Category Archives: bernese mountain dog

Sammy’s Time With Us

There are dog lovers and there are crazy dog people. More and more I feel like we fall into the second category heavy on the crazy. When most people bring a dog into there lives it is with the thought of how how great it would be to incorporate this dog into our lives and share our life with this dog. Sometimes though that is just not how things pan out and we have had several dogs come into our lives where that is the case and Sammy was one of them.

I don’t think most people being a dog into their lives thinking this dog is going to upend every aspect of my life and cause me to change everything I do from the most mundane to the more complex aspects of life. But we seem to do that time and again. Its not that we like change and struggle and challenge, its that we love dogs and we cannot bear to let a dogs life fall to the whims of chance if there is something we can do to help that dog out.

Sammy came into our lives under some unusual circumstances. Sammy’s parents had medical circumstances that prevented them from being able to care for Sammy despite their desire to do so. Sammy ended up in the care of his veterinarian. Coincidentally that is where my wife worked. Also Coincidentally my wife had previously worked on dog training with Sammy and his owners when he was younger.

While Sammy was at in the care of the veterinarians my wife and I would go down and take him for walks because we lived close by. When it became clear that Sammy would not be able to go back home we began to take steps to find Sammy a new home. We contacted rescues and other organizations in an effort to find him a new home. We were in discussions with a rescue in Ohio to take him there and a local rescue that thought they might be able to place him. On the day that we were to head to Ohio to start Sammy on his journey to find a new home we heard from the local rescue that they would work to get him adopted if we would be willing to foster him. What to do?

Of course we agreed to foster him. We knew that because of Sammy’s history and some of his behavior issues he could be a difficult placement but we thought that having Sammy stay at our house in the interim was the best solution. He already knew my wife and had been getting to know me. Why make him go through yet another transition.

We found out relatively quickly despite the initial appearance of getting along that Sammy did not like our dog Mojo. So this was going to require constant supervision and management and separation of those two dogs. Sammy also had some issues with strangers coming into his territory. He loved us and loved people in general but he did not like it if people he did not know showed up in his space. We also learned that Sammy had some pica issues. He would eat lots of inedible objects. We had to start learning how to manage these issues. This required a big change in our life routine for both us and our other dogs.

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After agreeing to foster Sammy we started to think about things differently. Sammy clearly loved my wife. He seemed to remember her from his training days. It was just completely evident from the way he followed her around and responded to her the he adored her. We had six dogs at the time and had recently lost our 10 year old Bernese Mountain Dog. We had been doing what we considered to be the “responsible” thing and had not been planning to add another dog to our mix any time soon. But just seeing how Sammy and my wife were the perfect pair in so many ways I couldn’t not suggest to my wife that maybe we should just keep Sammy. Surprisingly my wife hesitated. She was trying to be “responsible”. After all keeping Sammy was not going to be an easy feat.

After Sammy had an altercation with one of our dogs we thought he got along well with we started to think maybe him staying with us was not the best plan and maybe we needed to find him a different home that better suited his needs. We had support from other organizations trying to find suitable matches for him. We spoke to multiple people who were expressed interest in opening their homes to Sammy, but none of them quite worked out.

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The experience of living with a dog that you are actively trying to find a new home and interviewing potential adopters was a new experience for me and quite stressful at times. Just hoping and praying that something would work out in Sammy’s favor created this inner turmoil.

After lots of discussion we decided our house was the best place for Sammy to be. And this decision meant a lot of different things for our life. We had to completely dedicate ourselves to managing the situation.

Having Sammy meant spreading ourselves around a lot more so that we could spend time with each of our dogs now that even more of them could not all be in the same rooms together at the same time. It meant closing a door here before you could open another door there. It meant painting a window black so he couldn’t see his arch enemy Mojo. It meant never leaving anything lying around that he could eat. It meant careful interactions when we had visitors. It meant caution and vigilance when he was around the other dogs he seemed to get along with. It meant always worrying you would forget something and something bad would ensue. Sammy was a good dog but a very anxious dog. We loved him and tried to do as much as we could do for him.

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Despite the other issues Sammy had he was in many ways a perfect dog. He had great leash manners. He was the only dog we had that did not pull on a leash when he was walked. He was super affectionate. He loved to climb up on his humans and snuggle. He wanted nothing more than to be petted. We were even able to take him camping, although that did have its adventurous moments.

Sammy slept with us every night. He loved sleeping in bed and would roll over on his back. I think it was his favorite part of the day. A little over a week ago Sammy began to eat a little less each day. He also began to vomit periodically. But his behavior remained unchanged. He seemed to be the same energetic happy dog he had been. Then Thursday he didn’t eat any food which he never does. Then Thursday night he vomited multiple times.

