Almost Two

January 24th, 2017

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Tomorrow, our girl will officially be an adult Newfoundland dog.  She turns 2 years old and puppyhood becomes part of her past.  Although the time has gone by quickly, our lives have been filled with interesting experiences and lessons since Bailey’s arrival in the Big Land.  Just like a new baby changes your life, Bailey has certainly impacted ours.  Every family member participates in her daily schedule – the feedings, the walks, the business pick-ups, the rubs and the playtimes.  She is loved and valued.  And Bailey is well aware of it.  We don’t own her, she owns us – at least, our hearts.  Is the work of training done now that she has moved into the adult life stage?

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Hell no!  Just last week, Bailey and I were hiking with a friend and her dog on the snow covered trails.  The dogs were off leash and focused on chasing one another around.  We were entering into a large open space when the dogs caught sight of two toy dogs about 150 metres away.  Cas, the other dog, ran over to them.  Bailey was near enough to us that we managed to get her on leash.  We called Cas who ignored us for a few minutes before starting back our way.  I wondered aloud, “Where’s the owner?”  Suddenly, an elderly woman appeared around the bend.  Bailey also took notice of her.  In seconds, I found myself face planted and dragged through the snow as Bailey tried to greet the newcomer.  With my friend attempting to help me up, we temporarily gained control of our Walmart greeter.  Bailey took both of us by surprise with another burst of effort and I found myself, once again, face down in the snow.  I rose up covered in snow and reined Bailey in.  drag-youNot surprisingly, I decided to cut our hike short and return home.  My pride and body wounded.  Bailey forgave me for not letting her thunder down to spread her love to a new person. The adventures will continue…..

 

Homemade With Love

January 17th, 2017

A new year has arrived.  And what better way to start it then by baking doggie treats for our sweetness, Bailey.  I noticed the numerous containers holding pumpkin puree accumulating in the freezer from the last two years of buying the biggest pumpkins for the boys to carve.  Our local motto of “Go Big or Go Home!” applies to pumpkins here.  I have tried to convince the boys to share one to slowdown the growing stockpile to no avail.  One can only eat so much pumpkin before becoming tired of it.  If my freezer was ever going to be defrosted, I needed to reduce the supply.

say-okay-soonNow, it was time for Bailey to have her turn.  I found a dog cookie recipe on-line that only needed four ingredients – 500 ml pumpkin puree, 500g of flour, 3 tablespoons of natural peanut butter and 2 beaten eggs.  I substituted rice flour for grain flour because many Newfoundland dogs tend to do better on grain-free diets.  Why tempt trouble if you can find a workable substitute?  At the last minute, I decided to add 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley to aid in freshening our gal’s breath.  I threw the 5 items into the mixer and in a couple of minutes, the dough was ready.  A long time ago when we were waiting for a Newfoundland dog to join our family, I purchased a cookie cutter in the shape of a small bone.  It sat in the back of my baking utensil draw waiting for the day that our dream dog arrived.  She arrived.  Twenty-three months later – sometimes the best ideas take that long to become reality, the cutter was hauled out and put into service.  If I sound pleased, I was.  How many times have you bought something only to never end up using it?

yummiesThe recipe produced a lot of dough.  With a small cookie cutter, it made a gigantic batch of treats.  I stopped rolling dough when I had filled and baked four cookie sheets worth.  My wrists were starting to feel achy.  Seeing this huge amount, I progressed to making long dough strips and cutting them into ½ inch pieces for training treats.  Bake at 350 degrees F until treats become slightly cracked and no longer soft.  I think total cooking time was around 35 minutes but, it will depend upon treat size.  Bailey was standing by in the hopes of becoming a product tester.  I fed her and not one was rejected.  I ended up freezing half of the dough for another time.  Within an hour, I was finished.  I packaged up two treat jars for a friend.  The remaining treats were stored in labelled Mason jars and placed in the freezer for long-term keeping.  I guess defrosting the freezer will have to wait awhile.  Bailey loves her “new” favourite goodies made with lots of love.

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Holiday Memories

January 10th, 2017

i-ate-santaIt’s finally over.  The last of the decorations have been taken down.  The tree is no longer adorning our living room.  It lies abandoned behind the garden shed until spring for use as firewood.  The house seems so spacious.  Bailey appears to be missing her napping tree as she occasionally sniffs where it once stood.  Truthfully, so do I.  Alas, a fresh new year is upon us.  I am now tackling a few outstanding chores from the holidays.  I am catching up with correspondence.  I gave up writing Christmas cards a few years back and adopted a New Year’s letter tradition.  I also began sorting through the gazillion holiday photos that were taken and file the keepers away in digital photo albums.  I can see that Bailey has more photos taken of her than any other family member.  no-shelf-for-this-elfIt is hard deciding which elf photo of Bailey to keep.  I ponder over this one.  Should I pick the one that looks like she got into the rum and egg nog or another one capturing her mischievous imp pose?  Why not keep both of them?  And I do!

