Summit was born July 7, 2009, but he came home with us on September 12th and instantly became my furry little son. He remained furry, but little was a thing he grew out of pretty quick. Not that he seemed to notice this fact because if you were seated on the floor, he would happily plop right into your lap. Sitting on a couch was no way to avoid his affection, as he would make sure to bury his large head right into your lap so you have optimal position to shower him with pets. If you weren't down with the lap attack and decided to stand up, he would be more than happy to sit on your toes as he push his body as close into you as possible. If that didn't work then maybe you wanted to experience life as a cowboy, as he would push his body in-between your legs so that you were now mounting him like a horse. If the rodeo was your thing, just find his magic scratch spot and he would jump around and do a happy dance while in-between your legs. Summit liked to be as close as possible to those that he loved, and if you once gave him pets, you were on the love list for life.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are said to be life-long puppies in that they would always be affectionate, get into things if the opportunity arose, and be up for playing at any moment. And if there are several people out to dispute that, then fine, but I definitely just described Summit the eternal and very affectionate puppy dog. Every day without fail while writing, Summit would make sure to make a visit over to me where he would push his muzzle underneath my arm then try to lift it into the air, so that I knew it was now time for pets. While his automatic response to a doorbell was loud and bellowing barks, seconds after he did his sniff inspection he then would push forward for pets or get in position to be mounted. Much of the day he would spend sprawled out and relaxing, but he would join in the moment there was dancing or laughing or anything that looked fun. If the words "walk' or 'hike' were uttered then he would bounce around the room and bark to the heavens.
Before Everett and Danika, it was Summit and Crosby (our cat who passed away in 2012). They were family and I loved them like children. Summit's first month at our home was training for what would happen when newborns would eventually live here. While Summit was being house broken, we kept him in a dog crate to minimize damage. There were many 2:00 am days where I would be leaping out of bed because I heard movement and I feared a disaster was about to erupt. Some days I got him outside in time, others it was an early bath for Summit
Luckily, unlike our human babies, Summit figured out the "toilet training" pretty quick, though to be fair, Everett may have mastered it faster if we just let him pee outside too. Shortly after the crate training was done, Summit decided he would sleep in the bedroom with us every night. He initially was trying to pitch sleeping right in the bed with us, by hopping in every night, but Emily wasn't about to accept an additional 95 pounds taking up space. He settled for many years laying right beside our bed. Though I confess that any night that Emily was away, I did not sleep alone and Summit knew the drill, not even waiting for an invite to occupy Emily's side.
Summit was good pals with his brother, Crosby. Crosby was not a cat that liked other cats or any dogs. When Summit first arrived, he seemed to know enough to give the cat space for a few weeks. By that time he was several times bigger than Crosby, he was able to force a friendship that largely consisted of Summit diving at him and Crosby swatting at his face. We knew the two had a decent relationship because Crosby always kept the claws in, or at least, until it was time to let Summit know that play time was over. When Crosby passed away, you could tell Summit really missed him. For the first few weeks after our walks, he would run to the stairs that Crosby would normally be waiting and then stand in shock that his buddy wasn't there. After that he would always get excited on walks if he came across a cat, probably hoping it would be his buddy in new fur.
After thinking we were done with cats, we actually decided to try out looking after a cat around Thanksgiving (October in Canada) this year. Summit instantly was ready to take up the Crosby play by offering up his face to be swatted, but new cat, Mittens, preferred to hiss at him and hide behind the piano. Summit probably due to being older, learned quickly to just ignore the cat and while they never formed any kind of relationship, Mittens was able to hang out in the same room with Summit. I am kind of sad that he never got to have one wrestling match with her.
After the passing of Crosby, Summit got himself some new buddies in Everett and eventually, Danika. He instantly was great with both our kids. He had no problem with them sitting on his head, crawling over his body, and definitely, appreciated all the food they dropped on the floor for him. I remember two summers ago when Emily took Summit on a canoe trip with her, Danika dumped the rice she didn't want on the floor and then quickly looked around, "Where's doggie?" Kids learned quickly that Summit would take care of anything that they didn't want.
