What Does A St. Bernard Look Like?

This wasn’t the blog post I intended writing this week, but that one can wait. I need to write about the walk I had with the dogs yesterday.

My mum met me at my house when she finished work, so that we could walk the dogs to her house and both get a bit of a walk in the lovely weather. Spring has finally arrived! O.J was working well and happy to be out. As he usually does, he completely ignored all the dogs we passed, including a woman with a huge dog. It was on a lead, and she held it in to one side as we approached because the path was narrow. She talked to us as we came towards her, and mentioned that the dog didn’t like Bichons and that she had one herself. My mum walked Dougal quickly past, and commented on the size of the dog and that it looked lovely. She told us that it was a St. Bernard. I know what they look like, but they are one of the large breeds that I’ve never actually touched before. I was just about to enthusiastically ask her if I could pet it, (Beethoven was one of my fav films when I was small, and I was finally going to see what he looked like), when he broke free from his owner and lunged at O.J. It all happened so quick that I can hardly remember. O.J was pinned to the ground and whining, and I struggled between the two dogs to try and help him. He isn’t a fighter at all, so didn’t really try to defend himself. I’m not sure if he would have fought back a bit more if he had his harness off. My mum couldn’t help since she had Dougal, and the dog’s weight alone would have crushed him. His owner eventually managed to grab hold of him, and kept appologising as I checked O.J over to see if he was hurt. I think I was more shaken than he was. I know the dog’s owner was in shock herself, and insisted that he has never reacted like that before. It wasn’t that she was irresponsible or didn’t attempt to control him, but he was obviously too strong for her. My mum told me afterwards that he had what sounded like some type of haulty thing around his head and mouth so that he couldn’t bite. If he hadn’t have had that on, I am almost sure that O.J would not be a working guide dog today.

Thankfully O.J wasn’t too bothered by what happened, and really wanted to go walking today. I wanted to bring him and keep things as normal as possible. My plan was to go for a short walk, not as far as we were when we met the dog, but I met my aunt, the weather was lovely and we walked even further. We passed lots of dogs and O.J was absolutely fine. On the way home, my aunt spotted the dog out with two boys, and I couldn’t believe it. It’s the first time in my life that I’ve ever been afraid of a dog coming towards me. The boys must have been told about what happened yesterday, because they quickly took it on to the beach. It looked up a couple of times as we passed, and they had to call it twice. O.J saw it too, and was obviously not comfortable. He tried to walk quickly along the path, completely not concentrating and walking us both into a bin as he passed.

I really don’t know what the story was with this dog. Was his reaction completely out of character, or was there a reason why he had this type of collar restraining him? Clearly he is too strong for his owner to handle. What’s to say he won’t do this again, to O.J or to another dog? What if someone had a child with them? What if I had have been on my own with both dogs? This dog will go for walks in the area that I walk. I’ve seen him now in two different places, and they are areas that I can’t avoid walking. And why should I? The path is so narrow at times that unless they happen to meet me near a path that leads to the beach, I can’t avoid walking past the dog. I don’t know what to do , since technically the owner did nothing really wrong. I can’t tell them where and when to walk their own dog, and I can’t question them about how much they understand their own dog’s behaviour. I also can’t be afraid every time I go for a walk on my own. O.J can’t afford to have another scare like that. Sometimes guide dogs can get a fright from another dog and are unable to work again because of the trauma. I wish people would understand this. All the people who walk their dogs without leads, and all the people who don’t teach their dog to socialise properly when it is a pup, and just expect it to know how to behave around other dogs, please wise up and take responsibility for your animals.

So after all that, I still don’t know what a St. Bernard looks like, and I’m not sure I really want to! I’m joking! I hate people assuming that all dogs of a particular breed have the same characteristics. That really annoys me.
I’ll just keep imagining playful, silly Beethoven in my head when I think of St. Bernards, and Bernard who lives up the road can add black lab/retrievers to the list of dogs he doesn’t like.


3 thoughts on “What Does A St. Bernard Look Like?

  1. Oh gosh! What a horrid thing to happen. I would never wish it on anyone at all. Sounds like that woman didn’t really care what her dog was like. It certainly knocks the stuffing out of you for sure. I believe it’s always the owners, not the breed of dog.

    There is a guy here who owns an akeeta. He was out once when i was out with ushi and he told me to keep ushi on the lead as we were going for a run. He then went the other way because he knew his dog.

    Some people really don’t have a clue. I’m not saying that guide dog owners are better than anyone, but some people think a dog is just this cute thing.

    I hope it doesn’t bother you again.



  2. Jenny, Up to two years ago, I had a huge problem with a local dog. Nicky will remember. Every time I passed it, the dog would bark and jump at it’s gate. When we met the dog on the street with it’s owner, it would lunge at my dog. It was a horrible situation as the owner was very accomidating and even tried to ensure that both dogs never met. I got absolutely sick of this because I have to walk down that road a lot during the week on the way to work One day I was in my garden just cutting the hedges or something with my dog beside me. I heard the man and his dog walking by and the man fighting as usually to keep his dog under control. As we regulary did, we stopped for a bit of a chat. Our mutual hope was that both dogs would relax in their company and the other dog wouldn’t be so frustrated next time. I was also trying to make my dog ignore the constant barking as well. This day, we stood there for a while so when both dogs were relaxed, I invited the man in to the garden and we let both dogs off. They had a good sniff and for a minute it sounded like they were eating each other but when the normal playing began they were absolutely fine. Turns out that the other dog had been abused and was very nervous. Now, when I walk by the house the other dog comes over and runs at the gate but it no longer tries to jump at my dog and the barks aren’t constant. It’s a different situation to yours of course but sometimes, what goes on between two dogs is impossible for us to determine. If at all possible, if I was in your situation, I’d see about introducting them to each other in an open setting so both dogs could retreat if they felt threatened.

  3. Agree Torie.

    Darragh, sounds like that was a good way of solving the problem, and glad it’s worked now. It’s good that the man was willing to take responsibility for his own dog and help to make things easier. Not sure this owner would be as willing, but maybe i’m wrong. If I was to let the dogs meet, the problem is that the owner doesn’t seem to be able to control it, so I’m not sure if she could restrain it if she needed to, and I couldn’t take that chance.

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