In Loving Memory of

Special Spike

CH Zanzebern Ignatious

August 1st 2005 to October 19th 2011

B-G Dog ID = 31051

So sadly missed by Annie Bell

Spike's Story

On 1 August 2005 Nienna v't Rijkenspark (imp NDL) gave birth to three puppies sired by Zanzebern Hewitt (Teddy). The litter consisted of two boys and one girl.

Colby (lying down); Spike on right

Being the 'I' litter they were named Zanzebern Iroquois (Colby) Ignatious (Spike) and Idyllic (Saskia).

It was early October when Nicole Lennon said 'Would you take a puppy for a while and teach him some obedience before he goes to America?' With only Harry Brat and Gideon von Wink in the house, little did I know what significant changes agreeing to this would bring. Zanzebern Ignatious had his posh name but no call name had been settled upon. Nic was keen to keep the strong 'I' sound. So a name search found 'Ike' which morphed into 'Spike'. So Spike he became.

He'd been home barely 10 days when Nic rang and said 'can you take a couple of days leave? I've entered Spike in the Vic Womens' Dog Show and Sunbury on Melbourne Cup Day….' Luckily I had some leave available and so an adventure began which was to lead to plenty of travelling and meeting many new people in Australia and overseas.

Having never handled a show dog, our first show experience was memorable. At the Vic Womens' show there were 4 baby puppy dogs entered: Colby, Spike, Viggo and Titan. Titan was HUGE (being close to 6mo) Viggo was next in size then Spike and his bro were the youngest at just over 13 weeks. Somehow we negotiated a triangle but being at 6s and 7s about how to stack a puppy, I dropped the lead. Spike then took the chance to escape to play with his brother in the middle of the ring. I wanted the earth to swallow me - how embarrassment! Spike won his first ribbon - a red one. ( Nic muttered something about sabotage as Colby came third … )

The following day was Sunbury, the largest dog show in the southern hemisphere where over 1000 dogs were on show. I remember it well because Makybe Diva won her third Melbourne Cup. During the race, there was not a sound from man or beast as the race that stops a nation really stopped a dog show for 5 minutes. The silence was eerie. Spike won third prize at that show.

Spike and I at Sunbury this is our second show.

On the way home to Wagga from Melbourne I took the opportunity to pick Nic's brain about shows and how the points system worked. This was an intellectual exercise as the summer months were upon us and Spike was going to be heading overseas to his new home in the coming autumn. For some reason I joined my state canine control body …

The 2005 Berner Buddies Christmas party was one to remember - because I kept losing a dog. I could never find Spike wandering around. Inevitably he was located having a cuddle in someone's arms or eating treats. It was more luck than design that he managed to make it into the car for the trip home.

At the end of November we celebrated that Spike had managed to pass beginners obedience. Spike was never the brightest bulb in the box - in fact he was pretty dumb - making a Xmas tree bulb shine like aircraft landing lights in a relative sense. He was easily distracted and switched off 3 minutes into class. It took me a while to work out why. Three minutes concentration that was all the time needed to strut his stuff in the show ring any longer and he loose interest. So obedience was never going to be his thing.

Here is the family shot taken at the RSPCA Christmas Party. I was reluctant to have photos as I thought it was really corny but Santa was insistent that we have photos taken and I'm so glad I gave Santa his wish.

Harry Brat (left); Gideon (centre) and Spike on Santa's knee.

In Feb 2006 photos were taken of Spike so Nic could be certain that he should be exported. I thought he was ugly, with a head that was flat as a tack…. suitable only for flies to use as a landing pad ... what did I know about puppy development? Very little; still he was such a happy man, Mr Curly Bott.

Nic checked out the photos and decided that he was not good enough for export but he would stay in her breeding program. Colby her original pick had not turned out as expected and had been placed in a pet home.

I was stunned. There was every chance that Spike was going to be leaving my home and that hurt. So I asked Nic if I could buy him. I ended up buying a half share on the understanding that I'd title him and that he would stay at my home. We then entered Canberra Royal in 2006 and so began our show career, and Spike's career as a journo.

As you read you will see was never ever short of a word or 300 …. And many of his dog phrased songs really sum up his life to that point. He is happy, cheeky, irreverent, adoring of his carer and just an all round velco dog with a trademark Berner temperament.

Spike's first foray into journalism occurred at Sydney Royal. Here is his first article as a BNN roving reporter …

'Special Spike, roving newshound for the the Berner News Network (BNN), reporting on the 2006 Sydney Royal that was. After being bathed (yet again) and looking a picture (even if I do say so myself), I set off to the Sydney Royal thinking that the show would again be ALL ABOUT ME. Oh man, was I in for a surprise!

