Sunday, December 30, 2012

Brotherly love

Sometimes when I come across Thatcher and Boden snuggling together, it melts my heart. These times are not common, as Thatcher tends to like his space. I walked downstairs tonight to find Boden sleeping with his head on Thatcher's back. I tiptoed back up the stairs to grab my camera, and managed to sneak in a shot before the click of the shutter woke them. Times like this reassure me that despite all of the potty training woes, rambunctious wrestling in the house, and shoes covered in puppy teeth indents, getting another Newfie was one of the best decisions we've made.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Merry and bright

It's crazy how quickly the holidays come and go. After all of the anticipation leading up to it, our Christmas was fairly anti-climatic. We had family at our house the weekend before Christmas. This made the Newfies extremely happy, as they got spoiled big-time by their "grandma." I swear, my mother has single-handedly contributed to Thatcher's ever-increasing chunkiness. Of course, Thatcher doesn't mind one bit. Both of the dogs like to act like we starve them in front of guests, despite the littering of bones and rawhides around the house. We've learned to tread carefully in the dark, because stubbing your toe on one of their giant bones really hurts. It hurts bad. Anyhow, they had a jolly time showing off for my mom and sisters all weekend. One of my little sisters slept downstairs on the basement futon, and when we went to check on her before bed, we saw that she had in fact found a nice boy to keep her warm for the night. Apparently they were both equally exhausted from the weekend and had passed out together in the nice quiet basement.

After spending Christmas Eve with one family, we drove up late that night to the next family gathering. We swung home to pick up Thatcher and Boden and began our three hour trip, only to end up in what felt like the North Pole. Because of the sub-zero temperatures and the heat from the dogs in the backseat, the windows stayed frosted over the whole drive. We would periodically hear a licking sound and would glance back to see either Thatcher or Boden melting the ice of the window with their tongue. I've always joked that if our dogs were actual children, they would be the kids in their kindergarten class who eat glue. So we finally arrived pretty late that night, and spent most of Christmas day there. Thatcher, as usual, ran around frantically looking for my dad's cat Che, and Boden sneakily tried to eat the ornaments off the Christmas tree. Once again, the dogs were stuffed with treats and plenty of leftover ham from dinner. They slept soundly the entire way home.

As if they just weren't spoiled enough in the past week, Thatcher and Boden were surprised with a visit from Santa. To their delight, they received a plethora of new toys (which are by now mostly shredded) and bones (which are by now mostly eaten). The first thing Thatcher did when he saw all of their goodies was to grab at the largest treat he could find, a rawhide in the shape of a big candy cane, and run upstairs to stash it away in a safe location. As I discovered later, this location turned out to be our bed. And in the process of trying to bury it thoroughly, he managed to claw a hole in the sheets. We also created a new game, in which the we stomp on all the toys with squeakers repeatedly while the dogs try to find out which toys are squeaking. It makes them go nuts and trot around hilariously, inspecting every suspicious toy. It's true, sometimes the humans are as easily-entertained as the dogs.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Chasing snowballs

Winter has settled in. The temperature has stayed mostly in the 20s or below, which has kept the snow crusty and the sidewalks icy. Thatcher and Boden are content. They don't seem to even notice the frigid weather. They don't feel sorry for us when we have to pile on layers just to walk them. They just want their walks. In fact, anytime we start putting on shoes or jackets, even if it's to leave for work or errands, the Newfies assume it means they get to go on a walk. They'll pace around us excitedly and follow us to the door. Needless to say, they are frequently disappointed when we close the doors and leave them behind. We've had to change our routine to shorter, more frequent walks rather than the long meandering walks we used to take. An easy way to let the dogs get some exercise in is to take them to the park up the street, which consists of a small playground and mostly vacant soccer and baseball fields. Here, they are free to run. Playing fetch when there's snow on the ground with dogs who are usually apathetic about retrieving consistently is not an option. We would lose far too many balls. So instead, we tromp around the outskirts of the field, throwing snowballs or sprinting ahead for Thatcher and Boden to chase us. We know it's time to head back home when the dogs won't stop lying down in the snow and biting at their paws - ice gets stuck in the hair around their toes and it drives them crazy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ice ornaments

