February 6th, 2018
The family found themselves in the dark without power on Saturday night. It was to be our family night of watching the pilot episode of Deep Space Nine, part of the Star Trek World. Our boys had been too young to watch the series when it originally came out. They have grown up to become Science Fiction fans like their parents. We decided to give the entire 9 seasons in DVDs for Christmas to them. The plan was to spend our Saturday nights as a family watching a couple of episodes. Saturday was our first night and we were looking forward with anticipation to the experience. A dinner of appetizers was enjoyed earlier followed by taking Bailey out for her evening walk an hour before her normal time. We were showered and clad in fleecy sleepwear. Bailey was groomed and lying stretched out alongside the sofa as she performed her night time job of being a rug anchor.
Everyone else was comfortably settled in their staked out areas. The show began shortly before 7 o’clock. We were hooked that was until 30 minutes later. The worm hole suddenly appeared on the screen and suddenly everything went dark. Had we been sucked into a black hole? Nope! It was unplanned power outage – the last one was about 2 weeks ago on another movie night. Could the timing be any worse? Our area was under an extreme weather warning as the temperature dropped to -47 degrees Celsius that evening. One can’t help wondering if the power would return before the water pipes burst. Our house is always kept at 19 degrees Celsius for our gal’s comfort. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for the house to cool off. It’s always a concern when the power goes out during extreme cold weather periods.
The four of us were stunned for a moment before my youngest son sprang into action. He retrieved his flashlight (one of many that he owns) and then proceeded to get the Coleman lantern from the kitchen. I wisely bought one in the fall after years of numerous power failures. It was the third time being used. He had it on and our living space was lit up to allow the rest of us to move safely around Bailey. While we complained about the sad turn of events, Bailey remained unaffected. Her evening wasn’t ruined. She was still going to get her precious shut-eye and tummy rubs. I think she instinctively knew that more rubs were coming with our options being rather limited. My eldest son was soon stretched out beside her, trying to absorb a bit of her warmth as he stroked her fur. Life was treating our sweetness pretty well. For the next 2 hours, the power went on and off six times before everyone gave up and went to bed. Bailey didn’t seem to mind the unusually cooler house than normal. Power was finally restored before midnight and another family night was sabotaged as far as we were concerned. Bailey, on the other hand, thought it was a wonderful night of pampering.
January 30th, 2018
At the start of the weekend, three family members were taken down by a nasty flu bug. Activities planned had to be cancelled as we realized that this health crisis was not going to be a 24 hour thing. I still managed to get Bailey out for her early business session followed by a longer walk around 8:30 am. By the time that the two of us arrived back home, I was sapped of energy. Other family members had to step up to the plate for the remainder of Bailey’s outings – I wasn’t going anywhere. The sofa became my sacred place. The open concept floor plan meant I could easily bark out instructions for meals for those family members who still had the desire to eat. I only needed to wave my teacup for refills. With a sore throat and swollen glands, I drank a lot of tea and convinced my husband that cappuccino yogurt ice cream would do wonders for my achy throat. Bailey didn’t seem worried about exposing herself to my germs as she willingly licked my ice cream bowl. Given the possibility of future licks, she was content to lie alongside the sofa and keep me company.
Besides a sore throat, I was plagued with the typical flu symptoms. The most annoying was my runny nose. I could not stop the flow despite taking cold medication. It just kept coming. I stockpiled a clump of tissues in the pocket of my robe to deal with this unpleasantness. I awoke from napping on the sofa and realized my nose had become a leaky faucet again. I desperately needed a tissue or two. I struggled to get my arm under the blanket that was tightly wrapped around me to get them. Bailey sat up to see what I was doing. I imagine she thought some food might be involved. She leaned towards my face as she often does for nuzzling purposes. I expected her cold nose to push up against my cheek. I didn’t expect her big tongue to lick the gunk dripping out of my nose. Did she think that I was dripping out ice cream? I wasn’t sure if I should be thankful or grossed out by her clean-up lick. Bailey reminded me of a mother using her spit to clean-up a child’s face. I pulled the tissues out of my pocket although they weren’t needed urgently now. My girl looked at me as she licked her lips and waited for her praise. I am feeling better now and Bailey isn’t waiting at my side to administer a loving dose of nose wipes.
