November 14th, 2017
Someone is in the “dog house” and the cold shoulder treatment by Bailey doesn’t seem to be fading quickly. Something happened at our house that has never occurred since getting Bailey as a 10 week old Newfoundland puppy. At 9:20 pm, Bailey is always let out into our attached garage for a drink of water. Our girl is a creature of habit and looks forward to guzzling about half her water bucket. Afterwards, she is taken on the last business stroll of the night at 9:30 pm. My husband is once again home with us after working at a mine site in Ontario. He resumed this nightly ritual for the past two weeks until Sunday night. I can’t really blame him because he went out later in the evening to shovel snow. Labrador West had been under winter storm conditions since Friday night. It left us with lots of snows drifts due to 96 kph winds. He came in and Bailey was let out for her water. The other members of the family turned in for the night and he bade us goodnight. He returned to working on the newspaper’s Sudoku puzzle before heading downstairs to catch up on computer work. In his mind, he was finished for the night.
I rose up at 5 am on Monday morning as usual. I soon noticed that the outside front door light was still on. Although unusual, it has happened before that we forgot to turn it off. I went about my chores – one involves putting Bailey’s towels and sheets away. As I was placing a sheet to capture Bailey’s fur snowballs on the front door entry rug, I noticed light coming through a tiny crack in the attached garage’s door frame. I thought it was odd. Normally, Bailey sleeps in her garage kennel with a nightlight on and the main lights off. Clearly, my husband had forgotten the lights. Then, my eyes fell to the deadbolt. It was unlocked. The situation began to slowly dawn on me. Bailey had not been taken out since 5:30 pm on Sunday night. I wondered if her iron bladder could hold it for the last 12 ½ hours. From the scent that greeted me as I opened the door, Bailey had failed.
I found her lying outside her kennel and a large puddle seeping into the cement wall and underneath the rubber flooring. It wasn’t her fault but, I could tell that she was upset about peeing in her kennel. Thankfully, my husband was sleeping. I had time to cool off as Bailey was quickly whisked outside much to her relief. We returned and I noticed her water bucket had only an inch of water remaining. She had filled herself up to the max. I sopped up the pee pooled on the rubber flooring in the kennel. I was thankful that I had procrastinated with cleaning her kennel on the weekend. Snowshoeing on the local cross-country trails seemed more inviting to me. Now, I had an incentive to wash the walls and flooring down after a very wet and muddy fall. It was going to be a bigger job than normal because the rubber matting had to be pulled out. The job could wait until I had my second cup of coffee followed by the daily morning hike with friends.
As I sipped my coffee, my husband came out to say good morning. I summarized “my morning” to him. I knew he had not done it intentionally. We agreed to tackle dismantling the kennel when I got back. But, he was feeling guilty. I seized the moment to request crepes for breakfast upon my return after the hike. When I arrived back, the kennel was dismantled, the boys were fed and hot crepes were waiting for me. All was forgiven by me. Our girl was another story. Bailey didn’t go to him like she always does with her tail wagging. She remained lying down and ignored him. Bailey was miffed and the cold shoulder treatment wasn’t stopping anytime soon. Tonight, Bailey showed some signs of warming up to my husband as he scratched under her chin. I don’t think Bailey has to worry about him forgetting about her again. She’s better at working the guilt than I am.
November 7th, 2017
Our girl had her first sleepover party. She lives in a singleton dog household. So, it should not come as a surprise that Bailey was excited about sharing her turf with another four-legged friend. It was a test run. We wanted to see if her best pal, Cas, would be comfortable staying with us. If so, he will spend 3 days and 2 nights at the end of November while his owners are away. Both families were curious to see how the two dogs would behave while spending the night together. Friday night came and the pals enjoyed their nightly playtime at the ball field. They seemed a little confused when both of them returned to our house. Since Cas was familiar with playing in our garage, we let them chase one another around. Our friends tried to quietly sneak out with no luck. Cas was on to them. They did finally manage to squeeze out the door without him. Thirty minutes of active play appeared to work at tiring the two pals out.
