Finley - Willow - Louisville, KY

WILLOW - Berner-Garde No. 33128
By: Patti Finley – Louisville, KY

Laying at my feet is my heart dog, Willow. He is an amazing gorgeous eight year old Berner with a beautiful coat, awesome head, huge paws, soulful eyes, the biggest nose, and the look of a tri-colored teddy bear. So, you might say…that’s what a male Berner should be like…what makes him special?

In the fall of 2006, I reached out to for a puppy. I had lost my mentor, my husband, my berner girl, Missy, and my dad within six months. My world shattered, my heart and spirit totally broken; I was nothing more than a walking shell trying to make a new life without my knight in shining armor from my fairytale marriage.

Instead of a cute fluffy ball of fuzz with puppy breath, I adopted an eight month old gangly, stinky and terrified boy who I couldn’t even look at without over-loading his senses and him shutting down. Anyone else would have passed but for me he was perfect. We both needed to find ourselves in that deep black inner hole, learn to struggle through days to survive, and come out stronger, self reliant and self confident.

I named him BARC’s No More Weeping Willow, or Willow, promising both of us that there would be no more pain and no more tears. All of my grief work went into him. With the help of my Berner girl, Kenzie, he learned what it was to be a Berner.

Willow blossomed and grew self-confident until Kenzie died of Histio in December 2010; then he crawled back into his feral state. In February, 2011, Tia joined the family and picked up where Kenzie left off. The two immediately bonded and became inseparable. They are “brother and sister” and he is “uncle” to Leonardo, one of the13 puppies Tia whelped in May 2012.

Willow has taught me so much; qualities and attributes that have made me a better person. He has taught me patience…on days when I want to throw up my hands in frustration, the sad and gentle look in his eyes tells me that he desperately wants to learn and please. Willow has taught me to greet each day as a new beginning…he does with exuberance as he bounces up and down waiting impatiently to play with Leonardo. He has taught me the ability to trust again even after being terribly hurt by another person. He has taught me to slow down for life passes by fast enough…aside from the morning bouncing, Willow does nothing quickly but that’s OK he still arrives at the same place as Tia and Leonardo and receives the same treats…it’s just done in Willow time. He has taught me to suck it up even when it hurts and keep on going. So many times with his medical issues I know he must be in pain but never have I heard him whimper.

Willow, thanks for all you have taught me; thanks for being my knight with four feet and fur! I love you so much it’s scary.