Study Buddy

June 13th, 2017

The end of the school year is almost here.  But, Bailey’s boys must first get through a week of final exams that started on Monday.  Test anxiety can be a little much for even the most studious students.  Bailey is quite willing to offer her “study buddy” services to alleviate such stress.  She offers a few options.  Clearly, one of Bailey’s favourites is sprawling on her backside – tummy side up – in the hopes that a needy student will stumble upon her and feel compelled to vigorously rub a neglected belly.  I have walked by on numerous occasions to observe my newf spread eagle with a kneeing son running his fingers through her thick undercoat.  Bailey is obviously enjoying every minute given the happy grunts radiating out of her mouth.  Her “study buddy” is also benefiting from this symbiotic relationship.  I see the stress disappear as his face lights up with a smile.

Bailey also provides comedic relief to loosen the tension in household.  She is still wearing her special panties in the aftermath of the dreaded UTI (urinary tract infection) because Bailey truly enjoys wearing them.  I haven’t the heart to put them away yet.  That being said, my sons crack up with laughter at the sight of Bailey prancing through the house once she gets them on after being outside.  She has a number of laughter producing antics such as whipping her “Stuffie” bear back and forth with enough force to make a loud thud as it comes in contact with the side of her head.  The boys can’t stop themselves from chuckling.  I have come to realize that dogs are natural clowns.

Study BuddiesSometimes, Bailey’s presence is all that is needed.  She is really good natured about the boys using her as a pillow to prop themselves against as they study.  The warmth radiating from her belly has a calming effect much like a mug of hot chocolate does after a cold ski outside.  With the stress greatly reduced, my sons can give their complete attention to studying for the next exam.  Listening is another tactic of Bailey’s.  She is content to sit or lie down while one of her boys talks to her.  A nuzzle against the hand encourages her “study buddy” to continue.  My sons do not have to worry about Bailey interrupting.  She has all the time in the world for her guys.  High school finals are unavoidable.  However, having a Newfoundland dog as your own personal “study buddy” can improve your mood.



Life Lessons Learned From A Newf

May 23rd, 2017

Life LessonsToday, Bailey and I worked on prepping the yard for planting.  The boys were back at school after a long weekend.  I pulled out weeds leftover from last summer and trimmed the pussy willow stalks growing ever closer to our lupine beds.  Bailey watched me.  I wondered if she could be convinced to haul the branches to the pile accumulating at the back of the yard.  Somehow, I didn’t think she would leave the comfort of her grassy spot.  None of the tasks involved much concentration on my part.  My mind pondered over what to write in this week’s blog post.  Then, it came to me.  I have learnt a few things from hanging around with Bailey. Here are a few life lessons learned from our Newfoundland dog.

  1. A new friend may be just around the corner.  Bailey is always on the lookout for new friends.  According to Bailey, you can never have too many friends.
  2. Food is meant to be shared.  Try enjoying anything edible with a Newfoundland dog staring at you and not share.
  3. No one gets left behind.  Bailey will wait for the slowest person whether you want to or not.
  4. Naps are important.  I don’t feel guilty about a couple of naps during the day anymore.
  5. Drink lots of water.  A 5 gallon water bucket provides the perfect amount for Bailey.  Hearing her guzzling water reminds me to rehydrate myself.
  6. Don’t be afraid to explore.  Bailey has brought out my adventurous side.
  7. Take time to smell everything.  Nothing gets by Bailey.
  8. A little encouragement goes a long way.  A simple pat or word can make Bailey’s day.
  9. Leave a little of yourself behind.  Even when Bailey’s not with us, we find dust bunnies made of fur (Bailey bunnies) or drool streaks to ensure that we never forget her.

As much as we teach her, Bailey has her own lessons to share with us.


