March 13th, 2019
It was too inviting out to stay inside looking at a screen. Bailey and I opted for an outdoor adventure.
March 13th, 2019
It was too inviting out to stay inside looking at a screen. Bailey and I opted for an outdoor adventure.
February 26th, 2019
It’s true that my teenage son still enjoys the childhood pursuit of dress-up. Today, our Newfoundland dog was the recipient of his efforts. My son had been sent to retrieve Bailey from her garage kennel where she was finishing her dinner. Upon entering the house, he decided that the towel used to wipe her big paws was better suited to being a shawl. Drawn by his laughter, I peeked into the entry way to find Bailey sitting with the towel wrapped around her head and shoulders. Her beggar in disguise attire was accompanied with a look that suggested “Treats for the Hungry”. I joined in the laughter which soon attracted the attention of my husband. The three of us shared a few thoughts as to who Bailey resembled resulting in more chuckles. Some thoughts are not for public consumption. Bailey, being a good sport, took all the attention in stride and sat waiting for her paw wipe. Once the laughter had subsided, our beggar girl was ready for a treat.
February 19th, 2019
Another day of extreme wind chill is enough to convince me that moving south might have merit. Even Bailey needs no encouragement to return home after a quick business tour outside. We are greeted by a tropical fragrance permeating through the house. It is coming from the kitchen. The two of us are eager with anticipation. For the last couple of days, I have been dehydrating dozens of bananas. They have been transformed into chewy, bite size banana chips. Yummy is the only way to describe them. Bailey and I are addicted to them. So much so that yesterday’s batch has magically disappeared. But, today’s batch is now done and ready to fuel our addiction. Neither Bailey nor I can eat just one. Their one ingredient, bananas, means their consumption involves little guilt. The only guilt that I feel is not having any left for the other three family members. Bailey doesn’t share in my guilt. Her motto is “Let’s eat until there is nothing left.” I tried to smuggle a few extra banana chips into my mouth without my partner in crime noticing. Somehow, Bailey seems to know that five chips into my mouth and one into the container doesn’t add up to a lot for her. She kills the moment by leaving a drool pool on the kitchen floor. It’s time for a location change. Bailey practically trots beside me without a second thought to the slippery hardwood flooring or the dreaded wall heater that she passes. Some days, Bailey will pace on the living room carpet as she gathers her courage to find safe passage to the kitchen. Today was not that kind of day. She raced by me and sat herself down in front of the sofa. I didn’t intend to share 50/50. But, between her begging eyes and the drool, I’d say that she conned me out of ¾ of them. It was the breakfast of champions – gluttonous addicts with no shame. So, although the wind howls across the snow packed yard, Bailey and I have found refuge in our tropical oasis as we happily bond over banana chips. I see another batch of them on the horizon.
January 30th, 2019
This morning, Bailey and I ventured outside to more pleasant temperatures. The previous weekend had been shrouded in extreme windchill warnings which put a damper on Bailey’s 4th birthday. The thermometer showed -36 degrees Celsius at 6 am. But, by the afternoon, it registered -14 degrees. Warmer temperatures meant more snow. The front yard was cleared in the morning. My husband and I turned our attention to working on shovelling out the backyard. My assignment involved cleaning off the deck, stairs and patio area. Bailey waited patiently – happy to lie out in the cool, fluffy snow. It didn’t take too long before I was throwing the ball to the delight of my big girl. From there, we progressed to “Hide ‘n Seek”. Bailey stays sitting while I find a clever place to hide. The whistle is then blown and the challenge is on to find me. I hide behind the garden shed or duck alongside the raised bed. Bailey loves this game as she is treated with dried sweet potato pieces upon my discovery. I move further away and provided some confusion for her as I disappeared around one side of the house only to return by the other side. Bailey still found me. I can’t say that my clothing helps me to blend into the white landscape. I always wear a safety vest when taking Bailey out of the yard and it is just become a habit. It clearly stacks the game in Bailey’s favour. We also practiced our carting and Rally-O commands in between games. Our last game was Tug. As the name suggests, Bailey and I engage in a tug-o-war over her rubber, double handled Kong. I have learned to lie out on the snow in order to improve my chances of winning. Bailey never seems to tire of this game. I begin losing more than I win. Bailey celebrates getting the Kong away from me by whipping it from side to side as she shakes her head. After an hour or so, I am done. Bailey is not. I am reduced to lying out on the snow, watching the snowflakes fall as my girl stares at me in disbelief. She tries to convince me with the nudge of the Kong to continue the game. Not a chance…..
