Spring has sprung… in my basement

Dear friends,

I’ve been neglecting my writing this past week! My apologies.

We’ve had a rough month to say the least – maybe 2013 isn’t my year?

So mother nature has commanded Spring to open the floodgates of thawing Canadian ground, heavy rains and general muddiness.

It has caused THIS to happen in my basement….

Image
Yep – that’s an additional 2 inches of water in my basement folks!

Oh did I mention my fiance is gone for the next two weeks?

I’m an “independent woman” and can handle this… right? Right!

Needless to say, after making sure the water had been drained, I escaped for some much needed cuddle time with the puppies!

Image
puppy cuteness overload!
How can you stay stressed when you go to visit THIS?
How can you stay stressed when you go to visit THIS?

So, my basement floor is being ripped out, the drywall is going to be replaced and a NEW floor is going in! WAHOO – retail therapy 🙂

Maybe this :

Image

Could turn into this?

Image
1

Ohhhh, or this?

Image
2

Or this?

Image
3

Or my personal fave, this:

Image
4

As long as we’re having a bit of fun and wishful thinking – which do you prefer?

Newton would have loved the last choice – he LOOOOOVED being groomed. It’s been 3 months today that we’ve lost him, and I still miss him every single day. Today, thoughts will be had, words will be spoken, and he will be wonderfully and still tearfully remembered.

Even though this is a difficult day, I’m choosing not to write about how sad this is. As sad as I am, it helps to concentrate at our task at hand. We’ve decided to look at the positive in this disaster clean up. Starting fresh is my motto for this year, so I suppose it’s fitting that this decided to “spring” up on us now (haha – pardon the pun).

Some other great news. I have a new boarder with me for two weeks. His name is Kobe, he’s a Golden Retriever/Lab mix. He’s still being socialized to the cats, he finds them a bit terrifying. So they are kept separate except for the few instances I’m around for corrections. Stay tuned for a post all about Kobe!

Image
Frankie running the show yet again…

I personally think he has Rottie in him as well, but his mom refuses to believe it…. So sad when I see such a wonderful and powerful breed have such a bad rap with people.

Nonetheless, he’s a great snuggle buddy. I can’t wait to try out training techniques to see what he responds to!

Image
Snuggle buddy for nap time

I know I’ve been a bit all over the place with this post, I promise to put a bit more effort into the next one! Anyway, stay tuned for the next post – which I promise will not be weeks away!

Thanks for reading,

Dailyspro

Advertisements

Paperwork and Personalities

Hello friends,

My fiance and I took another visit to the now two week old Bernese Mountain dog puppies. It was his first time returning since we went to meet and discuss a home for our Newton, 3 years prior. We once again were received with face licks, body wiggles and Berner smiles (From the dogs, not the breeder – haha). After an little while chatting with one of the breeders and snuggling with the 2 week old puppies, we went to a friends’ surprise birthday party.

puppy snuggles are the best kind
puppy snuggles are the best kind!
Week 2 - eyes are open!
Week 2 – eyes are open!

My mind however lingered on the Berners. I know there’s a long wait list for puppies, so when we arrived home we talked. We talked about our readiness, our commitment, our finances, our time, and of course Newton. As you can imagine, I talked the most. What came out of our chat was that we believe we’ll be ready to welcome our arms up after our big three week trip to Europe in July.

While Newton still has my heart, I think I’m able to share what bits are left. Waiting for a bit longer will also give me more time to work on what I need to.

I need some more time just to honor and remember Newton. It may sound strange, but I feel as if I’m giving him a disservice if I stop what I’m doing now. Also, let’s be serious I could not have a new puppy or dog and leave for 3 weeks. Thank you to my Mr. for making me realize this. There is just NO WAY. Even though we’d have fantastic support, I’d constantly be thinking of everything I was missing out on! If it turns out to be a rescue or a puppy, we need to reintroduce consistency. Leaving for 3 – 4 weeks is exactly the opposite!

