Celebrating our Berner Veterans

In Loving Memory of


Bev's Whistler

September 9th 1996 to June 28th 2011

aged 14 yrs 10 mths

Owned and loved and now so very sadly missed by Shaun Smith and family

Bred by Beverly Burney

"Under our oak tree are deposited the remains of one who possessed Beauty without Vanity, Strength without Insolence, Courage without Ferocity, and all the Virtues of Man without his Vices. This praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery, if inscribed over human ashes, is but a just Tribute to the Memory of Whistler, a Bernese Mountain Dog."

Adapted from John Cam Hobhouse for Botswain, a Dog

Click on the above pics to enlarge them

Dear Bev,

It is with heavy heart that I must tell you of the passing of your boy, Whistler on Tuesday of this week.

He had been doing very well up until about 1 week ago when he began having trouble standing. On Tuesday morning I heard him whine and I knew the time had come. He had an absolutely tremendous vet who offered to come to the house that afternoon. For most of the morning friends, neighbors and his groomer came by to pat and visit Whistler and he ate his favorite treats including part of a liverwurst sandwich. There wasn’t a dry eye around. He had a hot dog and many of his favorite cookies. At about 1:45 Dr. Shinohara arrived and I moved Whistler to his favorite place, under a large oak tree out of the sun. From this place he could see down the hill towards the pond. My wife had placed his blanket and some flowers under the tree and it was a beautiful afternoon, very quiet with just the sound of birds chirping. My wife held his head in her lap and although he was weak he looked directly at me and then my wife and then closed his eyes - It was 2 o’clock.

As I have told you before, you bred one tremendous dog and we will miss him terribly. Although we had hoped he would reach 15 years (he was almost 14 years 10 months) it was time for him to leave us. When I think of his antics over the years it brings a smile to my face. As I may have mentioned before, years ago he chased and collided with a coyote that was trying to take a goose that was nesting by our pond. The coyote spun in the air and ran off like a scared rabbit. Whistler would never let anyone on the property unless my wife or I told him it was all right. Visitors knew when they had passed his approval when he would dart under the back stairs and grab a piece of firewood to challenge them to a tug a war. When Whistler would win (and he did every time) he would trot off with his tail held high in the air, still clutching the firewood and making a sound that I can only describe as a dog laughing.

Another time when our alarm system malfunctioned and a policeman was dispatched to the house Whistler held the policeman in the garage until my wife told Whistler it was O.K. When Whistler stood down the policeman commented ‘that whoever trained this dog did an excellent job’. The patrolmen’s face went a shade whiter when Lisa told him Whistler had never been trained as a guard dog, he just knew what to do. Whistler would always position himself in front of my wife when anyone came to the house. When you took him for a walk on the trail in the woods, (which he loved especially in the fresh fallen snow) if he heard anyone coming he would run ahead to investigate. He was always a very affectionate dog, sneaking up behind you and putting his big head through your legs so you would pat him. He was very protective of my wife and our two children but extremely gentle rubbing his big head against your leg for pets or another trick was to sit on peoples’ feet so they could not move and they would have to pet him.

Above is text that will be on the marker for his grave as well as some pictures taken of him at different stages of his life. The first picture is my wife holding Whistler when we picked him up and were leaving your house. Through a mix up we arrived one week earlier than we were supposed to and you made us promise that we would take extra special care of Whistler as you were letting him go one week earlier than you normally would. In actuality, it was Whistler who took care of us for almost 15 years. In the third set of pictures you will see Whistler chewing on the forks in the dishwasher – a very mischievous child! In the last set you will see his cunning ability. Another one of his tricks was to lie on the turn of the staircase where he barely fit. This way he would never miss when we were heading up to bed as we would have to step over him and he would then follow us upstairs.

Again, thank-you for letting us share our lives with Whistler – he has made each one of our lives that much richer. You bred one tremendous dog! There will never be another Whistler.

Sincerely, Shaun Smith and family.


Whistler at 14-years old doesn’t chase us around the backyard begging to play “tug of war” anymore, but he is well. He has difficulty going up stairs so I lift up his backend to help – a bit like a wheelbarrow. His appetite is good, but he has a cyst on his knee. Our vet advises that we do nothing. He is still happy, as demonstrated each night by his one loud “woof” after supper signaling that he wants his cookie. Shaun Smith, Boxford, MA

Whistler aged 12 yrs old with daughter Corina

For comparison purposes, here’s a picture of Whistler when he was 9 weeks old
sitting on our fireplace mantel getting ready for Christmas.

New Year Update Jan. 21st 2011

Whistler had a large growth (a little smaller than a tennis ball) on his right hind leg that turned out to be cancerous. Although our vet was very hesitant about removing it at his age, she became more concerned as it grew larger. She then thought there was a risk that it may become caught on something so surgery was performed in November. A real trooper, he came out of surgery without any difficulty – taking a cookie after waking up. The wound was slow to heal (you can see the disturbed fur in the first picture – he’s sleeping under the Christmas tree) but he’s back in fighting form! The vet said it will probably return in 2 to 3 years but we're not too worried….

These were taken on New Years eve…..What a party animal!! He is with my daughter Corina

Happy New Year 2011!

February 9th 2011 - Happy 14 1/2 yrs old Whistler!

Here are some pictures taken of Whistler this morning on ‘his’ path that I cut for him around our house this winter so he could avoid the deep snow. He is still happy and very affectionate.

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