Christmas Card Elf

December 6th, 2017

Santa's Helper

It’s that time of year again, the writing of the annual Christmas card.  Although I was once diligent about sending out cards in a timely fashion, the last decade has been a dismal failure.  Each year, the cards that actually get into the mail have dwindled to immediate family only.  I think there was one year that even they didn’t receive cards from us.  Yesterday, the draw holding the Christmas card supplies revealed my sins from last year.  My husband is the one who writes in the card – each one individually composed.  I am responsible for writing a letter filled with news of our lives.  I hung my head in shame when I pulled out several completed cards with photos inside and addressed envelopes.  They were still waiting for the newsletter that was never done.  Perhaps, I suggested to him in his shock, we could just send these ones now.  A perfect solution until my husband brought the date written at the top of a card to my attention.  It’s hard to change the six in 2016 to a seven.  Rats, a great idea wasted.  My response was for him to discontinue with that practice from now on.  So, I am hoping to make a fresh start going into this holiday season.

An ElfIn my imagination, Bailey would be transformed into an elf.  Like Santa’s elves, she would be willing and capable of tackling our Christmas cards.  Her tongue would be perfect for licking the envelopes after all.  A simple paw print would be sufficient for a signature.  Who knows what our sweetness would say?  Jolly Old Saint Nick is lucky to have elves to do his bidding while he gets to indulge on cookies and milk.  Sadly, our Newfie elf is limited in her card writing repertoire skills.  I am left with the task.  But, it was nice to dream.

A Leap Of Faith

Look Ma No Leash

June 23rd, 2015

Sunday was “the day” for Bailey to get a taste of real freedom in the outdoor world.  I am talking about the world beyond our yard.  Up until Sunday afternoon, Bailey’s outside excursions have always involved a leash or one of the two long cables set up in the front and back of our house.  She is always supervised because of the wildlife such as wolves and bears that live in the surrounding forest.  It is not unusual to have sightings on a regular basis.  Since our area has already had a few rabies incidents originating from the local fox population, dog owners need to be constantly vigilant.  Bailey has only roamed free without any restraints inside the house and garage.  Every dog owner faces that moment when it is decided to let the puppy go off leash.  In our case, I was not present to see her first taste of freedom.  I heard the news after the event from my oldest son and husband who were quite pleased with themselves and Bailey.

The two of them had taken Bailey out for her evening walk.  Somehow, their stroll through the playground ended up in the adjacent baseball field.  The field is kept up even though it gets very little use.  The three entry points are easy to secure – perfect to keep an energetic puppy from accessing too much freedom.  I had been scouting the location for a few weeks as a possible spot to liberate Bailey.  I just was not ready yet.  Was I a helicopter mom in need of help?  My husband and son thought so.

My rope my preciousBailey was familiar with the place as we had walked her around the fencing (but always on the leash).  After they checked that the gates were closed, Bailey was unclipped from her leash and her special rope was thrown.  She did not realize this freedom until she was a distance away from them.  Then, she got a case of the zoomies – a Newf Net Forum term used when a dog races around like it is chasing an invisible rabbit.  Think of Bailey at her top speed (not often seen by us).  The zoomies only lasted for a few seconds before Bailey got refocused on retrieving her rope.  After ten rope fetches, Bailey was showing signs of slowing down.  My husband thought it best to end the session on a good note and called to her.  Bailey returned with her rope and stood patiently as her leash was attached.  The two proud owners arrived home with a contented puppy.  I realized that no harm was done and taking that leap of faith in our loved one is often rewarded.  Bailey has made an important step towards discovering her full potential.

 P.S.  At 21 weeks, Bailey is now 28.4 kg or 62 pounds 10 ounces.

Here I Come

Did you call

The Flying Sprinkler

Friend or foeMay 12th, 2015

As a new puppy owner, one can only imagine what the first meeting between another dog and yours will be like.  When our family was finally able to pick up Bailey from our breeder’s place, we saw that she was comfortable with the other adult Newfoundland dogs on site.  So, we expected that Bailey would be receptive to other dogs. One thing about Labrador West is that the people here love their dogs.  Our street has mostly dog households.  We seemed to be the only ones without a furry critter.  As news spread of our new arrival, people would stop by to welcome Bailey and us to the club.  We explained that Bailey would be able to officially greet other dogs after her last set of shots around the 25th of May.  It meant keeping eager dogs apart from ours who did not see what all of the fuss was about.

