Tag Archives: Newfoundland Dog

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

It’s bath time!

Saturday was bath day, it had been several weeks since their last bath and I was itching to get them both in the tub and cleaned up.

We put in a dog shower last year. It’s in a big open area in the basement.  We really needed it because Annie had skin conditions that required weekly allergy bath treatments and she hated going into small spaces. I was giving her treatments in the kitchen with lots of towels and a bucket which is not a good way to wash a large dog! (We brought her home in the middle of winter, bathing her outside was not possible.)

Maisie has always loved a bath.  She knows when we return from the beach, we go straight to the basement and get in the shower. (The old shower was a tiny, concrete space squeezed into the corner of very small, dark, creepy basement bathroom.) She’s been doing that since she was a puppy and she adapted immediately to the new shower once it was finished.  Now when she hears the water running down there she goes right down and hops in.  Annie is more reluctant and needs a bit of coaxing.

I had been running the water to get the temperature right and when I turned and looked, there was Maisie, sitting pretty and waiting for her bath.IMG_0691I went to find Annie and she was lying at the top of the basement stairs, watching and listening but not terribly eager to head downstairs for her spa day.

I got her to follow me, but it took a lot of coaxing to get her in the shower.  I don’t force her into anything, but I do hold onto her so she won’t run away and eventually she will get in when she’s ready.  This time took a little longer, I think because it had been a while since we had done this, and at one point I got in there with Maisie in an effort to get her to follow me.  That didn’t work since there isn’t really enough room for all three of us and Annie just stood there staring at me like I was a fool.  Once I awkwardly crawled out and got back down beside her, she let out a moan and then climbed in.  If she could have rolled her eyes at me, I think she would have.

Once they were both in, I washed Annie and quickly dried her to get most of the water out and then let her hop down.  I then turned my attention to Maisie and got her washed and dried.  She’s a lot easier because she will stand and turn when I ask her to so I can get both sides done without too much effort.  Maisie really doesn’t like the dryer, but this time she put up with it for about 45 minutes which is a record for her and she was pretty close to dry by the time she hopped down.

Annie had run away and was resting in the “safe zone” by the couch, but after about 10 minutes I felt a nudge and there she was, watching me dry Maisie.  I think she came back for moral support and she plopped down right there and waited till we were done.  They have bonded so well, Maisie always gets in the tub with Annie and now Annie came back and was nearby while Maisie was tolerating the dryer.  Sweet sisters, taking care of each other!

They will get their brush out and trim today, we were all exhausted and ready for a nap…

Hooray for Annie!

Last month Annie had her 1 year check up with our vet.  As we sat there going over her history, her progress over the past year became so apparent.

While we were waiting to go into the exam room, Annie stood stiffly by my side and started to tremble.  I couldn’t help but remember our first occasion here.  She wasn’t leash trained, didn’t want to come in and my husband and I had to lift, push and pull with the aid of a lifting harness just to get her in and out of the car and into the office.  When it was time to leave, she refused to budge and we went through all of the same difficulties getting her back into the car and home again.

Since that day, we have had many appointments here to monitor her  conditions with her eyes, ears, skin and teeth.  She also had a cancer scare and surgery as well as a glucosamine overdose when she got into her beefy supplements.  Walking in with no hesitation and standing by my side with a little tremble is a huge improvement and really speaks to her bravery and progress over the past year.

Her dr. did have one concern, one of her blood levels has been consistently in the low normal range, but it dropped to below normal and she would like to monitor it monthly. Yesterday we went in for her blood work and a nail trim and once again she walked right in and even greeted the tech at the front desk. She stood by me with that little tremble again but was so good otherwise.  I just got the call that her blood level had jumped back up to right where it has been, still in the low normal range but that seems to be her normal so we will recheck again at her mid-year senior check-up.

In addition to being in really good health for an almost 11-year-old giant breed dog, she has lost 4 pounds.  She has a super sniffer and has found treats and food that I didn’t even know were left out, but I now sweep the area before I leave a room so that all temptation is removed and she has gotten her slim figure back.  Annie’s a tough, old girl. She’s a survivor and she seems to be sending me the signal that she doesn’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon.  And that is just fine with me!IMG_0236

 

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?”