Note from Louise: I’m starting with Orson, since he’s the most well-known of the Lyonhurst Mastiffs, but please don't miss Orson's sister and grand-dam, whose stories of service to humanity are quite remarkable.
O R S O N
CH Lyonhurst Orson CGC
(Sir Buckingham of Navaho Run x Lyonhurst Regina)
Submitted by Bonnie Faulstich, owner and breeder
Orson went through training for a movie being filmed here a few years back.He got replaced by a Great Dane after filming started, but learned to work around and cut through a flock of sheep.The woman helping me train told me that what he accomplished with her was the very final stages of training that is done with working Border Collies.
These dogs are a lot more intelligent than most people think.
J E A N L U C
Jean Luc, Orson's sister
(Sir Buckingham of Navaho Run x Lyonhurst Regina)
Submitted by Bonnie Faulstich, breeder
I got a call 8 years ago from a couple with a handicapped teenaged son.The boy had a lot of things wrong.He was Autistic, with the mental maturity of a 7 year old, had been born without the tubes in his ears connected, and had stainless steel implants; so, he was very sensitive to loud noises.When we met them, he was recovering from surgery for testicular cancer.
The boy’s therapist suggested they get a dog.He specifically suggested they get a Mastiff.The boy was 18 years old and weighed 230 pounds, so the doctor told them that a Mastiff would not only be of the size to not get accidentally squashed by the boy, but also had the temperament to handle his mood swings and temper tantrums.
I had great reservations about placing a puppy with this family.On the phone, the mother told me the last dog they had owned had been 20 years previous, and it was a little poodle.But they came to visit anyway, and we ended up spending 3 hours together.I learned they had a local friend who raised and showed Danes, and of course I was only a phone call away, so help was nearby, if they needed it.That was how Jean Luc became part of their family.
The parents spoiled her terribly, but in a good way.The son was an avid Star Trek-Next Generation fan, and named her Jean Luc. The mother had miscarried a daughter at 7 months, shortly after their son was born, and it was as if she had another baby girl.Jean Luc adored the son, and was gentle and patient with him from the start.
At some point, she started letting them know when the son was about to have a seizure!She would become agitated and run back and forth to wherever the mother was, until she came into the room with the son.Then Jean Luc laid her body down next to the boy, as if trying to cover him, until the seizure passed.It was purely instinctive on her part.This can't be trained for.
Well, she was the first official Service Dog for the State of Illinois.They didn't have any requirements or official status for service dogs other then seeing eye, but the mother wrote to the Governor about their situation.The Governor's wife made up a special card for them to carry, and signed it herself, so Jean Luc was able to go with them everywhere.She went with them to restaurants, to the hospital when the son went in for tests, anywhere they went, she was with them.
E M M A
Emma Lyonhurst Enchantress
Also submitted by Bonnie Faulstich
Orson's granddam was the first certified Search and Rescue Mastiff in the state of Kentucky, and she qualified at 10 months of age.Any older, and she would have been too big to be tested on their equipment.She was never called for duty, but I did get to see her go through the routine a few years later, and it was so exciting to watch!
I am the Region 1 Coordinator for Friends Of Rescued Mastiffs serving all of the New England States, and would like to share a story that took place last year.I pulled a pair of Mastiffs, a male and a female, out of a dog shelter in Connecticut, back in January.They had been left on a freezing night, tied outside the shelter, waiting for someone to stumble upon and discover in the morning.The shelter contacted me, since the staff was not comfortable working with a giant breed, so I stepped in.It was believed that the female had recently whelped a litter because she was still engorged with milk and huge, despite the fact that she was so very, very thin everywhere else.No one imagined that they would enter the shelter one morning to find Momma Lucie, as I came to name her later, tending four brindle Mastiff babies.Hours after the discovery, she had a fifth pup, just as healthy as the previous four.
Momma Lucie had whelped the babies all by herself on the cold cement shelter floor, removed them from their sacs, cleaned them, took care of the cords, and nursed them.That was a miracle in itself, but what one of those pups did 6 months later, was nothing short of another, even greater, miracle.