Turns out there is one major drawback to the Newfies' long black hair in the winter, and I've never noticed it until this year. Not only does their fur attract snow, but it causes snow to hang in large clumps all over the warmest parts of their bodies (insides of legs, tummies, etc.). It kind of looks like we decorate them with little white beads or ornaments. This effect is especially dramatic on Boden's cobweb-like fur. He gets chunks of snow larger than golfballs hanging from his bottom. At first I thought they'll melt off pretty quickly once the dogs warm up in the house for a bit. But no. Instead, they turn to ice, causing them to stick to the fur even more. Thatcher doesn't seem to be bothered by this. If he actually happens to notice or feel any clumps on himself, he'll calmly lie down and bite it off, just as he does with burrs. But Boden went crazy trying to shake off those suckers, so I helped finger-comb them out the best I could. Now, ice has always been one of their favorite "treats", so when they discovered what I was pulling off of Boden, big balls of icy snow, they excitedly started gobbling up the chunks I removed. At one point, Thatcher tried eating one directly off of Boden's back leg, which made Boden yelp at him. It was quite a site, which resulted in our kitchen floor turning into a small lake. Ah, the joys of winter. 

Thatcher ignoring the little snowballs
Proof. Golfball size
Boden eating the little snowballs

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


A fairly large snowstorm swept through the city on Sunday. We ended up getting 10+ inches of snow. It started snowing early in the morning and was still coming down, with no interruption, when we fell asleep that night. Our cars and entire backyard were completely buried. Neighbors cars were stuck on the side of the street. I had to put on full snow gear just to go outside. Walking the dogs was a workout in itself, since we were required to tromp through such deep snow and unshoveled sidewalks. It was one of those days where you just want to curl up inside all day where it's dry, warm and cozy.

Needless to say, the Newfies were ecstatic about the dramatic weather. All day, despite the heavy snowfall and cold temperature, they romped around, leaping through the snow and wrestling into snowdrifts. While we shovelled and cleared the driveway with the snow blower, the dogs merrily chased each other through the backyard. Thatcher has always been a snow dog - he really should live in Alaska or something. But Boden seems to have taken to it just as much. It's funny to watch him, because the snow was almost as deep as he is tall. So he literally has to hop like a bunny to get around, but he loves it. They were not at all happy when I finally made them come in for the night.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


I'm listening to both Thatcher and Boden snore right now. Our nieces spent the day with us yesterday, and watching over two little girls for that long really tuckers a dog out.

We bundled up to play outside as soon as it was light out. The girls ran around and twirled in the snow. Boden frolicked after them, looking for (and causing) mischief. The Newfies always tend to gravitate towards the youngest kids, so Boden was practically the 3-year-old's shadow. Which resulted in him clumsily bumping into her and tipping her over into the snow, then smothering her with kisses while she was down on the ground. Thatcher, on the contrary, spent most of his time following the girls around with a worried look on his face. He really wasn't sure that they should be rolling down the tiny snowy hill by our driveway, so he stood watch vigilantly at the top of the hill, not taking his concerned eyes off of them. 

Later we walked a couple of blocks up to the local neighborhood park. Our 7-year-old niece insisted on walking Thatcher, and though I was a little worried he might accidentally pull her or cause her to slip on the icy sidewalk, he behaved like an angel. He proudly pranced and led her along, holding the leash in his mouth as if he was guiding her. One neighbor we passed by laughed and said, "That's a lot of dog for a little girl!". Once we got to the park, instead of happily playing, Thatcher kept trying to grab onto one end of his leash to pull us away to safety.This is what he does whenever he senses danger or feel uncomfortable. 

