No Room At The Inn

July 18th, 2017

Cameron & Tristan with Bailey at Chippewa Falls

As I mentioned in last Tuesday’s blog post, we had just returned from an epic 6,000 km road trip.  We covered a lot of ground in the course of 16 days which meant seeking out dog friendly hotels.  Thankfully, the internet makes searching simple.  I went with a certain pet friendly hotel chain and booked their properties in the places that we would be stopping overnight.  The first two Comfort Inns in Quebec City and Cornwall were familiar to us from last year’s trip to Peterborough, Ontario.  Bailey came with us to attend a beginner carting seminar given by the South Eastern Ontario Regional Newfoundland Dog Club.  Both inns allowed us to access our room from the outside.  They provided quiet, grassy areas for Bailey to explore and ultimately, to do her business on.  They were good fits for our giant sweetness.  The rooms were spacious enough that Bailey could stretch out on her special blankets next to the air conditioner.  She was not thrilled with the hotter temperatures outside and sought refuge by the cooling unit as soon as she entered the room.  With her water and food dishes nearby, Bailey saw no need to move off her blankets.  For such a large dog, Bailey’s presence went unnoticed by staff and guests.  I can’t say the same for the yappy pooch at the end of the hall.

Hoping For Ice CreamBy the time that we arrived in Peterborough, Bailey was embracing her new vagabond life.  Things were somewhat different at this Comfort Hotel. Bailey had to go through three doors and across a slippery tiled floor before getting to the carpeted hallway leading to our room.  She did not like it at first.  But, none of the hotel’s rooms had their own exterior door.  Our gal adapted quite quickly and was soon handling the tiles without any hesitation.  The hotel staff gave a doggy welcoming kit and seemed unfazed with having such a big dog on the premises.  We did have to pay an additional charge for bringing a pet at all of the places up to this point.  We expected it.  After 4 nights without any incidents, Bailey was back on the road with us on the way to Sault Saint Marie in Northern Ontario.

We pulled into the parking lot at the Comfort Inn late in the day.  By now, my sons and Bailey knew the drill.  They waited while I staggered tiredly into the hotel to fill out the paperwork.  I returned to drive the gang to their new cave for the night.  Usually, I would have the exterior sliding glass door already unlocked to aid in unloading our gear as fast as possible.  This place was no different.  However, I also wanted to get Bailey inside with no one getting a close glimpse of her.  Why, the sudden covert action?  It became apparent upon checking in that not all of these chain’s hotels share the same pet policy.  This one accepted up to two pets that did not exceed 50 kg.  As I stood at the front desk and read this part of the pet check-in contract, I wondered if one pet who was slightly over 100 kg would qualify.  Would I consider a few pounds over my normal weight to be a big thing?  No, unless it was bikini season.  The only good thing was that Bailey had actually lost 10 pounds from having a bout of diarrhea two days before our trip and had yet to gain it back.  Did the contract mean that one pet could not weigh more than 50 kg or both pets combined had to be less than 50 kg?  I did not to ask for clarification.  In my mind, Bailey was just the weight of two pets.  I rationalized it to my tired self and decided that Bailey was legit.  Since I had not confirmed Bailey’s status with the front desk clerk, I thought it best to minimize sightings of our big girl.  Not an easy thing to do when your dog looks like a young adult black bear in hunting country.  Bailey seemed a little bewildered with me.  I herded her quickly past people standing outside in the parking lot on the way to finding a secluded place for Bailey to relieve herself.  Bailey is social.  Seeking out people is what she likes to do, not avoid them.  It seemed to me that Bailey was determined to make me cool my heels for not allowing visits while she found her “spot”.  I was relieved that the night went smoothly even if I hardly got much sleep.  The van was repacked and loaded for the final leg of our trip to Thunder Bay.

