November 21st, 2017
Everyone in our household has experienced being dragged by Bailey since bringing her home. Other Newfoundland dog owners have shared their own unfortunate drag stories with us. There’s comfort knowing you are not alone. As she matured and became better trained, these unpleasant incidents became less frequent. But, once in a while, Bailey will take us by surprise. Last week, I was shocked to learn that my walking partner had such a mishap with our girl. It’s no longer only a family affair. We were hiking our usual trail route in the afternoon and had just turned around at the end of the second sandpit. The numerous snowfalls combined with the lack of snowmobilers to pack the deep snow down made going further impossible. My knee was acting up again from slogging through drifted snow over the past few days. So, we turned back, knowing that our two dogs would be short-changed on distance. They were just happy to be off-leash. We watched as they chased and tackled one another. Perhaps, we got too comfortable with the status quo. The two of us became engrossed in our conversation when suddenly it was interrupted.
Cas, an almost 50 pound lab/husky cross, barked and took off up the side of the sandpit towards the road overlooking the area. He leapt over the snow with grace. What had caught his attention? To our horror, he was heading towards a lady and her two dogs who themselves were off-leash. Our dogs are not allowed on this road which is used by snowmobiles going at high speeds. Cas and Bailey lack any road sense. Before I could get Bailey back on leash, she was eagerly chasing after her pal. My friend tried to reassure me that Bailey would not get far up the steep embankment covered in deep snow. She was wrong. Our girl was not going to let an almost 70 degree angled slope discourage her from reaching Cas and his newly found friends. No matter that she stands forever in front of our two wide steps leading from the garage into our home’s entry area. I often wonder if she is waiting for me to lift her. A nudge or two usually does the trick and she clambers up. Obviously, this steep slope didn’t deter her. Bailey bulldozed her way through the snow. She was determined. I blew the whistle to no avail. Both of us realized that they were not coming back anytime soon. My friend volunteered to climb the slope to get them. But, I knew the two dogs would be a handful especially when one of them is an excited Newfoundland dog. She began trudging up the embankment.
I decided to go back where we had come from and work my way over to the road. Then, if the woman continued on her walk with Bailey trailing behind, I could meet up with them. Since my knee surgery last year and almost an entire year of physiotherapy exercises, I have not regained the ability to move fast. I attempted to speed walk which became impossible through the deep snow. With a grouping of densely packed trees between me and the entourage of dogs, I lost sight of what was happening. I cursed Bailey and my bad luck as I huffed and puffed along. I stumbled a few times sideways which did not help my knee. Each step became more painful. Yet, my concern for the dogs drove me to continue. I finally reached the road and saw that the woman had waited. Although I could not hear what was being said, I noticed that Bailey had responded by sitting down in front of my friend. By the time I arrived, everything seemed under control. I apologized to the woman who seemed unfazed by the whole experience. We were lucky. My friend was leashing her dog as Bailey looked up at me, pleased with herself. I struggled to leash her as she tried a last ditch attempt to get to the other dogs. The lady finally moved on with her two dogs. I could tell that Bailey was disappointed that the fun was ending.
My friend filled me in on what had happened in my absence. She had made it up the hill with some effort. For safety reasons, she decided to use her leash to restrain Bailey. My friend is like a second mother to Bailey and didn’t want to risk her getting in the way of a snow machine roaring by. Unfortunately, her leash is attached to her waist – not a problem with a smaller dog. However, it is a cardinal rule never to tether a Newfoundland dog to one’s body. She soon found herself flopping on the ground behind Bailey who was eager to be a part of the dog crowd. The fact that she weighs a few more pounds than Bailey made no difference. My friend could not stand her ground. I reminded her that Bailey had no trouble dragging my husband who is much heavier than Bailey. I remembered that the lady had her phone out when I got there. I hoped that the sordid incident was not recorded to become a viral sensation on the web. My friend assured me that Bailey’s indiscretion had not been filmed. Whew!!! She had managed to get herself up and using a very stern voice, commanded Bailey to sit. Thankfully, our girl listened. The whole event has shown me that more training is needed. For now, Bailey will always be our “Drag Queen”.