Tag Archives: Newfoundland Dog

Puppy Mill Awareness Day

Puppy Mill Awareness Day

Today is Puppy Mill Awareness Day and I must shine the light onto Annie.

We adopted her when she was 9 1/2. She had been in foster care for a year after being rescued along with 43 other senior and sick Newfoundlands from a puppy mill that had been in business for decades.

I had a feeling she would need some extra loving when we brought her home. We had adopted rescue dogs before, but I had never been exposed to such a deeply traumatized dog.

The first few weeks were difficult, really difficult.

The best way to describe her would be completely shut down.  Her eyes were vacant as they darted side to side, nervously watching everyone around her. She trotted around in circles, not  coming directly toward me if I called her.  She didn’t like narrow spaces, going through doorways, stairs or getting into the car.  She would put on the brakes and become dead weight until she was ready to do something.

She was terrified of men, especially young men and anyone in a baseball cap.

She didn’t like going outside by herself, especially at night.  I would walk beside her in circles around the yard to try to get her to go potty.  In the beginning, she preferred a spot in the house where no one could see her.  She found that easier than having to go through the door and venturing outside. I learned to watch for certain subtle signals and I would walk with her to the door so that we could go out.

She would sneak out of her crate and watch me from afar, but if I caught her eye, she would run back to her crate and hide.  The only time I could call her out of her crate was feeding time, when I would set her bowl down in the kitchen.

I spent a lot of time sitting on the floor a few feet from her crate.  I would quietly read or work on my laptop, usually with some treats next to me and slowly, very slowly, she would start to move closer to the edge of the crate.  I knew we were making progress when she would stretch out in her crate or have her body half in and half out reaching for one of the treats.  Eventually she left her crate and made her way toward the middle of the room to stretch out on the rug.IMG_0995She always hid from visitors, choosing the safety of her crate. Often times she would start out barking, eventually stopping to listen to our voices. Occasionally she would make her way out so she could take a look at whoever was there.  Sometimes she was brave enough to join us in the same room, sometimes not.  Chances were better if the voices were all female.

Her leash was like a security blanket.  If her leash was on and I was holding it, she felt safe. If it seemed like she wanted to visit a room with strangers (peering in multiple times and waiting by the doorway), I would put on her leash and she would immediately come with me to say hello.  After scanning the room, she would then relax by my feet and go to sleep.

She was the bravest dog I’ve ever known.

Her life was so hard before she was rescued, but figuring out life after being rescued was hard too.

I slept on the couch in the same room with her for the first two weeks, I didn’t want to leave her alone in a strange, new environment and she wouldn’t come upstairs with us at night.

It took a few weeks til we started to see changes in her as she began to trust us.  She was so sweet, so gentle and so guarded.  I did my best to always use a soft voice with her and not make any sudden movements.  I let her take her time getting used to us and our house and eventually she relaxed and started to let us see more of her personality.

When she was ready, she finally climbed the stairs to an unknown part of the house and was rewarded with a big comfy bed. She had never had a bed of her own and she would snuggle into it every night, rub her face along the bumper and let out happy, groaning sounds.

She loved food of any kind and eventually was underfoot whenever we were in the kitchen.

She learned to love car rides, walks and little adventures but she always remained glued to my side.  She never strayed far from me, trusting that I would take care of her in every new situation.

I got used to having her by my side and at my feet, wherever I was.  She became my constant companion and her eyes were happy and filled with love.Version 2Last year, I wrote about the day she got her new rabies certificate that listed my name as her owner.  We were finally able to shed the last physical reminder of where she came from. That was such a memorable day for me. You can read about it here.

She blossomed in her final years but she was never fully able to exorcise her demons.  Every now and then, something would remind her of her previous life and I could see it in her response.

I say all of this because behind all of those cute, fluffy puppies in pet store windows and featured online, there is a mama that isn’t getting the proper care, love and affection that she deserves. I fell in love with one of those mamas, and she was unlike any other dog I’ve ever known.

My Brown Newfies has written an important post about how to spot a puppy mill puppy. It’s not specific to Newfoundlands, but to all puppies featured in newspapers, online, in pet stores or sold out of the back of a truck in a parking lot. You can read it here.

Shelters are filled with dogs that were purchased this way. Reputable breeders would never want one of their dogs to end up in a shelter and will always take their dogs back to find them a new home.  It’s usually stated in a contract that is signed at the time of purchase.  A reputable breeder will expect some sort of contact with you, the new owner. They want to know where their puppies are going and what their home life will be like. They most certainly would never sell to a broker or 3rd party.

