Saturday, February 8, 2014

Living With The Dog Mamma: (Part 5) Big B

by Jerry Rade

As I mentioned earlier, “A tired dog is a good dog”. Every day Jana would take Jasmine out for a good long walk in a park area near our home. I’m not talking about occasional walks on days when the temperature was just right, and the sun was shining. It didn’t matter if it was hot or cold, if the sun was out or it was raining, or if the wind was trying to blow you away. They went out every single day.

Obviously, with Jasmine's help, by this time Jana had evolved into a real dog person. 

And being the way she is, Jana wanted to be the best dog mama that she could possibly be. She read books and researched dog behavior on the internet. One of the things she came to believe was that it was necessary for a dog to be socialized with other dogs.

While out on their walks Jana and Jasmine would keep a sharp eye out for other dogs that Jasmine might interact with. 

They would climb onto a hill and search all around for a potential playmate. If they saw a dog off in the distance they would swoop down off the hill in pursuit of some quality playtime. Ordinarily introvert Jana would catch up with people and follow them wherever they were going.

I always thought of them as being similar to vultures.

One dog in particular became Jasmine’s best friend. Ty, a male boxer about one year older than Jasmine, had recently moved into our area with a young couple. The couple was new to the area and they really didn’t know anyone. The dogs made friends immediately and Jana would arrange play dates as often as possible. Jasmine and Ty got along swimmingly. They played together, have gentle tugs of wars, and in general were just happy to run together.

As things often go, the young couple met new friends in the area and started to participate in local sports. That meant less trips to the park for Ty, and less opportunity for Jasmine to play with him.

Then the young couple bought a home several miles away and Jasmine was only able to meet up with Ty a couple of times per year.

Jana felt so sorry for Jasmine. There were other dogs that Jasmine would play with but none with the same level of enthusiasm as with Ty. So we (read Jana) decided to find another dog for our home so Jasmine would have a play buddy at all times.

At just that time a co-worker of mine contacted me to see if we would be interested in adopting a male Rottweiler. 

We were a bit concerned because the dog was large and already seven years old. We were wondering if he would be able to adapt to another family at his age. It’s a long story, but it ends up with this Rottweiler having nowhere else to turn.

It was either us or he was going to be put down.

We still weren’t completely comfortable with the thought of adopting this fella but we thought that at least it would be worth a try. We made arrangements with the co-worker to meet the dog along with his owner the following weekend. Jana believed that it would be better to meet them in the park rather than have them come directly to our house where Jasmine might feel protective. So Jana took Jasmine into the park at the set time, and I waited for the dog and his owner at a doughnut shop near by.

I’ll never forget the first time I laid eyes on Bruin. 

A car was pulling in to the parking lot where I was waiting with a dog in the back seat. A big dog. A very, very big dog. The car was a midsized Chevy and Bruin had his butt against one door, his head against the other, in his neck was bent down because he was too tall to stand properly in the back seat. Yes, Bruin was a very big boy and in time we just came to call him Big B.

You certainly couldn’t call the meeting between Jasmine and Bruin love at first sight. 

In truth, they never had the playful relationship that we had hoped for. But Bruin did respect Jasmine, and I do believe that Jasmine did like having another dog in the household.

One of the reasons we ended up adopting Big B was that when we brought them in for a visit, he laid down, as if trying to blend in to the floor. When his owner was leaving he hadn’t budged, hadn’t moved and made no attempt to follow.

He clearly wanted to stay where he was.

This was another big change in our lives. Until then, Jana would take Jasmine out for her daily walks. If she was not feeling well I might be asked to pinch-in but the daily walks where their thing. Now, having the two dogs, Jana felt that it would be great if I could help her take them out for a couple of months.

That was about nine years ago. 

Obviously Jana’s concept of time varies greatly from mine. But then, what’s the sense in arguing, we all know how that ends up.

Bruin was a BIG boy. 

When he came to live with us he was 135 pounds and fat. A Rottweiler’s butt should not be wider than his chest. When Bruin finally passed away three years later he was 155 pounds and thin. And all of this was just from going on good long daily walks.

Friends would jokingly describe us as a couple out walking the dog and the bear.

Another thing we found out was that 150 pound Rottweiler is only medium-sized. 

I would have thought that that was a big dog, but since we met so many young fellas who all knew someone who had a Rottweiler that was much larger, we came to understand that Big B was only a medium-size dog.

One thing that Jana, the dogs, and I truly believe is that a dog needs to be able to be a dog. 

All too often people confine their dogs to only what the people want to do. We believe that a dog needs some time to be a dog. To us that means they need to be able to get out into the woods, run around, sniff things, and to be able to do what they feel is important. That is why we take the dogs out daily, and do our very best to take them to an environment where they can run free.

That’s all well and fine, but what do you do if you’re couple miles away from anything and a dog the size of Bruin can’t walk anymore?

Even a 100 pound dog is going to be difficult to extract from the woods. We never really thought of it until Bruin was near the end of his life. You could see where he was having difficulty keeping up even though he loved being together with us.

We ended up buying a large plastic toboggan and keeping it in our truck just in case something did happen where he couldn’t make it back. We never did have to use it, but I did shorten my walks with Big B due to his difficulty in keeping up for the long walks. At least he was included in the daily walks, something we all considered the dogs’ special time. Jana and Jasmine would stay out until Jasmine got her fill of fun.

Eventually, Big B’s heart was failing. 

As with every dog we’ve ever loved, it was painful to let him go. The one bright spot through it all is that we can look back and say that Big B really enjoyed the three years he had with us.

Big B, we miss you.

Related articles:
Memories Of Jasmine: Best Buddies 

Articles by Jerry Rade:
The Ups And Downs Of Dog Ramps
Living With The Dog Mamma: (Part 1) The Rest of the Story
Living With The Dog Mamma: (Part 2) A Dog In The House  
Living With The Dog Mamma: (Part 3) Maybe Having A Dog In The House Isn't Such A Bad Idea After All  
Living With The Dog Mamma: (Part 4) The New Puppy 


  1. What a wonderful story and so very well written. Big B sounds like he was a great dog! I love that Jana's concept of time varies greatly from yours, I bet my husband would say the same about mine :)

  2. So awesome that you gave a second life to a big ol' sweetie like Bruin.

    --Woofs (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats.