Who’s the little guy in the back?

We’ve had some changes recently and Chocolate the collie is now a full time resident and pack member!

To be honest, it was a very easy transition because the dogs were all well aquanted. Chocolate is my mom’s dog. He’s a sweet boy and they have all gotten to know each other well since she moved to the area 3 years ago.

Over the last several months, it was becoming more difficult for my mom to take care of him, so we welcomed him and her both into our house full time a few weeks ago.

Maisie and Winn reacted to him in the same manner they always do, which is pretty much “oh hi, it’s you” and then they went on with whatever they were doing. None of them have dominant tendencies, but they all seem to know where they are in the pecking order. Chocolate is last, he knows it and so do they. There haven’t been any squables and I’m thankful for that.

The transition has been pretty seamless, but we have all noted some differences that are kind of funny.IMG_0077.jpeg

  • I’m used to big heads and big teeth. They don’t scare me and I regularly put my hand in Winn’s mouth to pull out whatever she is trying to hide from me. Hand feeding my newfs has never been an issue for me. Maisie is the most gentle, Winn sometimes gets a little overexcited but she never bites down. Bailey, my first, was the one that needed to constantly be reminded to be gentle.  Her nickname was Chompadile, but Chocolate has a pointy mouth and sharp little teeth and we are both having some frustration while he learns what gentle means.
  • He has a very inefficient mouth. He spends more time at the water bowl than the other two and there is water everywhere when he is done. Winn slings water around too, but with her, she brings in so much that the excess drips out of her jowls. If she moves her head while this is happening, she leaves a water trail. He doesn’t seem to be able to bring much in, again it’s that pointy snout and mouth, and the water flies around him while he tries to get a drink.
  • Chocolate is a stealthy watch dog. He wants to know where I am at all times and he quietly moves with me. I have turned around many times and run into him because he sneaks up behind me. The girls sleep soundly and rarely wake up once they are down for the night. Apparently, Chocolate doesn’t sleep through the night. My son recently told me that he gets freaked out when he is in the kitchen for his 2 am snack and turns to find Chocolate standing and staring at him. I didn’t know he was also keeping tabs on my son!
  • His leash manners are terrible. I’ve known this for a while and Mom used a no pull harness with him that worked well for her but I really prefer to have my dogs walk on a loose leash naturally. I’ve worked with him in the past and gotten him trained for Mom but she didn’t really hold him to the same standard so now we are working on it for real. I get funny looks walking the three of them. Winn on the outside left, her leash over my shoulder, Chocolate with a short lead on the inside left by my hip and Maisie on my right. (If Mom is with me, she holds onto my right arm and has Maisie’s leash.) The collie is the one getting most of my attention, the other’s are just out for a stroll. I’ve jokingly said, if I trip and go down, the whole train derails.
  • He’s a waddling pooper. He will squat to do his business, but then keeps walking while pooping leaving a trail behind him. I find this very peculiar and I’m not a fan. I have stepped in poop several times on our backyard sidewalk which in all my years of dog ownership is a first!
  • He barks. The doorbell and trucks driving by set him off the most. I still get starteled by the increased noise level but we are working on it.  He’s a really smart boy and responds well to positive reinforcement so we will get there together, it just might take a while.
  • He figured out the mealtime routine really fast. Everyone sits and stays while I put the bowls down and then they get to eat when I say OK. When they are done, they all move around licking each other’s bowls just to make sure they all got the same thing. Mealtime makes me smile.
  • Chocolate is a thunder dog, meaning he’s terrified of it. I’ve never had a thunder dog but I have heard enough stories from friends to know that it can be pretty challenging to deal with. I knew this from talking to my mom, but one night a couple of months ago, I experienced it for real and it was rough. I’ve stocked the house with calming things to try and now I’m taking note of thunder warnings so hopefully with a little preparation I can help him be a little calmer next time.IMG_0133.jpeg

So, despite all of the changes we are all dealing with right now, Chocolate has been a nice diversion and we certainly have the time to give him all of the extra attention and training he seems to love. Welcome home Chocolate, we are happy to have you!

A New Year’s checklist for dog owners

New year, new decade, fresh start.

Each new year, I like to reflect back on the past few months and set goals for the next few months. This year, I seem to be finding things all around me that I want to go through, reorganize, purge and clean out. I think it’s the added drama of a new decade that has me feeling so energized. Since the dogs are a huge part of our household, I wanted to create an organizational punch list dedicated to them to add to my New Year’s goals.A New Year's checklist for dog owners

1. Bath and groom. Everyone deserves a feel good in the new year and smelling fresh and clean is a great way kick things off.