I also took my Mr. to the SPCA with me yesterday. He met my new buddy Rusty. Rusty is super sweet, but very timid to strangers and anything new. He’s like the 80 year old woman next door that peeks out from behind her curtains, curious about what’s going on but wants his door closed for protection against life. We’ve developed a special relationship – in the dog runs, he runs into my arms full speed and turns last minute and collapses in them. Always giving me face licks in the process.  I really need to work with him on the full speed ahead tactic 🙂 We worked with him meeting my Mr. (new people!), going past with his tail high and wagging, and ears up, rewarding him the entire time. He also went to meet my Mr. once free in the training room all by himself, sniffing his leg and hand, allowing my Mr. to even reward a head pat or two. What a good boy!

"listening"
“listening”
good boy
Being a good boy, greeting new people with tail wags!

Then there’s Des. You’ve met Des before, she puts me through my paces every single freaking time. Walking her is a workout. I can’t even try and manage her until she has run out her energy. We take her to a dog run, play “catch the snowball” and run the excitement out of her. Then we get to work on her resource guarding. Des is like the grouchy old man of my little pack that likes HER things. “Silly youngsters”, I can imagine her saying, “Keep your paws off my stuff!”. She has been letting me slowing get closer to her as she holds her tennis ball. Today she looked at me while holding her tennis ball with her tail wagging, I rewarded her with a butt scratch. She dropped the tennis ball at my feet. PROGRESS!!

old man
This photo does not do Des justice, she’s actually a beautiful dog. I had to spend all my attention on her, rather then taking pics.

So we came home and took one more step forward – We filled out the applications for both the SPCA and the breeder. We want to be ready in case we find the right rescue or the right puppy or dog for our family after our trip. We wanted to get started early as I know some people who have been waiting a year or two for one of their Berner puppies. There are a few reasons for this, first of all, they do not churn out puppies like a puppy mill. Secondly, they only breed dogs that pass their pen/hip score clearances and eye exams. This helps weed out early hip/elbow displaysia and the eye/health issues that Berners are prone to. We’re going to fill out another form for the Bernese Rescue Society of Canada after our trip.

I’ve discovered three things throughout this process so far.

1. I never want to be just a single dog family again. Ideally I’d like to welcome our arms in July/August to a new furry friend, then keep our eyes and ears open shortly after for another.

2. Filling out both forms was both exciting and gut wrenching *sigh*.

3. Our retirement plan will be to Foster dogs 🙂 Long term planning at it’s finest, we’ll see – maybe we’ll be ready before!

There was a guilt that I felt about moving on to another dog that I knew would be there, but still did not feel comfortable. Newton will forever be a part of me, this I know. I’ve said this once, but I believed he was the daily food for my soul. Sounds dramatic, but true nonetheless. I am trying to consider this next step a tribute to him. A testament to him, making us better owners and dog lovers. Newt would want us to be happy, living life to it’s fullest as he did.  Our lives are the happiest and richest when we have a furry friend by our side. Until July, we’ll keep taking it day by day, week by week, month by month.

Aww Newton, the best teacher in the world. Photo cred: Norma Jean Worden Rogers
Aww Newton, the best teacher in the world. 

Thanks for reading,

Dailyspro

One month has passed….

Dear friends,

It’s been a month without Newton. I had a difficult time this weekend focusing the good times we had- and there were many. As time grew closer and closer to the one month mark, I found myself retreating into sadness. This was not an anniversary to celebrate.

I miss him.

I find myself opening up in baby steps, but unable to make the leap. Maybe I’m rushing this. He’s left such big shoes to fill that I’m not ready to put another dog up the challenge – yet. I’ve discovered that as far as I’ve come, I am still not ready to bring another life into ours. I know I will someday. For now, it’s not fair.

When we are ready, I know I’ll be open to the right rescue or another Bernese from the same reputable breeder that we got Newton from. The reason, friends, that I would go this route again is when Newton fell ill, I relied on my support system. This system housed close friends, family and also Newtons’ breeder.

She’s been there for every single step in his life. In fact, the night before we said goodbye to him, we went to visit her, along with Newton’s brother and sister. It was one of the best decisions we made. Almost like he was waiting to say goodbye to his Berner family, a family he had spent so much time with.

Newton's Berner family
Some of Newton’s Berner family
Newton's brother and sister
Newton’s brother and sister

We cried together as Newton greeted all with happiness upon his arrival, knowing it was going to be his last visit. He didn’t let on how bad he most likely felt, until he was home. We’ve been lucky in the fact that when we went away, and were unable to Newton with us, he went and stayed at his original Grandma’s house with his furry brothers and sisters. We were also lucky that our support system included my sister, her fiance and their two dogs, whom I know he also shared a very special bond with.