Bailey peeked out of her kennel pen to watch me groom Cas including doing his teeth and ears. I couldn’t believe how quick it was to groom him. Cas is a short-haired black lab/husky cross, weighing in at just under 50 pounds. Everyone in our family has picked Mr. Light-As-A-Feather up and marvelled that we could. Our days of carrying Bailey ended long ago. I think around 5 months. Bailey is hefty and needs two people to heave her into the bathtub. My husband pulled his shoulder on the last occasion. Needless to say, she doesn’t get bathed inside very often. Once he was finished, Cas scampered into the house from the garage. He was preoccupied with the new scene and took little notice of Bailey flopping down in the entry area for her nightly spa treatment. He scouted out the kitchen and spotted the heavenly smelling roaster before trotting back through the dining area to the living room. A glass door separated them so Bailey could enjoy her groom without distraction. She snored happily as I brushed out her coat. Cas pressed his muzzle up to the one of the glass panes, eager to see his pal. The few whines that escaped from his mouth did not register with our sleep comatose girl. It wasn’t until she was flipped over onto the other side and facing towards him that Bailey realized Cas was in “her” house. She jumped up quickly, a rarity, and charged to the door. I called her back to finish grooming – another 30 minutes passed before the sleepover could get into full swing.
Bailey barrelled into the living room, ready to play and tussle. I squashed that idea with a simple, yet sternly given command of “down Bailey’s blanket”. She stretched out alongside the sofa. With his playmate out of commission, Cas resigned himself to laying down in front of the loveseat. We began watching a movie which was interesting but, Cas had other plans. Several whines and a couple of quickly interrupted howls of misery from Cas later, Bailey gave him the “stink-eye” as if to say, “Just go to sleep. It is way past my bedtime.” The situation reminded me of a sleepover where there is always one child who refuses to go to sleep much to the disgust of those wanting to sleep. He settled down for a while but, started whimpering again after half an hour. We tried to reassure him but, Bailey, sensing her friend’s distress, moved closer to nuzzle him. Her efforts helped greatly and he relaxed. Around 9 o’clock, they were taken for one last business break before returning to the kennel. Bailey was wagging her tail at being locked in with Cas. Cas appeared shocked that he would be spending the night with his big, woolly mammoth friend. The two friends peered out from the kennel at us, illuminated by a nightlight. “Good night”, we said as the garage door closed. I slept fitfully as I dreamt of what Bailey and Cas might get up to. I need not have worried. They were fine. Both of them were wagging their tails in anticipation of going outside for an early morning romp. My son and I got them ready and headed out for a walk around the block. Once the walk was completed, I gathered his stuff up and walked him down to his house for homecoming celebration meal. I returned without him and Bailey needed no encouragement to lie down. She made it as far as the front entry rug before crashing. It would appear that not a lot of sleep took place at the party.
October 25th, 2017
It is funny how one discovers features on electronic devices. Way back in the good old days before the internet, these items came with written manuals. Nowadays, you are lucky to get a pamphlet explaining operational features because most manuals are found on-line. I learn best when I see it in hardcopy rather than on a screen. So, I never figured out how to use the special features on my digital camera. What usually happens is that I have just taken a photo and suddenly a screen appears offering options. I don’t have a clue as to what button was pressed. On the viewer screen, the photo has been enhanced using techniques like fish bowl or paintbrush. I sometimes like the effect and manage to save it, although I couldn’t tell you how. As luck would have it, I snapped a recent photo of Bailey and the paintbrush option came up. Bailey’s photo was transformed instantly into a watercolour portrait. The reality is that she would never have posed long enough for me to paint her. That’s assuming that I could paint and I can’t. Technology offers hope to those of us who lack artistic talent. This photo of our sweetness won’t adorn a big city gallery wall. However, as a screen saver, she is greatly admired by her adoring fans.
October 17th, 2017
The north is often associated with the call of the wild. In our house, it is the “Call of the Butter Wrapper”. Bailey can be in a deep sleep, more or less dead to the world, oblivious to anything going on around her. Suddenly, she bolts up at the sound of the wrapper being peeled off the butter block. No matter how quiet that I try to be, her ears are genetically-trained to hone in on this noise. Bailey is quick to make her way to the kitchen in the hopes of licking the wrapper clean before it is no longer available. There was a time prior to Bailey’s arrival when I saved these butter wrappers by storing them in the freezer. They accumulated faster than I could use them to grease baking pans. Nowadays, the stash is non-existent due to Bailey’s insistence of licking them clean.
Today was no different. I spent the latter part of the morning making pumpkin raisin muffins. Butter was needed in the recipe. So, out came the butter. Bailey was sleeping belly up and barely on her blanket. She was exhausted from her morning trail walk and romp in the snow with dog pal, Cas. The crinkle of the wrapper awoke our butter enthusiast from her slumber. By the time I had unwrapped it completely, Bailey was waiting with drool pooling on the floor. I pulled down the dishwasher door and placed a towel in front of it to minimize the clean-up. Her tongue darted out and within seconds, the wrapper was spotless. Of course, I had the task of wiping the drool from her muzzle, ruff, and legs. Bailey headed back to her still warm spot on the blanket and settled in for more Zzzs.