January 23rd, 2019
With the arrival of extremely cold temperatures, Bailey and I have found ourselves spending more time inside. It doesn’t seem to bother her. She is content to just nap. An intervention was needed. While cleaning out holiday decorations, I came across a container of plastic Easter eggs. I got thinking about ways to use them. One idea was to create a “Shell Game”. I took 3 eggs and selected one to hide a salmon treat inside. I sent Bailey to the entry way before placing the three eggs out in the living room. Bailey scurried in upon hearing, “Find the egg”. She sniffed the first egg but, quickly ditched it (no treat inside). Then, Bailey moved to the next one. This one held her interest as she snuffled and snorted over it. I opened it up to reveal her tasty prize. She was eager for another challenge. I reloaded the egg under Bailey’s watchful eyes. Copious amounts of drool dribbled from her mouth. I threw the eggs into the entry way. Once I signalled for her to go, Bailey charged full force towards the eggs. She found the desired egg within seconds and nuzzled it until I came. The reward was quickly inhaled. The last game involved Bailey sitting patiently while balancing the egg with treat inside on her head. It took a few attempts before she clued into what it was that I wanted. Now, Bailey’s a pro. Our days have become more “eggciting” as we wait for warmer temperatures.
January 16th, 2019
At the start of December, an unexpected opportunity arose that resulted in making trail walks more interesting for Bailey. Each morning, the two of us meet up with my friend and her lab/husky cross dog for a hike through the forest. It is an invigorating stroll because of the cold northern winds and winter temperatures that hover below -30 degrees Celsius. Bailey is not bothered much by the weather like her short-haired pal. Her double-coat is more than warm enough for these temperatures. She waddles along often at a very slow pace while the three of us feel the cool nip. Cas usually conveys his discomfort by lifting his paw up off the frigid ground. Sure she’ll chase him for brief periods. But, he needs to keep moving at a fast pace in order to stay warm. That’s the other issue. Cas has lots of energy to burn off before returning home. If not, my friend must play with him outside in the hopes of tiring Cas out. The last thing that you want to do after hiking for an hour in our harsh climate is to delay going inside. My situation is quite different. Bailey can walk for 10 minutes or an hour and the end result is the same – a morning of napping. Sometimes, she only gets as far as the front entry way before crashing for a well-deserved siesta. It’s was a troubling problem for us.
We decided to try a new approach. My friend and Cas would start 15 minutes before us. They would hike to the place that we call “the rock”, turn around and meet us somewhere between there and the start of the trail. Cas would be warmed up from chasing snowballs and leaping through the snowbanks. It was a wonderful plan. Both dogs were a little confused at first because their buddy didn’t show up as usual. I had to bribe Bailey with treats to entice her to move from the corner where we had met them previously. I guided her across the street to the trail head where she caught her pal’s scent. It was game on. And now a month later, Bailey can’t wait to track down her pal. I’ll get the game going by asking her, “Where’s Cas”. She moves quickly down the trail following his paw prints and p-mails squirted randomly on the sides of the trail. I have found myself challenged to keep up to her while wearing a heavy parka and snow pants. Now, I am the one trailing behind. Her nostrils flare in and out as her nose tries to catch his scent in the air. Suddenly, Cas appears out of thin air much to Bailey’s delight. The treasure hunt has ended. The prize has arrived and a different game begins.
January 9th, 2019
Winter is well-entrenched here in Labrador West and won’t be ready to leave until late May. January is usually the coldest month of the year. Time outside is limited when temperatures plunge below -30 degrees Celsius. It encourages me to spend more time on the couch with a book in hand. As I have gotten older, I treasure the moments of reading a book. The recent holidays provided so many hours of reading that my book stack has been diminished considerably. Thankfully, our local library is close by and stocked with a variety of reading material. When our family arrived here 8 1/2 years ago, the first place that we visited was the library. The library cards given to us were very special for a family who longed for a Newfoundland dog of their own. Residents of Newfoundland and Labrador enjoy the image of the Newfoundland dog and Labrador retriever on their library cards. I took it as a sign that we had found the perfect place to bring a Newf puppy home. Every time our library cards are used, we are reminded of the breed’s beauty. The card for me symbolizes my love for books and the Newfoundland dog. Bailey is supportive of my reading habit as she happily lies alongside the couch waiting for my hand to dangle down and connect with her exposed tummy. “R & R” has a unique meaning to her – “Rubs & Reading” Time.
January 2nd, 2019
Frigid temperatures have been the norm for the last few days in Labrador West. The local weather report had issued a extreme wind chill warning and most normal people hunker down inside. Apparently, Bailey and I are the exceptions. Minus fifty degrees Celsius didn’t keep us from our three outings. Dressed for the cold, I followed behind Bailey as we headed for the protection of a tree-lined trail. Although the air was cold, the wind was minimal. Bailey’s thick coat seemed to be enough protection for her. She stuck not just her muzzle in the snow (in the hopes of catching her pal’s scent) but, her entire head. I was ready for a well-deserved cup of tea after our third hike in the early afternoon. Bailey had other ideas. The stare at the ball was an obvious clue that someone wanted to play in the backyard. I accompanied my girl for a snow ball throwing frolic. I tired long before the Newf did. Bailey showed no signs of wanting to leave the white stuff. However, she returned to the comfort of inside after I waved a treat in front of her nose.
