Life is a matter of Perspective

I recently came across the below graphic and it reminded me that how we approach life is a matter of one’s perspective –

As we look back at this difficult time in our history, let us be thankful for the fact that for many of us even though it has been a tough time, it has not been an impossible time. Most of us have lived to fight another day, and though we miss the many we have lost, we will never forget them and we were blessed to have them for the time that we did. Hopefully we were able to make someone’s life better during this time, and by doing so, perhaps we made our lives a little better too.

How fortunate are those individuals who have had pets during this time, and how fortunate those pets are that were able to spend extra time with their families. Thank you John Fenwick for giving us such an inspirational perspective on 2020, which has carried on thru 2021.

As always, thank you for reading. Looking forward to the day when this pandemic will be behind us. In the meantime, stay safe, and stay well.

To Chloe, where ever you are –

Life without Chloe

Well, it’s been almost 5 months since Chloe has crossed the rainbow bridge, and I have been surprised by a few people asking me when my next blog would be coming out.

The truth be told, I have been hesitant to post anything since the loss of Chloe as I want to keep her story at the top of my posts. I know that Kate and I will have to move on eventually but it’s proving to be more difficult than we imagined.

Eleven days after Chloe passed we attended the annual Bernese Mtn. Dog picnic in Ithaca hoping that it would help with our grieving process. We met a wonderful BMD puppy that we held and snuggled with, but on the ride home we both agreed that none of the dogs there were our Chloe, and none could fill the void that she has left.

We are getting used to having the freedom to come and go as we please once again, but the pain of coming home and not having Chloe greet us at the door is still real and persistent. Hell, I’m wiping the tears from my eyes as I write this!

What prompted me to write this latest blog is that I came across something on my Instagram account and it made me think of Kate and Chloe’s relationship, and I thought I would post it for the two of them –

Waiting At The Door

I was just a pup when we first met, I loved you from the start,
you picked me up and took me home and placed me in your heart,
good times we had together, we shared all life could throw,
but years passed all too quickly, my time has come to go.
I know how much you miss me, I know your heart is sore,
I see the tears that fall when I’m not waiting at the door.
You always did your best for me
your love was plain to see
for even though it broke your heart
you set my spirit free.
So please be brave without me,
one day we’ll meet once more,
for when you’re called to Heaven
I’ll be waiting at the door.


I was told by my one nephew that all dogs go to heaven. Well, if ever a dog deserved to be there, that would be our Chloe~girl.

As always thank you for reading, and for all of the incredible support and understanding that Kate & I have received these past 5 months. It has made a world of difference for both of us.

Ode to Chloe


The Three Musketeers
“All for one and one for all.”

For any of you who have read my previous posts, you know how our Bernese Mountain Dog, Chloe, came into our lives. And as my wife has repeated many times since, Chloe has been a life changing experience for us, as well as one of the best decisions that we have ever made.

So it is with a heavy heart and great sadness that I have to report on Chloe’s passing. She far surpassed the vet’s expectations regarding longevity, but for Kate & I our time with her was still far too short and we’re grieving deeply. She passed with her head in my lap, and Kate holding her paw.

One of Chloe’s greatest joys was when all three of us were together, whether it be playing in the yard, watching tv, or all of us snuggling in her dog bed, with Chloe touching both of us simultaneously. Which is why early on we adopted our nickname “The Three Musketeers”.

For Chloe, her inner circle consisted of Chloe, Kate and myself, and in just that order of importance. There were many family & friends that Chloe loved, and who loved her. And while enjoying their attention, and without them realizing it, she would often position herself between them and us, never quite letting them into that all important inner circle of “The Three Musketeers”.

