In The Beginning

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It was the summer of 1969. Toni was very pregnant with our daughter, Michelle. We went out to a picnic on Toronto Island and it was there that Toni spotted a St Bernard. She had known a Saint before in her childhood neighbourhood and always wanted one, but I had never seen such a beast. Toni was all excited and suggested that we needed one for the new baby.

I thought she was joking.

The baby arrived and the next summer we were back in Ottawa in a small town house which had NO PETS written in red across the lease. Somebody a few streets over was moving and wanted to dump their dog before the move. Since she was lame, they gave Heidi to us for free. She had no type, and no hips. But she was a wonderful babysitter and made us fall in love with the breed. Nobody seemed to notice that we had a Saint hidden in the townhouse.

So the next logical thing to do was to go out and buy a stud and show dog. I drove a whole 50 miles down the road to see a litter advertised in the paper. The sire of the litter was from Switzerland! For an extra $50 I could have pick of the litter. I choose the smooth boy, called him Baron, and brought him home for Christmas. A few months later we entered him in his first puppy match. I brought him into the ring for the first time and the judge smiled broadly. I thought we had it in the bag until she started digging around under his tail.

"Where are they?" she asked me.

"Where are what?" I replied, perplexed.

"His testicles..." she said.

"Under his tail of course", I said indignantly.

"Oh no they're not", she replied as she ushered us to the exit.

As it turned out, Baron's balls never did show up but that really didn't matter so much as the fact that by nine months it was apparent that he didn't have any hips either. It dawned on me that maybe we had a few things to learn about this dog breeding game.

That spring we got the hint from the landlord that it was time to move on. We can thank the dogs for pushing us into becoming homeowners that year. 

Sadly, both Baron and Heidi had to be put down shortly after for serious health reasons. Nevertheless, we were now hooked and determined to do better. We took the BEN from Beninger and the BARON from Baron and combined them to create BENBARON. The rest, as they say, is history.