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074 Our Visit from Stella 2009-04-24

stella the St Bernard

A few years back we were between dogs - Old Jake had passed and new Jake was yet to be selected. One day during the summer we received a visit from a Saint Bernard, female, dog. I was working in the backyard when she arrived. Immediately I wondered where and who’s. I had not seen her or for that matter any Saint Bernard’s in the neighborhood so I was confused as to where she belonged. A dog her size would have been easy to remember. Then I began to wonder if it was even legal to own a dog that size. There could have even been a city ordinance against dogs like her unless the owners kept them in a stable. She was one big dog and on the loose.

Our two cats ran for cover. The big dog was in pursuit. As big as she was she was still fast and nimble. Since she really didn’t belong in our backyard and was tormenting our cats, I tried too shoo her away. She thought I was playing with her and soon I had a hundred and twenty-five pound dog barking and playing with me much like she had done with the cats. This wasn’t working.

I then tried to ignore the dog hoping it would lose interest and go home. Secluding myself in the garage I began busying myself on a project. In the meantime the dog was after one of our cats, Sleepy. Bounding after the cat, the dog was in hot pursuit when the cat darted into the garage. The side door was barely open as the cat squeezed through to safety. Not to be deterred, the dog jumped on the door forcing it wide open and ran in chasing the cat. The cat and I both jumped for cover.

My daughter came out to investigate the commotion and offered to walk the dog up the street. Maybe the dog would lead my daughter to her house. The dog followed my daughter up and down the street but did not show any signs of familiarity. Going on round two, while the behemoth stopped to sniff a bush, my daughter snuck back home. Her plan worked, oh, for about ten minutes, when guess who(?), returned.

Instead of trying to shoo the dog, we decided to befriend her. With some food we were able to pet her and finally inspect her collar. She had a vet tag, but no personal id. We called the vet, told them what had happened and left our number. The dog was happy with us, her new friends, and seemed to be quickly bonding with my daughter. I needed to find the owner fast.

It wasn’t long before the vet’s office returned my call. They asked a few more questions and then decided our visitor was Stella. The vet said they would call the owner and leave our number. Now we had a dog with a name. I was wondering if anyone would actually claim the beast. As time passed, fear overcame me, maybe the owner intentionally let her go? I was concerned. What would we do with a dog that size? Why would anyone have a dog that size? I’d probably have to get an extra job just to buy it food...

Finally the owner called. He said he lived close and would be by in just a few minutes. A huge one ton pickup stopped in front of the house. Stella immediately jumped into the back and the truck swayed to match her movements. The owner thanked us and Stella washed my daughter’s face with one lick.

As they drove away my daughter questioned if he was the real owner of Stella. I thought for a second, then dismissed her inquiry. Who else but the owner would claim her? She was one big dog.

When my wife came home, her traumatized cat cuddled in her lap as I recounted the days events. As an exclamation point I showed her the huge paw prints on the garage door and grooves scratched into the concrete floor.

I know where Stella lives. Jake and I walk by her house every morning. And every morning she jumps up on the rail of the porch to greet me. She is one big dog, Stella.



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