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.