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

A Festive Aroma

October 10th, 2017

The Canadian Thanksgiving holiday weekend has now past.  Our waistlines are slightly larger after days of feasting.  We celebrated on Saturday night, a day earlier than the family normally does.  We invited friends to share in the harvest bounty with us.  The layering of smells began on Friday with the making of the partridge berry sauce – the North’s version of cranberry sauce.  By Saturday morning, I had flaxseed dinner buns baking in the oven.  Some family members were disappointed to learn that the smell of fresh buns was all that they could enjoy.  I specifically clarified that every bun had to be accounted for at dinner – no sampling.  It was a difficult feat for my bun-loving crew to perform.  The next smell to permeate the house was the cooking turkey complete with garlic-flavoured stuffing and roast potatoes.  I almost forgot to make the wild rice with dried apricots.  Fortunately, I remembered with just enough time to spare.  By late afternoon, I had prepared the steamed broccoli and could take a well-deserved break.

Bailey was not oblivious to these wonderful smells lofting through our home.  Her muzzle was on high alert in case any tidbits found their way onto the floor.  She flopped herself down in the kitchen which forced us to step over her to get to the other counter.  Bailey was well aware that a turkey dinner meant a night of licking plates and the glorious roaster.  Our friends were bringing their own contribution to the meal in the form of partridgeberry apple crumble as well as butternut squash lentil stew.  Their arms would be full so we decided to divert disaster from Bailey getting underfoot as she gave her own special Newfie greeting.  Bailey was fed her usual dinner fare in her kennel, located in the attached garage.  Bailey didn’t seem to mind as she followed her food dish being transported out there.  However, she certainly realized the state of affairs when the doorbell buzzed and the voices of her favourite visitors were heard.  She woofed as if to say, “Don’t forget about me?”.  Clearly, Bailey had found herself on the wrong side of the door.  Dinner was ready and people were hungry.  Our girl was without an invitation to the feast which the rest of us enjoyed.

Between the smells and voices, our girl plotted her invasion.  Our tummies needed a break before sampling dessert.  One son began clearing the table and I loaded the dishwasher.  My husband worked on serving the dessert.  Things were going well.  I asked my youngest son to take the pop cans to the garage for recycling.  Bailey was patiently waiting until my unsuspecting son opened the door.  She suddenly charged past him before he could stop her.  “Let her in,” I called.  After all, she had been good.  Bailey circled each person that she encountered on the way to the kitchen – slobbering and whipping her tail back and forth.  As she went through the living room, I heard my eldest son exclaim that Bailey smelt bad.  I asked for clarification from the kitchen and was told it was a poop smell.  I am not quite sure who suggested that she might have stepped in poop while playing with my son in the backyard before dinner.  A quick thinking person opened up the living room windows and sliding glass door.  Our girl had successfully stunk up the house. When Bailey arrived in the kitchen, I caught a whiff of her aromatic scent.  I was rapidly losing my appetite for dessert.  Bailey soon found herself being escorted back to the garage.  Her smell lingered a bit longer even after her departure.  Ironically, our sweetness did not appear to have poop anywhere on her fur after a quick look.  She would need a thorough exam later.  Bathing Bailey seemed unavoidable at this point.  I pushed that thought out of my head for the moment.  Our party once again sat down at the table to sample the fruit crumble.  Of course, it was delicious despite the recent mayhem.

The last of the dishes were placed in the dishwasher and the remaining food was put away.  My friend and I prepared our dogs for the nightly walk.  Try as I might, I could not find the source of Bailey’s pungent odour.   The nightly grooming session was my last chance to solve the mystery.  As I lifted up her tail to brush underneath it, I heard her.  My girl had gas.  I had forgotten about the chopped up broccoli stalks in her dinner.  I had given a very generous portion to her.  Bailey had contributed her own festive aroma to our Thanksgiving Day celebration.  It was a ripper of a good time.


