Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Crazy cousin Blaise

Since moving to AZ, the Newfies have gotten to spend a ton of time with Blaise, my sister's Rottweiler. Although they get along pretty well, she is definitely a different breed from Thatcher and Boden. Where they are mellow and slow-moving, she is spunky and tightly-wound. We always joke that she is Tigger and they are Eeyores. Blaise has endless energy, so as hard as they try, my boys can't keep up with her for too long. One area she really shows them up in is the pool. Thatcher and Boden prefer to glide into the water and swim gracefully so they don't get splashed. Blaise is a jumper and will fly half-way across the pool to get at whatever toy is thrown. We have to make all the dogs take turn when playing fetch in the pool, otherwise the Newifes don't stand a chance. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Water woes

Monsoon season plus a pool in our backyard equals a house that cannot stay clean. We've been getting rainstorms every few days, so with the combination of the Newfies swimming and playing in the wet yard, they track water and mud in every time they step back inside. One of their favorite activities seems to be hopping in the pool then rolling around in the dirt. And since they get wet so often, they shed even more than usual, which leads to giant tufts of fur all over the tile floors in the house. Not to mention the wet imprints they leave on the couch or bed after napping.

Having a pool is awesome, but also problematic. Since Thatcher and Boden are in and out of the water every day, the mats are building up in their fur. I've been grooming them every night before bed, and I still can't keep them free of mats. Boden especially. His fur is so thick, particularly around his neck, that it tangles into dreadlocks constantly. Keeping their collars off them helps a little bit, but it's still quite a battle. It takes me at least half an hour per dog just to do a quick wipe down with grooming wipes and a comb through of their whole bodies. I think I'm going to have to start incorporating professional grooming into our routine at least once a month.

And then there's another issue: ear infections. Last weekend, I noticed Thatcher was not eating much and acting a little lethargic. The next day while grooming him, I realized there was an odd odor coming from his ears. I researched a little online and found that those were telltale signs of ear infections in dogs. I called the vet the next day and took him in to get checked after work. Sure enough, he had yeast and bacteria infections in both ears. Apparently, this is fairly common for dogs who swim a lot. I've been giving him medicated ear drops twice a day, and he's back to his normal self. But now I'm trying to be extra careful to dry off and clean their ears after swimming. The vet recommended an ear powder that we should use once a week or so to clear up their ear canals and hopefully prevent any more infections. Lately, I keep thinking to myself how busy people with actual children must be. How do they have enough time in their day to work full-time and raise kids? I can't even keep my dogs clean!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Sun up

Thatcher and Boden are adjusting well to the desert climate and have settled back into some semblance of a routine. To my dismay, this routine seems to now permanently include waking up at 5am. The downside of this is, well, the fact that it's 5am. Instead of my body getting used to it, every morning is equally as difficult. Peeling myself out of bed while it's still dark out is just not fun. The one redeeming factor is the sunrise. We always head out to walk between 5am and 5:30am, so we literally see the sun float up alongside the mountains and the palm trees every morning. While most of the neighborhood is still asleep, we get to witness the entire sky light up into bright pink, orange and purple hues. Without trying to sound like a complete cliche, it really is breathtaking.

Another perk is how quiet the neighborhood is at this time. Aside from the occasional dog barking, it's utterly silent. We've been starting to encounter the same few people every day, like this older gentleman who always rides his bicycle past us, or this elderly couple who stroll slowly with matching coffee cups. But overall, it's peaceful and still, and the perfect "zen" way to begin a day. Since the Newfies are getting more accustomed to the constant hot temperatures, our walks are getting longer and we've been able to explore more of the neighborhood. Mountains surround us in pretty much every direction, so I'm looking forward to winter, when we'll be able to walk up into the mountains without the dogs passing out from the heat. In the meantime, we'll take our sunrises.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Early risers

We ventured out for our first trip to the local dog park this morning. Since the Newfies are still on Minnesota time, I get up with them around 5am each day. Unfortunately, this rule still applies on Saturdays, but the benefit is that the temperature doesn't climb to unbearable levels until a little later in the morning. So as the sun started rising, I gathered some water and loaded up the dogs into the car. As we arrived, I was surprised by the number of people already there. Apparently we're not the only ones with the brilliant idea to exercise the dogs while it's still semi-cool out. We walked through the gates and I let Thatcher and Boden loose.

Most of the people in the park immediately stared, fascinated by our boys. I've never had so many people come up to me and ask me what breed they are or how much they weigh. If I didn't know it then, I definitely know now - extra-large, long-haired breeds aren't very common here. I heard the comment, "That's a lot of dog!" about 40 times. Of course, Thatcher and Boden soaked in their 15 minutes of fame. They happily pranced around side-by-side, looking like a pair of horses and making everyone chuckle. It took less than a half hour to tire them out, and by the time we left they had slobber on every inch of their heads. We got home and jumped into the pool to cool them off. After a few rounds of water-fetch, and they were utterly exhausted. They're now passed out next to me, sleeping soundly. Did I mention it's only 9:30am?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

One year later

Yesterday was Boden's first birthday. He might have grown a little bigger in the course of a year, but his personality is the exact same as the day we met him. We couldn't have asked for a more cheerful, loving and sensitive pup. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Pool play

