If you want to talk us out of getting an English Mastiff …

. . . you have about 24 hours.

Oh dear, here is the story.  No, we’re not going to have two dogs.  Poor dear Shane of happy memory had a glorious but short life with us.  Here is what happened:  A couple of weeks ago, it was snowing, which always made Shane go completely bonkers with glee.  Someone opened the door, he shot past them, got hysterical because of the snow, and ran right out into the road.

It only took one car. He was hit hard.  Many broken bones, many internal injuries.  They carried him inside and called the vet, but you could see that there was no hope.  My husband and older son stayed with him and said good bye and thank you for being a good dog, and they put the poor boy to sleep.

Shane was a good dog. He was not smart.  He learned almost nothing beyond the basics.  But he loved the kids with all his doggy heart.  When he was just a baby, we took him to the beach.  One of the kids put Benny in a floating tube.  Shane was terrified of water — didn’t even want to get his paws damp — but when he saw what he thought was his baby floating away, in he went. (Of course he ended up tipping her over and getting everyone soaked, but he meant well.)  Here is Shane at the beach when he was just little:

and here is Shane having a wonderful day afternoon in a safe spot out in the woods, off the leash:

taking a break from zooming around, and laughing his head off, on the inside:

You see, a happy life.  I was not able to tell the kids that dogs just disappear from existence once they die.  I just couldn’t do it.  I know animals don’t have immortal souls.  But they have something.  Shane was someone, not something.

It was a hard few weeks, after he died.  Once the shock wore off, we talked a little bit about another dog, maybe a smaller one this time.  Our house is not big, and we were constantly tripping over Shane. We thought it would be smarter to scale it down, and look for a more sensible kind of breed.

Then this guy turned up:

This is not the actual dog, but it looks just like him.  Here is another dog of the same breed:

The one we met is one year old, a brindle English  Mastiff.  He grew up with three little kids and another mastiff; but his dog pal died, and now he’s lonely all day.  He is like a slow-moving armchair, and lets the kids treat him like a jungle gym.  Damien and I went to meet him, and he seemed pretty much like our dog.  His paws are the size of candlepin bowling balls, and he will be growing for another two years.  I know, I know.

Anyway, here is a bit about  his temperament.  We will be picking him up — well, not “picking him up,” but getting him, on the day after Christmas.  He goes by “Boomer.”  He drools and farts and snores, and is completely ready to love you forever, unless you maybe might be going to hurt the family, in which case he will sit on you.

I know, I know.

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  • http://www.edgartownnews.blogspot.com Sara Piazza

    At one point in my life I had three kids, four large dogs, five cats, and ten birds. One of the dogs, Mocha, whose habit it was to jump through every window screen in
    the house, to the point where I carried a splining tool in my back
    pocket and became an expert in replacing screens, eventually
    met the same fate as poor Shane, of blessed memory. After years of vacuuming dog hair and bird feathers, as well as chasing dogs all over town to stay ahead of the dog-catcher (and mostly losing), suffice it to say, I never need to have a pet again, but I wish you all the best. Since your ratio of kids to animals is roughly the inverse to what mine was, you’ll probably do fine.

  • anna lisa

    Sniff. I’m so sorry about poor Shane. I think heaven is big enough for good doggy souls too.

    Wellllllllll….about the Mastiff…You seem to already know about their more distasteful bodily functions,,,sooooo…
    you have been forewarned.
    My friend Suzanne has stage four cancer. After two Mastiffs (they have short life spans) She said “Never again!”
    But they just adopted another one (female this time) Maybe because she’s a girl she won’t pass the malodorous southern winds.
    All I can say is “good luck” and it’s not too late to get a non shedding labradoodle. Ohmygosh they’re so cute.

  • Eileen

    Sorry to hear about Shane. Losing a beloved dog is a terrible loss. Our German Shepherd’s best dog friend is a Mastiff. He lives in the yard right behind us. Our backyard is fenced in and there’s a dog on each of the three sides but no question the Mastiff is most like our Shepherd in temperament, which to me means he’s a great dog for a houseful of kids. By the way, Anna Lisa, our long haired German Shepherd miraculously doesn’t shed, which pretty much makes him perfect. The hair, which is longer and softer than a regular GSD’s, is considered a genetic defect so we got him cheap, but the truth is if we’d have known he wouldn’t shed we’d have paid a lot extra.

