No Pups For Bailey

a-little-groggy

October 18th, 2016

Bailey won’t be celebrating Mother’s Day.  She was spayed on October 5th at 20 months of age.  In technical terms, Bailey was given an ovario-hysterectomy and we received an $800 bill.  Giant breeds cost more because of their size.  At least, the nail trim was thrown in for free.  Was it worth it?  You bet.  An unplanned litter of puppies is not an easy thing to take on.  Besides having the expertise to breed healthy Newfoundland dogs and the facilities, you really need to be committed.  The first few weeks are spent monitoring the puppies for 24 hours, 7 days a week.  It may sound easy.  However, staying awake after several days of little sleep and trying to function can be very challenging.  Bailey was not going to be a mom.

trimmed-upAs Bailey’s surgery date drew closer, I found myself getting quite anxious about her going under general anesthestic.  With this type of surgery, there are risks associated with it.  It was these risks that kept me preoccupied.  What if she was given too much anesthestic?  I had read of this happening on several of my Newf Facebook pages.  I guess that’s why I made sure that upon check-in, the veterinarian staff knew she was 109 pounds.  I repeated the number quite a few times.  I also realized how attached I had become to our sweetness.  If she did not survive the surgery, my life (our family’s life) would never be the same.  towel-dryThe day before the surgery was spent trimming and bathing Bailey.  With her looking and smelling wonderful, my attention turned to washing down her kennel pen.  It was spotless before long due to channelling my anxiety.  Bailey refused her dinner.  I knew she would not be happy when the food did not appear in the morning.  Did she know something was up?  Now, we just needed to get a good night’s sleep before taking her in the next morning for 8:30 am.  I tossed and turned the entire night.  Morning came just as l was falling into a deep sleep.  Bailey and I took a long walk – the last one for the next week as she would be recovering.  Bailey routinely enjoys gulping and spraying water after the early morning walk.  She was mystified that her water bowl had disappeared.  Her attempts to jog my memory were in vain.  The dish did not materialize.

not-quite-dry

 

all-cleaned

We arrived on time and the paperwork was quickly filled out.  Bailey, not liking the smoothness of the vet’s office flooring, made a dash for the rubberized-coated scale.  Taking her weight was not a problem.  After one last rub, we handed Bailey on the end of her leash to a staff member and watched as she was led away.  Bailey was gone but, not forgotten.  The day dragged despite a multitude of chores that needed to get done.  Finally, it was 3 pm and we could bring our gal home.  She was a bit groggy.  Yet, she could still manage a tail wag for us.  On each of her front legs, she was sporting two rectangular bare spots that had been shaved for the IV fluid drip and the monitoring apparatus.  Bailey’s furry underside had also been partially shaved and we could see how trim she was.  We were given instructions to keep Bailey to a sedentary way of life for 7 to 10 days and to limit food intake for the first day.  She also came home with medication and “the cone of shame” as it is referred to in dog circles.  I was glad that Bailey was only 109 pounds as we lifted her into the van.  The ride home was uneventful as Bailey was so drowsy.

She was not too energetic and seemed content enough to stay in her kennel.  I had put a red fleece blanket down on the concrete in the hopes Bailey would find it comfortable.  Usually, she loves lying on cement – chewing anything lying between her and the cement’s coolness.  the-cone-of-shameMy husband assembled the cone with its powdered blue dog prints.  He enlarged it to the widest setting.  We figured out how to get it on her with a minimal struggle.  Bailey was not pleased with her new look.  She reminded me of a flower.  At this point, Bailey did not care to fight it and simply went back to sleep.  She perked up later in the evening and joined us in the living room.  I gave her a quick brush on her head and back to pacify her about not having the full nightly spa treatment.  Apparently, Bailey does not see her grooming time as an optional activity.

