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(Keep a towel handy)

by Mike Blakesley

Originally published around 1985
in the Forsyth Independent-Enterprise

When most people go out and get a dog, they just get a regular dog, such as a cocker spaniel, or a poodle, or your basic mutt. But not us.

We used to have a Saint Bernard at our house. His name was Duffy, which was short for Lord McDuff.

The saga of Duffy began innocently enough. My dad, who is normally a very level-headed guy, had this burning desire to get a Saint Bernard. He'd always wanted one, he said.

Mom was not so anxious. Her main concern was the fact that most Saint Bernards were bigger than many of the rooms in our house.

So Dad did what any normal level-headed guy would do: He had the house enlarged, and we got our Saint Bernard.

We also had a cat at the time. Myself, I've always been a cat fan. Cats, I say, don't jump all over you; they don't shed as much as dogs; they don't bark at the moon. Also, when they jump on your bed to wake you up in the morning, they don't weigh as much as a small bulldozer. So my cat and I were not all that excited about Duffy coming into our house.

When Dad brought the dog in, though, I had to admit he was pretty cute. He had these big, sad eyes that seemed to say, "I could sure use a nice hug right now." Actually, they were saying "Feed me--I've got a lot of growing to do."

And grow he did. You could actually sit in the living room chair and watch that dog grow. And his capacity for drowning small children with his drooling grew with him. Duffy grew into 235 pounds of fur, teeth, saliva and muscle. If you stood him up on his hind legs, he was almost seven feet long.

But he was lovable. Yes siree, when you were getting out of the car after a hard day's work and this 235-pound ball of fur came hurtling at you, welcoming you home, you certainly felt loved.

Duffy was really a gentle dog, once you got to know him. He had a little trouble with strangers, though. He would mainly bark and growl at them a lot, but of course if you were looking down his throat at all those teeth, you weren't exactly willing to shake hands with him.

So people in our neighborhood tended to be a little leery of Duffy. They pretended to want to walk on the other side of the street, but basically, they just didn't want to lose any of their limbs. They were afraid Duffy would come barreling out of the garage at top speed and bite off a mouthful or two in an attempt to find out if they were friend or foe.

Not that he ever really bit anybody. At least, nobody in the neighborhood was ever reported missing.

Duffy lived to a ripe old age, and then he somehow managed to get bone cancer in one of his legs and we had to put him to sleep.  He was missed around the house and around the neighborhood, especially by the kids. The kids got along with him the best because they weren't afraid of him.

Now, several years later, the family house has gone back to "cats only." I know my dad would sure like to have another Saint Bernard, though.

[NOTE: Our house was not dog-less for long, though; another dog, Thia, a black lab, joined the household in 1990 and lived to the ripe old age of 15. Currently, the Blakesley home doesn't have any pets. I think Dad would still like to have a Saint Bernard again.)