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!
Grateful for the people in our lives. Grateful for our home and the food on the table. Grateful for those that are no longer with us and how much they meant to us. It can be difficult remembering our loved ones, wishing we had more time with them, but life is so much better for having them as long as we did.
This year, we didn’t have any guests or additional family members around our Thanksgiving table, it was just the four of us and that is always very special. My daughter drove in from Michigan. She had to be back at work on Friday so it was a very quick trip for her, but wonderful all the same. My son drove in from Ohio and was here for five days which seemed to fly by just as quickly as the day and a half that my daughter was here. It doesn’t really matter to me, I just love and savor the times that we are all together. The house feels full again, as it should be, and I feel complete. I’m so very, very thankful that they both were able to come home for the holiday.
Wednesday was baking day and I made two pies and some dog cookies. I used a dog cookie mix that I discovered last spring. I usually keep a couple of jars on hand to supplement our huge assortment of dog treats. Whenever I’m in the kitchen the dogs are close by. Now and then, I actually cook for them and since they are always optimistic about getting an extra nibble they are underfoot as much as possible. Winn is particularly eager in the kitchen, always alert and ready to pounce on anything that might drop.Somehow, they both knew that these cookies were for them and they watched my every move with anticipation. They knew that good things were coming and they simply needed to wait. They also thought it might help speed things along if they gave me a nudge now and then but their eager eyes usually do the trick.Once the cookies were done, I moved on to the pumpkin pies. I gave them both a taste of the cooked pumpkin, which they loved, and decided to offer the pot to them for one or two licks. I should have known that Winn would stick her whole head into the pot and come up with pumpkin all over her! I pulled it away, gave Maisie the chance for a lick and decided that was enough. They get dirty enough on their own, I certainly don’t need to add to their need for a bath.Thanksgiving morning we all (not including the dogs) participated in a 5K family fun run. We actually did a brisk walk since not all of us are runners. I had to do a fair amount of cajoling to get everyone to participate but they were up, dressed and ready to go at 8:15 just like I asked (despite my son’s raging hangover and my daughters aversion to races). It was bitterly cold but it was a very festive atmosphere. We were surrounded by families and it felt good (at least to my husband and I) to get some exercise before we sat down for a big meal.I thought it was a great way to start the day and we then went on to cook, watch football, take naps and eat one of our favorite meals of the year.
Thanksgiving weekend is also a time of another tradition, doing the final clean-up of the yard. Our backyard is dominated by three huge old oak trees. They provide a vast canopy which is wonderful in the summer because our house stays very cool, even on the hottest days, but that also means we have to deal with a thick carpet of leaves every fall. Those leaves are also the last to drop in the neighborhood so even though we would like to get the job done while the weather is still mild, it seems like the trees need a prolonged cold snap before the leaves will descend.The dogs were outside enjoying the cool weather while we did all of the work. It took several hours of blowing, raking and scooping but we got it most of it done with about 15 minutes to spare before the truck came down the alley to collect the bags. They come once a week so I was thrilled that we got all of the bags filled and taken away in the same day. After getting the leaves taken care of (before a big storm was due to roll in), I moved on to getting the front porch ready for the season. This involved cleaning out all of the baskets and pots, removing the furniture cushions, storing the small furniture under the deck and then hanging the Christmas decorations. I’m glad I was able to get all of that done while it was still relatively warm out, the temperature was due to drop along with a big snow storm blowing through the area.
Sure enough, late Sunday night the snow started and when we all got up Monday there was a fresh, wet blanket of heavy white stuff to entertain Maisie and Winn. They are always so excited to go outside after a storm. They race around, plunge their faces into it and have expressions of pure joy on their faces. What a great way to end the Thanksgiving weekend and get into the holiday spirit!
November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month because senior dogs need loving homes too!
When you adopt a senior pet:
1. You are saving a life!
2. Seniors have been around, they’ve seen a lot and they have a lot of love to give. They are usually calmer and adaptable to new situations.
3. Seniors don’t demand the same level of exercise or entertainment of a younger dog. They are very happy to curl up by your feet and take a nice long nap.
4. They usually have some training, are house broken and aren’t teething so they aren’t shoe destroyers. Seniors are a lot less work than puppies and you probably won’t need to supervise any middle of the night potty breaks!
5. Don’t believe the old saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. It might take a little while, but senior dogs aim to please and are receptive to training. They will learn the “house rules” in order to earn your love and affection.
6. There is no mystery about how big they will be, what they will look like and what their grooming needs will be.
I know most people want to bring home a pet either as a puppy or young dog so that they can have as much time as possible with them. I get that, I really do, but unfortunately I have known of many dogs that didn’t make it to their 2nd, 3rd or 4th birthday and it was devastating for their owners. We can never be sure how long our precious pets will be with us. The only guarantee we have is that at some point we have to say goodbye and that is by far, the worst part of being a pet owner.
Seniors tend to need more frequent medical care and that can be expensive. Annie and I were at the vet quite often and since we said goodbye in January, I’ve only been back there on two occasions. Once for Winn’s annual check up and then a couple of weeks later when she had her corn cob incident. Maisie is due for her annual next week and it does feel a little strange that I haven’t been in the office as frequently as I was with Annie. I don’t miss the bills, but I do miss seeing everyone who works there.
I adopted Annie when she was 9 1/2 and knew that my time would be limited with her. Because of that, I was much more deliberate about making each day count for her. I wanted her to have everything I could possibly give her to prove to her that she was deserving of a loving home. We had two years together and I loved every minute of it, even the ones when I worked so hard to gain her trust and wasn’t sure if she would ever bond with us.
