Tag Archives: dogs

Christmas traditions

This is Bailey. She was my first Newf, a birthday gift from my husband after my youngest went to kindergarten (15 years ago). As time went on, it was evident that she wasn’t a typical Newf.  She was pushy, loud, stubborn, difficult to train unless food was involved and incredibly Alpha, only willing to submit to me.  I think she thought the kids were her puppies and sometimes she respected my husband but she was my dog and we had an incredible bond.IMG_2199

Bailey loved food. She was always hungry and she would do anything for food.  As a result, she was also always scavenging for food.  She got many sticks of butter,  all of us lost a birthday cake over the years, every Halloween she found candy remnants and each Christmas she would eat the ginger bread house.  The first year I had pushed the house to the edge of the table and she ate the back of the house so that it resembled a doll house with a full front facade and an open back.  The funny thing was that I’m not sure when she did it.  One day I noticed the back of the house was missing and I got a good laugh.  It wasn’t surprising that she did this considering she ate everything within reach and as a result this became one of our traditions. Christmas wasn’t finished until Bailey ate the ginger bread house.

As the years went on she would come and find me with the tell-tale signs of her mischief.  Her face would be all sticky and the hair around her neck would be stiff and sticking out in every direction.  She was giddy with her accomplishment and wanted to share her success with me.  As much as I wanted to curtail her scavenging, I couldn’t help but be entertained by her joy and satisfaction.

Bailey lived big and made her presence known at all times so it’s no wonder that the hole she left was wide and deep. She was bossing me around one day and the next day she was gone, I shouldn’t have been surprised because she lived life according to her own plan.  We brought Maisie home a week after we lost Bailey, my intention was that they would be together and Bailey could show her the way but that wasn’t the way it would be.  It’s probably best that’s how it worked out because Maisie would have been completely overwhelmed by Bailey.  Their personalities couldn’t be more different and Maisie is the least food motivated dog I’ve ever known.  She has never counter surfed and the ginger bread house is not a temptation so for the last three years that Christmas tradition has been put to rest.

So you guessed it, that leads us to Annie.  Maybe it’s a black Newfie thing, maybe it’s just a coincidence but once again we have a Newf who LOVES food.  Annie’s reasons are different from Bailey’s–Bailey got everything she ever wanted for her entire life, Annie was deprived of knowing all that could be available to her for most of her life–but her love of food is on par with Bailey’s.  So this Christmas I just knew that we would be able to experience some ginger bread house destruction.

Making the house is a big production, and my husband and daughter have always been in charge.  They decide on the design, make plans and templates then make the dough (dog safe of course), roll it out and cut it into shapes to make the house.  Once decorated it becomes the centerpiece on our dining room table.  Traditionally, it stays there until it gets destroyed and then it gets thrown out.

This year we seemed to run out of time but I was insistent that we (my husband and daughter) must make the house to give Annie the opportunity to revive the tradition. On Christmas Eve my husband and I went shopping to get supplies.  He was stressed out about the number of things that needed to be done that day–grocery shopping, cookie baking, ginger bread house, church, dinner and assembling Christmas Day breakfast casseroles.  I was completely calm (unusual for me) because I knew it would all work out.  It’s Christmas, no need to stress!  While roaming the aisles of Target he came up with the brilliant idea of using pretzel rods and frosting to make log cabin houses which proved to be much quicker and really cute and different.img_3818

Congratulations Annie! She did it and somehow knew which one was hers.  She destroyed the house with the A on it and left the other one untouched.  She ate some of the walls which were pretzels but she devoured the roof which was made of Nilla Wafers.  She chose a time when my husband and I were in another room and then she came and found us, her face all shiny and sticky with crumbs mixed in her whiskers and then she settled into her bed and began licking her legs and feet clean of all frosting remnants.  We both smiled, the tradition was back and Annie was so proud of herself.

P.S. The big reward for Miss Frosting Face was a bath the next day.dd4694da-1be5-4520-9ab9-55ef52ce9e16

Daily prompt: retreat

In early November I took the dogs to a forest preserve that we had not previously explored. It was a gorgeous, sunny day and I was excited to walk through the woods and see what we would see.  Just prior to our walk, I had finished a phone conversation with a friend who just a few days before had received an unexpected, devastating health diagnosis.  I didn’t know it then, but this would be the last time I spoke to her.  The following day she was moved into ICU and put on life support.  It is all so hard to understand.

