Pet Tips 'n' Tales

What do Wine,
Harleys & Saint Bernards
Have in Common?
Photo by Mary Ellen "Angel Scribe"
One Big Happy Family!
What do wine, Harley Davidsons and Saint Bernards have in common? Answer:  All three  are the passions of City Councilor, Victoria Doyle, and her husband Mark. The couple "drove head on into" St. Bernard rescue when they learned that 1/3 of all St. Bernards born yearly end up in pet rescue shelters. Together, Sadie and Ben weigh in at 350 pounds, half what a Harley weighs! They are celebrating the new wine label that benefits rescued dogs!

Cottage Grove appears to be a quiet-sleepy town, but some of the residents are fully awake and running 100 mph!

City councel member, Victoria Doyle, and her husband, Mark, are two such people; they manage Doyle's Harley Davidson in Eugene, and in their "spare time", are full-time volunteers on the behalf of dogs.

Their story began unexpectedly. "We saw a litter of St. Bernard puppies in the back of a pick-up truck.  What were we thinking!  We had wanted a small Pug puppy, but the 6-week-old 'truck' puppy, Sadie the Saint, weighed 14 pounds, and 6 months later, 97 pounds!  We had her spayed at 4 months because her breed is known for huge litters of up to 18 puppies!"

Mark was on the board at Greenhill Humane Society, and Victoria was a board member for Saving Grace Pet Shelter, in Roseburg.  At the same time, they both volunteered for St. Bernard Rescue.

"The organizations needed help, so we began rescuing dogs," explains Victoria, "and transporting them to new or foster homes, or to our home, for short term care. Fostering = falling in love with the big lugs.  So, we adopted a second St. Bernard, Ben Roethlis-drooler, named after the Steeler's quarterback.  At 8 months, Ben weighed 130 pounds and now, fully grown, he weighs as much as Mark - 197 pounds! When Ben lies on our couch, he takes up of it, but he much prefers lying on us!

Initially, people see a cute 'little' puppy and they don't think about the long term commitment. These dogs don't grow, they explode in size EXPONENTIALLY... they grow overnight and gain weight daily," said Victoria. "They require regular grooming, teeth brushing, and walks.  Oh, and expect LOTS of poop!"

Unbelievably, of the 3000 St. Bernard dogs registered each year, rescue groups absorb nearly 1000!  Today's economy + refusal to rent to families with large dogs = rescue groups buried in loving "gentle-giants" desperately needing homes.

"Our group needs volunteers to foster dogs and help transport them from Portland to Medford, so a Cottage Grove to Roseburg leg would be fantastic! We also need foster homes for Saints on temporary basis to provide a roof over their heads while we work on their adoption."

Visit to see the Bernards available in your area.

"Saints are exceptional pets; gentle, kind, but oh so big!  They are not hyper and don't need lots of room.  By nature, they are a dedicated-people dog," said Victoria, "They live to be loved and give love. Giant breeds tend to be mellow, and are less work than small dogs. They love being inside because they want to be next to you.  They are big love-bugs, who snuggle on the couch or at your feet.  These days, there is not a big call for them to be mountain rescue dogs, so they devote their lives and hearts to their families."

To make life with big dogs easier, Victoria and Mark bought a big Suburban.  Now, the entire "family" can go on road trips together!

As for their living room couch, "The dogs love it! Isn't that why its called FUR-niture?" laughs Victoria. "There is nothing like lying on the couch hugging and relaxing with the world's largest teddy bears!  Their huge brown eyes melt your heart!"
Sadie at 1 1/2months.

Sadie at 5 months.

Lap dog, Ben, and Victoria barely fit into the chair -- well actually they don't!


Adopting a dog? Victoria recommends, "Research your breed and check out that breed's rescue website.  Shelters and Rescues have amazing dogs.  Please adopt them first!  Also, if you are a property management company, or have rental properties, please do not separate families from their pets.  People who have lost their home, and their job, should not also have to lose their family pet.

Sadly, disreputable breeders consider dogs a commodity, a cash crop, as a way to make money, and this leads to bad breeding and mountains of vet bills for you later. 

Giant breeds should never eat puppy food.  It is like Miracle Grow for them; their bodies grow too fast, resulting in a weak skeletal structure.

An organization called Benefit Wines created a wine label," said Victoria, "and they sell it for our Saint Bernard Rescue group. The difference in the wine's cost and what we charge goes 100% to Rescue, so $7 of every bottle goes to the foundation!
Our wine store carries 6 wines called 'Gentle Giant Vines - The most Saintly of all Wines.'  They are on and our Saints featured on the bottles' labels! Sadie is on the Merlot and Chardonnay; and Ben, on the Pinot Noir!"
Retired? Need something to do? Volunteers, foster homes, walkers, people to help four-legged friends stay connected with human attachments while waiting for adoption, are needed by rescue groups. If you can help, contact Victoria:

On a pet political note Victoria adds, "One of my city council goals is to open our city to become more pet-friendly. Cities that cater to people and their pets; with outdoor seating, dog posts, pet- friendly hotels, and dog parks become holiday destinations. Many people travel with their pets and our city should consider this a financial opportunity."

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