By late afternoon, the girls (and the Newfies) were more than ready for a nap. I tucked the girls into one of the beds and turned on a movie for them to relax to. When I came back upstairs a little bit later to check on them, I walked in to see Thatcher and Boden monopolizing the bed, with the girls squeezed in between them. 

Thatcher standing watch
Boden "helping" her down the hill

Boden "helping" her up the hill

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Awkward stage

Boden is almost five months old and weighed in at 66lbs today. He's starting to look a little lanky and awkward, as his limbs grow longer and his head gets bigger. Since I see him every day, it's hard to notice how much he really has grown. But when I examine him in the photos I take, it's quite clear. He's no longer a tiny ball of fuzz. If only he would realize this too.

Although he is almost as tall as our bed is high, he doesn't seem to understand how easily he could hop up onto it if he wanted to. Instead, he'll run and take a really big leap, only to land with just his front arms on the bed. He'll then stand there looking at you, waiting for someone to boost him up the rest of the way. Thatcher thoroughly enjoys this, and uses the bed as his one true escape from Boden. Whenever they are fighting over a toy or chasing each other, Thatcher will zoom up the stairs and onto the bed, staying just out of reach of Boden, looking extremely pleased with himself.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fog rolls in

Stepped outside this morning to find that a thick fog has engulfed our backyard, along with most of the neighborhood. The Newfies didn't find it as fascinating as I did, all they cared about was the treat in my hand - their typical incentive for posing for the camera. Every time I take my camera outside with us, the dogs look at me wearily, knowing that they'll be stuck modeling for at least a photo or two. Thatcher is a natural model, and will patiently sit as long as I ask him to while I compose the photo. Boden, on the other hand, has far less self-control. To him, it's complete torture to sit still when I'm stooped down at his level, holding a treat just a few feet away from him. I usually get about a five-second window to take a quick shot of Boden sitting nicely before he trots over to me expectantly, anticipating his reward.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday

Thatcher, Boden and Lea playing with "Grandpa"
Another Thanksgiving flew by. For Thanksgiving, the newfies got a nice little treat: extra family members in the house over the holiday weekend. To them, this means more people to show off for and to beg food from. They really are shameless, and will plant themselves directly in front of the person who they judge to be the easiest target - that is, the person most likely to give them food first. Often, this ends of being the youngest. If there are no children, they usually try their luck with females first, flashing their sad eyes and trying to look innocent. The worst part is that their sad eyes actually work for most people, including us who should by now be immune. We went over to a family member's house yesterday evening and afternoon, so the dogs missed out on actual Thanksgiving dinner scraps. They did, however, repay us for leaving them for the whole evening.

Now, we can't really point fingers as to which dog is truly the guilty party. Not only were Thatcher and Boden both home, a family member's dog has also been staying here the past couple of days. Lea is used to being closed in a room when she's left alone during the day, because she supposedly gets mischievous. Of course, we decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and left her out loose in the house with our dogs when we left. We (wrongly) figured, what kind of damage could she actually do? We don't have any super expensive furniture or really valuable trinkets or anything. So when we got home late in the evening after a wonderful dinner with family, I first notice a book has been snacked on. The dust jacket is in pieces, and the actual book is full of tooth marks. This, I knew, was the work of Boden. He loves chewing paper, and it was my fault I left the book on an end table that he is tall enough to reach. The rest of the house seems intact, but I decide to run and check the upstairs just to be safe. There I see our poor sturdy old laptop, which has weathered six or seven years of rough use, has been torn into. The entire upstairs is littered in toys and bones, yet Lea (we can't completely prove it was her, but Thatch and Boden have never touched the electronics we have all over the house) decided it would be the most fun to chew the keys off of the laptop. Makes sense, no?