Bailey returned to her old self over the next few days.  She seemed bewildered that outside excursions were limited to business breaks.  Showing Scar.jpgWe had to restrict her play with fetching “Stuffie”.  Bailey would defiantly shake her Stuffie as if to say, “Fine, I will play by myself.”  Stuffie was taken away for a while and only returned when Bailey had settled down for a nap.  The hardest part was not taking Bailey out for her three daily walks and playdates with Cas.  I suddenly had the time to catch up with many of the fall chores.  The cone remained off during the day because we could keep an eye on her.  It was worn at night time much to Bailey’s dismay.  One family member did not share Bailey’s disdain towards the cone.  One day, I came into the garage to find it sitting on my son’s head.  I had to take a photo for future blackmail as evidence of a new teenage fashion statement.  He does not seem eager to wear it to school though.  It has been more than 10 days and  Bailey has recovered completely.  With a snowfall warning in effect for later today, I am hoping that her bare areas will grow fur quickly before winter’s arrival in a few short weeks.

 

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.

still-time-for-a-swim

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.

a-labrador-sunset

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

 

Blueberry Pickers Beware

September 6th, 2016

Ever since we have lived in Northern Canada, it has become our family’s tradition to spend the Labour Day weekend picking wild blueberries in the surrounding hills.  We labour at collecting enough berries to enjoy throughout the upcoming year.  When temperatures dip down to -15 degrees Celsius or colder, one appreciates these tasty reminders of warmer times.  The process has been streamlined through much trial and error.  Our daily quota is 15 cups of berries in 1 ½ to 2 hours.  Total amount to be collected is about 75 cups.  In past years, picking berries for several hours has led to mutiny by certain family members who are not as eager as their mother to scrounge the countryside in search of ripe berries.  The containers must be a size that keeps teenagers motivated.  Expecting ice cream buckets to be filled by a teenager who only a short while ago was sleeping blissfully in his bed is futile.  I use “treat training” to inspire my teenage sons to quicken their picking pace.  These homemade treats originate from mom’s kitchen.  They enjoyed cinnamon roll pancakes on the first day – complete with cream cheese icing.  The second day was a truly Canadian experience of “beaver tails” – a sweet bread concoction.  Today’s treat was chocolate dipped sugar cookies in the shape of a maple leaf.  Not surprising, they met their quota.

Bailey Of The Big Land.jpg

This year, we included Bailey in the berry harvesting activity.  She normally sleeps in the morning after an hour hike around Jean Lake or through the nature trails.  Rousing her took some effort until the harness appeared.  Bailey associates the harness with van trips to the dog park or many other wondrous places.  We drove to the berry patch uphill from Tanya Lake where the plants grow on an open hillside.  The team clamoured out and the containers were given out.  We lucked out because most of the mornings were cool and strong winds kept the pesky black flies at bay.  It soon became apparent that Bailey did not know “the berry rules“.  She seemed to think that we were picking berries for her to eat.  I don’t think so.  Bailey was told to get her own berries.  She did just that.  It was like watching a one of those huge farm combines mow down a field of crops.  Bailey slurped her way from one berry bush to another.  I did not mind when she followed behind.  But, in front of me was a different matter.  I unexpectedly selected a few slobber-covered berries which were quickly rejected.  Bailey made quick work of the rejected ones.  A number of times, Bailey plopped herself in a patch of berries that hung in clumps – squishing many with her rump.  I gave up trying to move her and just picked around the black lump.  berry-bowl-emptyWe spread out in search of our own desirable berry patch and Bailey bounded between us.  A shout at the last moment warned of her approach and containers were safely stowed.  Sometimes, I left my container unattended as I scouted for a new spot.  Bailey came close to emptying the contents if I had not whisked the container away in the nick of time.  Berry picking and Bailey was challenging at times.

 

taking-a-break

 

Guarding Berries.jpg

looking-for-berry-pickersWe were not the only pickers on the hillside.  Others were partaking in the same activity.  I am sure from a distance that Bailey must have looked like a young bear grazing for berries.  Two mothers showed up with three young children under the age of six.  Bailey seemed a little concerned when one of the boys began to get boisterous.  Was he hurt?  I managed to keep her from investigating.  A charging black giant puppy that resembles a bear might not be greeted with open arms.  After a while,  Bailey tired of berry grazing and lay down for a nap.  I envied her but, kept plucking berries.  The quota had to be met.  As my hands carefully selected the ripe berries, I admired the view of the big land with my bear-like puppy at my side.