So please, if there is a specific breed you have heart set on, do your homework and research breeders before you purchase that squirmy, fuzzy puppy.  If you aren’t allowed to meet the mama and see how she lives, don’t buy the puppy.

If you are in hurry to bring home a wonderful new family pet or don’t have a breed preference, check out your local shelter or rescue group.  I guarantee you will find a dog that will love you unconditionally and will fill your heart more than you could possibly imagine.IMG_2956

I have written more about Annie’s recovery and becoming a part of our family here.

 

 

Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day

Today is Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day.

The first dog that I fell in love with was Sabrina.  My parents brought her home right around my 10th birthday, so I always felt like she was a special present for me. She was a beautiful Malamute that made quite an impression on my family.  She gave us endless stories that still bring us laughs when we reminisce.

She was impossible to contain and she constantly escaped the yard to roam the neighborhood, leaving mischief and mayhem in her wake. She broke into multiple houses through doggie doors, doors left ajar, sliding doors that she could pull open and screen doors that she could push through. She knew when it was feeding time nearby and stole many meals from less assertive dogs. She ate one woman’s make-up, coming home with lipstick all over her face. My mother answered many phone calls from disgruntled neighbors. She hunted skunks and would bring them home and curl up with them in her dirt hole.  She smelled like skunk for months on end, we could never fully get the smell out before she would bring home another.  She preferred to be outside, especially in the winter.  We had her sleep inside but she let us know that she found it way too hot and would be happier in the yard. I can’t imagine how much trouble she would have caused if she wasn’t in the house at least some of the time! She was one of kind and I will never forget her.IMG_8259Bogart was my husbands bachelor dog and easily adapted to our growing and changing family.  He was so gentle but also had a talent for escaping and getting into things.  I wrote about him on National Mutt Day, you can read more about him here.7626C075-79E2-44B8-B7A1-9A8553501AABWhen we moved into our current house, there were two Newfoundlands in the neighborhood that I noticed while out for their daily walk.  I thought they were the most beautiful dogs I’d ever seen and after meeting and talking to their owners, I just knew that was the breed for me.

Bailey was my first Newfoundland. I wouldn’t describe her as having the typical Newfie temperament, she was loud, pushy and very domineering.  She respected me as the leader of our pack but she treated everyone else (human and canine) as be her underling.  I wish I knew then what I know now about training and handling a strong-willed dog.  She had the working instinct and she eagerly did her daily job of bringing in the paper. She also loved to carry in the groceries.  She would have been a wonderful Water Dog but at that time in my life I was consumed with raising my two young children and I was content to have Bailey as my house companion.  I didn’t take her out much, she wasn’t aggressive but she did try to assert herself as boss with other dogs and I wasn’t comfortable taking the risk of meeting another Alpha dog that would challenge her back. She behaved the way I wanted her to in the house and yard and I left it at that. She was the first dog that was all mine and I adored her.IMG_8258Charlie  was a Newfoundland/Labrador mix that we adopted several months after we said goodbye to Bogart.  Bailey was about a year old and we missed having two dogs. We think he was about three years old when he was found with another small dog in the woods in Tennessee and they were both transported to Illinois by a rescue group.  He was very thin when we brought him home and he was always a hunter, I assume because he lived in the wild before he was found.   We frequently found dead animals (squirrels, birds, possums and chipmunks) in the yard. He loved to be warm. He would curl up next to radiators and sit as close to the fireplace as he could get.  His fur would be hot to the touch, but he would be so content. He tried curling up with Bailey whenever he could but she was always hot and she would “kangaroo leg” him to get him to back off.  Bailey constantly bossed him around and he was pretty tolerant of her moods.  Occasionally he would let her know that he’d had enough and she would look so offended when he snarled at her.  She never really understood why there might be a problem, but they bonded well and depended on each other for the rest of their lives. Charlie curled up by my feet and died 2 weeks after Bailey died and I will always remember them together; they lived together and they died together.IMG_8257After losing Bailey and Charlie, I vowed to never again have two dogs close in age, the heartache was just too much.  When Maisie was three years old I found Annie.  Her age was presumed to be between 7-9 when she was rescued and she had been in foster care for a year.  After doing some internet research on my own, I believe she was 9 1/2 when we adopted her.  She was a puppy mill mama that was severely traumatized from years of abuse and neglect but she found a new life after she was rescued and blossomed in the two years that she was a part of our family.  The first time I heard the term “heart dog”, I considered all of my dogs as my heart dog, I love them all so much.  That was until I met Annie.  There was something very different about our bond, probably because she needed me so much and I was driven to show her as much love as possible to make up for all of the years that we didn’t have together.  She was very, very special and she changed me.  She made me a better person and those two short years were a lifetime for us. She will always be with me, she is my heart dog and I wish I had more time with her.IMG_1189

 

So what have you been up to?

