This is Oliver.
Ollie. Ollie-Pop. Giant Dog™. Giant Doofus. Barky McBarkface. The biggest suck in the world.
He’ll be 8 years old in the new year, which bothers me a little, because the typical age range for his breed (a Saint Bernard) is 8 to 10. But, he’s quite healthy, built lean for a Saint at only 140 or 145 pounds, and while he is slowing down, he’s still pretty active for his size and age.
We brought him home when he was about 5 ½, flagged to his imminent rehoming or surrender by a former coworker of mine who works with dog rescues here and there. Significant changes in life had forced a young couple and their young child to move in with someone’s mom, where there were already two big dogs, and not as much harmony in the household as one might like.
He’s also plagued with anxiety. He loves us, his people, and he’s generally very good with women who come in the house. Not so much men. Men make him uncomfortable. Outside the house, he’s afraid of all other dogs and all other human beings. That fear manifests as aggression of the “stay away from me and my people or I will rip your head off” kind of aggression. That level of posturing in a waist-high dog with jaws he can open wide enough to wrap around your entire head is, understandably for most people, frightening.
But inside the house, he is the sweetest, most lovable, most relaxed dog you will ever find.
We all fell in love with them on the first visit, even my wife who, at the time, didn’t want to dog. I’d wanted one for years, and the girls were certainly on board. My son, to be honest, was indifferent either way, since he was fairly certain he was moving out of the house the following spring.
But everyone loved him, and we arranged to bring home a week later.
There were some difficulties in early days. We learned not to let him meet other dogs on the street the hard way. We learned not to let him meet people on the street the hard way. We’ll never, ever be able to take him into a dog park, and even in our now fenced in backyard, if he hears another dog 10 blocks away he is forced to bark repeatedly until he can’t hear it anymore.
But he’s loving, and affectionate, and a lapdog when you let him be.
And he’s a pretty awesome guard dog/alarm system.
He also lets himself be bullied by the cats. Well, one cat in particular. Cyrus, at less than a 10th of Ollie’s weight, will just stick his head in the food bowl that Giant Dog™ is eating out of, and Giant Dog™ has no idea what to do, so he lets it happen. Or maybe he just knows that Cyrus won’t eat that much, but the look he turns on us is usually one of helplessness.
We try not to let it go on very long. Oliver appreciates that, I think.
Be well, everyone.
(Well, I covered the feline overlords in blog posts, so it seems only fair.)by