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)


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.

Newf Dress-Up

February 26th, 2019

Sweetness PersonifiedIt’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”.  Begging For TreatsI 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.

Banana Fever

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.  Banana Fever.jpgThey 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.

Drooling For Bananas