 

bailey-naps

 

Kindred Spirits

August 30th, 2016

Wanna Dance

During the first week of August, Bailey discovered a four-legged canine playmate.  This energetic young fellow has been given the name Castiel.  But, for simplicity sake, Bailey knows him as Cas.  He is almost 5 months old with a strong resemblance to that of a Husky.  I like to think of him as a “surprise package” that will reveal itself as he matures.  At the moment, he appears petite and delicate compared to his huskier gal pal.  Size does not matter to Bailey.  Cas brings puppy enthusiasm to Bailey’s life.  Given her recent preference for a more sedentary life, she needs that youthful jolt of Cas energy.  Sometimes, the only way to get Bailey moving beyond our yard is to mention his name.  Cas is as good as any treat for motivating Bailey.

Cas came into her radar zone after she took notice of him exploring outside his house.  He lives just a few houses away on Bailey’s main walking route.  He was eager to engage her in play.  Bailey responded with her own brand of playfulness – dragging me with her.  Since their first meeting, the two of them have been getting together on a regular basis at the local ball field.  Bailey has come to associate this place with Cas and expects him to be there when she arrives.  Should he not be there, she refuses to play.  Bailey will just sit and wait.  Sometimes, we have not arranged a playdate.  Bailey does not hide her disappointment very well and guilt is very effective on me.  I found myself soon arranging more playdates with Cas.  Thankfully, the people of Cas are also eager to cultivate this blossoming relationship between their pup and our girl.

Together Again

Waiting to Spring

Having a regular playmate has been beneficial to both dogs.  The first ball field visit involved Cas and Bailey getting know one another off their leashes.  At the start, Cas seemed timid around Bailey who can come on a bit strong at times.  Bailey’s friendliness shone through and Cas found his comfort zone within five minutes.  They chased one another around the field – celebrating their shared freedom from being off-leash.  Mr. NibblesCas likes to nibble her fur.  Bailey has yet to growl or snap at him.  I not sure if the thickness of Bailey’s fur insulates her from feeling his bites.  Or, maybe she does not care.  She has tried to outrun him.  However, he is becoming more agile and quicker with each passing week.  I see her tiring long before Cas does now.  Other times, Bailey will chase behind him, using her massive paws to push his backside in the direction she wants him to go.  Herding CasIf a ball is involved, Cas is more likely to go to it while Bailey is content to follow him part of the way.  I wonder if she is waiting for Cas to bring it closer for her to nab – minimizing any effort on her part.  Cas has caught on to her game and is now more adept at playing “keep away“.  He’s no fool.

Success at the ball field encouraged us to try other venues.  We invited Cas and his people to hike up to the waterfall featured in last week’s blog post.  The weather cooperated and the bugs were not too pesky.  Our group trooped along the trail with both dogs enjoying one another’s presence.  It was Bailey’s first time being on the trail without her leash on.  Cas, who was experiencing this trail for the first time, got to do so without his leash.  They ventured ahead at times but, for the most part, stayed close to us.  Water BenefitsBailey trudged into the shallows of the waterfall and demonstrated how she guzzles water after the uphill climb.  Cas did not seem to need a water fill-up like Bailey.  The other place that the two pups were taken to explore was “The Barking Lot”.  It is our local dog park and this visit would be an initiation for Cas into the dog world.  Fortunately, another 5 month old husky mix was there that Bailey and Cas had played with previously.  I think that it made the place less intimidating for Cas.  As more dogs came, Bailey participated in the usual greet and meet session.  She has matured enough to refrain from jumping on other dogs.  Those dogs that growled were given a wide berth by her.  Cas acted much like Bailey did on those early visits – not quite sure of being sniffed and chased by a posse of strange dogs.  He’ll come around once he learns the dog lingo – just like his pal, Bailey.  Their easy going personalities make them perfect playmates.

