Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Preston with Piper, shortly after he joined the family.
The date in the photo is not correct. The camera's calendar had never been set correctly. This big fellow, Preston, came to live with us on August 25th, 2004, my 61st birthday. He was a three-year old at the time, and had been living with a Massachusetts family. They had been keeping him in a cage in their back yard, because the woman of the house was afraid that in his bouncy exuberance he might accidentally harm their newborn child. It was not a large cage, and he was not a happy dog. His master loved him, but had decided to put him down rather than keep him cooped up, unable to be the family friend that he clearly could have become.
I had heard of this St. Bernard-in-a-cage while visiting at my in-laws' home in Westborough, Massachusetts, at Easter time, and had said that I would love to take charge of him, if he were to become available. On my birthday, months later, Shirl got a call from her sister: Preston was going to be euthanized the next day, unless the family could find him a good home. At once, I put a blanket on the back seat of my Buick, and drove to Westborough. Dick Cichowski, my brother-in-law, joined me, and we drove to Preston's home, finding him tied up to a tree in the back yard. I took a leash, hooked it to his collar, and his master released him from the tree.
Preston made a beeline for the Buick, dragging me behind him at a run, jumped into the car, and promptly lay down on the back seat.
I had a new dog, and he had The McDougalls.
The friendship that formed that day has only deepened over the ensuing six years. Preston adopted the McDougalls as much as we adopted him. He became a den-mate to Sierra, to Cobi, and later to Trot. He was smart and emotionally needy and loving and loyal. He was friendly to our visitors, and imposing to those not quite friendly. He was a great dog with a great heart.
Preston died last Friday, peacefully, and as all dogs should, painlessly. He was a dog whose time had come. But there was that day a distubance in the Force. I feel it still, and find tears all-too-frequent, even five days later.