So many wonderful holiday memories of Bailey captured on digital film.  I can’t help myself from looking at each photo and calling other family members to come have a look at just one more.  We can’t help ourselves.  It’s an addiction.  Bailey is like a sugary sweet that you crave.  The holiday baking may have disappeared but, our photogenic sweetness is ready for another year of photo taking.  Where’s the camera?

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Tree Naps

Catching up with the blog after too much partaking in holiday festivities!  Regular Tuesday blog posts will resume.

December 20th, 2016

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Christmas is not far away and Bailey seems determine not to miss any of the festivities. She started the season imbibing on fir needle water. Bailey quickly noticed the real Christmas tree standing in a bucket of water out in the garage and claimed it as her new water bucket. I was surprised that the tree took in any water with our water guzzling sweetness around. Mind you, her breath had a nice pine needle scent to it as opposed to the usual doggy one. just-a-little-closerOnce the tree came into the house, Bailey squeezed herself underneath in search of a restful place to sleep. The red blanket situated under the tree stand to protect the hardwood floor is now covered with drool spots. I am holding off until tomorrow before putting the tree skirt down. The Christmas train will once again be set-up to circle the tree and Bailey will have to forfeit her special spot. Bailey may derail these plans in a literal sense. Although she hasn’t directly damaged the tree or the glorious collection of ornaments that hang from its branches, her wagging tail has sent an avalanche of needles down. This usually occurs after I have finished vacuuming. Bailey adds her own holiday decorating touches by transporting tree needles throughout the house where they are vigorously shaken out of her fur. Over the next two days, the main living space will be transformed with a holiday theme. No doubt, Bailey will be in the middle of it all.

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Another Shade Of Bailey

December 6th, 2016

Last week was an unusual week.  We had the pleasure of billeting a young man from the provincial cross-country ski team that was training at our local ski club for 7 days.  He had stayed two years ago with us when we shared our living space with an 18 year old cat.  Bailey was going to make a bigger impression on him than our senior cat did.  My sons kept in touch with him since this first visit.  The boys had told him about our new furry addition and he had followed Bailey’s antics on the blog.  We expected Bailey to be very excited to see him as she often is greeting guests in our home.

Monday night came and the reaction from Bailey was not what any of us anticipated.  Upon entering into the house, the newcomer was subjected to Bailey woofing loudly – definitely not friendly sounding.  Her woofs are usually restricted to one or two rather than a string of them.  I wondered if Bailey was ever going to stop.  She did by following up this performance with a low growl-like rumble.  It was a new side to Bailey that I had never seen before.  Bailey was not being very welcoming to our guest who took it in good stride.  The only positive thing was that she still wagged her tail.  It was going to be a long week.

To further confuse things, our guest was named Daley which sounded similar to Bailey.  A number of times, I caught myself calling Daley Bailey and Bailey Daley.  If I was confused, Bailey was even more so.  Could life get any more complicated?  The first night, Bailey continued to woof and growl at Daley.  I am sure he was relieved to learn that Bailey did not go downstairs.  It was a safe refuge for him and more importantly, the location of the fooseball table.  Bailey was not too pleased that her boys were hanging out more downstairs with the stranger.  She would lie at the top of the stairs, listen to their shouts of glee from scoring at fooseball and respond with a string of woofs.  Should they come storming up the stairs, Bailey would emit her growl.  The boys and I moved Bailey away from Daley to allow him to get by.  It made for a tense atmosphere.  Bailey finally settled down in the evening when the boys headed out to cadets and Daley joined the team for an evening of bowling.  Bailey enjoyed her nightly walk followed by grooming.  They returned and Bailey resumed her barking until she was kennelled for the night.  Peace at last.

The next morning, Bailey was back to her old self.  She came into the house, waited for her towel dry, sniffed her stuffie bear and made her way to the food dish.  Life was normal again.  At precisely 6:45 am, the door to Cam’s room opened.  Bailey dashed down to greet her Cam.  Most mornings, Bailey nudges the door back and saunters alongside his bed until she reaches his face.  The kisses begin at this point.  However, Cam had given up his bedroom to our guest and slept elsewhere.  Bailey certainly wasn’t expecting Daley or his luggage blocking her path.  The barking resumed.  I hurried over to make sure that Daley wasn`t being held hostage.  He was understanding and did not react in any way to antagonize our sweetness.

