Bringing Baby Home

If the first four weeks of Sherman’s life were a torturous experiment in patience, the final three weeks of the wait were only intensified. I’m not sure how I got anything done, I was so excited. It had been ten years since I had brought a puppy home. And by now I was all too aware that though we had bred Dalmatians in Oklahoma, though Sherman would be dog number six in the course of our marriage… I knew very little about most elements of life with a dog.

My curiosity peaked, actually, while having lunch with my mom’s veterinarian in Fort Wayne during my first visit with little Sherman. Jamie is a Berner mom. “Next time around,” she said, “I’m going with raw feeding and no vaccines. I’ll titer.”

“Whoa. Wind that back,” I said. What is raw feeding? Like raw meat? Uncooked?” No doubt my nose was wrinkling. Why was this such a shocking concept? Obviously wolves and feral dogs had eaten raw prey for centuries. But… bones, salmonella, ecoli, mad cow disease. Wouldn’t raw food subject a dog to all of these threats?

Titering I was familiar with. We had begun titering with Hero and Biscuit as my veterinarian in Pennsylvania was convinced the titer was much safer for her clients than vaccines. For this I was thankful, and for this reason she remains my vet to this day. She has since left her original practice to study holistic veterinary medicine and has reopened a clinic close to me… but more on that later.

Jamie briefly explained the benefits of feeding raw and gave me some “homework”. I hopped on Amazon and committed the final three weeks of waiting for Sherman to studying raw feeding (“Dr. Becker’s Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats“), asking friends on Instagram about their raw feeding systems, and reading books about dog behavior and training. Two of my highly recommended favorites are “Let Dogs be Dogs” by the Monks of New Skete and “The Other End of the Leash” by Patricia McConnell.

The nutritionist at my local pet store suggested I start Sherman on “Nature’s Logic” kibble (not, by the way, the best nutritional ratios for growing a large breed puppy like the Bernese, but that’s all part of the learning curve I can share now!) I bought collars, leashes, some kibble, a bunch of toys… the backpack was full of treats, I was freshly educated by my books and the Internet (so it must be true). Time to go get a puppy!

Can you believe when you buy a puppy they just let you climb in the car with it and drive off? Well, they do. Whether or not we were prepared or ready, it was time to introduce our senior golden retriever to an eight week old puppy who equated play with biting, early morning hours with play, and the world as his personal toilet. It would be weeks before I slept again.

Sherm 6 weeks.JPG
Sherman at six weeks. One of my favorite photos ever.
Bro Scotti
Scotti tries out Sherman’s new bed.
Come Get me
Come get me now! Eight weeks.









Meeting Dad.jpg
Gotcha day… meeting Dad for the first time ever. That was a good ear rub.



Published by: When Life Goes to the Dogs

It was my youngest daughter who introduced me to the Bernese Mountain Dog. That first boy, Hero, set in motion all kinds of crazy love. And now, at the end of the day, I often find myself asking... what do these dogs have that is so special? I'm raising three Berners now, navigating the world of social media for dogs, holistic health and raw feeding. Sherman has become a therapy dog; Zuzu may soon follow in his footsteps. Madi, as I like to say, is still cooking. I guess we all need something to put our hands to that makes us feel like we've made a difference in this world. Believe it or not, these dogs help me do just that.

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