Newton with my sister's dogs
Newton with his other sisters

Since we said goodbye, the breeder(s) have taken it on to find out more about the disease, sending his slides to the leading Pathologist in North America to find how more about his particular form of disease: If early detection is possible, how to save Kidney function earlier, any preventative measures, and scientific trials that may be available should it happen ever again. All of Newton’s littermates are having ultrasounds and urine tests as preventative measures. In conclusion, even after going though everything, I still believe in their breeding program. They will only breed dogs with good hip and elbow scores (reducing chances of early hip/elbow dysplasia), eye and blood work clearances. They are trying to better the breed. As I truly love everything about Bernese Mountain dogs, their sweet temperament most of all – If they can be healthier & longer living then all the better. Our Newton was a lemon that slipped through their program, he was our lemon though, and as one of my friends like to say –

“Although Newton was a lemon, he made the sweetest lemonade”.

This is not to say I do not support rescuing a dog from a shelter. If you read my blog, you know these are the only two types of programs I support. The rescue dogs I work with now are helping me heal in little pieces. I definitely do not consider them a “second choice” as they’re truly wonderful in their own right. Further, I feel like I owe it to them to give one (or many more throughout my lifetime) of them a home one day.

It comes down to a connection and I believe – the timing. If and when I’m ready, if the connection is there, they will hopefully become a part of our family. I’m open to either way. Perhaps both, if the time is right.

There is a guilt that sets in when you start to even think about moving forward, I wasn’t quite as prepared as I had hoped. I don’t want to replace Newton, and that’s kind of what opening ourselves up for another dog feels like. My head wants to move forward, never forgetting but continuing forward momentum. My heart is another matter, still deeply entrenched in the grief of losing him. In short friends – I am still not ready as these two pieces do not align.

I will be ready one day, and I can’t wait to experience life with a dog again. Many parts of our life feels empty without one. Newton however, as many of your dogs are, was much more then “a dog”. He was my companion, my confidant and fellow adventurer. There weren’t many places we went, that he did not follow (or lead in some cases). I felt that I understood what he was “saying” or feeling, with just one look at his face. I knew how he would react before it would happen. I trusted him in most any situation and with any person. In short – he was what some people call a heart dog.

“Every now and then, a very special dog comes into your life and changes the way you think about things forever. Sometimes these dogs don’t stay very long. Sometimes they’re not even your dog, but leave footprints on your heart, nevertheless.”

– Unknown

Newton was also our first dog together. Which could be one reason why the bond built so deep. I’m not worried that we won’t love another dog. However, I’m wondering, Is there something different about a first dog that does this to a person? Is this bond possible with every dog you have? Or is it only a small percentage of dogs in a persons’ lifetime that you will have this with?

I like to think, if you’re open to it, the bond will happen building on the first connection. For now, I’m not open – but I’ll get there.

I’ll leave you with something that makes me smile, and think of Newton every time I’ve had many people send me this particular link to this youtube video! I’ll leave you on a happy note. Friends, In case you haven’t seen this one – What’s cuter then this puppy and a lemon ?

Puppy love? Some homework for first time dog owners

Hi friends!

There is something about a puppy. You all know what I mean. Instantaneous and infections smiles erupt and spread like wildfire. You NEEEEED to go over, introduce yourself to a complete stranger, and ask if you can pet their pup (or maybe this is just me?). Puppies can turn civilized individuals into excitable freaks. It’s amazing and irreversible.

It’s going to be a longer post today folks, so get comfy. Let me start by telling you about my day.

I walked my new best bud Des at our local SPCA, then took her off leash to a dog run, where she tired me out by teaching me to fetch. What a smarty-pants!

Des being the great girl she is!
Stop taking the picture already, lets play!!*

I then treated myself to snuggling these little love bugs again… yah, you’ve met them once or twice already from previous posts.

puppiesThe thing is, Zorro* (darker ears) had already been taken out today. Freckles* (lighter of the two) had not! Fantastic for Zorro, but unfair for little Freckles. Let’s face it, I was looking for any excuse to hang out with either of them.

