take her to her new home. She left by 7:15 and Autumn had gone. She was so cute. I hope her new home in Wallingford. We will definately be keeping tabs on her to make sure she’s doing good.
All in all, it was an action packed Canadian adventure. Gotta love ‘em.