I’m starting with a bold statement: all Newfies love the kitchen. It’s probably safe to state that all dogs love the kitchen. For years I have depended on doing lunges over my dogs as a primary form of exercise, so when Annie showed no interest in joining us in the kitchen I was completely dumbfounded. On one hand, it was nice to only have to navigate around one dog in the kitchen, but it just didn’t seem right that she would rather choose the safety of her crate over being in the general vicinity of random tidbits raining down from above.
It was a very slow process, but after several months, she was realizing that rewards were frequent when she was near the kitchen. She was now wandering freely into the kitchen whenever one of us was in there and was actually becoming a little pushy when she felt it was time for me to share something with her. I think she liked bulldozing her way through whatever was in her way whether it is human, Maisie or the kitchen stool. She was ready for a bite of whatever we were preparing, and she’d like it now please! Since we are still abiding by the rule of Annie gets whatever Annie wants, I usually am persuaded by her sweet face looking up at me but I am learning to say no when I need to.
On July 5th, we were all getting back into our normal routines after the long holiday weekend. In our house we start celebrating on the 3rd because that is my husband’s birthday and then it just carries into the 4th with more things on the grill, more cake, more fireworks, ect, ect. This year it was truly a long weekend because the 4th was on a Monday, so on Tuesday I was staggering through the kitchen in a bit of a blur when I stopped myself mid-stride. I had just lunged over Maisie on my way to the refrigerator and was in the middle of another lunge when I looked down and I was standing over Annie!
It was such a normal thing, I’ve been doing this for years, but this was the first time Annie had parked herself in the middle of the floor and forced me into a second lunge! I shrieked and my husband and daughter looked at me like I was insane. There I was standing over Annie yelling “Newfie lunge, Newfie lunge”! I know it sounds mad, but I wanted to note the day because this is the most normal dog behavior I know and Annie had finally figured it out. This was the day I’ve been waiting for and there were many times that I doubted this would ever happen. I now have 2 kitchen dogs and things are back to normal with my double Newfie lunge workout. No more excuses, surely now I can drop the extra pounds I’ve put on over the last several months…
It’s been 6 months since you became a part of our family so to celebrate, I’ve created a Letterman style top 10 list of my favorite moments with you.
- The look on your face when you gave Maisie her first and only correction and that tuft of brown fur sticking out of your mouth.
- Those crazy old man noises you make, I still don’t know what they mean.
- The way you put your face across my laptop when you want my undivided attention.
- Finding my favorite pair of gloves in the back of your crate that you swiped off of the counter.
- When you finally decided to sit on command.
- It took weeks for you to take treats from my hand so when you came into the kitchen for the first time and licked the food off of my hands, my heart was glowing.
- The morning you woke me up by snuffling in my face. It was so out of character for you that it took me a good minute to realize it was you and not Maisie!
- When you finally forced me into a Newfie Lunge.
- The first time you greeted me at the back door.
And my #1 favorite moment with you is: When you give me a good morning howl!
I work part-time so my days off usually involve some errands or appointments during the day. On one particular day in June I left the house and decided not to close the doors on the dog crates. I didn’t plan on being out very long and both of my children were home from college for the summer, it was possible that one of them would be coming down for breakfast shortly after I left. Maisie is the one that gets into trouble when we are out, she just gets so lonely, but with Annie around I was hoping I could begin to trust her to not get into things when they were left on their own. So far, Annie had not proven to be an explorer; she would just stay in her crate and sleep until we returned.
I finished what I needed much more quickly than I thought and I returned home about 45 minutes after I left. Maisie greeted me with her usual exuberance, jumping up on the storm door and pawing at it until either she or I got it open. I received a huge surprise when I opened the door and saw not only Maisie but Annie waiting for me with a wagging tail as well! This is such normal behavior for most dogs but for Annie it was another sign that she was overcoming her fears. We keep the two crates side by side and Annie’s crate door is almost never closed. She will stay in her crate when Maisie is contained. Whenever someone comes in the house, Annie always waits to come out until we go into the room and open up Maisie’s door. If they both happen to be loose, Annie has always stayed in or near her crate, looking around the door to see who has just come in and it takes her a few moments to muster the desire to come and greet us.
Annie always has to measure the situation before she makes a move. She had learned that it was best to keep a wide berth with humans and even run away when she could, so hearing my footsteps and choosing to come towards me and wait for my arrival, my goodness! By stepping out of the comfort of her crate and waiting for me by the door, she was showing me so much more than just her happiness to see me. The next time I came in the house I was hoping that she would greet me again, but that did not happen, she stood in the doorway and looked down the hallway for a few minutes before she decided to go the long way around the house and find me in the kitchen. It only took a couple more weeks and now she greets us at the door, shoves Maisie out of the way, step all over our toes and eagerly insists on receiving as much attention as possible. She’s a very different dog from the one we brought home in January!
On a really hot day there is nothing better than going to the beach and cooling off in the water. The cherry on top is a really good shake and soaking anyone nearby!
Cherry on top
About 3 weeks before her birthday I found a lump on Annie’s left flank. I was immediately concerned and we went to the vet to have it evaluated. The pathology from the tissue sample was inconclusive but I noticed Maisie sniffing it so we made the decision to remove it along with another lump that was notated on her first visit. The waiting is the hardest part, and sure enough the lump on her hip was cancer but the other lump was not. Shit. Cancer. After everything else, now cancer! The diagnosis was so disheartening but the analysis showed that all of the cancer had been removed with no sign of spreading at this time, so we had caught it early. What a relief! We would need to continue to monitor her very carefully but the vet was optimistic about her prognosis. But then there was another concern. While she was in surgery she developed an irregular heartbeat. Occasionally this happens because of the anesthesia but considering Annie’s age, this was probably a sign that she was developing heart disease. We scheduled an EKG at the same time as her suture removal and hoped for the best. It seemed so unfair that this should come up after all that she had been through .
Her appointment happened to be on her birthday and I was planning on having a celebration for her that night. I went to the party store and got party hats and a big feather boa. I have never dressed up my dogs before, but it seemed perfectly appropriate for this occasion. I was going to buy a birthday cake from the doggie bakery in town but then decided that I would make her one. I had always made cakes for my kids on their birthdays and Annie deserved to have her own homemade cake as well.
When we got to the vet, Annie was completely relaxed. We walked in and she sat next to me while we waited. A young male tech came out to take her back and she got visibly upset. Up until now I had always requested female techs but I had forgotten to confirm that with this appointment. She did not want to go with him and climbed up next to me on the bench to get away from him. She was reminding me that although she was making great progress, she still had fears that needed to be soothed. I sat with her for a minute and calmed her and then I took the leash and walked her part of the way and then he took over and she was better. I heard her doctor greet her when she went around the corner so I knew she was in good hands. About 15 minutes later I went into the exam room and Annie was rubbing up next to her doctor. She immediately gave me the best news possible, Annie’s EKG was normal! She also did not hear any sign of a murmur so we decided to continue to monitor her very closely but I was very optimistic about her future. I know she’s at the twilight of her life, but I want her final months (or dare I hope, years) to be pain-free with minimal complications so that we can just enjoy our time together, however long that may be.
We had the party that night after dinner. I cut the cake into four pieces and placed it on a low table in front of her. She grabbed the first piece and loved it. Maisie took a piece for herself and they both took their time with their second pieces. These two have never had any food problems and once again, they shared with each other and watched each other enjoy their treats. I took lots of pictures and we had so much fun giving Annie her very first birthday party.
Recipe for Annie’s birthday cake: