No words, just pictures and her theme song, because once she was rescued, she was free and feeling good!
This is the day that I have dreaded since that very first moment I gazed into your soulful eyes.
Your gray whiskers were the hint that you had already lived out the majority of your days. At the time, I guessed that you were about 9 years old, a few months later I was able to confirm that you were 9 1/2, but I never thought twice about bringing you home and giving you the life that you deserved.
I wish we could have had more time.
I wish your previous life was not so difficult.
I wish I could have known you as a puppy.
I wish we could have marched in the Rescue Parade.
I wish you didn’t have to be afraid of so many things.
I wish I could have fixed you.
You taught be me so much about love, trust, resilience and forgiveness.
You were strong, stoic, gentle, affectionate and so, so sweet.
You inspired me to write your story.
You invited me in, and let me be your person.
You were everything I could’ve asked for.
You were like no other.
I will never forget you, I will always love you and you are forever in my heart.
Goodbye precious Annie, my sweet, sweet girl.
“Clear eyes, full hearts, CAN’T LOSE!”
For those of you who don’t know, this is a reference to one of my favorite tv shows about a high school football team, the coach, his family and a small football-crazed town in west Texas.
Last Friday, Winn got to have her own Friday Night Lights moment by being a rally girl. Granted, her rally girl duties were very different from those highlighted in the TV show, but she had fun nonetheless.
For the last several months, Winn and I have been participating in Rally Obedience classes. Rally is an obstacle course set up with 10-15 stations, each station involves some sort of obedience trick. Sits, downs, turns, change of pace, weaving through cones in different patterns, changing direction and combinations of any of the above, all while remaining in a perfect heel, can be found in a Rally course. It has been a great way to reinforce all of the training that we have learned in her previous puppy and manners classes.
A couple of weeks before Christmas, Winn and I entered our first rally trial. I wasn’t expecting much from our performance, I thought of it as another training and socialization opportunity. She (and I) would be introduced to a new environment with lots of dogs, their owners and the noise, excitement and stress that goes along with an enclosed dog sporting event.
That was a long day. I got there early to find a place to set up her extra-large crate and we ended up being the last dog of the day to compete. It reminded me of sitting around at a swim meet when my kids were little. You wait and wait and wait for your brief time in the ring. Winn was so good that day. I stayed by her crate and read a book. We went out a couple of times to walk around, do a few commands and then come back in. By the time it was our turn, she was relaxed and comfortable with the noises and other dogs around us. She did everything she was supposed to, I was the one who almost blew it for us. I walked right by station 8 (with Winn in a perfect heel of course) but when I approached station 9, I knew something wasn’t right. Fortunately, I figured it out in time and was able to go back and re-approach the sign with only a small penalty. Even with error, we finished in first place and got our first qualifying leg toward her title. Now we just needed to do that two more times!On Friday, we did it two more times!
During the first trial, just seconds before it was our turn, the dog in the ring ahead of us decided to mark (pee on) the second to last sign of the course. His handler was mortified, it’s an automatic disqualification and he quickly got his dog out of the ring. As Winn and I stood off to the side, there was a flurry of activity and excitement. The area and the sign were sterilized and the judge came over and made a point of telling me that he had moved the sign. I wasn’t all that concerned about it being distracting but maybe it was. Winn was a little off and didn’t follow my commands as well as she usually does but we qualified, and then waited and waited and waited for our next trial.
Winn napped most of the afternoon, so about 30 minutes before our group was up I took her outside. On the way out, a dog lunged and barked at her, scaring the bejeezus out of both of us. When we came back in, she quickly squirted into the safety of her crate. I let her stay there until our number was called on deck, but at that point, she had no intention of venturing out again! I tried everything; different treats, different voices, my friend came over with cheese but she wouldn’t budge. As I continued to try to lure her out, I nervously watched the progress of the dog in the ring. I was coming to the conclusion that we would have to withdraw from the trial, and I was now trying to picture how I was going to get her out of the building.
Suddenly I realized that the spot she got barked at was close to the opening of her crate, so I grabbed the sides and whipped the crate around to face another direction. Winn stuck her head out to take a look, and thankfully decided that all seemed safe, so we quickly headed for the ring. We walked right in with no time to think about what had just happened and managed to have a nearly perfect run. It was our best performance of our three trials, and she got her AKC Rally Novice title!
As I was packing up our gear, I was chuckling. When I was standing in line to check in for our second trial, there was a gentleman behind me asking a lot of questions. He wondered about novice and I told him we were in that level. He was curious about doing it with his dog and said he would come back to watch us. As Winn and I were navigating our left 360 turn followed by a right 360 turn, I caught his eye and saw him smiling. He stopped us on our way out and said “beautiful dog, you looked like you were driving a beer truck”. Hands down, that’s the funniest thing anyone has ever said to me about my giant puppy!
