On Father’s Day the weather was beautiful and we took the dogs to the beach. We knew that Annie had gone swimming before when she was with her foster family but so far we had not seen her go in the water. She loved walking along the beach with me when we went, and she would stay right at my hip as we walked back and forth along the water line. Maisie loved charging into the water. She would chase other dogs, run through the waves, swim on her own and venture in when she needed a drink. Annie would never follow her, she never left my side but I had the feeling she would go in if we went in.
The amazing thing about Lake Michigan is that some days there might be huge waves and other days the lake is as smooth as glass. On this day the lake was calm and clear. We could walk a long way from shore and it was still very shallow. It was a perfect day to try to get Annie to follow us into the water. We had the beach to ourselves so there was no distraction with other dogs or owners. Chris went out pretty far, Maisie followed him and then I started wading out. I could see the indecision in Annie’s eyes as she stood and barked at me for a couple seconds before she started walking out. We took it slowly and even though she was still unsure, she started walking toward Chris when he called her. Maisie was overcome with excitement. Annie was finally coming in! She ran between Annie and Chris until the gap was closed and then she showed Annie when to start swimming. They both stayed close to Chris, swimming circles around him and then they would come toward me. I know it’s their rescue instinct kicking in when they both start circling and try to stay as close as possible. Annie went between Chris and I and when she was near me she would push up against me to make sure I was still safe. I wasn’t going out as far, I had my phone in my hand because of course I was trying to document this special event!
I’ve always said Annie walks with purpose. She has huge feet and she plants them firmly in front of her with each step. She stomps up and down the stairs and I can easily tell which dog is walking through the house because Annie is so much more heavy footed. Well, she swims with purpose as well. Each stroke she took was slow and powerful and she slid through the water like she had been doing it all of her life. Instinct is an amazing thing and it was incredible to see it come so naturally. It was such a wonderful way to start the day!
From the time Maisie was a puppy she has always loved her toys. Plush squeakers are the first choice, but balls and rope toys also are among the chosen. Every night after dinner she loves to tear around the house, running as fast as she can, squeaking her favorite toy of the week and making as much noise as possible. She will skid out as she rounds the corners and then change direction midway through. Then, as fast as it started, she will plop down, out of breath, and fall asleep.
Often times I will join her, playing run and chase, her version of keep away. She loves this and really loves when I catch her. When she was little I would grab her toy and give it a toss, expecting her to run after it and bring it back. This was a game that all of our dogs loved but Maisie would stop and look at me like I’d just ruined everything. Why on earth would I throw her toy when we were having so much fun? When Maisie was about 2 I finally gave up on the idea that she would ever retrieve. She had absolutely no interest in chasing down a ball or toy and I was tired of the confused look she would give me when I would toss one of her toys.
We have been taking Maisie to the dog beach since she was a puppy. The number one game down there is retrieve the ball from the water and at any given time there are multiple dogs tearing through the water in pursuit of far flung balls. Maisie loves tearing through the water, and her favorite game is chase the dog that is chasing the ball. It’s no surprise that many of the dogs don’t think this is a very good game so we spend a lot of time redirecting Maisie and trying to find her a dog that she can run with. She is incredibly fast for a Newfie, and is actually one of the fastest dogs on the beach, so when she finds a runner, or a dog that doesn’t think she is trying to steal their ball she has a really good beach day.
On the 4th of July, we took the dogs to the beach first thing in the morning. We like to go early because there aren’t as many dogs down there and it’s easier to keep Maisie in check with her love of chasing other dogs. The collies really don’t like the way she plays but she has a couple of boxer and doodle friends that think her game is a lot of fun. Unfortunately on this morning she wasn’t finding anyone that she wanted to play with. Chris and I were talking to another owner that we hadn’t seen in a while and he was tossing a ball for one of his dogs. The ball was floating in the water and for some reason Chris tossed it so that it landed close to Maisie. We call her a tracker because she will chase a toy, give it a couple swats to show us she found it and then return without picking it up, but on this morning, for the very first time, she picked up the ball and brought it back! Chris gave her huge praise, then tossed it again and she went out and brought it back again! The game continued, each time Chris would throw it a little further and each time she would chase it down and bring it back.
I never thought she would retrieve and laughed about my water rescue dog that wouldn’t bring anything in. Newfoundlands are working dogs and love to be stimulated with a job. Bailey’s job was to bring in the paper every morning. She also loved to bring small items in from the car. She would let me know every morning if she hadn’t yet done her job and would be completely upset if someone else brought in the paper. Maisie hasn’t shown any interest in the jobs I’ve tried to introduce and water training seemed out of the question. I could just picture her chasing other Newfies while they were on their mission and the disruption she would cause. I don’t think we will ever do water rescue training, but at least now we can bring a ball to the beach and entertain her when she can’t find a friend who doesn’t mind her water chasing game that she thinks is so fantastic.