This post is from “Annie’s Second Chance” about Mother’s Day two years ago. It was a turning point for Annie and the best gift ever!
For the last several weeks, our walks were much shorter to accommodate Annie and I had missed my long lake front walks with Maisie. The morning was beautiful, sunny and not too hot, so I grabbed Maisie’s leash and asked her if she wanted to go for a walk. Maisie was so excited and followed me out of the room. To my surprise, Annie popped up and wanted to go too. I knew she wouldn’t be able to go the full length, but I couldn’t turn her down when she was showing interest in going for a walk for the very first time! Prior to this she would come to me when I had the leash and I would lead her out the door but she hadn’t yet responded to “would you like to go for a walk” so I turned and grabbed her leash and headed for the door.
Annie really wanted to go, but true to form, she ventured out of her crate a little bit and then turned back around to tag up. Her next attempt she went a little further, tagged up and then tried again, each time going a little further toward the front door. On the 6th attempt, she finally made it out onto the front porch, I clipped them both and we headed out. I was elated that she wanted to come out with us, but I debated whether Annie was ready to head out for a new direction, so far we had only been walking around the same 3 or 4 blocks. I decided to give it a try, so when Maisie and I headed left toward the lake rather than turning right to go around the block, she hesitated only a moment and then trotted right along with both of us. This was the best Mother’s Day gift I could receive; Annie was becoming more confident every day and was overcoming her fears in order to be with us.
We didn’t go all the way to the lake, I assumed it would be very busy with people and dogs, so we went around the neighborhood and came back home about 40 minutes later. She kept a great pace and walked beautifully on leash, it was her best walk ever and we all really enjoyed it.
A couple of hours later we loaded everyone into the car and went to my brother-in-law’s house for Mother’s Day brunch. This would be a big test for Annie, a new house, a new door to go through and meeting new people. When we got there she was very curious about where she was, but she followed Maisie right into the house, sniffed around, greeted the women that were in the kitchen and then headed back out the front door. Chris was with her and followed her back out. She didn’t seem nervous, she just wanted to investigate her surroundings. The house is set on a huge beautiful lot that backs up to a forest preserve. There were lots of good smells, the man next door fosters multiple Golden Retriever rescue dogs and there was a resident dog to get to know. She took all of this in stride, followed Chris around the yard, went up to the fence to greet the loud, barking Golden Retrievers and eventually settled next to me on the deck and went to sleep until it was time to leave. She did keep a safe distance from the men, but otherwise she showed no reluctance and was comfortable enough with her new surroundings to relax and nap. All good signs that she was making significant progress in her recovery! I was so happy.
The rest of the day went like this: we went home after several hours and had a late dinner with my daughter and husband. We decided to eat in the dining room, one of the least used rooms in the house since we usually eat in the kitchen. I think this may have been the first time we ate in there since we brought Annie home and she kept coming around the corner to look at us. After several peeks, she came all the way in and lay down by my chair. It was the first time she ever searched us out and decided to stay with us while we were eating! Usually, she would just come say hello and then go back to her crate. It was another gift on this day.
After dinner we invited our neighbors over to sit by our fire pit. We haven’t spent a lot of time outside since we brought Annie home in January and it was a beautiful evening. I was hoping she would join us but she opted to stay at the top of the deck stairs. She could hear us and keep an eye on us while maintaining a safe distance. Our neighbor has a very loud deep voice and he was conscious of keeping his volume down but she wasn’t ready to greet him. At one point she came down to the yard level and lay down on the other side of the huge oak tree that is situated close to the fire pit. I took this as another sign that she wanted to be close but was keeping a safe barrier and that was fine. If the tree made her feel comfortable, then she should lay by the tree. It was such a good ending to a wonderful day!
This week is Puppy Mill Action Week (click here for more information), what a perfect time to recap my experience last week when I met Precious.
Precious is the namesake of Annie’s rescue group. In December of 2014, the rescue arm of the Newfoundland Club of America was notified that there were “several” dogs ready to be surrendered due to the death of a commercial breeder. Commercial breeders operate puppy mills and sell their puppies online and to pet stores. They consider their dogs to be cash crops and have little regard for the care and well-being of their breeding dogs.
Volunteers were assembled and arrangements were made to travel to rural Michigan for the pick-up. When the volunteers arrived, they were overwhelmed by what they found. They expected to pick up a handful of dogs, they discovered about 100 dogs living in deplorable conditions with obvious signs of neglect. The weather at that time was harsh, sub-zero temperatures and lots of snow. The dogs were outside in wire pens, their only shelter was a couple of unheated open sheds. They were all underweight, dirty and matted, many with lesions and sores on their bodies. The scene still haunts the volunteers who were involved.
Eventually, 44 Newfoundlands were surrendered. The breeder’s son was in charge of the operation and he was reluctant to surrender them all at once. He auctioned the young and healthy dogs and released the remainder to rescue over the course of six different trips. The final pick-up happened in early January 2015 and Precious was the last dog to be handed over.
