Pet Tips 'n' Tales

Big &Bigger in the Dog World

Courtesy Photo
Mark and Ruth with their #1 buddy Zaq, a 5-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog,
who completes their family with laughter, joy, and crazy antics.


Ruth works for Representative Bruce Hanna in Salem, Oregon. Cottage Grove is in his district.  Ruth and her husband Mark do not live in Cottage Grove, but they are "proud to have family in town and visit often," says Ruth.

Ruth does have one Cottage Grove habit, "I love reading Tips 'n' Tales," admits Ruth. "I flip to the column first to see what interesting pet story is about to unfold and to discover another helpful tip. I tell friends about Tips 'n' Tales to help educate them on how to better care for their pets.
When Mark and I began searching for a four legged addition to our family, our quest narrowed to large breeds: Newfoundland, Great Pyrenees and Bernese Mountain Dogs.

We learned that Bernese Mountain dogs are wonderful family pets with an intelligent sensitivity that shows in their soulful gaze.  We love their noble souls with a child's heart and impishness. Bernese are strong, confident, warm, and capable of watching over their pack - both human and canine.

Visiting pups sealed the deal for us, and we ended up with a hundred pound Bernese lap dog.

Buster, our first Bernese's registered name was "Robusto e' dolce." Translation: Strong and sweet-- just the way we like our espresso!

He was tall--the bottom of his chin easily rested on the kitchen table. Buster was fascinated with people food.  He would lie at our feet during meals, drooling all over his beautiful white chest ruff, trusting we would save him a scrap. We always did.

Our second Bernese is Chazaq Na'em ( Zaq): Hebrew: Strong and pleasant friend.

Buster, 8-years-old, and his 5-year-old younger buddy, Zaq, loved  'family time.'  We would call them, they'd run and join us on the floor, draping themselves over our laps for maximum petting effectiveness.

courtesy photo by Buster and Zaq's parents

Buster and Zaq enjoyed running and chasing each other -- especially on the Oregon coast's sandy beaches.

This spring, it became increasingly difficult for Buster to move around. He lost 15 pounds, and his lab tests remained inconclusive.

Then one night, at midnight, Zaq woke us to let us know that Buster was in trouble.  Buster's breathing was labored.  We rushed him to an emergency vet clinic and had to make a heart wrenching decision," quietly adds Ruth.

Along with Zaq, Ruth and Mark held Buster's paw as he drifted off onto the beach of forever.

"The next day would have been Buster's ninth birthday.  Large dogs do not live long, so nine years was a good life.  I believe that Buster is with Jesus, because the Bible says that God knows when a sparrow falls, and he knew what a blessing Buster was to us.

It is bittersweet that he left us, but a joy to know he is with our Creator and surely, Buster has his handsome head on our Creator's knee this very moment," says Ruth.

"Zaq was quiet and reserved after his buddy's passing.  The fun of competition and  companionship with his buddy was lost," says Mark.  "Zaq remains close to us as he attends to our needs and we to his.  It is evident that dogs grieve much like humans."

On another note: Ruth laughingly shares, "When Mark and I married, we spent months looking for just the right puppy.  We'd drive for hours to remote kennels. We talked about participating in dog obedience trials and decided that the yet undiscovered dog's name should be funny and attention grabbing when a judge called it over the loudspeaker.
We found a Samoyed puppy and named him "Hi, I'm Chet, I sell Amway."  (Using all 25 characters allowed by the AKC.)

Years later, the Oregonian's Edge held a contest for the most creative dog name.

We submitted Chet's name, and won 100 pounds of dog food!  Unfortunately, it wasn't Chet's brand, so we donated it to a community food bank

In the process, Chet had his 15 minutes of fame and we learned of the importance of donating pet food to needy families allowing them to keep their treasured animals.

Dogs are wonderful family additions.  Besides keeping us healthy taking them for walks, they teach us about life and love, and they introduce us to whom we really are,"  adds Ruth.


Beth, a nurse and Tips 'n' Tales reader in Euclid, Ohio writes, "I'm devastated. I accidentally poisoned and killed our cat, Squeaky.  She nibbled on a fresh bouquet of flowers with Stargazer lilies and eucalyptus.

Over the course of the next week, she began moving slowly, stopped eating, and she started swelling.

We took her to the vet while a neighbor researched online and found a list of plants and flowers poisonous to cats.

Apparently, lilies are poisonous to cats and Stargazers are the worst. Eucalyptus is bad, and so are Poinsettias.

The pet poison center phone number is now taped on the inside of a cupboard door: 1-888-426-4435;"

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