Of course, on the drive down to Derby I wondered what I would do if the Saint decided he wanted to get in the front seat with me. But he didn’t try very hard and eventually just put his head on my arm on the console.
When we arrived at El Paso Veterinary in Derby, the Saint was more than happy to get out of the car, though he wasn’t too sure about going in the door to the vet’s. Everyone fawned over him and petted him, and when the rambunctious puppy came in, I held him close, just in case. But the Saint was just curious. As it turned out, he is a young dog, possibly with some growing yet to do.
We were surprised that he weighed 101 pounds as he looks heavier. The veterinarian, Dr. McKinney, said he was very good for all his shots and tests as they had to draw blood and get a stool sample for worms. Everyone was surprised that he was scheduled to be put down as amiable and easy to work with as he was. One of the employees took a picture with her phone and sent it to a friend who likes Saint Bernards.
The next moment of truth was getting the Saint back in the car. While he resisted, it was much easier than leaving Animal Control as he seemed to sense that he was not going to be put back in a kennel again. A much shorter ride home and the Saint was content in the car. He was ecstatic, though, when he not only was able to get out, but walk with me around the yard. I put him in the front yard so I could get the crate out and set up since I would need to be leaving for work in about a half hour.
Our newest, though temporary (I have to keep reminding myself) addition, didn’t pay our barking dogs in the back yard much attention. He seemed content to drink a half a bucket of water, explore his surroundings and when I came out from setting up the crate, he was lounging in the yard. He was not happy about having to go in the crate, but I had sprinkled treats around to keep him busy and he had a nice big Kong bone with treats stuffed inside. I knew my husband would be home in about an hour so his stay in the crate would be short.
When I called home on my break, the Saint was laying at my husband’s feet with our other dogs spread out across the living room.
In the past six days, we’ve watched the Saint, who has now been named Buddy because he is right on our heels much of the time or he’s laying next to one of our dogs. He has shown some amount of house training, that he still has puppy chew instincts, but understands “no” and that he will chase and fetch a ball in his awkward, lumbering way. You can’t help but smile when watching him play because he has no grace, but you can see in every part of his being, what a happy dog he is.
Buddy shows us every day that he is happy, eager to please and to play, and I have no doubt that he is going to make an amazing companion for his forever home. We have considered adding a Saint Bernard to our menagerie over the years since we’ve had Great Danes and Mastiffs. As a foster family, it gives us a chance to find out what it would be like to have a Saint as a permanent addition some day.
To think he was scheduled to be put down as so many of the unclaimed dogs were last Thursday, including the Shepherd mix puppy in the photo on Part 1 of this series, is somewhat beyond my comprehension. Knowing that so many others have found themselves in the kill room, spending their last minutes alone, frightened, and confused, creates an internal conflict I’ve yet to resolve. I’m angry at the irresponsible owners who let this happen–if Buddy had a microdhip his owner would have been found, and at a system that is imperfect with good dogs and cats getting a death sentence with little time for an alternative to be found.
At the same time, I found out how a few people can come together and make a difference for one dog. I met an amazing person in Holly Sanders, and am grateful to Candi Bright for saying “yes” clear from New Jersey. It’s no wonder that her rescue, Gentle Giants, Inc. will be recognized as one of New Jersey’s top 10 Heroes later this month. Thanks also need to go to Renee who started this, and Tim Irwin, BDHP Kansas coordinator.
Buddy now has all his shots, is neutered and microchipped and ready for adoption. He is the perfect first foster dog for us, and while we will be sad when it’s time for him to go, we will always remember our first big goofy guy.
You can get the adoption form for Gentle Giants on the web site. Bright will contact me and give me your phone number to set up an appointment to meet Buddy. If you live outside of a reasonable driving distance of Wichita, contact Candi at [email protected] to discuss arrangements with her.
Next: Charlie the Mastiff Mix’s story