We tried different things such as having Daley give one of Bailey`s favourite treats to her.  She took the treat but, immediately started woofing again.  I tried to distract her without much success.  I finally resorted to sending Bailey for a timeout in her kennel pen located within our attached garage.  Separation from the pack seemed to help.  She woofed less upon her return to the pack.  By Wednesday night, Bailey seemed more accepting of our guest.  The growling seized and the barking became less frequent.  I gave a sigh of relief as  Bailey approached Daley in a friendly manner – tail thumping the wall as she circled around him enthusiastically.  Our sweetness had returned in full Newfie glory with drool hanging from her mouth.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him that Bailey had slimed his backside.  Still, I am left wondering what other shades of Bailey might be revealed in time.

 

Screen Time

November 22nd, 2016

We are a bit of an anomaly in this technological era.  Our family does not subscribe to cable or satellite services.  No one has a cellphone and only one of our computers is hooked up to the internet.  WiFi is non-existent in our household that still relies on using a modem to connect to the worldwide web.  Not quite technologically backward, we manage to survive in our high-tech world.  It’s a conscious choice that we have made.  Bailey does not seem to give much notice to the various screens scattered around the house – 3 laptops, 2 personal computers and 2 televisions.  Once in a while, Bailey surprises us with her sudden interest in the television.

save-youOur televisions are used to watch DVDs of movies or those shows packaged as complete seasons borrowed from the local library.  Without 24/7 television offerings, our nights in front of the big screen are special.  We enjoy a variety of snacks and drinks to celebrate these occasions.  Everyone has their preferred seating spot including our sweetness.  Bailey happily stretches out at our feet in close proximity to being rubbed and more importantly, near the tantalizing yummies.  Once the food goodies disappear, Bailey falls into a deep sleep oblivious to that night’s show.  Imagine our shock when Bailey bolted upright with a loud Woof while we were watching an episode of “Once Upon A Time”.  The scene involved Pongo, a Dalmatian, frantically barking to draw attention that his owner was gone.  Bailey was obviously disturbed by Pongo’s distress and sat blocking the television to get a closer look.  More woofs followed until Pongo exited the scene and our gal could resume her siesta.

It was not the only time.  Another dog movie called “Max” which told a story about a German Sheppard retired from bomb sniffing duty in the Middle East woke up Bailey and caused her to start barking in front of the television screen.  Max was reacting in a protective manner – growling and barking to fend off the bad guys.  It appeared that our sweetness identified on some level with this dog in the big box.  Okay, she reacts to the sounds of other dogs especially ones in distress.  movie-fanaticAlong came “The Martian” and Bailey came to life once again but, not a dog in sight.  In an emotionally charged scene where the main character played by Matt Damian finds his food source destroyed, Bailey acted agitated, woofed numerous times and remained fixated on staring at the television screen.  We were told by other Newfoundland dog owners that this breed has a strong empathy with humans.  Bailey loves her sleep and arousing her can be quite a challenge.  Springing up from a deep sleep to verbally respond to the distress of another dog or human seems to suggest that our girl shows a high degree of emotional intelligence.  It makes you wonder if Bailey sees our television as the doorway into another world in need of her protection.caught-up-in-plot

 

 

The Fetish

November 15th, 2016

You kind of think sleazy with a title like that one.  An almost 22 month old Newfoundland puppy with a head fetish is anything but, sleazy.  Slobbery comes to mind.  Bailey has a “thing” for closely shorn heads or, in my husband’s case, a diminishing supply of hair as the years have gone by.  Several months ago, my husband discovered her uncontrollable lust.  He was bending over to tie up his boot when Bailey sauntered by.  What possessed her to take that first lick, we will never know. She became more excited with each lick until his entire head had been covered with gooey drool.  Bailey was in ecstasy and showed no signs of stopping.  My husband managed to finally extricate himself from Bailey’s slobbery intentions.  We shared our thoughts on the matter and enjoyed a few laughs.  On occasion, my husband will indulge Bailey and her fetish.

