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Monday, April 25, 2011

Some Thoughts

A couple weeks ago, a friend asked me if I have ever considered getting a different breed of dog. She knows I like to do lots of dog sport stuff and since she has Bernese herself, she knows that sometimes the breed has limitations when it comes to being competitive. Bernese are not the fastest agility dogs and they tend not to like work that involves a lot of repetition, like obedience.
My answer was easy - my dogs are my pets and companions first and competition/performance dogs second and I have yet to find another breed that appeals to me as much as the Berners do.

Yes, I could be a lot more competitive in agility with one of the "typical" agility breeds but I don't know if I could really provide the right type of home that a high drive, competitive dog would need. I love my cuddly dogs who fit well into my lifestyle. If I want to hike for 2 hours they are up for it. If I want to nap on the couch for 2 hours, they are up for that too.

There are plenty of breeds that I admire and some that I have seriously considered as a "contender" to fit into my household, but something or another just does not seem right. When we get a dog, it should be with some thoughtfulness considering how that dog will fit into our lifestyle. We may get a dog with the intentions of it being a "performance" dog, but often that does not always work out for various reasons. That is why, for me, my dogs are my pets first and if it turns out that they enjoy agility, obedience, or other performance events, great. If not, they are still my companion.

For me, at this time, the Berners are a perfect fit (well, I could do without all the shedding). They are goofy and make me laugh. They are sweet and sensitive. They are fun. They are easy going, "take things as they come" kind of dogs. They are smart but not in a "I need something to do" sort of way. They are always smiling. They make me smile.

I think the only thing that would make me look to a different breed would be the serious health issues in the breed. They have an unfortunate short life span when compared to other breeds of their size. But, it is hard to resist a face like this.


  1. Great post!:0) I agree with you whole hearedly!!

  2. I agree Kim!

    I do think that some people get so caught up in the performance events that they forget what it will be like to live with the dog for 12 years...

    Like you my dogs are my pets first. I have to live with them every day, and agility is just a small part of that. So it's important to have a good fit. And as Vito (and on occasion Boone) can attest to- if you don't like agility that's fine by me. :)

    But on the flip side, I learned to never say never. Once upon a time I said I would never get a border collie. And here she is. She fits perfectly in my lifestyle, and isn't all that different than the dogs I already had. Which is why she stayed.

    So, You never know- one day a dog, or an opportunity might come along that you can't resist. I could totally see you with a golden... (it would be like living with a smaller, less hairy Maggie...)

  3. I agree with you too, Kim. The Goldens are a lot like the Bernese too, in some way. They probably do have more energy & drive than the Berners but they too lack speed & they get exhausted really fast hence my dogs always lose in Agility even if they get a clean run. The Collies & Malinois always beat them.

    I always enjoy watching how the Collies & Malis do Agility & OB. The way they heel, it's so precise & the way they watch their handlers while they're heeling is just amazing! BUT I do not like their temperaments & they wouldn't fit my temperament & household. I'm not that energetic & active as them. Both breeds are just way TOO active for me so I need a dog that is in the middle hence why I still own Golden Retrievers. They're just perfect for me.

    They're smart, they're fun to work with, they have such nice temperaments & dispositions, great characters, not to mention, beautiful too & they know when to STOP unlike most Malis & BCs. And yea, my dogs may not be as fast as those dogs, so what? They still enjoy doing Agility. We do it for fun.

    I love my Goldens. I may get another breed someday but I'm not thinking about that right now. For now, I will stick to Goldens.

  4. You need to keep having Berners forever... Otherwise I'll have no where to get my Berner fix!

    I totally agree though. I mean, I'm trying agility with a Pug! I could have said "Izzie is too slow" and got myself a Sheltie or something. I would probably end up being more successful, but Izzie is my buddy first. If she decides she doesn't like to play agility then we won't play (which might kill me a little inside but i can get over that) there's plenty of other things we can do, but the main priority is she's my friend.

    With that said, I'm not getting a Pug after Izzie. I'd never be able to find one that matches her in any department and still support a reputable breeder. "Normal" purebred Pugs just don't look like her or act like her. For my future dog i am looking for a dog with a personality that enjoys dog sports(specifically agility) and a good healthy structure, but having a fantastic agility dog isn't my goal. Having a dog that fits me and who will be my best friend is what matters.

  5. Great read Kim and I totally agree with you, dog sports are a small portion of my time spent with my dogs...I love my dogs for who they are each and every one of them...


  6. Really great post Kim!! Aspen was originally purchased to attend Graduate school with me. We were suppose to be a therapy team. Berners being aesthetically pleasing seem to really have a teddy bear effect on people but many of them wouldn't make great therapy dogs. They tend to be aloof with strangers. Something I didn't look at when getting one(of the many things I didn't look at). Being a therapy dog is not looking to be Aspen cup of tea and you know what it's okay. Of course now because of how he fits so well in my everyday life I will not own a different breed. Actually Aspen has turned out to be more of a therapist to me then anything else. So attuned to me and he has pushed me to be a more patient person and this in turn will help my clients ☺ .

    I think It's so important for anyone getting any kind of dog mutt or otherwise to make sure that breed/breeds fit into their life. When people don't these dog end up in rescues..

    I recently was browsing pet finder and found a berner who was given up because he got too big?? What the heck... You thought he was going to stay little forever??? Or how about families that take a berner puppy home and they have allergies.

  7. I totally agree... great post. Like you... I love my insane in the membrane boy... :0) but he fits my life style and I love ENERGY....hahahah

  8. I agree too. It is so important to have a dog that matches your lifestyle and I know that berners certainly work for me! Hmmmm... except for this new one who hasn't quite mastered being happy with the 2 hours on the couch thing. I think I should bring her to you Kim and you can tire her out with some agility! And I love the face in picture number 5! Like you say..."Who could resist that!"

  9. I love my boy Andy so much. He's our first dog, reluctantly agreed to by my husband after 10 years of begging. Now we can't imagine life without him. Andy is a big goof, very cuddly at home and a huge rockstar out in public. It seems impossible to walk him without strangers striking up conversations (same questions always: how old is he/ what's his name/ how much does he weigh/ how much does he eat/ does he shed) or comments (even non-English speakers mutter 'big dog', as if we hadn't noticed).
    Now that Andy's 3, we are actively looking for a little brother. Yes, it's twice the drool, twice the shedding, twice the food (yipes!), but having two Berners isn't twice the love. It's exponential. Berners squared!

  10. Completely agree too!! Our choccy lab loves his agility and his gundog trials but he's never going to win over the collies, and the working black labs. He is our pet, we love him (and he loves us) and he fits in our lives like he's been with us forever (hes 3), always included! Even if he didn't enjoy his sports he would fit with us. We could never cope with a Collie or a working lab/springer, at work all day - would love a berner though!! Need to find some spare cash first!!