August 1st, 2017
Bailey and I have found refuge from black flies and warm temperatures in the garage. It stopped being my husband’s “man cave” as of the beginning of July. Instead, the garage has been transformed into Bailey’s own private paradise of cool concrete, a big bucket of refreshing water that is continually replenished, an assortment of balls as well as pull toys, and a supply of tantalizing treats. No bug spray or air conditioning is needed. But, what is paradise without a friend to share in its offerings. Bailey and her fur buddy, Cas, have a short walk together every afternoon followed by a garage play date. The two pals would happily skip the walk and go directly to the garage if it were not for their owners. Once there though, Bailey and Cas can barely tolerate standing still while their leashes and collars are removed. Then, the real fun begins.
They chase one another around the confined space while tugging on each other’s fur, tails, ears and droopy jowls in Bailey’s case. The two of them frequently run in a circular pattern as they hold on dearly to the body part of the other one. Before long, one of them is rolling on the floor while the other climbs aboard (that would be Cas) or looms over top (this one would be Bailey). Cas has never been intimidated by Bailey’s large size. He uses his front paws like a light weight boxer against his heavier opponent. Cas is quicker and uses his speed to full advantage. When Bailey is on the ground with four paws flailing in the air, he manages to straddle her chest. Cas has developed a technique that allows him to pin Bailey down by placing his front legs on both sides of her head. Then, the weight of his body on her chest immobilizes Bailey. She tries her best to squirm out from under him, getting frustrated in the process. Eventually, Bailey does escape. It is Cas who becomes the hunted. Bailey directs him with her huge paws until she succeeds at flipping him onto his back. She likes to grab him by his fur and drag him around. Cas will give a little whine when Bailey gets carried away. I think she believes Cas is a real living “Stuffie” that can be shaken. Anyway, my friend and I remind her to play gently. If necessary, both of them are given a rest as they quench their thirst at the water bowl.
Recently, the two of them have discovered the joy of playing tug-a-war with Bailey’s rope toy. It was designed and made by my eldest son using knots learned at sea cadets. A monkey knot creates a ball at one end and the other end has a handle to pull on. The two ends are linked by a series of cobra knots. Bailey prefers the ball to hold onto while Cas likes the handle. Now, it is Cas who gets frustrated when he cannot pull Bailey towards him. His only hope is to wait until she is readjusting her grip and pull when the rope slackens. The winner struts around the garage while whipping the rope back and forth. They keep us amused with their antics. These afternoons in the garage have become our sanctuary from the black flies and hot, humid temperatures. Every pooch needs a dog cave to share with their pals.
March 28th, 2017
The unexpected is often an opportunity in disguise. Last night, Bailey and I were taking a shorter version of our evening walk. I noticed my neighbour walking her 9 month Goldendoodle, Jinx, down below in the sandpit. We were slightly elevated as Bailey and I made our way down a trail to the side of the snow covered sandpit. He was off-leash and Bailey was not. We had moved far enough away from Jinx by the time Bailey caught sight of him. I was not in the mood to be dragged down the steep incline if Bailey decided to personally greet him without my permission. I thought that one of these days, the two dogs would have to get together for a play date.
Another 20 feet down the trail, a familiar shape came into view. It was 11 month old Cas, Bailey’s regular hiking partner, and his owner. Cas had caught Bailey’s scent long before the rest of us were aware of the others in the area. He was also free from the constraints of his leash and bounded towards us. Just as I leaned down to unclip Bailey in preparation for this unexpected romp, Cas veered to the trail branching off to the right. I was sure that he had caught a whiff of Jinx. Bailey would just have to wait. I kept her leashed as we headed towards our friend who was trailing behind his wandering dog. He acknowledged Bailey in a very inviting voice. Cory is one of Bailey’s favourite people. Seeing him twice in one day was just too good to be true. Bailey was not going to forgo a rub and maybe a treat. She began to move forward with more effort. I found it more and more difficult to keep her under control. I made the decision to let the leash go rather than risk re-injuring my knee. I had been undergoing physiotherapy for the last three months after knee surgery. The treatment was finally paying off and looked like the end was near. Bailey barrelled down the hill while I muttered, “Just a quick visit as we have to get home.” I had not even finished voicing that thought when Cory reached out with the intent of giving her a pet only to touch air. Bailey had swerved at the last second, hot on the trail of Cas and Jinx. She had vanished just like her pal.
