Inspiration Post #16: Saint Bernards

In my short story “Care and Rehabilitation,” Ira has a Saint Bernard mix named–to his great embarrassment–Lady Gaga. Gaga rescues a baby dove, and that’s how Ira meets up with his former student, Caleb.

I love Saint Bernards. We had one named Otis when I was a little kid:

When I grew up and bought a house, I got a Saint Bernard. Her name was Billie:
 She looks very noble in that photo but in fact she was watching the birds in a tree. She was a very sweet and elegant dog, however. She really did rescue a bird once–a sparrow, not a dove. I’m not sure what she intended to do with it. I’m not sure she knew what she intended to do with it. But when I got it out of her mouth it was completely unharmed, albeit slimy. I brought it to a bird rescue person who was not Caleb.
I’ve always loved this photo of Billie and my cat, Furgie:
When my older daughter was born, Billie was quite elderly. But boy did she love that kid. She loved all kids, actually, but my daughter was definitely her kid.

A year before my daughter was born, we brought home a second Saint named Ruthie. (They were named after Supreme Court Justices.) Ruthie was goofy and silly and didn’t have a mean bone in her 140-pound body. Ruthie loved the world. Her biggest goal was to be a tourist attraction. She was great with my daughter too, and later with the second kid.

 Of course, sometimes it was pretty clear why children were so attractive to the dogs:

There are some downsides to Saints. Here are the results of a few minutes of brushing:

Billie lived to be 13, which is really old for a Saint, and Ruthie lived to 11. I’ve been dogless for a while now; my travel schedule makes pet ownership difficult. But Saints will always have a special place in my heart–and will probably show up in my stories now and then.

Next week: Old photos

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