Annie’s on a diet and Annie doesn’t like being on a diet. I don’t blame her, I don’t like it either but we have both gained weight over the past several months so we are watching what we eat.
Maisie and I have been doing a lot of training lately, we are working on her Canine Good Citizen title and then hope to move on to Therapy Dog certification. Yesterday before class I took Maisie out for a long walk to review some of the things we’ve been working on and to burn off some energy because she gets so excited when she sees the other dogs in class. Distraction is her biggest obstacle to passing her test.
Because of this, I have treats tucked into the pockets of my coats, sweatshirts or pants. When I get home, Annie will shove her nose right into wherever I have those treats. She knows Maisie and I have been doing treat things without her. Of course I will ask her to sit or lie down and she will get a treat, but it’s never enough, she always wants more. I understand, I always want more yummy things too.
Well, yesterday I was rushing around. Maisie and I went for a walk and I was taking pictures for a photo challenge and because of this we got home later than I planned. We were both hot and muddy so I quickly rinsed Maisie off and then hopped in the shower. We left for class 20 minutes later. It was so warm out I discarded my coat, shoved treats in my sweatshirt pocket and took off. When we got home, Chris and I were late for an outing with his mom and we rushed off again. Yep, you guessed it, I forgot about the treats in my coat pocket and left my coat hanging on a hook in the narrow hallway that Annie used to never go down but now does not fear.
Later that evening I noticed Annie snuffling around in her crate. Chris looked at me and said “what is Annie doing, and by the way, how did you break your hook?” Then, “Wait a minute, is that your coat?”. Sure enough, there was my coat, rumpled up in her crate, buried under her blanket. I stood up and attempted to remove it but Annie was standing on it with a look on her face that said “finders, keepers”. We were both laughing as I struggled to get my coat out of there but I was finally rewarded with a slimy, wet mess of a coat. The pockets were licked clean of any treat remnants.
Somehow she had pulled my coat down without ripping it by snapping the hook in half. These are really sturdy hooks, they’ve been overloaded with coats and bags for years but in one afternoon Annie figured out how to break one. Oh, to be a fly on the wall!
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.
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.
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.
My favorite moment of the year!Cee’s black and white challenge:open topic
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.