Category Archives: Maisie

Becoming sisters

Recently someone asked me what the major differences were between Maisie and Annie. It took me a minute to gather my thoughts and figure out where to begin.

When we brought Annie home, the contrast between the two dogs was shocking. We’ve had Maisie from the time that she was a puppy. She has always been treated with love and affection. In her mind, everyone is her friend. She loves meeting people and other dogs. She loves to play. She has baskets of toys, and plays with her toys on her own and when she needs to burn some energy. She is a bundle of joy and fun. She is always excited about every new adventure and has nothing to fear.

Annie was the complete opposite. Prior to her rescue she didn’t know that people weren’t to fear. She was trying to figure out if she was safe in our house. She wouldn’t even take treats from our hands. Protecting herself was her top priority and it took her a while to learn to trust our kind overtures. She showed no interest in toys and she did not want to play with Maisie.   Maisie is very good about reading human cues, but not so good at understanding dog cues. I was not surprised when I heard a scuffle on Annie’s third day with us. Annie came skittering around the corner and went straight into her crate. She was hanging her head and when I approached her to let her know she wasn’t in trouble, she had a big tuft of brown fur sticking out of her mouth. I chuckled to myself, Maisie was fine, they were just setting boundaries with each other, and it might take a couple hints for Maisie to understand the boundaries. I gave Annie a few pats, took the fur out of her mouth and watched her expressionless eyes as she pulled herself into her protective barrier and settled into her bed. It broke my heart that she was so guarded, but I just knew that I could get her to relax by giving her time and patience.

It took several days, but Annie started to understand that this was her house as well as Maisie’s. Annie tried to keep her distance with Maisie, and Maisie continued to try to get close and get her to play. Even though Annie seemed annoyed by this, she never gave Maisie another “correction.” Over time she started to warm up to Maisie and she would come out of her crate and lay on the floor when Maisie was doing the same thing. In the beginning, she would lie far from Maisie, but slowly they started lying more close together. It’s taken a while, but now they are always in the same room with each other and they lie very close together when they sleep. They also follow each other around the house, and Annie takes great comfort in having Maisie with her when we leave the house so I know they have bonded.

Annie is now so comfortable in the house that she spends very little time in her crate. She prefers to be on the cool tile or spread out on the floor. She is always close by and very often is a tripping hazard. I love that she wants to be close to us and that she will come searching for me if I’ve left the room.

Their body types are as different as their personalities. Maisie is slightly undersized and is very light-footed. I call her Tiptoe because of the way she walks. She holds her head high and puffs her chest out when she prances around, looking more like a pony than a dog. Annie is very stocky and long. She’s shorter than Maisie but she has very broad shoulders and hips which give her a bigger appearance. Her head is a little small for her body and she holds it low, between her shoulders. She has huge flat feet and they point inward when she walks which causes her shoulders to roll along with her hips. She truly has the look of a black bear when she’s walking around the yard.

Maisie likes to push on Annie to get her to play and she’ll wrap her neck over Annie’s. Annie will usually try to change directions to get away from Maisie but recently, she’s learned she can give a good shoulder check to get her to move. Annie will also use her strength to push Maisie away when she is getting attention from me. Annie now wants as much attention as possible and she just shoves her way in so she can be closest. Every now and then she’ll give Maisie a check out of the blue, which Maisie interprets as an invitation to play. I can’t tell if Annie is trying to play, or is being a pushy big sister but it’s fun to see them engage more frequently with each other, and Maisie not being the only one to initiate an interaction.

Annie still doesn’t show any interest in toys but she did do a funny thing one day. Around 8:00 every night, Maisie has her crazy time. She will grab one of her favorite, noisiest toys and start running circles in the house while squeaking the toy as much as possible. She usually does this when we’ve settled in to watch TV, so the volume gets turned up, Maisie races around, skidding out, changing direction and being very distracting for 5-10 minutes. Annie usually is starting her after-dinner snooze so when this starts she typically gets up and goes to her crate to get out of the way. One morning, green dragon was lying by Annie’s crate after it had been discarded the night before. Annie stood over it, then pounced and grabbed it and took it to the back of her crate. It’s the only time she has pounced much less grabbed a toy and it made me smile because she was showing a hint of mischief by stealing Maisie’s favorite toy. Maybe she was trying to hide it in order to have a more peaceful evening that night, but I really think she was trying to show Maisie who’s the boss.


