Vixen, our Bernese Mountain Dog, died today.  She had been slowing down for the past couple of months, we just attributed it to middle age (a bit under 6 years old) and the growing heat.  A week or so ago it started becoming very apparent something else was wrong.  A trip to the vet confirmed her kidneys had failed.  The vet indicated she had days, not weeks.  She stopped eating shortly thereafter and was quiet lethargic.  She would still move around the house a little bit, moving from one favorite spot to another, and could be coaxed into walking outside with some effort.

Friday night we loaded her up and took off for her favorite spot – the farm.  I ended up giving her a half hour ride in the Kubota when we got there, even though it was 11pm at night.  She always loved chasing, or running along side, the Kubota, often upset if I wouldn’t take it out of the storage shed immediately upon arrival, and knowing well it was stored there.  In any case, she seemed to like the late night ride.  We heard her walking around just a little bit last night, and she was still with us this morning.  Mid morning was very nice outside, in the mid 70s, and we put her out there.  Next time we checked her, she had crawled into the Kubota, which we had purposely parked nearby.  Around 1pm I took her for her final ride – we spent about an hour and half slowly touring the farm.  She raised her head several times, and sipped a bit more water. 

By 3pm she was breathing hard, and had stopped responding to any water, but her eyes were still bright and watching, although clearly tired.  I had placed a blanked over the top of the Kubota to keep her in the shade, but it was still nice outside, in the low 80s with a nice breeze – so long as you were not in the sun.  I went out about 45 minutes later and it was clear the end was near.  She was breathing very hard and  sporadically and her eyes had lost focus.  She had no response to water dribbled into her mouth.  I petted her, told her it was OK to go, and she took another few breaths and passed.

She is now buried by our pine trees.  She will be missed.

Epilog: When it was clear she was sick, we did a bit of research on Bernese lifespans.  I was shocked to discover it has dropped from 10-11 years two decades ago to a mere 6-8 years old now.  This breed is in trouble.  I was also surprised to find out that many other large breeds, like German Shepherds, are living shorter lives.  Not sure what is going on here.