For about 3 months, DB and I had been on the list for a dog adoption with a local agency specializing in giant breeds. We filled out the 4 page application, responded to the short essay answers, listed 3 personal references including the vet’s office, waited with cell in hand for the phone interview, passed the house inspection and in person interview and I spoke of my experience with Sailor, my aggressive Chesapeake Bay Retriever who tested every area of dog ownership. Still, we were told we didn’t have enough experience to own a giant breed dog.
There is a theory out there, that adoption agencies can also be a hoarding place for dogs. I didn’t believe that until I had an experience with a local Denver agency. It was very much a disappointment and an insult. Other routes were exhausted, too. DB had kept his eyes on the shelters in Denver and far from the city as well. There are not many giant breed dogs in shelters because the adoption agencies scoop them out of there so fast! Finally, a registered breeder with papers and all the bells and whistles wanted to charge over $1000 for a St. Bernard puppy. We were at a loss for a new dog and getting frustrated! Enter Craigslist.
DB found Ivyn through a Craigslist posting in Billings, Montana. The breeder is not AKC registered with all the pretty papers, but Ivyn’s parents are both pure bred St. Bernards. Mom was 100 pounds and Dad was 120 pounds at two-years-old, St. Bernie’s grow until they’re four! The breeder was between work projects with a restaurant closing and a hotel opening and felt it was a calling to breed dogs and raise the puppies, at least one time in her life. She was charging half the price as the registered breeders were.
The breeder from Billings sent us pictures by text message and we picked her out as our second choice. DB and I thought that we had to have a male, because we both had agreed on the name “Ivan,” inspired by the street we live on in Denver, “Ivanhoe.” DB and I are gearing up for a big move to Portland, Oregon and felt the name was both suiting for a giant breed and nostalgic of Denver. Mostly, we had both agreed to the name and I didn’t want to back track after coming so far! Regardless, we found the ad on a Sunday evening and sent a check on Monday morning.
Later, the male, our first choice, came available. With a gut instinct we decided to stay course with our second choice, and a female. Already, we had fallen in love with her through the SMS pics from the breeder. That’s when it hit me! We can change the spelling and have a female puppy named “Ivyn” or “Ivy” for short. It’s a win!
Ivyn came from a litter of 9, though there were 10 births. Mom stopped nursing the litter at 3 weeks and didn’t show interest in her pups anymore. She walked away, and the breeder was left bottle feeding 9 St. Bernard puppies three times a day! Needless to say, at 5 weeks the breeder said we could pick up our pup. Yes, this was before vaccinations and she was just a tiny butterball of fur leaving her brothers and sisters and neglectful mom.
There are many “no-nos” of dog buying here. Factors include an inexperienced breeder, no registration papers, no vaccinations, way too young, not to mention the treacherous, windy drive from Billings to Denver during winter. DB and I are no fools. We took her to the vet the day we returned to Denver, Christmas Eve. Fecal sample showed no worms, appointments for vaccinations were made and advice from the vet was absorbed. Another example of unconventional, doodle-type wanderings turned success!
St. Bernard Puppyhood