 

Waterfall Bonanza

August 23rd, 2016

It has been challenging to get Bailey outside for her afternoon walk.  The puppy fur disappeared quite some time ago.  A thick, heavy adult coat took its place.  Although our summers are nothing like those ones that people living in the south experience, the heat is more than enough for our gal.  Sidewalk walking and open park space are not suitable for the “black beastie” when the sun is shining and temperatures hover over 16 degrees Celsius.  Bailey SiestaBailey has been snoozing way too much in my opinion and the male young’uns in the household have parked themselves in front of the big screen for movie marathons.  I could see it was time for action!  The crew loaded up in the van that was way too hot – more grumbling from the gang and a drooly Newf to boot.  Halfway to our destination, the air conditioning had hit its stride.  I announced that the family would be hiking up to the waterfall on one of our Menihek Nordic Ski Club trails.  Much of the trail is shaded by tall pines.  The uphill climb is well-worth the effort because Bailey can wade in the slower-moving portions of the stream and drink huge quantities of refreshing mountain water.  She is motivated to exert herself in the heat with this reward waiting for her.  And so, our hike began.

I am always amazed how different the cross-country ski trails appear in the summer from the winter.  The vegetation is now lush and overspills onto the trails.  Clusters of berries hang off the plant branches.  Wild Grouse Crossing.jpgOn this hike, we came across three wild grouses (Labrador turkeys as we like to call them) moving amongst the tall grass lining the trail.  Bailey eyed them up but, remained sitting until they had moved on.  Safe Up HereShe is definitely not a hunting dog.  We resumed walking upward and Bailey took in the smells.  A couple of squirrels chattered down at us as if we were going to steal their horde of nuts and seeds.  By this time, my youngest son was wishing that I had packed snacks.  We reached the waterfall somewhat sweaty.  Bailey wasted no time in cooling her paws and sucking back the water.  I hesitated to say anything to my son who was happily gulping down the water downstream from Bailey’s spot.  What’s a little dog drool?

Cool Paw Soak

The other son was scrambling up the stairs on one side of the waterfall before crossing the bridge at the top and returning down the steps on the other side.  I considered following him.  However, Bailey showed no signs of wanting to get out of the water.  She had waddled uphill on a warm day.  Who was I to deny her this pleasure?  Bailey & WaterfallEventually, Bailey did emerge refreshed and gamed to get back on the trail.  We continued until the 2.9 km turnoff was reached before heading back.  The hike back went quicker as much of it was downhill.  Despite the heat, even Bailey picked up speed.  She stopped long enough to refill with stream water that originated from the waterfall above us.  I appreciated not having to haul water for her.  The final dip came when we reached the lake situated by the lodge.  Everyone seemed in better spirits from hiking outdoors.  Our slightly wet Newf clamoured into the van, promptly lay down and closed her eyes.  The drive home was punctuated with loud snores originating from our sweetness.  She had earned her nap.

 

Training Amongst Chaos

August 16th, 2016

Practicing Sit & StayTwo weeks ago, Bailey began her first dog obedience course. She seems a little old at almost 19 months to just be starting her formal training. But, dog trainers are not easily found in Labrador West, a remote community. Our area only has one trainer available. She was recovering from back surgery last year and only began offering classes this summer. Classes are held outside in the park area beside either Jean Lake or Tanya Lake. Bailey’s group was to meet at Jean Lake which is not far from our house. It is less busy than Tanya Lake. However, a thunderstorm threat moved the class to Tanya Lake – the local swimming beach. My husband and I arrived a little early with Bailey to get comfortable before the class. The threatening clouds went by without incident leaving the sun to shine down on us.

People were flocking to the beach for an early evening swim. I immediately noticed two groups playing Frisbee and football. Balls and swimmers clearly meant that Bailey was going to be distracted. The other participants arrived along with the instructor and the class started. Two of the dogs did not feel comfortable with Bailey near them. It seemed her size was intimidating and the drool running non-stop out of her mouth did not help. A three year old collie tolerated Bailey’s advances while the youngest class member, an eight month old puppy, wanted to meet everyone. Our reasoning behind Bailey attending was to have her respond to commands even when distractions such as other dogs and people were present. I am not sure that we succeeded. Three times, Bailey was able to gain enough momentum in the hopes of getting to the other dogs that I had to either give up the leash or end up being dragged through the grass. Thankfully, the two dog owners handled the situations calmly and I was able to retrieve Bailey. It was obvious why we were there.

