Tag Archives: Newfoundland Dog

Wake up, wake up, wake up!

I am not a morning person.  I like to wake up slowly and without a lot of noise.  I need a cup of coffee (or two) before I can form a coherent sentence.  My family knows this, even Maisie and Annie know this.  Annie learned to embrace Maisie’s habit of sleeping in. Up until 6 months ago, we all had a very peaceful morning routine. And then along came Winn…NewfGirlsWeb-125

I knew the first few months with a puppy would be rough.  Puppies have a lot of demands and need constant attention.  I was thrilled when I woke up one morning and Winn had slept all the way through the night!

For the first couple of months we kept her in a crate at night and she would wake up around 5:30 or 6. I learned that I had a few minutes to gather my wits when she would start squawking while playing with a toy. She was between 4 and 5 months old when we decided to let her try sleeping outside her crate.  Overall, it’s gone very well.

As Winn has gotten bigger, she has also gotten more rambunctious in the morning.  Most mornings I wake up to two huge paws slamming down on the bed somewhere near my chest.  She will start to pull herself up and with that comes the bony elbows, usually in my gut.  Before I know it, she launches her heavy body on top of me and starts snuffling my ear and kissing my face. She’s huge, her paws are huge and her head is bigger than mine.  It’s a lot to take in for anyone, much less a non-morning person like myself. It’s also impossible to ignore her. She pounces around and it’s like having a toddler jumping on the bed, singing “wake up, wake up, wake up”!IMG_3428

On many mornings, my husband (who is a morning person) will let her out and then Winn will come bounding upstairs for round 2.  While she’s waiting for the magic hour of breakfast time, she will repeat the process of the paw slam, the bony elbows and the body launch only this time she will snuggle up next to me, roll over onto her back and wave her legs around.  While she’s wiggling around and waving her legs she makes all kinds of noises that I assume are commands to “rub my belly, rub my belly, rub my belly”.

Poor Maisie, she’s not a fan of this wake up call either but Annie, who doesn’t want to allow this crazy puppy to get all of my attention, usually rushes over and begins barking in my face. It’s hard to remember the days when it was just Maisie and I, staggering down the stairs together and taking our sweet time getting ready for a new day. This is my alarm clock now and as aggravating as it might be, I also love being greeted in the morning by these two enthusiastic girls. It’s time to get up and face the day!IMG_3379

Adopt A Senior Pet Month

November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month and I can say from experience, it’s one of the best thing I’ve ever done!

Annie was 9 1/2 when we brought her home.  She had been in foster care for over a year, but her case was extreme. Most senior dogs that are up for adoption don’t have the emotional and behavioral needs she had.

When you adopt a senior pet:

1. You are saving a life!

2. Seniors have been around, they’ve seen a lot and they have a lot of love to give.  They are usually calmer and adaptable to new situations.

3. Seniors don’t demand the same level of exercise or entertainment of a younger dog.  They are very happy to curl up by your feet and take a nice long nap.

4. They usually have some training, are house broken and aren’t teething so they aren’t shoe destroyers. Seniors are a lot less work than puppies and you probably won’t need to supervise any middle of the night potty breaks!

5. Don’t believe the old saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”.  It might take a little while, but senior dogs aim to please and are receptive to training.  They will learn the “house rules” in order to earn your love and affection.

6.  There is no mystery about how big they will be, what they will look like and what their grooming needs will be.

7. Even though your time will be shorter with a senior pet, I have found that I appreciate each day that much more. There is no lifespan guarantee with our pets but knowing Annie is a senior has reminded me that every moment with her is precious.  Pets change our lives, they give us so much love and every day is enriched with my sweet, old girl.

I feel so lucky to have Annie in my life, but it’s not always easy.  Seniors need more medical care as they age. (Something all pet owners face at some point.) Twice yearly health checks are recommended so one should be prepared for increased veterinary bills compared to those of a younger and middle-aged pet. Their health can change quickly and must be attended to. Annie just developed an abscess in one of her teeth.  She needs to have it removed which requires anesthesia.  I’m nervous about that but we will have it taken care of and hope all goes well.

If I had to make the decision again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I know our time is limited, but really, our time is limited with all of our pets.  I know that I’ve changed her life.  She’s living her best years now and she showers me with love.  She acts like she appreciates everything we give her and she is so happy, every day.  I also know she’s changed our lives and I treasure every moment.img_4487

More working dog stuff!

This weekend I had the opportunity to watch another Newfoundland Dog test, this time it was for Draft Dog. In addition to water work, Newfoundlands are also excellent at draft work.  Drafting involves different exercises with the dog hooked up to a cart.

Think back to the days when merchants hauled their goods in carts and wagons.  Most of us probably picture horses or donkeys but large working dogs were also used, especially in Newfoundland, Canada and England.  Their size, temperament, strength, and dependability made them perfect for milk wagons, vegetable carts, delivery and mail wagons and teams were used for large sledges.