I picked up both parents and all five puppies when they were only a week old.The sire Mr. Big was neutered, fostered between my home and another for eight weeks, and finally adopted, to enjoy a wonderful life in a new home, where his beautiful temperament could be appreciated every day.Momma Lucie and her lil charges stayed with me for the following nine weeks, where I served as maid service, and tended to several laundry loads a day, not to mention the rigors of newspaper detail!!Momma Lucie was never protective of her babies, with me or my family or any visitors; she was a darling girl and welcomed any visitors.She even accepted parenting assistance from Mr. Big while he was still with us, her boyfriend who was the most gentle Daddy.Being spayed did nothing to stop her friendly, gentle nature and meticulous care of her babies.
When the time finally came for the puppies and Momma Lucie to go to their adoptive forever-homes, I watched each of them leave with tears in my eyes, especially Momma Lucie.Oh, how she had wormed her way into my heart!Even today, I tear up typing this because I can truly say, I've never met a more special girl.Parting with her was difficult, but I had three Mastiffs of my own, and it wasn't feasible to keep her.I knew what had to be done and that she needed a special family all her own, which is exactly what she got.I have stayed in close contact with all my adopters, receiving pictures, and going on visits, and even providing month-long puppysitting service while one of my families was away.
I imagine you are waiting for the next miracle I mentioned above, and I am sorry to be so longwinded; but it's hard to leave out the background information that helps explain how special this whole family of Mastiffs is.
One day, I received an email from Patsy, the adopter of Lefty, one of the male pups, telling me that Lefty had saved her son's life.She reported that she could hear him barking furiously from somewhere in the house, and he would not stop, even when she called to him several times and tried to shush him.He wanted her attention and he wanted it now.When he became more frantic, she went off to find him, and investigate what her 6 month-old puppy was up to.The barking seemed to be coming from an upstairs bathroom whose door was ajar, so Patsy called out, and when there was no answer, pushed the door open to find, much to her alarm, her adult son lying on the floor.Several months prior to this, he had become very ill and moved back in with his parents.She found him unconscious and bleeding profusely from his nose, with Lefty standing beside him, licking his face.The faucets were running, and the tub was about to overflow.
When I called to make sure Patsy's son was okay, he answered the phone and told me that he couldn't fathom how Lefty had opened the bathroom door.Since the door was shut, of which he was certain, Lefty could only have opened it by turning the knob!For Lefty to want to get into the bathroom at all was very strange, since he was almost always right by Patsy's side.The son had recovered, and both he and his mother were incredibly emotional about the whole incident, convinced that Lefty is an incredibly special Mastiff.The more they told me, the more I came to believe that this little hero somehow sensed the son was in trouble, and was intent on getting into that bathroom, just as he later became intent on insisting Patsy come to help.I also understand that after this incident, Lefty decided that Patsy's son's side was a more important side to be on, and he switched over, refusing to be called away, even for a cookie.
I am incredibly proud of Lefty, my hero, and his whole Mastiff family who are so special and doing so well in their new forever-homes. It was an honor to be a part of this.
(Ch. Beowulfs Bear Necessity x Beowulfs Inkomazie)
Ginel - Calebs Special Girl of Rydalmount
(Ch. Valley Views Caleb of Rydalmount x Ch Rydalmounts Divine Miss Em)
Both mastiffs owned and loved by Sandra Prokes and Holly Banig-Gardner
From Gloria Cuthbert
I thought I would tell you a true story that happened to one of my dear friends one day in February, 2006.
Sandy is owned by two mastiffs, Nigel and Ginel, whom she walks every morning separately.Nigel is a male over 2 years old, and Ginel is a female around 14 months.They live together in Cleveland, Ohio.
That particular morning, Sandy walked Nigel, put him back in the house, and then took Ginel for her walk.In front of her home, a young man stopped her to ask questions about Ginel.You know how that goes.They were the typical questions, like how much does she weigh, how much does she eat....Well, Sandy didn't think much about it, and was answering his questions.
Suddenly, the man jumped out of his car, tried to grab Ginel, and when Sandy wouldn't let go of the leash, he began beating her in the face.From the house, Nigel saw what was happening from the storm door, broke the door to get out, jumped on the man, and pushed him to the ground.He laid on the ground, while the man started beating him.Sandy threw herself over the man's arms so he couldn't beat Nigel anymore, somehow held onto Ginel, and called 911.The police were there in seconds, the man arrested, and Nigel a hero.
We all need to be aware of these corrupt people that are out there, and we also need to hear good stories of mastiffs.Nigel growled at the man, but never attempted to bite him.
I think this is both a warning to beware, and a wonderful story of a mastiff doing his job.