Another Circle of HeelingWe had bitten off the mother lode of all distractions. I could tell that the heat from the sun was making Bailey uncomfortable. After all, who wears a black fur coat to the beach? The lake was looking more inviting to Bailey with each passing minute. Add two very young children who were gleefully shouting as they ran into the shallows and I knew Bailey’s attention would not be on heeling and sitting. I was not sure if she wanted to rescue them or simply join in the fun. We compromised. I would take her to the lake for a paw soaking and water break. Then, the two of us would return to class. The instructor asked us to move in a circular fashion with our dogs heeling by our sides. Next, we were instructed to have our dog stop and sit on command. The dog was to be rewarded upon doing it. Bailey did as she was told for a while. Feeling HeatThe black flies started to make their presence felt at this point much to my girl’s displeasure. I was not doing much better. My oldest son had returned home from camp with a flu bug. He managed to infect me. I should have stayed home in hindsight. I could tell that Bailey was done after only 20 minutes. I had to agree with her as my fever was starting to rise at the same time as the heat from the sun beat down on us. We managed to last the entire one hour session before heading to the van. Away from the whirlwind of activity on the beach, Bailey and I appreciated the quiet and cool ride home.

Lake Is Looking Good

Staying In LakeThe two of us returned the next week to a class at Jean Lake. The sun came out just as the class was starting after a day of rain and clouds. I could tell that Bailey was hoping to run around like she does at the dog park. No play and too much heat sapped Bailey of any enthusiasm. The treats and praise became less effective as the class progressed. It was becoming very apparent to me that taking a full hour class with no breaks was not working for Bailey. She kept looking up at me as if to say, “When will the torture end?” Bailey did spring to life when one of the other dog owners whipped out her bag of Cheezies to treat her dog. One whiff of cheese (who cared if it was fake cheese) and Bailey was determined to sit – just not next to me. She scrambled to the other owner with me being pulled behind like a rag doll. At which point, Bailey plunked herself down in a perfect sitting position and waited for the contraband treat. I learned that there are high value treats and then there are higher value treats. Tonight, we will return with a bowl and water jug for round three.  I am sure that Bailey will scouting for her new fave treat – Cheezies.

 

The Tenacity of Drool

August 2nd, 2016

Sometimes, I make unexpected discoveries.  They won’t be written up in a science journal or earn a Nobel Prize for me.  However, these discoveries challenge my perception of daily life at our house.  The furnishings are minimal and easy to keep clean with children and a Newfoundland puppy bounding through.  The seating in our main living space is comprised of a taupe-coloured leather sofa and loveseat.  My husband and I gave up cloth-covered furniture many eons ago.  We learned from having three cats and two young boys that accidents never happen on easy to clean surfaces like tile or laminate flooring.  Nope, they always occurred on the carpet or supposedly stain resistant furniture that fails to live up to its claim.  Thus, we invested in leather. It has been good choice.  I clean it with special leather cleaner every 4 months and a weekly vacuum to suck up any stuff trapped between the cushions.  I thought that this cleaning schedule was pretty good until last weekend.

I was living dangerously by eating peanut butter-chocolate chip cookies on the sofa in front of Bailey.  She was quick to notice and set-up camp in front me, slightly leaning in as the cookie was brought up to my mouth.  It was too hot to drape the fleece lap throw over myself in order to make the drool clean-up quick.  Had I done so, it would have involved a simple toss of the throw into the washing machine.  Bailey drooled onto the couch and I responded by wiping it up with a nearby drool cloth.  Problem solved or was it?  The drool had left a discoloured patch where it had fallen – quite noticeable because it was lighter than the rest of the sofa.  I wasn’t too concerned as I headed off to retrieve the leather cleaner.  I squirted some on the patch and rubbed in a circular fashion with the cloth.  The patch became bigger.  I was stumped.  I sprayed a small section on the adjoining cushion and it too developed the same coloured patch.  The brain cells began to fire.  My clean couch was in fact quite dirty.