Bathtime for Winn

2. Go through the grooming tools.

These belong to a friend who grooms a lot of dogs.
  • Wash the brushes and combs. Replace any with broken bristles or tines.
  • Send scissors out for sharpening and/or replace any that aren’t comfortable or work well.
  • Refill products that you like and work well for your dog, dispose of products that you don’t use.
  • Make a fresh batch of dry shampoo, two recipes that we use can be found here.

3. Is your house suddenly overun with toys? Sort and wash all of the dog toys. Donate extra toys to a local shelter, dispose of toys that are no longer in good condition.

4. Sort and wash beds, blankets and towels. Donate extras in good condition to a local shelter.

5. Review vaccination records for each dog. Make sure everything is up to date and mark the calendar for when each of them is due for their annual check-up and 6 month stool check.  Take a picture of the current vaccination certificate for each to keep in your phone. If required, renew pet licenses.

6. Review pet insurance policy, be aware of renewal date. Make any desired changes before policy renews for the year.

7. Go through your pet first aid kit. (I keep this one in the car.) Replace/refill any products that have been used or have expired. Insert current copies of vaccination records so that they are in hand if you have an out of town emergency.

My first aid kit that is always in the car

8. Confirm that your contact information is correct with the pet I.D./chip company.

9. Take a look at collar I.D.’s. Replace any that are hard to read or have out dated phone numbers or information. Order extras if you change collars frequently or ID clips that make it easy to transfer tags from one collar to another. 

10. Set some new goals for you and your pets. Walk more, play more, try something new. There are so many options!

happy new year text
Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

New Year, new friends!

On New Years Day, Maisie and I met a new friend at the dog park and had a wonderful time.IMG_3696Maisie has always had the attitude that everyone should be her friend. Most of the time, this is OK, but I’ve always been sensitive to her over-friendly ways and how they are received.

When we were going through our Therapy Dog training, the biggest challenge for her to overcome was to restrain herself when meeting new dogs and understanding that playtime doesn’t happen all the time. Fortunately, with lots of work and positive reinforcement, she was able to understand that she needs to wait for me to cue when it is OK to meet.

We continue to work on this…every time we encounter a dog.

One of my New Year goals with her is to start giving her more opportunities to run and play when it’s appropriate and to find doggie friends that are a good match for her.

Luna is definitely a good match for her!fullsizeoutput_306bShe is a sweet, young, energetic girl who was adopted from Newfoundland Rescue by a wonderful nearby family.  We have met a couple of times at events put on by our local Newfoundland Club but I always had Winn with me.  Winn is more reserved about who she wants to meet and play with, but I knew immediately after meeting Luna that Maisie would love her.

They ran, they bounced, they greeted a few other dogs and then ran off again together. It was perfect and we will be doing this again regularly. Maisie works so hard when we are visiting schools, she deserves some time when she doesn’t have to contain her exuberance!IMG_3686


2019 Holiday Gift Guide for dog lovers

It’s that time of year again and our resident reindeer and elf are ready to share some of their favorite gift ideas for all of the different people and pets on your list.1

To celebrate the season

  • Advent calendars $3 and up

IMG_2030Advent calendars have come a long way from when I was a kid. The assortment is enormous with items to appeal to even the fussiest person on your list.  Of course the traditional chocolate can still be found in stores everywhere, but other calendars are filled with toys, beauty products, beer or wine, and now there are even calendars for dogs and cats!

For the big dogs 

  • drying robe from Ruff and Tumble $50 and up
Photo from Ruff and Tumble

We spend a lot of time in the water and I’ve had a very difficult time finding a drying robe that will fit a large dog. A friend referred me to Ruff and Tumble and the first one I bought was actually too big! They are located in the U.K. but they are very quick to ship. They are a little pricey but quality is wonderful and they are very long lasting. I recently got a pair of the drying mitts and they make drying muddy paws so easy. Find out more here.IMG_2912

  • a new leather collar or leash $30 and up
A small selection of the many leashes we have on hand.

Several years ago I discovered that for dogs with long, thick hair around their necks, a round leather collar is the best collar to prevent matting and tangles. Ever since then, that’s been my collar of choice but it’s a little boring. I admire dogs with different patterned or jeweled collars, but I resist the urge to buy one for my dogs. As a result, I have a pretty big leash collection. I have leashes for training, swimming and walking the neighborhood.  I love buying a new leash and I have leashes that range in size from 2 feet to 30 feet.  I love the variety and I choose what to use based on my mood and what we are going to be doing.

Click here for my favorite round leather collar,  here for Hund collars, here for custom leather leashes and collars,  and here for patterned collars by Foggy Dog. They donate food to shelters with each purchase.