From the support crew point of view it was one big social event: I recall the following names: Glenn, Ben, Craig, Dee, Beatrice, Ruth, Kim, Emma, Matt, Erica, Annie, Dawn and Jim, David and Lynley, Zoe, Sam, Gael, Sophie, Ann, Murray and Vanessa, Nicole and Peter, Lyn and Lyn's mum and dad. There may have been more but 27 is not a bad number to recall for one so young, eh?

There were dogs from Australia All over - well almost. Some unfortunately could notattend so their corrals were used as seats by the support crews. There were dogs from South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. I think that there may have been about 30 that turned out in their show ring best. I don't remember everyone but those I do were: Carlo, Jackson, Dunlop, Douglas, Titian, Eli, Axel, Denzel, Teddy, Kitty, Ju-Ju, Darcy and her two kids, Yogi and a couple of bitches whose names escape me. (Apologies to those delightful ladies.)

Well I took a deep breath as there were BMD much bigger than I and I had a reality check that only one who is 7 months old can have. I was a bit intimidated really. Mum says that was probably a good thing- character building she says.

We had lovely big spaces to lie in, clean and airy. We could see BMD colleagues across the aisle from but because I was tethered I could not greet them in my usual way - and check out their geneology. Considering the reality check - it was probably a good thing.

There was quite a bit of nervous tension as the time came to strut our stuff. My Mum was quite nervous - making mental notes to book an appointment with her dentist to remove the pain from impacted molars as she set her jaw. I knew she was nervous; I could sense it. For the old hands both human and canine they just went 'Ho hum another show'. .

Our first Sydney Royal Show 2006

We were 'on' around lunchtime and there were many people watching us (so I thought) and many were asking questions of people standing closest to the ring, particularly to those who were equipped with a camera trying to capture us for eternity. It was sunny so we were very happy to have the big tents over the rings. I got a second to Titan. My mum was happy with that.

Once it was over, everyone relaxed. It gave me a chance to think about life as a Show Berner. And as is my want, I've written another song. I like country music at the moment, (it could be jazz next week) so I wrote the 'Ode to Show Berners'. Please sing it to Slim Dusty's Indian Pacific.

Carrying the progeny
Of exhibitors as they try -
See Show Berner trailers,
Passing by.

I've had a bath and washed my ears,
My tail and my toes,
I'm really looking shiny
From the butt end to my nose.
Waiting now to travel
To places far and wide,
See Show Berner trailers,
Passing by.

Oh Show Berners really do
Live in pampered style!
Surrounded by support crews,
Every country mile.
I wonder what muttleys do, and I wonder if they sigh
Seeing Show Berner trailers
Passing by.

I'm traveling with dogs,
Bitches and my Mum,
(I'm not sure of the others,
Who on the ride have come),
Travelling to shows across the countrywide,
The many frequent miles that I ride!

We've all done the ring thing;
and had great big think
We now need some exercise and
Water for a drink,
Show Berners are a pamper lot,
Would I go ahead and change it - I think not!

Oh Show Berners really do
Live in pampered style!
Surrounded by support crews,
Every country mile.
I wonder what muttleys do, and I wonder if they sigh
Seeing Show Berner trailers
Passing by!

See that's what is happening when I am snoozing! To those who travelled far, pleased ta meetcha. To those who are going back to the Show for the Group and Best in Show comp on the 17th, well done and good luck on the day.

Hope to see you on the web soon or somewhere to socialise soon either at a Berner Get-together or at a Show. ShowBerners, keep the faith and collecting those Frequent Paw Miles. Special Spike, BNN,signing off from the 2006 Sydney Royal. …

Spike continued to write and dogphrase songs: Here is another of his early attempts in a letter to Auntie Gael (Goldsack):

Yesterday was Canberra Berners and there were three new faces at Yarramundi Reach. We had Harry Potter, Leo and Arthur; Harry Brat, Gideon and me, babies Windsor and Sam and Benson a bigger Berner Boy aged 15 months. It was fun running through the grass and snatching treats. I played with Windsor. Mum says I got my comeuppance when he belly flopped onto my neck. (I did the same to Gid at about the same age).

As you know I am a bit of a composer of Berner ditties and as is my want I like to share - loudly. You will be pleased to know that I am now over Slim Dusty and have an avid interest in old TV themes. I am really into the 'Young Ones' and the 'Banana Spilts'. I am learning to sing and my role model is Vivian the punk in the 'Young Ones'. (He had a leading part singing with Cliff Richard on the remix of 'Living Doll'.) Actually that gives me another song to dog phrase.