So, I was caught off guard last week.  Bailey and I had been enjoying an afternoon in the front yard.  I raked up leaf debris and watched Bailey’s antics while taking the occasional sip of coffee.  Bailey was attached to her long lead.  She chased stray leaves blown by the wind, pulled blades of grass up like a goat, licked the remaining snow patches and sunned herself on a cool spring day.  Our peace was soon to be disturbed.  Seeing no one in sight, I decided to take my coffee cup into the garage and place it safely on the work bench.  I had barely reached the bench when I heard a cry from Bailey.  My mother instinct kicked into overdrive as I dashed for the garage door.  At the same time, Bailey came hurtling through it like a freight train.  As I reached down to reassure her,  Bailey jumped into my arms while spraying me with a stream of urine.  It was too late to do anything.  I carried her outside to see what had happened.  What I found was a couple (and their 7 month old husky) apologizing profusely for scaring her.  After placing Bailey down in front of me, I realized the true condition of my pants.  With urine running down my legs, I carried on as if nothing had happened.  I learned that Bailey, upon being approached by a very enthusiastic husky and two strange people, decided that a full retreat was in order.  However, once I arrived, Bailey was only too happy to greet the visitors.  Bailey did not seem scarred by the experience.  However, I have not forgotten the embarrassment of meeting new people in such a state.

P.S.  At 15 weeks, Bailey is now 18.8 kg or 41 pounds 7 ounces.

To Treat Or Not To Treat?

April 28th, 2015

That is the question which our family, as new dog owners, must contemplate.  Newfoundland dogs love to be praised from what we have been told and Bailey is no exception.  She loves to hear our positive words even if we feel like her own personal cheerleading squad doing it.  The neighbours must smile when they hear our praise of Bailey doing her business or walking down the street without pulling whoever is on the end of the leash along with her.  Sometimes this praise leads to unexpected accidents such as “the meet and greet” morning sessions with each family member as they exit their bedrooms.  Of course, they are excited and happy to see her which is expressed in their voices.  When she sits with her tongue waving frantically, Bailey is congratulated for being well-mannered – i.e. not jumping up.  The key is to express this delight with as little enthusiasm as possible or a puddle will result.  After 4 weeks of mom’s reminders to greet her on the ceramic flooring, the family is doing well with their training as is Bailey.

However, treats can speed up the learning process as we have discovered.  Bailey loves bananas, apples, pears, frozen peas and cheese.  The list is growing (as is Bailey) so we do not need to worry about running out of treat options anytime soon.  For a sliver of banana, Bailey will sit, stay, come, sit and gobble it after being given the okay.  I just wish a banana slice would have the same effect on my sons to complete chores quickly.  Well, a mother can dream.  Anyway, we could see the light bulb going on for Bailey when I used this treat to get the desired response for the first time.  Since that time, Bailey is all business upon seeing the banana being brought out.  She does not ignore or casually get around to following commands now.  After a couple of good runs, I will use praise instead of the treat and it works well.  But, I wonder if she feels cheated….  I know my boys would.

We learned that treats are okay in moderation.  Too much of a good thing can lead to a pup with no appetite for her real food.  Reminds me of the time when certain family members ate dessert before dinner and then had no room left for the main course.  Bailey is thriving with treats and praise which is the important thing.  For the family, the best treat of all is sharing our lives with such a joyful being.

P.S.  At 13 weeks, Bailey is now 14.8 kg or 32 pounds 10 ounces.

Pop Goes The Weasel!

Bailey SnoozingApril 21st, 2015

Last Wednesday started out like just another routine day with Bailey – up at 5 am for a quick session outside, played a round of fetch “Moosie” while I gulped that 1st cup of coffee, fed her at 5:45 am and out again at 6:20 am for her main business break.  It was this last activity that turned the norm into an adventure.  Winter conditions still exist here in frigid Lab West and our front yard is filled with 6 foot high piles of snow.  Where does Bailey like to do her stuff?  That’s right, she heads with glee to the top of the snow banks.  Showing some caution in the event that my weight might cause me to sink, I followed her along a path that she had made over the course of the last few days.  I tested the packed snow in front of me.  Moving forward only when I knew it would bear my weight.  At 6:20 am, one’s mind tends to wander.  Random thoughts of remembering being a young girl doing this exact thing of climbing high on the snow banks preoccupied me.  Bailey found the perfect spot to go and I failed to notice it was in unchartered territory.  Disaster struck!