December 26th, 2018
Between holiday visitors and extra treats, our girl spent Boxing Day flaked out beside the tree. She enjoyed a holiday day meal featuring salmon skin and sardines. Bailey soaked up all of the continuous stream of attention. It was a late night of fun for her. I had a bit of difficulty arousing her for an early morning business trip. She was quick and back in the house before I knew it. Then, she returned to being a rug weight. The two of us managed to meet up with her energetic pal, Cas, and his owner for a morning hike and a mid-afternoon one. Cold temperatures did not discourage us from strolling through the snowy trails while admiring the sun shining in the clear blue sky. Upon our return home, Bailey settled herself near the Christmas tree for another nap. I suspect she is preparing for the next celebration, New Year’s Eve.
December 19th, 2018
An afternoon adventure took place on Monday that will remain as one to remember. It began with an idea at the start of the holiday month. This year was about “economizing”. Our family had decided to celebrate the festive season with less focus on presents. My dog walking friend joined us in taking economizing measures. She chose to forgo getting a bought Christmas tree as her husband has been working out of town and expenses needed to be kept down. Still, our daily walks with the dogs were peppered with discussions about Christmas trees. Like me, my friend would admire past Christmas trees throughout the holidays with the lights off – just the tree, the fur kids and a human. The smell of pine needles in the air and the display of ornaments collected through the years were treasured by both of us. I had to act. She was “pining” on our daily morning walk through the forested trail, for a natural tree. My friend was willing to settle for a Charlie Brown variety and I decided that an intervention was called for. Bailey and I had a vital mission to locate a suitable candidate. The tree had to be tall and slender to fit in my friend’s living room. It had to be close to the packed trail because of sinking issues in deep snow. More importantly, the tree needed to be close to home. Last weekend, the search was over and I smiled to myself as the talk of not having a tree for the holidays came up. Oh, how I wanted to squeal my idea.
Almost always, my ideas involve my husband in some way. I announced my intention to him and gave assurances that the tree was neither too big to get home nor far away. It would be fun, I exclaimed. After all, the first 13 years of our marriage were spent making our way into the bush to find the perfect Charlie Brown tree in northern Manitoba. The tree would leak sap on the flooring and drop what little needles that it had by Boxing Day. Tree hunting day was always characterized by being the coldest day in the entire month. We were determined back then. The VW Golf was fired up in colder than minus thirty temperatures (making a screeching noise like a banshee that continued until the engine warmed up) and off we went. The search for the tree was often not long as my pickiness for the perfect tree waned due to the cold. Once the tree was dug out, cut and loaded on top of the car (by my husband), we clambered back inside to warm ourselves up. This part was my favourite because it involved hot chocolate and cookies that had been packed. On Monday, after a 12-year hiatus, we once again ventured out into the woods to get a Christmas tree. Buying our tree for over a decade had made us soft.
Fortunately, the day was not -34 degrees Celsius as it had been only a week before. The sun was out. The sky was blue. It was a balmy -4 degrees Celsius and no wind. Bailey was part of the plot in case we came across my friend walking her dog. We were taking our girl out for her afternoon outing. The axe and saw that my husband was carrying might have been hard to explain. Bailey was just thrilled to have both of us taking her and scampered ahead. We made our way along the trail as my husband noticed that the trees closest to our house were not Christmas tree material. He was right. They looked more suited to a haunted forest. I assured him that the trees improved after climbing the big rock and going down the other side. He reminded me several times that the tree had to be hauled back. Finally, we came to the tree. Bailey had enough sense to move far enough back to avoid getting hit. I needed to be reminded. The tree was located slightly off the trail which meant my husband sank up to his waist in snow. He used both tools to cut the top portion of the 15 foot tree. As he did it, I couldn’t help singing “It’s going down. I’m yelling Timber!” as Bailey watched the proceedings. The tree finally hit the ground and my husband tidied up the base. Bailey dashed forward and gave the tree the sniff over – leaving a dribble of drool behind.
We were off, giddy with excitement. Our tree hunt had unleashed a flood of memories for the two of us. We reminisced about the old days when getting a Charlie Brown tree kicked off our holiday season. Our threesome made our way back towards home. While my husband waited outside with our special gift, I phoned my friend and asked if we could stop by. Thankfully, she is only 5 houses away and my husband’s arms were revived enough to make the final journey with the tree held over his shoulder. We arrived, tree in hand. It is moments like this one that you remember. She was surprised by and thrilled with this unexpected gift. In doing this for her, we also had been gifted with a beautiful afternoon together. An afternoon focused not on the endless list of holiday tasks but, on being outdoors on a perfect winter day with our girl, Bailey.