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.
Sometimes, 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.
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…
Take 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.
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.