It was like being in Iceland and having a crevice in the ice swallow you up.  I sunk in a fraction of a second through soft snow to my chest.  I felt like a weasel popping its head out.  Of course, Bailey had now finished and my face was 8 inches from a pile of stuff.  Bailey was on the opposite side pleased with herself for delivering the goods and waiting for the lavish praise that she has come to expect.  But, I had other pressing concerns like fish around to get the poop bag out of my pocket, keep Bailey away from the poop and fend off an ecstatic Newfoundland pup who was now able to reach my face with ease.  Bailey’s tongue was moving from my nose to my ears to the cheeks with the speed of a Ferrari.  And those big paws coming at me looked even bigger!  The only bright spot was that I had put on a toque before exiting the house which prevented Bailey from grabbing a hold of my ponytail as she enjoys doing.

Once I had successfully bagged the poop, I focused on extracting myself from the hole while still holding onto Bailey’s leash.  I quickly realized that my weight had packed the snow really well.  I looked around for someone to assist me.  My sons were still fast asleep with no clue to their mother’s predicament and my husband was in Schefferville, Quebec for another 6 days.  Then it hit me, I might be stuck for an hour or until the boys noticed that I was missing.  The neighbourhood was dead quiet.  To my relief, I had taken the time to dress in full winter gear.  The previous Sunday, I had just gone out in my neon-owl pajamas and red bathrobe with white snowflakes on it.  Who knew that 3 teenagers would be walking down the street at 6:20 am on a Sunday morning to witness my fashion statement?  Today, I had even borrowed Tristan’s pull-on snowboots to cut time rather than fiddle with tying up my snow hikers.   Since my right side was not as far down as the left one, I was able to slowly pull myself up a bit while digging the snow away.  Bailey did her part by pulling on the leash.  Something wasn’t quite right.

I soon realized my left boot was so far down that it felt like being encased in cement.  After frantic attempts to dislodge it, the boot was not going anywhere.  I decided to leave it buried under the snow with the hopes of retrieving it later before Tristan noticed.  Crawling slowly out of the hole, I managed to hobble without the boot back into the garage.  Bailey did her best to lick at my sock.  I returned with my own boots on and a shovel in hand after stowing Bailey in her kennel.  Rescue attempts were futile as I kept sinking within a metre of the hole.  Not only would Tristan find out so would his father.  Admitting to your 13 year old son that you have lost his winter boot during cold weather is humiliating to say the least.  Add to it that I had lectured him about borrowing and returning things (such as his father’s tools) only the day before made it even worse.  Well, I have endured a week of my two sons ribbing me about Bailey’s black hole.  I no longer scamper up the snow banks with Bailey as I prefer to leave that memory in the past.  And the boot, my husband arrived home yesterday and dug 8 feet in from the front of the house to retrieve it.

Go Big Or Go Home!

Bailey's Arrival

For years, my husband and I have longed for a giant Newfoundland dog to call our own.  Our dream came true exactly 2 weeks ago.  Our family of four picked up a 9 week old Newfoundland puppy named Caramor’s Bailey of the Big Land.  She was better than anything that we had imagined from her weekly photos posted by her breeder.  After a 1500 kilometre journey back to Labrador from eastern Ontario, our newest family member definitely exemplifies “BIG”.  What better place is there than living in the Big Land (a term commonly used here to convey the vastness of Labrador, Canada) to realize our dream where the slogan of our mining town is “Go Big or Go Home”.

Life with our “giant” puppy is interesting.  She is a breath of fresh air but not in the literal sense.  New smells have permeated our household – like that new puppy scent.  More frequently, are those odors that linger from the oopses when we missed her signals to go outside for a bathroom break.  And, for those of you wondering, we did buy the special enzyme spray to treat these areas and it worked.  Thankfully, Bailey has been persistent with training us to be more observant and take note when she is sitting patiently by the front door.  Four days with no accidents is something to celebrate!

We had hints that our sweetness, as Bailey is referred to, enjoyed snow and ice on the trip home.  I guess the lying out on ice patches and licking snow were the more obvious ones.  Since arriving home, Bailey has explored the 7 foot snow banks in our yard where she prefers to do her business.  Unfortunately, Bailey’s large paws and webbed toes allow her to climb where we can not follow without filling our boots with snow.  She has great fun chasing snowballs.  The look on her face when she pounces on them only to have them disintegrate is priceless.  From playing in this snowy playground, the wet dog smell is a frequent one in the house.  But, like freshly baked cookies, it puts a smile on our faces as we are reminded of the fun outside with our sweet girl, Bailey.

Bailey in snowbank