Cameron and Tristan with Bailey at Rossport on Lake SuperiorI was really looking forward to getting more sleep and an opportunity to stay in one place for a few nights.  It was not to be.  Our reservation had three us in a pet friendly room with only one bed.  There was hardly any room for Bailey and me, never mind two teenage boys.  It was a mistake but, one that could not be easily fixed.  The Canada Day long weekend was coming and no other pet friendly rooms with two beds were available.  The boys ended up with their own non-pet room on the second floor.  When I made the original reservation, I was told that for an additional charge, Bailey’s size would not be a problem.  The contract presented to me at check-in stated otherwise.  We would be sneaking her in again through 4 heavy doors, past a washer and dryer that may be in use to the room that was located just around the corner from the front desk.  It was go to be a very long night.  Then, the skies opened up and the rain came down heavily.  Bailey hates being out in heavy downpours – so much for hiking during the day.  I shuddered to think of Bailey shaking her wet fur with enough force to coat the room in water droplets.  As a result, I spent the night tossing and turning while Bailey panted heavily.  The air conditioner had stopped working at 12 am.  I knew that moving out was the only viable option.  So, at 7:30 am, I began phoning around for another pet friendly motel.  I scaled back my expectations of an on-site laundry facility, fridge, microwave and included breakfast.  I found a couple of local motels who would accept our oversized gal.  They just were full up for the long weekend.  No room at the inn so to speak.  Rats!  I moved on to plan C – boarding kennels.

It is true that good things can come out of unpleasant situations. I contacted a kennel that specializes in large and giant breeds – Greer Newfoundland Dogs Kennels.  I called and Fay Greer listened to my sad tale.  She encouraged me to come out with Bailey and tour the facilities.  You see, they had room at their inn.  My son and I arrived with Bailey to find 192 acres of stunning beauty.  Fay walked us around and introduced us to her own gang of Newfs.  She had been a member of our Newfoundland dog club in South Eastern Ontario before moving north decades earlier.  Now, Fay was a member of the Northwestern Ontario regional club in Thunder Bay.  I learned that the world of Newfoundland dogs is indeed small.  It was the perfect place for our gal.  The kennels were roomy with access to a large outside pens.  Bailey would also have supervised outings in the barn and large fenced area. I realized that Bailey was not going to your typical kennel operation.  She was being left at a retreat for Newfoundland dogs.  It was hard to leave her.  I kept looking over my shoulder only to realize that Bailey’s spot on the van’s bench was empty.  To ease my guilt, we returned each day to take her out for a daily walk followed by afternoon tea with Fay and her husband.  Our family enjoyed getting to know this exceptional couple who shared a love for Newfoundland dogs with us.  Travelling is complicated with a giant breed such as Bailey.  Despite our accommodation difficulties, Bailey’s presence on vacations has cultivated new friendships with like-minded people who love their canines.

Bailey Posing With The Wawa Goose


The Unexpected Souvenir

July 11th, 2017

Bailey & Donna at Terry Fox Monument in Thunder Bay2

Home at last.  My annual escape to civilization has come to an end as of last Thursday.  But, it was quite a vacation – 16 days and 6,000 kilometres.  We celebrated Canada’s 150th birthday in Thunder Bay, Ontario after stopping in Quebec City, Montreal, Cornwall, Peterborough and Sault Saint Marie.  Bailey joined us on this epic journey as she and I participated in a Rally-O course offered by the South Eastern Ontario Regional Newfoundland Dog Club.  I was planning on writing about the course until tonight’s grooming session revealed an unexpected souvenir.  Be forewarned, the photos are graphic.  Stomach-turners for people like me.

I was just finishing up with my sweetness when I decided to have one more run of the rake through her ruff underneath the left ear.  Something caught my eye and I bent down for a closer look. At first I thought it was a piece of wood in the shape of a corn kernel that Bailey must have got lodged in her fur on one of today’s hikes.  Nope…  For a second, I imagined it was the start of a tumour.  It moved.  Without thinking, I pulled the insect off.  Blood gushed out of a bubbled up piece of angry red skin.  I was trying my best to keep my recently eaten dinner down. All of us bring back souvenirs to remember our travels.  I just wasn’t expecting Bailey to have her own “special” one.  My suspicions suggested it was a tick.  Labrador is still considered to be a tick free zone.  Bailey’s passenger must have hopped aboard somewhere on our trip as we marvelled at the beautiful landscapes.  Thankfully, our gal had received a preventative treatment for ticks and other unwanted critters before we left.  Her next one is due in two days.  I retrieved a baggie from the kitchen and used the comb to flick the bug into the bag.  Captured & JailedOn further examination, the bug was tan in colour and the size of my middle finger nail.  Was it a tick?  I decided the situation required a second opinion. I called my hiking partner who lives around the corner and explained my predicament.  Her husband and she arrived quickly with IPad in tow.  Despite Bailey’s overly enthusiastic greeting, we managed to settle her down enough to examine the wound site.  The mystery bug was confirmed to be a tick.

