We have been so fortunate to have our dog Buck as part of our lives for such a long time. Buck is a 9 year old Bernese Mountain Dog. The average life span for a Bernese Mountain Dog is 6-8 years and we lost Bucks litter-mate Cami to lung cancer when she was seven. Cancer is relatively common in Bernese Mountain dogs. So Buck has already surpassed his “sister’s” life span and the average life span for his breed.
At this stage in his life we can see Buck starting to show his age. He is slowing down a bit and doesn’t get around as well as he used to. He has some other chronic health issues we have been maintain for a while as well. So with all this in mind we have been getting more worried that Buck may not have much time left with us.
We have always tried to include Buck in as many activities as possible. Buck loves people and loves to get attention from people. With his limited mobility, he can’t walk long distances, we often get sad thinking about all the events we used to take Buck to where he would literally be a show stopper.
This year we decided just in case it is Bucks last (maybe this is too pessimistic but we don’t want to have any regrets) we are going out of our way to include him as much as possible. Earlier we took Buck to Walk’n Wag (No Walking for Buck the way we roll) (insert link to walk and wag photos). We also took Buck to Thanksgiving dinner with our family this year, which we have never done. It was great because we are a family of dog lovers and all had dogs there.
One special event for us and Buck has been the annual Sparkle, Christmas celebration in Corning, NY. We have often taken Buck to this event. Its the perfect event for him. Its generally cold which Buck loves and there are people which Buck loves. The down side is that the event requires parking some distance away and then walking to where Corning has Market Street closed down for all kinds of vendors and exhibits. Walking to Market Street and down Market Street is something Buck would not be able to do at this stage in life. Enter the awesome garden wagon we bought for him. My amazing wife decorated it all up with Christmas goodies. There are strands of lights, garland, and Christmas decorations, and we got Buck a nice Christmasy scarf to wear. We were fully committed to making this Sparkle the best ever for Buck and our family of us and dogs. Buck was so excited to go see people he actually climbed into his cart on his own which he had not done in a few other uses of it and we didn’t even think he could do.
There are always tons of people at Sparkle. The challenge: How to navigate a thick crowd filling a street while pulling a large garden cart containing a 115 lb dog. We weren’t worried about ourselves but we didn’t want to be in other peoples ways or run anyone over. We just wanted to be able to make slow progress done the street to see the fun Christmas events going on and so Buck could see the people. And Make slow progress we did. It took us 2 hours to get from one end of the street to the other and the street is approximately five city blocks long.
It was slow going but it was the best slow going ever. It felt like we were in a parade. Everywhere we went Buck drew attention. People marveled at his cart with decorations and lights. His nice soft cushy bed in the cart. And the fact that he convinced his humans to pull him through the street. (Trust me no convincing required) Several people humorously pointed out “Isn’t the dog supposed to be the one puling the cart?” To which I replied, “Yeah, we’re kind of backward like that.
When you walk down a street and see people smiling at you and your dog, you hear people exclaim “Oh My God Look at that dog!” and it happens over and over again, its just a magical feeling. It makes me happy that Buck can make so many other people happy.
Every few steps (I want to say we but really its all Buck) Buck would draw a new crowd of onlookers and admirers. Some would look and point and smile. Many would come over and ask permission to pet him. To which our response is always of course you can. Buck loves to be petted. And he really does.
Once the small crowd would disperse we would hurriedly get on the move again lest we draw more attention from new people coming down the street and a new crowd form and we would remain in the same spot all night. We weren’t trying to avoid people but we wanted to get all the way up and down the road so Buck could have as many experiences and impact as many lives as possible and be impacted by as many lives as possible. (We never know if we will get to do this again)
Buck is such an amazing dog. He has always loved people and he is especially good with the youngsters. He’s a great dog for any child that might be afraid of dogs to meet. He sits calmly letting the child decide if it is safe to approach. Buck rarely Barks while out in public and doesn’t try to jump on or run over people and especially while riding in his cart stayed amazingly still and calm. He only adjusted himself from laying to sitting and vice versa as he deemed necessary.
So many people will come and talk to you and comment about your dog and ask you questions. Dogs are magical like that. I talk to more people I don’t know in one afternoon out with Buck than I probably do in a year. Dogs bring people together.
We talk about Buck. We talk about his breed, why he’s in a cart. We talk about their dogs, the dog(s) they just lost. What kind of dogs they have or want. We talk about dog stuff.
Its not just about Buck, but its about the people too. Seeing the faces on Children, teens, and adults alike as they see Buck pass by. As they come over and pet him. The happiness and joy on their faces is just over whelming. Only dogs can reduce children, teens, and adults alike to the same silly pile of mush that just falls all over themselves to be with that amazing creature.
If this is the last Sparkle we have with Buck I will always remember all the smiling faces Buck leaves in his wake. The strangers he never new and never will. The family, friends and acquaintances we run into along the way. But most of all the smiles he has given to my wife and I. We will always have that.