Today is the 1 year anniversary of my beloved big boy Mac the St. Bernard crossing the rainbow bridge into doggy heaven. Like any dog I meet, Mac was my best friend. He was my mom’s dog, technically, he was a momma’s boy and was at her side constantly, but he loved everyone in our family just the same. I remember when my parents got him, it was 2004, my first semester in college and that October my mom called with the really sad news that they had to put my dog Quincy (a chocolate lab) of 13 years down. I remember being a complete mess and falling apart. I was so upset that I couldn’t be there. He was my dog, and my parents had bought him for me when I was 5. It was really hard on my mom not having someone or something around the house when my siblings were at school during the day, and my dad asked her if she wanted another dog. This was about a month later. She said yes. My dad had apparently been planning this all along. My mom went on vacation with her sisters to Las Vegas, and my dad went out to Staten Island and brought home a tiny little St. Bernard puppy. Compared to other puppies he was huge (14 lbs) but he was this little fluffball. My dad brought him to my brother’s football game and nobody watched the game, they all played with the puppy. My mom came home and cried. She grew up with 2 Saints and my dad knew she wanted another. My family voted on a name, they wanted something related to his size, and they ended up McKinley, nicknamed him Mac. I came home at the end of November for Thanksgiving and immediately fell in love.
This isn’t the clearest picture, it’s been transferred from so many different places and it was probably taken on a shitty camera, but you get the idea. This was also when I first started discovering my gender identity and I shaved my head for the first time!
Mac quickly grew until he was a giant. He was actually the “runt”, only weighing in at 175 lbs. His dad was apparently over 200 lbs. He was the perfect size for our family though. He had so many funny quirks and habits. He was tall enough that if he leaned against the couch, he would just end up sitting on it, so sit on the couch he did! He would appear to always be participating in family conversations in the family room as everyone was sitting on the furniture, along with him. As he got older he eventually would just climb onto the couch and sleep on it. My parents tried to stop him when he was younger but eventually they just gave up. It was easier for him to get up and down anyway as he got older. He also had a very funny toy preference. He had this stuffed hedgehog toy that squeaked and he loved it. He loved it so much it was the only toy he’d play with. He never chewed on bones or played with other stuffed toys, just the damn hedgehog. So my mom would go out and buy 4 at a time and store them in the closet for when they got too gross or ripped. He loved to play tug of war with hedgehog and would bash it against your body when he wanted to play.
He had a lot of health problems though. He had a very sensitive stomach and was always throwing up. He also would hurt his paws a lot if he tried to run around. Luckily the running around ended pretty early on and he was really just a huge couch potato. He was the worst guard dog ever. He would be sleeping in the kitchen, which is where you enter our house, and someone would let themselves in and he would sleep right through it. People would have to walk over him because he was blocking the steps, but completely unaware that someone was there! He loved to lay outside on the back patio when the weather was nice. My parents would tie his leash to the back steps and leave him out there for hours. One time he saw our neighbors dog outside and decided he wanted to go say “Hi” so he started walking towards our neighbor’s house, still tied to the back steps, and he was so strong he ripped an entire piece of wood off the steps and dragged it behind him as he sauntered over next door! So many good memories of my big boy.
Mac was always good for a big hug or a snuggle. He loved to lay on top of you on the couch while you watched tv. His giant fluffy body always gave me the reassurance that everything would be okay when I was upset. I was in the psych hospital this time last year due to a suicide attempt. The day before I was due to get out my mom called. She said she had been trying to get in touch with my case worker because she didn’t want me to be alone when she told me but she was unable to reach her. Apparently during the night Mac started gagging and coughing a lot, and my mom thought he needed to throw up so she took him outside. He continued this behavior but never threw up. My mom gave him some water, thinking something was caught in his throat. This went on for enough time that my parents got scared and brought him to the animal hospital. The vet said he had a twisted stomach. They could do surgery, but it would be very costly, and he was not guaranteed to survive. Mac was 10 years old (or almost 10, I forget) which is a good lifespan for a Saint, I suppose. My parents were really shocked, how did this happen? He was fine then he wasn’t. He always ate from an elevated food tray to prevent this. They got in touch with our family vet who was even my dad’s family’s vet when my dad was a kid and they asked his advice. He advised that they put Mac down. My parents, the workaholics that they are, were in such shock they both took the next day off from work. I was a complete and utter wreck. I couldn’t believe it. Every time I talked to my mom I always asked how Mac was, and even the day before he was fine, and now he was gone. All of us had such a special relationship with him, and he was a very special dog. Every dog my family has ever owned was special in his own way.
I think about Mac a lot these days. From the time Mac got put down until the past few months my parent’s house was very quiet and very empty. I no longer had a reason to go there, as I was their typical pet sitter if they were going on vacation. I actually didn’t go to my parents house for months. I just couldn’t bring myself to go there without Mac being there. My mom said they weren’t planning on getting another dog for a long time, but in the back of my mind I doubted that. In October my mom called and asked if I wanted to go with my parents to a small town in Jersey across the river from where I live in Philly because they were going to look at some chocolate lab puppies. I knew they couldn’t not have a dog in their house. We met 10 puppies and played with them for an hour or so and I helped my parents pick out a new dog. They got to go back right before Thanksgiving to bring him home permanently. His name is Sam and now he is 5 months and a whopping 50 lbs. He has a great personality and is a lot of fun to be around, but I still miss my big buddy. RIP Macadoo.