  • Oma’s Pride dog treats $8 and up
O'Paws Chicken Hearts
Photo from Oma’s Pride
  • High in fatty acids, vitamins A and B, Iron, and Taurine.
  • Sourced & produced in the USA.
  • 100% natural — no preservatives, additives, or flavorings.

Suggested Use & Instructions: Use as a treat, snack, or training tool. Feed whole or break into smaller pieces.

Ingredients: Hand-sliced chicken hearts

I can teach Winn to do anything when these treats are involved! Her favorites are the chicken hearts but she really isn’t choosy. There’s really nothing else to say, she loves them.

Click here to shop the collection.

For working newfs and their owners

  • Water Work, Water Play by Judi Adler $40 plus postage

IMG_1831-1The best Newfoundland specific water training manual out there! This book explains how to get started and how to be successful with each componenet of the Junior, Senior and Excellent test. If you know someone  interested in water work, this is the book for them.

Purchase this wonderful book here.

  • Katie’s bumpers $10 and up

IMG_3407Durable toys made from firehose. Great for big dogs, strong chewers and water play!

Click here for Katie’s Bumpers Amazon store

  • Garden totem or other pottery pieces from Prairie Dog Pottery $25 and up

IMG_2036A dear friend gave me this garden totem when Winn and I passed our first Water Dog test. She introduced us to water work and taught us how to do each different exercise. The metal rod I put it on for the planter is a little long, but I’m holding a spot for something special when we pass the Draft Test.

There are so many wonderful items to choose. In addition to the garden totems (with many different dog breed pieces) she has a huge selection of pottery items. I’m especially fond of the coffee mugs with a Newfie pulling a cart.

Brouse through her different collections here.

  • Newfie socks from Newfielove.com $16.15

PictureThe shop at Newfielove just keeps getting bigger. She’s got bibs, mugs, pillows, towels, t-shirts and sweatshirts and a whole lot more. I think these socks are pretty darn cute and the perfect gift for someone who might be bashful about advertising their newfie love. Check out her shop here.

  • Sea Bags $30 and up

IMG_2046.jpegThis company recycles old sails into bags. I’ve been a fan of theirs for a long time. I appreciate their reuse, repurpose mission and I’m nostalgic about the many years I spent living on the east coast. They are located in Portland, ME and have opened several stores in New England and beyond.  Winn knows this bag is “her” bag. It’s always packed with treats and all the things we need when we are training or testing. I’ve got my eye on a custom bag. I want to have one made with the image of Winn either pulling the boat to shore or jumping off of the  boat.

Click here to shop their pets collection but don’t be surprised if you spend more time looking around at all of their other items.

A little bit of whimsy for dog lovers

  • Dog Bingo by Polly Horner $29.95
Photo from Polly Horner

How about a board game the whole family can play? You can learn more about other fun products by Polly Horner here and purchase Dog Bingo here.

  • Dog tail hooks $29
photo from Grandin Road

I absolutely love these hooks and that they come in two sizes. These are available at Grandin Road here. There are similar options at several other online retailers if you want different colors or sizes.

  • Holiday kitchen towel from Sur La Table $12

IMG_2033This towel is pretty cute and there are lots of other options available to add to your kitchen. Dog lovers 12 days of Christmas towel available here.

  • Teddy the Dog $5 and up

IMG_2038Teddy the dog offers a huge variety of items featuring almost every dog breed with a silly pun. For the hard to shop for person, surely you will be able to find something here!

We hope you’ve gotten some good ideas for somebody on your shopping list. Most importantly, enjoy your time with your loved ones and give everyone extra hugs.

Happy Holidays!IMG_2064.jpeg



It’s Pumpkin season!

Pumpkin season seems to start at the very first sign of the fall temperature drop.

There’s a certain coffee company that has a specific drink that people seem to go crazy for and when the rumors start about its availability, that seems to signal everything else pumpkin related.

I may be the only person on the planet that doesn’t like the idea of pumpkin spice in my coffee, but I do love pumpkin pie and pumpkin muffins. I also love finding the perfect assortment of pumpkins, large and small, to add to my porch and window box decorations. I usually put them out a couple of weeks before Halloween and hopefully they last until Thanksgiving.

Since this is Thanksgiving week, I thought it was appropriate to share my recipe for another seasonal doggie ice cream flavor. (I usually make frozen treats during the summer months but Maisie has decided she likes ice cream before bedtime, so now I try to keep some on hand all of the time.)

This month’s flavor: Pumpkin Apple!Pumpkin Apple pup treats-3

a shared life with our very large dogs

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