Snow Therapy

March 12th, 2020

Woolly Mammoth

Another long distance phone call from a much warmer place came again today. Typically, I am asked, “What have you been up to?” My answer for the past 4 ½ months is snow, snow and more snow. The Labrador translation is snow therapy. We hike in it. We work in it. And, most importantly, we play in it. If Bailey could talk, she would surely agree that romping through the snowbanks is a wonderful way to pass the time. And that is exactly what the two of us did in the afternoon. The woolly mammoth jumped like a bunny after her favorite ball. Her antics soon had me grinning and laughing. Others passing by in their vehicles seemed to appreciate a rather large bunny hopping in the snow for all to see. While the muddy season is beginning for those dog owners living in warmer places, I am thankful to still see the crisp white snow and a much cleaner dog. Our time will come but, not today.

Ball Is Here Somewhere


Newf and her ball


My Ball

Good Vibrations

February 26th, 2020

It’s funny after 5 years of living with Bailey that I only now learn about her loud snoring. Last week, my youngest son complained at breakfast that he had been kept up through the night by Bailey. A shared wall exists between his bedroom and the front entry room. Bailey prefers to lie alongside this wall with the metal door stop pressing into her back. It seems that Bailey, exhausted by two hikes on snow-covered trails followed by long naps in between, falls into a very deep sleep at night. Her snores vibrate her body which in turn vibrates the wall. My son’s headboard leans against this wall and it vibrates with each loud snore. Between the wall and headboard vibrations combined with Bailey’s noisy snorts, Cameron has not been getting enough sleep. When he first mentioned it, I stared at him in disbelief. To me, her soft, gentle snores lull me to sleep for an afternoon nap.  How could her loud snoring escape my notice? I have an earlier bedtime than the big girl. My mornings begin at 5 am, sometimes earlier if I am clock watching, and I reach the pumpkin hour at 9 pm. My lights are out at 9:30 pm which is when Bailey goes for her last business walk of the day with my husband. My bedroom is far enough away that I hear nothing from nocturnal stirrings of a Newfoundland dog. Usually, Cameron is also fast asleep before she breaks into the vibrating wall routine. A few late nights spent reading a book meant trying to sleep after Bailey was well on her way to orchestrating a symphony of loud snores. I suggested ear plugs to no avail. His solution was just to go to bed earlier than her. Our girl had found a way to convince the teenager in the house not to stay up late. In my mind, these are good vibrations.

The Salute

February 12th, 2020

Bailey is a grand master at communicating her desire for a chest rub.  It involves finding a victim strolling by.  Someone who would be drawn to her sweetness and huge cuddle factor.  Tonight, I was that person.  She made eye contact with me when I glanced her way.   At this point, Bailey slowly started to lift her front leg to expose her white chest fur.  She looked hopefully at me.  Who could resist the Salute?  So, instead of heading to the shower, I found myself rubbing her chest and tummy area.  If I started to slow down, the lifted paw would nudge me to keep going.  Contented, Bailey drifted off into another slumber and I made my escape by wedging her stuffie in the rub zone.

Start of Paw Lift (5)


Start of Paw Lift (2)


Start of Paw Lift (1)


Start of Paw Lift (4)


Start of Paw Lift (3)


Looking For Woodland Critters

January 29th, 2020


Looking For Squirrels

Another day of venturing into Bailey’s favorite snowy playground.  Squirrels and rabbits occasionally make an appearance to keep a Newfoundland dog’s interest.  Their tracks taunt Bailey to submerge her prominent muzzle into the snow.  It doesn’t matter how cold the weather is out, Bailey seeks out their scents.  Of course, she can’t go far.  A couple of feet off the packed trail and Bailey sinks like rock thrown into water.  It’s a worry for me if Bailey were to get stuck.  I would have to go in and attempt a rescue.  Who would rescue me?  As luck would have it, Bailey was content to sit on the trail and wait longingly for a woodland critter to appear.

Snowy Muzzle

The Payoff

January 22nd, 2020

Image result for canadian money twenty dollar bill

Walking Bailey at 6:15 am in the morning at -32 degrees Celsius was well-worth it.  Once we crossed over to the corner by the playground, I noticed my girl sniffing what looked to be a chocolate bar wrapper.  I was just about to say “Leave It”  when I saw the Queen (Elizabeth II that is) staring up at me.  It was a crisp, brand-spanking-new twenty dollar bill.  Much better than a penny, I thought.  Ownership was mine.  It pays to have a slow waddling Newfoundland dog who sniffs as we move up the street.  Unlike the quick pace of a retriever or husky, my girl takes her time.  Any attempts to hurry her along are high-jacked if Bailey catches a whiff of a tantalizing scent – usually, another dog.  My feet cool at subzero temperatures so she can get her mental stimulation fix.  I benefit as well from the slow pace.  I notice the shape of the moon more than I did before Bailey.  I like to hear the snow crunch under my feet.  The little things come into my view.  Today, it paid off.

