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.