Happy Thanksgiving! Thursday, Nov 28 2013 

Another year is rolling over! This Thanksgiving I would do well to remember all the blessings I have.

Thankful for lessons learned in Georgia.

Thankful for lessons learned in Georgia.

I am thankful for my amazing family and friends; my time in Georgia which taught me so many life lessons; all the opportunities that I have been given in life; and, as always, my two, wonderful dogs.

Two years ago.

Two years ago.

Holly’s been my girl for over four years now, seen me through my rocky adolescence and into adulthood, taught me so much about patience, trust and partnership.

Bri joined our crew just over two years ago. She has had so many lessons of her own to teach me, about taking joy in life, about habits, and standing up for others. Devotion and loyalty, and just like her big sister, she’s shown taught me so much about trust.

Now. Bri's grown up so much, and Holly's aged gracefully.

Now. Bri’s grown up so much, and Holly’s aged gracefully.

So today, I’ll walk my beasts, go and enjoy my family, make sure the girls get an extra big hug and treat, and remind myself about just how lucky I am to my two wonderful partners, and that I must continue to strive to worthy of such devotion.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Until Later,

Kat, Holly & Bri

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Shy Dog Wednesday, Nov 27 2013 

I have a shy dog.

Yes folks, Bri is a shy dog. She has been a shy girl since the day I picked her up at the airport.

Surely not a shy baby!

Surely not a shy baby!

From the time I first started socializing her when she was 11 weeks old it was painfully obvious that she was a very shy little girl. New situations made her very nervous, and little people especially made her hide behind my legs.

Since I got her I have learned a lot more about standing up for my dogs and their comforts. Holly is  a very friendly dog when it comes to people, plus she’s not the kind of dog that gets stopped by ogglers on the street on a frequent basis. Bri, on the other hand is stopped on every walk by someone wanting to know what she is, how much she weighs, how much she eats, telling me how pretty she is, and can they pet her.

Holly is about as outgoing as a dog can get around people.

Holly is about as outgoing as a dog can get around people.

Now, to her great credit Bri seems to trust my judgment of situations almost completely. If she gets uncomfortable with people’s proximity she moves away from them. She is unsure, but trusts that I will take care of her. I  have had to take steps to make sure I deserve that trust.

Most people seem to get the idea when she doesn’t come running to them that she does not go ga-ga over strangers and either admire her from afar or are very polite and appropriate when greeting her. I give them cheese treats and they usually put out a hand, kneel down and let her come to visit them. Thanks to wonderful people like this her confidence has risen greatly.

Unfortunately not all people are like this.

There are those idiots who come charging full force at her squealing about “the bear dog” that is “SOOOOOOOOO CUUUUUUUTE!!!!” Bri simply does not know what to do with these people and honestly until recently, I haven’t been great at handling them either. A simple statement of “She’s pretty shy.” Never does the trick. They inevitably follow trying to get at her.

In the past I have handled these situations pretty poorly. I haven’t done much and Bri has dealt with it in her usual way of tolerating and moving on. However, with my newly heightened sense of personal space and responsibility that I picked up during my sojourn in the South I find myself taking a much harder line with the idiotic petters than ever before.

Mellowed with time and practice, Holly, Bri and myself.

Mellowed with time and practice, Holly, Bri and myself.

The first time it happened was a few days ago, Bri and I were out on a little training jaunt by ourselves and someone comes charging up to pet her. My initial “Shy dog!” Warning didn’t have any effect so I proceeded to firmly tell them to stop and leave her alone, she’s shy. They kept reaching and trying to go around me so doing something I have never done before, I pushed their hand away and told them to leave my dog alone, she’s uncomfortable and doesn’t like to be molested by morons who don’t understand the first thing about canine body language.

This nasty outburst was followed by a brief stunned pause and then a huffy retreat by the would-be petter. Bri seems to be just a little more comfortable as I continue to keep her from being overwhelmed and I am quite proud of myself for having progressed to the point where I can do this without the kind of terrible anxiety this would have triggered in the past. The pups and I have come a long way together and I look forward to continuing onward!

We've all come a long way!

We’ve all come a long way!

Until Later,

Kat, Holly & Bri

The Things I Learn Friday, Nov 22 2013 

I’ll be honest here; I. Love. Drafting. It is just outright fun!

Squirrel?!

My introduction to it started with Holly. I found a relatively cheap cart and harness (custom made for a female Newfie actually) several years ago. Once Holly got the idea she took to it like a fish to water. She absolutely LOVED being allowed to pull something down the street, plus the wonderful benefit of lots of praise and cookies. With a little work she easily was hauling about 50lbs of groceries, or dog food, or firewood home.

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Newfies are drafting dogs. That’s part of their job. So I have been happily anticipating the day when I could really start working with Bri on her draft training in earnest. I introduced her to the cart when she was a baby, started harnessing when she was a teenager, and started actually working on the hitching when she was over a year. Now that she is two she is officially good to go! Physically mature enough to start pulling weight and going for distances that will be required for her tests and for our everyday tasks.

However, there was a little hitch in our draft training.