I have composed this in honour of Sydney Berner Buddies. Please use your imagination and the theme to the Banana Splits:

One Berner, Two Berners, three Berners, more!
All heading down to the lower north shore.
Travelling in a big car.
Oh what a lark!
Berners are heading to Blackman Park.
La, la la. Lala, la la
La, la la.
Lala, la la.

More Berners, three Berners, two Berners one!
All trotting round in the warm autumn sun.
Picking up lunches, pats and treats,
Sydney Berner Buddies is really quite neat!
La, la la.
Lala, la la
La, la la.
Lala, la la.

Sorry couldn't compose any more verses. Gideon has put a big paw on my nose to shut me up. Until next time,

(Muffled) Special Spike.

By June 2006 Spike had developed his full adult voice and it was loud, very loud. All his life if he was excited and let rip with a bark, it would hurt your ears. So he earned another one of his many nicknames 'Mouse' as in the 'Mouse that roared' (pure Aussie logic). Often in the ring I'd forget his call name saying 'Good boy Mouse'. More than one the judge looked up in surprise and ask why he was so named and I'd have to explain. That actually stopped a lot of nerves on my part and Spikey didn't seem to mind that he was the centre of attention for a few seconds more.

In June 2006 I was asked to go and work interstate for about three months. Spike went to stay with Dobermann owners Storm and Nicole. Harry Brat and Gideon went to stay at kennels at Yass owned by the first Boss I ever had in my working life. (See Harry Brat's story for details).

Spike had a wonderful time at Storm and Nicole's. Justice their daughter just loved Mitta Pike and every Berner she saw thereafter, the owner was asked 'Is that Mitta Pike?'.

Justice with Storm and Spike. Spike having won Junior in Group

Storm and Nicole own dog grooming salons. Every day Spike would hop into the front seat of their van and go to 'work' - which for him was doggy day care. A better socialized, well adjusted dog you could never meet.

He just loved Dobermanns and throughout his life he would try to sidle up to them at shows even if they had never met him or had iffy temperaments as one or two were known to have even if Mr Spike never recognized the signs.

He rapidly accumulated points towards his Australian championship. Consultation with Storm and Nicole came up with the strategy to have him titled whilst on the Condo circuit. And he was. At the time he was 12 months and 2 weeks of age when he got his title - one of the quickest in the country. He celebrated with his Dobe mates by rolling in the mud in the lease free area. This was to become a tradition for every Bernese whom I took to Condoblin with me.

Celebrating his Australian Title

At the end of September we were at Melbourne show. It was a double header for us as the Berner judging was on the Friday and our Specialty on the Sunday. This was overheard in the backyard… and for his trouble some folk came up to me still singing the song at Melbourne Royal wishing that Spike had not been so creative ….

Spike : Grrrrrrrrrr
Harry Brat: What are you trying to do making that sound?
Spike: Find low C and there is a dog at the front door.
Gideon: Oh Oh. Harry Brat:
Dipstick! That is your reflection and you are off in the key of C.
Spike: I feel a song coming on.
Gideon: Oh Oh. This will be so bad, I can wait. Cover your ears Harry.

Spike: 78 berners entered Melbourne Show
78 berners entered Melbourne Show,
And if one show berner decided not to go,
There would be 77 Berners in the Melbourne show.

Gideon: Oh Oh. I knew it would be bad.

Spike: 77 berners entered Melbourne Show
77 berners entered Melbourne Show,
And if one show berner decided not to go,
There would be 76 Berners in the Melbourne show.

Gideon: See?

Spike: but wait there's more ...

76 berners entered Melbourne Show
76 berners entered Melbourne Show,
And if one show berner decided not to go,
There would be 75 Berners in the Melbourne show.

Gideon: Come on Harry, we're outta here. (Time passes)

Spike: 54 berners entered Melbourne Show
54 berners entered Melbourne Show,
And if one show berner decided not to go,
There would be 53 Berners in the Melbourne show.

Harry: I'm not sure which is worse a literate Berner or a numerate berner?
Gideon: you want my opinion? a Numerate Berner that thinks he can sing!
Spike: You're just jealous. (Time passes)

Spike: 4 berners entered Melbourne Show
4 berners entered Melbourne Show,
And if one show berner decided not to go,
There would be 3 Berners in the Melbourne show.

Harry Brat: Are you done yet?
Spike: Nope but there is a twist at the end. The end is not far away.
Collective sigh and groan from Gideon and Harry:
Harry: Hurry up!

