Bernice, January 1998 - May 17, 2012
As you may know from seeing me post on Facebook, we lost our eldest two days ago. She was a wonderful girl, and we're heartbroken over her death. My head believes it was the right thing to do, but my heart is crushed and I'm torturing myself over having euthanized her. I'll get past it with time, since we had to keep her from suffering. For the moment, though, I'm really hurting.
Now, I want to start to record some stories of this very special girl who won our hearts all those years ago. I may have to keep this short, because I find myself crying when I try to type things about her. But let's see if I can get an early story down before I have to stop.
We adopted Bernice on October 16, 1998. It was a Friday. We got her from North Shore Animal League. She was nine-and-a-half months old, and she was a bit on the wild side. That's why this almost-grown doggy was there. But she was the one for us (more about that in a future post), and the people who missed their chance to adopt her were fools. We were very fortunate!
When we took her home, she scraped a paw pad on the cement sidewalk as we went to the car--we figured her time in a cage had softened them up, and the soft pads weren't an issue once she had a normal life. We soon saw that the pad was bleeding, and by the next morning we were worried (as new parents) that we needed to do something about it. Since her adoption came with a month of free veterinary care at NSAL, we took her back there (to what we referred to as the "prison vet").
We had to wait a while, and the waiting room was packed. Bernice was a little under 40 pounds at the time, quite lithe and with some growing yet to do (her full, healthy adult weight would be 65 pounds). As we sat on the waiting room benches, there was another dog there, a significantly larger dog that was acting aggressively toward all of the other dogs there. When he tried to provoke Bernice, we kept a tight hold on her leash and she actually behaved quite well. She let it go.
Then the big dog growled at a little puppy sitting nearby. With that, Bernice pulled away, stood in front of the puppy, turned to the big dog and showed that dog what all of the teeth in her Doberman-Shepherd mouth looked like. The dog turned tail and hustled back to hide with its owner. Bernice walked back over and sat down by us, and that was the end of it.
That was our girl. She was there to protect us--there never was a doubt about that--but she also was very much the champion of those who couldn't protect themselves. Heaven help any bully if she was around. We already were falling in love with her, but that really told us that we'd brought someone very special into our family!