Annie filled my heart in different ways than my other dogs and I know I will adopt a senior again. Recently I’ve heard of two senior boys that are both available for adoption. One of them is a 10-year-old in Washington State who has attracted the attention of many Newfie owners on social media and I believe several applications have already been put in for him. The other one is an 8 1/2-year-old in Illinois who is very sweet but needs to be in a home with no other pets. Neither one of these boys is right for me but I know, just like with Annie, when the time is right my path will cross with a girl who needs me to give her the good life in her later years and I will greet her with open arms.
I still miss Annie so much but I want to encourage others to try not to worry about the amount of time you will have with your pet, but the quality of time you will have with your pet. If you are willing to open your heart and home to a senior pet, the rewards are huge for both of you and so worth it!
One of our favorite companies, Stella and Chewy, are featuring adoptable senior pets all month long on their website. You can read about them here. They will also donate $1 to senior rescues every time the hashtag #ISupportSeniorPets is used. What an easy way for all of us to get involved! All year long, for every bag of food purchased, they donate a meal to an adult rescue pet. Thank you Stella and Chewy for your constant, generous support of adult dogs.
I was so happy after our last practice, it was the first time all summer that we executed everything we attempted perfectly and I felt like we were in the best shape possible for the test.
Later that night I got a phone call with devastating news about a family member and I quickly made a plane reservation on the first flight possible. I had no idea what the future would hold and was slapped once again with the realization that life can change in an instant and we have no control when it does.
I returned home at the end of the week, forever changed and feeling completely out of it. The last thing on my mind was going up to the water test, but then when I thought about it, that was something that made me really happy so I decided to go and I’m so glad I did. When Winn and I are working together I don’t think about anything else and that is exactly what I needed so I packed the car and headed up there and was able to push all of my other emotions out of my mind.
It was such a relief to be somewhere so familiar. Our training partners were there along with several other people who I had gotten to know over the summer. The mood was one of excitement and it was great to be a part of it. This time was different for me because we got to be part of the “main camp” since Winn had finished her heat which also meant that I got to watch and cheer on all of the other entrants.This was a two-day test, we had entered both days and had two chances to make it happen. Saturday morning was incredibly foggy and we were delayed getting started but then it turned out to be a beautiful weekend. Each day was considered its own test but I’ll recap each exercise including both days.
On both days we had several dogs ahead of us before it would be our turn so I took Winn further down the beach to practice heeling and fetching to get her worked up and ready to go. We got a treat bag when we checked in that had dried chicken hearts in it and Winn thought that was about the best thing she had ever had in her life. By the time our number was called, I had her full attention and I was feeling pretty good about our chances for success.
Basic Control has always been something that we’ve done well but on the first day she started veering away from me and I had to alter my path to keep her in the required 4 foot radius. While doing that, I tripped over one of the cones and was sure that we didn’t pass. To my surprise, when I asked the judge she said we passed, but on Sunday we performed it perfectly which made me feel much better.
The Single Retrieve (bumper throw) and Drop Retrieve (life jacket off of the boat) didn’t give us any trouble either day, although Winn did stop for a drink on the first day on her way to her life jacket which almost caused her to time out. She finally got swimming with 5 seconds to spare and my heart going double time.On Saturday, Winn surprised me with Take A Line. She grabbed it from my hand and then turned and started to march out of the ring with it. Fortunately, I was able to grab her and steer her back to the water, but that was a fail. Our training partners offered to stay late with us and put a long line on her to practice it at the end of the day and I took them up on their offer. They wanted to stay and practice jumping off of the boat with their boy so once everybody was packing up and leaving for the day, the three of us were back in the water and I’m so glad we stayed. Winn tried to do the same thing two more times but with a gentle tug from the line she got right in the water and then seemed to forget about trying to leave the beach. The next 3 attempts went exactly as they should. On Sunday, her Take A Line was perfect and she passed that exercise!Tow A Boat was next and this was the moment we had been training for. I knew she could do it, I just wasn’t sure that she would do it. On Saturday she came close but the boat drifted in and she dropped the bumper right on the edge of the water. When I tried to get her to pick her bumper back up she just stared at me like I was asking too much. She had worked so hard and when she got the boat up on shore she turned to go say hello to the steward that was in the front of the boat. On Sunday, she took her time going out to the boat. Sometimes she stops to eat seaweed or look at a dead bug, whatever it was I think she forgot what she was doing and she started to come back to shore. I don’t usually use a firm voice with her but I wasn’t messing around when I pointed my arm to the boat and said “Winn, go out” and fortunately she turned back around and went to the boat. She did the most beautiful pull all the way in but at the last second she let the boat drift in and she dropped the bumper on the grass and once again looked at me like “I did it, are we done now?”. She just stared at me when I tried to get her to pick her bumper up again and then our time was up and the judge blew the whistle. It was the best she had ever done in a test and that was good enough for me. We had come so far, it wasn’t a pass in the judges eyes, but it was to me.Swim With Handler was our big finish both days. We didn’t get a new Water Dog title this year but we came as close as I could have hoped for. Next year we will reinforce everything we learned this summer and train for the senior test as well. I loved being in the water with Winn and she continues to amaze me with her abilities.
This winter we will go back to rally and obedience and I’d like to introduce her to draft work. That’s the next thing for us to figure out together and I’ve got a new book to read!