This is, which to some might seem stupid and weird, a tribute to my friend and companion through many years, Angel. If you are a very emotional person, easy to tears, then you should not read this blog. I also apologize for the length of this blog.
Angel is a Bernese Mountain dog, who has been with the family for the past 8 years. My wife and agreed that we, when we bought our house, would buy a couple of dogs. I surprised my wife with a white labrador, which she for some reason named Snowflake, and we bought a Bernese Mountain dog for me, which I called Angel.
To be clear, my wife was not under the influence of any substance when she named the male labrador Snowflake.
Buying a Bernese Mountain dog is not easy. Mainly because it is not bred and sold as other breeds, and the people who do sell them are often very weird. This was also the case when we bought Angel. I contacted a breeder in co. Cork, who in turn contacted somebody he knew around Dublin. This person called me to organize a viewing. Very cloak and dagger.
We found the house, after a few hours on the road, and were greeted by a giant Bernese Mountain dog. This was Angel’s mother. The owners welcomed us, offered us tea, soup and cake, and then the grilling started. I wasn’t prepared for a 2 hour interview, as to why we wanted a Bernese. It became even more awkward when their daughter arrived to hug the puppy (aka Angel) goodbye, while crying. We paid the family and raced off, away from these weirdos.
From an early start, it was clear that Angel was a lady and very sensitive. She only wanted to sleep on towels or blankets, not newspapers like the labrador. It wasn’t accepted by her, to pee on newspapers either and she would take at least 30 minutes to find a proper spot to do #2 – and if you looked at her, it wouldn’t happen at all!
The labrador fell in love with her at first sight, but Angel never took the relationship further than just being friends. And my god did Snowflake try to take it further – he at least takes rejection very well.
Angel grew very fast and became a proper lady. She developed some funny habits, such as whistling, going between your legs (no matter how short the person is) and showing her teeth if a person breathes on her with bad breath.
Also, you know she has done something wrong, when she starts to whistle.
This was the case when we would arrive home from work and find the dogs covered in white dust, pretending nothing had happened. They had in fact made large holes in the plasterboard walls, but this seemed normal to them.
Sometimes, which happens rarely, she becomes a puppy again, and makes a few funny jumps and attempts to play with the other dogs, but that only lasts for 40-60 seconds. She likes to dance, but only with me, and will occasionally jump / stretch up to my shoulders to get a hug and a slow dance.
She’s her own boss and will decide if she wants to speak to strangers or not. Until then, she’ll growl and bark at them, but she is not hostile or angry – just another funny habit.
She’s a perfect guard dog and protects the house VERY well. If somebody crossed the road, a mile from the house she’ll know, and she will let that person know too, by barking furiously for a couple of minutes.
I’m certain that if an intruder was stupid enough to enter the house, she would protect the house well. The opposite could be said about the labrador. He would almost likely lick any intruder furiously and then hope to play instead.
Before we had kids, the dogs went most places with us. Angel loves to drive in the car, looking at the traffic passing by. A lot of by-passers would point at her, which made me feel happy. We would go to the mountains to walk the dogs, and Angel loves investigating the various paths, but she would always come if called and is rarely interested in other dogs.<
I remember when we drove to Denmark by car, a mad journey when we look back at it, and she would gradually push Snowflake off the backseat so she could sleep outstretched. When we finally arrived at my parents place, she went straight into the living room and baked a giant cake on the carpet, as if to say, you kept me in confined space for two days and this is payback.
The years went by and kids starting to arrive in our family. Angel doesn’t mind kids and doesn’t want to play with them either. However, our kids can do anything they want with her, which includes sitting on her back when she’s asleep. Our daughter would use Angel for support when she was learning to walk, which shows how gentle Angel is.
Last week, my wife and I woke up at 4am as we could smell pooh. I was asked to go down and discovered that one of the dogs had done both #1 and #2, which is highly unusual given their age. And, they had scratched the walls again, like they did when they were puppies. We cleaned up and went back to bed again.
It was only when I returned back downstairs later that morning, that I noticed that Angel was very drowsy – not herself. She would come when i called, but slowly. She almost passed out. My wife took her to the vet and came back in tears an hour later.
Not good news at all. Angel had had a stroke, which was the reason for the accidents in the kitchen and the walls being scratched. How are you meant to react? What do you tell the kids?
Angel hadn’t passed away, but it was very close. Now she was lying alone in a cage; scared, with strangers and in pain. I couldn’t help or hold her, telling her she would be OK. I refused to be too upset, especially with the kids around, so I kept cleaning the house to keep busy.
She came back to the house after two days, which was fantastic. She gained a few extra years and seems a bit more fragile, but she’s back. I don’t care that she has to take heart medicine. I’m just happy that the family is back together again.
How do you tell or show a dog how much she means to us? There are many things that you wanted her to experience. You never fully understand what it is like to loose somebody you love, until that moment comes.
Angel is my dog. She’s not perfect, but I love her for what she is. She doesn’t understand us, but she knows that we love her. I just hope we get a lot more time together.