This one is for Bernie

This is a sad post. There’s no way around it. However, I feel I should share this story for a few reasons: I freaking love dogs, you need to be careful when picking a breeder or rescue shelter and sometimes crying it out is the only way to move on.

In the summer of 2009, the BF and I were seriously considering getting a dog. Most of my free time was spent on I flooded Dean’s inbox with links, listings and photos of huggable puppies. I knew what I wanted and I was bound to make it happen before the end of the summer… I was rescuing a puppy. I was not going to a breeder. I wanted to save a dog’s life and do the ‘right’ thing.

One rainy Saturday morning Dean said he would go look at the puppy that I sent him the day before. I was ELATED. We went out to Elyria’s Midway Mall (red flag #1). We we’re weirded out going into the mall to see rescue pups but after a little research we learned this store used to be a puppy mill and now it’s a pet store/rescue shelter.

The pooch we went to see was already snagged up. The lady working asked what we we’re interested in and let us come into the back room with her. OH MY GAAWWWWD – there was a litter of 8 or so puppies that were the cutest little boogers alive.

The 6-week old mutts were brought to the store by a mother whose son was selling the dogs for drug money. 😦 Most of them were bouncing off the wall except the puppy we fell in love with (red flag #2). Enter Bernie. He sauntered over to us, begging for me to pick him up!

Bernie, Bernie!

Side note: Ever since my love for the Browns reached an abnormal level, I knew my first dog’s name would be Bernie! We named our family dog Ozzie (Newsome to me, Osbourne to the rest of the fam).

This was the dog. Bernie was the one I would go on runs with, play fetch in the back yard with, swim in the lake with, yell at when he chews my stilletos…you get the picture.

Since he was only 6 weeks old, we had to wait a week and a half until we could take him home (no matter how badly I begged and pleaded with the workers). It was difficult but not as difficult as what happened a week later.

Of course I had to drag Dean out to Elyria to visit Bernie every chance we had – which was 3 times. I spent $20 on an engraved Cleveland Browns dog collar that had the pups full name and address. We stocked up on food, treats, toys and puppy-proofed the house. We we’re already spoiling this dog and he wasn’t even home yet.

Bernie napping on his dad's lap.

Embraced in our arms, Bernie was a happy dog. We showered him with kisses and belly scratches. You could tell Bernie was the odd-sibling out. He just didn’t wanna play rough with his brothers and sisters. The store owner said this was the dog that would want to please us but wouldn’t attack a robber – sounded perfect!

On our last visit I was told I wasn’t allowed to see my puppy. He was sick and quarantined. I couldn’t speak…Dean read my mind and told the woman that we would see our dog. After some back and forth BS, we were allowed to see Bernie for 5 minutes but not allowed to put him on the floor.

When I saw Bernie I knew he was tremendously sick. He lost at least 2 pounds. For a 7 pound animal it was disheartening. The lump in my throat grew and I was speechless. I wrapped the puppy up in my arms and when he was ripped away, I demanded I take the dog to the vet immediately. The woman insisted that Bernie had an appointment first thing on Monday morning. It was Saturday at noon. This was unacceptable. I said I was walking out the door with my dog and she threatened to call the police. Clearly I didn’t want to spend the rest of the weekend in the slammer. We headed home with not one word exchanged on the 45 minute drive.

A happy Bernie...

Once we got home, I buried my face in the couch pillows and started bawling uncontrollably. I was a blubbering mess. MESS. Tears soaked the pillows, makeup ran and hiccups ensued. It was not pretty. I knew Bernie wasn’t going to make it until Monday. Dean insisted he would be fine…call it a mother’s instinct, but I knew differently. It took me hours to compose myself.

Monday morning rolls around and I received a phone call from a number I didn’t recognize. Before I picked it up, I knew the heartbreaking news that would be on the other end. The news I was expecting all weekend. Bernie didn’t make it. His pneumonia was too much for the frail dog. I wasn’t even told he had pneumonia. I got my money back and was offered to take one of his siblings (yeah effing right). I barely cried after this phone call – I had already grieved Saturday.

I could barely concentrate so I sorrowfully left work and explained everything to Dean. He wasn’t satisfied with the vague explanation I had recieved. He dug deeper and learned Bernie didn’t even make it to the vet. He didn’t even make it to Sunday. Bernie passed away sometime after we left on Saturday. Why hadn’t I gotten a phone call before Monday morning?? Could Bernie have been saved if I did run him to the vet?? These questions rattled my brain, but I knew I couldn’t blame myself. We gave Bernie love for an entire week…we pampered him with affection and that’s what I needed to remember.

Dean pretending to be mad because he knew this dog would be soon be ours.

I realize this happens every day and I can’t fully blame the pet store. Bernie was a weak dog but he wasn’t the runt. We kept telling ourselves everything happens for a reason and Bernie was in a better place. I wanted to forget about the experience but the questions started pouring in from everyone: Will you get another puppy or will you guys wait? Will your next dog be named Bernie? How are you going to pick out another dog? Do you think Bernie would have made it if he made it to see the vet?

I knew the only way I could move on was to get a dog in our house, we we’re ready after all. Looking at puppy treats and empty food dishes would just deepen the pain.

On Tuesday, Dean told me to skip the gym and come home straight after work. I knew what that meant – we would be looking at another dog. I later found out that he had spent the entire day on the phone and internet researching puppies available in the area. Everything does happen for a reason. This was the reason……


Cabela meets Ozzie, her cousin!

Cabela is even a boater like her mom and dad!

Like I said, this is a sad post…but everything did work out. Maybe one day Cabela will get a friend and I’ll be ready to name him Bernie (anyone have any pug puppies for sale?? ;))

Some may say I am over dramatic and it was just a dog but losing an animal can be just as hard as losing a loved one 😦

We miss you Bernie.


8 responses to “This one is for Bernie

  1. brought tears to me also. I know how you feel. We had to have one put to sleep last year and wife said never again, too hard to loose. two days later she brought home stuff on a puppy from the Other side of Toledo in Delta, OH. we live south of Canton so it was a long drive for this Dog i did NOT want. now just casue i didnt want her doesnt mean I don’t love my little girl. I take her as often as i can with me. spent alot of time at my grandpas before he passed and she took it very hard not seeing him anymore. she IS my little baby. that was 17 months ago.

  2. Wow, way to make me cry on a Friday night! How sad. I can’t even imagine. I’m so glad it worked out in the end for you, though. Cabela is one lucky pooch!!

  3. OMG WHY do you want to rip my heart out?! (but in all reality, i know why you told the story, sometimes it feels so good to put it out there!) big hugs to bernie’s memory, and well as to the fabulous cabela! 🙂 you are awesome pupper parents – OBVIOUSLY!

  4. I just came here for the first time today. Wow. I just wanted to say how sorry i am for you and your fam and how much i can relate to this story. We got a pug pup (Angus) this past March, and due to the most horrific thing possible, we lost him two weeks later. You are NOT dramatic. I missed work, seriously sobbed for weeks and was simply devestated. Dogs become family immediately; it, for me- is the truest form of unconditional love. Im so sorry for your loss.
    We had a lot of friends and family suggesting we get a new pup soon after we lost Angus, for us it wasnt the right choice. But now that time has passed, i am really ready to give my love to another little dude or dudette- and almost wish we had gotten one sooner, im beginning to feel gun shy.. like i could have some how prevented it from happening, im not a good pup mom.. etc..
    Im upsetting myself here… anyway. I just really connected with your post, so i wanted to comment… Cabela is adorable, and again, sorry about Bernie.

  5. That picture of Cabela on the tailgate is fantastic. I too have a black lab. Maya is her name.

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