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Which brings me to today’s special moment.  My husband brought home a fistful of pens that he had accumulated and was willing to donate to the family pen collection.  A super magnet keeps the family pen holder stuck to the fridge.  For some reason, I always find the holder depleted of any working pens.  My sons shrug their shoulders and claim they do not know where the pens go.  The pen borrowing fairy works overtime in our house.  I was grateful for the pens and promptly placed them in the holder.   I had barely turned my back when the magnet, holder and pens crashed to the floor.  Super magnets like Superman have their limitations.  I crouched down and gathered up the pens and holder.  Where was that super magnet?  I searched the kitchen floor and the dining area.  No luck.  I looked under the fridge and only to find large quantities of Bailey’s fur bunnies.  Note to self, vacuum under fridge.  I began to think about Bailey finding the magnet and gobbling it up as if it were a tasty treat.  What to do?

Enter the helpful husband….  After hearing my predicament, he too searched the floor, under the garbage can and table.  I watched as he lay out flat on the floor in front of the fridge.  He carefully scanned under it (knowing not to mention the furry state of affairs under there) and probed with a long wooden handled spoon.  At this moment, Bailey must have sensed something was happening that required closer investigation.  She waddled over and discovered a treat waiting for her.  An almost hairless head was within reach and she was not going to waste this delicacy.  Her tongue was out and moving back and forth across my husband’s head.  He was pinned in by the fridge and garbage can making a fast escape impossible.  Bailey took advantage of the situation as she stepped over his back to get in a better position.  Between the wet nose nudges and slobbering tongue, my husband’s head was given a Newfie detail job.  The house was filled with much laughter.  Oh, the magnet did appear after some time – wedged between the bottom of the freezer door and the top of the fridge door.

 

Two Kinds

November 8th, 2016

I have come to realize that there are two kinds of dog owners.  Those people who do.  And then, those people who don’t.  What am I rambling about?  Dog poop!  I doubt many soon-to-be puppy owners give much thought to the disposal of poop.  That is, until they bring the adorable fur ball home.  Don’t misunderstand me.  On your private property, I don’t care if you pick up each time, daily, weekly, monthly or even at all.  It’s the public outdoor places that I speak of.

clean-up-pet-sign-k-2251Our sidewalks are littered with these potent land mines.  Playgrounds should be sacred places devoid of dog waste.  They are not here in Labrador West.  It is even problem at places like the local dog park or Tanya Lake Trail where free poop bags and waste containers are available.  Seeing that brown mound smack in the middle of the trail within reach of the poop bag dispenser and garbage can makes my blood boil.  Our walk is spoiled because I am not focused on enjoying the natural surroundings.  Instead, I must be vigilant by constantly scanning the ground for potential hazards for Bailey and myself.  I have stepped in dog poop.  Cleaning a boot tread of embedded poop is not an experience that I wish to repeat.

I use to give the benefit of doubt to owners. Telling myself that they simply forgot to bring a bag or they missed their dog doing the drop. I was wrong. They know and don’t care. Take Bailey’s favourite walking trail as an example. I loved hiking this trail with Bailey because very few people used it when we first discovered it. Minimal usage meant less garbage strewn around and very little dog waste. People have learned about its existence and some of them have, through their actions, spoiled it for others like myself.  One of these days, I might find myself tracking the culprit back home to leave his/her dog’s waste.  Well, I can dream.

dog-scoopingThose of us, who are the other kind of dog owner, notice and care.  My friend and I walk on the local trails and streets with our pooches.  We not only collect our own dogs’ stuff but, on principle, pick-up that of other dogs.  I have a Newfoundland dog and trust me when I say, “that’s enough to collect and dispose of properly!”  On an average day, Bailey makes 3 deposits.  Each one makes it to the garbage receptacle.  Our community’s public outdoor space would be ruined quickly if I left Bailey’s stuff on the ground.  Mathematically speaking, Bailey could be leaving 21 piles each week (probably more) without my diligence in cleaning up after her.  Now, think what things would be like if every dog owner just decided not to take care of his/her dog’s waste.  It would not be a pretty sight. Besides, animal waste is a breeding ground for unwanted parasites.

poop-fairyIt is definitely the topic on our walks.  WE RANT. WE COMPLAIN. WE ACT.  Today, we picked up our dog waste as well as that of four other dogs.  Our collection also included a coffee cup, empty cigarette package and a wire wrapped stick.  Are these wasted efforts? Possibly…  But, I am a believer in change.  In doing nothing, your inaction says it is okay to litter and not clean up after your dog.  I fantasize of a day when hiking with Bailey will be void of the remains from garbage and dog poop.  For those of us who care about keeping public outdoor spaces clean for our pets and ourselves, I work towards making this happen.  Join me.scoop-that-poop

 