She was dragged out of a dark, unheated building and put into a traveling crate. She had very little hair left on her body (remember this is still the middle of very brutal winter conditions) and she curled up into the fetal position and hid her head. She didn’t have a name or papers and had been completely ignored. The volunteers decided to name her Precious, because every life is precious and everyone deserves a name. She spent the next 3 months under constant medical care, slowly showing a few signs of improvement, before she was placed with her current family.
Let’s fast forward 3 years to the Newfoundland National Specialty last week. Precious was there with her 3 Newfoundland brothers who have been instrumental in her recovery. It’s been a long road to recovery for her with many ups and downs but the best word to describe her is miraculous. She is still shy, but she ventured out for several quick meet and greets with other Newfoundland owners who have followed her story and cheered her on from afar.Her human mother Sue and I have communicated several times over the last couple of years but we have never met. She was incredibly kind and supportive after Annie died. Precious and Annie shared a similar skin condition. They both used the same medication that brought them relief from constant itching and discomfort so I was happy to send Precious the remainder of Annie’s prescription. When we finally met, I immediately started shedding uncontrollable tears.
We sat and talked for quite a while. She shared a bit of the experience of the multiple trip rescue and I learned a few more details that I didn’t know. I was always worried that Annie was surrendered to one of the last pick ups, having stayed on the property and watched members of her pack be taken away to the unknown. The whole experience must have been so scary for all of the dogs but Sue thought that Annie was in one of the early pick ups and for some reason I found that to be a relief. She was careful not to overwhelm me with information, she and I both knew I wasn’t ready to hear all of it, but I hope sometime in the future I will be. My goal with Annie was to march in the Rescue Parade at The National, and I was there without her and it broke my heart. Sue very graciously invited me to march with her and Precious but I declined, that was their moment to share, I would watch and cheer them on.
The next day, I met Precious and we had a lovely moment. She, like Annie, was eager to take a treat from me but she watched me carefully as I talked to her. Her eyes darted about from side to side, surveying everything around her, making sure the situation was still safe. Annie always did that too and I forgot about it until I saw Precious do the same thing. She reminded me so much of Annie, it was almost overwhelming but I loved meeting her and seeing how well she is doing. Her fur is full and covers her body. It also looks like Annie’s, not solid black but black flecked with white hairs. She had a sweet expression on her face and a beautiful white blaze on her chest. She is petite and looks happy and healthy.The fact that Precious could be at a big event like that is a testament to the love and support she has received from her family. They were very careful with her, letting her meet just a few people at a time and making sure she wasn’t overwhelmed by her surroundings. She really enjoyed meeting other dogs that were there, which makes sense since she came from such a big kennel and she has always found safety and comfort in the company of the dogs in her family, especially Henry. Henry is her rock, she will snuggle up next to him when she needs a little extra boost. He is always with her when she goes outside, she won’t do that by herself. Those few minutes with Precious happened right before I packed up the car to head back home and were the perfect way for me to end my first experience at The Newfoundland National. Seeing her reminded me of Annie but unlike the day before, I smiled as I thought of her because I felt so lucky to have had her in my life. Annie was the sweetest dog I’ve ever known and we were meant to be together. I wish she didn’t have that horrible experience before I found her but the last years of her life were her best years and certainly some of my best years as well.
Have you ever wanted to see a Newfoundland Dog up close? How about 500?
Yes, you read that right, last week, almost 500 Newfoundlands and their owners gathered at the Newfoundland National Specialty in Frankenmuth, MI.
The National is a week-long celebration which is much more than a typical dog show. It includes working events such as carting, obedience and rally obedience. There are parades honoring living legends (Newfoundlands 10 years old and over) and rescues. Special recognition is given the Top 20 conformation and Top 10 obedience dogs as well as to Versatile Newfoundlands, who have earned an AKC championship, an AKC obedience title, NCA water rescue dog title and NCA draft dog title. That’s just a few of the events on the weeklong agenda!
In short, it highlights the many different aspects that make the Newfoundland Dog so special.
This year I attended for the first time. Winn and I arrived Monday night and stayed through Thursday afternoon. We were entered into two Rally Intermediate trials with the hope that she would get her title while we were there. The requirements for the title are three qualifying legs under two different judges. We earned the first two legs the previous weekend, so we just needed to do well in one of the two trials to accomplish our goal and we did! On Tuesday morning we scored a 93, got second place and earned the title.My daughter met me up there to cheer me on and after getting our ribbons, she and I were able to wander around, enjoy many of the other activities and explore the cute town of Frankenmuth. The working events were scheduled at the beginning of the week and we watched friends in the obedience and rally rings and also observed the specialty carting event.We had a picnic lunch, went to Bronners the World’s Largest Christmas Store and got milkshakes and ice cream to celebrate our success in the ring.I don’t know a lot about conformation showing, but I really enjoyed watching the puppies in the ring. Who doesn’t love watching puppies?