While waiting for them to arrive, I pulled out the new shaver that I had bought for Bailey’s paws.  I managed to put aside my queasiness.  Then, I removed some of the fur surrounding the wound bulbous to not only get a better look at it but, to find it.  The Wound SiteEven with it shaved, it took a few minutes for me to locate it again.  It was not surprising that Bailey’s long guard hair and thick undercoat provided the perfect cover for the tick.  I scrounged around for my magnifying glass and took a more detailed look.  This tick was the first one that I had seen in real life.  Hopefully, it is the last time.  Bailey would have to go to the vet tomorrow to make sure that she was alright.  I realized that she had been tousling with her best bud, Cas, on numerous occasions since getting home on Thursday.  He was going to have to be thoroughly examined as well.  My friends left knowing what my cheerful news meant for them and Cas – an extended grooming session and possible tick prevention treatment.  Bailey, her souvenir and I have date with the veterinarian in the very near future and a second tick prevention treatment in two days.  We avoided several tourist traps on our road trip hawking over-priced souvenirs.  Who knew that Mother Nature had her own souvenir trap waiting for us?


Study Buddy

June 13th, 2017

The end of the school year is almost here.  But, Bailey’s boys must first get through a week of final exams that started on Monday.  Test anxiety can be a little much for even the most studious students.  Bailey is quite willing to offer her “study buddy” services to alleviate such stress.  She offers a few options.  Clearly, one of Bailey’s favourites is sprawling on her backside – tummy side up – in the hopes that a needy student will stumble upon her and feel compelled to vigorously rub a neglected belly.  I have walked by on numerous occasions to observe my newf spread eagle with a kneeing son running his fingers through her thick undercoat.  Bailey is obviously enjoying every minute given the happy grunts radiating out of her mouth.  Her “study buddy” is also benefiting from this symbiotic relationship.  I see the stress disappear as his face lights up with a smile.

Bailey also provides comedic relief to loosen the tension in household.  She is still wearing her special panties in the aftermath of the dreaded UTI (urinary tract infection) because Bailey truly enjoys wearing them.  I haven’t the heart to put them away yet.  That being said, my sons crack up with laughter at the sight of Bailey prancing through the house once she gets them on after being outside.  She has a number of laughter producing antics such as whipping her “Stuffie” bear back and forth with enough force to make a loud thud as it comes in contact with the side of her head.  The boys can’t stop themselves from chuckling.  I have come to realize that dogs are natural clowns.

Study BuddiesSometimes, Bailey’s presence is all that is needed.  She is really good natured about the boys using her as a pillow to prop themselves against as they study.  The warmth radiating from her belly has a calming effect much like a mug of hot chocolate does after a cold ski outside.  With the stress greatly reduced, my sons can give their complete attention to studying for the next exam.  Listening is another tactic of Bailey’s.  She is content to sit or lie down while one of her boys talks to her.  A nuzzle against the hand encourages her “study buddy” to continue.  My sons do not have to worry about Bailey interrupting.  She has all the time in the world for her guys.  High school finals are unavoidable.  However, having a Newfoundland dog as your own personal “study buddy” can improve your mood.



