A Saint Bernard Named Winnie Lou

Her Story

Once upon a time about six years ago there was a Saint Bernard named Cooper. He was about two years old and in sad shape health wise. He was obviously not well taken care of as a puppy. He had suffered hematoma that had hardened in both ears and was currently residing in a major veterinary teaching hospital. Symptoms included anorexia, toe tapping and, severe depression. He had also been abandoned there by his owners. Saint Clouds Saint Bernard Rescue in McKinney, Texas bailed him out a couple of hours before he was scheduled for euthanasia. He was well taken care of but he was standoffish and depressed probably wondering what bad thing was going to happen to him next. Then one day an older (estimated to be 6 years) showed up. She was found wandering the streets south of Fort Worth. She was grossly under weight, had very bad teeth (some black and had to be removed) as well as the usual fleas etc that one picks up living out on the streets. Winnie Lou was housed in the same group as Cooper. For some reason known only to her she befriended Cooper. Cooper apparently took a liking to Winnie Lou and they hung out together. My wife and I entered the picture after we lost our second Saint Bernard to cancer. Cancer also claimed out first and neither lived past nine years old. We raised both from puppies and decided we couldn’t face any more sadness, so no more dogs! That lasted two weeks in a house that now seemed so empty. We decided to go to a rescue and try to do something nice for a dog in need of a home. We spent two days playing with, petting and talking to Saint Bernards. Then we decided we should get two so they would never be alone when we left the house for a while. There were several good candidates that we played with and then we were introduced to Winnie Lou and Cooper. We were on the patio and Winnie Lou came right over and sat down on the ground with my wife. Cooper stayed back and watched, not at all outgoing. After a long while the two were headed back into the house when Winnie Lou stopped and looked back over her shoulder at my wife and gave her a look that said I want to come with you. Done deal! We came back the following week and loaded them (now Miss Winnie Lou and Mr Cooper) into the back seat of our pick up. All the way home Miss Winnie Lou sat down and looked out the windshield like it was the most interesting thing she’d ever seen. Mr Cooper slept probably anticipating what bad thing was going to happen next. When we got home Miss Winnie Lou checked out the back yard and then wandered through every room in the house acting like everything was the greatest thing she’d ever seen. Mr Cooper followed her ever place that she went. At one point she stared at the living room sofa and decided to give it a try. She was shooed off and led to my wife’s sewing room and shown a settee and invited up. She understood that it was hers to use and it became her place to relax (and keep an eye out for anything new and interesting that might pass by). She gratefully accepted even the smallest treats like they were the greatest things in the world. She would sit with us, lay down with us and let us hug and pet her as long as we wanted. We travel a lot in our RV and on our first trip and every other trip we took she established herself on the settee behind the passenger seat where she could rest her head on the seat back with her head next of my wife’s head looking out the windshield or out the side window watching the scenery going by a or staring at the people in the car next to us when we were stopped in traffic. At times she would nap but as soon as we slowed down she was up and alert seeing more wonderful things. She loved camp grounds because she could meet people. She never met a person she didn’t like and was hurt when some passed her by without giving her a pat on the head or a hug. Mr Cooper started to loosen up after a while and would follow her when she met new people. He followed her when she lead us down paths taking in new sights. Mr Cooper started walking next to her showing some sense of adventure. She showed him how to drink out of a faucet. She showed him how it was fun to play together and after that it was not uncommon to see them rolling around the floor nipping and growling having a great time. As time went on Mr Cooper was walking next to her, not following. He no longer hesitated when Miss Winnie Lou headed out for her next adventure. We spent many days out having good times in the RV and she treated every trip like it was the first one. After less than two years we took Miss Winnie Lou to the vet because she developed a slight limp. We thought it was probably a weak ACL that seems to be common in large dogs but the orthopedic surgeon said she was in good shape but the x-ray had a cloudy area in it so we had an MRI done and is showed a large tumor along her spine. It was cancer! The only treatment that they could offer was amputation of a rear leg and hip which would possibly extend her life for a few more months. She was not in pain and we could not accept putting her through the surgery. We preferred to let her continue doing all of the things she loved doing. She spent her final months acting as always greeting every new day like it was the best thing in the world. We finally had to say goodbye when the tumor grew to the point that it prevented normal bodily functions. It was probably the saddest day of our lives. Mr Cooper had trouble coping with Miss Winnie Lou not being around and we decided to return to the rescue and let him pick a new gal to run around with. He did and shortly thereafter we decided to take an RV trip. When we loaded up to move out Mr Cooper led the way up the RV steps and climbed into Miss Winnie Lou’s settee. When we got to a camp ground he led the way out of the RV and his new friend followed as he led the way stopping occasionally to greet people he encountered. When we caught him down on his forepaws facing the new girl trying to get her to play with him we knew we what we were looking at. He was Miss Winnie Lou’s legacy.

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