Over the next two weekends, we are doing four more trials with World Cynosport Rally. The signs are the same as AKC Rally, but I can reward her in the ring. Winn does really well with rewards so I think this will be a little easier for us as we continue to build our skills.
We are having fun, and I’m so proud of my little rally girl.
“Clear eyes, full hearts, CAN’T LOSE!”
Wow! What a year we have had!
Looking back, there were so many fun times and new milestones.
In January, Maisie and I started down the path to become a certified therapy team. Even though we had to put our training on hold a couple of times, she got her Canine Good Citizen title in June which was the first major step for us to accomplish before going on to therapy certification.Also in January, I had my first conversation with Winn’s breeder and made the decision that we would open our home to a very special puppy. Since my preference was for a brown girl, we had to wait until she was born to know for sure if there would be a puppy for us.
Pink girl was the first one born on March 6th and I waited with fingers crossed for several days before I was assured that there would be a brown girl for me. Eight weeks later, on the day that I went with my husband and daughter to meet the litter I learned that pink girl would be mine and that was certainly one of the best days of the year!On May 13th, the day before Mother’s Day, we made our second trip to Wisconsin and brought Winn home. It was a lovely day, a little emotional as she left her first home in order to join our family, but I hugged and snuggled her as we made our way back to Illinois. We stopped for lunch and then pulled over for another potty break, found a nursery with gorgeous hanging baskets and we purchased some for our front porch. All summer, as I sat on the porch and admired those baskets I would remember that happy day and how much fun it was bringing her home.
In June, we celebrated Annie’s 11th birthday! It was also the one year anniversary of this blog. I started the blog to tell Annie’s Story. At that time I wanted to give it year and then reevaluate since I wasn’t sure what else I might include, how it would evolve, or even if I could continue to find things about which to write. While I’m still finding my “blogging voice”, I have discovered that I really enjoy the process and that there is always something that inspires a story. We met with a professional photographer to document the time that we became a three dog family. I wanted to do it while Winn was still small, she was already growing so fast! We got the most beautiful pictures out of that photo shoot and the perfect image for our main pageThere was a flurry of activity over the summer. We took Winn for her first road trip to Colorado. This was where she developed her skill of getting into anything possible and she discovered her love of paint.
Winn graduated from puppy class and quickly advanced through multiple levels of training. Annie and I had a very special day when she got her new rabies certificate listing me as her owner. We no longer had any reminder of her previous, difficult life. That blog post was shared and viewed many times on Facebook and is my favorite one of the year.In the fall, I volunteered at several events for our local Newfoundland Club and learned so much about water and draft work as well as the test requirements to achieve those working titles.
All three were good sports when I dressed them up for Halloween. With a nod to my New England roots, they were a fisherman with a fresh catch. I wish I had a lobster trap or marker but they looked pretty cute.Time quickly passed with Thanksgiving and Christmas activities with friends and family. It’s hard to believe that the year is coming to a close but I am very excited about all that we might do in the upcoming months.
I’m not one for resolutions, but I do have several goals set:
- For Maisie and I to complete our therapy team training and begin to do some volunteer work.
- For Winn and I to participate in obedience and working dog events and for her to get her Water Dog title this summer.
- For Annie and I to march in the Rescue Parade at Newfoundland National this spring.
- For me to become a better blogger and attend the Blogpaws conference to learn from other pet bloggers, meet some of the friends that we have made online, and get ideas on how to improve and develop our page.
Whew, that was lot so I guess all that is left to say is that we wish everyone a Happy New Year!
We hope you all had a very Merry Christmas or a Happy Chanukah and are looking forward to the New Year!
We’ve been a little quiet here on the blog. It’s been nice to take a break, enjoy family and friends, hibernate from the below zero windchill and be completely lazy!
We received so many beautiful cards from friends (this year there were more dogs on our Christmas card tree than people) and we loved looking at all of them. We were in a couple of Christmas card exchanges which certainly added to the joy and we look forward to following the antics of many new friends this year.This year, our Christmas card photo shoot was a little easier despite adding an enthusiastic, very large puppy to the mix. I had my trusty assistant who helped with keeping their attention, positioning and hats. Annie is doing a much better job at staying, or she is just more able to tune out my crazy ideas, and Maisie and Winn were terrific!
We managed to get a pretty good shot with all three of them and this is the one we chose for our card.I couldn’t resist these close-ups of each of them.
Next week, we will start to think about getting back to our normal routines which include training, swim lessons, pampering Annie, and sneaking Maisie away for one on one time. Winn and I have several big events planned in January and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. (I don’t want to jinx anything so details will be coming).
Most importantly, we are really looking forward to bringing in the New Year. This year had a lot of ups and downs and I am hoping for a much more even keel 2018!