Mt. Juliet's Gentle Giant and unofficial mascot, Quincy, kissed his beloved master's nose, curled beside her in the back of her pickup outside the vet's office and took his last breath Monday.
It was one of those unforgettable, heart-wrenching moments that had all there unabashedly weeping as they said goodbye to this massive St. Bernard that over the past five years stole the hearts of all who ever met him. It was his time to go after all medical means were exhausted to keep in out of pain. Owner Sharon Ceragioli knows he is now "able to run through grassy fields again."
"He changed lives and brought so much happiness," she posted on her Facebook just before 2 p.m. Monday. "Keep us in your prayers as we go through one of the hardest goodbyes."
A favorite saying is, "A boy and his dog." This is a love story about a woman and her dog. Sharon adopted Quincy and shared him with the Mt. Juliet community the past five years. He was massive at 170 pounds and could have crushed petite Sharon easily. But, he was as gentle as a kitten. He was as devoted to her as she was to him. They shared an apartment at Deerfield and they quickly became popular. Anyone who met this lumbering, slobbery, gentle canine fell in love immediately.
"He automatically made people smile," Sharon said. "Young, old, sick, stern, or happy-go-lucky, people were drawn to him and whenever I took him out he was the popular one. I was invisible!"
And, Sharon took Quincy everywhere. He visited the elderly in nursing homes, romped through elementary schools much to the delight of awed students, went sledding with neighborhood children and helped raise money for children with disabilities at Lantern Lane Farm. He went to car shows and won "Best of Show" at countless local dog shows.
"He was like a magic potion in this community," Sharon recalled sadly. "He brought people together. Kids just loved him. They would poke, gently, and pull and lay on him."
He had his own float at the Mt. Juliet Christmas parade in December, his last.
"He was like a king sitting up there," she laughed.
A laugh is rare these days for Sharon. It's been just a few days since she made that fist-in-your-gut decision to finally put him down. She knows some may not understand the bond they had, but she knows most do, especially the ones who got to hug on this huge hound.
She's had over 1.5K responses on Facebook with sympathetic posters sending their support. It's helped a lot. There's even some buzz of an effort to somehow, somewhere put up a memorial plaque for this giant of a dog. Sharon's family has been by her side the whole time.
The perfect St. Bernard
Quincy was not Sharon's first St. Bernard. It's not a breed people clamor to make a household pet. However, Sharon had St. Bernard Fletcher first. Ironically, she had him in her life five years as well. She, Fletcher and her husband moved to Willoughby Station in 2001. The day of her divorce judgment, Fletcher died of an aneurysm. Effectively, Sharon lost her husband, her beautiful home and beloved Fletcher the same hour.
"I will admit I was mad at the world," she said. "I felt God took everything away from me."
For six months she was in solitude, question, cursing and wondering why her "rock" was taken away.
"Then I got this tap on my shoulder, and I feel like it was God telling me He was my rock."
In a tiny, cramped apartment, at 2:30 in the morning Sharon scanned the Internet and ran across this post about "The perfect St. Bernard."
She laughed in scorn and said to herself there was no dog as perfect as Fletcher. It was from a woman who was fostering Quincy. The foster mom got Quincy from a woman whose estranged husband threatened to "put a bullet" through his head in retaliation. Quincy's first owner quickly gave him up to save his life.
"God led me to him," Sharon said. "I was vetted to the nth degree and deemed a good owner and my sister and I quickly drove to Gallatin where he was."
When Quincy saw Sharon at the end of the driveway he lumbered his way to her at an unbelievable pace for such a huge dog.
"He dove into my arms," Sharon remembered. "He knocked me down and I just held him and cried. He was the most perfect St. Bernard. He was gorgeous and huge and perfect."
She begged the woman to let her have him.
"By the grace of God he was mine, and Mt. Juliet's, for five years," she said. "He was good with animals, cats, children and adults. Especially men. I was sure since he was abused by a man he would feel threatened. That was not the case!"
For years people swarmed Quincy and augmented the love Sharon bestowed. The mailman, the UPS and FedEx drivers, police officers and firefighters loved on him.
And no, Quincy never slept on the bed, or jumped on the couch. He had been raised too strictly for that, no matter how much Sharon patted the cushion. He loved to sleep out on the balcony with sister the cat Bootsie. Sharon basically left her front door open so Quincy could get to the breezes when he got too hot in the apartment.
"That gentle massive dog taught me to love again after my divorce," she revealed.
Two years ago Quincy fell down the steps at the apartment. It was a long fall and he dragged Sharon with him. She was okay, but since that day when the fire department helped her get him up, Quincy was never really the same. The vet bills were high and somebody put a jar out at Pet Smart for penny donations. One day she found a note from an anonymous donor who said he would pay $1,000 toward Quincy's vet bills.
"His daughter had met Quincy along the way and saw his picture on the jar," Sharon said. "The little girl begged her daddy to help Quincy and he did. It was unbelievable."
Hip dysplasia is the official term for what slowed things for Quincy and eventually caused Sharon to make the dreadful decision. Dr. Noel Lucus with Blue Oasis Pet Hospital treated this gentle giant with compassion and expertise. She knew it was time and broke the news to Sharon.
At 2 p.m. Monday Sharon took that long drive to Blue Oasis with Quincy. They felt it best he take his last breath in a place he felt at home, in the truck he and his master tooled around in for five years.
Sharon curled up next to him while they said their goodbyes. Sharon remembered all the times they made the community smile.
It was painless for Quincy and gut wrenching for Sharon.
"Quincy was never a kisser, he never licked anyone, never because he had been taught by his first owner not to," she said. "But in that last moment he turned his head and kissed my nose."
Writer Laurie Everett can be reached at email@example.com