It’s not like I never found money before while out with my girl.  Just last September, Bailey and I were returning back from an early morning walk.  A large tent often seen at beer gardens had been erected by the Town to shelter school children waiting for the buses in the large field across from our house.  The Town was undertaking an infrastructure construction project as the old water and sewer lines were being replaced.  Buses could not go down the street because the road was torn up so a new main bus stop was created.  The tent’s sides were not tied back as they normally were.  They had been untied and pulled across to keep the wind out and hide what had gone on inside the tent the night before.  As I neared the tent, one of the flaps was caught by the wind.  I saw something on the grass inside.  The two of us moved closer.  It was not just one thing but, many objects lying there.  Soon, I could see that the bus stop cover had reverted back to its usual function as a beer party tent.  Empty bottles were scattered under the tent.  It was a gold mine.  Out came the extra grocery bags used to collect Bailey’s poop and in went the bottles – 3 bags worth.  But, that wasn’t all.  Three new twenty dollar bills (probably just out of the bank machine) lay at my feet.  Payment for my clean-up efforts.  How considerate of the tent party-goers!

I don’t think it is likely that my money-finding will ever cover the cost of having Bailey.  Dogs, like children, are expensive.  The real payoff is the time spent enjoying our lives together.




Open Door Policy

January 15th, 2020

Open Door

Each night at our house, the front door is swung open at 9:30 pm sharp.  I stand there in my non-matching housecoat and pajamas, as the frigid northern air wafts in, waiting patiently for the entry room to reach the precise temperature that Bailey likes for sleeping.  Neighbors drive by and stare at me in my colorful night attire.  If I had more courage, I would wave back.  It takes a while to reach -14 degrees Celsius.  At least that is how it seems to me.  Bailey lets us know that she is ready to sleep inside the house rather than her large pen in the attached garage.  The shift usually takes place in October or as late as November.  She will stay inside to sleep on the cool ceramic tile in her temperature regulated room until April when winter shows the first signs of ending.  We keep the rest of the house at 19 degrees Celsius which is barely tolerable to keep her with us during the day.  Housecoats are commonly worn by family members throughout the day.  And so, on Monday night, I opened the front door after closing the interior glass door that separates the main living space from the entry room.  It was -49 degrees Celsius outside – not quite cold enough to keep students at home from school that day.  The room’s heat as well as my own quickly dissipated.  The temperature dropped with rocket speed to 12 degrees Celsius before I managed to get the door closed.  Somehow, the phrase “Shut the door.  Were you born in a barn?” seemed to be more meaningful to me.  Bailey soon returned with my frozen husband after her nightly business walk, muzzle covered in frosty snow.  Awake Bailey ChillingShe plopped down on her sheet with “Stuffie” nearby.  Stretching out, our northern girl released a sigh of contentment as I quickly headed to the warmth of my own bed.  The open door policy will remain well-established until it is replaced with the closed door policy upon the arrival of black flies.




Bailey Chills

Blood Sport

November 13th, 2019

For A Round

Occasionally, things can get out of hand when you play with a Newf. Bailey enjoys a good game of “Tug-O-War” with her humans. She puts everything into the game including her solid body. Digging her feet into the carpet while she leans her body back is one of her favourite techniques. The usual toy of choice is her soft “Stuffie” bear. However, sometimes Bailey will change things up by selecting her rope toy out of the basket. I have learned that the rope toy is a Newf’s source of torture. Bailey likes to shake her toys vigorously. A stuffed bear can do little damage to one’s body but, a whipped rope toy can take pain to another level. My husband soon found out that pulling on a rope with a Newf who is just as committed as he is to winning, might not be a good idea. The incident as I now refer to it started out innocently enough. Two opponents, who each had death grips on the rope toy, faced off with the intent to win. My husband had an arsenal of strategies that he draws upon. One was to lift the rope up enough that Bailey’s front feet became airborne. Another technique was to grab each end of the rope with Bailey pulling in the middle and lean back. To an observer, it looked like an arm row exercise. Most of the time, Bailey doesn’t let go. That night, she did. The outcome was that my husband’s closed fist and the rope rebounded into his nose. You OkayBlood began to dribble out of it, down his face and finally, onto the floor. Bailey, of course, was concerned and stuck her big muzzle in his face. This blood sport game was over.