The planning and coordination that went into this big event was incredible and I was amazed by the spectacle of it all. The amount of gear that gets hauled around for the show dogs is mind boggling. When Winn and I go to a trial, I bring a soft crate, a chair and a bag with snacks, water and something to read. That’s nothing compared to the crates, tables and grooming tools that accompany the conformation dogs. There was a separate washing station set up near the hotel and then the dogs were moved into their reserved grooming spaces to be finished. Wire crates, which are very heavy, are used in the grooming area because they are more secure and frequently one owner is traveling with multiple dogs. This ensures that they are safely secured while the attention may be on another dog.In between our trials, I walked around with Winn to chat with several of our friends who were there but I also found myself just watching it all in amazement. I met some new people, stopped to watch some grooming in action and spent some time with this beautiful brown boy (who was at Westminster last year) and his owner. There were very few brown Newfoundlands there and she sought us out and introduced herself. She loved Winn and took us around the room to meet her friends and fellow brown Newfoundland lovers.
I had such a good time on this trip and Winn was a terrific traveling companion. She can still be a little shy when meeting new people so I passed treats to those who wanted to meet her and she figured out pretty quickly that meeting new people is tasty. I made a funny observation while there: owners tended to offer the treats from their open hand under her chin; handlers held the treat between two fingers above her nose. The difference made me smile every time. Winn was great in the hotel. She figured out the elevator really quickly, knew right where our room was and loved to hang out on the balcony and watch everyone coming and going through the parking lot. She ate well and slept hard. We did hear some barking from time to time, but she never made a peep. She was the perfect hotel dog.On Thursday morning we met up with her breeder. He and his wife arrived late the night before and this was the first time we had seen each other since pick up day when Winn was 10 weeks old. He was showing Winn’s big sister Bertie on Friday and he set up her crate next to Winn’s. The two girls hung out together for a little while. It was so nice to see him with Winn, she’s changed a lot over the past year!My only regret is that Annie wasn’t with us. My primary interest in going to Newfoundland National was to march in the Rescue Parade with her and I figured if I was there with Annie, I might as well bring Winn along and we could participate in Rally. I also knew that having Winn by her side would make Annie feel more comfortable. It really hurt to be there without her, but I brought the honor flag I made at the Blogpaws conference and attached it to the bag that I carried around with us. While Winn and I were competing, Annie was right there next to Winn’s crate. It did bring a little comfort, feeling like she was there in spirit. I never would have thought about going if it wasn’t for my desire to celebrate Annie and how special she was.
Tomorrow’s post is about Precious, the namesake of Annie’s rescue group. She was there, I spent a little time with her, and she marched in the Rescue Parade. She proudly represented the 43 other Newfoundlands that were rescued with her, many of whom are no longer with us.
How should I restrain these big dogs in the car?
That’s a question that I have contemplated many times. I have surveyed other Newfie owners, read multiple blogs, and scoured the internet for suggestions.
The overwhelming consensus is that most people keep their big dogs loose in the cargo area of their SUV’s. We have done this for years, but I keep worrying about something happening and them getting hurt.
The ideal situation is a strong, reinforced crate in the back. Recently, I heard of someone that was in a terrible accident and her dog was saved by being in one of these crates. The challenges are, 1. the options are very limited for giant dogs, 2. I need at least two if we are all traveling together and only one will fit in my cargo area and 3. they are incredibly expensive.
The one that I’ve considered is the Gunner Kennel .
I do have an extra wire crate and have used that on occasion when I’m transporting only one dog, but it just doesn’t seem sturdy enough. It’s not an issue of keeping them under control, they lie down and sleep as soon as we pull away from the house, I’m looking for a way to keep them from flying through the car. I don’t think a wire crate would stand up to the pressure of a 100 plus pound dog suddenly hitting the sides and since I have the ability to “catastrophize”, would they get speared by a wire?
I’ve looked at many harnesses, but since my dogs don’t ride in the middle seat, I would have to figure out a different way to belt them.
We have an old jeep, our “beach buggy” that we used to take Maisie and Annie to the beach. (It’s our 25 mph transport to and from the beach, 1 mile from our house.) We removed the back seat, found a bed that fit the area perfectly, attached leashes to the cross bar and then hooked into their harness to keep them restrained. (We also bought the Petloader steps for Annie because she didn’t like using a ramp or being lifted).
I decided to try this option with Winn on our recent road trip to Ohio. I researched crash tested harnesses and the one I settled on was the Kurgo. We found one for Maisie at an REI Garage Sale a couple of years ago and I was pleased that the Kurgo was still listed at the top of the review charts. Maisie’s is too small for Winn (they are vastly different sizes) and since Winn needed her own anyway I purchased one for her and two seat belt straps with swivel attachments to secure them each to the tie downs in the back of the car.
This solution worked very well for our long, highway drive. Winn was able to change positions and if she needed a potty break, I could see her pop her head up to give me the signal. It was also very easy to load her into the car and then hook her up. While I hope we never have the opportunity to test it, I feel better knowing that if something terrible happens, they will stay in the relative safety of the cargo area.
We have several road trips coming up and I’m relieved that I’ve settled on a solution. Maisie and I are going to Kansas City, MO for a blogging conference, Winn and I are going to Frankenmuth, MI for the Newfoundland National and all of us (I think) are going to Ontario, Canada for a Water Dog training seminar. Now I can focus on writing about all of our adventures!
disclaimer: the links I have provided are non-sponsored, they are items that I have found on my own for my personal use.