Unlike most dogs, Chloe was not fazed by fireworks, gunfire or thunderstorms. However, let Kate or myself sneeze and she would come running from wherever she was with her tail between her legs and we had to comfort & reassure her that we were ok. Almost every night, approximately a 1/2 hour after I went to bed, Chloe would get up, place her nose on the edge of my side of the bed and if I didn’t acknowledge her right away, she would start whining, and each whine would get louder until I would reach over, pet her on the head, give her a hip massage, then assure her that I was ok and that she should go to bed, at which point she would.

Over the years while out with Chloe she was attacked a few times by other dogs, and though she never fought back, she never ran away either. I think she thought of herself as a decoy drawing the attacker’s attention away from me. Thankfully, neither of us was ever seriously hurt.

Chloe was brutal to her toys, many of which didn’t make it to the end of the day without being shredded. However, there was one toy from my mother that she always treated differently. It was a stuffed duck wearing goggles and a cape. It came with a hand-held launcher and when it was flying thru the air it would make a funny quacking noise. Well, the first time we launched it Chloe went running after it, and when it landed it was still making that noise, and Chloe must have thought it was alive. So, she gently picked it up and carefully brought it back to us, and she handled that toy very tenderly from that point forward, so we always called it her ” baby”.

Chloe liked to play soccer and was very adept at using her front paws to move the ball and block you from stealing it. Chloe couldn’t tell the difference between a soccer ball and a basketball, so whenever the neighbor children would leave their basketball out Chloe would immediately run over to it, grab it in her mouth and try to play soccer with us. On three different occasions she punctured the ball before we could get it, so I went out one day and purchased three new basketballs, one for each of the neighbor’s homes who lost one to Chloe. Needless to say, the kids were delighted with their new treasures.

Her favorite toy was the rubber squeaker ball. I remember one Spring day in particular when I spent 4 hours working out in the yard and she squeaked her rubber ball the entire time……..THE ENTIRE TIME! The first rubber squeaker ball lasted about a year before she figured out how to pull the squeaker out. After that, the squeaker in each new rubber ball lasted for a shorter period of time, until finally she was able to destroy it in less than an hour. So from that point forward she was only allowed to play with it when we could keep an eye on her, so as to make sure it lasted for an appropriate amount of time.

For reasons unknown to us, Chloe wasn’t fond of landscaping. As a puppy she tore up Kate’s newly planted ground cover along the lower patio. I can still picture her going along the foundation and pulling the groundcover up in clumps until she had it all out. Needless to say, Kate wasn’t impressed! When we were doing yard work, Chloe would pounce on fallen branches and chew them into small pieces, thus making them harder to clean up, all the while thinking she was helping us. She also loved to pounce on and shred fallen leaves and I often wondered if that was due to her being born in the autumn, thus reliving some of her earliest memories.

Chloe went to work with me almost every day. She loved to go from office to office getting scratches, attention and the occasional treat from the employees. One of my former assistants came back from lunch one day visibly upset. She then proceeded to tell me, with Chloe standing nearby, the story of how she had just accidently hit and killed a Canadian goose with her car, and how terrible that was. As my assistant and I discussed the situation, Chloe left the office and came back with her stuffed goose toy and in a show of affection, presented it to my assistant. Needless to say, that somehow made everything better. A huge thank you to all of the staff for your many kindnesses to Chloe over the years.

One unusual aspect of Chloe was that she LOVED to visit her Vet! She couldn’t wait to get out of the car and go in and meet all of her friends. And with that in mind, I would like to thank Dr. Otto and her entire staff for always being so caring and kind when it came to Chloe’s care. She loved you all!

And then there’s Chloe favorite place of all to visit, K-9 Kamp doggie daycare. As soon as we would turn the corner onto Bridge St. and mention doggie daycare, she knew where we were headed and would stand up in the back seat and start whining. We had to be careful when opening the rear door of the car as Chloe couldn’t wait to get out. Chloe made many friends there, human and animal, so a special thank you to Chad and his entire staff for giving Chloe such joy & happiness.