Spike: 2 berners entered Melbourne Show
2 berners entered Melbourne Show,
And if one show berner decided not to go,
There would only me in the Melbourne show.

Gideon: Its sad to see that the onset of adolescence has not changed his self-centred ways. I think he has forgotten the Sydney experience.

May many Berners give him a lesson. Good Luck everyone for the weekend.

Christmas 2006 was a busy time for Puppy Spike, happily dreaming of organizing Bernese to pull Santa's sleigh. One thing was for sure that he is always a dog that had a great future in marketing:

I am sorry that I have not posted the result of the hijacking of Santa's sleigh earlier. I have been computerless for a week (and loved it.) The story below I think happened whilst I was sleep deprived ... Enjoy. Please note that if your dog is not mentioned in the song, there is every chance they were in the trailer that was towed behind the sleigh. Tune: Rolfe Harris' 'Six White Boomers' .

Early on one Christmas Day, a little Berner pup, was far from home - his directions messed up.
Mummy, where's my mummy, they've taken her a-way
We'll help you find your mummy son, hop on the sleigh .
Tired beside a bag of toys, the little Berner flopped,
They were over Uluru when Santa stopped
Un-harnessed all the reindeer and puppy wondered why
Then he heard a far off barking in the sky,

Big ShowBerners, proud ShowBerners,
Racing Santa Claus through the blazing sun
Aussie ShowBerners , proud Show Berners .. On his Aus-tra-lian run ,

First to arrive from the great NT were Charlie Smurf and Boo,
Then Santa hitched up Reynik above Australia Zoo,
`Look at all to crocodiles' the little Berner cried,
Sorry crocs there is no room on this year's Santa ride.


Sailing over Sydney, looking at the ground.
Spencer and Windsor, were jumping up and down.
Do you want to join the fun, the little berner cried,
Yes, the bouncing Berners gleefully replied.


Down through Victoria and Axel's at the gate,
With Titan near by, his new best mate,
Hitched alongside Bearmer and Angus Handsome Pants,
Dogs running across the sky doing the Berner Prance

On arriving West Aastralia Berners were hard to find,
Santa then realized they were 2 hours behind!
He hitched a trailer on behind the sleigh, and
Berner Babes and Bitches were towed behind the sleigh

Soon the sleigh was flashing past, right over Marble Bar
Slow down there, cried Santa, it can't be far.
Come up on my lap son, and have a look around
There she is, that's mummy, bounding up and down

Well that's the bestest Christmas treat that Berners ever had
Cuddled up in their yards all smug and glad
The last they saw was Santa headed northward from the sun
The only year the Berners did Santa's Xmas run.

That gives you an idea of what life was like with Spike. He always on the go and never ever dull. He was up, happy optimistic and absolutely loved life. We went to many shows and I added to his collection of points over and over. Here is how he looked in 2007 at Sydney Royal. By then he had filled out and had a beautiful head to go with a playful temperament.

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He composed another song:

Here is a song for 'dogs who have to tub'.
Tune: Gotta pick a pocket or two from the musical 'Oliver'.

Another Show day nor far away
Berner pups won't get to play
What are owners gonna do?
They're gonna wash a berner or two!

Lots of soap and elbow grease
No morning naps- not much peace,
When Berner owners decide they do
Need to wash a Berner or two.

Puppy dogs don't get much peace
When Owners wash a Berner or two.
Hair blown dry and straighened curls
Showing off to boys and girls
That's what Berners gonna do
When they go to a show or two!

We strut our stuff in the ring
Examined and stacked that's the thing
Owners watch what Judges do
When examining a Berner or two.

Puppy dogs don't get much peace
When Owners wash a Berner or two.

Beside the ring, people see,
Catalogues with your entry
Then raise their cameras toward you!
They're taking a piccie or two!

However being two does not mean that you have left adolescence:

Special Spike here. since there has been no big Berner thangs happening nationally recently; I've turned my hand to adapting songs - just like my Mum and Auntie Anne Gribbon in Brissie becuz I'm bored. .

This is my first attempt posted in honour of my good self, my bro Bepe (litter name Colby who now lives in the NSW southern highlands- Zanzebern Iroquios) and my Sister (Saskia) who lives in Melbourne (Zanzebern ( I (insert remaining letters) and yours truly (Zanzebern Ignatius)

For those pedigree minded our dad is Zanzebern Hewitt (Teddy) and Mum Nienna van't Rijkenspark (Nienna). We are our Mum's first litter.

I'm not real good at this song writing caper but here goes.

Tune: John Williamson's Rip Rip Woodchip

What am I gonna do - gonna have a birfday!
Today is the day that I turn two!
Mum's at work (hopefully) planning a big occasion
What plans has she shared with you?

