Wow! Another year has gone by and we are celebrating Annie’s birthday. This birthday is a big deal, she’s 11 and is still in really good health. Last year before her party, we had just come from the vet. She had her stitches removed from the removal of a cancerous lump as well as an EKG to evaluate an irregular heartbeat that appeared while she was in surgery. Not only did she have a clear pathology report, her heart rate was normal which was a huge relief.
Since then, she has had a couple of ear infections but nothing else major and she continues to let her personality shine. She has also responded so well to Winn. She’s actually more lively and playful with Winn around, and she seems so happy.
We invited one of the neighbor dogs to join us, I baked pup cakes using the same recipe I used last year for her cake, got pictures of everyone in party hats and had a very fun party with lots of laughs.
It’s no surprise, Winn was not a fan of the party wear.
She was excited about the pup cakes, but then saw Maisie’s hat, snatched it off her head and played keep away.
Annie LOVED her treats and kept coming back for more. She even started pawing at the plate in an effort to bring them closer so she could grab them!
Our guest wasn’t sure what to think about it all, but she seemed to have a good time and got a pup cake to take home and enjoy without being stared at by other dogs.
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.
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.
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!
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.
I have never registered or shown my dogs, and prior to adopting Annie, my only impressions of the show world were formed by the movie “Best in Show” which I found hilarious.
The NCA (Newfoundland Club of America) and the South Central Newfoundland Club were in charge of Annie’s rescue, and as a result of adopting Annie I have become acquainted with so many people who are passionate about this breed and they have shared their experience with me.
Last year at this time we had only had Annie for a couple of months and I was in frequent contact with her rescuers and fosters. They were a great support for us as we were all getting used to each other. My Facebook feed started filling up with pictures from National, and all of these gorgeous dogs that looked to be having so much fun with their owners, and I began to appreciate how many people around the country are in love with this breed. Up until then, I didn’t know many other Newfie owners. I was one of a few owners in my area and we (the dogs and I) would get a lot of attention when we were out and about because they are so big and unique.
As I started to learn more about the NCA (Newfoundland Club of America), what truly ethical breeding means, draft work, obedience, water work and therapy, I began advanced obediance and therapy classes with Maisie. Annie, she’s different and special and classes would not be right for her, but there is one activity that I want to do with her–the Rescue Parade. When I saw that on the agenda last year I immediately set that as a goal for us for this year. Unfortunately, Newf National is in Oregon this year and that is simply too far away for us. The Rescue Parade is today at 3:00 in the main ring and I really wish we were there. Next year it will be in Michigan, and while I have been very careful to keep my expectations in check because of her age, I am going to put it out there that I want us to be there next year.
Annie deserves to strut her stuff in front of all of those beautifully bred Newfoundlands. She worked hard, producing hundreds of puppies in terrible conditions for most of her life. Now it’s her time to enjoy life and I would love nothing more than to enter the “Rescue Ring” with her and shine the spotlight on her for others to see. Annie turns 11 in June, that’s our next big day on the calendar, and then who knows, hopefully we will be on to Newf National 2018!