Happy Tail: St. Bernard spreads a big dose of sunshine

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For Brooke Smith, Petfinder offers a kind of therapy. “I check out the site whenever I’m feeling lonely or sad and, such was the case a cold day in February, as I watched my aging German Shepherd, King, limp outside to potty in the snow and cold.”

As she browsed through photo after photo, one caught her eye. A St. Bernard pup at Allen County [OH] Animal Control was looking straight into the camera. “I looked into those warm, loving brown eyes and was hooked,” the Whitehouse, OH, woman says.

Abby is a gentle giant.

Abby is a gentle giant.

She called the shelter and learned that the dog had been picked up at a shopping mall with no tags or collar. “They had to hold her one more day in case the owner came forward,” Brooke says, “but then she would be available for adoption.” Sleep eluded Brooke that night, and the first thing the next morning she called again. “They had received two other calls, but since I had called first, they would let me meet her first.” She would have to bring her other dogs, they said, to make sure they all got along.

Brooke’s small car wouldn’t accommodate Brooke’s two dogs, King, who weighs about 140 lbs., and Bo, a 65-lb. Siberian Husky, and the St. Bernard, if the adoption went through, so she enlisted a neighbor’s help. They headed out in what Brooke calls a station wagon on steroids the following morning.

They arrived at the facility shortly after it opened. Brooke filled out an application and showed a photo of her fenced yard with documentation that it was, indeed, her yard. Then it was time to meet the St. Bernard.

The dog, now named Abby, was only 10 months old but already weighed 110 pounds. “She ran straight to King and came to a screeching halt,” Brooke recalls. “Her tail was wagging so hard she almost fell over several times. Once they had inspected each other from stem to stern, Bo came over and gave a few sniffs and walked away (she always was a bit of a snob). Then this beautiful girl came to me and stuck her head, her GIANT head, under my arm and into my armpit!

“When she pulled her head out and looked up at me, I was lost all over again,” Brooke says. “She had sunshine pouring from her eyes.”

Since the adoption several years ago, both King and Bo have passed on. The dogs’ deaths weighed heavily on Abby, particularly King’s, after which she lost 30 pounds. Her sunshine broke through the clouds again when Brooke adopted a Great Dane named Diesel, and the gentle St. Bernard continues to light Brooke’s life.