Rest

November 1st, 2016

zoned-outThese last three days have been rest, rest and more rest for our sweetness, Bailey.  No playdates with puppy Cas.  No walks.  No games with “Stuffie”.  Simply put, she was to move as little as possible.  Why?  Bailey had a very active Saturday.  The two of us took an extended early morning walk in the freshly fallen snow.  It was peaceful and quiet.  We returned home to start the day.  Bailey happily slept while I made zucchini loaves.  The snowy outdoors called to us again.  After lunch, we joined Cas and his owner for a hike on the nature trail across from our house.  Only a portion of the trail had been packed down by snowmobiles.  It was hard work moving down the trail for both humans and dogs.  Cas, a perfect agility candidate, sprang over the snowbanks while Bailey bulldozed through them.  The two pals chased one another in amongst the trees providing much entertainment for their humans.  The four of us were tired when we returned.  Bailey had another nap – a pick-me-up as I like to call it.  I wasn’t so lucky and headed into town to get some last minute shopping items.

A couple of hours later, my youngest son went with Bailey to the backyard for the first game of “King of the Snowhill” this winter.  It is a game that involves a considerable amount of lying down in the snow.  Bailey was keen to play the game and made some great tackles to throw Cam off his claim of the hill.  Who won?  I can’t say.  They trooped in for dinner and Bailey inhaled hers.  By 6 pm, we were off to the ball field for one last play romp with Cas.  A few times, Bailey found herself lying with her feet in the air and Cas on top.  Snow covered both of them.  They appeared to be having a wonderful time.   Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.  We said our good byes and headed home for the nightly grooming session.  Bailey snored and stretched through the entire process.  She moved to her special blanket afterwards and spent the remainder of the evening sleeping.  It was not until bedtime that we noticed Bailey favouring her front right leg.  After we checked her over and found nothing apparently wrong, she limped outside to do her business.  We settled her as comfortable as possible in the garage kennel.  After a Saturday of frolicking in the powdery snow, we hoped that her leg was achy from having been so active.  I did not sleep very well unlike Bailey.

The morning came and the limp remained.  It did lessen as the day progressed which we took as a encouraging sign.  Still, Bailey was restricted in her movements.  We helped her get up and lifted her down the two stairs to get outside.  By Monday, Bailey was getting a little bored with the napping and tried to get a throwing game going with “Stuffie”.  “Stuffie” was removed from circulation and only appeared at naptime.  Bailey also showed more interest in going for walks.  After finishing her business, she seemed puzzled that we were heading back home.  Bailey would give a slight pull on her leash to let us know that she wanted to keep going rather than turn around towards the house.  Orders were orders and back we went.  A call to the vet reinforced the idea of rest.  We agreed to bring her in if the limping did not improve by Wednesday.  Today is Tuesday and Bailey shows no sign of a limp.  She whipped past me without any hesitation to get to her food dish at the start of the day.  I guess bobbing for pear chunks in her water bowl does not seem so boring after all.  I am hopeful that by Friday, we can resume our daily walks.  We’ll just have to make sure that Bailey doesn’t overdo it.  Until then, Bailey can only rest and soak up lots of rubs.

 

Snow Buddies

October 25th, 2016

Labrador West was hammered with falling snow over the past two days.  Our green lawn has turned into a white wonderland for 20 month old Bailey.  After a summer of dragging her paws on walks, Bailey is now charging ahead with extra springiness, stopping only to submerge her head in a pile of snow.  Winter is here much to Bailey’s delight.  I was also thrilled to see the arrival of the white stuff.  Wet snow makes perfect snowballs.  Bailey loves snowballs but, not the snowmen that suddenly appeared in yards along her walking route.  My days are a little more physical with the shovelling and hiking through deep snow.  I can barely keep my eyes open in the evening.  Bailey seems to be snoring more loudly as she sleeps alongside the couch – dreaming of our vast white land.

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Tonight, Bailey had the pleasure of meeting her puppy friend, Cas, for their nightly romp together.  Cas loves the snow as much as Bailey.  I suspect that is because of his husky genes.  Bailey will have a winter companion.  It can be a little lonely when you are the only dog out at minus temperatures.  successful-tackleThe two buddies chased and tackled one another.  Their attention on one another was broken only when another dog walked by with his owner.  Then, it was back to play.  I had brought my camera with the hopes of getting some snow shots for the blog.  They struck poses long enough for me to get my camera out and focused.  One of them would move and the other would follow.  I was left with a shot minus the dogs.  If I did manage to keep them in the shot, I ended up with blurry looking dogs.  I persisted until my exposed fingers pained from the cold.  It was futile.  Winter is only beginning here and I realized that I have six more months to get that perfect snow buddies shot.dogbreak