To the world Chloe was just a dog, but for Kate and I, Chloe became our world. We learned how to make our home dog safe, and when Chloe’s medical condition worsened with age, we learned how to make our home senior dog friendly. She has left a permanent impression on our hearts and has left us with memories of joy, kindness, and unconditional love. She was a big dog with a big heart, soulful brown eyes and a gentle kiss. I only hope that we were able to return as much love to her as she did to us. I know that Chloe has taught us so much about giving love, being patient, being happy and not to be afraid to be silly. Yes, to the world she was just a dog, but to us she was a continual lesson in everything that is good in life and more. May she rest in peace and may she be able to squeak her toys to her heart’s content while basking in God’s love. And one day may the Three Musketeers be reunited once again, “All for one and one for all”

In closing I think Anatole France said it best, “Until one has loved a dog, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”

Chloe – Bernese Mountain Dog 09/20/2009 – 06/02/2021.

May you sleep in heavenly peace baby girl. What an adventure it has been!

Chloe aging


Hi everyone! This is my second post after not posting in months. I apologize for that, but the Wheeler’s have been dealing with some health issues not only with ourselves, but with Chloe as well. Now that everyone seems to be doing better, I can update you on Chloe, her condition, and her shenanigans!

At the end of October Chloe had a rough weekend as she fell twice going down our stairs. The second time she took Kate with her, luckily neither of them were hurt.

So we made an appointment with the vet, and upon further examination the vet recommended a series of x-rays and blood tests, which would require us to bring Chloe back the next day, as she had to be sedated for the x-rays. The vet was concerned about bone cancer, which is prevalent in Bernese Mountain Dogs, especially ones of Chloe’s age. You see, the average life span of a BMD ranges from 7 to 9 years. When all of this was happening Chloe had turned 10 the month before.

So the next day we dropped Chloe off for her tests and went to work, nervously awaiting to hear from the doctor. That afternoon the vet called to let me know that it wasn’t bone cancer but we would have to have a serious discussion regarding Chloe’s care and treatment moving forward, as she was suffering with severe hip & joint disease, as well as advanced arthritis. Upon arrival to pick Chloe up, the doctor reviewed the x-rays with us and said it was one of the worst cases she had ever seen and that this would be the reason that we would eventually have to put her down. When I asked the doctor how long she thought Chloe had she replied it was probably a matter of months.

Not wanting Chloe to suffer, we asked what our options were. The vet mentioned increased pain medicines, including a special shot that helps with the joints, as well as laser therapy. The laser therapy is sold in a package of 8 treatments, and the special shot is charged each time it is administered. Now, I’m not even going to address the cost of all of this, but I will tell you this, we have a Visa credit card and apparently we’re not afraid to use it when it comes to our Chloe! With that said, the shot was given, the laser treatment package was ordered and the first laser treatment was administered. Everyone who is in the room when Chloe receives her laser treatment is required to wear a special pair of goggles that shield your eyes in case you accidently look at the laser. The goggle requirement pertains to Chloe as well, and I must say, she handled it magnificently!


(Chloe prepped & ready for her 1st laser treatment)

It wasn’t long before we saw an improvement in Chloe’s movements and activity. Needless to say she has been receiving the royal treatment from both Kate and I, and we’re happy for each and every day that we have with her.

Due to Chloe’s difficulty with the stairs, when we’re not home we moved her gate from the upper level of the house to the lower level so we didn’t have to worry about her falling again. Just a little background, we have used that gate for years and Chloe has never moved or toppled it. A while ago she did figure out how to open the gate door, so we started placing a chair in front of the gate so she couldn’t do that. When we moved the gate downstairs we didn’t think we had to use the chair anymore as the stair tread blocked the gate door from opening too far.

Now, fast forward to a week ago Friday. I was working late and Kate had to run some errands, so as usual, Chloe was gated on the lower level with water and a snack to wait until one of us came home. Kate comes home, Chloe greets her as usual, Kate lets her out to do her business, and when they come back in Kate notices that the gate is moved slightly, but it doesn’t look as though Chloe could fit thru.

