Selby was born January 27, 2005 on a farm in Minnesota. We drove down to the farm that spring intending to bring home a boy puppy, but his sister was the one who stole our hearts instead. She was playful and goofy and had the sweetest face. While her brother kept getting distracted by other things, the girl puppy was far more interested in us.
Selby did not grow out of her “puppy phase” until she was almost 5 years old. She loved to play in the snow, eat garbage, and chew on sticks. She liked to sleep on fluffy pillows but if none were available she was more than happy to use a pile of dirty laundry instead. She loved to cuddle with people of all ages. She was very gentle and tolerant of children and puppies.
She hated being wet more than anything. If it was raining outside, she would wait as long as she possibly could before going outside to potty. There were a few nights I worried her bladder might explode if it didn’t stop raining soon, but eventually she would go out. Only for exactly as long as it took to pee, and then she would come right back in. Bathtime turned her into the saddest dog of all time. However, she really loved to ride in the car. A car ride would cancel out the horror of a bath any day.
People sometimes think that Saint Bernards are not smart, but that’s not true at all. Selby was not only smart, she was TOO smart. She could open the door to the back yard; we had to keep it locked all the time so she didn’t let the cats out accidentally. She learned how to open the gate at our old house and would let herself out for a tour of the neighborhood if we didn’t hold the latch in place with a clip or a padlock. When we moved to our new house, she figured out how to open all three of the gates in our yard. Two of them are chained shut now, and the main gate had to be padlocked at all times to keep her from escaping. Recently she even managed to find a secret exit that even Emerson didn’t know about, and went out on a neighborhood visit without him. We still don’t know how she got out.
She rarely barked but when she did, people listened. Her bark was deep, booming, and loud. It was the James Earl Jones of barks. Once I was working in my backyard when some creepy guy came right up to the fence trying to talk to me. Selby ran over and barked in his face until he went away; it did not take long for him to do that. I mean, if Darth Vader was shouting in your face, would you hang around?
She liked to eat all kinds of things, including non-food products like tissues. She didn’t care if they were new or used, they were all delicious to her. Once I walked into my bedroom to find Selby with a kleenex box in between her front paws, eating them one at a time like Pez candies. We had to throw all of our used tissues in the kitchen garbage because she would dig them out of the trash and eat them if we put them in any other trash can. And then when you caught her she would look at you like this:
We liked to joke that she thought she was a Jedi. She never barked or whined to go out, but she would often stand and stare at a door until someone came along and opened it for her. She clearly thought that she could open it by the force of her will, if she concentrated hard enough.
She was very sensitive to people’s emotions. Any time I was sad, Selby would appear from nowhere to put her head in my lap until I felt better. Even if she was asleep, she would wake up to find the sad person and make it better.
Right now I have three My Dog Said drafts of Selby stories that I hadn’t finished yet, and I don’t know what to do about them. It feels wrong to post them now that she’s gone, but I don’t have the heart to delete them either. Just thinking about them makes me sad, but this time she isn’t here to soak it up, and that breaks my heart even more.