Love is a Bernese Mountain Dog . . .

Gretl

Legacy's Mad About You
November 17, 1999 - February 26, 2008

Gretl - Legacy's Mad About You - came home on January 15, 2000.    She was wonderfully self-confident and scrappy and held her own in most any situation. Our older Berner, Kristie, who was 4 1/2 welcomed her with great curiosity.  It was great fun have a puppy again - though I admit I forgot how much work was involved.   Gretl settled in quite nicely and soon had her own little routines and games.  My friend's two bearded collies came to visit every Wednesday and Thursday and Gretl found a great playmate in the younger Beardie, Thyme, who was almost two.  Gretl made her first visits to the nursing home at 3 months and we visited the  shopping center nearby on a daily basis (until she was old enough to join us on our park walks) for our people, noise, and environment socialization.  She absolutely loved the outings and could not understand why some people would walk right by her without coming to say hello.

Gretl was a fabulous dog who passed the Marin Humane Society SHARE program testing at 6 months of age and from that time on we often did 3-5 classroom visits per week to various schools to teach bite prevention and 5 senses, visited special education classes, St. Vincent School for Boys (troubled youth) and other school venues. She worked for a year and a half on an autistic child intervention project meeting 1 on 1 with a severely autistic child, worked for 2 ˝ years with a young child with genetic and developmental disabilities, attended MHS summer camp obedience training sessions with the kids weekly every summer and visited the ICU at Marin General Hospital monthly for 4 years. 

In January 2005 The Marin Humane Society began their SHARE A BOOK program and she has participated in that since the fall of 2005 - taking over Kristie's spot – going to school for 4 hours every other Thursday during the school year – into the reading lab – and reading with many of the 60-90 children in the program each semester.

Gretl was healthy and robust with the exception of period GI episodes until the summer of 2005 at which time we sought further evaluation for her recurrent GI episodes.  We returned to Dr. Nancy Kay at ACC Sonoma for additional diagnostic workup and learned that Gretl suffered from a form of inflammatory bowel disease - LYMPHOPLASMACYTIC ENTEROCOLITIS DIAGNOSED BY ENDOSCOPIC BIOPSY.  She required a prescription diet for the rest of her life and medication for many months and was finally stabilized on Metronidazole and the prescription diet.  Any deviation from the restricted diet resulted in problems so we were fastidious about watching what she ate.

In the fall of 2005 Gretl suffered the 1st of three grand mal seizures that occurred in the early morning hours in October 2005, February 2006 and November 2006.  A neurologic workup revealed no abnormalities and we elected to simply wait and watch.  My "hunch" is that since these occurred during times of active GI disease attacks there may have been some relation.  She was seizure free from November 2006 until her death in February 2008.

Our world fell apart on January 7, 2008 when Gretl was diagnosed with malignant histiocytosis.  She was well enough to go back to school on February 7th and her reunion with the children was truly heartwarming. She lost her battle on February 26, 2008.  Her loss is felt not only by our family but also by the many children she touched over the years.

The truly sad part of the story is that this horrible disease has taken a huge toll in Gretl’s litter and the other two litters her mother produced. Of the six in our litter we have lost four (at ages 6, 8, 8 and 8) to confirmed malignant histiocytosis and one (at age 4) to suspected histiocytosis that was called hemolytic anemia. The only littermate to survive Gretl was diagnosed in February with what was first called lymphosarcoma and has now been definitely identified as malignant histiocytosis by Dr. Peter Moore who reviewed the original slides and tissues after he failed to respond to the lymphosarcoma chemotherapy protocol. Bailey lost his battle to malignant histiocytosis on August 22, 2008.  The first littermate died at age 3 of lymphosarcoma. The other two litters also have many deaths from Histio and lymphoma.

Gretl was a participant in Dr. Ostrander's studies, in an epilepsy study, and in January 2008 her tissues and information were submitted to the Breen study, and we are hoping to have data from the others in the litter submitted as well. But it seems what is equally important is encouraging all Berner owners to enter health information in Bernergarde so that family patterns can be more easily recognized.

Bernergarde Dog ID: 34164

Gretl's Bernergarde Pedigree

Gretl's Histio Roll Call Page

Histio Roll Call of Bernese Mountain Dogs