However, when Kate goes upstairs she finds a butter knife on the kitchen floor, and when she looks on the island top she notices that a stick of butter is missing. Chloe ate the butter as well as its wrapper! Usually that would be it, as we try not to leave too much of anything edible out, just for that reason. Imagine Kate’s shock when she goes into the living room to discover that Chloe found a box of liquor filled chocolates that I received as a gift. Not only did Chloe eat most of the chocolates, she also ate the foil that they were wrapped in, as well as the box that the chocolates were packaged in!!

Anyone who owns a dog knows that chocolate is very toxic for dogs, and normally Kate would have induced Chloe to vomit at home, but due to the fact that this was the first time Chloe has had alcohol, and with the pain meds that she’s on, Kate decided that an emergency vet visit was in order. So, she loads Chloe in the car, rushes to the vet’s office where they proceed to induce vomiting, and then give her something to settle her stomach. (Chloe, not Kate….lol). They send her home with orders that we keep an eye on her for a while, but they think she will be fine. And she was, except for the case of diarrhea that she had on the way home in Kate’s 6-week old car! Luckily Kate had the seat cover on, so the car wasn’t soiled, but still, quite the clean up none the less. When Chloe got into the house she went to bed as she was slightly hung over and needed to sleep it off!!


(Chloe in a state of hang over)

Just so you know, that little escapade cost Kate $289.00. And why am I sharing that with you? Now fast forward to Monday, where at the end of the day Kate baked 24 shortbread cookies. Kate had to run out to meet her sister for dinner, so this time she angled the gate AND placed a chair in front of that, which we had done the day before with great results, so not to worry.

Kate called me to let me know of the situation, and asked if I could, perhaps check on Chloe via video to make sure she was being good. So I hang up with Kate, check the home video only to find Chloe already upstairs, and what did she grab, but a bag with 24 shortbread cookies, made with imported Irish butter I might add!! I quickly call Kate back, who turns around and rushes home, but too late, all of the cookies were gone, and Chloe was quite happy. Kate cleans up the crumbs, places Chloe in the back seat of her car where she has to wait while Kate finishes dinner with her sister.

Come Tuesday morning Kate takes Chloe out so she can do her usual morning business. The problem began when Chloe only went #1 and not #2. When Kate brings her inside, for the first time ever, Chloe would not eat her breakfast, nor take any of her meds. For Chloe not to eat, which has never happened, she must really be sick. So I call the vet’s office and they give her a 10:30 AM appointment. The vet examines her, gives her some medicine, and then prescribes some more medicine for us to give to Chloe, as well as some special dietary restrictions, which included white rice. Have you tried to buy white rice during this pandemic? I’ll let you in on a little secret, there’s none to be had, the rice shelves were bare and our local Chinese restaurant was closed! With all that Chloe has been ingesting of late the vet is now worried about pancreatitis! So back to keeping a close watch of her, but to be honest, by the next morning she was feeling as chipper as ever. Well, except for that case of severe diarrhea later that day while at work. Luckily I had her outside, but she got it all over her leg, hind end and tail, so I had quite the clean up before I could bring her into the office.

So, just another Chloe story, all the while looking as innocent as ever. Oh, and that second vet visit cost us another $229.00, so over $500.00 in four days! I can tell you this, Chloe has not been a cheap date from day one and it doesn’t look like she’s going to be a cheap date on her way out. She is however the center of our household and we can’t imagine a day without her. With that said, I think I’ll see if she would like one of her prescription treats! Oh, did I neglect to tell you that she’s on prescription dog food as well?! The vet calls her “our delicate flower”. I think that’s vet slang for “revenue stream”!