The Great Pumpkin Crisis

November 6th, 2019

Pumpkin Patch

For the entire month of October, I felt like Linus, a character from the Peanuts Cartoon, waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive. I too was disappointed at the non-show of pumpkins in Labrador West. This year, unlike previous ones, was characterized by a pumpkin shortage here. We don’t have farms that one can go to and pick out a pumpkin. Pumpkins are imported in from Quebec or even further away. With only two stores in town that sell pumpkins, I kept my eye out for their arrival since the first week of October. I searched in vain for the elusive pumpkins on each grocery trip into town. My friend and I rely on pumpkins as a critical ingredient in our dogs’ diets. It is a vegetable rich in nutrients. The lack of pumpkins in the store was a major concern discussed on our daily hikes. October was the only time of year that pumpkins were brought in. We cook uncarved pumpkins, puree the flesh and can it so Bailey and Cas have enough for a year. The Saturday before Halloween, I was told to come back in the afternoon as the last shipment of pumpkins would be arriving. I found out on Facebook that the pumpkins had arrived 30 minutes after I reached home at 11:30 am and were sold out in 20 minutes. As Halloween drew nearer, I noticed an increasing number of Facebook posts asking if anyone had a pumpkin to spare. My husband even voiced his concern that without a carved pumpkin to advertise that we had candy to give out, would any children come to the door. I could see that a large number of children were also not going be carving pumpkins. It could have been a recipe for disaster. However, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are a very kind lot. Although many Martha Stewart wannabes had cleaned out each store’s supply of pumpkins to decorate their front doorways, they invited parents to come by and help themselves to pumpkins for carving. I decided to see if their generosity would extend to feeding two dogs.

And so, I found myself at the computer on Halloween Night. I was hopeful that by 9 pm, some people would be already thinking about decorating for Christmas. Perhaps, they would even be relieved about giving their sacred pumpkins to our cause. I posted on the local Facebook flea market page with a plea for 8 medium to large uncarved pumpkins for Bailey and Cas. I also put message to arrange pick-up. Thankfully, I had enough sense not to put our house address in the message. I pictured my husband unable to leave for work the next day due to a massive pile of dropped off pumpkins. Two minutes after hitting the post button, my notifications started going crazy. I went from having no pumpkins to quickly posting that I had enough (capping it to 16 pumpkins) and thanked everyone for offering. What I had not anticipated was the snowstorm moving up from Quebec. Friday morning was pleasant enough. However, as the afternoon progressed, the snow kept coming – quicker and lots of it. I was definitely not going to be picking up pumpkins on Friday evening. I messaged my pumpkin suppliers to reschedule for Saturday morning at 9 am and they agreed to keep the pumpkins longer.

After 2 hours of shoveling, the van could finally be driven. My husband and I showed up at the first place at 11:30 am. I noticed that the woman had messaged that the pumpkins would be on the back bridge. Now, I have lived in many parts of Canada and not heard this term. Did it mean that she had a bridge in her back yard and the pumpkins were on it? My husband who works with Newfoundlanders clarified that a bridge is another name for a deck. “Oh”, I responded as I got out and headed through the deep snow towards the backyard. I knocked on the back door when I didn’t see any pumpkins on the “bridge”. The husband answered and I asked about the pumpkins that his wife had offered. His face clearly showed that he hadn’t a clue about it. But, he reached down beside the door and grabbed two pumpkins – carved ones. I didn’t say anything and headed back to the van. I grumbled to my husband that the wife must have missed my request for uncarved pumpkins only. The next place was on the same street just further down. We pulled into a cleared driveway. At least, I would not have to wade through knee high snow. The wife had sent a photo of her 8 pumpkins sitting at her front door in the message to me. Where were they? I wondered if they might be on a back bridge. I knocked and discovered another husband with no a clue as to what his wife had agreed to do. He was a helpful husband who had, while clearing the snow from the outside entrance area and driveway earlier, decided to remove the snow-covered pumpkins and toss them into the rather large garbage bin. My disappointed face was enough for him to suggest that the pumpkins were the only items in the bin and I was welcome to help myself. And so I found myself dumpster diving for pumpkins. How I love my dog! The pumpkins were frozen and still in good condition. I handed off the pumpkins to my husband who loaded them in the van. As I got closer to the bottom of the garbage bin, I felt as if I might topple in. I envisioned my feet thrashing in the air as I plunged down all for a pumpkin. We left with my dignity barely intact. Thankfully, the rest of the places had the pumpkins out front awaiting pick-up.