Bailey’s drool had stripped or, more likely, eaten away the dirt in seconds.  My clean-up had taken considerable more time due to lots of elbow grease needed.  I glanced at my drooling gal who was patiently waiting for her share of the cookies and pondered how to get that gigantic tongue to lick the entire seat cushions of the sofa.  I envisioned developing a cleaner called “Newf Be Gone” as she has an endless goober supply.  She might do it if I spread peanut butter or ice cream across each cushion top.  I banished the thought.  Bailey’s fur would be coated in a gooey mess as she searched the house for other tasty clean-up jobs.  I was on my own with this one.  While Bailey took care of the cookie crumbs and a couple of pieces without chocolate chips, I worked on the couch.  I called it a day once it was done even though the loveseat is still waiting for its turn.  The cleaning properties of Bailey’s drool remain untapped.  Until her drool factory starts up production to service this seating, I can only dream.

 

The Rainy Stroll

July 26th, 2016

Enjoying OurselvesLiving in Labrador West means that we get our fair share of rain during the summer.  Rain or shine, Bailey and I set out on our daily walks.  Today was a drizzly, cool one.  We did not pass by anyone else taking a stroll.  I noticed as we were walking that the expressions on people driving by seemed to be saying, “Look at those poor sods.”  Yes, we were soaked on the outside.  Were we miserable?  Nope!  Bailey’s coat is designed for water and I have outfitted myself in waterproof clothing.  My feet were toasty dry in waterproof hikers.  A necessary purchase after experiencing feet that felt like wet sponges last summer from wearing runners.  I wanted to tell these individuals to not feel sorry for us.  We are actually enjoying ourselves.

Rain BuddiesI grew up on Vancouver Island, British Columbia (Canada).  If you did not go out in the rain, you did not go out much.  Days without the drizzle would be preferred.  Who wouldn’t want to walk on a sunny day?  But, I learned that sunny days can be rare when certain weather systems move through.  On our walk, Bailey waddled through one puddle after another with much enthusiasm.  I listened to the droplets of water hitting the puddles.  The constant rhythm of it created a soothing effect.  I watched the water flow in a snake-like fashion down the sides of the street.  The vegetation drank up the moisture after enduring the heat from the previous day.  I was thankful to not have to wrestle with the hose, its reel and the dreaded sprinkler.  Mother Nature was doing that chore for me.  As Bailey moved through the tall grassed areas, her nose and fur glistened with water droplets.  She was excited and energetic about this walk.  Hot sunny days seem to sap her energy.  It takes much coaxing to convince Bailey to venture further than just doing her business.  We plodded along with Bailey wagging her tail and me smiling.  Our rainy stroll would conclude upon reaching home and drying off with a towel rub.  I could look forward to relaxing under a warm blanket on the couch with a steaming cup of tea and book while Bailey could have a well-earned siesta at my feet.

 

Moss Encounter

July 19th, 2016

Taking A RestToday, Bailey and I ventured off the beaten path in search of a more solitary trail. I was hoping to avoid other dogs because Bailey has begun her second heat cycle. It will be her last one as she is scheduled to get spayed in the very near future. Our walks would be restrictive for the next twenty-one days. The two of us followed a narrow foot path that meandered through a wooded area. It soon became apparent that it had not been travelled on for a very long time. Moss had grown over the dirt path forming a soft, springy carpet. Bailey perked up with interest. After few sniffs, she began dig at the moss. Her massive paws were definitely getting a workout. Bailey grabbed one of the loosened chunks and shook it vigorously before tossing it up into the air. Then, she bounced numerous times like a child jumping on a trampoline. Bed Of MossThat burst of energy was enough and Bailey plopped down on a patch of moss. I was amused and decided to snap a couple of photos. Our photo shoot was short-lived.  A cloud of black flies emerged from the disturbed pieces of moss. Bailey and I were quickly on our way in the hopes of outrunning our attackers. I had to agree with Bailey that the moss was made for springing on – a perfect surface for Mother Nature’s treadmill.

