Saks - Bogey and Ricola - West Lafayette, IN

We are blessed to have two rescued Berners in our family.  Both Bogey (BG#:  64721) and Ricola (BG#:  64722) came to us, Deborah and Robert Saks, in West Lafayette, Indiana, via the Heart of Michigan Bernese Mountain Dog Club (HMBMDC) rescue group.  We had rescued a Berner, Olaf, from HMBMDC, and he had significant aggression issues, and after his death, we were still in mourning when we were asked if we might be interested in rehoming a very happy dog who was two years old.  While I was reluctant at first, I wanted to help another Berner, so I drove the hundreds of miles to meet “Butch.”  I fell in love, but adopting him put us one dog over par (3 in our house), so we renamed him Bogey.
After he had lived with us for six months, we had him tested, and he has now been a registered therapy dog with Delta Society for nearly three years, and he brings joy to senior citizens at nursing homes and to children in a local “reading fur fun” program.  Everyone loves his happy personality, and they love his “nose nibble” trick where he will lick the end of your nose on command.  My personal favorite is the “love the mommy” command where he will put his head on my chest and stare lovingly into my eyes.  His only challenge is in the reading program where he often likes to doze off while children read to him.  One little girl was not happy when she finished reading to him, and when I asked why, she said, “Bogey wasn’t even paying attention.”
Bogey has begun training for the Novice Draft Dog title, and he absolutely loves to pull things.  When he puts on his harness, he dances around and spins with joy.  It is an activity that gives him one-on-one time with his dog mom, and he knows he’s special.
During 2010, Bogey earned his first two legs of his Novice Rally title, and hopefully in 2011, he’ll finish that and move on for more advanced titles.  He’s been slowed by bi-lateral elbow dysplasia, but he’s getting good treatment and is free of limping at this time.
When we were contacted about a Berner puppy rescued from a puppy mill, we were once again down to three dogs, but I did not want to jump in to raising a puppy unless I could spend the time to do it correctly.  Of course I had never raised a Berner from puppyhood, so it was an opportunity I had always wanted.  It also helped that my husband agreed that if I would train the new puppy, he would get up in the middle of the night for “hurry” breaks.    When I met Ricola (nee “Sheldon”), he was very shy and seemed unsure of what to do with humans.  He seemed like a dog who liked dogs, but he wasn’t too fond of people.  Given that his parents were both four years old and still nameless dogs on an Amish farm, this made some sense, but I wondered if he’d ever warm up to us.  Luckily, as the weeks passed, he got more and more “user friendly,” and now, he’s so social it’s hard to believe he’s the same dog.  He’s still a bit skittish around new people, but his sweet disposition will hopefully allow him to become a registered therapy dog.
Ricola gave us a scare during 2010 when he fell ill and refused to eat.  This was surprising given that he has literally dented his metal food dish when he got over eager about dinner.  As it turns out, he had decided to eat an oven mitt.  Luckily, he has made a full recovery, and the oven mitts are now safely out of view of the Berners.
Living in Indiana, we get very cold winters (and this year lots of snow).  While I’m not a big fan of the weather, having our Berner boys romp and play in the snow (and eat lots of it) adds some fun to the season.  Now if we could teach them to dry off and warm up before moving to their lap dog mode, we’d be all set!

3/20/11 - Unfortunately dear Bogey has been diagnosed with malignant histiocytosis.