I grew up in New England, and lobsters were present at our table multiple times a year.
My preference was always soft shell because I love to rip into them using my hands without relying on cracking tools. Soft shell (available late summer, early fall) are typically only available in Massachusetts and Maine, they don’t transport well because they don’t survive as long out of the water. I really miss the ease of soft shell but since hard shell is the industry standard, I’ll take a lobster any way I can get it. I close my eyes at the prices I pay in the Midwest because I love them on the table for family celebrations, Christmas Eve and just when I get a craving.
So now, in honor of National Lobster Day, here are some fun pictures for your entertainment!
No running, no yelling, no throwing things, no horse-play!
If Maisie could talk, these are all things we would be hearing from her. We call her the fun police, and she is very vocal when she thinks things are getting out of hand.
Apparently a new phrase to add to her scoldings is “no boys allowed”.
Recently, Winn’s heat started. She tends to be more clingy and needy when she’s in heat so I try to give her the attention she craves. Maisie has also been pretty in tune with Winn’s special time and she dotes on her and snuggles up to her a little more than usual.
On Saturday, we were dog watching my mom’s dog. A few weeks ago she asked me if we would be available and I easily agreed. Chocolate is an 8 year old collie. He is very sweet and everyone gets along perfectly. Whenever he comes by, they all quickly look at each other and settle in like he’s always been around.
Since I haven’t had him around Winn before when she’s been in heat, I was planning on keeping them outside with me under close supervision and if necessary, I would separate them. Winn and Chocolate acted like nothing was out of the ordinary. Winn wasn’t flirty and Chocolate didn’t try any funny business. They were happy to be outside, played occasionally with each other and took turns napping in Winn’s favorite dirt hole.
Maisie decided to hang out downstairs with my son. When my son went out for the day, she continued to seclude herself from the rest of us. I assumed she was napping but when I went in to find her, she wouldn’t get up when I called her and if dogs can glare, that’s what she was doing.
Maisie was not acting like her normal, fun loving self. She did join Winn and Chocolate for dinner, but then she disappeared on her own again and wouldn’t come outside. I actually started getting concerned that maybe she was sick. I couldn’t get her to engage with me, she barely looked at me and wasn’t receptive to any affection.
When the time came for Chocolate to go home, Maisie was still nowhere nearby. Shortly after the door closed behind him, she came trotting out from wherever she was hiding. Within moments, she was wagging her tail, punching Winn in the shoulder and playing chase around the house. That little stinker!
We’ve always said that Maisie is the most emotional and sensitive dog we’ve ever had. Apparently, I really let her down that day by letting Chocolate come over to play. I knew nothing was going to happen to Winn but it was obviously too much for Maisie and she was worried about Winn. She was really trying to send me a message: No boys allowed!
We’ve all had those moments. Something reminds you of a friend you haven’t seen or talked to in a while and the next day they call you for no other purpose but to catch up.
I had one of those moments today and I can’t stop thinking about it.
Yesterday I was missing Annie. It’s been a little over a year since we said goodbye and I still have days in which the ache in my gut is ever present. I don’t know why some days I think of her more than others, but yesterday was one of those days.
I opened up my Annie photo file and impulsively posted a video of her on Instagram. She was happily running on the beach with several other dogs.
For most people watching that, they would see a typical dog having fun but for Annie it was so much more. She was so fearful of new places, new people and new situations. She was very nervous the first time we took her to the beach but it became one her favorite places. A safe place with safe people.
Most of the time, she would stay glued to my side. We would walk up and down the beach along the water’s edge while Maisie ran and played with the other dogs. Annie running with the pack was a big deal and I’m so happy to have that video.
I went to bed thinking about her and when I woke up this morning I had a Facebook message from the woman who fostered her for almost a year before we adopted her. She sent me a video of Annie rubbing up against her daughter, wagging her tail and loving the moment.
I figured she had seen my Instagram and was adding another video to my collection. When I asked, she said no, it had come up in her Facebook memories.
To that I can only think, I miss you Annie and I’m glad you are doing well.
Here it is, the end of July, and the whole country seems to be suffering from a heat wave.
The dogs are hot, I’m hot, everyone is hot. It’s time to start being creative on how to keep cool.
