Our photo shoot

A year ago I started this blog primarily as a way to tell Annie’s story.  I didn’t know what more I would add, if I would have much more to say or even what other direction it might take.  I figured I would give it a try and then re-evaluate in a year, if I was even still posting.

Much to my surprise, I still find things to write about since as probably any pet owner will tell you, there are always funny moments and observations when you share your life with animals.   I’m enjoying this process of discovering my “voice” on the blog and decided I’d like to have a better picture on the main page that would represent who we are.  I also wanted to capture this special time of Winn being added to our family.  Newfoundland Dogs grow so quickly I knew it would seem like I blinked and her puppyness would be gone forever.

I loaded everyone into the car for the first time (they all fit, hooray) and we headed into the city to meet Liz Wallace a pet photographer.  I had met her last summer at a Newfoundland get together and I loved the pictures she had taken of Annie and Maisie.

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It was a beautiful day, there weren’t too many people at the park and Liz was so patient and gave each of them her undivided attention. Maisie has always been easy to photograph, Annie and Winn were more of a challenge because Annie stays close to my side when we are away from home and I had only just begun to train Winn on the basic commands.  NewfGirlsWeb-1NewfGirlsWeb-14NewfGirlsWeb-56

We did some walking:

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We found a shady spot to rest where Winn gave everybody kisses (she also did clean up duty bringing me a straw, a paper cup and a dead bird):

We had a few breaks for slobber maintenance:

We watched Winn play in the grass:

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Then we finished up close to the water:

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I didn’t know what to expect and gave Liz very little direction.  I really didn’t want to be in the pictures and wanted a group shot of the three of them.  She took some more pictures as we were walking back to the car, and I knew when I saw it that this was the one. I’m so glad I trusted her to just keep shooting!NewfGirlsWeb-124

This is not a race!

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I have always loved exuberant eaters. Babies, kids, adults, dogs. Bailey loved food so much that she would race through her meal hoping for seconds.  Charley became a fast eater because he didn’t want Bailey to get his food.  Even though it was entertaining, it’s not good for them so I was very relieved when Maisie did not do this.  In fact she is the opposite, she’s the first dog I’ve ever had that will walk away from her bowl when she’s finished even if that means there is still food left!

Now we find ourselves back in a familiar situation.  Annie loves her food but she doesn’t have all of her teeth so that slows her down to a healthy rate.  She generally finishes before Maisie, but will stand patiently by her side and wait to see if she can claim any leftovers. I would put Winn in the fast eater category.  Recently she seems to be speeding up so that she finishes first. I’ve caught her shoving her head into Annie’s bowl, obviously this not good for so many reasons.  (Maisie now eats in her crate because she didn’t like the pressure of having the other two watching her after they were done.)

I’ve always been terrified that one of my dogs will get bloat.  It’s a deadly condition that primarily happens in big dogs and eating too fast is thought to be one of the causes. You can read more about it here.  It’s such a concern that my vet was telling me about a technique that can be done to tack her stomach so it won’t twist if she does bloat.  I need to do more research about this and it would be done while she has her spay surgery but we won’t be doing that until she is over a year old so I’ve got time to decide.

Eating slowly is better for dogs. A slow eater is at less risk for bloat and obesity.  One of the ways to slow down a fast eater is with a puzzle bowl.  I first noticed them a couple of years ago and wished I had gotten one for Bailey. Since I want her to have healthy habits, I got one for Winn.   This bowl style challenges them and allows them to eat like they would in nature by using foraging techniques. IMG_2203

So far I would call it a success.  This morning Annie finished eating and let herself out and Winn was still eating.  It doesn’t seem to frustrate her.  She uses her nose and tongue  and spins around to change angles.  I just hope she doesn’t get too dizzy while she eats!

 

 

Back to the vet we go…

Last week we celebrated Annie’s 11th birthday, which is a big marker but was a bit tempered because right after dinner she started coughing.

I’ve written about her “old man noises” before.  She starts out with 2 or 3 gasps and then expels this horrific, loud noise. I was pretty sure it was her way of coughing because I’ve never heard her cough in a different way.  She has done this sporadically since we’ve had her, maybe once every 3 or 4 months but on her birthday she started and couldn’t seem to stop. After 5 or 6 episodes, she was tired and my nerves were rattled.

I couldn’t help but think that she had made it to her birthday and now she was taking a turn for the worse.  My heart was aching during her celebration but I know this day will be coming at some point, I’m just not ready yet.

She had a few more episodes and on Friday I took her to the vet.  After a thorough examination we sat there talking about what it could be and we both had the sense that it might be some sort of lung disease. Her lungs and heart sounded good when her doctor listened to her chest but we agreed that an x-ray was needed to try to find the answer. It couldn’t be done that day, her doctor wanted to have more people available to help her since Annie is so big so it had to wait until Monday.

Over the weekend, Annie did seem to be coughing less frequently and by Monday it had subsided but I was still bracing myself for bad news.  Poor Annie was trembling as soon as we sat down and when the tech came to take her back she did not want to leave me.  I walked her back as far as I could go and that seemed to help.