Daily Prompt: Perplexed

Poor Maisie is so perplexed, she doesn’t know what is happening.  Every time she hits the wall, gets caught going through the doorway or gets stuck on the kitchen stool she looks at me with complete confusion and terror.img_3064

This morning she cut her paw, I don’t know how or where.  I heard her licking it and when she followed be into the kitchen the floor looked like a scene from a  horror movie with one huge bloody paw print all over the room.  She’s going to be fine, I had a both types of cones left from previous dog surgery recoveries, hopefully the blue cloud cone will work. The traditional cone of shame is hard on everyone, especially the back of my legs!img_3070

via Daily Prompt: Perplexed

Enjoying the day

Last weekend I found myself home alone with just the dogs.  This doesn’t happen very often but my husband was out of town, the kids are both away at school and finally the weather looked to be absolutely perfect for going out and exploring.

I was inspired by the weekly photo challenge prompt of edge and I knew exactly where I wanted to go to try to capture some pictures that would relate to that theme.

This summer has been incredibly hot which makes it unsafe for me to walk my big hairy dogs.  Maisie and I have always taken really long walks when the temperatures are below 75 degrees.  We live about 8 blocks from Lake Michigan and there is a beautiful walking path that we enjoy in all kinds of weather, the colder, the better.

Our walks have gotten a lot shorter since Annie has started to join us. She’s older and doesn’t have the same level of stamina and I’m very careful to not get her over heated.  I really wanted to go the full length of the path which loops around the Northwestern University campus but it’s just too far for Annie and I didn’t want to leave her home alone.  I don’t know why it hasn’t occurred to me before, but I decided to drive down to the path and then we could walk along the lakefront taking breaks when needed and then drive back home.

The girls love a car ride but when I parked and got out, they were both a little anxious because they didn’t recognize where we were and we were heading out to a new direction.  I parked close to campus in the residential neighborhood but once we started walking and they saw the lake they settled into an excited pace.

Our first stop was at the end of the pier which has a beautiful view with the Chicago skyline in the background. My biggest frustration was that I left my good camera at home and had to rely on my iphone to capture what I wanted. The lighting was tricky but we enjoyed the peaceful setting.



We kept moving and I found a gorgeous spot with a different angle that gave me a slightly better result.

Then we worked our way to the other area that I had thought represented “edge”.

To wrap it up we strolled along the loop of the path, took a rest and headed back to the car. (Finally the angle of the sun was in line with what I wanted to capture.)

By this point, Maisie knew what I wanted but I still had a hard time getting her to look at me.

It was such a nice break from our usual routine that we returned on Sunday and I found even more amazing spots that I have walked by so many times but never stopped long enough to enjoy the view.

Loving the moment here and now!

What’s with the barking?

Recently I’ve been feeling like Maisie might need some one on one time.  Annie has demanded a lot of our attention since she came into our lives and Maisie now has to share our time.  She thought Annie would be a new playmate, and even though Annie has no desire to play with Maisie (or any toys for that matter) I love Maisie’s determination because every day she tries to get Annie to play with her.

Newfies are working dogs, and they have natural instincts that need to be stimulated.   Maisie is a very active Newfoundland. She’s a “petite” Newfoundland weighing just under 90 pounds and she loves to run, the faster the better. She also loves to jump.  She has been the easiest dog I’ve ever trained (aside from the fact that she doesn’t like to put things in her mouth–she doesn’t like to retrieve, won’t bring in the paper, pick things up or help bring bags in from the car.  All jobs my other Newfie loved and needed to do every day).  I have reached the conclusion that water rescue work is not in the cards for her (because it involves putting things in her mouth) but I think I have found the perfect activity for us.  3 weeks ago we started a beginner agility class!