I have discovered only recently that Bailey’s mellow yellow passion extends beyond butter. As I alluded to in the post, “Breathing Down My Neck”, Bailey was attracted to my face. The source of her fascination was my new shea butter lip balm. Since wearing it at the start of September, this balm has become somewhat of a challenge to keep Bailey’s tongue at arm’s length away. The recent cold weather and snowfall has meant that I am applying the balm on my lips daily. I am usually in close proximity to our “licky lips” newf – bending down to wipe her paws, putting on her collar and grooming her. The opportunities to sneak a quick taste are numerous. I have resigned myself to being slimed on some of these occasions. I have no idea what these two butters have in common but, our gal clearly loves both of them. I can’t help wonder if opening up a butter wrapper on the trail rather than blowing a whistle might elicit a faster response time to the “Come” command. One of these days, I will have to put this idea to the test.
October 10th, 2017
The Canadian Thanksgiving holiday weekend has now past. Our waistlines are slightly larger after days of feasting. We celebrated on Saturday night, a day earlier than the family normally does. We invited friends to share in the harvest bounty with us. The layering of smells began on Friday with the making of the partridge berry sauce – the North’s version of cranberry sauce. By Saturday morning, I had flaxseed dinner buns baking in the oven. Some family members were disappointed to learn that the smell of fresh buns was all that they could enjoy. I specifically clarified that every bun had to be accounted for at dinner – no sampling. It was a difficult feat for my bun-loving crew to perform. The next smell to permeate the house was the cooking turkey complete with garlic-flavoured stuffing and roast potatoes. I almost forgot to make the wild rice with dried apricots. Fortunately, I remembered with just enough time to spare. By late afternoon, I had prepared the steamed broccoli and could take a well-deserved break.
Bailey was not oblivious to these wonderful smells lofting through our home. Her muzzle was on high alert in case any tidbits found their way onto the floor. She flopped herself down in the kitchen which forced us to step over her to get to the other counter. Bailey was well aware that a turkey dinner meant a night of licking plates and the glorious roaster. Our friends were bringing their own contribution to the meal in the form of partridgeberry apple crumble as well as butternut squash lentil stew. Their arms would be full so we decided to divert disaster from Bailey getting underfoot as she gave her own special Newfie greeting. Bailey was fed her usual dinner fare in her kennel, located in the attached garage. Bailey didn’t seem to mind as she followed her food dish being transported out there. However, she certainly realized the state of affairs when the doorbell buzzed and the voices of her favourite visitors were heard. She woofed as if to say, “Don’t forget about me?”. Clearly, Bailey had found herself on the wrong side of the door. Dinner was ready and people were hungry. Our girl was without an invitation to the feast which the rest of us enjoyed.
Between the smells and voices, our girl plotted her invasion. Our tummies needed a break before sampling dessert. One son began clearing the table and I loaded the dishwasher. My husband worked on serving the dessert. Things were going well. I asked my youngest son to take the pop cans to the garage for recycling. Bailey was patiently waiting until my unsuspecting son opened the door. She suddenly charged past him before he could stop her. “Let her in,” I called. After all, she had been good. Bailey circled each person that she encountered on the way to the kitchen – slobbering and whipping her tail back and forth. As she went through the living room, I heard my eldest son exclaim that Bailey smelt bad. I asked for clarification from the kitchen and was told it was a poop smell. I am not quite sure who suggested that she might have stepped in poop while playing with my son in the backyard before dinner. A quick thinking person opened up the living room windows and sliding glass door. Our girl had successfully stunk up the house. When Bailey arrived in the kitchen, I caught a whiff of her aromatic scent. I was rapidly losing my appetite for dessert. Bailey soon found herself being escorted back to the garage. Her smell lingered a bit longer even after her departure. Ironically, our sweetness did not appear to have poop anywhere on her fur after a quick look. She would need a thorough exam later. Bathing Bailey seemed unavoidable at this point. I pushed that thought out of my head for the moment. Our party once again sat down at the table to sample the fruit crumble. Of course, it was delicious despite the recent mayhem.
The last of the dishes were placed in the dishwasher and the remaining food was put away. My friend and I prepared our dogs for the nightly walk. Try as I might, I could not find the source of Bailey’s pungent odour. The nightly grooming session was my last chance to solve the mystery. As I lifted up her tail to brush underneath it, I heard her. My girl had gas. I had forgotten about the chopped up broccoli stalks in her dinner. I had given a very generous portion to her. Bailey had contributed her own festive aroma to our Thanksgiving Day celebration. It was a ripper of a good time.