As I sat there waiting, I had rushes of so many different memories.  The first time we took her here was very traumatic.  She has changed so much and seems so happy with her life.  Whenever I get up from the couch or a chair, she is at my feet and I have to stretch over her.  We love our walks and she trots out to the car when I say “car ride”.  She loves food but she has curtailed her scavenger ways and hasn’t found anything to get into in quite a while, thank goodness.  She is still very nervous around strangers, especially men, and isn’t yet comfortable with my son but hopefully by the end of the summer they will reach an understanding.  It has been such a joy to have her with us and I am so honored that she has chosen to trust me to take care of her and keep her safe.

After what seemed like hours but was really only about 30 minutes I was able to join Annie in one of the exam rooms.  Her x-ray was done, we needed to wait while her doctor looked at all of the pictures.  Her doctor came through the door with a big smile which instantly put me at ease.  Everything looked great! No masses, no white spots and no foreign objects.  There was one tiny spot in her stomach and she went over it with an ultrasound and concluded it was a particle of a stick, stone or leaf that hadn’t digested, all probable since Annie frequently chews sticks when she is lounging in the grass. She looked at her lungs, heart, liver, spleen and trachea and all looked to be just fine.  The only concern was evidence of arthritis in her spine, something we both assumed but now was confirmed.  Her conclusion was “old man lung” which isn’t something that is treated. When lungs get old they get a little more sensitive. Heat and allergies could have triggered her coughing and it has been hot and she takes medication for allergies.

Since we’ve been home, she hasn’t coughed again.  Her energy level, appetite and breathing have all been normal.  She’s sleeping by my feet, moaning every now and then as she stretches and seems to be completely content.  Once again, she rang my alarm bell and ended up being just fine. She’s an aging dog, and with that comes a variety of health concerns but for now I am relieved.IMG_1508

 

Beating the heat with big dogs

disclaimer: I have included a couple of links to the products that I have chosen, I am not affiliated with these companies and I have paid for these products myself.

Summer has arrived and so have the high temps!

It seems like every summer I get caught off guard when a heat wave arrives.  We go from high 70’s to low 90’s in a flash.  It usually only lasts for 2 or 3 days,  but I have found several things that seem to relieve the dogs’ discomfort while we wait for the normal temperatures to return.

  1. Ice in the water bowl: In a addition to keeping their water cool, they like to bob for the ice.  Getting their snout all the way into the water seems to cool them off quickly, I just need to keep my feet out of the way because it’s pretty cold when they come by with water dripping out of their jowls!IMG_2114
  2. Cooling mats: Over the years I’ve tried several different brands.  The options are limited for big dogs because many of the mats are too small but last year I found one that is big enough and isn’t too heavy to move around.  It’s gel filled and claims to keep cool for about 6 hours. It is self cooling, no need to refrigerate and isn’t filled with water.  We had one of those years ago and it leaked which made a big mess.  At night Annie moves from her bed to the mat and then back again and seems to be very comfortable when she’s on it.   https://www.thegreenpetshop.com/product/cool-pet-pad.html
  3. Cooling vest: In addition to being a senior, black dog Annie’s body temperature is consistently on the high side of normal.  I don’t walk the dogs when it is over 80 degrees, we try to go out in the morning or evening when it’s cooler but even then I noticed Annie slowing down and panting a lot.  I found a cooling vest for her and it really did seem to make her more comfortable.  We still go on shorter walks but with the vest, she keeps her regular pace.  It’s easy to use, I soak it and then wring it out.  It keeps her cool without saturating her fur, she really isn’t wet when I take it off but her fur is noticeably cooler.IMG_2437https://www.chewy.com/techniche-international-evaporative/dp/141830
  4. Backyard kiddie pool: we don’t go to the beach if it’s too hot.  There is not enough shade and the sand can be too hot for their feet. Our backyard is very shady so I fill the pool and they can wade in and splash around when they want to.  Dogs cool through their paw pads, so a quick dip will give them immediate comfort.IMG_1042
  5. Fans, fans, fans: I keep a fan on the floor and at any given time there is at least one dog in front of it.  I think they like the feel of the wind in their hair and it helps to keep the air circulating when they are in their crates. Because I hate how dirty the blades get and I worry about long dog tail hair getting caught in the fan I just ordered a bladeless fan with and an attached air purifier. With 3 dogs it seemed like a good idea.  It didn’t arrive in time for this heat wave but I look forward trying it out. IMG_2092Saving the best for last,
  6. Frozen treats: After searching for all natural brands and spending too much money on “doggie ice cream” made by other people I decided to do it myself.  I use unsweetened natural yogurt as a base and blend in different flavorings.  On this day I made a batch of peanut butter banana and blackberry.  I also put watermelon chunks in the blender and made watermelon ice.  They get so excited when I pull these out of the freezer. It’s their favorite after dinner treat!IMG_1719Because it is so important to be aware of the signs, here is a link for an article about heat stroke in dogs. It’s a serious threat for our beloved pets and can be fatal if not attended to quickly  http://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/heat-stroke-in-dogs-what-is-heat-stroke-and-when-does-it-happen

a shared life with our very large dogs

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