After I hung up the phone, the tears began to flow and somehow in my heart, I knew things would never be the same again.  As I looked down at the dog’s eager faces, I figured a walk in the woods was exactly what I needed at that time.

I let the dogs lead the way and surrounded by the fresh air, the blue sky and the sun shining through the trees, I began to feel the peace of the moment take over my emotions.  We were the only ones out there and all that I could hear were the leaves crunching under our feet and a babbling stream that was out of sight. By the time we found our way back to the car, my heartache had eased a bit and my head felt clear.

We’ve gone back to this place a few times, and just like that first experience, I am able let go of all of the things that are on my mind.  I never shared this place with my friend, but when I am there I can’t help but think of her.  Each time it gets a little easier as I remember the tiny moments we shared.  Things I had forgotten that somehow come flooding back when there is no one else around aside from my dogs.  It’s a place we all enjoy and I consider it a retreat from all of the stresses that swirl around as life goes on.

Does Maisie have medical alert skills?

The strangest thing happened the other night and I can’t stop thinking about it.

Every night I give Annie her eye drops.  She’s a heavy sleeper so I try to do this before she has started to wind down for the night but I don’t always remember to do so.  This was one of those times, so as she was snoring away in her crate I approached her and softly nudged her awake so that we could get it done and then go upstairs to bed.

I hold her chin in my hand, gently pry her eyelids open, because even if she is awake she will pretend she isn’t, and quickly squeeze the drops into each eye.

Just as I was trying to coax her upright to go upstairs she started making really strange sounds.  I thought she might throw up, but the noises she was making weren’t quite right. It seemed like she was gasping.  Did some of her saliva slide down her windpipe when she was getting her drops?  The episode passed pretty quickly but I had grabbed my car keys just in case she didn’t improve and we needed to run to the emergency vet.  With her, I have a tendency to immediately assume worst case scenario but fortunately that wasn’t necessary.

She was finally willing to stand up and leave her crate and then she let out a horrible sound.  She’s done this a handful of times since we’ve had her and I’ve nicknamed them her “old man noises”. It’s loud and guttural and I’ve never had another dog do such a thing.  She might be clearing her throat but whatever the reason it disturbs me every time and also sends me into fits of laughter.  It’s so unusual, and loud enough to send everyone else running with exclamations like “what was that” or “is everything OK” and there I will be, laughing uncontrollably!

So what does this have to do with Maisie? Well once Annie seemed to be back to normal we made our way upstairs for bed.  The dogs usually hop on our bed for 5 or 10 minutes and then get down and settle into their own.  My husband was already upstairs, fast asleep, so Annie and I attempted to quietly get in bed without disturbing him or Maisie.  Just when I was all settled Maisie started growling and then let out some deep barks and 5 seconds later Annie expelled another one of those horrible noises. My  husband woke up, muttering “what’s happening” and then Maisie started growling and barking again and sure enough, another horrific sound came out of Annie.  About 15 seconds later this routine happened again to which my husband is truly annoyed with Maisie and imploring me to get her to be quiet and of course I was laughing so hard I couldn’t talk.  This was not what he had in mind when he fell into his deep, snoring sleep 15 minutes earlier.

After the 3rd round, Annie let out one of her contented groans while stretching and immediately started snoring.  Maisie had exhausted herself with all of her outbursts and snuggled close to me, put her head on my chest and went to sleep and I just stayed still looking at the ceiling in the dark. What in the world just happened?  I have never heard Maisie growl before, I mean never and that bark was much deeper than her usual bark. I’ve heard it maybe once or twice when she’s been upset and protective. She was really worked up and it took a lot of soothing to get her calmed.  I don’t think she understood what had just happened either.  The only one who didn’t act like something was unusual was Annie, go figure!

I’ve added this post to the daily challenge of calm. It’s the opposite of calm but eventually we all did calm down and it’s a moment I’ll never forget.