I have this memory of one of my favorite teachers walking up and down the aisles in our classroom muttering “close but no cigar, close but no cigar, close but no cigar”.
As she passed out the pop quiz that she had given us the day before, I noticed more and more confused faces looking around the room. I knew something was off when she approached my desk, looked me in the eye and stated “close but no cigar”. I looked down at my quiz, took in a couple of correction marks and read the blaring red letters across the top of the page: close but no cigar.
That’s how she chose to grade that quiz. None of us had any idea how this would be translated in the grade book. There were more than a few stressful looks on the over-achievers that surrounded me in that room!
We were second semester seniors with six weeks left of school. This was her way of giving us all a kick in the butt and letting us know there would be no slacking off in her class. We were hers until the first week of May, and we still had Classic American Literature to focus on before we walked across a grand stage and got our diplomas.
Last weekend, I stood on one side of an obedience ring while Winn waited for me on the other. I put on a smile and gave her my very best, upbeat command to come to me.
She sat upright, eyes glued to me, waiting for my signal.
She stayed there, upright, eyes glued to me, not coming on my signal.
We watched each other for too long and then I had to give her one more command.
She proudly ran to me, stopped perfectly in front of me and gave me her prettiest sit. Then she waited for my next signal.
When she saw me wave my right hand, she ran behind me and sat in position on my left side. She looked up at me with her most loving expression.
I laughed under my breath and gave her a big hug when the judge said, “exercise finished”. That’s when I heard those words in my head. Close but no cigar.
We’ve got more work to do, she and I.
After receiving two qualifying scores the day before, I was overly confident as we entered the ring.
Winn was excited, our warm-up went really well. I had her attention and she was eager. Her performance of her off leash heeling was near perfect and the best it’s ever been. I was feeling so good, we were going to get her novice obedience title, Companion Dog!
And then she failed the recall….
You only get one try, and to be fair, I don’t think she heard me. She was positioned close to the judges table and there was a lot of conversation and ring noise behind her.
She was trying to block all of that out and give me her full focus, unfortunately, she just didn’t get my first command.
Her recall has never been something I had to worry about. Those are the things that always get you, the things you don’t worry about.
She performed the next excercises perfectly and then we were excused with an “I’m sorry, not today”.
So….we will keep training, keep working and keep trying. We’ve still got things learn and hopefully next time we won’t be “close but no cigar”.
I feel like I’ve been living in an episode of Scooby Doo.
Recently I started using wool dryer balls instead of dryer sheets. I’ve been trying to reduce the chemicals in my house and after researching laundry products, dryer balls were mentioned several times as a good alternative. They are also supposed to conserve energy by absorbing some of the moisture and reducing drying time.
I like using my supply of different essential oils to scent the balls before I throw them in with the load. They add a light fragrance and I can change them up depending on my mood.
The annoying part is that they fly around the room when I am pulling items out of the dryer and I have to chase them down to gather them up.
I’m still not sure if I like using them better than dryer sheets, but I’m trying to give them a fair trial.
When my son came home for Christmas break, I mentioned to him that I had made the switch. I asked him to please watch out for them and put them back in the glass storage jar after he had folded the load of towels that had been freshly washed for his bathroom.
That’s the last time I used all six dryer balls.
The next time I went into the laundry room, there were only three dryer balls to be found.
I knew they would disappear when the house filled up with holiday visitors! That’s why I mentioned them to my son before he went upstairs. I was also not surprised when he gave me his very best blank stare (that usually means he thinks my voice sounds like the teacher from Charley Brown) as he patiently waited for me to stop talking.
When I asked him about it, he said he didn’t touch them. He pulled out one towel and the blanket for his bed and left the rest in the dryer. What am I supposed to think? I used to have six balls and now I have three and I am really annoyed.
One ball was wedged between the washer and the wall, so now I have four. I searched around the room, looking through other piles of laundry. I even climbed on top of the washer and dryer to peek behind them and checked under the radiator.
They had vanished into thin air!
I glanced around the room across the hall, thinking maybe they had rolled away. Then I looked in my sons room, not trusting that they weren’t in there somewhere.
Several days later, when they still hadn’t shown up (and somehow I’m back down to three), I gave my best “Mom rant” about how things just seem to disappear when the kids come home and how I know they think I’m a crazy lady harping about dryer balls. I’m sure anyone reading this can just picture the blank expressions that I received along with very subtle mouth twitches as they made every attempt to not laugh in my face.
The only response I got was from my son who said, “Mom, I don’t have them. Ask Winn.”
Ask Winn? What the hell? Aside from the fact that Winn is like Mary Poppins in that she is practically perfect in every way, I couldn’t see how she could have anything to do with the missing balls. Did he think she ate them? (That’s actually not a crazy thought.)