Turns out that Boden is a little more enthusiastic about our pool than Thatcher is. Whereas Thatcher has always enjoyed splashing around in water, he prefers it to be shallow enough to walk around in. He glides into the water to chase down a ball, but doesn't stay in to actually swim around for too long. We weren't sure how Boden would react to a pool, being as he was born in late summer, and the cooler temperatures set in before we had a chance to introduce him to water. So this weekend has been his first experience actually swimming. Without hesitation, he hopped right in. He isn't the greatest swimmer yet - we've had to keep a close eye on him because he sometimes forgets to paddle his legs and would start sinking. But he is in love with the pool. His favorite activity is to swim over to a human, put his front paws around your neck in a bear hug, and just float with you holding him. One thing we need to teach Boden is that you don't need to jump into the pool every single time you go outside. Last night, right before bed, I let them out to go potty for the last time. Before I had a chance to stop him, Boden climbed into the pool, not a care in the world. I learned my lesson too - remember to close the gates to the pool.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

1700 miles down

Twenty-six hours and 1700 miles later, we successfully made it to Arizona. The trip was almost too easy and breezed by with zero car mishaps. Just to be cautious, we stopped every two hours so the Newfies could drink some water and stretch their legs. We chalk it up entirely to luck, but both Thatcher and Boden are ideal passengers in the car. They braved the miles cheerfully, running their energy out at rest stops and napping soundly during the drive. The car we rented for the journey was spacious, but still a small backseat for two Newfies. Surprisingly, they didn't get mad at each other once. Instead, they snuggled for much of the time, one lying with his head on the other's back. Good brothers. I did regret not bringing my camera with me, but managed to snap a few photos with my phone.

The only tiny problem we encountered was not on the road, but when we stopped at a motel to sleep on the Fourth of July. We arrived right at dusk, checked into our room and took the dogs out for a brief walk before bed. As we were meandering back towards the motel parking lot, we heard fireworks going off. Thatcher immediately became tense and grabbed the leash in his mouth to pull us back to our room. As we got closer, we saw that the noise was coming from our motel parking lot. A group of people had clustered around to light some noisy, sparkling fireworks right in front of the walkway to our room. Thatcher beelined for our door as fast as he could, J struggling to manage him. We got back into the room and immediately closed the blinds and turned the TV on to drown out the commotion. Despite our attempts to comfort Thatcher, he hid in the bathtub most of the night, barking loudly any time he heard a boom. 

Otherwise, we couldn't have asked for a smoother roadtrip. Now comes the hardest part - adjusting the boys to these extreme temperatures. Walking them is only possibly in the early morning or late evening. During the day the sidewalks are burning hot and will hurt their paws. Usually they jump at any chance to go outside, but have learned really quickly here that it's not very fun. Boden will go out to go potty when called, but Thatcher usually chooses to stay inside and lie on the cool tile. The pool has eased the discomfort a little bit, and I think swimming is going to turn into one of their main forms of exercise for the summer. So the transition is in the works as we learn the tricks of living in a hot climate with big, shaggy dogs. I'm sad I have to leave them to go to back to work tomorrow, but I tend to be overly anxious. Let's face it, they usually sleep all day regardless of whether I'm there or not. 
Rest stop break, only 20 more hours to go!

Ready to get back in the car after a short

Monday, July 1, 2013

End of the hiatus

73 excruciating days. That's how long it's been since I left my boys in MN (and even longer since I last blogged about them!)

Let me rewind a little. This past winter, J and I debated the idea of moving out of the Midwest and trying somewhere else for a change. Free from too many major obligations, like kids or a mortgage, we figured this is the year to do something different before we settle down further. We agonized for months, going back and forth, tossing ideas around. Change is scary, and neither of us was sure if we wanted to commit to such a dramatic change as moving across the country. We researched many locations, but ultimately decided that we wanted to live near some sort of family. And it just so happens that my sister lives in the Southwest. 

Fast forward a couple months, and I find myself in the hot, sunny desert - Arizona to be more precise. Due to a whirlwind interview process and job offer with a great company, I made the road trip down here in April, pulled into town on a Sunday, and started work the next day. Unfortunately, the quick transition did not give us enough time to arrange for the dogs to come with. J is staying behind to work through the end of their peak season, so he's been a single papa to the dogs since I left. It's been hard on all three of them. J works such long hours during the summer, so the dogs have been on their own a little more than usual.

I did get to see them over Memorial Day weekend, but it was such a short trip it hardly counts. And I literally can't even describe how melancholy life has been without my Newfies, so instead I will share the news: they're joining me this week. I'm flying into Minneapolis on Wednesday, then J and I are driving the pups down. Needless to say, we're in for an adventure. Aside from the 26 hour drive down here, we're going to have to learn to adjust them to these extreme temperatures. We've got a few months left of scorching heat, so we'll have to get creative with finding ways to keep the Newfies healthy, cool and happy. The huge pool in our backyard should help a little, but I know that we're going to have to be extremely cautious when it comes to outdoor activities. 

J is staying in Minnesota through November for work, so Thatcher and Boden are going to have a ton of quality mommy time for the next several months. I think we'll take care of each other just fine. Time to see what this desert adventure has in store for me and my drooly giants. 

Memorial Day 2013