Breathing Down My Neck

September 26th, 2017

The harvesting is done and the freezer is bulging with berries, rhubarb and herbs.  It was time to turn my attention to preparing the yard for winter.  I felt a sudden urgency when today’s forecast showed minus temperatures and a strong possibility of snow.  True, the snow won’t last for long. Labrador West can always count on a couple more weeks of autumn-like weather.  I decided to tackle the flower beds and raised garden bed first.  The bonus of waiting until cooler temperatures is that the black flies have gone.  I left my bug hat in the garage.  I realized that Bailey could finally join me in the backyard without fear of being eaten alive.  She happily wagged her tail as the two of us made our way to the lupine bed.  Thankfully, I had cut down the stocks over a week ago which made weeding a lot easier.  While I dug and pulled a number of different weeds, Bailey sat beside me.  I could see she was enjoying herself.  Bailey sniffed the air.  She looked and listened to the activity in the neighbourhood and forest behind us.

Tackling The Weeds

Then, I heard the sliding glass door open.  I continued to work.  Bailey was no longer looking over my shoulder.  I noticed her hot breath had disappeared.  As I turned to see what had captured her interest, I discovered my teenage son with a camera in hand.  I was a bit annoyed.  Here I was on my hands and knees working like a dog while another dog supervised and no teenage sons in sight.  Where had I gone wrong?  I muttered something about loyalty and family duty.  The only response that I got from my son was “Smile”.  It turns out that he was studying and noticed Bailey looking over my shoulder as if to say, “You missed a weed.”  He felt the moment needed to be captured on film.  I couldn’t help but, smile.  I knew it was the shea butter balm on my lips that had attracted Bailey.  She was trying to get closer in case it warranted a lick.  We took a break to be photographed before turning back to the job at hand.  By the end of the afternoon, the beds were weed free and neatly edged.  The work and fresh air had exhausted us.  The only thing left to do was lie out on the couch with Bailey stretched out alongside it and rest.


Picture Perfect

September 19th, 2017

Picture Perfect

In my head, it was the perfect place to take the perfect photo of Bailey and her human pack.  The execution of this plan was not so perfect.

Last month, we became official members of the North Western Ontario Regional Newfoundland Dog Club.  You may be wondering why at this point.  Labrador is a considerable distance from Thunder Bay where this club is located.  However, this situation will be changing for our family. Adam, head of the clan, accepted a position at a mine near Thunder Bay last November.  The boys, Bailey and I will follow once the house here is sold.  In the meantime, our family decided to join this club with the hopes of becoming “active members”.  Adam has already attended a BBQ social in August as well as the recent chiropractic therapy workshop.  He misses being around his sweetness.  Having an opportunity to hang with the other members and their giants is appreciated by him.

We are newbies to the club.  So, it did not come as a surprise to receive an invitation to submit a bit of a bio and a photo of the family for the seasonal newsletter, “Newfie Tales”.  The request sounded simple enough.  Sunday afternoon was sunny after a run of rainy days.  I wanted an outdoor shot highlighting our Labrador autumn.  My walking partner agreed to take the photo.  The family and Bailey loaded up in a very warm van and headed down to Jean Lake which is just below our house.  It is a favourite walking area for us.  We clambered out at the boathouse and made our way to the floating dock.  Bailey was panting at this point with drool starting to drip.  Rats! I forgot her drool rags.  A quick wipe with the backside of my coat sleeve did the trick.  I just needed to remember not to expose it when the picture was taken.  Bailey was not put off by the swaying of the dock, although I was.  The family got into position with Bailey front and centre.  It was at this point that I realized things were not going to go well.

Bailey was clearly hot and the water was looking inviting.  She was facing a huge, lake- sized water bowl.  With each passing minute, Bailey was getting more difficult to keep under control.  Our girl wanted to dip her paws.  I should have known that a black, long haired Newf would not enjoy sitting in the sun.  If that was not enough, my friend had brought her dog, Cas, and husband.  Bailey loves spending time with both of them.  They waited behind us – closer to shore.  Bailey kept trying to turn her head to see what they were doing.  Once Cas began calling to her, I  knew the photo shoot was doomed.  A series of snaps were taken before we decided to abandon looking into the sun.  The brightness of the sun caused the photos to be overexposed and, our eyes were half shut from squinting.  Hates Photo SessionWe moved to a new location which proved better with respect to the sun.  However, the dreary storage shed behind us spoiled any hope of showcasing how beautiful Labrador West is at this time of year.  We moved again.  Bailey wanted to bolt.  She was tired of the photo shoot.  Cameron tried to appear casual as he struggled to keep her still.  If I did not know better, the photos seem to show him throttling her.  By this time, the black flies had decided to join us.  Smiling casually while being devoured is an acting feat that I have never mastered.  Still, we persevered on to capture the “perfect” photo.  The fifteenth shot was deemed okay and we called it quits.  Perfect or not, we were done….