Harry, Gid and Potter Pup have had their bath time
Must be important - smelling good!
Wonder what she's planned? What's hidden in the freezer?
Opening appliances mmmm - Wish I could!

Hip Hip hoo-ray today is my burpday
Bepe and Saskia's burpday too!
Lots of love and special attention,
Very important turning two!

Mum just gave me my usual breakfast,
(Most disappointed I'm telling you,)
Has she forgotten her little munckin?

I AM important - her little Showberner
No more shows I'm telling you,
I won't cooperate unless she acknowledges that
Squeak E. Mouse HAS JUST TURNED 2. (GOT IT?)

Hip Hip hoo-ray today is my birfday
Bepe and Saskia's birfday too!
Demand much love and heaps of attention,
Very important turning two!


Melbourne Cup Day 2007 was a day to remember for different reasons. It was a public holiday and I'm transporting Spike across Canberra (feeling like a pimp) for an assignation with a really hot chick called Lini. Unfortunately the first visit was punctuated by Spike falling in the family pool as he thought he could walk across the pool cover. Needless to say any thoughts of 'romance' were well and truly sunk. Home we went so Spike could have a sleep.

Late in the afternoon, we went back again. Barely were we in the side gate when he scruffed her. In January he became a father of nine. Not that he cared, he was just living life to the max. A daughter Zoobie made him a grandfather in 2010 and one of his grandsons lives in Canberra.

He fathered a singleton in the second litter in 2009. A puppy named Fletch who lives in Wagga.

Fletch at about 12 mo

In November 2009 he bloated. That was one of the most scarey nights I've ever had. I'd never seen him so down. There is a single piece of paper - that proved a dog-send in this situation. When printed it is an A4 sheet of paper that describes the various stages of bloat, what is happening internally, what you see behaviourally and suggests what you must do. This was my lifeline and I am convinced that t the action saved his life. .

It can be found at

I can only suggest that every Bernese owner get this information and keep in on the fridge door. You never know when you will need it. Mine has been on the fridge for at least four years and this was the first time I needed it.

He recovered and continued a happy life. He developed the habit of being the early morning alarm clock. He'd sleep somewhere and then come in at about 5:30 am, bash bash of tail against the wall, then sniff, sniff, sniff (sneeze in the face). Better than any alarm clock! That was my boy.

At the dog club he was the one who raced along the fence barking his head off and would happily show off to all and sundry.

Here are two photos that express him perfectly.

In the last 10 months of life he gradually lost weight, had a prostate infection, a lieomyoma found adjacent to his testicles and something unknown but probably linked to his kidneys that took his life.

The last Thursday after leaving the grooming salon, he did not seem to be his usual self. Friday morning at the dog park he did not trot and I realised that I had not heard him going off his nut when I came home as he usually did. I wondered if I had not adjusted to his new neutered persona or whether there was really something wrong.

A trip to the vet and blood tests indicated that he was not processing proteins well. Saturday morning we did an ultrasound just to see if there was anything. Nothing conclusive showed.

Over the weekend his rear end became progressively weaker and when he went in for xrays on the Tuesday. He had lost another kilo in 4 days. The xrays did not show any internal masses (So we can rule out MH) and an assessment of his kidneys was also inconclusive. Last evening he was unable to walk down steps to go for a pee and needed to be lifted down to the concrete.

Fran and Lloyd Jones were able to meet him three days before he died.

The last family photo: Suki (left) me, Harriette, Gideon, Spike and Fran.

On Wednesday 19th October, he was so weak that he was unable to push his front legs sufficiently far under him in order to lift his rear or barely wag his tail. I had no alternative but to let him go.

With the assistance of my friend Belinda who helped me get him into the car, I took him to the vets for his last visit. He passed peacefully and is now back at home in a box resting beside Harry Brat.

My backyard is so much quieter. My face is so much drier and I can wake up to a digital alarm clock without worry. I can do my quilting without having Spike licking my face and checking out what has been achieved.

I miss his noisy bark when I drive into the driveway. I miss his happy dance that he always did even when he'd been out for a pee and come back in. It was always as if he met you for the very first time.

Friends sent flowers and the colours are the inspiration for the quilt that is being made in his honour for the BMDCA 2012 Health Auction.

A message from a very dear friend sumd up Spike's life in 11 words:

Spikus Mikus Meekus Mouse: we will miss you in this house.

Special Spike

In Loving Memory of

Harry Brat
Zanzebern Shining Knight

June 22nd 2002
to March 22nd 2008

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