Tag Archives: dogs

The oldest and the youngest

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how everybody is getting along and I can easily say that they are all getting along very well.

I never really thought about or wished for a 3 dog household. Last October, we were visiting friends with a new litter and I was clear with everyone around me that we are a 2 dog family and didn’t have room for another.  So what changed? In the back of my mind I know Annie is a senior and won’t be with us for a long, long time but I don’t want to predict when that might happen so I just thought seize the day, go with what feels right.

I considered all of the changes that I could think of but my biggest worry wasn’t about logistics (3 crates in one room is A LOT), increased food and care costs or the extra hair and muddy footprints. I was most worried about Annie and how she would respond.  I don’t want her to think we are replacing her or that it’s OK for her to start to slow down.  I have always felt that Charlie stopped fighting once he saw that we would be taken care of by Maisie. I’m still shocked that he curled up by my feet and then took his last breath. He was so quiet about it but seemed to be at peace.

Annie has changed so much over the past year and a half.  She is much more confident, very affectionate and is so devoted to my husband and me.  She and Maisie are good friends but Annie still doesn’t play with her.  Annie will chase me in the yard and give me a little body slam which will get Maisie very excited.  When Maisie tries to join us, on very rare occasions (usually when it’s very cold outside which makes them both more frisky) Annie might give her 20-30 seconds of play but then it always ends with Annie walking away and giving Maisie a scolding if she doesn’t back off.

When we arrived home with Winn, we stayed outside in the yard for introductions. Annie and Maisie were both curious and so, so gentle.  Winn was a bit overwhelmed and stayed between my feet as she took in her new surroundings and these two girls.  They both gave her some sniffs and then Annie strolled away, keeping a good distance for the rest of the day.  Maisie was more persistent and Winn was very clear with her about appropriate boundaries. It was pretty much what I expected from all of them but it didn’t take very long for them to adjust, settle down and accept each other.IMG_0814

It has been so fun watching Winn explore our house and yard and find her favorite spots.  She has discovered the tiny bathroom and likes the feel of the cool tile on her belly and the cast iron tub on her back.  She loves toys and will rummage through the toy basket when she’s ready for a new one.  She’s a crate hopper, she rolls around in all the crates but seems to like Annie’s best.  Once she has pulled out a toy, she will frequently drag it into Annie’s crate. Annie doesn’t play with toys but once Winn leaves her crate Annie will quickly go in and flop down without regard to any toy that may have been left behind. Winn enjoys being outside, both in our back yard and on our front porch and like every Newfie I know, she LOVES the water bowl.

The most heartwarming part of all of this has been watching Annie and Winn.  Annie really loves her!  She actually play bowed to Winn on day 2 and since then I have watched them playing together several times each day and of course she is so incredibly gentle.  Annie plays in very short bursts but to see her initiate play and willingly engage with Winn is wonderful, it’s a new behavior that we really have never seen out of her.  My husband thinks that for Annie, Winn is the puppy that she got to keep.  She gets to love her, play with her and show her the ways of our house and she isn’t a product of Annie’s mothering days which were filled with so much hardship.  I’m just relieved to see Annie so happy.

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Welcome home baby Winn!

This last weekend was a joyous one.  Very early Saturday morning we began the journey to bring this sweet girl into our family.

We made it to our destination a little early and were rewarded with meeting the whole litter as they returned from getting their cardiac clearances.  They were a wiggly, fluffy  pile on this last day as a group. It was hard to tell where one stopped and the other started.

We helped transfer them all to their pen and then started the process of taking ownership of this special puppy.  It was a little emotional for all of us.  This was a big day full of changes and adjustments but I was so happy.

I did not make this decision lightly and had found this breeder about a year ago.  Adopting Annie had opened my eyes to the abuses of a careless breeder and I quickly learned about the differences in breeder techniques and how to find one that is ethical and doing it for the love of the breed and to support breed standards and health.

After a lot of behind the scenes research, which included referring to the NCA website and following their recommendations, talking to other Newfie owners and seeing a different breeders’ litter I decided I wanted to contact this breeder to start the next step of finding the right puppy.  Just as I needed to be comfortable with him, he also needed to be comfortable with me.  He would want to know what kind of home we had, what type of owner I am and how this puppy would be treated.  I would need his approval.

Annie has surprised me.  Once I figured out how old she was, I realized our time together would probably be shorter than I originally hoped.  Currently she shows no signs of decline, but with these big dogs I have learned that things can change pretty quickly so it seemed like the right time to start the process.

I took a leap and made the first contact in January.  I wanted to introduce myself and find out what his letter plans were for the year. I was hoping for late summer/early fall but he had just bred his girl. If she was pregnant she would be due in March and then she would retire.  His next litter wouldn’t be for 2 years because he would wait for his other girl to mature. I thought about it for about 2 seconds, and then decided I still wanted to pursue a puppy from this breeder, at this time if possible.  He couldn’t promise me anything.  There were other people ahead of me that had interest in this litter and he would have no way of knowing if there would be one for me until after they were born.