January 24th, 2018
Bailey will be three years old tomorrow. I keep wondering, “Has it been that long?” I only have to look back on Big Dog in the Big Land’s 115 blog posts to get my answer. Bailey is now fully grown. We do not expect that her height and weight will change unless she gets fat. With three daily hikes, our girl is not likely to lose her svelte figure. She has become our dream Newf. Each blog post is a reminder of her presence in our lives. Writing about the big girl has expanded beyond the blog.
Having Bailey allowed us to join not one but, two Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada’s regional clubs – Southeastern Ontario and Northwestern Ontario. Through these clubs, we have met others who share a love for the breed as well as helpful advice, humorous stories and encouragement. Every member of our family reads these two regional clubs’ seasonal newsletters – The Gentle Giant News and Newfie Tales. We also contribute articles about what life with Bailey is like for us. These publications are produced by two hard working newsletter editors, Marion Letts and Fay Greer. They do a superb job of reminding members to send photo and written submissions, gathering this information and putting it into a pleasing layout format for the membership. We appreciate their volunteer efforts to keep members connected. Living far away in Labrador, these newsletters help us stay in touch. The write-ups on courses given have inspired us to try introducing Bailey to new activities such as carting and Rally-O. But, the best feature is the photos of owners spending time with their Newfs. You can see the strong connections that this breed has with people. Each newsletter issue that arrives in our mailbox celebrates the best that this breed has to offer. Extra! Extra! Read All About It!
January 17th, 2018
Since Friday, Bailey has been part of a dog trio consisting of Cas, herself and newcomer, Maya. My walking partner found herself looking after Maya for five days when her family had to unexpectedly leave town. Maya, a husky-cross like Cas, livened up our daily walks. Cas was a bit blasé about this new gal as he regularly walked with her during the non-winter months. She was staying at his house which had allowed him to get reacquainted with her again. Bailey had never seen Maya but, was certainly eager to make her acquaintance. You never know how someone else’s dog is going to receive your enthusiastic, overbearing Newf. Maya quickly showed that she could hold her own with the “big girl”.
Bailey’s first approach elicited a low growl from Maya. At six years of age, she was not going to tolerate any shenanigans from these young pups. Cas had already tried and given up when he was growled at by her. Bailey was only slightly deterred by Maya’s lack of invitation to sniff her. I decided it was best to keep Bailey behind the other two dogs as they were tethered together by a splitter lead. I soon realized that Maya lifted her leg to pee like Cas. Bailey was oblivious to the potential danger of being hit by a yellow stream. We kept our distance by walking a few paces back of them. Dogs that have husky in them have stamina to walk quickly and go for long distances. Newfoundland dogs have bursts of energy but, seem quite content to waddle leisurely most of the time. With Maya in front of her, Bailey was enticed to pick-up her pace. As a result, I had to speed up as well. Maya’s upward pointing tail exposing all of her privates to my gal was like a carrot to a stubborn, hungry mule. I was amazed how fast Bailey was moving to catch up with the other two dogs. For Bailey, all of the usual distractions paled in comparison to this newcomer. Even a nibble by Cas on her floppy ears did not distract Bailey from honing in on Maya. She was watching this older gal closely. A few times, Bailey caught up to Maya and walked side by side with her. Soon, the two females were urging one another on as each of them tried to move ahead of the other. This scenario played out the same way for the first couple of days.
On the weekend, my husband took Bailey out for the afternoon hike on the trail where the dogs get coveted, off-leash time. Maya was getting more comfortable with Bailey and allowed a few sniffs. Bailey wanted more, of course, and my husband had to prevent Bailey from badgering poor Maya. Eventually, Bailey focused her attention on Cas and they resumed their usual rough and tumble playing. Maya looked bewildered by their antics in the snow as she stood patiently beside my friend. Another day went by and Maya was beginning to warm up towards Bailey. My husband observed just the slightest wag of Maya’s tail as Baily approached with her usual, seemingly endless enthusiasm. The old girl was finally starting to warm up to her big, black furry pest. The pack of two had managed to adapt and Cas, oblivious to the fact that two older girls were competing for his affection, was left wondering what all the fuss had been about.