    • anna lisa

      Eileen, your German Shepherd sounds like the perfect dog. My Father had a huge fluffy G.S. named Leonardo who was incredibly sweet to everyone. The poor guy had epilepsy though, which miraculously disappeared after being neutered. His only other flaw was that he would run away on the 4th of July. Explosions made him go crazy. One 4th, he got a police escort home, when the Highway Patrol found him trotting down the middle of the 101 freeway. He would hop into a car with absolutely anybody because he was a lover.
      I just remembered something funny about my friend Suzanne’s Mastiff. Our friend Fr. Jose once visited her house in his black cassock. The dog was affected strangely by seeing a man in a long black dress. He jumped up on him with both paws on his shoulders and then pee’d nervously and copiously all over the front of him.
      We still chuckle about that.

      • Eileen

        No question, Anna Lisa, our dog’s a lover. Of everyone and everything, except squirrels – he chases them out of our yard like it’s his job, which it is, because I can’t stand them either. ;) He’s got a protective side too, though. He can sense when I feel threatened (by an overly pushy door to door salesman, a cousin with anger issues, etc.) and he’ll just stand between me and the perceived threat and if I don’t start relaxing, he lets out a low, menacing growl. Let me tell you when a GSD bares his wolf like teeth to you, you back off. He really is the perfect dog.

        • anna lisa

          lol. I loved squirrels until we moved to L.A. for a while. They were mean little S.O.B.s there. And don’t laugh but I had a standard poodle named Isabelle that was like your G.S.– the smartest watch dog we ever had. I’m finally getting another one in 2014. My husband has *promised*. I’m ignoring all of the taunts from the peanut gallery.

  • Karen

    So sorry about Shane! :( It is always sad to hear about any pet getting hit by a car. I wholeheartedly endorse a mastiff! They are low energy, loyal, and not over-protective (as in–won’t attack other kids who are wrestling with “his” kids). I’m sure you could get out of daily walks by just having the kids play with him every day. I’d rather have a big, lazy dog than a small, bonkers terrier-type any day!

  • Bill Burns

    Talk you out of adopting a mastiff? Why, I would rather talk everyone into owning one.

  • Blobee

    Okay, Shane is about the goofiest looking most lovable looking pooch I ever saw! Who could not love that face? He looks like how you describe him: one of the guys, funny and loyal. Oh man, when you lose your dog like that, knives through the heart! Regret. And for the “someone” who opened the door, maybe an extra helping of guilt and sorrow. Poor lovely Shane.

    I too know the teachings of the Church about animals and their fate. If pressed, I would assent to it. But my heart tells me God must love those knuckleheads as much as we do, and I swear there’s a couple He’s sent to me just when I needed them. So, I leave their fate in His merciful hands. I just hope He’s kissing Shane on the head right about now saying, “Good boy.”
    Never had a Mastiff. Never knew anybody who had one. I’d say, go for it. God has a way of putting these kinds of things together, if you let Him. Boomer may just heal your heart a little from missing Shane.

  • Anna

    Oh, how sad to lose your beloved dog! When my parents’ dog died, my mom said something to her spiritual director about how sad she was and she knew “it’s just a dog” but still. The spiritual director said, “You know, all good is from God and is not lost.” And my UD theology professor, Mark Lowery, was insistent that there is a place for dogs in heaven. So, okay, no immortal souls, and yet no one who knows dogs thinks they (the good ones anyway) simply disappear. Maybe no eternal reward/punishment, but in heaven because we love them.

  • Kaitlin Jean Finn

    awwwwwwww love! And God Bless you, you crazy woman.

