Love is a Bernese Mountain Dog . . .


June 14, 1995 - June 9, 2005

Kristie was one of four in her litter of 2 boys and 2 girls, born on June 14, 1995 in Rochester, Washington.  She was pretty much the leader of the pack, being the first to do most things and the most adventurous one exploring.  Kristie maintained that high level of confidence and sense of adventure as she grew older.  I flew her home to California in the airplane cabin which was great fun and she learned upon arrival that she had a "big sister" named Kari.  Kari wasn't the least bit thrilled to have a new puppy,  and Kristie quickly learned to keep in her own space and let Kari have hers.   Kari taught Kristie lots of things when she was little - like where to go bathroom, how to use the dog door, how to speak, how far away to stay.  That 's what big sisters are for!

From the time Kristie was 10 months until age 3 she went to work with me at a medical office.   She loved lying under my computer desk and slept all day. When we arrived in the morning she excitedly greeted the staff and would race down the hall to see who was in the kitchen area. By 8:30 am she knew she had to be "in her place" and  even learned to tell time and go in there all by herself. She played with the staff at lunch time and the staff put her through all her routines of sit, speak, down, catch a ball etc. She knew exactly where each person kept treats and would show them if they forgot.

In June 1998, when the physicians I had worked for for 26 years retired, I retired from the medical world and have worked out of the home ever since.  Kristie loved having company during the day and we were very busy going to see my dog park pals each morning and evening. 

My retirement finally afforded us the time to get involved in animal assisted therapy and while Kristie and I had been visiting nursing homes for several years,   we went through the training at the Marin Humane Society and began active participation in their SHARE and education programs.  Kristie loved going into the schools and visiting little children in their classrooms to teach them about the 5 senses, dog safety and/or bite prevention.  In 2000 Kristie was named the Animal Volunteer of the Year by the Marin Humane Society.

We also added to our Berner family in January, 2000 when Gretl joined us.  Kristie was a good and patient teacher but made it clear that playing with a puppy was not in her job description!

Kristie failed to pass OFA hip and elbow clearances at the age of 2, but her mild hip and elbow dysplasia never really caused any health issues for her.  In 2001 she was found to have a ruptured disk at C6/C7 and underwent successful surgery at The Animal Care Center of Sonoma in Rohnert Park CA.   That was our first introduction to a wonderful specialty care resource in Northern California - one that we have returned to ever since when dealing with some of the challenging health problems facing our Berners.  She had an excellent surgical result and resumed her full and normal activity level 3 or 4 months later. 

Kristie had a ruptured ACL in the spring of 2004 and again had an excellent surgical result from her TPLO and was back running with abandon in the dog park several months later.

Just after Christmas 2004 we had our first experience with "bloat" - gastric torsion.   Her symptoms were not clear cut and at first our local vet did not even think in that direction.  When she was finally x-rayed the partial torsion was evident and she was in surgery an hour later.

She was well enough a week after the surgery to begin participation in the Marin Humane Society's new SHARE A BOOK Program which launched in a local elementary school in early January 2005.  Kristie was a natural sitting and reading with the kids and loved the program.

In late February 2005 Kristie and Gretl spent 10 days at the kennel when I returned to Michigan for family matters.  When I returned and picked them up Kristie had a slight cough - nothing that seemed alarming.  But when it persisted we made several trips to our local vet and an x-ray confirmed my worst fear - there was a mass in her lungs.  We returned to ACC Sonoma and Kristie was evaluated by Dr. Nancy Kay who confirmed our worst diagnostic fear - malignant histiocytosis - histiocytic sarcoma.  It was confined to the lung and when it was found to be growing even after Lomustine chemotherapy we elected to keep her comfortable and enjoy our time together without further chemotherapy. 

Kristie resumed the SHARE A BOOK reading program missing only one session and made it through our final session in early June without any evidence to the children that she was ill.  A few days later her cough returned with a vengeance, she lost her interest in food and it was clear that her zest for life was waning.  On June 9, 2005 she joined Liesl and Kari at the rainbow bridge. 

Bernergarde Dog ID: 12695

Kristie's Bernergarde Pedigree

Kristie's Histio Roll Call Page

Histio Roll Call of Bernese Mountain Dogs