When Tiamo had her litter, the pups averaged about one pound each with Dolce and Amore weighing in at .98 lbs and 1.5 lbs respectively. They were so tiny you could nestle a single puppy in the palm of your hand and still wiggle your pinkie and thumb. Within 48 hours they had doubled their weight. We were impressed.
And slightly nervous…
With Momma supplying the nutrition, each puppy easily grew two to four pounds a week. By the time the little tykes had opened their eyes they had gained some solid substance. They had outgrown our food scale we used to weigh them, and the palm of our hands as we held them. It now took two hands to hold our roly poly’s. We knew the puppies were healthy, which was a good sign. It was also a sign of things to come.
When we added chow to their diets, Amore and Dolce were tipping the scales at 14 pounds, give or take a few ounces. With their fat bellies, they were nothing but huge balls of fur. Now that I think back on those times, they were bigger than huge. It was time to be scared. But noooo, we were oblivious to our future.
14 lbs. It’s all relative. To a weightlifter, 14 lbs. is nothing. They single-handedly lift weights many times that. To us, fourteen pounds is huge when it is all wiggly and squirmy. For us, fourteen pounds is really twenty-eight pounds. 14 lbs. times two. You never just get one dog on your lap, you get both.
Fourteen pounds can make your wrists ache. And your back twinge as you pick the pups up in your arms. And 14 pounds will soon be 100 pounds. 100 lbs. times two. We were screwed and there was no going back.
When 14 lbs became 34 pounds in a little over a month later, we knew we were in trouble. Our food costs doubled as they ate more and more, and our vet bills tripled. And both girls wanted to sit on us or be beside us. And there was Tiamo, our momma. We were a household of dogs. Our life was never gonna be the same.
At six months Amore and Dolce hit 65 lbs., friends would comment, “Oh, my!” as one of the dogs would lean up against them, causing them to lose their balance. “Just look at those paws! These are gonna be some big dogs!” We knew that. Yup, we knew that.
Sixty-five pounds cranked up to 84 lbs by the time they had their first birthday. We were never gonna return to normal. Our lives just became all about our girls. Momma weighed in at 98 lbs. and here were two more fast approaching three digits on the scale. Within the next year, we were going to be looking at 300 lbs. worth of lap-dogs. Two-thirds of which were still puppies. Yikes!
Over the next two to three years a Berner could easily add another 10-30 lbs onto their frame. Well into their second and third year, Bernese Mountain Dogs will continue to lay down bone, put on width and substance, and their heads will continue to broaden. Amore and Dolce were no exception to the general rule of Berners being slow maturing dogs.
Three years old, Amore and Dolce finally grew into their bodies but they were far from mature. They still had their puppy on. For over 36 months, Malcolm and I would look at each other and ask,”when will they calm down?” “When will they grow out of their puppy phase?” “When will they quit growing?” We were at the 200 marker: 200 pounds of puppy plus 100 pounds of chow a month costing us $200 every 60 days. We were exhausted.
I can honestly say, to this day, they haven’t. Grown out of their puppy years that is. Well, not completely. They take longer naps and have quit chewing shoes and books, but Amore and Dolce will always be our puppies. Our girls. And the best gifts we could have ever given ourselves.
At eight years of age, Amore and Dolce hover just under 100 lbs. each. Dolce is slightly heavier from eating too many apples, Amore is slightly higher in height. Both fight over who gets to sit on Malcolm or me. We have resigned ourselves to dog hair in our wine and canine bodies in our laps.
There is an old Swiss saying, “Three years a puppy, three years a good dog, three years an old dog and the rest is a gift.” It’s an accurate description of Bernese Mountain Dogs.
Here’s to our 100 lb. gift(s) that still likes to sit on our lap!