May 23rd, 2017
Today, 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.
- 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.
- Food is meant to be shared. Try enjoying anything edible with a Newfoundland dog staring at you and not share.
- No one gets left behind. Bailey will wait for the slowest person whether you want to or not.
- Naps are important. I don’t feel guilty about a couple of naps during the day anymore.
- Drink lots of water. A 5 gallon water bucket provides the perfect amount for Bailey. Hearing her guzzling water reminds me to rehydrate myself.
- Don’t be afraid to explore. Bailey has brought out my adventurous side.
- Take time to smell everything. Nothing gets by Bailey.
- A little encouragement goes a long way. A simple pat or word can make Bailey’s day.
- 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.
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.
May 2nd, 2017
Our 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.
April 25th, 2017
The day started with Bailey and I switching places. She was enjoying banana and apple slices while I stood by watching each morsel being swallowed and wishing for a taste. How I hated the yearly blood work that requires 12 hours of fasting along with restrictions on the last meal. You see, I had my annual physical exam on Monday. Today required that I show up at the hospital’s lab for the drawing of blood. When I reviewed the requirements yesterday at 4:55 pm for the fast, I discovered that dinner needed to be fat free if eaten after 5 pm. The brown rice and vegetables were fine but, the sausages sizzling away in the oven were not. I was really looking forward to those apple and cheese sausages. Everything was cooked by 5:30 pm. I ate my portion of rice and vegetables. I tried to ignore the fragrant smell coming from the sausages quickly being devoured by my sons. Life is so unfair! Even though I do not make it a practice to eat in the evenings, I found myself drawn to the kitchen only to open the fridge door, make a sigh and quickly close it. I checked the list again – no beverages after 8 pm. Even a glass of water was not allowed. I went to bed.
I woke up at the usual time and began the morning routine of preparing Bailey’s “bobbing treats”. She returns from her morning outing and eagerly anticipates dunking her muzzle into her water dish to retrieve sunken banana and apple chunks. The two of us split a banana and she gets one section of my apple. It has been our routine since Bailey was a few months old. The smell of the banana made me almost pop a piece into my mouth before I remembered about the fast. I bagged my portion of the fruit to be enjoyed later after the blood work done. Even so, Bailey had extra pieces to bob for. I could only stand to the side with her drool cloth in hand and wait. Her banana breath did not help me to get my mind off food as I stooped down to wipe her. We skipped the long lake walk. I could not imagine going out at -24 degrees Celsius in howling winds without that first cup of coffee and fruit. Bailey was okay with the shorten stroll. I read until it was time to make breakfast for the boys.
I had been awake for 2 hours with not a thing to eat or drink. My willpower was beginning to wane. The boys had requested scrambled eggs and sausages – not usual school day breakfast fare at our house. However, there were extra sausages leftover from dinner. My sausages….. Like any good mother, I granted their request and cooked up the stuff. As I began serving, one of my fingers came in contact with a sausage. Without thinking, my tongue darted out to lick my finger. It was tasty and I contemplated having a small piece of sausage. My son asked, “Mom, are you supposed to be eating?” “No, I’m not”, I mumbled. Rats, I had been caught counter surfing. I turned away from them and continued to lick my fingers. I turned back around, grabbed the plates and delivered them to the boys. Bailey sat beside me as we starred longingly at them. In the end, Bailey was rewarded with a plate lick. I had a taste of what Bailey must go through at meal times as she waits in the kitchen hoping for leftovers or at the very least, a lick.
April 11th, 2017
If you want good teeth then you have to take care of them. Everyone in the family brushes their teeth. In Bailey’s case, I do the brushing and she keeps her mouth open. We first used toothpaste bought from the vet for Bailey. However, we switched to homemade toothpaste after a friend found a recipe that was designed for dogs. Bailey loves the taste and brushing is only complicated by her tongue trying to lick it up. We finished the last of it on Monday night. So, after tonight’s dinner, my son made up another batch in 5 minutes. It had firmed up enough to be used when Bailey and I had returned from the nightly waddle. The recipe is quite simple to make.
It only needs two items – 6 tablespoons of coconut oil and 4 tablespoons of baking soda – to make 85 ml of toothpaste. The supplies needed are a 1 cup glass measuring cup, a piece of plastic wrap to cover the top of the measuring cup, a tablespoon, a spatula and a 250 ml Mason jar. My chemistry-loving son measured the coconut oil into the glass measuring cup and covered it with the plastic wrap. He melted the coconut oil in the microwave for 50 seconds. Once the coconut oil was fully melted, he added in the 4 tablespoons of baking soda. Next, he stirred the mixture with the spatula. The toothpaste mixture was ready to pour into a 250 ml Mason jar. The toothpaste firmed up after 20 minutes. After labelling the jar, I was ready for the real test – cleaning Bailey’s teeth. My fingers gently pulled back her jowls. Her tongue went into overdrive the instant that the toothbrush touched her teeth. She was definitely going to endorse this toothpaste given the loud slurping sounds emitting out of her mouth. We finished in record time. No more unpleasant doggy breath coming from our tropical girl. Aloha!
April 4th, 2017
As I am doing Bailey’s nightly groom, it occurred to me that I had become a farmer. I engaged daily in the watering, feeding, exercising and tending to anything else that would improve my black beastie’s life. My farming efforts were paying off. Bailey has been producing enough fur to fill three quarters of a plastic grocery bag each night since mid-February. Clearly, I had found my calling – the cultivation of fur. She is still blowing her undercoat after 6 weeks. When it first started, I wondered what kind of dog gets rid of her fur at temperatures hovering around -40 degrees Celsius. I was putting on more layers. But, I guess Bailey knew that the days were getting longer and the excess dense fur needed to go. It’s like a Newfoundland dog’s take on spring cleaning. The fur supply is endless.
I return to the task at hand, brushing out the undercoat. I imagine better things to do with this fur than toss into a bag. The velvety soft undercoat could be used as stuffing in a duvet comforter. Or even better, I could knit Christmas sweaters using sheared off fur for the boys. It gives new meaning to being made with a renewable resource. I chuckle thinking about my sons starting a new fashion trend. Reality sets in. I don’t have time for such activities. I’m a farmer which means my time is spent on raising a Newfoundland dog. I get up at the crack of dawn to be greeted by my tail wagging girl and spend the day cultivating fur.