(Apparently not pleased with her new orthopedic bed)


(Chloe mug shot while behind bars)

Life in Pieces…..of the puzzle


(Puzzle piece created at our nephew’s wedding)

For many of us, at some point or another in your life you ask what your purpose in life is, why are you here? For most people who have children that question is answered with their first born. You realize that it’s no longer all about you, your wants and your needs. It’s now about raising a loving, caring, compassionate, and capable person. And sometimes, even with all of your best efforts, examples, teachings and sacrifices, it doesn’t always go the way you would like or had hoped for.

For those of us who were never blessed with children the answer to the question of our purpose in life is harder to answer, if not almost impossible. When I ponder that question I first view life as a puzzle, one with a lifetime of moments, experiences, relationships, trials, and tribulations that each make up a piece of life’s puzzle.

So as I progress in my blogging experience I have come to catalog my life in singular experiences, moments, and relationships, individual pieces of life’s puzzle, that when taken together as a whole begin to create a picture that is uniquely mine, while simultaneously creating a unique picture piece for those individuals with which I interact. Thus my piece of the puzzle also has a place in someone else’s puzzle of life. (At this point of the blog I’m not sure if I’m playing 3 dimensional chess or going down a rabbit hole!)

For years my wife and I focused on spending time with our parents, everything from dining out, to family gatherings and vacations. For the longest time it was the six of us and we were content with that. We knew we would have a hole in our hearts when they were gone, but we never realized what a hole would be left in our lives when they passed.


(Parent’s Night at Rosalie’s Cucina in Skaneateles)

We also spent a lot of time with our nieces and nephews, everything from school plays, concerts & sporting events, to our annual boy’s & girl’s night vacations. And now we’re starting to experience the same with their children, our great-nieces & nephews.


(Great-nephew James after ice cream)

The pieces of the puzzle filling in around our family are all of our friends, some of which have been with us since the beginning, while others have come and gone, filling a unique purpose at the time. I once read that friends are a gift that we give ourselves, and I could not agree more!


(Celebrating our Anniversary with friends in Key West)

So, I can’t speak for my wife, but as I look at my purpose in life, I have realized that I’m here to add pieces not only to my life’s puzzle, but to life’s puzzle in general, and to help others fill in their puzzle where otherwise there might be missing pieces. And sometimes the pieces I create fit pretty well, where as others not so much. I don’t think life’s puzzle has smooth edged pieces which delineate the outer most pieces and provide a framework, but instead consists of smooth and jagged pieces, depending on the life experience involved.

And if there is no outer framework, how do we know where the pieces go, especially when they don’t always fit perfectly, and how do we hold them all together? For me, it’s Faith. It’s believing in a God that knows not only where the pieces will fit, but what pieces should be created in the first place. Now, I may not always agree with the creation of certain pieces of the puzzle, but I can’t see or envision the whole picture as God sees it, so I just have to have Faith that everything will come together for a reason, and as it should.

I remember questioning how it was that Chloe, our Bernese Mtn. Dog, came to be THE dog in our life, especially after years of my wife saying no to having a dog. What was it about this one dog that she said yes to? And why, after having Chloe for a year and I was ready to give up on her and give her to another family, that my wife said absolutely not, Chloe is family?

That question was answered one night at my father’s nursing home. Chloe had been there many times visiting with Dad, and so I stopped with Chloe in the car after a late night at the office because Dad was in his final days and I made a point of stopping to see him every day. Being it was so late I commanded Chloe to stay in the car while I went up to see him. Dad was having a particularly difficult & painful night, so I was there longer than usual. At one point I excused myself and told Dad that I would be right back as I had to give Chloe a break. I let Chloe out of the car, she did her business, and as we approached the car she pulled hard on her leash towards the nursing home, and refused to get back into the car. I tried to argue with her and ordered her back into the car, but instead she pulled me towards the entrance of the nursing home and would not take no for an answer. We took the elevator to the sixth floor, and when the doors opened Chloe pulled me down the hallway towards Dad’s room, and once she was thru his door she relaxed her stance, went over to his bedside and gently licked his outstretched hand. And for a few moments Dad’s pain was minimized as he stroked her fur and she returned the favor with her gentle kisses. She then laid on the floor between his bed and my chair, and stayed there until we left to go home. It was the last time Dad saw Chloe, and it was at that moment that I realized why we had this dog, and the relevance of her piece to the overall puzzle of life.

