Updated: Dec 9, 2021
Several years after Marsha came to be part of our family, she and Tyson had become best friends. They did everything together, shared a food bowl, even slept on the same bed. But Tyson was getting older, and a little slower. Finally, the time came to say good-bye. Marsha didn't take it well. She became very needy, and suffered from separation anxiety. Each morning, when the kids left for school, she would try to round them up, barking up a storm, to keep them from leaving the house. The same each time I left for work. Jay worked from home a lot, but he had to leave for field work. She was miserable. After a year of this, I decided it was time for a new puppy. I had always wanted a Saint Bernard. I began looking through sites like pet finder for one. I dragged Jay and the kids hours in all directions to look at the latest Saint they had at a rescue. Jay was a little intimidated by a 150 pound dog with an unknown history. He suggested I find a puppy, so at least we can raise him ourselves. It's hard enough to find a Saint of any age, but a puppy? The search was on. In the meantime, I learned everything there is to know about having a St. Bernard in the house. The drool. A lot. And shed. A lot. Everything costs more than twice as much as smaller breeds. Vet bills are atrocious. And my desire to bring one home was deeper than ever. They are lovable, and smart. They are loyal. They surprisingly are rather lazy dogs, and they don't need as much exercise as some other, more high maintenance, breeds. I finally found one! A two hour drive to get him, but he's mine! Moose was 8 weeks old and weighed just shy of 15 pounds when we brought him home. Marsha was in love! He was the same size as her - maybe a just little bigger. He was clumsy and lazy. She definitely had speed and agility on her side. And she played with him, tormented him maybe a little.
Moose grew quickly, adding 5 pounds a week in the beginning. By Christmas, he was already over 50 pounds and much larger than Marsha. He didn't seem to notice, and she certainly didn't care. She still bossed him around, and he followed her orders.
Having Moose around certainly perked up Marsha again. Moose weighed an incredible 120 pounds on his first birthday, and he wasn't done growing yet. (You can watch him grow in this video.) Poor Moose tripped over his own very large feet a lot, and was a goofy puppy. The other pups at doggie playtime ran circles around him. As he grew into those extra-large paws, though, the tables turned and he rounded the rest of them up like herding sheep.
When Moose was not quite a year and a half old, he got very sick. We had just moved closer to Pittsburgh, and had not established a vet in the area yet. It was a Sunday, and I found a Banfield office near us that was willing to see him. Test after test came back negative, and we had no idea what was wrong with him. Finally, an X-ray showed a small metal band in his
stomach. We took him to the Emergency vet's office because Banfield couldn't do surgery. We determined the object was a 2" paintbrush that we used to paint in our old house - almost 4 months prior. Somehow, Moose swallowed it. We hugged him goodbye and went home. Surgery would take place in the morning.
The surgeon called me the next day to inform me that the paintbrush handle had punctured the stomach, and then healed around it. He was septic and though he made it through surgery against the odds, he may not make it to come back home. I was devastated.
Moose had dropped down to 80 pounds throughout the week, but he was still hanging in there. He began eating some, and was able to go to the bathroom. He finally was allowed to come back home. The next few months he was fed a diet of boiled chicken and rice, and eventually I was able to slowly add some of his regular food into the mix. The guys at the grocery store butcher thought I was making up the story of why I needed so much chicken. Moose was eating 5 times a day - that's a lot of chicken! And he put the weight back on quickly. His fur never quite grew back in the same as it was before, but he was alive and doing well!
They gave us the paintbrush in a specimen bag (sealed of course) as a "souvenir" of our experience. The vets all told us the same thing - never have they ever seen anything quite like this before. They thought it would be a simple extraction, but once they opened him up and saw the handle poking out of the stomach, they knew it was much more than that. How he stayed like that for four months before getting sick is a mystery. He even had a vet checkup in that time, and was absolutely fine.
Moose was dubbed "Miracle Moose" by his groomers, and the name was fitting. It was definitely a miracle that was was still with us. And now, 8 years later, Moose at 9 1/2 is still going strong.
I know he misses Marsha. Next week, my son is coming to visit with his new pup, Olive. I keep telling Moose that his "niece" is coming to visit. He gets all excited because of the tone of my voice, but I hope having a puppy around isn't too much for his old bones.