Two weeks later, I was folding a load of laundry and now there are only two balls in the dryer. OMG WHAT IS GOING ON!!!
I can’t blame the children because they’ve both returned to their respective homes and I’m completely frustrated. Once again, I scrambled around the laundry room looking under, over and behind every nook and cranny. I searched every room in the house, under beds, couches, radiators. Then I went into my own room and looked under my bed.
There was a sea of balls of all sizes under there!
I grabbed the vacuum wand, sprawled out on the floor on my stomach and started sweeping my arm back and forth. Balls went shooting out from under the bed in all directions.
In addition to a vast assortment of balls of all sizes, there were three dryer balls!
Apparently, I’m the only one who puts the balls back in the glass jar after I’ve used them. Other people (ahem) in my house just leave them in the dryer, with the door open, until a new load is thrown in.
It appears that Winn has discovered this seemingly endless supply of soft, cushy balls. She has a had a grand time flinging them around, mostly in my room. (I guess she’s not as much like Mary Poppins as I would like to think.)
So……I owe my children an apology. (What better way than putting it into a blog post.) I also need to keep the dryer balls out of Winn’s reach.
I’m still looking for one more dryer ball but five balls work way better than just two so I’m happy for the time being.
How is it that the year is over? In some ways it seems like it flew by and in others it feels like it’s been a very long year.
It certainly didn’t start out the way that I had hoped. I had such big plans for Annie. For the first time since we brought her home, she didn’t bark at my son when he came home for Christmas break last year. She had finally accepted him as a safe member of the family and was able to tuck her fear of men away when she saw him. That was huge!
Unfortunately, she developed an illness that she just couldn’t overcome and we had to say goodbye on January 12. Even up until the day before, I was convinced that we could find a way for her to recover. She deserved more time with us but that disease is incurable and I promised her that she would never suffer in our house. It was the hardest decision I have ever made and to be honest, I’m still not over it. It was the right decision for her but I mourn her loss every day.
I think I overcompensated for Annie by working with Winn. We went to a Rally trial right before Christmas and she brought home her first ribbons! After that success, we continued to train in Rally and she earned her Novice title. In May, We traveled to the Newfoundland National where she earned her Rally Intermediate title and more ribbons. In June, I printed up the rules for the Beginner Novice title in competition obedience and entered a trial. She did beautifully in that and earned that title as well!
Once the weather warmed up, I decided to try and train us both for a Newfoundland Water Test and she was a natural. It was much harder than I imagined it would be, but on our final attempt in September, she came as close as she possibly could to earn that title and I was so proud. We didn’t pass the test, but she was able to execute each and every exercise, and we had so much fun working together. She really is an amazing example of a working dog and she loves to learn new things.
Maisie and I had very active year as well. We traveled together to Kansas City in April for a blogging conference and she was so well behaved. We’ve been working for quite a while at trying to become a Therapy Team. At the conference, I met a woman who was a director of a Therapy Dog program and she gave me some great advice on what to look for in a program. She was very impressed with Maisie, especially when she didn’t react and stayed right by my side after she was lunged at by a trio of very loud French Bull Dogs.
I’ve had to put our training on hold several times over the past couple of years, but this fall I was able to finally make some progress with her. I found an organization that seemed like a good match for us and in October she passed their temperament test. I need to do some observation visits on my own and with her before we can be officially certified. Once I get those done, hopefully we can get to work sometime in the next month or two.
The holidays always seem like a whirlwind and this year was no different. I love decorating our house for Christmas and this year I made a wreath to layer over the mirror that hangs above our fireplace. I’m quite pleased with the way it turned out! (I have admired a similar one for the last couple of years but I felt it was too expensive, so I gathered the supplies and made a bigger one at a fraction of the cost.) It was the perfect backdrop for the many silly holiday pictures that Maise and Winn patiently posed for.
As I reflect on the past year, I am pleased to say that we’ve accomplished a lot of the goals that I had for 2018. I admit, I’ve had a harder time writing this year, Annie was previously my inspiration so much of the time. I hope that as 2019 rolls around, I’ll be able to keep the blog going, but most of all, I’m looking forward to more fun times with Maisie and Winn!
Are you looking for a gift idea for that special dog or dog lover in your life? Whenever possible, we like to support local or small businesses and many of our favorite things fall into that category.
I received a free sample from Whisk and Wag and a free stick toy from Doog when I met their reps last spring, but since then I have purchased more items from each of them with no promises of good reviews. All of the other products are things that I have found, purchased and used on my own (with the exception of the two items our friend Capone loves and recommends). I don’t use affiliate links or make any money off of my recommendations.