Winn loves the baby pool filled with water. She dunks for toys and carrots and instantly cools off but when it’s this hot, I don’t even like her outside for that. I keep Maisie and Winn inside with the air-conditioning, fans blowing to keep the air circulating and cooling pads in their crates to lie on when I have to leave the house.
Each summer, I have stocked the freezer with frozen treats made with fruit and yogurt. I used to fill ice cream cups and give them to the dogs in the house. They would hold them in their paws and lick them til they were gone. It was usually a no mess way to give them a special treat.
Maisie is very dainty with her ice cream, taking her time and savoring it slowly. Winn, not so much.
Winn is the first dog I’ve had that has tried to eat the ice cream and cup all at once. She always seems worried that Maisie is getting more than she is so she races through whatever I give her and stands eagerly waiting for more.
This summer, after pulling a mangled cup out of the back of Winn’s mouth, I came to the conclusion that she can’t be trusted with anything that isn’t fully edible.
I found these cute silicone trays on Amazon and I’m able to pop out a treat for each without worrying that Winn will choke on the paper cup.
I filled these half way with some ground up watermelon and then froze them. Once frozen, I topped them off with some all natural, unsweetened yogurt and put them back in the freezer. Easy, peasy frozen treats ready to go!
Other combinations I’ve used in the past: yogurt, banana and peanut butter is always a favorite; plain yogurt mixed with fresh berries, pumpkin puree or just watermelon and nothing else.
Last year was the first time I tried water work with my Newfoundland and I thought it might be helpful if I shared some of what I learned when I was getting started. Consider this post tips for a beginner by a beginner!
1. A training book
The first thing I bought was the book Water Work Water Play by Judi Adler. This proved to be an indispensable training manual. It explains each of the exercises for the Junior, Senior and Excellent titles. Each exercise is broken down into trainable steps with land work as well as water work. There are chapters on equipment, puppy training and basic skills like take, hold and give that are the foundation for water work. You can purchase it here.
2. Life jackets: A Coast Guard approved jacket for you and a Canine Life Jacket for your Newfie.
You are required to wear a life jacket for the test and whenever you are on a boat. Do yourself a favor and get used to wearing it whenever you train. They come in many different styles so find one that is comfortable. The dogs are not allowed to wear a life jacket for the test, but they are a very good training tool. When you are just getting started, a life jacket will help reinforce an efficient swimming position, aide with endurance and will give you more control because there is a handle that is easy to grab. I wrote a post about canine life jackets last year and you can read it here.
3. A long line (a 20 ft. leash)
In addition to the handle on the life jacket, a long line is a great tool to help gently lead your dog where you want them to go. They can swim away from you, but you still have control and can bring them back toward shore if they swim too far away, start to chase a duck or get confused. Teaching Take A Line is easily done with a long line. I gave Winn the knotted rope and sent her to the caller. He gently led her towards him by pulling on the long line when needed and then guiding her around until she was facing me and I called her back to shore. I have two different lines, a 20 foot and a 50 foot, to build distance without getting tangled up with lots of line when we are working closely. I don’t use them much anymore, but they were very helpful when we were first starting. They are also good to use on land when you are training recall.
Bumpers come in an assortment of sizes and materials. I have bought several different types to see which one Winn likes best. Some are squishy, some are hard, some have nubs, some are smooth. Winn has one bumper that she retrieves and another one that she can get a good grip on for Tow A Boat. Try different styles, each dog has a favorite and what one dog may love, another won’t like at all. You can buy bumpers at sporting goods stores like Cabelas in the bird hunting section. Online retailers Amazon, Chewy, Gun Dog Supply or TBI also sell a variety of plastic and canvas bumpers (dummies) in their dog training/retriever training section. The 2” diameter is a great size, I’ve accidentally ordered 3” or jumbo size and they are too big and heavy for what we are doing.
5. An empty gallon jug
You don’t need a boat to start training Tow A Boat. A jug filled with water mimics the weight of a floating boat. Tying a bumper and rope to the jug is a great way to introduce pulling. Start with the empty jug and gradually fill with water to add weight. Pulling the jug around the yard is great training and when a boat isn’t available, I also use it in the water. Whenever we have trouble with an exercise, we do a lot of practice on land and break the skills down step by step. Our trusty jug is a big part of land work.
