Tag Archives: Berner

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.

Little Kira

Sometimes in life you get some bad news and your are not sure it can get any worse. But then to your dismay it gets even worse. Literally twice as bad as it was before. How do things like this happen?


Two weeks ago our gentle giant Big Kira was diagnosed with cancer. That hit us like a sucker punch. Totally unexpected. Now we had to take Little Kira to the vet for an ultrasound of her bladder. We had been treating her for what we were hoping was some type of bladder infection for several weeks. However, as the infection persisted despite treatment our vet recommended we take Little Kira to get an ultrasound to see if there was a mass or something else going on with her bladder.


Little is such a good girl. She was in and out of her ultrasound in no time. Unfortunately, that is where the good news ended. There was definitely a mass in her bladder. It is most likely cancer.


I called Debby and told her the bad news. She met me in Ithaca and we made a day of it for Little Kira. We had fun exploring Stewart Park. She is such an easy dog that loves everyone. As soon as we arrived at the parka gentleman approached and wanted to say high to Little Kira. She nuzzled him for some head scratches and the kind man remarked about how sweat a dog she was. Little played in the water and saw some new sights.

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After that we headed over to the dog park, which is always an odd experience with her. She is a very good dog but doesn’t care to leave our side much. She doesn’t go play with dogs. She is good with them and says hi in the typical dog way if other dogs approach but she doesn’t seek them out. She will go over to other humans at the dog park to be petted but only if we are near by.

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We sauntered around the park enjoying basically a nice casual off leash walk. Just appreciating the nice day and the time we have with our girl. We just want her to be happy in whatever time she has with us and she is a happy girl. She enjoys life and enjoys being with us.

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After the dog park we went and explored a little more of Alan Treman park along the waterfront. Little whined and signaled it was time to go home. We pilled back into the car and headed for home. In spite of the terrible news we had a good day with our dog and I hope she had a good day with us. I only hope there are not too few of these days left for us.

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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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Doggy Photo Bomb

Josie decided to photobomb the mini portrait photo shoot I was having with Little Kira in our yard. I called Kira towards me because I wanted to get some photos of her in motion and Josie decided she would join in on the fun.


Hickories Circuit Dog Show

English Setter
English Setter

If you are a lover of dogs there are some experiences you just have to have at least once in your life. One such experience is attending a dog show. If you spend your life around dogs, you will be blessed to have a great many fantastic experiences but there is nothing quite like going to a dog show. A dog show is like a dog lovers wildest dreams come true. If you have ever imagined being in a field full of dogs; dogs as far as the eye can see then a dog show is the perfect event for you.

There can be from hundreds to over a thousand dogs at a given dog show. Dogs representing over 100 different breeds will be present. There will be dogs showing, dogs practicing, dogs training, and dogs being groomed. There will be dogs that are not showing just hanging out with their humans. Everywhere you look, there will be dogs.

I am fortunate enough to live in an area where every summer there is a dog show within an hour’s drive from where I live. Each August the Hickories Circuit Dog Show takes place. I have been attending this dog show for at least seven years now. I look forward to this event every year and mark it on my calendar as soon as I know the date.

Bernese Mountain Dog
Bernese Mountain Dog

When I first began attending this dog show I didn’t know much about different dog breeds nor could I identify very many dog breeds. I knew the standard breeds that everyone knows like Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, and Beagle among others. But there were many more I did not know than those that I did. By attending this dog show every year my knowledge of different dog breeds expanded. My enthusiasm for learning about dogs also grew. I developed an ever expanding knowledge base about dogs. I could identify more breeds of dogs and I knew more about the origins of a given breed and why they were bread to have the characteristics they have.

However, I always find there is something new to see and learn. Dog breeds that I thought I was pretty familiar with and knew what to expect I would be surprised to see a coat color or pattern that I didn’t think would be found in that breed. Periodically the AKC admits a new breed into the AKC. This is generally a breed that up until now has not been particularly popular in the United States. Then I get to see breeds of dogs I never even knew existed prior to the breed being accepted into the AKC.

There is so much information and knowledge that can be gained at a dog show. People who are interested in having a dog of a particular breed can talk to people who are experienced in owning or breeding those dogs. These individuals have invaluable insight into the temperaments and energy levels that the dogs they work with have and they can help provide information that would be very useful in determining if a given breed of dog is likely to be a good fit for your lifestyle or your living situation.


I have been watching a dog show and simultaneously overhearing the person next to me having a very in-depth conversation with an individual who has dogs of the breed they are interested in. They discussed many topics related to care for the dogs. What types of living situations are ideal for this type of dog. They discussed general personality traits and temperament of the dogs of interest. They talked at length about what the person considering getting a dog was looking for and how a dog would fit into their life. These are the invaluable types of connections one can make at a dog show.

Also, did I mention all the dogs? They are everywhere.

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I had never seen so many dogs in one place before attending a dog show. It is a virtual sea of dogs. When there are a lot of dogs of one breed, it is quite a sight to see them in the ring together, particularly at the end when they are judging best of breed. You can see all the individual similarities and differences. It becomes clear what makes them all the same breed and what makes them distinct individuals. Then when all the different breeds compete for their group win in herding, sporting, working, terrier, toy, and non-sporting groups you can see all the dogs that were bred to have similar functions. It is so interesting to see what connects these different dog breeds and what sets them apart. They have general similarities but have different specific tasks.

Bearded Collie
Bearded Collie

It is also a great opportunity to admire dog breeds you love but may not be able to ever own for one reason or another. Dogs are amazing creatures and despite how much we love them they may not fit into our lifestyle so we can get our dog fix at events like dog shows. Certain dogs may be too energetic, Border Collies. Some dogs may be too large to fit into your small apartment, Great Pyrenees. Other breeds of dogs leave a little more of a mess behind in terms of hair and slobber, Mastiff and St. Bernard. Therefore, it is good to go to dog shows, learn the characteristics of these dogs, and know that they may not be compatible with us as individuals on a permanent basis we can still admire them and enjoy them up close and personal.

Humans and dogs have a bond that is unlike any other. It is great to see the owners and handlers connecting with their dogs and engaging in activities with each other. The owners/handlers and the dogs share in the excitement of competing and showing off the best they have. It is great to see the dogs strutting their stuff in the show ring and their handlers rewarding them with treats and a little playtime after they are done. Some of this personal bonding between dogs and humans is what I really enjoy about dog shows. This can be witnessed with the dogs showing or between humans sitting ringside watching and the canine companions they have with them.

Doberman Pincher
Doberman Pinscher

There is also a level of friendship among everyone involved in putting on the dogs show; owners, handlers, breeders, judges, groomers, kennel club personal etc. Seeing and hearing the participants cheer each other on as they show their dogs that they have been working so hard with is fun to witness.  All of these people have come together because they share an appreciation for dogs. They want dogs to be the best they can be. They want dogs to have great health and great temperaments. Dogs can reach the highest potential that humans are willing to help take them to. Dogs that eventually become pets for me and you started here and for us to be able to have physically and mentally healthy pets we need these people to do what they do and try to make sure they perpetuate high quality individuals.

Dog shows are a great place for fun and excitement, learning and comradery and best of all dogs.