 

Cart Before The Newf-Owner

July 12th, 2016

As I wrote about in last week’s post, Bailey and the family took a 3,400 km road trip to Peterborough, Ontario and back again. Our mission was to attend a two day beginner carting seminar offered by the South Eastern Ontario Region – Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada. We awoke to warm temperatures and sunshine – not a rain cloud in the sky. The three of us headed out of Peterborough to Newfhill Kennels on the outskirts of Lakefield. The van passed through scenic farm country and Bailey craned her neck from the back bench to see where today’s excursion would end up at.

The first day of the seminar began with 17 month old Bailey dragging Adam along the ground to get to another dog. It was a grand entrance. Bailey exited the van fine and soon looked for a good spot to drop her business. My offer to scoop her poop was refused – really big mistake on his part. While Adam’s attention was focused on picking up it up, he failed to notice that the leash had become wrapped behind his legs as Bailey sniffed a new scent in the air. Once she caught sight of another dog participant being brought over to the holding tent, Bailey was determined to go. Adam’s back was to the canine newcomer so he was oblivious to the temptation that Bailey was facing. She took off at top speed as Adam was tying off the poop bag. Before I could utter a warning, Adam had been spun around 270 degrees to become a Newfoundland dog anchoring device. He executed a pirouette with the poop bag at full extension in his right hand while the left hand foolishly held onto the leash. Bailey did not get very far once Adam hit the ground. The grass softened the blow.

So Lonely.jpgThankfully, no one said too much about it or drew attention to Adam’s red scratches. Bailey was taken to her kennel that had been set-up under the holding tent. She reluctantly entered when it became apparent the other dog was not coming to play with her. I am sure Bailey felt imprisoned as she was the first one to be kenneled. Other dogs began to arrive and soon the all of kennels were filled. The class was comprised of 6 Newfoundland dogs, a Bouvier and a Standard Poodle. Adam spent the time nursing his wounded pride and I sat snickering beside Bailey.

Company

The Cart

Bailey & HarnessI wondered if even a trainer extraordinaire such as Allan Maniate was up for the challenge of training Bailey. He was. Allan taught the group to harness and hitch up their dogs. The harnesses were made out of sheep skin. The harness straps are connected to a wiffle-tree which is a pivoting device that translates the pull of the dog from two points (left-side and right-side) to a single point in the centre of the dog. Each harness was adjusted to fit the individual dogs. We learned that an ill-fitting harness can do much harm to a dog. Bailey seemed unfazed about putting on the harness. She wears a harness in the van and associates it with going for rides to the dog park or trails.Harness Ready Next, Adam connected a rope with a water jug on its end to the wiffle-tree. Each pair moved in a circular fashion around the ring. Allan helped them master the commands needed to steer the dogs in the right direction. Commands like “Whoa”, “Stand”, “Giddy-up”, “Slowdown”, “Haw” (turn left) and “Gee” (turn right). These are drafting terms which all drafting animals must learn. Bailey tried a few times to leave the ring at the entry point in the hopes of visiting me or going to her kennel for a rest. Adam had to work hard at getting her attention back on task and I had to put more distance between Bailey and me. I was amazed to watch our Bailey being transformed into a real working dog.

Working Partnership

But, it was not all work. Allan gave the dogs and partners frequent breaks which allowed us to meet the other club members and their dogs. Others dropped by throughout the weekend to visit and watch the proceedings. Each break enabled participants to hone their harnessing skills. Course participants learned to leave their harness gear set-up after the dogs were unhitched, unharnessed and returned to their shaded kennels for water. By the end of the first day, Bailey and Adam were pulling a cart. It was a proud moment even if I was not the one in the seminar. We returned to our hotel with a very tired pooch who could barely keep her eyes open for dinner. Bailey was mentally and physically tired. The second day concluded when everyone had actually pulled a cart with a person riding in it. Allan offered suggestions to us throughout the weekend which we are now using back in Labrador. A harness kit was ordered because we are hoping to return for the intermediate carting course in September. The 3,400 km journey from Labrador West to participate was worth the long drive and hot temperatures.

Bailey Learning To Whoa & Stand

Bailey Pulls Ahead

Bailey Feeling The Work Part

Successful Finish