I fully endorse adopting a senior or adult dog. In fact, there are tons of amazing perks! Everyone wants a puppy, but with an adult you’ll be much more likely to have: Less destruction (hopefully), a house trained (or again, hopefully) buddy and you’ll probably get more sleep (especially through the night). Lots of the dogs I work with have basic and some pretty spectacular commands down pat, so their basic training is already there!

As most of you are aware by now, we lost our furry best friend Newton last Dec. I started volunteering to share all the wonderful things he taught me. To be honest, this is my own form of grievance therapy. I’d be lost without them, they are helping me heal. I’m telling you people, if you are having a rough day, find a puppy and snuggle. There is nothing quite like what I call “puppy therapy”. While I love all dogs, for me there’s something about  a young pup that makes me want to squeal like a kid (most likely frightening the little guy) and have strong urges to snuggle.

So I’ll try and capture the 10 reasons why I think puppies are fantastic & further why some people suck need to do some homework first.

Why puppies rock (In case you didn’t know)

1. Puppy smell. Some human friends prefer the “baby smell”. I think there’s nothing better then puppy smell. Freshly baked bread is a close second

2. Puppy fur. Nuf’ said here.

3. The ability in which they always force smiles, even out of the most grumpiest of people. Look around you next time a puppy is present, It’s almost like seeing the “wave” done at a basketball game, except with pure happiness. Try it out Tommy Lee Jones.

tommylee
Maybe Will Ferrel and Kristen Wig should have built a puppy into their routine at the Golden Globes!

4. They love you unconditionally, immediately.

5. They help you to socialize. It’s how I actually met all my neighbors! Also, if your a single guy, there’s no better chick magnet.

6. They greet everything new, head on and with such abundant joy.

7. The loyalty they have, even at such a young age, is amazing.

8. How unbelievably uncoordinated they are.

9. Puppies can actually better your health – Dr. Oz & Oprah said it best here

10. Lastly, I will leave you with this…

Puppy eyes…

puppy cuteness overload...
puppy cuteness overload…

& puppy breath!

I'm not going to fight you on this one Freckles
I’m not going to fight you on this one Freckles*

People, I totally get why you want a puppy. I am one of them. I fall for their little furry faces everytime. The issue I have is I find a lot of people really do NOT do their homework before making the leap between admiring and owning. This is mostly for you first timers out there.

_________________________________________________________________

Homework for first time dog owners

In the last 2 weeks at the SPCA, I’ve seen 5 puppies adopted (yay!), and then 3 returned a week or so later (boo!) due to multiple reasons.

To these people, I want to say many things, many not appropriate for this blog. The PG version is that I think with a little homework first, you really could have gave whichever furry friend you choose, a forever home.

To further assist in my point, peteducation.com suggests that surrendering a dog after a bond is formed can be a cause of separation anxiety,

“Dogs that have undergone a traumatic separation from a previous owner, such as those relinquished to shelters may have an increased risk. Dogs that have missed out on normal social interaction with people or other animals, especially as puppies, may also be at increased risk. A dog that has never had a prior problem may develop separation anxiety when there is a change in the routine such as an owner’s altered work schedule, or after the household has moved to a new home. Some dogs may develop this separation anxiety as they grow older.”

__________________________________________________________________

Answer the big questions first

-Think about what kind of dog you want first: size, age, temperament, breed.

-Think about what you want to do with your dog, will it be a working (therapy, drafting, herding) dog, or will it be a family dog – or both?

-Think about the COSTS associated with a dog, do you have the budget you need?

-Are you willing to make a lifetime commitment, will you want a dog in 10 – 15 or even sometimes 17-18 years?

-Do you have the space for a dog? What kind of space will the dog have? (crate, kennel, dog bed, fenced yard, a safe place for free play)

-Are all members of your family on board?

-Do you have the TIME for a dog? (Another big one to consider – grooming, walks, free play, socialization time, quality time, training time are just a few time commitments to consider). Many people want a socialized, well behaved dog – not many people understand the time it takes to make this happen.

-How are you going to ensure the dog gets the exercise it needs?

-My biggest question for all of you – are you ready to give your pets the good life they deserve?

Once you have most of these questions answered, I still don’t think you’re ready to make the leap to owner. I think you are ready to hang out with an actual dog – dog sit a friends’ dog, visit the SPCA and spend time with the breed/type you think you’re ready for. I’m not talking about an hour, I’m talking a few visits so you can see the responsibility of being a dog owner. Talk with people who have similar types/breeds so you know what to expect.