My point is, we don’t always know why certain pieces are given to us, or necessarily what to do with them, but they are there for a reason, and though we may not know what to do with them at the moment, they will eventually fit into place when & where the time presents itself.

So yes, my purpose in life is a puzzle to me, literally and figuratively. And I’m not sure that we’re ever meant to finish the puzzle, but at some point the time comes when we pass from this earth and we stop adding to it. My only hope is that in my rush to experience my pieces of life that I have not overlooked, or worse yet, lost any pieces to my puzzle, and that my pieces of life add to all of those individuals that I connect with and am blessed to know and love.

Now that I think about it, it sounds to me like I just might be playing 3 dimensional chess IN a rabbit hole with this particular blog!!


(“Did someone say rabbit hole?”)

Bernese Mtn. Dog annual picnic


(Pictured above my mother-in-law Anne with her new friend Eva)

As many of you know who read my blog, my wife and I own a Bernese Mountain Dog (BMD) named Chloe. What most people don’t know is that every June in Ithaca at Myers Park on the lake there is a BMD picnic, where the Bernese Mtn. Dog Club of the Finger Lakes ( ) hosts BMD’s and their owners. Make no mistake, this picnic is for and all about the dogs.

This is the first year that my mother-in-law attended, and by all counts I think she had a great day! And it certainly didn’t hurt that it was a picture perfect weather day. It’s always amazing to see so many Bernese Mtn. dogs assembled in one area, with each and every one of them looking magnificent! And it doesn’t hurt when one of the participants, such as 4 month old Eva, takes a liking to you. Eva was a true sweetheart of a dog, and as you can see in the above picture, she’s going to be a large one!

The attendees of the picnic are requested to bring a raffle prize, a dish to pass, and a $5.00/family admission fee. We feel that’s quite reasonable, especially for such a fun and relaxing day. Chloe starts whining as soon as we enter the park, and can’t wait to get out of the car and meet all of her new friends. She always settles down after we make the rounds to meet as many dogs and people as possible.

The picnic always includes a number of activities and competitions for the dogs and their owners. This year a few of the owners had their dog qualify for the Good Citizen certificate, and my wife even helped with the process. We decided to save ourselves the embarrassment of entering Chloe as we have not kept up with her training, and therefore she doesn’t always do as asked. And trust me, the embarrassment would have been on us, not Chloe, as all good dog owners (and dog trainers) know that a dog’s behavior is a reflection of an owner’s consistenancy, or lack thereof, with their pet.


(Picture of Chloe competing in a previous year)

During the raffle, Kate and I won three different times, and we brought home a number of different items, including a handpainted BMD beer mug, dog treats & toys, a basket filled with five different plush BMD toys, dog picture kitchen hot pads, and a BMD magnetic bumper sticker. Probably would have been a good day to play the lottery as well!

We met a number of BMD’s at the picnic, and I have to say that the award for the largest Bernese goes to a male named Radar. A close second would have to be his son, Turbo. Both were gentle giants. But when it was time to go, one of them decided he wasn’t ready yet and as he was being led to the car he decided to dig his paws in and refused to move forward. It was quite a sight to see the owner tugging on the leash trying to get him to move forward, and as I walked by she said, “I need my husband.”, which gave me a laugh. Her husband came along, and before you knew it, both dogs were loaded in the big SUV, and off they went.

Chloe’s favorite meet turned out to be a Golden Retriver that she spotted across the green. As soon as she saw the Golden she stood up and started whining. Luckily the owner came over our way and introduced his Golden, Misty, to Chloe. They both seemed very happy to make each other’s acquaintance and had a nice visit.

