By Lawrence Machado
AUSTRALIA’S biggest and one of the most gentlest dogs, Baron, is no more but his legend will live on. The very popular Old English mastiff, who weighed a mind-blowing 127kg in his prime, touched the lives of thousands, including those in aged care homes and schools, during his six short years.
When Hills To Hawkesbury Community News broke the story of Baron’s illness in our August 5, 2020, edition, there was an outpouring of support for him. The much-loved local suffered from an very aggressive form of cancer, osteosarcoma, which could not be treated.
Distraught owner Mark York said they were forced to put Baron down on December 6 after his health deteriorated, around six months since he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Two days later, Mark’s mother, who also lived in the Hills, died suddenly aged 89.
Mr York said the family grieved in private and are still struggling to come to grips with his Mum’s and Baron’s deaths.
“It has been very tough for us, first losing Baron and then my mother,” said Mr York, whose two close friends also died recently.
The Yorks now have an English bulldog puppy, Dolly, to keep their other gorgeous dog, Chelsea, company.
“Having Dolly around gives us something else to think about because she is a lovely little dog,” Mr York said. “She won’t grow as big as Baron for sure.”
The Yorks found out Baron had one of the most aggressive forms of cancer last July, when an X-Ray diagnosed he had osteosarcoma.
“We were told he may have just a few weeks to live and I cried for weeks,” Mr York said at that time. “It was particularly hard on my wife Dorothy because she had cancer herself.”
The Yorks started a GoFundMe page for Baron’s treatment after his diagnosis, raising more than $13,000. Many people were touched by his story, with one donating $1000. Baron was the fifth English mastiff in the York household, with the previous one, Zac (110kg), living for 11 years. Baron became a legend of newspapers, television and magazines and worked for nearly five years as a therapy dog, visiting the elderly at SummitCare in Baulkham Hills and students at Pennant Hills High, Guildford Public School and Lalor Park Public School.
Though his size was intimidating, the award-winning Baron was a gentle soul. I got to know Baron and his family well after the affectionate canine made an appearance at a Castle Hill dog show in 2016. It did not take me long to love the beautiful dog, who, if he was standing on his rear legs, would have towered over me at a staggering 201cm (6 foot 6 inches) or 9.5 hands in horse terms. The heaviest Ole English mastiff in the world was reported to be an American-owned dog, who topped the scales at 127.5kg