We off-loaded 14 frozen pumpkins into the garage. My friend and I had secured a year’s supply of pumpkins. I checked my Facebook page and saw a message waiting for me. I had been given the wrong pumpkins by the husband at the first place. I guess the children there were upset that their carved pumpkins had been given away. The uncarved ones were sitting at the front door inside. I returned for them. As I added them to the growing pile of pumpkins, I was reminded of the Star Trek episode, “Tribbles”. It dawned on me that we had a lot of pumpkin to process. In previous years, we had the luxury of time. With frozen ones, I soon realized that processing had to happen immediately or the pumpkins would become soft and mushy. Cooking Pumpkin.jpgThe marathon began. Three days were spent scooping seeds, cutting, baking and pureeing. My portion of pumpkin puree filled five 4 liter ice cream pails. Even the seeds were kept and turned into yummy training treats by my friend who cleaned, dried and toasted them. By Tuesday, she asked if we had to start canning right away. I reassured her that the pumpkin puree could stay in cold storage until the weekend to give us a break before the next marathon. In the meantime, Bailey and Cas are loving their freshly toasted pumpkin seeds. I guess the Great Pumpkin arrived after all.

Washing The Rug Weight

The Look Of Betrayal

October 30th, 2019

As Labrador transitions from fall to winter, I find myself scrambling to get outdoor chores completed. The windows are pristine clean after removing the tiny eggs winterizing there from the efforts of this summer’s clover mites. The snow came early last year and the cleaning of the basement windows was left until this spring. A tactical err on my part after I discovering an invasion of very small clover mites intent on using each inside window sill as a place to set-up camp. So, I was motivated to get the “to do” list done. Today was our rug weight’s turn. Bailey was being bathed after a summer of romping through the trails, collecting a magnitude of items in her long fur coat. These excursions meant dousing our black fly allergic Newf with bug spray. At the end of the black fly season, Bailey is scrubbed and trimmed for the long winter ahead. My son, who was home on a PD day from school, joined me as we conspired to get Bailey bathed. At 9 am, Bailey was fed 1st breakfast. I quickly whisked her blanket to the washer and put down an old bed sheet in its place – a necessity to capture the falling fur. With a full tummy, Bailey was lulled into contentment. She patiently stood while I trimmed away at her tummy, ears, ruff, legs and rump. The only part not touched by the scissors was her tail. While once glorious with fluffiness, it was still recovering from a shave given when she was badly bitten by the pesky flies at the start of the summer. The first trim was over in 45 minutes. A potty break was next. I learned the hard way that Bailey likes to release her bladder in the bathtub. As I am often in the tub with her, my feet have been royally peed upon in the past. My son put on her harness – the one that she associates with rides in the van – and she headed out for a quick business trip.

In their absence, I readied the bathroom by tying back the shower curtain. Next, a drain screen was placed in the tub to capture the oodles of fur soon to be launched by my furry girl. The tub was lined with two rubber mats which seem to reassure Bailey that she won’t slip. Newfs are sensitive about floor surfaces. I covered the toilet and surrounding area with a large fleece blanket to make clean-up easier. I located Bailey’s puff to spread the shampoo throughout her fur. Finally, I finished up by squirting a small amount of shampoo into an empty bottle and adding water. Bailey returned and was soon suspicious when no van ride appeared. She entered the house under protest and attempted to head for her special blanket in the living room – now covered by a different one that can absorb the water from a very wet Newf. My son made a quick grab for the harness handle and I lifted her back end up off the floor. Bailey likes to dig her nails into the hardwood floor like a stubborn mule. You can see the nail gouges when the sunlight pours in across the living room floor. But, we love her and her nails were trimmed yesterday at the vet. Bailey was half carried into the bathroom where she found herself plunked down in front of the tub. It became quite apparent that she had no intention of hopping into the tub. Plan B was put into action. Cameron lifted the front end in and the two of us struggle with her rear. She was in and I felt ready for another coffee. But first, my girl must be soaked with water and lathered up with shampoo. It is not an easy task. Newfoundland dogs have fur designed to repel water. The shower wand was challenged to say the least. What I needed was a fire hose! I started with the head, ruff and front legs followed by the back and stomach. The rear was left to last. Throughout the ordeal (and it was an ordeal), Bailey and I battled over trying to keep her wet. Almost DoneShe is a habitual fur shaker which adds to my challenge of getting her fur really soaked. In her defense, Bailey is pretty good once she gets into the tub. She is not tempted to jump out of the tub. I think she really likes her bath and the accompanying towel rub. By 11 am, we were done.

Bailey left the bathroom like a rocket launching into space after a quick towel dry. I followed seconds later with another towel to finish the job only to have found myself too late. Bailey had shaken herself with such force that the loveseat, framed Bateman print and the wall that it hung on were now dripping with droplets of wet dog. I dried her anyway. She nuzzled me as if to say, all was forgiven. The extra treat might have helped. Bailey was exhausted. I, on the other hand, had 4 loads of wash to do, a tub to rinse and stuff to wipe down. NappingBailey snoozed through it all. It really is a dog’s life. The two of us headed out later in the afternoon for a final trim and brush down. Lucky for me, Mother Nature took care of the drying and disposal of fur.




A Forgiving Rug Weight