I’ve learned that if you wait for the perfect moment to do something, you might not recognize that moment when it appears.  There are always reasons and excuses to put something off, but I decided to seize this opportunity and felt like the positives outweighed the negatives.

I am so glad I made that decision that day. I was still hurting from the loss of my best friend.  She died Thanksgiving weekend, 3 weeks after receiving a Leukemia diagnosis.  On Jan. 2nd, my dad was diagnosed with Liver Cancer and I spent about 3 weeks in February with him while he went through radiation therapy but at the end of March, he took a turn and I rushed back to his side and stayed there until he passed away 4 days later.

I had hoped to bring the puppy for a visit at the end of May when my dad was supposed to have a scan to determine the success of his treatment. As I sat by his side, I shared pictures and updates with him as they came in from her breeder, and told him I would be naming her after the lake in New Hampshire that we both loved so much. My dad wasn’t able to talk, but I could read his face and knew that he was happy for me.  There is no way I could have known on that January day all that would transpire over the next several months, but having this sweet, fluffy puppy in my arms brings me the joy that I’ve recently been searching for.

This is Winn.  Her name is inspired by years of wonderful memories spent at my parents lake house and riding in my dad’s boat on Lake Winnipesaukee.  She is 10 weeks old and she makes our pack complete!IMG_0923

Thank goodness for neighbors!

Recently I had a dog care problem. I work part-time so I am not away from my dogs much but when I do need some support my mother-in-law has always been the one to come and give the dogs the attention they need.

She and Maisie became fast friends and walking partners.  They are quite a spectacle, my mother-in-law is tiny and Maisie, well she is a little large.  Maisie out weighs her and they get a lot of attention.

When Annie came home, Maisie showed her the way to the tiny lady with the never-ending bag of treats and she quickly accepted her as one of her people.  In Annie’s world, there are 4 of us; me, my husband, my daughter and my mother-in-law.  Everyone else is suspicious.

I know I should have had a plan for the time when my mother-in-law wasn’t available, but dog walkers or doggie day-care are out of the question.  I have tried to gently introduce Annie to friends and neighbors, sometimes more successfully than others, but now I just had to make it work.

I turned to my dear friend and neighbor Evan.  She is my coffee buddy, we sit in my kitchen, sipping coffee and catching up with whatever may be happening in our lives.  We’ve done this for years, she has known all of my dogs and Annie has certainly seen her enough times to know that she is someone I trust.

I tried to make it as simple as possible; come over around noon, let the dogs out, give them a few treats and then leave them loose in the house till I get home around 4:30.

The first text came through around 12:15, Maisie went out but Annie didn’t.  She was fine when Evan opened her crate but then she started barking and wouldn’t leave the room.  When Evan tried to cajole her down the hallway to get outside, she went back in her crate and hid.  Shit, I forgot about the narrow hallway! Annie’s been fine with it for months, but following an outsider wasn’t something she was willing to do.

I quickly fired back to try and lead her the long way around the house to get through the kitchen, but there was no response.  As the minutes ticked away, with me obsessively checking my laptop for updates (of course, this is the one day I left my cell phone on the kitchen counter as I was rushing out the door), I was getting more and more frantic.  I had my keys in my hand, ready to rush home to relieve her when I finally got a notice that she had enlisted the help of my next door neighbor.

Carol talks to the dogs over the fence when she is coming and going.  Apparently she heard Annie barking and saw Evan in the backyard with Maisie.  She came running over with chicken treats in hand.  Annie gobbled up the supply, inching her way toward the door but still unwilling to go outside.  Carol ran home to get more and try again.  On the second attempt, Evan took over and tossed the treats further away so Annie had to take several steps forward to get them.  Finally, success!

Being Annie’s guardian and protector is wonderful but exhausting!  The next day, I had Evan over for coffee and assisted Evan and Annie in another treat exchange. 2 days later, Evan came over to let the dogs out and Annie followed her the long way around the house and out the door on the first try.  As with everything, Annie will do it her way, in her own time.  We get to love her in return.IMG_0373

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“I took the treat, may I leave now?”

A friend for me!

“Don’t freak out, there’s a bird in the house” were the first words I heard this morning.

I had over slept and needed to hurry to get ready for work, so in my bleary state, I was relieved that my husband was going to deal with it and went about my rushing around.

However, I was very curious about how Maisie responded to the bird in the house.  Maisie loves all creatures big and small and considers all of them her friends.  One of her best days was when she snuggled up with a chicken.IMG_3025

Apparently, the bird flew into the bedroom by squeezing in through a gap in the window next to the air conditioner.

Maisie immediately was on full alert, stood on the bed with her tail straight up in the air and her eager face focused right in on this poor bird.  I don’t think Annie was impressed that there was a bird flying around because she was more concerned about getting downstairs and eating breakfast.

Unfortunately I didn’t see any of this, by the time I entered the room the dogs were downstairs and the bird was perched on a chair.  I quickly got dressed and closed the door knowing my husband would be in shortly to open the window and guide the bird out.

What a great way for Maisie to start the day!  Since I don’t have a picture of that I say Happy St. Patrick’s Day from one very excited girl.