Boden - Thanksgiving Day 2012

Thatcher - Thanksgiving Day 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012


I forget how much puppies love toys. Thatcher has always had plenty, and many of them have been around since he was a puppy. Worn out and missing limbs, but still alive. When we got Boden, we didn't really prepare like we did for Thatcher. We already had toys, food dishes, leashes, etc. So, in typical second-child fashion, he received Thatcher's hand-me-downs. Lately we've been trying to make up for this by buying a new toy every week or so. It's hit or miss, finding out which dog will take the new toy as "his". The first, a blue fuzzy dog whose four legs squeak, Thatcher claimed. He carried it around constantly for the first couple of days, even bringing it along when he went outside to use the bathroom. Well this weekend, we picked up another new toy - a furry yellow gator who is made of squeaky compartments. Boden and the gator have been inseparable ever since.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Common Newfie questions

I often "window-shop" online for Newfie-related products. I came across coffee mug with this design the other day and loved it. It made me smile, because since Thatcher joined our family, we have responded to repeated "clever" questions and comments about the Newfie breed countless times. "You should get a saddle for him!", "I bet he eats a ton!", "Is that a black Saint Bernard?". We've heard things like this probably hundreds of times. I think I must buy this. 

Take a peek at this design and more like it! Click here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Winter appears

We woke up this morning to the first real snowfall of the year. Hardly any, but a light dusting is covering the ground. Saturday was nearly 70 degrees and Sunday, yet today is cold enough for that little bit of snow to remain. Being born in July, this was Boden's first time experiencing snow. When I let the dogs out earlier this morning, Boden tiptoed down the back steps, confused as to why they were covered in all that cold white stuff. But he quickly discovered the joy of eating it. On our walk, every few steps he would scoop up a mouthful of snow and happily chomp away. He hasn't mastered ice yet though. At one point, he slipped and belly flopped onto the sidewalk. He flailed around like a seal for a few seconds, unable to get his footing, then found his balance and continued on his merry way. Meanwhile, Thatcher, the snow veteran, stood there waiting with an exasperated look on his face. This will be his third winter, so he's already spent many a day tromping through knee-high snow and climbing up snow mountains created by the plows. I just let them out a minute ago to use the bathroom, and Thatcher was already rolling around in the snow.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

There goes the puppy fuzz

Boden is starting to lose all his soft puppy fuzz. The last week I've been noticing the dog hair all over the carpet has been really bad. I've been vacuuming literally every day, and I still can't keep up. It took me a while to realize it's coming from Boden. You can pet him, and large tufts of his fuzz float off into the air. So this morning I thought I should brush his fur out to try and minimize the number of times I have to vacuum. With how much fur came off him, you would think he'd be bald. But alas, plenty of fuzz still left for the carpets.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Not the most pleasant morning. I woke up to the dogs jumping onto the bed and smothering me. We went downstairs, and while they usually sprint down the stairs ahead of me, they trailed behind this time. I knew something was up. I entered into a living room full of potty accidents. Five, to be exact. I kept myself calm and continued to the back door to let the dogs out. We then made it to the entry way, which was covered with shredded garbage - coffee grounds, paper towels, banana peels, etc. The entire garbage can had been completely torn apart. I know who the guilty party is. Thatcher hasn't done anything like this in at least a solid year. But of course, when I scolded them, he acted just as distraught as Boden. So I spent the next 20 minutes cleaning up garbage, opening windows to air out the smells and scrubbing the carpet. Fun way to kick off the day. But on another note, we're very excited it's election day! I'm getting ready to head to the polls and am interested to see how close this race turns out to be.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Allergic reaction

For the first time in my life, I called in sick for work. We woke up yesterday to discover that Boden had some sort of allergic reaction overnight. His eyes and jowls were all puffy and swollen. He seemed pretty lively overall, and wasn't having any difficulty breathing. But I immediately called the vet to see when I could bring him in. Of course, come to find out the vet doesn't get in until 9am. This was at 6:30am. So for more than two hours, I sat and monitored him. We gave him a little dose of Benadryl, which didn't seem to help. He was walking around, drinking water, playing a little bit. But whenever he would lie down, he would just paw at his eyes and whine. I don't think he was in pain, just extremely uncomfortable. Even Thatcher knew something was wrong. He stayed right next to Boden keeping him company.

