We dogs don’t have the long life span that humans do, and some breeds are around less time than others. On Monday we lost a friend and neighbour, Asta the Bernese Mountain Dog. Asta had the misfortune of being in the top three of dog breeds in terms of short life expectancy at just 6-8 years. Asta was 8. She also belonged to one of the dog breeds most likely to get cancer. Asta died of cancer and related complications.
I remember the day I first met Asta. Her person, Kerry, brought her over to meet us all. She was a year old, full grown, and huge! She had at least 30 or 40 pounds on me. I admit I was intimidated at first, but she very quickly showed her good nature, and we were romping around in a matter of minutes.
It’s fitting really, that Asta passed along when she was expected to of a disease she was predisposed to, because Asta was just generally easy to get along with, did as she was asked, and was a follower of the rules. The first time I went across the road to visit her after she’d moved in, I suggested we go for a little wander down to the canal or maybe out in the fields. She looked at me like I’d just suggested we run off to Las Vegas and get hitched in the Elvis Chapel! She wasn’t supposed to leave the yard, knew it, and had no intention of doing so.
When her canine companion Coco came along, I went over to their place regularly because Coco liked to play as much as I did back then (I’ve slowed down some since). Asta would participate by barking at us, no doubt thinking things were getting out of hand and we were about to cross one of those lines she so clearly saw.
Asta was diagnosed with cancer in July and given four weeks to live. Well, it was the one time Asta didn’t do exactly as she was supposed to, she hung around for another couple of weeks and did it as she did everything, with strength and grace.
We’ll miss you, Asta. I hope there’s a canal over the rainbow bridge where you can show them all how to cannonball.