In June of 2013 we lost both of our beloved dogs within 2 weeks of each other. One was my first Newfoundland, Bailey that I received as a birthday gift from my husband to help fill the void left when my youngest went off to kindergarten. The other, Charlie was a Newf mix that we rescued when Bailey was about a year old. The final year with both of them was difficult; Bailey had a terrible health scare the week before Christmas and was hospitalized for 3 days. We brought her home, still unsure if she would make it, but we wanted her home for Christmas. On Christmas Eve, she bounced back to her normal self as if she was never sick. We had a very happy Christmas!
That spring, Charlie started breathing heavily and had difficulty getting comfortable when he was lying down. At this point he was about 13 (our best guess) and an x-ray showed a very large tumor in his abdomen. Our vet didn’t recommend surgery and prepared us for what that meant. We knew the end was near for him and we vowed to make him as comfortable as possible.
Knowing that Charlie would be leaving us soon, we started talking about getting another Newfie puppy. Bailey was doing great, despite the fact that she was close to 11 years old, and we knew she would do well with a companion.
One day at the end June everything changed, Bailey spent the day with Chris and I as we put the soft top on our old jeep and Charlie was sleeping comfortably. When we came in late in the afternoon, Bailey began showing signs of distress. Her breathing changed, she wouldn’t lie down and she was very listless. We stayed up with her most of the night, she finally fell asleep about 2 am and when she woke up and went outside she immediately hid under the deck. It was clear to me that she was letting us know that today was the day. I made an appointment with the vet and sat in a chair, under an umbrella in the rain, right outside the deck until it was time to coax her out and get her into the car. I loved that dog like I’ve never loved a dog before. She was not the typical Newfie, she was loud, pushy, incredibly Alpha and difficult to control, but we had an amazing bond and she was mine. And now I was losing her. As old as she was, I was still surprised and I was heart-broken, Charlie was the one who was dying not her! Somehow I thought we still had a lot of time with her but now it was time to say goodbye.
A week later, we picked up our puppy and I believe Charlie realized we would be taken care of, he could go now too. We were staying home with him as much as possible and on a beautiful sunny Sunday, two weeks after we had lost Bailey, he curled up by my feet and went to sleep for the last time. Just like that, the dynamic in our house was forever changed.
Maisie was a delight, as all puppies are. She was cuddly, sweet, and affectionate and was the easiest dog I’ve ever trained. Our kids were older, one was in college and the other in high school, and so she received our undivided attention. She was the walking pal that I always wanted and we would walk along Lake Michigan together as much as possible. We took her to the dog beach year round and we spoiled her with treats, toys and homemade dog food. She helped us heal from the loss of our other two, and we broke all of our previous house rules with her. Our children couldn’t believe how we treated her, but we were in a new phase in our lives. Having only one dog was so easy and we had so much time to devote to her.
Our daughter kept asking, “when are we getting another dog”, and I kept giving her the same answer, “not till Maisie is 6 years old”. I couldn’t bear the thought of losing two dogs again so I wanted to make sure they were at different life stages. When Maisie was about 2 ½ I was really missing having two dogs and I began to waver on my “when Maisie is 6” policy. I started researching breeders and looking at cute puppy pictures. Newfie puppies are like little fluffy teddy bears and are impossible for me to resist, but deep down, I felt this was not the right time for a puppy, adopting a rescue dog was the answer.
We rescued Charlie when he was about 3 and I had no problem bringing in an adult dog, but chances are if we did it now, we’d end up with exactly what I was trying to avoid—two dogs close in age. I was wrestling with these conflicting thoughts when it occurred to me that we could go to the other end of the spectrum and rescue an older dog. I started looking at rescue sites and when I checked in on Petfinder (which is also where I found Charlie) there was Annie. I knew from the second I saw her posting, she was meant for us.
I was on pins and needles during the application process. I filled out the application and waited for a response. I sent two emails confirming that my application had been received and finally heard back from the head volunteer with the contact information of her foster family. I had a great conversation with her foster-mother and wanted to make arrangements to pick her up. I was a little frantic, worried that Annie would go to someone else. I didn’t notice that we were out of her adoption area and we needed to have a home visit for approval. I was afraid that since we were out of the area, our application wouldn’t be approved.
Working with South Central Newfoundland Rescue was a wonderful experience. There is an amazing network of volunteers and every effort was made, with the help of the Rescue group in our area, to expedite the process. A volunteer was found nearby to do our home visit. She brought her newfie with her and we sat in our kitchen and got to know each other. She was thrilled that we wanted Annie, she was familiar with the story of her rescue group and she assured me that she would fill out her evaluation quickly.
About an hour later, I got the email saying we were approved and able to pick up Annie.
One thought on “Prologue: Let’s start at the very beginning”
what a lovely photograph -Maisie is a super name too