Misfortune Comes In Threes

September 12th, 2017

I have found after years of experience that if something unpleasant happens, then one can expect two more such occurrences to follow.  In recent weeks, Bailey has been plagued with diarrhea after ingesting (more like inhaling) wild blueberries.  The berries come into season by the third week of August and continue ripening well into September.  She and her sidekick, Cas, had been running off-leash on a local trail every morning.  Their excursions into the bush became more frequent as they discovered the wondrous taste of ripening berries.  Back on the trail, their owners were clueless as to how much was being consumed.  The happy, piggy grunts coming from my sweetness should have alerted me.  I finally had to admit that Bailey was like a giant harvester clearing a stripped path through the berry patch.  The solution was to keep both dogs on leash until the end of the berry season.  I also reduced the amount of vegetables given as treats and toppers on meals just to be on the safe side.  Although the diarrhea finally disappeared, we were not out of the woods yet.

The two dogs and their owners continued to hike the trail – starting at 6:30 am.  The first of September arrived with a bang – literally.  Halfway into our hike, the beasts were unleashed for a quick frolic.  Bailey and her pal were thrilled to finally be loose.  They darted in and out of the shrubbery lining the trail.  Suddenly, a string of loud bangs were heard followed by a couple of barks from Cas.  These barks sounded quite different from his normal repertoire.  My first thought was a car had backfired.  Then, it dawned on us that it was a gun being fired.  Owning a large black dog that can pass as a small black bear was a real concern.  I was not any safer myself because my clothes were black as well.  Our dogs were not visible which made for a few anxious moments as we quickly went in search of them.  I found Bailey further up the path, looking somewhat mystified as to where her buddy was hiding.  Fortunately, I was able to keep her attention long enough to clip the leash back on.  Cas took a little longer to locate but, he was finally back on lead after what seemed like an eternity.  We wondered who would be firing guns when it was still dark out.  I always considered this trail to be safe from hunters as it is within the town’s limits.  The four of us quickly made our way down the trail towards home.  My heart racing as I listened for more shots.  We learned afterwards that it was opening day for hunting season.  This particular trail was going to be off limits until the season closed.  It seemed the best decision rather than risk having our dogs mistaken as game.  The dogs obviously did not understand.  Bailey and Cas were not thrilled with the street walks.  But, we still had the field at Jean Lake Recreation Area to let the dogs play off leash.  Or, so I thought.

The final misfortune came last week.  On Monday, Bailey went on her usual morning walk followed by a snooze until lunch time.  She ate her lunch and lay down on her blanket.  When I called her for the afternoon walk, she pulled herself up and limped to the door.  I could see that Bailey was favouring her right paw.The Wound  A closer examination revealed that the pain was with her paw and not the leg.  Leg injuries for Newfoundland dog owners are something to fear.  She hobbled out for a quick business break before returning home for an afternoon of rest.  That night, I discover a lump growing on the side of her second paw pad.  Bailey pulled her paw back even if it was only lightly touched.  A magnifying glass and headlamp revealed an opening the size of a pin hole.  I couldn’t help but, wonder if she had picked up a sliver.  Although she had stopped limping by Tuesday night, the bump remained.  A vet appointment was made for Friday and Bailey’s movements were further restricted – no trails, no off-leash and no long walks or outside playtime with Cas.