This test was especially fun to watch because Winn’s mother was one of the entrants.  It was her first draft test and she and her handler had been working very hard to prepare. Her cart was fashioned out of a milk crate weighted with milk jugs filled with sand.  What a brilliant idea that really incorporated the origins of the working Newfoundland Dog!

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Arlene waits patiently for her turn with her cart ready to go.

Similar to the Water Test, the Draft Test is made up of 5 exercises:

  1. Basic Control
  2. Harnessing and hitching
  3. Maneuvering
  4. Freight load
  5. Freight haul

Basic Control is the first exercise because it is crucial that the handler has control over the dog throughout the test.  All of the dogs entered did so well on this, I assume because the whole test involves cooperation between the dog and handler.  This is the foundation for what they had been doing together.  They had to walk side by side, do a left turn, an about turn (u-turn), a right turn and a halt, all with the dog off leash and remaining close to the handler’s left leg.  Next was a sit stay and recall and finally all the dogs were in the ring together for a one minute down stay.  Arleen is a big, beautiful brown girl who listened and responded so well to her handler but she did let her personality shine through right before the down stay when she decided to roll over and kick her legs up for a back scratch in the grass.  She quickly recovered and then she stayed in place for the expected time.

For harnessing and hitching the handler puts the harness on the dog, then the dog backs up so that the cart can be attached to the harness.  The judges are looking for cooperation, proper fit and correct and safe attachment.

Now they are ready to start the course! The course includes circular patterns, a right and a left 90 degree turn, 2 narrow areas, a removable object that requires the dog to stop and wait for the handler to clear the path, and changes in pace. This video shows Arleen going through the tall, narrow obstacle and stopping for the removable obstacle.

The dogs must also do a 3 minute down stay with their handlers out of sight.  They did this as a group after everyone had completed the maneuvering exercises. The people in the yellow vests are the stewards/volunteers not the handlers.

The final part of the test is the freight load which must be secured in the cart and then a 1 mile walk over natural terrain with the load. The load is about 25 lbs.

Arleen had 1 very small error on the first day but on the second day she achieved her Draft Dog title!  It was so wonderful to watch these handlers and dogs work together and have fun.

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Day 2 Draft Dogs Neko and Arleen, their handlers and the judges

While Winn is the one that shows the most drive to work, we won’t start training for this until she has finished growing and is at least 2 years old.  For now, we are enjoying our Rally Class and obedience training.  We will also be doing exercises this winter on land in preparation for water training to hopefully participate in a Water Test next summer.

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Winn thinks I go too fast, I think she could speed up just a little bit!

In case you missed it, I wrote about the Newfoundland Dog Water Test here, here and here.

Annie the adventurer…who knew?

Every time Annie does something remotely “dog like”, I take note.

Behaviors that might seem completely normal and maybe even annoying in other dogs, are behaviors that she is learning.  She wouldn’t take a treat from my hand.  She wouldn’t come into the same room with me.  She wouldn’t go through new doorways.  She wouldn’t go upstairs.  She wouldn’t voluntarily leave her crate. She wouldn’t leave our yard to go to the car or for a walk. Slowly, as she got more comfortable with us and her new home, she started doing these things.  One day at time.  Sometimes she would regress, and we would start over, trying to make her comfortable.

She still won’t roll over for a belly rub. She still barks out of fear when someone other than my husband or I walks through the door, even if it’s someone she knows well.  She still hides behind me when we are out for a walk and someone is walking towards us.

Imagine my surprise Sunday morning, when I heard a commotion at the front door.  Maisie and Winn were crowded together with their tails were wagging and I could tell they either saw someone on the sidewalk or even on the porch that they knew.  Annie was in the middle of the living room barking her alarm bark.

I went to the door and my next door neighbor was there.  He didn’t ring the bell but when I opened the door, he said one of them was wandering outside in front of his house and he had just brought her back. Winn had recently brought in the paper and maybe I didn’t latch the door all of the way.  I was a little surprised, but thanked him for returning the rascal.  I figured it was Maisie.  As he turned to go down the stairs, he said “it was the dark one”.  The dark one!  I said, “Annie?”. “Yep”.

I couldn’t believe it!  I was cleaning the bathroom when I heard her barking, and that’s when I went around the corner and saw the other two with their wagging tails at the door.  Apparently he had returned Annie, she ran inside and then started barking which led the other two to check out whatever was happening.  I can not believe she actually left the house and went for a stroll.  That is something completely new!

I certainly don’t take it lightly that she got out, but there is a part of me that can’t help but smile because it’s one more little sign that lets me know that she is confident enough in her surroundings that she thought she would go say hello to the neighbor.