Tag Archives: Precious Newfs

16. Annie goes for a swim


On Father’s Day the weather was beautiful and we took the dogs to the beach. We knew that Annie had gone swimming before when she was with her foster family but so far we had not seen her go in the water. She loved walking along the beach with me when we went, and she would stay right at my hip as we walked back and forth along the water line. Maisie loved charging into the water. She would chase other dogs, run through the waves, swim on her own and venture in when she needed a drink.  Annie would never follow her, she never left my side but I had the feeling she would go in if we went in.

The amazing thing about Lake Michigan is that some days there might be huge waves and other days the lake is as smooth as glass. On this day the lake was calm and clear. We could walk a long way from shore and it was still very shallow. It was a perfect day to try to get Annie to follow us into the water. We had the beach to ourselves so there was no distraction with other dogs or owners. Chris went out pretty far, Maisie followed him and then I started wading out. I could see the indecision in Annie’s eyes as she stood and barked at me for a couple seconds before she started walking out. We took it slowly and even though she was still unsure, she started walking toward Chris when he called her. Maisie was overcome with excitement. Annie was finally coming in! She ran between Annie and Chris until the gap was closed and then she showed Annie when to start swimming. They both stayed close to Chris, swimming circles around him and then they would come toward me. I know it’s their rescue instinct kicking in when they both start circling and try to stay as close as possible. Annie went between Chris and I and when she was near me she would push up against me to make sure I was still safe. I wasn’t going out as far, I had my phone in my hand because of course I was trying to document this special event!

I’ve always said Annie walks with purpose. She has huge feet and she plants them firmly in front of her with each step. She stomps up and down the stairs and I can easily tell which dog is walking through the house because Annie is so much more heavy footed. Well, she swims with purpose as well. Each stroke she took was slow and powerful and she slid through the water like she had been doing it all of her life. Instinct is an amazing thing and it was incredible to see it come so naturally. It was such a wonderful way to start the day!

15. A very special greeting


I work part-time so my days off usually involve some errands or appointments during the day. On one particular day in June I left the house and decided not to close the doors on the dog crates. I didn’t plan on being out very long and both of my children were home from college for the summer, it was possible that one of them would be coming down for breakfast shortly after I left. Maisie is the one that gets into trouble when we are out, she just gets so lonely, but with Annie around I was hoping I could begin to trust her to not get into things when they were left on their own. So far, Annie had not proven to be an explorer; she would just stay in her crate and sleep until we returned.

I finished what I needed much more quickly than I thought and I returned home about 45 minutes after I left. Maisie greeted me with her usual exuberance, jumping up on the storm door and pawing at it until either she or I got it open. I received a huge surprise when I opened the door and saw not only Maisie but Annie waiting for me with a wagging tail as well! This is such normal behavior for most dogs but for Annie it was another sign that she was overcoming her fears.  We keep the two crates side by side and Annie’s crate door is almost never closed. She will stay in her crate when Maisie is contained. Whenever someone comes in the house, Annie always waits to come out until we go into the room and open up Maisie’s door. If they both happen to be loose, Annie has always stayed in or near her crate, looking around the door to see who has just come in and it takes her a few moments to muster the desire to come and greet us.

Annie always has to measure the situation before she makes a move. She had learned that it was best to keep a wide berth with humans and even run away when she could, so hearing my footsteps and choosing to come towards me and wait for my arrival, my goodness! By stepping out of the comfort of her crate and waiting for me by the door, she was showing me so much more than just her happiness to see me. The next time I came in the house I was hoping that she would greet me again, but that did not happen, she stood in the doorway and looked down the hallway for a few minutes before she decided to go the long way around the house and find me in the kitchen. It only took a couple more weeks and now she greets us at the door, shoves Maisie out of the way, step all over our toes and eagerly insists on receiving as much attention as possible.  She’s a very different dog from the one we brought home in January!

14. Good news and a birthday party.

About 3 weeks before her birthday I found a lump on Annie’s left flank. I was immediately concerned and we went to the vet to have it evaluated. The pathology from the tissue sample was inconclusive but I noticed Maisie sniffing it so we made the decision to remove it along with another lump that was notated on her first visit. The waiting is the hardest part, and sure enough the lump on her hip was cancer but the other lump was not. Shit. Cancer. After everything else, now cancer! The diagnosis was so disheartening but the analysis showed that all of the cancer had been removed with no sign of spreading at this time, so we had caught it early. What a relief! We would need to continue to monitor her very carefully but the vet was optimistic about her prognosis. But then there was another concern. While she was in surgery she developed an irregular heartbeat. Occasionally this happens because of the anesthesia but considering Annie’s age, this was probably a sign that she was developing heart disease. We scheduled an EKG at the same time as her suture removal and hoped for the best. It seemed so unfair that this should come up after all that she had been through .

Her appointment happened to be on her birthday and I was planning on having a celebration for her that night. I went to the party store and got party hats and a big feather boa. I have never dressed up my dogs before, but it seemed perfectly appropriate for this occasion. I was going to buy a birthday cake from the doggie bakery in town but then decided that I would make her one. I had always made cakes for my kids on their birthdays and Annie deserved to have her own homemade cake as well.