January 2nd, 2018
A cold snap hit parts of Canada as the New Year approached. I could not help wondering what the big fuss over these “cold temperatures” was about. Here in Labrador, we survive under more frigid conditions. The morning of Christmas Day, I awoke to -42 degrees Celsius outside. My friend and I still went out with our dogs for not one but, two walks. Our husbands took the two furry pals out for the evening stroll. Bailey and her pal, Cas, were not in the least bit tempted to forfeit these outings. In a few days, the temperatures were hovering in the minus twenty range. It was quite pleasant if you were dressed warmly. Watching the antics of Bailey and Cas as they played in the snow was enough of a distraction for us to forget about the cold. I won’t pretend that the extreme cold here is better than the moderate climates enjoyed by southern Canadians. The majority of us in the North embrace living life to the fullest even if it means putting up with cold. We entertain ourselves through the long winter months by hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, skating and snowmobiling.
Dogs like Bailey and Cas encourage us to seek outdoor pursuits even in harsh temperatures. In Labrador, it was business as usual.
December 13th, 2017
The snowstorm warning was posted on Tuesday. Labrador West was expected to receive 30 cm of snow between Wednesday and Thursday morning. On Wednesday, the students were sent home at lunch. Bailey was thrilled with the unexpected early arrival of our eldest son. We decided to wait out the storm by holing up in our warm home. Bailey and I had just returned from her midday walk as the snowflakes began to fall and the wind started up. By 4 o’clock, it was time to take our gal out. Our unfenced yard meant that one of us must accompany her on outside excursions. I drew the short end of the straw so to speak. With some reluctance, I left the coziness of my fleecy blanket and the couch that I had been lying out on. Bailey waddled over to the door once she saw I was serious about going out. She had been snoring happily alongside the couch. But, it was time. Dinner hour was soon approaching and our girl needed her business trip.
I opened the garage entry door to be greeted by a howling wind and snow flurries. Gosh, how I wanted to return to the couch. My misery did not dampen Bailey’s reaction. She plunged into the snow with enthusiasm. The coolness of the snow melted against her hot paws. Bailey was designed for the winter environment. I was all about the business – get it done quickly and go home. I was a real kill joy in Bailey’s eyes. She had other ideas. She decided that staying outside longer might be fun. As I started for the door, Bailey seemed to be missing from my side. I turned around and found her sitting in the snow bank. I could tell that Bailey wanted to stay. Perhaps, I should have given in. I called to her instead. Bailey stayed put. I moved towards her. I grasped her collar and tugged her towards the door. My boots hit a slippery patch on the walk. Down I went, almost doing a face plant in the snow. Rising up, my snowflake-covered girl slipped a wet tongue kiss across my cheek as if to say, “Are we having fun yet!” Bailey was enjoying her winter bliss.
December 6th, 2017
It’s that time of year again, the writing of the annual Christmas card. Although I was once diligent about sending out cards in a timely fashion, the last decade has been a dismal failure. Each year, the cards that actually get into the mail have dwindled to immediate family only. I think there was one year that even they didn’t receive cards from us. Yesterday, the draw holding the Christmas card supplies revealed my sins from last year. My husband is the one who writes in the card – each one individually composed. I am responsible for writing a letter filled with news of our lives. I hung my head in shame when I pulled out several completed cards with photos inside and addressed envelopes. They were still waiting for the newsletter that was never done. Perhaps, I suggested to him in his shock, we could just send these ones now. A perfect solution until my husband brought the date written at the top of a card to my attention. It’s hard to change the six in 2016 to a seven. Rats, a great idea wasted. My response was for him to discontinue with that practice from now on. So, I am hoping to make a fresh start going into this holiday season.
In my imagination, Bailey would be transformed into an elf. Like Santa’s elves, she would be willing and capable of tackling our Christmas cards. Her tongue would be perfect for licking the envelopes after all. A simple paw print would be sufficient for a signature. Who knows what our sweetness would say? Jolly Old Saint Nick is lucky to have elves to do his bidding while he gets to indulge on cookies and milk. Sadly, our Newfie elf is limited in her card writing repertoire skills. I am left with the task. But, it was nice to dream.