August 1, 2016 came and went and… no puppies. Do you know what waiting for your puppy to be born is like? It’s the night before a Hawaiian vacation. It’s Christmas Eve with stockings hung and cookies and milk perfectly plated for Santa. It’s waiting for summer vacation… it’s torture.
I remember where I was (Rita’s Italian Ice on Beaver Avenue) and who I was with (my husband and my Berner loving daughter) when the text came in on August 2. Ding #1: “We have puppies! Four girls and three boys.” Ding #2: An image. Three little boys laying on a soft, yellow baby blanket. One of those boys was mine.
I was told we could have pick of the litter, and as I was coming to visit the pups at the four week mark, I was encouraged to wait until then to meet the puppies and compare their personalities. I never had the chance. The moment I showed my husband and Marie the photo, both immediately pointed to the puppy on the far left. “That one,” they said in unison. It was uncanny.
The choice again betrays the ignorance of all three of us. Jonathan and I had agreed that as Hero had been what is known as a “dark face” (very little white blaze running up the forehead) we would like our new boy to have a significant amount of white on his face. The boy on the left (Sherman) looked the most like Hero… it was a knee jerk reaction on their part.
As pictures continued to come in through the first three weeks, I was increasingly alarmed as I saw the white on my puppy’s face disappearing day after day. Hero was thirteen weeks when we met him, already a dark face. We had no idea that the white blaze on the forehead of a Bernese Mountain Dog would decrease consistently over the first eight to twelve weeks! By the time I went to visit Sherman, I was agonizing. We had called this little man on the left “Sherman” from day one. Could I bring home the guy in the middle (oh my, he was cute at five weeks!) and, in effect, have a new Sherman?
The agony was short lived. I knew who my little man was. Besides, the breeder’s entire family had been calling him Sherman for four weeks. And he had a new nickname. All along we had intended to call him Tank. Jonathan is a Civil War buff, so the name did come from the general… we just thought Tank was a cute nickname. But Sherman displayed so much confidence the breeder had taken to calling him “The General”.
I flew to Fort Wayne and spent nearly every day with my Little General from week four to week five. Even in that short amount of time I could see that I had an extraordinarily handsome dog on my hands. His head is round and strong, his eyes are a perfect, soulful, deep and rich brown.
And so I headed back home for the final torturous three week wait until Sherman would turn eight weeks and I could bring him home. He was handsome, yes. But what in the world had we signed up for with a puppy who had earned the nickname “The General???”