I kept the wound clean in the meantime.  Bailey saw the vet who took a blood sample from the lump.  The results showed a high white blood cell count which may be the result of an infected cut or the presence of a foreign body like a sliver.  Bailey was given a two week supply of antibiotics in the hopes that any infection would be cleared up.  I was told to keep cleaning the area and to restrict walks to pavement only.  If the lump did not improve over the next two weeks,  Bailey would have her pad opened up and flushed to remove any foreign matter.  A procedure which could require that Bailey be put under with anesthetic and the recovery time could be several weeks.  I was definitely going do everything to avoid that outcome.  I have been vigilant about keeping the area clean – almost fanatical at this point.  The two of us have been practicing Rally-O commands for short periods of time in the garage.  It helps to break up the monotony.  Bailey really misses hanging out at the old haunts like the ball field and the dog park.  She has managed to attract extra rubs and attention from our houseguests and the family.  Perhaps, Bailey’s luck will change for the better once this third incident is behind her.


The Arrival Of Autumn

September 27th, 2016

No Black Flies.jpg

Autumn has finally arrived.  The black flies have more or less departed.  Hurrah!  The season is marked by collecting the bounty grown through the summer.  The last crop of spinach, Swiss chard and rhubarb has been picked and processed.  I have been occupied with making two types of borsht – vegetable and beef.  A couple of weeks ago, the family focused on gathering blueberries.  We recently enjoyed homemade waffles smothered in wild blueberry sauce.  It was a delicious brunch and well-worth having to put up with the black flies.  Now, the partridge berries have come into season.  These berries belong to the cranberry family.  They are smaller than domestically farmed cranberries but, still have a zing to them.   I use them to make the sauce to go with the turkey cooked at Thanksgiving.  The remainder are put into muffins and cakes throughout the winter.  The local lore is that one needs to wait until after the first frost before picking these berries.  Apparently, a worm lives inside the berry until the frost comes when it will then exit.  It is hard to believe a worm would want to leave the comfort of the berry.  I am willing to wait.  After all, I was never one of those people who dared to swallow the worm in the tequila bottle.


Unlike blueberry picking, Bailey did not accompany me in climbing the hillside for partridge berries.  She recognized the berry pack being packed and I could tell Bailey was expecting to go.  Her tail was wagging as she lumbered quickly down the stairs leading into the garage.  At which point, I said, “Kennel”.  The tail stopped wagging.  It repositioned in a downward hanging stance.  Bailey slowly progressed in a very passive aggressive way towards her kennel.  I think she was hoping that I would change my mind.  It was painful to watch.  I really wanted her to come but, it was for her own protection.  The local police detachment recently issued a warning about a wolf attack on a German Sheppard and possibly a second attack on another pet.  The dog did not survive and I can only imagine how devastated the owners must feel.  Still, I exited the garage feeling very guilty about leaving Bailey behind.  My friend and I arrived at the usual berry spot to discover more human traffic making their way up the hillside.  We were like bears staking out our areas – congenial to one another but, protective of our spots.  Bailey would have been delighted to see so many people.  I was thankful that she would not be attempting to visit with everyone there.  Trying to keep a sociable Newfoundland puppy from greeting the other pickers would be an impossible task.  The sun was shining brightly today which meant our hands were not stinging from the cold.  We made our way slowly up the hill as we moved from one patch of partridge berries to another.  They were not easy to spot.  The berries had ripened to a burgundy colour which blended in with the dark green leaves of the plant.  Upon closer examination, I was surprised to find clusters of partridge berries in areas that appeared barren.  I noticed blueberries were still around and they had benefited from a longer growing season.  Since I was not picking them for winter storage, I experienced no guilt in sampling the blueberries that I came across.


Having not taken Bailey, I felt compelled to take her on a nature trail excursion. The two of us left after dinner and headed up to our favourite lookout point. The sun was still shining as it set behind the distant hill overlooking Jean Lake. I could not resist taking a couple of snaps of Bailey sitting patiently in front of such a beautiful backdrop. Living in the north, I have come to realize that autumn is not as long as indicated by the calendar. Already Mother Nature has sent an early warning that winter is coming – fortunately, the snowflakes did not stay. Autumn days such as this one are to be savoured with your best fur friend.rocking-autumn