I looked at Cory and shrugged, “I guess we are not going home.” The two of us came around the corner to find the three dogs chasing one another around the open space. Their tails wagged frantically. Their owners realizing the futility of breaking up the three amigos settled on watching the dogs in action. Cory produced a small ball that reminded me of a clown’s bright red nose. He threw it. Fortunately for Bailey, she was close enough to get it first. Normally, Cas is much faster at retrieving thrown objects than my girl. Oh, how she pranced and danced around… She darted in between the two male dogs who tried in vain to get the ball from her. If they started lose interest, Bailey flashed enough of the ball to get the game of chase going again. She acted like the belle of the ball who was thrilled to have two male suitors vying for her attention. It became quite apparent that Bailey was a ball hog. Cory pulled out a stick and tossed it. According to Jinx, stick trumps ball. Cas and Jinx ignored Bailey as they worked on getting the stick away from other. When Bailey realized that she had been jilted, she tried to stir interest by chasing after them. Bailey could neither catch their attention nor keep up. She was slowing down. I seized the moment and commanded her to sit. Bailey released the now frozen drool covered ball. I tried my best to wipe it before handing it over to the real owner. Although she was no longer the belle with the ball, Bailey clearly loved being the centre of attention.
December 15th, 2015
Like many of us who have gotten to know neighbours over the backyard fence, Bailey met her dog pal in this manner. I am not sure when their friendship first started. What I do remember is that Roxy did not make a good first impression on any of us. She is a boxer/black Labrador retriever cross with oodles of energy. Once our house was built four years ago and the family had moved in, we experienced this loud, aggressively barking dog racing along the fence beside our place. Often she would quietly lie in wait unbeknownst to you until it was too late. You were already halfway down the side of the house. It did not matter if we ignored or talked to her – the response was the same. My advice to the boys was to never tease her or run along the fence. My oldest son, who had been chased by an unleashed dog in a playground at 5 years of age, refused to go on that side of the house. In fact, he would not go out in the backyard if she was out. We love to spend time in our yard so it complicated things.
As time went on, I decided to put a flower bed on that side. I ignored her snarling and responded with positive talk. How are you today, Roxy? It seemed futile at first. However, late last summer (2014), I noticed some improvement. By this time, we were waiting for a Newfoundland puppy. The family wondered what effect this dog would have on our newest family member. It was a concern.
Bailey arrived home in April – the new gal on the block. Roxy was not out much as the temperatures were around minus 25 degrees Celsius still. They met frequently throughout the summer on the way to taking Bailey to the backyard. Roxy continued with her usual behaviour. Bailey would sit about 8 feet from the staggered fence. She watched Roxy race back and forth. Bailey waited without barking or snarling back. I am not sure if it was Bailey’s calm temperament from being a Newfoundland dog or she knew to patiently wait for Roxy to accept her. This fall, something changed between them. I noticed that Roxy was eagerly waiting for Bailey when we returned from one of our daily walks. She was standing on her two back legs with her face barely peering over the top of the front yard fence. At first, I thought what I heard was not correct – a friendly woof. Bailey perked up from her long walk. She began to prance with her head high in the air and tail wagging more quickly. As we rounded the street corner and entered into our yard, Roxy woofed again. It seemed like she was inviting Bailey to play. Given Bailey’s body language, I could tell she wanted to go. What the heck! I released her from the leash. Bailey picked up speed rather rapidly for one who seemed only minutes before ready for a long nap. I was forgotten. The two dogs tried their best to sniff one another between the small openings of the wooden fence slats. Roxy began to move along the fence and Bailey followed. The two of them were soon racing back and forth in glee.
Fence racing is now a regular occurrence. Roxy is always faster and can outlast Bailey every time. Bailey does not care. She tries her best to keep up. I can always tell when Bailey is getting tired. She grabs at the snow to quench her thirst. Like a small child who does not want to leave a birthday party, Bailey is not the easiest pup to round up to go home. I keep telling her that there will be many more times for these two pooches to continue their across-the-fence friendship. Thanks to Bailey, Roxy has warmed up to the rest of us.
P.S. At 45 weeks, Bailey is now 48.5 kg or 106 pounds 15 ounces.