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It was obvious at this point that Sammy needed to go to the vet. Friday we took him to the vet hoping for the best but fearing the worst.  X-rays revealed a mass that was expectes to be an obstruction. The decision was made to have surgery to remove the obstruction. Durring surgery it was discovered that what showed up on the X-ray was not a blockage but a large intestinal mass that was likely cancerous and was inoperable. Our vets are amazing and took the time to explain everything to us and answer our questions. We were even able to see exactly what we were dealing with.
We were able to go to the vets office and say our goodbyes to Sammy while he was still under anesthesia from surgery. We were able to be there with him when he passed on into the next realm. I don’t know if he knew we were there or could hear us talking to him and feel us touching him but i hope that he could.
Knowing full well how difficult Sammy could be at times and his penchant for eating things I had been quietly steeling myself for the day when this time would come. It did not make this particular outcome easier, but i think i was ready for it in a way. Not knowing what Friday would bring I said my goodbyes to Sammy Thursday night when he was still wagging his tail, snuggling me, and looking into my eyes.
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 Having a dog like Sammy requires a lot of commitment and at times sacrifice. All the little things you give up or change when you have a difficult dog. Sammy’s death was obviously sad and hurt but there is this other stream of thoughts that creep into your mind saying things like “know I can have my life back.” or “Things will be so much easier now.” The selfish feeling thoughts about how this animals death will make your life easier eat away at you a little bit. You feel like a terrible person. This is when it is great to have amazing friends to talk to that have also had experiences like this and assure you that these feelings are normal and that you are not a horrible person for thinking those thoughts. Another part of what makes this loss so hard is with all the changes we made to our life to accommodate Sammy as it starts to get back to “normal” everything you are now doing differently makes you think of him. So that loss stays fresh in your mind and your heart as you realize how much he changed your life.
We did not have Sammy in our lives for long but he was a true force to be reckoned with and we will miss him.

A Dog Day Afternoon

Today was a day for the dogs. Up in Ithaca the Ithaca Dog Fest was going on. That means that the Reynolds clan is headed to Ithaca to enjoy some 4 legged companionship. The event did not disappoint.

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We took Josie and Little Kira with us on this outing. We had such a good time. There were many dog related vendors there. There were also many different Shelters and Rescue groups there which is always great to see.

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Best of all was all the dogs. So many dogs. And there were tons of people who wanted to love on Josie and Little Kira. They did not have any problem getting all of the loving they desired. Crowds of people just waiting to pet them. It is a dogs dream come true. After walking through he event we just went and sat in the shade under a tree. People continued to stop by and share their time with Josie and Kira. They can never get enough. There is always more love to go around.They are such good dogs. The make it easy.

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Then after the Dog Fest broke up we headed over to the Ithaca Dog Park to get some off leash time. Dog park for Josie and Kira means time to lounge around. They are so funny. They rarely go much more than 10 feet from us. They just wanted to sprawl out and relax. They aren’t phased by the other dogs. They did actually try to play once, but couldn’t really seem to figure out how that worked. They did love the pools. And apparently they also love picnic tables.

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There were also many other cute dogs there. No question about it it was a good day.

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Update on Buck

A month ago I started to write this update about Buck and for some reason I never got around to doing it. I had added the photos but never written anything. I don’t remember why I i didn’t get it done. I’m sure I thought I needed to get something else important done. But now I couldn’t imagine what would have been more important than taking a moment to share about Buck’s life. One more thing I won’t be able to do again.

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Bernese Mountain Dog at Wine Country

I am in the process of sorting and editing a large number of dog photos from 2016 right now and I am in a section of Bernese Mountain Dogs. This dog looks so happy I just had to share the photo.

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Bernese Mountain Dog at 2016 Wine Country Circuit Dog Show.

Happy Holidays from Us and the Dogs

As 2015 comes to a close I can’t help but feel how fortunate I am. I live in a great country. I have a great wife who loves me. I have family that is always there if I need them. And not least of all did I mention all the dogs.

We all have trials and tribulations in life. Things we wish we did or did differently. Guess what? Its in the past let it go. I know its hard. I struggle with it daily myself. Instead focus on those things that bring joy and happiness into your life.

For me one of the most constant sources of smile making and tear jerking moments are my dogs. If you are not a dog lover, yes I am that person who will not shut up about their dogs. Our dogs are part of our family just like anyone else’s children are.

In that spirit we try to make the holidays special for them as well. We bought them presents. We wrapped them. We had them open their presents. In some cases they ate their presents. There were dog beds, cat beds, cat towers, chew toys, squeaky toys, dog treats, and steak. There was even matching pajamas for my wife and two of the dogs.

I flooded everyone’s social media timelines with photos of my dogs enjoying their Christmas. And I enjoyed them enjoying Christmas.