September 26th, 2017
The harvesting is done and the freezer is bulging with berries, rhubarb and herbs. It was time to turn my attention to preparing the yard for winter. I felt a sudden urgency when today’s forecast showed minus temperatures and a strong possibility of snow. True, the snow won’t last for long. Labrador West can always count on a couple more weeks of autumn-like weather. I decided to tackle the flower beds and raised garden bed first. The bonus of waiting until cooler temperatures is that the black flies have gone. I left my bug hat in the garage. I realized that Bailey could finally join me in the backyard without fear of being eaten alive. She happily wagged her tail as the two of us made our way to the lupine bed. Thankfully, I had cut down the stocks over a week ago which made weeding a lot easier. While I dug and pulled a number of different weeds, Bailey sat beside me. I could see she was enjoying herself. Bailey sniffed the air. She looked and listened to the activity in the neighbourhood and forest behind us.
Then, I heard the sliding glass door open. I continued to work. Bailey was no longer looking over my shoulder. I noticed her hot breath had disappeared. As I turned to see what had captured her interest, I discovered my teenage son with a camera in hand. I was a bit annoyed. Here I was on my hands and knees working like a dog while another dog supervised and no teenage sons in sight. Where had I gone wrong? I muttered something about loyalty and family duty. The only response that I got from my son was “Smile”. It turns out that he was studying and noticed Bailey looking over my shoulder as if to say, “You missed a weed.” He felt the moment needed to be captured on film. I couldn’t help but, smile. I knew it was the shea butter balm on my lips that had attracted Bailey. She was trying to get closer in case it warranted a lick. We took a break to be photographed before turning back to the job at hand. By the end of the afternoon, the beds were weed free and neatly edged. The work and fresh air had exhausted us. The only thing left to do was lie out on the couch with Bailey stretched out alongside it and rest.
September 19th, 2017
In my head, it was the perfect place to take the perfect photo of Bailey and her human pack. The execution of this plan was not so perfect.
Last month, we became official members of the North Western Ontario Regional Newfoundland Dog Club. You may be wondering why at this point. Labrador is a considerable distance from Thunder Bay where this club is located. However, this situation will be changing for our family. Adam, head of the clan, accepted a position at a mine near Thunder Bay last November. The boys, Bailey and I will follow once the house here is sold. In the meantime, our family decided to join this club with the hopes of becoming “active members”. Adam has already attended a BBQ social in August as well as the recent chiropractic therapy workshop. He misses being around his sweetness. Having an opportunity to hang with the other members and their giants is appreciated by him.
We are newbies to the club. So, it did not come as a surprise to receive an invitation to submit a bit of a bio and a photo of the family for the seasonal newsletter, “Newfie Tales”. The request sounded simple enough. Sunday afternoon was sunny after a run of rainy days. I wanted an outdoor shot highlighting our Labrador autumn. My walking partner agreed to take the photo. The family and Bailey loaded up in a very warm van and headed down to Jean Lake which is just below our house. It is a favourite walking area for us. We clambered out at the boathouse and made our way to the floating dock. Bailey was panting at this point with drool starting to drip. Rats! I forgot her drool rags. A quick wipe with the backside of my coat sleeve did the trick. I just needed to remember not to expose it when the picture was taken. Bailey was not put off by the swaying of the dock, although I was. The family got into position with Bailey front and centre. It was at this point that I realized things were not going to go well.
Bailey was clearly hot and the water was looking inviting. She was facing a huge, lake- sized water bowl. With each passing minute, Bailey was getting more difficult to keep under control. Our girl wanted to dip her paws. I should have known that a black, long haired Newf would not enjoy sitting in the sun. If that was not enough, my friend had brought her dog, Cas, and husband. Bailey loves spending time with both of them. They waited behind us – closer to shore. Bailey kept trying to turn her head to see what they were doing. Once Cas began calling to her, I knew the photo shoot was doomed. A series of snaps were taken before we decided to abandon looking into the sun. The brightness of the sun caused the photos to be overexposed and, our eyes were half shut from squinting. We moved to a new location which proved better with respect to the sun. However, the dreary storage shed behind us spoiled any hope of showcasing how beautiful Labrador West is at this time of year. We moved again. Bailey wanted to bolt. She was tired of the photo shoot. Cameron tried to appear casual as he struggled to keep her still. If I did not know better, the photos seem to show him throttling her. By this time, the black flies had decided to join us. Smiling casually while being devoured is an acting feat that I have never mastered. Still, we persevered on to capture the “perfect” photo. The fifteenth shot was deemed okay and we called it quits. Perfect or not, we were done….