Category Archives: Family life

Heartache

Part of being a pet owner is turning your heart over to your furry friend, knowing that it will break when you have to say goodbye.  There is never enough time with our pets, and very often, when the dull ache in our chest and the tears are still fresh, we do it all over again.  We are willing to put our hearts on the line because we know it is worth it. The joy, the mischief, the mess and everything in between are rewarded with powerful, unconditional love.

We’ve made many friends through social media and even though we’ve never met, we’ve gotten very attached to our doggy friends.  We share our stories, our triumphs, our funny moments and our sad moments.  This year, as our circle has expanded, so has our heartache as we learn of the losses.  Some lived nice long lives and some didn’t get that chance,  but we miss seeing the antics of Winston, Charlie, Lenny, Larry, Stella, Sirius, Kipper, Atia, Cash, Peggy and so many others.

Recently, it feels like I’ve given condolences over and over.  It’s so hard, it’s always too soon, but certainly, the hardest are the ones that leave unexpectedly when they are still young.  One day they are healthy and present and the next they are gone.  In the last few months this has happened to three special Newfies that I knew and loved.  It hurts, it hurts a lot and probably always will.  Iggy, we still look for you on the beach.  Rio, you were Annie’s very best boyfriend and a huge force in her recovery.  Arleen, you are irreplaceable, but the gift of your beauty, temperament and spirit lives on. We would give anything for more time with all of you.

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getting ready for her draft test, photo by her best friend

Mini road trip

Recently we loaded Maisie and Winn into the car and went on a quick road trip.  We were off to visit our daughter who lives about 3 hours away.

It’s pretty obvious that Maisie considers Abigail to be her favorite person on earth.  It is always so fun to see their reunions, and this time was no different.  Winn loves everybody and responded to Maisie’s energy by wiggling and squeaking while showering Abigail with kisses.  A two Newfie welcome can be a pretty overwhelming affair!

We all walked to a little brew pub for lunch and I was so impressed with Winn.  She walked calmly and confidently through crowds while staying in a perfect heel.  All of our training time really paid off!

We sat down at a big picnic table and our waitress brought a large water bowl for the girls.  Maisie loves to sit and watch the people walk by on the sidewalk, but Winn quietly settled right beside me, looked around a bit and ignored the other dog that was barking at us from a table near by.  Eventually she crawled under the table and rested her head so that she could see all of the other patio diners.IMG_4227IMG_4250We tend to get a lot of attention when we are out with the dogs, their size makes it impossible to remain unnoticed and most people haven’t seen a brown Newfoundland so we get a lot of questions about their breed.  This usually includes:  “What do they weigh?”, “How much do they eat?”,  “Do they come with a saddle?”, and my least favorite  “Do they shed?”.  Yes they shed, Newfoundlands shed!  Most dogs shed! There are a few breeds that don’t, but there seems to be an increased assumption that one should have a dog that doesn’t shed.

After lunch we walked back to her house, left the dogs with two of her friends and went to a movie. When we returned, we took the girls out again, stopped and got some ice cream and relaxed by the shores of a nearby lake.  As soon as we were close to the water, Maisie and Winn both wanted to wander in, but they stayed close by and immediately came when called when they strayed too far away.  I was so proud of both of them, they were so well-behaved!IMG_4247IMG_4245IMG_4236It was a lovely day spent with our daughter in the town that she loves and has decided to make her home.  It’s close enough that we headed back home as the sun was setting and Maisie and Winn slept the whole way after having such a fun-filled day of activity!IMG_4229

 

What is going on?

Yesterday, I had a post ready to go. The working title was It’s official, Annie is a city dog!

I was snapping some pictures to add to my post when I realized that perhaps things are different from what I originally thought.

The theme of the story was that Annie grew up and lived in the country before she came to live with us.  Unfortunately, for most of her life, it wasn’t the idyllic existence that one would think of for a country dog.  She and many other dogs lived in rural Michigan in an area without an animal warden. Care and conditions were terrible and there wasn’t anyone around to inspect or enforce violations.  Once she got into foster care, she was exposed to a wonderful country life with open land to explore, a pack of 6 other dogs to play and bond with as well as love, affection, vet care and regular feedings from a wonderful family.

Transitioning to our city life took her a while but she has embraced it.  We have a nice sized fenced yard and we are a couple of blocks from a bustling downtown with restaurants, shops, bakeries and coffee shops.  Walk a few blocks in a different direction and we are on the shores of Lake Michigan.  Annie loves our walks, whichever route we may take although she is always cautious and alert when we are passing strangers along the way.IMG_1364Annie’s favorite place is our backyard.  She has learned how to let herself out and will come and go to her heart’s content.  We have 3 huge, old oak trees that provide lots of shade and she is perfectly happy to lay at the top of the deck stairs or curl up in her favorite dirt hole and sniff the air before falling into a deep, contented sleep. We have plenty of small animals that enter our yard including bunnies, squirrels, chipmunks, possums and occasionally a skunk or raccoon.  She has never paid attention to any of them nor has she exhibited a prey drive.IMG_2941Imagine my horror when I opened the door Monday to let everyone inside before I left the house to run some errands and there stood Annie with a floppy, bloody, dead rat in her mouth. Yes, a rat. The most vile creature ever to walk the planet. Living near restaurants and water means that there are also rats in the area but until this summer I have been blissfully unaware of whatever may be lurking on the other side of our fence.

