Home Australia DOMINIC LAWSON: I got a Bernedoodle before they became the must-have dog. It’s like living with a hyper-intelligent bear that picks your pockets!

DOMINIC LAWSON: I got a Bernedoodle before they became the must-have dog. It’s like living with a hyper-intelligent bear that picks your pockets!

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The Lawsons' Bernedoodle Luna, who has been a member of their family since 2022

Poodle crosses have been in fashion for a few years now. But suddenly, or so several recent articles claim, the most sought after of all is something called a Bernedoodle, a cross between a poodle and a Bernese mountain dog.

Which makes the Lawson family feel like (unintentionally) fashion leaders. Because on November 1, 2022 we acquired a Bernedoodle. Our lives have not been the same since then.

When we went to the house where Luna was born eight weeks earlier we were able to see her parents well. Her mother, a Bernese mountain dog, was cautious and territorial.

The father, a standard poodle, was much, much bigger than I expected and was full of affectionate energy. Luna was, very unusually, the only puppy in the litter. I felt quite sorry for her parents as we drove her back to our home in Sussex.

From that day on, she dominated our house, initially with a trail of destruction. One of her first victims was my laptop: she found it very fun to chew and demolish the keyboard.

The Lawsons' Bernedoodle Luna, who has been a member of their family since 2022

The Lawsons’ Bernedoodle Luna, who has been a member of their family since 2022

We had a succession of Leonbergers a long time ago, mainly because we have a couple of ponds and we thought that our then young daughter Domenica, who has Down syndrome, would be safer if we had dogs that had a natural inclination to be protective and were easily trained to Drag people out of the water (the breed has webbed feet).

But the problem is that, like so many great purebreds, our Leonbergers didn’t live long: Domenica was devastated when they died relatively young.

On the contrary, first generation hybrids are much less likely to suffer from genetic diseases. Poodles were originally bred in Germany as water retrievers (‘bottle‘, means splash, and they were called pudding dog). That, combined with our desire for “hybrid vitality,” is what made us choose a Bernedoodle.

But Luna’s vitality is off the charts. Even with three long walks a day, she never seems to get tired of wanting to play, almost all day long.

Apparently this is a function of a very high intelligence, which she constantly manifests. She will tilt her head to the side if you talk to her, giving the impression that she is making a special effort to understand what is being said. She does it even while I play chess, as if she is trying to figure out the moves.

(This gives me the excuse to tell the old joke about the man who visited a friend and found him playing chess with his dog. “That’s incredible,” he said. “Not really,” said his friend, “I won two of the last three games.’)

One result of this, once we get over the initial chaos, is that she is very easy to train: she always comes when called, even when she is chasing something.

The woman whose dog training classes we took her to couldn’t have been more impressed (“I shouldn’t say this, but she’s my favorite.”) But Luna’s large size seemed to worry the other owners, or rather her dog: she could see why what was simply an exuberant friendship could seem overwhelming. Especially since Luna has a very deep and loud bark.

One thing we hadn’t anticipated was how often his fur would need to be trimmed, although we obviously knew that since he doesn’t shed, there would be a certain amount of that.

But it’s extraordinary how quickly he seems to turn into a Yeti. And the local hair clipper just told us that she no longer has the strength to do the job (it requires putting Luna in a bath, a form of water immersion that she doesn’t like at all, and is too powerful to force her to do). move anywhere she doesn’t want to go).

Luna seems to catch everyone’s attention when we take her to our nearest town, and the most common comment is: ‘What is she?’ I want one.’ Although another customer at the local pet shop did say, ‘What’s that donkey doing here?’

Oh, and she’s also a pickpocket. I think this is due to the fact that my wife, when she trained, would put treats for Luna in her pants pocket.

The result is that every time I sit down, she pulls everything she can out of my pants pocket, usually a handkerchief, which she then runs off with, regarding my attempt to retrieve it as a fun game (comical curiosity is her default behavior). ).

As a result, most of my pants now have torn pockets.

However, this makes my daughter laugh, which is the best sound in the world. I should add that Domenica, now 28 years old, chose the name Luna, in honor of her character, a 16-year-old girl, from her favorite television series, Soy Luna. They often watch it together.

And when I asked Domenica to describe her own Luna, when I told her I would write about this, she said: ‘Crazy. But she protects me. And, after thinking about it more: “She’s a bundle of happiness.”

However, not everyone in the household shares that opinion. In particular two of our three chihuahuas (father and son), who saw the appearance of this giant dog as outrageous, many years after his own arrival on the scene.

The solution we have found is to have a ‘doggy door’ in the hallway leading to the rest of the house, with a hole large enough for the Chihuahuas to pass through and leave Luna on the other side. That way they can escape your friendly attention, which they consider a serious intrusion.

We describe it as a love-hate relationship. Luna loves them, but they hate her. The third chihuahua, daughter of the first, enjoys a much better relationship and has the habit of tearing pieces of food from Luna’s mouth, something that the giant dog tolerates like hippos do with oxpeckers.

Having grown up in London, with just one cat as a family pet, this life of canine cacophony doesn’t come naturally to me: but my wife grew up in the countryside, always with lots of dogs at home, so for her that’s what life must be like. life.

In fact, I think she sees it as completely normal. But Luna, I keep telling her, is anything but normal. It’s like having a hyper-intelligent bear at home.

Would I Recommend a Bernedoodle?

Only if you have as much sense of humor as they do.

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