These visits can also help sort out allergy related issues BEFORE you bring them home.

Choose your adoption preference (a reputable breeder who is trying to better the breed or your local SPCA). Deciding which way to go is your choice. I personally will NEVER purchase from a online breeder (Kijiji) pet sale or a pet store as these are not routes I ever want to support. Sometimes, for a first time dog owner a reputable breeder can help with this “homework” side.

As an SPCA volunteer and former teacher, I strongly urge people to do their homework first! As this..

Bernese

Quickly turns into this….

This is Newton only at 7 months!
This is Newton at only at 7 months!

Who am I to ask this of you? I’m a dog lover, a former dog owner, a dog sitter, a dog walker and a volunteer at our local SPCA. I genuinely like animals more then most people. I abhor animal suffering and disdain the anti-ethical treatment of them. I have a serious respect for all great dog owners. I do not think there’s such a thing as a bad dog, only bad dog owners. I see dogs being returned on a weekly basis due to the fact that their “owners” did not do their homework first.

I have seen first hand what the right home can do for the right dog. My best friend has adopted two adult dogs that their owners were ready to give up, for multiple reasons. With love and patience, she has turned these two pups who had issues into amazing dogs, she and her boyfriend really do give these two the good life. .

The dynamic duo - Allie andJake
The dynamic duo – Allie and Jake

                        -photo credit: J. Russell

If you are ready and go for it, as we will when we are ready – then do it. Make the leap. My end verdict? Puppies are amazingly cute, but too many people lack the education needed to have them. They fall victim to the cuteness epidemic and make spontaneous purchases.

I think going from zero responsibility to a dog, for kids or adults, is a huge step. You may want to consider a goldfish first…

Thanks for reading/listening to my rant,

Dailyspro

*Freckles, Zorro and Des are all available at the monctonspca.ca

Newton kneading his dog bed

So I was going through photos and letters containing thoughts and favorite moments for Newton’s memory book I’m making. I came across this gem and my fiance suggested I share it. It’s a video that makes both of us smile every time we watch it, so we hope you enjoy!

I actually saw a post by The Daily Golden, a blog I read daily, called “Does your Golden Retriever Purr?”. Well between purring Goldens and kneading Berners, we have a few confused pups on our hands 🙂 Amazingly adorable  – make sure to check her site out..

I’ve heard that bottle fed pups do this from time to time. I’ve never seen it before Newton, he also could have been confused as we have two cats in the house that completely ran his show.

Newton only did this with when he laid on his dog bed with his favorite stuffed toy (a porcupine) in his mouth. Whatta man.

Newton – I hope there are lots of dog beds and stuffed toys (especially porcupines) where you are now buddy 🙂

xoxo

The Healing Power of Animals

Hi friends,

I wanted to write today exactly what my title so subtlety suggests – the healing power of animals. As many of you have already read, We lost our very best friend – our 2 year old Bernese Mountain Dog – Newton, to Chronic Kidney Disease on Dec. 19, 2012. It hasn’t yet been a month, and I still am going through the grieving process.

I still cry when I need to, as Newton was the center of my universe, an infectious light in this sometimes very dark world. As my fiance says – Animals keep things simple, in a world where you are measured by status, money and success, Animals are there to remind us to simplify our lives. They love you, just for you. When you lose a love that true, a love that many adult humans are not capable of, it can be hard to go forward.

Please know that I am not suggesting adopting an animal before you are ready.  Some people can get a new furry friend right away as part of their process (which is helpful to them), I am by no means ready to bring another animal into my life as I need the time to grieve Newton. What I’m writing about today is remembering my friend in a positive light, while working through my grief. It’s harder to do this, especially when remembering them at all, brings a sense of loss. It’s all too easy for me to get stuck in this sense of loss, so I needed a way to bring out the light – to remember the super, amazingly marvelous things about him. I do not want to forget, I have this deep longing to remember everything about him. In recognizing this, I needed an outlet – a positive one. Let me explain.