  • http://connecticutcatholiccorner.blogspot.com/ CT Catholic Corner

    I liked mastiffs until my reputable show dog breeder friends husband was nearly killed by their award winning stud who tried to rip his throat out- took 4 shotgun blasts to get the dog off his neck. Terrible. Every puppy he sired had to have their owners contacted and warned- it was a horrible thing because many of the newer owners returned that last litter of pups who were destroyed.
    I’ve always had big dogs, Rotties and German Shepherds, but I would never have a mastiff because I personally saw the damage that a dog I new since it was born could do.
    Sure any dog can turn, but a big dog can do unbelievable damage with one bite.
    Be very careful with your children. I wish you the best.

    • Anna

      One awful experience can certainly turn a person off a breed forever! One of my dad’s colleagues had their German Shepherd turn on them – and that hair-raising story has made me permanently wary of Shepherds, even though we had a Shepherd/Golden Retriever mix that was a wonderful, gentle, patient dog (well, with kids, but not with any date I ever brought home).

      Everything I’ve heard of mastiffs is great, though Big Dogs, Huge Paws Rescue has a lot of info on various types of mastiffs and some sound more aggressive than others. Isn’t neutering supposed to help too?

    • Suburbanbanshee

      This is why breeders have to be very careful, and watch constantly, and never let dogs with bad genes go on. As terrible as it was, I’m sure your breeder friend is glad that their dog’s temperament problem came out at their place, and not against one of their customers. It is the sorrow of breeders, but it is also their great responsibility.

      We have always had Irish wolfhounds, and we know a lot of big dog owners and breeders. Small dogs can do some very terrible things, partly because they don’t all have the same sense of responsibility to prevent dangerous dogs or sickly dogs being bred. The only time I ever got bit by any dog, it was when I was severely gummed by an elderly toothless blind Pekinese bitch with some serious aggression problems. (You’ve never seen a bruise like that bruise.)

  • Sara McD

    I’m so sorry about Shane. We just got a dopey dog. I didn’t think I was a dog person, but he’s wiggled his way into my heart and I would hate to lose him. I hope Boomer is a great fit for your family.

  • http://fromlittlehands.wordpress.com/ Maia

    I’m afraid you’ll meet no opposition here. I want one, myself!

  • Deirdre McQuade

    Don’t hear me talkin’ you out of it! ;)

  • Sarah Webber

    I am so sorry about Shane. We lost our beloved greyhound five years ago now and my heart still misses him. I’m still hoping to adopt another one now that the kids are older. We’ll see.

    If he fits with your family and seems God-sent, you won’t get an argument out of me.

  • Rebecca Fuentes

    And adult dog, trained, used to kids? Go for it!

  • Melissa Hunter-Kilmer

    Our mastiff Thurber is lying right next to my feet. He has had such a terribly exhausting day, what with napping and eating and all, and he is completely tuckered out. He still wants to be petted, though.

    The temperament described by that page to which you linked—yep, that’s about it. Thurber is very laid back. He loves to meet new friends, though he is still not ready to allow one of our friends to come in the house without us. ::sigh::

    Those who do not know Thurber think that he is ferocious. This is because he really, really, REALLY wants new friends to come meet him right in his yard. So he barks and jumps like a hobby horse. They are playful barks and happy, four-footed jumps. However, to those not in the know, he sounds like he wants to eat them.

    Enjoy Boomer! You are going to have such a good time! And he is going to stink up your house something fierce with his effluvia! :-D

  • Sheila Connolly

    Oh sad. Poor Shane. Our black lab looks a lot like him. Bouncy, happy, jumpy, totally would dash out if given a chance. We are working on training him never to walk through a door without being told “okay” but unless you are hovering over him warning him, he’ll just go.

    The thing about bouncy dogs like that is that they seem to take up the whole room. It’s not their size, it’s their energy. So maybe a mastiff would seem smaller? Here’s hoping, because I suspect you are a lost cause already …. you are gonna get that dog and love him!

  • Caroline Moreschi

    Dumb but sweet dogs are the best especially for children. I hurt for your kids; I remember my two favorite kittens getting hit by cars (when I was 6 and 14), and when our old, beloved family dog had to be put to sleep. It looks like Shane had a happy and full life with your family!


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