When we got to the vet, Annie was completely relaxed. We walked in and she sat next to me while we waited.   A young male tech came out to take her back and she got visibly upset. Up until now I had always requested female techs but I had forgotten to confirm that with this appointment. She did not want to go with him and climbed up next to me on the bench to get away from him. She was reminding me that although she was making great progress, she still had fears that needed to be soothed.  I sat with her for a minute and calmed her and then I took the leash and walked her part of the way and then he took over and she was better. I heard her doctor greet her when she went around the corner so I knew she was in good hands. About 15 minutes later I went into the exam room and Annie was rubbing up next to her doctor. She immediately gave me the best news possible, Annie’s EKG was normal! She also did not hear any sign of a murmur so we decided to continue to monitor her very closely but I was very optimistic about her future. I know she’s at the twilight of her life, but I want her final months (or dare I hope, years) to be pain-free with minimal complications so that we can just enjoy our time together, however long that may be.

We had the party that night after dinner. I cut the cake into four pieces and placed it on a low table in front of her. She grabbed the first piece and loved it. Maisie took a piece for herself and they both took their time with their second pieces. These two have never had any food problems and once again, they shared with each other and watched each other enjoy their treats. I took lots of pictures and we had so much fun giving Annie her very first birthday party.

Recipe for Annie’s birthday cake:


IMG_2155 (1)IMG_1854

12. The highs and lows (or just lows) of internet searches

When we brought Annie home I didn’t have any documentation of her birth date. The only document from the original kennel was a rabies certificate from June 2014. I received her immunization records from the vet who took care of her while she was in foster care and that was her entire file. It wasn’t much to go on. I assume some of the other dogs had more paperwork since their ages were known but Annie’s age was estimated to be between 7 and 9 at the time of her rescue. I was very torn about wanting to know more information about her and just wanting to look toward the future without dwelling on the past. There was a video that was created for NCA rescue that told the story of the rescue and the progress of one dog in particular, the last one pulled out that didn’t have a name, didn’t have any records or papers and was in critical condition. The rescue volunteers named her Precious and she has become the face and namesake for this group of dogs.

It took me several weeks to muster the courage to watch the video. It wasn’t as graphic as I feared and the overall message was one of hope and recovery but it left me feeling very conflicted about how much I really wanted to know about Annie. Based on her behavior, it was obvious she suffered from neglect and abuse. She is still fearful around men and is very guarded in new situations. I’ve come to the conclusion that my hope that someone had given her some care and attention in the kennel is just wishful thinking and at best she was neglected and didn’t receive much human interaction at all. That’s a pretty grim outlook, but her guarded behavior and the fact that she gets startled easily is confirmation that she didn’t have many positive experiences with humans during her time there.

Most of the time, I just wanted to focus on her recovery and gaining her trust but I had moments of such rage directed at this breeder that I would find myself staying up late at night doing internet searches. The kennel still had an active website and even though most of the information had been deleted there were still puppy pictures. When I looked at them more closely I noticed that most of the puppies were photographed on straw or a dirt patch with gravel and rocks in the background. He didn’t even try to show them in a comfortable environment! There was a stream of complaints about sick and dying puppies that had been purchased. The kennel owner’s profile was still listed on several puppy websites, which was his primary source for selling puppies. There was an ad for a 19 month old for sale dated after the rescue had already started which led me to believe that someone was still trying to sell as many dogs as possible and was only turning over the senior and sick dogs for rescue. All of this confirmed what I already knew. He was operating a puppy mill and had little regard for his dogs or the breed.

I was actually surprised that Annie got a rabies vaccine. On that certificate her age was listed as 7. The only other information that stood out was that her previous rabies tag was from 2008. Was I to assume that in the 7-8 years that she was on this property she only received 2 rabies shots? And who was this vet that did this, wasn’t there some obligation to report a situation in which the dogs were not receiving appropriate medical care? I did find a notice from 2013 that stated the owner had been sanctioned by the AKC. His privileges were suspended for one year for violating care and conditions standards and he was charged a $1000 fine. How many complaints were logged before that happened? There is just so very little that can be done to prevent this from happening. It obviously didn’t shut him down, the fine was equal to one puppy and then he just kept going, selling puppies online and at pet stores.

The one piece of information that I found that didn’t make me sick to my stomach was a listing of dogs on a Newfoundland database. There were hundreds of dogs listed with this kennel and that’s where I found Annie’s full name with a birth date of 06/07/06. My assumptions were confirmed, if this was my Annie, and it’s possible he had multiple dogs with the same name, she was 9 ½ when we adopted her. This also meant that she had been born there and kept there while being forced to have multiple litters a year for as long as her body could until she was rescued. Many but not all of the dogs in her rescue group were on this list and the dogs whose names I found were all between the ages of 7 and 10. A few of the dogs didn’t survive very long after they were rescued but at least they were able to get into new homes before they died.

I decided to go with this date, it was a pretty close match to the age listed on her rabies certificate and it was the most reasonable estimate I would have. We were going to celebrate her 10th birthday in June! I also decided I would do no more internet sleuthing, Annie was making such good progress and I was trying to get her to only look forward and forget the bad times of her past. We would both be more successful in attaining this goal by putting her past behind us.



10. Mother’s Day gifts

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.IMG_0925

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!