Two things happened this summer to encourage this invasion into our yard. First, two houses away, a dilapidated, dark and unused garage was torn down to make way for a new, modern garage with an upstairs apartment. There were rumors that rats had taken up residence there but I never saw them so I chose to pretend that they didn’t exist. Second, we replaced our fence and gate shortly before we picked up Winn.  Our old gate brushed against the sidewalk, the new gate has a pretty large gap between the sidewalk and the bottom of the gate which would allow small animals easy access to the yard.IMG_2937We started to suspect that a rat or two (I know, you see one rat and you actually have many more) were wandering into our yard about a month ago. Maisie loves to play with all creatures big and small and has been spending a lot of time sniffing and pacing in the bushes along our fence line with Winn hot on her trail.  Annie has ignored all of their excitement.

When I shrieked at Annie to drop the rat, and she did, Winn was right there eager to pick it up.  Fortunately she responded well to my hysteria and also dropped the rat and everyone ran inside avoiding my attempts to grab their collars to hurry along the process.

Once I caught my breath, I couldn’t help but wonder who had killed the rat? Maisie has picked up lots of small critters but has never killed them.  She wants to love and play with them.  Annie doesn’t have any front teeth and has never shown any interest in chasing or catching them.  Winn is interested in everything and while she did drop a baby bunny when I told her to, she wasn’t allowed the time to figure out what the natural next step might be.  Had she done it when I wasn’t around to stop her?IMG_5313I was betting on Winn but then, when I let them out later Annie was the one that was running around excitedly sniffing the bushes, around the planters and all along the fence line.  It seemed that she was the one that had scored the rat and was very proud of herself. She had officially become a city girl by catching a city rat.IMG_5316The next day, I had my camera ready when Annie and Winn gathered together and were sniffing around the same spot.  I thought it was cute and stood away from them snapping pictures when I began to get suspicious.  The were very curious about something in the dirt but so far, their mouths were empty.  I called them away and as they both came toward me, I was able to catch a glimpse of four small feet sticking out from under a plant close to the sidewalk.  Good grief, another one!  Upon closer inspection, I could tell that it was a squirrel.  I had more questions because neither one of them wanted to pick it up, they just looked at it, looked at each other and then looked at it some more. Were they leaving it alone to avoid more shrieking?

My new working theory is that there is a predator cat in the alley and these maimed creatures are making a quick escape into our yard by squeezing under the gate.  Then again, the squirrel could have just fallen out of the tree.  I’ve seen that happen before…

 

 

Please don’t smack me in the face

and other things I say to my puppy.

I love Winn’s huge paws, but good grief it hurts when she pounces on me when she’s hungry.  She tends to do this in the morning, after she goes outside to do her business.  She will come up to me, crawl across my chest and take one paw and hit my face.  Then she will get closer, essentially pinning me down and smother me with kisses.  It’s very sweet but too much the first thing in the morning and I’m encouraging her to stop with the smacking!

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My view every morning.

What’s in your mouth? I must say this 10 times a day.

Where did you go? I taught her to bring in the paper which she loves to do because then she gets a treat.  She can be very quiet when she wants to be and will sneak off, cruising around, looking for something to bring to me to get my attention and to hopefully get another treat.

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She goes looking for socks, and is always so proud when she finds one.

I try to give her other jobs to stimulate her working dog desire to bring me things.

And finally, please, please stay out of the paint!  We seem to always have a project going on, and often times paint is involved.  Her affinity for paint started when we were at my mom’s house and I wrote about painting with a puppy.  This summer we have been touching up the paint around our back deck and she found a plastic container filled with paint that had been placed among other paint cans.  I had let her out while I was in the kitchen making my breakfast. In just short of 2 minutes, she made a colossal mess!

Do you catch yourself saying funny things to your dog?

 

What was that?

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Last weekend the weather was absolutely beautiful and my husband and I decided to enjoy a fire in the fire pit for the first time this summer.

The dogs were happy, Winn slept by my feet, Annie was relaxing on the other side of the fire pit and Maisie was in the back of the yard staring across the fence hoping for a sighting of the neighbor’s dog.

We were about ready to go in, it was pretty dark and the fire was just about out when we heard a scuffle behind us.  Maisie came running up behind me and fortunately put on the brakes when she reached my chair.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw something small and dark race just past my feet, scuttle over the speed hump that was Annie and disappear under the deck.

Annie jumped up and started to run towards her hidey-hole but then gathered her wits and slowly came back towards us.  Clearly, she did not like the sensation of something racing over her back side.

My best guess is chipmunk or maybe a mouse.  It was about the size of a tennis ball but not bouncy enough to be a baby bunny.  Whatever it was, it provided a very entertaining ending to a relaxing evening at home!

P.S. Winn slept through the whole thing and had to be woken up to go inside and go to bed.