Patrick and Renee of Eugene had always had large dogs — Golden Retrievers, in fact — except for a three-year hiatus doing elder care for family members. When they began looking again, a co-worker, Victoria, was volunteering at the Saint Bernard Rescue Foundation, so they took a look. “We saw a couple we liked, and then chose one, but someone had already gotten him,” says Patrick. “After a couple of false starts, Renee found one and said ‘This is the one.’ I wasn’t quite ready … the dog was in Medford … we had an older car … and I wanted to wait a couple months.”
They drove to Medford the following day to meet Maggie.
“We’ve been in love ever since,” Patrick affirms in his mild Irish brogue.
Renee laughs. “We’ve always had male dogs; she’s our first female, and she is such a Daddy’s girl!” She says Patrick has Maggie speaking three languages, English, Spanish and German. “When we leave, he tells her, ‘Dog watch the house’ in German, and she knows what to do. In Spanish, we say, ‘Dog go for a ride in the car’ [here Renee explains she can’t say the actual phrases because “Maggie’s right here.”]
While thought to be about 2 when they got her in January 2012, Patrick suspected Maggie was much younger. “She had puppy poop, sharp little teeth, and bright pink gums,” he says. The vet agreed, saying she was likely just 9-12 months.
Maggie had been passed around family members and a little underweight, but was otherwise in good shape. “She knew basic commands, and other than separation anxiety, she was great,” Patrick says. He believes a road trip during her first year with them helped a lot.
They traveled to Chicago and Wisconsin, where Maggie met family members from several states, Ireland and Canada. They took the northern route home to visit friends in Coeur d’Alene. Staying in hotels most of the time, Patrick believes every time they stopped and continued on as a pack helped Maggie understand they always would.
From the beginning, Patrick says, “She’s been wonderful with kids and older people. Once when I was between jobs we would visit an assisted living residence. She has this way of kissing . . . she moves her face closer and closer, and then boom! Big kiss! Her tongue is like a foot long,” he laughs.
When planning trips to Europe, the couple’s only worry about Maggie’s care is who stays with her: Mark, who cooks at the Friendly Street Restaurant (making her favorite roast beef or turkey that’s not part of her vegetarian parents’ repertoire), or Renee’s sister, Rochelle in Windsor, Ontario, who loves to stay with her. “They get their dog fix without owning a dog,” Patrick laughs.
Everyone loves her, it seems. In fact, the cover of this issue shows a little boy who, upon meeting her, immediately and ecstatically began hugging and climbing her, burrowing his smiling face in her fur.
“She’s been such a blessing,” says Renee. “She makes everyone smile . . . or at least turn their heads.” Makes sense. At 150 lbs, she’s small for a Saint.