I noticed, starting when she was about 9 months old, that the harness I had did not seem to be fitting correctly. It was very odd to me, since that harness was originally for a full grown female Newfie about the same size that Bri has matured to be. I fiddled, I twiddled, I tried readjusting, I even thought about ripping out some seams and adding extra length the chest where it appeared to be pinching terribly.

At last, in bafflement, thinking that there would be no other option than to order a new harness, I looked up how to correctly measure for a Siwash harness. There was a tutorial on YouTube. Watching closely I started measuring Bri, then, when the demonstrator was putting her harness on her own dog to demonstrate proper fit the realization hit me between the eyes. Such an epiphany, and far more embarrassing than even my recent grooming realization.

I had been putting on the harness upside down.

Yes folks, somehow, for the past several years, Holly was pulling serious weight with an upside down harness, and Bri, bless her poor soul, was learning in it. My guilt has been overwhelming. Especially since now I realize why Bri didn’t have quite the enthusiasm for it that Holly had. Holly, sweet, determined girl, pushes her head through the loop whenever I pull it out in the hopes that it will be treat/praise/pull time.

Right way up now...

Right way up now…

Putting the harness on the right way has made all the difference. Bri is comfortable and happy with a harness that fits perfectly, Holly is pleased to have the padding, and I… well… I feel terribly guilty for my owner stupidity but incredibly relieved that it was fixed before I ever really got serious with Bri’s draft work, or, gosh forbid, showed up to a test with my equipment on upside-down.

My little draft dog, correctly rigged.

My little draft dog, correctly rigged.

Until Later,

Kat, Holly & Bri

Grooming Epiphany Thursday, Nov 21 2013 

So having been the happy (somewhat beleaguered) owner of a Newfoundland for a little over two years one would think I’d be well versed in things like grooming by now. I actually thought I was doing pretty well controlling the dust bunnies and keeping Bri from becoming a bigger version of a badly done Puli. Well, I thought that until just recently.

It started young...

The fluff just never left…

See, Bri has this fluff… Like any Newfie she has the long feathering, massive, puffy pantaloons that attract dirt, debris, pine needles, old cigarette butts, and other things of that ilk, and the long, flag-type tail. But she also has this head floof. It is insane. It’s so long that when it’s fully grown out it parts in the middle. Her ear floof hangs down several inches past the ends of her ears. She looks like a fluff explosion.

Now, somehow, I have spent the past two years in the belief that all this extra fluff will simply fall away one day and leave behind the (almost) perfectly shaped Newfie trim, no more long ear tassles, or chest poof that is out of control, rounded head where the floof actually stands on it own.

At two years two months, the fluff still hadn't gone!

At two years two months, the fluff still hadn’t gone!

Imagine my embarrassment when, while puttering around a Newf forum I frequent, browsing for information on handling The Undercoat, I found that the perfect Newfie looks is made, not born.

Lightbulb!!

A little more research and off I went to the Groomer’s Mall to get a decent pair of thinning shears.

After a week of anticipating their arrival they finally came, all shiny and oh-so-sharp! Poor Bri had a day full of grooming. Bath, followed by blow-drying, then brushing out, stripping down, and finally trimming. It took me about three hours to work my way through the instructions and shape her up a bit. I have to say, for a first attempt, it really did not turn out too badly.

Less floof!

Less floof!

We got through it with a minimum of bloodshed, I only managed to cut myself open with those uber sharp shears. I’ll gladly take that over nicking Bri any day!

Bri happily avoided any nicks.

Bri happily avoided any nicks.

Holly looked on at the whole scene over her peanut butter Kong with a smug expression on that graying face of hers. I’m getting more and more of the impression that she’s very happy to be the low maintenance hound.

Natural beauties, I just learned how to tame some Bri's lovely locks.

Natural beauties, I just had to learn how to tame some Bri’s lovely locks.

Until Later!

Kat, Holly & Bri

Home Again, Home Again! Wednesday, Nov 20 2013 

So much has happened these last few months it’s very hard to sum it all up and do it adequate justice. I’ll try to the best of my ability to make it brief.
Maya was adopted by a wonderful, loving family in the suburbs with two children (whom she adores), a mom who works from home, and a huge fenced in back yard. To the best of my knowledge they are very happy with her and she with them. A great ending to what started out as a sad story.

After a crash course in life, meeting many wonderful people (and plenty of the not-so-wonderful kind too) I decided that the great American South is not really my thing. From the humidity and heat, to the culture, to… well pretty much everything. Different strokes for different folks, but I’m a Pacific Northwest gal! I belong amid mountains, rain, and bone-chilling temperatures.

It was sad to leave in some ways, my landlady and my boss were some absolutely amazing women and I picked up some wonderful experience from them. But when my plane set down in my hometown I was very glad to be back.

Best of all, I’m back with my dogs! I’ll be starting school in January and until then the pups and I have some time to work on training again! I’ve managed to get big dreams for both of them (again) and we’ll see what comes of that, so long as we’re having fun all is well.

It’s good to be home!
Until Later,
Kat, Holly & Bri