Tuesday, July 13, 2010

At Long Last...

I have waited a long time to write this and did not start one day early because with a berner, you cannot take one day for granted. And so all these pictures and all these words are from today -- a day that is very, very special -- it is Maize's TENTH birthday.

Ten years ago Maize arrived in this world on an x-ray table, the last of nine puppies born to Abra and Mace. We had taken Abra to the vet when there was a big time lag between puppy seven and puppy eight, and when Abra saw she was at the vet's office she popped out #8 in the backseat of Dear Husband's patrol car -- that puppy was named Cruiser. And when we x-rayed to see if there were more, out came #9 on the table -- Eden Jonas named her Gamma Ray.

Although my primary love is performance events, I am cognizant of the importance and obligation of breeding to the Breed Standard and so with six lovely girls to pick from, I selected the one that I thought best met the most elements of the Breed Standard, confident that the natural working ability of the breed and close relatives would come through in my puppy -- and so little Gamma Ray became Maize, and we began our journey together.

What is the measure of greatness in a dog? Is it titles? Statistics? We have those -- Maize passed all health clearances -- hips, elbows, eyes, thyroid, cardiac, vWD. Every littermate in Maize's litter cleared elbows -- yes, we check whole litters and all nine cleared elbows and eight of nine cleared hips.

Titles? Is there a berner with more? Maize is a champion but she also has TWENTY-FOUR working titles, including the Utility Dog (UD) title, both excellent agility titles (AX, AXJ), and all four original draft titles, including the very challenging Open Brace Draft Dog. In fact, she remains the only berner to have the combination of UD, AX, AXJ, and BDD.

Maize is a fourth generation BMDCA Versatility Dog, and she is a second generation Working Dog Excellent and Versatile Companion Dog 2 (VCD2); she is also a Top Producer of Working Titled Dogs. In addition, Maize has earned an obedience High in Trial, and multiple Top Dog awards from the BMDCA.

Miss Maize transformed into Mrs. Maize after she became a mother, producing the first of two litters just five years ago. She had just ten puppies but let's add those puppies to her list of accomplishments -- all ten cleared hips and eight of ten cleared elbows (yes, my friends, it is possible and important to collect whole litter data -- and don't be fooled -- hip/elbow dysplasia are genetic and it is not cool for anyone). So far, six of her ten children have at least one working title with a couple more in the works.

So yes, if one measures greatness with numbers -- well, bring 'em on because she can compete with anyone. But really, I am not sure that is the best method of sharing what is amaizing about Mrs. Maize because what is amaizing is her heart and her spirit.

Mrs. Maize was certified as a Therapy Dog through the Delta Society, and became a staple in my work with bereaved children, both with individual children and in groups. She heard stories of loss that would bring you to tears, as they often did me -- families killed, parents dead, siblings lost -- and she was there with her gentle soul, to soak up sorrow and provide unconditional regard for each broken heart.

Maize has never met a stranger, and took it upon herself to be Mrs. Congeniality wherever she was -- a show, a hospital, or just a park. She would sit gently next to a wheelchair while awkward attempts to pet her were made, and had no trouble with being surrounded by a pack of small children, all anxious to pet her. Nothing scares her, nothing worries her -- there is not a more solid, stable temperament in a dog than Maize -- or a bigger heart.

When Galen was a teenager and thinking about what he would like in a girlfriend, he shared that he wanted someone nice, someone he could talk to and sit and watch tv with, and so on -- and he ended it with, "someone like Maize."

Mrs. Maize is an example of what it means to love everyone, and to be kind and gentle in the world. She reminds us that it is possible to be very, very accomplished -- and very, very nice. And now -- in addition to all her titles and awards, and her excellent and endearing temperament -- Mrs. Maize has achieved another amaizing milestone -- she is ten years old and (please knock on wood) extremely healthy.

And we are so blessed and grateful.

As I mentioned, I did not start this Blog entry until it was really and truly Maize's tenth birthday, and so let me share pictures now that I just took in the past two hours...

I think luck is a big part of longevity in a berner, but I also think that it is really important for berners of all ages to be active and have meaningful lives. This morning Mrs. Maize and her half-sister, Halo, hauled the garbage down the long driveway to the can at the street -- a one-half mile round trip. Mrs. Maize has the maroon harness on...

We had to do official Birthday Portraits, much to Maize's dismay -- I call this one, "REALLY?!" because that is what Maize seemed to be thinking...

Another one -- too bad you can't see the blinking lights :)

Maize doesn't compete much anymore but she still trains to stay in shape...

And she still loves to retrieve her dumbbell...

Maize's legacy includes her wonderful family -- here is a three generation picture of Maize, her daughter Cadi, and her granddaughter, Sydney...

Maize and Cadi...

Maize and her granddaughter/Mini-Me, Sydney...

After pictures and work and etc. it was time for Butter Pecan ice cream...

Apparently pretty darn yummy stuff!

And then it was off to the yard by herself to chew on a birthday bone!

Thank you for letting me share Mrs. Maize with you, and special thanks to all of you who have loved and appreciated Maize through the years -- you know who you are. And thank you to each person who has a Maize puppy for treasuring your piece of this great dog. And we remember -- with love and sorrow -- her five littermates who have left this earth but who share this birthday with her.

Happy Tenth Birthday to our (all of us) amaizing Mrs. Maize -- now I need to go and find some kleenex...

Please have a wonderful day in honor our sweet girl!


  1. Hugs to my girlfriend Mrs., from me and her two kids Fi and Mav. Missing Anna today.


  2. Ok, I have big huge tears...what a loving birthday blog!!

  3. That was beautiful, Mary-Ann! Someday I hope to sneak past 8 1/2 and actually arrive at 9, so TEN is indeed truly AMAIZING! Congratulations!


  4. A beautiful tribute to a more than worthy dog! Thank you for sharing Maize's accomplishments.

  5. I can't believe I have tears in my eyes as well. Such a great tribute to a great girl that is still able to do the chores around the home.
    Great pictures. Thanks for sharing.
    Jean, Starz & Liza

  6. Truly a touching entry, I love Maize, and have always loved her temperament, She has a great trainer and is a wonderful dog!

  7. Maize is just the best dog on earth!! Happy Birthday from Heidi and your favorite from our household Abbie Mae!!!

  8. What a wonderful B'day post! Maize, the MexGang wishes you only the best, may you enjoy many more, healthy, happy ones! Big hug and a looong belly rub!
    Laura Lopez-Mendez

  9. Happy Birthday, dear Mrs. Maize!!!

  10. She looks beautiful and very tolerant in her tiara!! Happy birthday to the aMAIZING Mrs. Maize!