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How My Saint Bernard Taught Me Silliness

In the Midst Of Chaos, My Giant, Drooly Saint Bernard Taught Me To Embrace Silliness

I don't really do well with uncertainty. As a planner (read: perfectionist) with anxiety, I don't just jump to worst-case scenarios — I solve for them. So when March 2020 happened and the world felt like it had ushered in chaos that was totally beyond my (read: everyone's) control, my therapist had a very simple suggestion to solve for my spiraling: a "Things That Don't Suck List."

Every day, my "Things That Don't Suck List" started with Cannoli.

At the time, Cannoli was a 35-pound Saint Bernard puppy who hadn't grown into her ears or paws. She would whimper in her crate the moment she heard me or my husband roll over in the morning. She sniffed out where, precisely, the air-conditioning registers were on our floors, then would sleep on top of them, upside down, feet on the wall, snoring like a grown man. I loved her instantly.


My husband and I jumped on the "let's adopt a dog" trend very early in the pandemic as we figured we would be working remotely long enough to potty train a new pup and get her adjusted to our routine. (It's two years later, by the way, and Cannoli still sleeps beside my desk throughout my entire workday.)

In the chaos of navigating mask regulations, canceled plans, and a downright terrifying news cycle, Cannoli brought something to our home I hadn't even realized we were missing: silliness.

I'm not talking about a slight smile or chuckle either: I'm talking raw, pure, ridiculous silliness. Some times, we laugh so hard at her antics that we're out of breath, wiping tears away. Have you ever seen a dog sleep upside down, with her jowls on the floor? What about wait patiently by the dishwasher, in an attempt to "help" clean up? Snore so loud they interrupt a work meeting? Cannoli does it all — and all that unadulterated silliness only makes me love her more.

Every day, Cannoli makes us laugh, and we're pretty sure it's one of her favorite activities too. Cannoli enjoys sitting on my lap and walking under my legs — and since I'm 4'11" and about the same weight as she is, that looks like something out of a black-and-white comedy sketch. She climbs into my lap with a big smile on her face, as if plopping her massive butt on top of me is her version of telling us a good joke. Other "jokes" Cannoli tells include playing tug-of-war with the towel while I'm wiping her drooly face (yes, she's slobbery, but I forgive her) and running circles around the house when my husband and I need to brush her teeth. (This is a two-person job, always.)


Her favorite thing, though, is going to bed. Somehow, she always knows when it's bedtime (even though she sleeps literally 18 hours a day) and will bolt up the stairs to wait at the end of our bed while I collect two treats for her. The first she gets once I come up, the second she has to wait for while I wash my face and brush my teeth. If I'm taking too long . . . well, she'll steal it. Then she says "sorry" by lying down at my feet.

There's something about having a dog the size of a small vehicle that's just downright silly, and for someone who is so used to white-knuckling life, I didn't realize how important "silly" was — especially when things seem pretty sucky. My very doofy, messy, and sweet girl spent the last two years teaching me that. When the whole world felt like it could use a good laugh, Cannoli gave me hundreds — all she asked for in return was a cuddle and to share my leftover chicken.

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