When we finally got to the vet, they agreed that it was an allergic reaction. They recommended hospitalizing him for a few hours, giving him a couple injections of antihistamines and monitoring him to see if the swelling subsided. I went back home and tried to keep myself from constantly worrying about Boden. My mind tends to play out worst-case-scenarios, I can't control it. Finally, around 1pm, I decided to call them and check on Boden's progress. The vet said he was doing great, and most of the swelling had gone down. She explained that we should keep him on Benadryl for a couple of days just to be safe. So Thatch and I scurried out the door to go pick up our puppy. He seemed perfectly back to normal the rest of the day, even slightly more crazy than usual.

Two worst parts about this whole incident though. 1. We have no idea what caused the reaction, which makes it impossible to prevent this from happening again. We couldn't find a single thing in the house that he could have gotten into, so my guess is that he ate something outside. Otherwise, it could have even been some kind of bug bite the vet said. We'll just have to be observant. 2. They used a catheter during his hospitalization. So all afternoon and evening, he just leaked pee everywhere. He wasn't even trying to go potty, he just literally couldn't control it. It was kind of funny, but only until you accidentally stepped in a spot he dribbled in. That was our adventure. I'm very glad that Boden is back to normal, because my emotions could not have handled anything else.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Bath time

On Saturday we brought the Newfies to one of our favorite local parks. It used to have these gigantic mounds of dirt and gravel that we would climb with Thatcher, but all of the mounds have now been leveled into one huge open space. Because of the rain we had a few days ago, it is basically a field of mud and puddles. So naturally, the Newfies were in heaven. They tromped around chasing each other and sticks, then we walked down the the lake shore. Thatcher could hardly contain his excitement as he raced down to the water and waited for us to throw a stick for him. Usually once he's in the water, it's difficult getting him out. And this lake stays shallow for a long ways, so he would wade about 50 yards out and still be able to touch. Thatch probably got double the exercise, because fetching sticks meant hopping across the water instead of swimming. Boden, on the other hand, hasn't gotten the chance to swim very many times, so he's still a little cautious. He wanted to join Thatcher so badly, but wasn't brave enough to go deeper than his knees. So he ended up following Thatcher from the shore. When Thatcher would chase a stick, Boden would run in the same direction as fast as he could. If Thatcher actually brought a stick all the way to the shore, Boden would scoop it up and take off running, trying to get Thatcher to chase him.

Fun at the park means two very dirty, wet dogs. Once Thatcher is dry, you can brush out any sand or dirt pretty easily. Boden is another story. His soft, fine fur is like a cobweb and everything gets stuck in it. At one point, he climbed up to lie on the bed next to me. When he left, there was a pile of sand in his spot. That's when I knew a bath was necessary. I was a little nervous to give him one, but it went pretty smoothly. One of our bathrooms has a shower with a sliding door, so it's easy to keep the dogs contained in the tub. I got the shampoo and apple cider vinegar rinse ready, then called Boden into the bathroom. Instead of Boden, Thatcher came running in and jumped right into the tub, which is ironic because he despises baths. So I finally get Thatcher out and Boden in and started working. Portable shower heads are a must when bathing big dogs; they make the process so much quicker. It only took about 10 minutes to bathe Boden bear. When I finished, I opened the shower door to grab a towel and saw that Thatcher had been lying about an inch from the bathtub the whole time, sympathizing with Boden. I dried Boden off the best I could, carried him over to the couch, and he instantly fell asleep and didn't move for an hour. Baths exhaust him. Thatcher walked over to Boden with a concerned expression, gave him a kiss on the nose, then laid on the floor beneath him. Such a rough life they have.