Birth of the Leonbergers

The other night as we were out for a lovely Mother’s Day dinner of tapas and wine, I looked over to the table next to us on the patio and nearly did a spit-take with a mouthful of chardonnay.  Underneath this table were two dogs more akin in size to bears.  I had to ask what in the world was their breed.  The answer?  Leonbergers.  The older one weighs in at 170 lbs., the puppy weighs only 140.

I looked on Wikipedia.com the next day to discover that these cuddly carnivores derive from the city of Leonberg in Germany.  The Leonberger was supposedly bred to resemble the lions on that town’s crest. Although the breed has been around since the early 1800s, it was only recently recognized by the American Kennel Club.  So that was one of those “new” breeds I had seen in last year’s Westminister Dog Show (which I watch on TV religiously).

Jack, after a bath, mellow for a moment

Now I love my baby dog, Jack, and, at 60 lbs., he can take me for quite the ride when we go for walks.  In no universe can I imagine walking a 170 lb. mammoth whose paws are the circumference of a bear’s.  A full grown bear’s.

But these Leonbergers seemed shockingly gentle, even genteel.  As the two left the restaurant with their “parents,” they were absolutely mellow while sauntering past every agape mouth in the house (“What are those dogs?” everyone had to know).  Gentle giants, indeed.  (If only my precious, but dog-averse and socially anxious rescue mutt could behave so well in public.  But, alas, I fear taking him to a restaurant would turn into a series of sitcom-esque pratfalls and catastrophes…)

Since this past Sunday was Mother’s Day and all, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Can you imagine giving birth to one of these dogs?”  Well, try birthing 18 like one Leonberger mother, Ms. Ariel (her name is simply “Ariel,” I added the “Ms.” because, frankly, I think she deserves it), did in Wyoming in the fall of 2009. Standing on their hind legs, Leonbergers are as tall, or taller, than humans.  These are muscular, physical dogs – think professional athlete-big.  I mean, good Lord, can you imagine shooting 18 Michael Jordans or Terry Bradshaws out of your vajayjay at once?  Only two words fit (that I can type here): No.  Way.

Ms. Ariel Leonberger of Powell, Wyoming, you are one hell of a bitch.  And my hero.

Ms. Ariel of Powell, Wyoming lies happily surrounded by her brood of 18 puppies, 9 males and 9 females. Ariel's litter, born in late October 2009, set a new worldwide record for the number of surviving Leonberger puppies in one litter.

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