I saw a funny post the other day about how we talk to our dog friends vs. our non-dog friends.

My answer to the question ” what have you been up to?” varies based on the audience.

For my non-dog friends, I’ll say I’ve gone on a couple of weekend get-aways to visit friends. I’ve also been going to the beach a lot, trying to get back into a workout routine and researching organizations to start volunteering with in the fall. I try to sound like a normal person that isn’t doing “weird” stuff.

For my dog friends, depending on what I know of their dog activities, I will be more forth coming with my answers i.e. I’ve been training Maisie to be a Therapy Dog and have found an organization that I’m pretty excited about. I’ve gone through my own training with them and I’ll be tagging along this week to observe their program in action.  Hopefully we will pass their dog team test so that we can volunteer with them in the fall. We’ve been going on a lot of training walks, in and out of stores and mixing up our destination to expose her to lots of different situations and people.IMG_6995For dog enthusiasts, I might elaborate a little more. Winn and I have been doing all kinds of advanced training over the last several months and have entered several different types of trials and have earned five titles.  Right now we are focusing on Water Rescue training and are having a blast!

I’ve been around water my entire life and for about 10 years I worked at my local YMCA teaching 3-5 year olds pool safety and how to swim.  I loved working with that age and I really felt like I was teaching them something that could save their lives. Now I’m exploring a different form of water safety by working with Winn and her natural instincts. It’s just for fun, she’s not going to be a lifeguard or a search and rescue dog, but I love swimming with her and having a reason to be in the water again.IMG_3514I’ve taken a couple of trips with her to learn the skills needed to enter and pass the junior level Newfoundland Water Dog (WD) test and have been working on a few of the skills included in the senior level Water Rescue Dog (WRD) test. (Last year I volunteered to help at the water tests in my area and wrote about those skills here and here.) She loves the water and has amazing instincts.  We work really well together but being in the water is exhausting and I’m reminded that even though she’s a big dog, she’s still young and she tires easily. I’m also getting used to being in the water again so we are both working on building our stamina in the water and knowing when to call it quits.IMG_4455This week, I’ve been filling out entry forms for water tests put on by different regional Newfoundland clubs.  Two are close by, about an hour’s drive and two are further away and would require a hotel stay.  I hope to get into at least two, maybe three.  My friend who has been doing this a long time and teaches water skills clinics would like me to go to Canada with her so Winn could also try for her Canadian Water Rescue Dog title.  I think this year, we will just focus on her American title and consider that in the future. I’ll be thrilled if we get the title this summer, but I’m loving the bond we’ve formed and the fun we have learning new skills.  I have high hopes for us as a working team and there are so many possibilities for us to explore!

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Winn and her training buddies Clarence and Cass–both featured in last year’s Water Weekend posts

 

PSA: Watch out for falling corn cobs!

What do bagels, apple cores, pizza crusts, squirrels and corn cobs all have in common? All of these items have fallen out of the trees in our yard over the last couple of months. I blame it on the squirrels.  They rummage through the garbage dumpster of the nearby condo building, find treasure and then scurry up our trees where they return to their nests. Most of the time, the squirrel and their goodies make it all the way back but sometimes they lose their grip and a random food item will fall to the ground.  And yes, occasionally they make a bad jump and end up falling out of the tree as well.

I know that it’s nesting season when I  find a pile of leaves and branches in the yard that wasn’t there the day before.  I would guess that one out of every four leaf bundles falls to the ground while they are building their nest. Shortly after that, random food and trash starts to appear and continues to fall for the next couple of months. Squirrels have 2 litters a year, early spring and mid-summer.  Right now, they are prepping for the mid-summer. (About a month ago, I was in the yard and 3-4 young squirrels were chasing each other when one fell out of the tree and landed a couple of feet away from me.  To my utter shock, it jumped up and ran away.  I’ve found enough dead ones in the yard to assume they don’t usually survive such a fall.)IMG_4074What got me to write about this? Last week, I spent a full day in the Animal Emergency Room with Winn after I discovered that she had consumed a corn cob.

A couple of years ago, I read an article about the dangers of corn cobs to dogs and since then have had a healthy fear of having one of the dogs eat one.  Until then, I was completely unaware that a dog could die from ingesting a corn cob. Corn cobs don’t break down in the digestive track and their cylindrical shape contributes to the risk of obstruction.  If the cob is already dried out, its sharp edges can shred the lining of the intestinal track. Another risk is that it can get stuck in their throat, either going down or coming back up if vomiting is induced.  The best course of action is to get your dog to the vet as quickly as possible.