The passing of Summit will be hard for our kids. Danika has a special bond with him. She would wake up most mornings always asking about the dog or cheering if he came into the room with me. She loved taking him on morning walks and was always excited when she knew doggie would be coming with us to the park or for a stroll around the street. Both our kids have had Summit for their entire lives, so it will be a big adjustment not being knocked over daily by the running dog.
Summit got a small lump about two months ago. It grew to a massive size in a matter of weeks. Cancer is very common in Berners, and Summit was already past the average life span for his breed. I had hopes that we would have a few more years, but the rapid growing lump meant it was time to enjoy what we had left. I am glad that Summit remained happy and full of energy until his very last day.
There wasn't much change in his demeanour over the last two months. He still loved his 45 minutes walks with daddy. He ran through the halls with celebration any time I came home. He was mostly the dog that I had loved for the last 8 plus years, except his appetite had diminished some. Summit always enjoyed life and never stopped showing his affection.
Yesterday morning, I tried taking him out for his "business", but instead he plopped himself on the grass, something he never did before, It was clear he wasn't in the mood for any type of walking. When I came back from dropping Everett off to school, for the first time ever he didn't run to greet me or bark to alert the neighbours that I was home. Though when I called out his name, he still wagged his tail as he laid curled up on his bed. So, Danika and I spent the morning hugging and petting him. He quietly passed away in my arms at around 11:30am. Poor Danika had no clue why her daddy hadn't stopped bawling the entire day. I am glad that Everett was able to say his good byes to Summit, and I know the next few days will be hard for him. It will be hard for us all.
Summit was family. He was my furry son. He was my exercise buddy who got me to walk two times a day. He was my best friend who made a big deal every time I got home. He encouraged, inspired, and most of all, loved me. I had a very deep love for him too.
I know my wife, Emily, and my kids really love me. Sometimes I also know I disappoint them or that I upset them. They aren't always in the mood to show affection to me. Even when I was at my most depressed or I was in a hostile mood or that I did something really stupid, Summit would wag his tail so that ir could knock down towers and then he would snuggle up against me. I couldn't do any wrong in Summit's eyes. He loved me unconditionally. He made me feel like a hero. He reminded me every day of the importance of showing unconditional love to family and friends. I always knew that he adored and loved me.
When I lost my grandma, it was a pretty rough day for me, and Summit never left my side that day. He let me squeeze him and cry into his fur for as long as I needed. The night that I came home after Everett was born, he sensed that I was going through some emotions and he made sure to stick with me the entire time. He also let me again hug him and just cry. Summit was always the first to sense that I was sad or down, and he would be my side immediately.
I had a very special relationship with Summit. One that will will last a life time, even though I will never feed him another chicken frame or take him for another walk. I have so many memories and know so many days were made better because I had that loving and full of energy dog by my side. One of the great things about being a freelance writer who worked at home, was how much time I got to bond with Summit.
We may have another dog someday. But we will never have a dog quite like Summit. A large mountain of a canine that thought he was the size of a Shih Tzu, but way more affectionate and friendly, He was a good guard dog that would bark at anyone that approached our house, but would just as quickly be willing to invite them in when they passed his nose inspection. He was very loyal, and whenever we went for walks, he always made sure that the family was close together. If he was on a hike off leash and one family member got too far behind, he would run back and forth until all were reunited. He loved water, maybe as much as he loved us. If there was a lake or pond or puddle, then he felt he needed to be in it. I have many great memories of throwing his toys into the lake and watching him run in to swim after it. He was happiest outside and even happier in the water. He was everything that I could have wanted in a dog, and so thankful for the 8 and a half years that I had with him.
It is when you have to say good bye that things like the poop on the carpet or the destroyed box of chocolates that were supposed to be gifts, no longer matter He was a dork. He loved to dragged dirty diapers out of the garbage and leave nasty remnants all over the house. Now, even his most annoying habits make me smile. It was what made him Summit, and Summit was a dog that I loved dearly.
Yesterday was incredibly hard. I am still so sad and heartbroken, but this time, I don't have Summit to hug or cry into his fur. This time I am crushed, because I lost my buddy and my furry son. This will be a hard weekend, but I will have his memories to keep me going.
RIP Summit. I will miss you and I love you so much. You were the greatest dog that I could have ever wanted. You will always have a place in this family and in my heart.