To say that she gets a lot of attention in class is an understatement.  The trainer has worked with dogs of all sizes, even a Great Dane, so he knows what her limitations may be and gives us great tips for success but I think he is surprised by her willingness to try everything and how well she is doing.  Everyone we see is completely entertained by the fact that she is in the agility class. She shoots through the tunnel with absolute joy and she’s doing really well with the weave poles.  Granted these are beginner weave poles that are akin to a child’s bike with training wheels vs. a racing bike.  She loves it and we are having a lot of fun.  So much fun that this week I couldn’t control her barking.

Maisie has never been a barker.  She only barks when she wants to play (and when she’s watching TV but that’s another post) and that may be once or twice and then she’s on the move. We have trained her not to bark at other dogs when we are sitting on our front porch and we haven’t had any issues with that in a very long time. This week in class she was beside herself with excitement and started barking to distraction when the other dogs had their turn. None of my usual methods worked and she was an absolute nuisance!

The tunnel was set up close to the edge of the ring where we were sitting and every time another dog went through she was uncontrollable. She loves the tunnel and wanted to join them so badly! I finally walked her all the way over to the other end of the room and that only helped a little bit.  It really put a damper on my experience and this week our homework will be dedicated to correcting this.  Hopefully next week she won’t be so loud, after all, we still have lots of tricks to learn!

Weekend update

Aren’t long weekends wonderful? For us, it means having time for fun, a house project and a little rest in between. For the dogs it means playtime and meeting new people, baths and lots of sleep. Maisie thinks this is all wonderful, Annie still has her moments of doubt.

Chris and I are finally tackling one of the projects we have postponed every summer since we moved in: replacing the shingles on the north side of the house.  When we moved in, we ripped the old siding off and began the slow process of restoring the clapboard and molding, replacing what was necessary and repainting the house in a cheerful 5 color Victorian scheme. We have worked our way around the house each summer and have even made second passes of touch-ups when needed. The top portion of the north side has been out of reach from our 35 foot ladder and has been a topic of debate every summer.  I wanted to hire someone to complete the job, I really don’t like Chris being up that high.  He  wants to do it himself, so we’ve been at an impasse. I finally caved, he bought a 40 foot ladder and 4 boxes of new shingles and the process has begun.

Chris is getting the paint stripped off of the sides and then underlayment and shingles will go up.
Last weekend the rotted and warped shingles were removed.

Setting aside time to have fun was part of the weekend plan so we managed to take the dogs to the beach on 3 occasions.  We had our niece over for dinner Friday night, friends who were in town for the weekend came by for brunch Sunday morning and we had our new neighbors over for drinks Monday evening. For Maisie, this was all lots of fun and she was completely worn out by Monday night.  I hoped Annie would be receptive to house guests since she has become so much more relaxed in the house.  She knows Maggie (our niece) and when she came in the house Annie was wagging her tail and started to approach her.  Unfortunately, she got spooked, put on the brakes and backed up until she could turn around and retreat to her crate.

When our friends came for brunch I knew Annie would spend the entire time in her crate but at one point she did venture out and walked around so that she could take a look at who was in the dining room. When she was acknowledged, she quickly turned back around. I always think this a good sign when she wants to see who is in the house.  When they left, we walked them out to the sidewalk and they weren’t even to their car when I felt Annie by my side.  She listened for the goodbye and came right out once they were out of the house.  So there she was, next to me, as we waved goodbye.  Baby steps with her and hopefully one day she won’t hide in her crate when we have visitors.

After a full day of work Monday, Chris on the ladder stripping off the old paint and me removing the thistle bush (truly one of the worst things I’ve done in a while) that the dogs keep brushing past and picking up terrible, prickly burrs that are very difficult and painful to remove from their fur.  We got our work areas and ourselves cleaned up just in time to get to know our new neighbors.  We stayed outside and while Maisie was very social, loving the kids, running in the yard with them, Annie stayed by my chair most of the time but didn’t seem to be uncomfortable with the new voices.  All in all, a great weekend.  We got a lot accomplished but still took the time to have a little fun.

A trip to the beach is a great way to relax after a day of hard labor.