So from The whole Reynolds crew Merry Christmas and Happy new Year. I hope 2016 brings you everything you are dreaming of and working hard for.

Tribute To Cami

This is a sad time for my wife Debby and I. Yesterday we had to make the toughest decision that any animal lover ever has to make. It was time to allow Cami to move on to the next phase of life. Cami now waits for us at Rainbow Bridge. The ravages of lung cancer and hip dysplasia were too much for Cami and it was clear that she was not the happy enthusiastic dog she had always been.
While I am deeply saddened by this turn of events I am trying not to dwell in the loss, but remember the life and times we shared together. Now I am more thankful than ever for my obsession with photography. It has provided me with a way to keep the memories of happy times fresh in my mind so I can be uplifted by Cami’s spirit by looking at her photographs. It’s funny because over the years as a photographer I have shared many photos of Cami and always tried to pick out the ones that were the best quality to share. But sometimes those great photos that look just right don’t tell the whole story. Its the odd picture here and there that looks a little goofy or that you just took for the heck of it with no planning or thought that truly depicts a life. So below I have posted many pictures of Cami, many of which I probably haven’t shared before. Some because they weren’t “good enough”. Some just because I have so darn many. Here are some of the photos that to me represent Cami’s life.

This is a photograph of Cami when she was a puppy. Such an adorable little bundle of fur. She always had that cuteness factor.

This photo represents what my wife and I now call the awkward phase. She has gotten taller and longer but hasn’t filled in yet. We thought she was so cute then, but when we looked back at the pictures later we always thought she looked so goofy compared to when she was fully grown.

Cami has always loved being out in the snow. Just prancing around the yard looking gorgeous.
With her thick long fur it was never a problem to just lie down and relax in the snow and just enjoy the weather. She never cared about what we humans complain of as bad weather.

She always looked like a smiley happy dog.

This was just one of those moments that just happened and was so cute. Cami just decided to lie down right in this bed of wild flowers and I could not resist taking a photo. Cami was always so photogenic and willing to sit for a photo.

Cami was always so playful and happy. She could always find a way to have some fun. One day she sat under our oak tree in the front yard and just started ripping the leaves off the branches. She was having such a good time. I had never before seen a dog do that and I still have never seen another dog do it.

The snow does not bother Cami at all. She always just sat there soaking it in and laying and rolling in it. I think if we didn’t have her come back in, she would have stayed out in the snow forever.

Cami always made the most out of everything. Normally going down to our pond to get a drink of water, but what do you do when the pond is frozen over? Of course you just lick the ice.

One of Cami’s defining characteristics was always the huge blaze of white fur up her chest and neck. The fur was always so thick and soft. I love how you can see it just billowing out in this photo.

Cami was never above rolling around on the ground for a good back scratch.

Cami liked to walk around the yard and survey the area before finding a place to settle down. Her happy tail always help high and wagging.

Despite my wife’s insistence prior to owning a Bernese Mountain Dog that they are quiet dogs, Cami was always quite the barker. She even had this strange howling like bark. You would think she was calling out the the rest of her pack.

I just love this photo.  I think she looks so noble in this image. I didn’t even remember seeing it before as I was looking through all the pictures. That is why I will always love photography. It has allowed me to enjoy moments I had with her that I don’t even remember.

Happy Cami. She always sat and cooperated so well for me when I took her picture. I was always able to get nice profile photos of her. I think she just humored me because she new it was my crazy human obsession.

Cami always loved to spend time down by the pond. That was one of her favorite places to lie down and relax on a regular basis. Step one go get a drink of water. Step two lie down and relax a while.

I love this image for one little thing that you might not be able to see. In this shot you can read her name on her name tag. I just thought that was cool.

I have always thought Cami had gorgeous eyes. I tried over the years to get a good shot of them and this is probably the best one I ever got.

Cami was always so alert and focused to every noise around her.

Cami and Buck asleep on the floor. She was so small compared to her big brother. 
Cami and Buck we inseparable as puppies. They were always together.
They even still cuddled sometimes when they got bigger.

Cami and Buck loved to play in the snow together.

Cami with her brothers and sister down by the pond on a nice winter day.
Cami and Mojo playing when Mojo was just a puppy.
Cami and Buck at the park. This was a hard day because it was when we began to realize that we just couldn’t do all the same things with out dogs that we used to anymore.
I don’t think I have any more photos of Cami after this day. I love her some much and always want to remember her, but you could see in her face that she was sick and I made the conscious decision that I did not want to remember her that way. I simply didn’t want to be looking through pictures and be reminded of how she was sick and the toll it took on her. I wanted to remember her with the happy pictures.
Here’s to Cami. A great loving dog who was always happy and affectionate. You will always live on in our hearts.