Veda our Saint Bernard
This is a story for anyone who, like my husband and I, rescues a fully grown Saint Bernard.
Rescuing a Saint Bernard is an entirely different experience from raising one as a puppy. When you read about this dog breed you'll often see experts recommending training them when they're small and not when they're adults. They're not just making this stuff up.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to scare you away from rescuing one of these wonderfully loving companions. They are absolutely worth the effort. I just want to prepare you for the experience.
Veda, a female long hair Saint Bernard, was under a year old when we adopted her. She was found as a stray with two other dogs, a Boxer and a Yorkie. (what a sight they must have been!) She was matted and dirty but otherwise in good health. When we picked her up she was happy, fearless and extremely excitable.
After the initial period of getting to know her we realized that she had very little, if any training. Not only did she not know basic commands, she didn't know basic words like walk, toy, leash, treat or anything of that nature.
Although Veda was very sweet and loving she was also very indifferent when it came to commands. She completely ignored our initial attempts at dog training. It was like adopting a rebellious teenager. She had a mind of her own with no respect for authority or the consequences of her actions. She had this incredibly frustrating ability to play deaf whenever it suited her.
On top of that she was extremely excitable when she met new people or animals. And because of her sheer size and weight it was difficult to socialize her in public places. We had to teach her not to swipe people with her paws when greeting them. She really had no concept of how strong she was or how much damage she could easily do.
But we refused to give up. Gradually, instead of completely ignoring us she would instead just take a reeeeeeeally long time to comply. And the more we worked with her the more that gap closed. A year later she was down to what we referred to as the 3 second Mastiff delay. And now she happily comes on command.
We learned a lot from this experience and it's been so rewarding. Training a fully grown Saint Bernard is hard work. It takes dedication, consistency and time. Don't expect miracles overnight. They can be stubborn and their size only adds to their steadfastness. But with patience and then more patience your hard work WILL pay off and it is so worth the effort.
There's nothing a Saint Bernard wants more than to be a part of the family and you will be so happy you did.