Hetzel - Marco - Wayne, IL

Marco – Arnie Hetzel – Wayne, IL

“Marco” - Berner-Garde # 70680

Marco came to our attention after receiving a call from the local Bernese Mountain Dog Club Rescue Chair Laurie Boyle. Laurie had been overwhelmed with the number of rescues she had received and asked if we could foster Marco, a 15 month old Berner. We had no experience fostering a rescue dog but had titled Berners before in obedience so we agreed to try.

Upon his arrival, Marco was formally introduced to Emmy and Angie, our two female Berners. The meeting went well with licks for everyone! He checked out his new surroundings with great interest, settling in quickly.

Marco’s movement had everyone concerned. He would walk a few steps, and then plop down. On his first short walk through the neighborhood, Marco’s paws began to bleed. Clearly, things were seriously wrong. At the vet’s office, it was noted that there was little muscle mass in Marco’s rear legs. X-rays also revealed that he is dysplastic. Seven months in a kennel without any exercise significantly hindered the proper muscle and bone development in this young dog. While lots of walking would help build muscles it would be a long slow process. In order to jump start the process we took Marco for canine swimming three times a week. Hydrotherapy is a great way to quickly build muscle and we had positive experience with canine swimming before. Marco took to the water like an Olympic champion and is the first Berner that we have had that enjoys every minute of his swims. Marco transformed into a Berner who was finally able to go for short walks.

Finally after two months Marco was getting close to being adoptable but he had really bonded to us and the girls. We didn’t have the heart to move him again but there was one more hurdle to overcome. Marco had been living on the first floor of our house and if he was going to stay he would need to negotiate stairs. He was completely unfamiliar with and afraid of them. We made a game out of the stairs by putting on the theme song from the movie “Rocky” and working on the stairs day after day, one step at a time. After two weeks he was finally willing and able to negotiate stairs.

It turns out that Marco had picked us long before we decided that he was truly home to stay. Marco continues to enjoy swimming twice a month and because of proper exercise and nutrition continues to enjoy good mobility. He is the happiest and most outwardly grateful dog we have ever had, thrilled to just sit on the grass in his backyard with his sisters and bark at those that pass by. Every day is an adventure and life wouldn’t be the same without Marco!