Rustic Gal

June 6th, 2017

Bailey is a well-groomed Newfoundland dog because of her nightly brushing.  However, I admit there are times when I see photos of show groomed Newfs and wish Bailey had a more professional look.  She’s a true country girl – bushy all over with bits of stray grass and sand peeking out of her fur.  The polished image that I imagine for her is clearly a fantasy.  I have not found a local groomer who would be willing tame Bailey’s unruly mass of fur.  As a result, I am left to tackle this task myself.  Oh, I watched the videos on Youtube that demonstrate grooming techniques for Newfoundland dogs.  These people make it look so easy.  You think to yourself, I should be able to manage it.  That’s a laugh…

Trimmed EarsTake Bailey’s ear trimming for example.  I have only done it twice since she came home with us.  My first effort reminded me of the 70’s bowl haircuts.  Back in those days, most parents trimmed their kids’ hair.  Beauty salons were not places that children went for haircuts.  Most of my classmates were subjected to their parents’ clipping and snipping.  It was like a bowl was placed inverted on your head and they cut the hair hanging below the rim.  Hence, the cut was referred to as the ghastly “bowl cut”.  Nobody seemed to mind too much because all of us came to school with either lopsided bangs or shaved heads.  I seem to recall that my mom started taking me to a beauty salon after my blonde hair turned a light green colour from the chlorine in the swimming pool.  My hairstyles suddenly became a lot more flattering.

Bailey’s not so fortunate.  Last week, I could no longer ignore the scraggy hair surrounding her ears.  She was due for an overhaul.  My skill level had improved very little as I tackled trimming her ears for a second time.  The more that I tried to blend, the more choppy it became.  Bailey didn’t care.  She was happily snoozing on her side as I lifted the visible ear flap up.  I wondered what the other Newfoundland dog owners would say about her look at the South Eastern Ontario Newfoundland Dog Club’s Rally-O seminar – only 19 days away.  It would be highly unlikely that Bailey’s classmates would be sporting a similar look.  They had access to large dog groomers or their owners have the opportunity to learn from experienced Newfoundland dog owners.  I am hoping that she will standout for her ability to follow commands rather than as a living example of my poor grooming skills.  Bailey is not bothered by her new look even if I think her stylist needs to find another career.


Life Lessons Learned From A Newf

May 23rd, 2017

Life LessonsToday, Bailey and I worked on prepping the yard for planting.  The boys were back at school after a long weekend.  I pulled out weeds leftover from last summer and trimmed the pussy willow stalks growing ever closer to our lupine beds.  Bailey watched me.  I wondered if she could be convinced to haul the branches to the pile accumulating at the back of the yard.  Somehow, I didn’t think she would leave the comfort of her grassy spot.  None of the tasks involved much concentration on my part.  My mind pondered over what to write in this week’s blog post.  Then, it came to me.  I have learnt a few things from hanging around with Bailey. Here are a few life lessons learned from our Newfoundland dog.

  1. A new friend may be just around the corner.  Bailey is always on the lookout for new friends.  According to Bailey, you can never have too many friends.
  2. Food is meant to be shared.  Try enjoying anything edible with a Newfoundland dog staring at you and not share.
  3. No one gets left behind.  Bailey will wait for the slowest person whether you want to or not.
  4. Naps are important.  I don’t feel guilty about a couple of naps during the day anymore.
  5. Drink lots of water.  A 5 gallon water bucket provides the perfect amount for Bailey.  Hearing her guzzling water reminds me to rehydrate myself.
  6. Don’t be afraid to explore.  Bailey has brought out my adventurous side.
  7. Take time to smell everything.  Nothing gets by Bailey.
  8. A little encouragement goes a long way.  A simple pat or word can make Bailey’s day.
  9. Leave a little of yourself behind.  Even when Bailey’s not with us, we find dust bunnies made of fur (Bailey bunnies) or drool streaks to ensure that we never forget her.

As much as we teach her, Bailey has her own lessons to share with us.


Sending Out A S.O.S

May 9th, 2017

Dogs have their own language and.  Like most dog owners, I try my best at interpreting what Bailey is saying.  Bailey is not much of a verbalizer.  Oh, she’ll let out a few woofs if someone comes to the door or a strange sound is heard.  So, it is the non-verbal cues that are telling.  I can see how obvious the signs were that Bailey had developed a urinary tract infection now.  Last Wednesday, I noticed a few droplets on the fur of Bailey’s inside back legs while grooming her.  I just assumed it was some of the apple vinegar solution that I use for cleaning.  No, it wasn’t.  My oldest son, who has the responsibility to take her out for the last business trip of the night, mentioned that she had not gone.  He came in saying, “She pretended to go by sniffing, digging and finally, squatting but, did  nothing.”  The next night, he made the same remark.  I was dense.  Bailey was doing her best to communicate her distress.