When it was time to head home Kate asked if we could take the back roads as opposed to the Interstate. I’m an Interstate kind of driver, but I agree, it’s nice to take the long road home once in awhile.

My  mother-in-law had been in the area a couple weeks ago attending a show, and remembered a roadside restaurant that was coming up and thought it might be nice to stop there, so we did. It’s called Bob’s BBQ, and it’s located on State Rte 281 in Homer. It was very busy, and there was a line of people waiting to be served, but the line moved quickly, and our order was filled perfectly. The food was great, and they have a great outdoor dining area that allows dogs as long as they’re on a leash, which made Chloe (and us) happy!

We finished the evening on our patio with some of my wife’s homemade strawberry shortcake, which after pie, is my favorite dessert. Kate took her mother home while I cleaned up from dessert, and then collasped on the sofa with Chloe laying next to me. It was a fun but exhausting day for both of us.

And to all of the dog lovers out there, the annual picnic is open to all dogs and their owners. So, if you would like to meet a lot of BMD’s at once, as well as dog breeders and trainers, and people who are devoted to all dogs, but especially Bernese Mountain Dogs, then I encourage you to attend next year. Who knows, you just might meet a new friend that’s up for adoption and embark on a whole new adventure together!

And when it comes to Bernese Mountain Dogs, I think a lady that I met at our garage sale a few years ago said it best. She came up our driveway and spotted Chloe in the back yard and immediately recognized her as a BMD and asked if she could meet her. Come to find out, this woman used to have a Bernese and missed it terribly. And while reminiscing about her Bernese she said something that has always stuck with me – “You love your dog, but you fall in love with a Bernese.” I can’t tell you how many strangers I have met when I have Chloe with me that can’t say enough good things about a Bernese that they had at one time or another, and what wonderful memories they made together, and how much they LOVED that dog. And if you should ask my wife, who never had a dog before Chloe, I think she would agree.

Thank you for reading, and hoping that your dog days of summer are happy ones!




Chloe-Bernese Mountain Dog


Chloe is our dog, and she is a Bernese (not Bermese) Mountain Dog. We adopted her on November 29th, 2009 when she was 9 weeks old.

I grew up with dogs, along with a number of different pets over the years. We had cats, gold fish, hamsters, rabbits & a couple of parakeets. You bond differently with different species of animals, but from my perspective it was always the dogs & cats that left a forever paw print on your heart and in your memory.

My wife on the other hand only had cats. She loves cats, so I gave her one for Easter the first year that we were married, and that cat, Panther, lived 15 years. And though she was a gift to my wife, Panther ended up being my cat. It was after Panther passed away that I found out that I’m allergic to cats! So, I realized that I could never have another cat, and I really wasn’t in a hurry to get another pet.

Then one Sunday Kate and I went to Staples to pick up some items. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your perspective, Staples wasn’t open yet. So Kate decided to go into the Dollar Store to look around, while I decided to play with the puppies in the pet store that was next to Staples. I had done this numerous times before, usually without Kate knowing, but I never had one of the puppies catch my interest enough to want to bring it home. But be aware, I had been asking Kate for a dog for years, to which she always replied no, no, what part of no are you not getting??!! You see, Kate never had a dog, never wanted a dog, and never liked dogs! And, I always wanted a Golden Retriever, and no other dog was going to do.

So into the pet store I go, and the store would always have a few puppies near the front window playing together that you could interact with as well. So I played with all them for awhile, but there was no Golden Retriever in the bunch, so I wandered to the rear of the store where the rest of the puppies were kenneled in glass pens. That is where I spotted a small tri-colored puppy napping. The puppy woke up, took one look at me, and walked over to the glass where I was standing to get a closer look. I tell everyone that this is when she was sizing me up with an imaginary tape measure and decided that I was big enough to handle her when she was full grown and that I would do. She then walked back to the far end of the pen, sat down, and just gave me the cutest puppy face she could muster.