There are 5 different flavors to choose of this easy to make, easy to store mix. Personally, I add more water than is called for because the mix is very crumbly and I find it easier to roll out and make shapes when the texture is smoother. The girls haven’t noticed a difference and have loved every flavor that we’ve tried!
There are so many choices! We especially like the seal because it bobs in the water making it easy to see. Winn also loves her stick toys and will play fetch endlessly when I pull them out. I do have to supervise her when I pull these out, they are throwing toys, not chewing toys, as she would be able to destroy them if she were allowed to carry them off and lie down for a good chew session. I had a very positive experience with their customer service when I was waiting for a different item that had been back ordered and everyone I’ve interacted with has been so friendly and accommodating.
Keep your favorite furry friend nearby when you are out and about. I recently bought a memorial key chain in honor of Annie, but there are many other key chain options as well as a bracelets, necklaces and ornaments. They are made to order and personalized so plan on about 10 days lead time during the holiday season. I ordered mine last month and received it within days of my order and so far have been very pleased.
Last year my husband gave me glasses with the names of each of our past and present Newfies etched under the Newfie image. It took me a while to be able to use the Annie glass, but after a year of regular use and being washed in the dishwasher, they are still in perfect condition!
$13.50 each or $26.50 each if you would like to supply your own photo. Order the Newfie glasses here from her etsy shop other breed designs available here.
gift subscription for a sporting class (rally, agility, scent work, barn hunt, tricks)
Taking classes with Maisie and Winn is something we all enjoy. Training has helped strengthen our bond and they each look to me as the leader of our team. My communication with them and their listening skills have continued to improve with each session. They both love the one on one time and the tasty rewards. Take a look at the schedules at your nearby training center and surprise someone with a class to try something new and different.
My mom bought this a few months ago for her dog and I have been very impressed. We have had him stay with us a couple of times when she is out-of-town and I’m thinking of getting a large one and filling both sides with water. The water bowl in our house is always needing to be refilled and Winn makes a huge mess every time she drinks. The trough under the bowls catches a lot of the overflow and the side rim helps to contain the splashing. (Of course we will still need the waterhog mat for when she lifts her head and walks away with water dripping out of her jowls.)
T-shirts, sweatshirts, bags, hats, dog accessories and so much more are available in numerous designs with Teddy and a clever pun. (Of course I love Newfound Love of Life, but Shepherds Pie, Pittie Party and Whippet Good are pretty great too). There are many collections including breeds, sports, music and tv. It’s hard to choose but you are sure to bring a smile to anyone who receives a gift from Teddy the Dog.
This calendar raises money for the Newfoundland Club of America’s Charitable Trust. Each year they ask for pictures to be posted on their FaceBook and the top 12 pictures with the most likes are featured. The runners-up are featured in smaller squares within the calendar (baby Maisie was in the calendar last year).
$25 plus shipping available for domestic, Canadian and International delivery. They can be purchased through the Newfs Gone Bad FaceBook.
Newfie graphic t-shirt, sweatshirt, ornament or coffee mug from Newfielove
Christine is a Newfie owner and graphic designer. She has created so many cute Newfie images that can be put onto many different things. I purchased a beach towel from her last year that she customized for me with a brown newfie.
Big dogs need big toys and these are great. They are very durable and they float. Winn did chew the handle on the pink one but she still loves to fling it around and chase it as it bounces. They come in different sizes and colors and some of the colors are scented.$11.99-$19.99 depending on size and style, available here at Amazon and many local pet stores.
bibs for drooling dogs
Big dog owners know that drool happens and wearing a bib helps with clean up and control. Two of our favorite sellers are Droolicious bibs (you can find her on FaceBook and send a message. She is located in the UK so shipping takes a little longer) and Designs by 2 Paws. They each have many designs on hand and will also customize anything you can think of.
As a big dog owner I have a hard time finding things big enough, especially beds. This is one company that caters specifically to big dogs. They are made in the U.S.A out of high quality materials. The cover zips off for easy washing and replacement covers are available. I purchased one for Annie and she immediately knew it was hers. She let Maisie try it out when it arrived, but after that, it was all hers. Every night, she cuddled up on it, rubbed her face in the bumper while making happy noises and then fell into a sound sleep.
$199-$399 depending on size and style. Crate pads and cargo liners for SUV’s also available here at Amazon.
For the dog that needs a little extra protection from the cold weather:
Our “shop dog” friend Capone recommends the super soft and washable stretch fleece from Gold Paw ($22 and available in many colors on their website here).
He also recommends the only boots that he will wear from Salt Sox ($54.95). These booties are available at Bentley’s Pet Stuff, small retailers and on their website here (you can also enter your zip code to find a retailer near you).
So there you have it, these are a few of our favorite things. We hope we gave you some unique, new ideas for this gift giving season and we wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year!