AKC Gazette Columns

AKC Gazette - January 1995

BERNERS IN THE NEWS

Maggie, a 2-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog owned by Jane and Bryan Peugh, caught the attention of a reporter covering the American Cancer Society's Corporate Sailing Regatta on the Charles River in Boston. Bryan, assistant director of the Courageous Sailing Center in Charlestown, Mass., was participating in the regatta when he sailed past the observation boat where Jane and Maggie were cheering him on. As he called out to them, Maggie jumped in to join forces with her master and landed herself a picture in the Boston Herald social section!

Maggie is an old salt herself. She accompanies Bryan to work on Boston Harbor every day. Through a public/private partnership, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department offers special programs, instruction and racing for the physically challenged, the blind and children with special needs year-round. During the summer 600 to 700 youngsters participate in a free Youth and Sailing program. The center's flagship, Courageous, is a two-time America's Cup winner that was donated to the children of Boston.

When it comes to children, Berners are specialists. Maggie's role at the sailing center is to give confidence and assurance to young sailors who are sometimes frightened or unsure of themselves. With uncanny perception, she knows who needs her steady back and friendly wags, and makes them feel comfortable before going out on the sailing lessons. Maggie does not join the youngsters on board, as she might be too distracting, but she gets plenty of chances to go sailing with her folks.

Across the continent, the Sierra Sun newspaper, which serves the Truckee, Calif., community, covered the Truckee-Donner Fourth of July parade competition where Best of Show was won by the Sierra West Bernese Mountain Dog Club's 25 Berners pulling carts and walking in harness. A photo captured a youngster wearing a firefighter's hat riding in a cart with fire truck sides, pulled by a Berner wearing a fire hat and flower-covered harness. What a great way to give our dogs the chance to demonstrate their native ability as draft dogs and have fun with the family!

Another Strange Encounter

Halfway around the world another Berner made the news, the subject of an article pleading for its return. The clipping and photo reached me as a result of the April 1994 column that included "Strange Encounters of the Bernese Kind."

Lynn Rast, wife of a Swiss diplomat living in Russia since 1991, received a copy of my column from her sister in Colorado. Having owned Bernese since 1984, it was only natural that they had brought one along with them to Russia. Sadly, Caesar I died of cancer in 1993. To fill the void, Caesar II was brought from Switzerland to Moscow via the "long and winding road."

As the result of a Russian advertisement featuring a Berner, Caesar was very popular and soon became well known as the two made their daily rounds and took long walks. His friendly, mild manners and striking appearance prompted many Russians to stop and ask about him. The breed's rarity in Russia is such that only one other was seen, owned by a French businessman.

This idyllic and constant companionship was brought to an abrupt halt last spring when Caesar and the locked and alarm-protected vehicle he was in were stolen while Rast was in a food store.

Everything was done to find Caesar. Television and radio ads, newspaper articles and even a letter to the old KGB failed to secure his return. In an article by Rast in the Moscow Tribune of June 25, 1994, entitled "Keep the Car: Return My Dog," anyone with information was asked to contact the newspaper or the Swiss Embassy. Neither Caesar nor the vehicle has been seen since that fateful day, despite the heartfelt plea expressed in the article, "If I could say something to the thieves it would be this: Keep my car, it means nothing to me; but please give me back my best friend, my dog, Caesar."

Weeks turned into months and dragged by without a clue. Still, the Rasts hope Caesar will be reunited with his family. To ease the need for companionship, not to replace, the Rasts bought Baby Bernetta in Switzerland. They chose a female, in case Caesar is found. That way, he will have a friend and the possibility of male rivalry will be eliminated, although Caesar was neutered.

We sincerely hope Rast, who loves her beautiful Caesar, will be reunited with him and Baby Bernetta will have a friend.

Y'all Come to the 1995 National

The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America national specialty is April 6 through 9, near Atlanta, hosted by the Chattahoochee Valley BMDC. Headquarters are the Holiday Inn (404-945- 4921) and the adjacent Comfort Inn (404-945-1608) in Suwanee, Ga.

The air-conditioned show site with 40,000 square feet is about seven minutes away in the Gwinnett Civic Center in Duluth.

Events include conformation, obedience, puppy and veteran sweepstakes, futurity, junior handling, draft test, agility and tracking. Come see the marvelous versatility of the Berner in action at the largest gathering of Berners and Berner folk! Contact Renate Buie (404-787-9915) or Bunny Sherman (404-963-4588).

-]ulie Crawford, 26391 May Twilley Road, Delmar. MD 21875.