In Winn’s case, I don’t really know when she got it or how much she ate. She threw-up 4 pieces one morning, and I wasn’t even sure what it was at first. The texture was strange, not completely hard like a bone but not soft and pliable either, but then I noticed a corn kernel and I knew immediately what she had found. I tried to figure out when she might have gotten it.  She was in the yard a couple of times the day before but I had been with her most of the time.  Her dinner didn’t come up with the cob pieces and I know she didn’t get it after dinner because she was never out of my sight.  She went out and did her morning business just fine, she was hungry for breakfast and was showing no signs of distress.  Could that mean the corn cob just jiggled around in her belly for a day or two before she barfed it up? Could that be all there was to it?

I had booked a morning swim time for Maisie and Winn so I loaded them both up in the car and decided to call the vet on our way.  I described everything that had happened and what I knew and didn’t know.  I was not surprised when I was told to bring her in right away for an x-ray, they would squeeze us in as soon as we got there.  So…I turned the car towards the vet’s office and the three of us arrived about 10 minutes later.

It didn’t take long for the x-ray and sure enough, there were visible pieces scattered around her abdomen and her colon looked a little enlarged, perhaps she’d already expelled some on her own. There were a couple of pieces she was concerned about so the x-ray was sent to the emergency surgeon for a consult.  The surgeon agreed with her assessment and wanted to see us, surgery would probably be needed.  I have always been concerned about the use of anesthesia on my dogs, and after losing Annie shortly after her oral surgery, my fear has been heightened. Winn’s vet encouraged me to express my fears to the surgeon and assured me that they would talk through any and all questions or concerns that I had.

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Maisie was so concerned about Winn and kept a very close eye on her.

I gathered everybody up and we quickly headed to the car.  Winn was still showing no signs of distress, other than a little anxiety about being at the vet’s office, so I decided to head home.  I could drop off Maisie and change my clothes (I was still in my bathing suit, shorts and a t-shirt, not the most comfortable outfit to wear while waiting around in an air-conditioned office).

Winn and I were shown into an exam room where we met with another dr.  The surgeon was still with another patient, but we talked through different scenarios, what the procedure would entail and the fact that Winn would need to stay overnight in recovery for two days (very scary). We decided to get her pre-op blood work done as well as an ultra-sound which would give us a clearer picture of where the pieces were.

It was all becoming so real, so scary and the waiting was excruciating, but the dr. came back with a big smile on her face.  All of the cob pieces had already traveled through her small intestine and most of them were in her colon! They don’t operate once they show up in the colon because she should be able to eliminate them on her own.  What a relief!

They gave her some fluids to keep her hydrated but were comfortable sending us home with care instructions that included warning signs for me to watch for.  If anything changed in her condition, we were to come back for another ultra sound and more tests. I wanted to cry from relief, but I gathered our things and quickly checked out.  We were incredibly lucky that it all turned out so well and surgery wasn’t needed!

 

Now I’m going to hop onto my soap box and talk about pet insurance.  It’s horrifying enough when you find yourself and your pet in an emergency situation.  Trying to absorb everything you are being told in order to make a good decision for your pet is incredibly difficult.  I knew as I sat there trying to hold back the tears, that whatever decision I had to make, I didn’t have to make it because of finances.  Surgery is expensive, surgery on big dogs can be more expensive, but having pet insurance can give you peace of mind while you are making that decision.  I knew I was responsible for my deductible and 20% of the fee because that is how I set up the policy for Maisie and Winn.  I only have sick/emergency care but it covers tests, treatment, therapies and medications. (I didn’t insure Annie because everything with her was a pre-existing condition. I wish I could have, managing all of her health issues was expensive.)

Most hospitals expect you to pay at the time of service (but many are willing to work with you especially if they know you have insurance to cover the bulk of the fees), my solution for this is that I have one credit card that is just for the dogs, but I know I will be reimbursed after my portion is paid.  The staff at Winn’s vet office and the animal hospital submitted the claims for me that same day and I received an email from Embrace a couple of hours later that they were processing the claims.

Our friend My Brown Newfies has written a great post about pet insurance comparing the different companies.  You can read her excellent post here and I hope you find it helpful. I encourage everyone to get pet insurance,  you can tailor many of the policies to suit your needs and budget. Hopefully, you will never need it but if you do, it will be one less thing you have to worry about when you furry best friend is sick.

With the 4th of July occuring at peak season for corn on the cob, please keep and eye on your dogs and make sure the cobs are properly thrown out so that they don’t get them and you can all safely enjoy the holiday!