6. Submersible toys
I dug out the diving toys that we used to take with us while on family vacations when my kids were little. I figured the sooner the better for Winn to get comfortable getting her face wet, and she took to it immediately. She also likes to dive for carrots on a hot day. One of the exercises on the Senior test is an underwater retrieve. There are specific dimensions for the toy and water depth, but Winn thinks it’s all a game for now.
Items 4, 5, and 6 are all things you can start playing with in your backyard. No lake needed!
7. 100 feet of floating rope
Polypropylene rope floats and can be found at hardware stores as well as boating supply stores and online. Some are hollow braid and others are multifilament. Winn likes the rope that is filled, it’s a little softer in her mouth. Tow A Boat calls for a bumper with an 8 foot line attached, Take A Line and Take A Life Ring call for a knotted line. For Take A Line, you will need to make the knot and then have 75 feet of line attached. You can make the knot and 6-8 feet of line with a loop to practice with and later on add another section of rope to equal 75 feet for the test. (Our practice line is about 25 feet because I also wanted to get comfortable feeding the line out as she swims.) YouTube is a good source to learn how to make knots, and once you get them tied, you can keep using them all season.
8. A water absorbing car liner
The worst part about water training is getting back in the car with a wet dog. I towel Winn off as much as possible, a chamois works really well, but she’s still pretty wet and we drive about an hour to our practice site. I found this blanket completely by accident. It is made by a company that makes pee pads. It’s big enough to cover the cargo area, pulls most of moisture away from Winn and doesn’t soak through on the other side. You can learn more about it here: https://www.lennypads.com/washable-training-puppy-pads-designer/
We also have a plastic cargo liner, so if I’m not using the Lenny Pad, I’ll layer on a big fleece blanket that I can easily pull out and wash when we get home. This helps with clean up and my car doesn’t smell like wet dog and stinky lake water all summer long. There are lots of options online for back seat and trunk liners as well.
9. A leash to use in the water
Leather leashes get really slippery when they are wet and canvas leashes take a while to dry and can get stinky. A lot of people make a leash out of polypropylene rope because it floats and dries out quickly. I like this one made of quick drying neoprene because its softer on my hands, is antibacterial and has a matching collar. Last year at our first test, Winn got spooked by a dive bombing horsefly and tried to run off of the beach. I grabbed her collar and was thankful that the clasp was good and strong so she couldn’t get away from me. You can buy them here: https://www.doogusa.com/collections/collars-leashes This company also has great floating toys that Winn loves to retrieve.
10. Additional items to add as you advance in training: floating cushion and small PFD, a life ring and a paddle.
The Junior and Senior tests both have exercises that utilize a floating cushion and a life jacket (PFD). The Senior test switches Take A Line to Take A Life Ring and introduces jumping from the boat. The dogs jump for a dropped item (paddle) and again for their handler to rescue them.
Other items you may want for your own comfort (I know, this makes my list more than 10 items) are a pair of shoes to wear in the water and cold water wet gear. I started with an old pair of workout shoes but they got pretty stinky from the lake so I eventually bought a pair of water shoes. They are easy to hose out when I get home and they dry quickly. Wetsuits come in a variety of shapes and thicknesses. I prefer pants and a separate top, other women I know like short wetsuits. Since I am very seaweed averse, I wear my pants even on hot days and I don’t get panicky when something brushes up against my legs. I have bought a lot of my gear including Winn’s life jacket at LL Bean. Most sporting and outdoor stores have a good selection with various price points.
Dog Works sells a Water Test Kit with all of the items that you will need for the Junior and Senior tests. I didn’t want to spend the money all at once but you can buy the kit here: https://dogworks.com/product/water-test-kit/
If you’d like to learn more about water work and see Newfoundlands in action, consider volunteering as a steward at a Water Test. Here’s a list of the different Newfoundland Clubs around the country and the calendar of Water Tests in the late summer/early fall. Two years ago when Winn was just a puppy, I volunteered and learned so much. I wrote about that experience in two posts and you can read them here and here.