Just then one of the store clerks walked by and I asked if I could take a closer look at the black puppy, and she asked, “Oh, the Bernese Mountain Dog?!” To which I simply replied, “never heard of them, but yes, that one.” The clerk retrieved the puppy and placed the two of us in a special 1/2-walled area with a door that was used for people to get familiar with the dogs. Now I might want to mention that Kate had been texting me letting me know that Staples was open and it was time to go, to which I would ignore, or would reply with, “ok, playing with one of the puppies.” I asked Kate to come into the store a few times and meet the puppy but she had no interest & refused. Well, eventually she came in, for no other reason than to drag me out, but I got her to spend a little time with the dog, and after 2 hours Kate said enough, it’s time to go, without the dog.

So off we went, and the puppy went back into her kennel. On the way home I called friends and family that already had dogs to get their perspective on dog ownership, and as much as they loved their pets they didn’t recommend that we get a dog, due to the fact that a dog does tie you down, much more than a cat does, which only bolstered Kate’s case for not getting one.

Not to be detered, once we got home I started researching Bernese Mountain Dogs, and all the pros & cons of owning one. Come to find out, they are a large breed dog, with females weighing in around 100 lbs., and males weighing up to 150 lbs. Not having owned a dog since I lived at home with my parents I couldn’t quite visualize how big of a dog that would be, but in my mind’s eye it seemed like a reasonable size. I mean really, how does that saying go, “Go big or go home”! I’m all about big!!

Later that day we had to go out to run some more errands, and after which and before going home I asked Kate if we could stop at the pet store one more time, to which she replied, “Really Michael, are you serious? I don’t want a dog! You already spent 2 hours in the store and I don’t think we need to go back there.” Well, long story short, she finally relented and we stopped back at the pet store for another look. Believe it or not, we spent another 2 hours there playing with the puppy. I even took the puppy out of the 1/2 wall enclosure and let it run around the store, and that’s when it happened! You see, during my research I found out that BMD’s are bred to be very good with children and protective of them. So, in walks a family with two small children while I’m playing with the puppy. The puppy spots the children walking down the aisle, she stops in her tracks, her ears perked up, and she went bounding over to them with great enthusiasm. At only 9 weeks old the dog recognized children! You see, my wife and I have 21 nieces & nephews, and numerous great-nieces & nephews, and it was at that moment that I realized how good she would be with all of them and I had to have her.

There was only one obstacle standing between me and the puppy, and that was Kate. So I walked over to Kate, with puppy in my arms, and after Kate saying no numerous times earlier in the day, she took one look at me holding the puppy and said, “You want the puppy don’t you?” To which I simply replied, “I do.”

Now, what you need to know at this point is that this all happened within days of my birthday, our anniversary, and Thanksgiving. Kate looked at me and said, “Fine, you can have the dog, but it’s your dog to take care of. Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary, Happy Thanksgiving………..Merry Christmas, …………Happy New Year……..” At which time I replied, “Ok, ok, I got it!! Thank you honey!!” And Kate tells everyone that we both stood there with tears in our eyes, mine were tears of joy, while Kate’s were tears of fear! Having never had a dog, Kate had no idea what to expect or what to do, and quite frankly I thought I did, but was I in for the surprise of a lifetime!

We sealed the deal with the store clerk, and Kate went about the store picking out everything in pink- leash, collar, toys and feeding bowls (much to my dismay, as I wanted a black collar & leash, but knew better than to argue at this point). And Kate even named her before we left the store, Chloe. Unbeknownst to either of us at the time, so began a life changing event of which we are still experiencing, but I can tell you this, at this point we have no regrets and hopefully still have many memories to make with Chloe, some of which I hope to share with you, as there are many!


Kate with Chloe on adoption day – 11/29/2009