Nan Ruby, who works here at Animal Hospital of North Asheville as a Registered Veterinary Technician, has 3 dogs, 2 cats, and 2 chickens. They all take up the same amount of space in her heart, but Peyton, her 170-pound St. Bernard, definitely takes up the most space in her house!
Nan adopted Peyton from a St. Bernard rescue when he was 9-months-old and weighed in at only (!!!) 130 pounds.
“I really like big dogs, so I told them I wanted the biggest St. Bernard they had,” said Nan. “They were thrilled. Peyton was up for adoption along with his brother. I needed a submissive St. Bernard since my dog Lyden, who has since passed away, was a real alpha dog. Peyton was perfect. He’s very passive and sweet – just a big baby. I do a lot of foster work for the Asheville Humane Society and I’ve never once had a problem with Peyton. He gets along with everyone.”
Peyton fit right in to Nan’s household and she got another welcome surprise. “Many St. Bernards drool a lot, but Peyton doesn’t drool. Some people refer to St. Bernards like Peyton as “dry mouth” St. Bernards but what that really means is that his mouth is structured so that he swallows his saliva as it forms rather than it drooling out the sides of his mouth. I am really happy that he doesn’t drool!”
“He just goes with the flow,” said Nan. “He doesn’t normally get over-excited about much, which, along with his large size, makes him a perfect blood donor for the hospital. He is very relaxed when he donates blood and hardly seems to notice. Sometimes he barks at thunder and every now and then he will get into a playful mood and everyone - pet and human - gets out of the way as he jumps around and sticks his tail in the air. Usually though, he plays about 10 minutes a day and spends the rest of the time sleeping on ‘his porch’ with a fan blowing on him. He’s my big, furry piece of furniture that occasionally moves around.”
There are unique aspects to owning a St. Bernard. Peyton eats two 35-pound bags of dog food a month and Nan shaves his thick coat during the summer to keep him as comfortable as possible. He also had to have entropion surgery, which is common in St. Bernards. “He had a lot of extra skin, which pushed his face down and caused his eyelashes to roll in. This was really irritating to the eyes and very painful. He had surgery here at the hospital so that his eyelids work correctly now, and he’s doing great.”
“When I take him on walks people always say things like: ‘He’s huge!’ and ‘I’ve never seen a dog that big!’ People always seem to be comfortable around him, regardless of his size,” said Nan. “I think that people sense he’s gentle. Even children aren’t scared of him. When we were filming a video for the hospital, Lorraine’s little granddaughter, Emma, was here to be in the video. Peyton walked by the exam room that she was in and Emma said, ‘Where’s that cow going?’ We all cracked up!”
Although Peyton is a very big boy, he doesn’t exactly qualify as a brave guard dog. “I had an invisible fence installed around my house and I took Peyton outside to show him the boundaries. He got a tiny little zap from the fence, and he didn’t want to go outside for a week! I had to entice him outside with food so he could go to the bathroom and then he would run inside as quickly as he could. He’s used to the fence now, but it took him a while to get up his nerve to go outside again. He’s just a genuinely sweet, loveable guy, and I feel so very lucky to have him. He is truly a gentle giant”