Discovering Bailey’s Heritage

March 7th, 2017

Raising an animal like Bailey, our two year old Newfoundland dog, opens up endless possibilities for your child to use as a topic for school assignments and projects.  Bailey has been the subject of two speeches that my youngest son has given since her arrival.  Now, she has become the inspiration for his Heritage Fair Project.  Grade 8 students in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador must write an essay of 8 to 10 pages, construct a poster display and create an original project on a subject that reflects the province’s heritage.  Like many parents here, it is a relief when the project is finally done.  Thankfully, this fair would be the last one for our family.  Students (or those ones who are smart not to leave such a massive undertaking to the last minute) begin in January to select their topic and start researching.  No class time is given to work on it.  Cameron had already decided on “The Newfoundland Dog”.  As a parent, you know that you’re coming along on the journey of discovery.

His trip began with a visit to the local libraries where he found many sources of information.  Surprisingly, we learned that Newfoundland has its own unique provincial encyclopedia.  Searching on the internet proved very successful at the Canadian Kennel Club’s website as well as the Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada.  Our family’s collection of books on this giant breed rounded out his fact finding mission.  While he wrote his essay, Cameron informed us about interesting tidbits on Bailey’s breed evolution.  For instance, the Newfoundland dog is one of the few dog breeds in North America that is considered indigenous.  It became very clear to us that there was much to know.

The Newf Poster Dispaly

We debated which breed was the original ancestor of the Newfoundland dog – the Great Pyrenees, the Tibetan or Malaysian Mastiff, or the big black dogs resembling bears that were brought over to the island by Leif Erikson and his Norsemen.  The recent discovery of a Viking settlement seems to support the bear dog theory.  Another interesting fact was that the Newfoundland dog almost became extinct on the island of its origin several times.  Cameron plodded on with the writing.  By the end of January, the essay was taking shape.  He tackled the poster display next.  A photo taken of Bailey lying out on the hillside dominated the centre of the board.  Pictures of her parents, Ike and Willow, demonstrated the two types of Newfoundland dogs recognized in Canada.  A section on modern newfs showcased Bailey carting at the South Eastern Ontario Region – Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada’s drafting seminar in July 2016.  But, photos of Bailey were not her only contribution.

Bailey donated a night’s worth of groomed out undercoat fur to be used as a part of a touching display.  I laughed when he enquired as to whether or not Bailey would have enough fur to donate.  She’s blowing her fur at the moment which means half of a grocery bag of undercoat is thrown out each night.  Fur collection was not a problem.

The last portion of the project was a model depicting a Newfoundland dog carting fish unloaded from a fishing dory.  Cameron decided his artistic skills to sculpt a dog were not up to par.  I could relate since my drawing is limited to stick people.  We settled on ordering a plastic Newf figurine that was pricy at $35.  The only other option was shipping one from the United Kingdom with a price tag of $120.  The first option suddenly looked like a better deal.  He made the wharf, dory and cart out of popsicle sticks and loads of white glue along with a couple paint layers.  Our house was filled with the chipping sound of popsicles being cut in the mornings.  It reminded me of having a woodpecker nearby.  By day 3, I was resorting to ear plugs to block the noise.  The first cart was rejected because it was not built to scale.  Dad, an engineer, offered suggestions to make the cart proportionate to the dog figurine.  It took a while before our son was convinced to redo the cart and more chipping commenced.  When no black paint could be found in the house on a Sunday night,  Cameron improvised with a dab of black food colouring gel to mix into white paint.  He created the perfect gray tone for the wharf.  A trip to the local pet store was successful in producing blue-coloured hamster bedding to simulate the ocean and small aquarium stones provided a realistic shoreline.  A small fortune was spent there.  The model was assembled and placed on the dining room table where the rest of the display had been set-up.  It was done…

Everyone was relieved.  Bailey had her playmate back after spending weeks of lying at the top of the stairs, listening to Cameron chopping sticks and hoping he might have some time to spare for a romp in the backyard.  In a couple of weeks, Cameron and seven other students will be representing their high school at the Regional Heritage Fair.  Hopefully, other people will enjoy discovering the rich heritage of the Newfoundland dog as much as we did.

Cam At Heritage Fair 2017