I believe when you love animals, and have the means to be a great animal owner, you should. There are far too many animals out there without proper homes or proper owners. If you are one, treat another animal to the life it deserves. When we are ready to have another dog in our lives, I want to take all the life lessons Newton had taught us, and apply them – Make us even better owners and humans and celebrate a new life and the legacy Newt left. Many people say not to compare dogs, I think it’s crazy hard not to – especially when it was your first animal and all you know. I think it’s ok, as long as it’s not a negative comparison.

I’ve recently decided to start the healing process by volunteering at our local SPCA. I’m not saying this is the way to proceed forward – this is what I found works for me.

There are about 25 dogs, and 8 puppies currently at the SPCA I go to. I’ve been going every day, around the time I would usually walk Newton and choosing to walk or play with a dog, or two, or three. In this way, I know I’m using this process as a positive distraction and a time to remember our Newt. These dogs are temperament tested and are given a color – Green for the easiest dogs to get along with, yellow for a few issues and then the orange – the ones that only experienced handlers should take, the ones that are usually there for months without adoption. These orange dogs have been the best part of my day. I consider them the “misunderstood”. Once you find what makes them special and they develop a sense of trust with you, it’s a magical thing to witness. They come out of their shell, their tail comes up, their ears are alert, they look at you – in the eye. The best part ? They play.

I took out this little guy – Rex. Rex is a Lab/Pit mix who loves the snow. He’s around the age of two, loves people, extremely active – with one fault – he has a high prey drive. Which makes him a high risk for anyone who already has a cat or small dog in the house. Nonetheless nobody is perfect and Rex will make the right owner or family very lucky, as he’s one great dog.

He’s such a goof, loves to head dive into snowbanks chasing flying snowballs. He’s also great at sit, down, paw and stay. We played for 45 mins, and I know I was most likely more tired then he was.

Image

– Look at that face!!

Due to Rex’s high excitability he’s usually not the first pup to be taken out by volunteers. As you can imagine, the orange dogs usually get taken out the least by volunteers, when they usually require the most work (socializing, handling, manners).  Hanging out with Rex and the rest of the oranges over the past few days has allowed me to openly practice what I termed “Newton’s Life Lessons“. I’m far from the only volunteer to do this, I met a lady –
“Saint” Diane, who has been volunteering for 4 years with her husband every day. She just adopted a poodle mix before Christmas and still comes in to walk more dogs. She’s fantastic!

She said one thing to me – When the day comes and you see adoption papers by the animals you love the most it can be sad to say goodbye – Consider it a job well done. The time, effort and kindness you have shown the dog, have probably helped in some small way to allow that dog to become more adoptable. I can’t wait for this to happen and give Newton a “high-5” in my head.

I believe these animals are helping me, more then I am helping them. The trust and affection I get from that helps heal little pieces, bit by bit. The way I see it, I’m using Newton’s legacy for the greater good instead of dwelling on the loss and negative. Bit by bit, I’m moving forward with him, the only way I know how and the only way I can – with other animals. I am still having some very rough days.

It helps me to know Newton would love my way of doing this. He loved all, the sick, the weak, the angry and the misunderstood – without judgement. Isn’t that one of the magical things about animals?

When it’s time to open our arms, we will. To appreciate and love another for themselves and not to replace. Newton has taught us both to be better parents. I will continue to be thankful that he was ever in our lives. I have given more attention to our other two fur-kids as well. Stewart and Frankie are our two cats. They have relished in it, making me aware that they need it in this difficult time, as much as I do.

I’m sure if you stumbled upon my page, you’re going through this or are a pet lover/owner who understands. If something has happened, and you are losing/have lost your furry love, I’m so very sorry. I’m not saying that this is THE way to help with the grief, but it’s my way. It is helping. If you’re not able to volunteer, perhaps, when you’re ready, volunteering to dog sit for a night, a day or a weekend might be the thing that helps you the most. I know doggy hugs have helped me on my darkest days. Humans are great, but there’s something about the hug a dog gives – Maybe it’s a combination of the soft fur, kind eyes, the sincerity behind the motion – It works for me.

I want to thank Newton for everything, as he exceeded our expectations, surpassed our hopes and dreams when we first brought him home.  I most definitely would not be the person I am today, had he not fallen into our lives. Tripping into our hearts as uncoordinated as can be, leaving his legacy to live on.

XOXO

AJS (Newton’s Mom)

Image

R.I.P. dear friend. Newton, a friend to all – August 29, 2010 – Dec. 19, 2012.