By Saturday, I noticed as Bailey got up from a sound sleep that there was a wet spot on her blanket that covers the living room rug.  I went down on my hands and knees to smell the spot.  I wasn’t sure.  The blanket got washed anyway.  Further evidence was found on Sunday.  Bailey fell asleep in the front entry.  Two slightly pale yellow spots boldly showed up on the white sheet lying over the front entry door mat to capture debris tracked in by our Newf’s gigantic paws.  The light bulb went off.  I suspected our girl might have UTI.  Out came the special “panties” with a sanitary pad inside to help capture any pee leaks.  She was thrilled to see her “panties” that had been fashioned from an old pair of my husband’s underwear.  Thankfully, I kept one pair when the rest were thrown out after Bailey’s last heat.

Monday morning, I went to fetch Bailey from her pen for the first business trip of the day.  My nose told me that she had already gone.  Bailey’s pen has untreated concrete for the floor which meant much of the urine had soaked in.  There was no saving the rug that Bailey slept on.  I was going to be scrubbing the floor for a long time.  With a physiotherapy appointment scheduled first thing, I wasn’t going to get to it until later in the day.  As luck would have it, Bailey was scheduled to see the vet on Monday at 4 pm.  She was getting her nails trimmed and being vaccinated before our trip to South Eastern Ontario.  I called the vet in the morning to add on another thing to the list.  I was told to collect a pee sample and get it to the office within an hour after taking it.  Fortunately, Bailey was due for another trip outside.  She produced the sample with little difficulty.  I dropped it off at noon and headed out to find something waterproof to protect the floor of her kennel.  I eventually came across rubberized runners that could be cut to size.  I returned home to spend the entire afternoon cleaning her kennel down.  Then, with the help of my son, we put the mats down and sealed the seam with duck tape.  I put in a fleece blanket for Bailey to sleep on and should she pee, it would wick the moisture away from her body.  The vet visit resulted in confirmation of Bailey having a UTI.  She was prescribed 3 pills of antibiotics every 12 hours for 10 days.  Given her size, the vet only had enough for 5 days which means picking up the remaining pills on Friday.  For the moment, Bailey gets taken out every hour and half throughout the day.  She has had no accidents inside.  Her kennel only took 10 minutes to clean once her blanket was removed for washing.  Bailey is quite happy to have her rump washed down on a regular basis as long as her “panties” are put back on.  Our girl sent out numerous S.O.S alerts and we finally heard.  Lesson learned.


Granting A Newfie Wish

May 2nd, 2017

Snowflake WishingOur girl, Bailey, has been somewhat out of sorts as of late.  Every time that she ventures outside, the amount of snow on the ground has been shrinking.  The recent warming of temperatures has contributed to its disappearance.   I would not be surprised if Bailey has been wishing for more snow.  I don’t think there is a Newfoundland dog out there that does not love the white stuff.  Tonight, she received her wish from Mother Nature.  Exiting the garage, we were greeted by soft snowflakes floating down.  Bailey, who had been lethargic about street walking, suddenly was bursting with energy.  She had spring in her step.  Her head was high as she pranced across the field, through the parking lot, up the street to the snow-covered trail.  I think it’s her best look.  Snowflakes sprinkled randomly on her shiny black coat.  She plopped herself into a sit and seemed to savour the moment.  Bailey was in heaven.  I haven’t the heart to tell her that in a few weeks, the family will be leaving the north to travel to South Eastern Ontario.  There temperatures will be in the high twenties or thirties on the Celsius scale.  She pants at -2 degrees Celsius.  Thankfully, Bailey will have the benefit of being kept cool with air conditioning.  She has a reprieve from the heat for now.  The weather forecast says a couple more days of falling snow.  It won’t be too much snow.  Just enough for Bailey to know that wishes sometimes do come true.