Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Puppy Fix

Sunday, Gary and I got to visit our breeders' most recent litter of Newf puppies. It is a small litter of 2 adorable 6 week old babies. The girl they call Diva, a very fitting name. Diva is staying with the Bennetts. The boy is nicknamed Grumpy until he goes to his new home in Texas. I really enjoyed getting to see these little bundles of sweetness. There is just nothing like holding a Newf puppy. See...
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These videos are too dark, but you still get an idea of the baby Newfie cuteness.

Shake! These babies love to shake hands.


Crunch and Munch


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Diva, showing off her cute profile
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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Louie Earned His CGC

10 month old Louie took his Canine Good Citizen test today and passed with flying colors. We are so proud of our sweet boy. Here he is pictured with Olivia, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, who was his good friend in obedience class.
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Secret Santa Paws

Abbey and Zeke were our secret Newfie Santas. They are about the same age as us so they knew exactly which presents would drive us wild with delight. We about drove our mama crazy because we got so excited about our new toys that we ran around the house doing our dance of joy at top speed.

Ok Mama...We are READY for some presents!

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Mama says she's sorry for the quality of these videos. They are a little dark, but at least you get to see a glimpse of the fun




Our super cool loot! Abbey, Zeke and Teri rule!
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We hope all of our friends have a very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Katie the Backpacking Queen

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Katie is starting to wear her backpack on walks now. I'm going to gradually add a bit of weight to her pack so she can get conditioned for longer hikes. She really seems to enjoy wearing it; her tail wags the whole time. I think our working dog likes having a job to do.

Temptation

I think Santa should bring me lots of presents because I watched Mama making these cookies for hours and hours and I didn't steal a single one. What do you guys think?
Love and Licks, Louie
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Note from Charity: Below is the recipe for my tempting cookies that I only make once a year because when they are around we humans can't seem to show as much restraint as our Newfies.

Chocolate Chip-Pecan Cookies


2½ cups flour
1 teasp baking soda
¼ teasp salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1½ cups brown sugar
2 teasp vanilla
2 each egg
3 cups chocolate chips (18 oz)
1½ cups pecans chopped

1) Preheat oven to 375°.

2) Sift flour, salt and baking soda together. Set aside.

3) Combine butter, brown sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated. Mix in the chips and pecans on low speed.

4) Spoon the batter by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until just firm to the touch and beginning to brown, about 11 minutes.
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Notes: After baking coat with Caramel Glaze and Chocolate Coating

Makes appx 70 cookies

Caramel Glaze

8 oz caramel candy
¼ cup water

Combine the caramel and water in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until the caramel melts and the mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Use a fork to drizzle the glaze over cookies. Let stand until cool, about 30 minutes.

Notes: Makes about 3/4 cup.

Chocolate Coating

8 oz dark chocolate chips
1 tbsp butter (I also add a little bit of milk to mine - works better in the microwave)

Combine the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Melt until smooth, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Or you can heat in microwave on very low power stirring frequently.

Refrigerate cookies until chocolate and caramel sets.

Notes: Makes about 3/4 cup.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Moo

Louie, Louie, Louie,
Everyday with you brings something new.
One day it was counter climbing
Another day fence jumping
And even though you've never seen or heard a cow
Now you've discovered how to Moo

(poem by Gary)

Yesterday afternoon I was on my computer with Katie curled up under my feet as usual when I suddenly heard a very loud and strange noise come from the kitchen. It was Louie who had been napping in there. He made a noise that sounded like a cow mooing. It was absolutely hilarious...that is after I assured myself that he was ok. I have never heard a sound like that come from a dog. I moo'd back at him trying to get him to do it again. But no, it was a single, solitary moo not to be repeated.

Until... 2:30 a.m.... another BIG moo comes from Louie in his crate at the foot of the bed. Just one nice loud moo and he was right back to sleep. Of course it took Gary and I about an hour to fall back asleep after that extremely loud noise. It was worth losing a bit of sleep though to hear that strange and actually quite cool sound again.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rocky Valley Trail

This Saturday, Gary, Leah, Katie, Louis and I went for a hike at Pinnacle Mountain State Park on the Rocky Valley Trail.
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Pond next to an old rock quarry
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Louis says, "What? You want me to come up there? No way!" Katie says "Out of the way then bucko'; I'll pose with Dad. How come you're afraid to get on a little rock, but don't have a problem with climbing all the way up on the kitchen counters?"
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"See it's not so scary little Bro"
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The top of this little rock with Dad is more Louis' speed
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Leah takes pictures of her feet all over the world. This time she included me and Gary.
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Louis looking a little like a bear cub down by the river
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Pretty Katie
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View of Pinnacle Mountain from the lookout point on our trail
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I'm not sure if this the Maumelle or the Arkansas River
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Gary, Leah, Katie and Louis
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Leah's favorite Lichen
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Over the River and Through the Woods...

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The day after Thanksgiving my sister Leah and I drove 5 hours round trip to visit our Grandmother. The last time I visited her she mentioned that she wished I had brought one of the Newfs along. To fulfill my Grandmother's request we took Katie with us. I thought she would be the best choice of my two since she is a therapy dog, is more mature than Louie and is used to being around elderly people using walkers.

My grandmother is 90 years old and is doing extremely well. She is very independent and still manages to bake cinnamon bread from scratch to give away to people who are in need of a love-filled gift (Leah and I were fortunate recipients). Grandmother is also very active in her community and is always finding a way to help others.

When she met Katie, Grandmother said she had never seen a dog that big in her life. She is not much for indoor dogs, but I think she really enjoyed having Katie around for an afternoon. It was very strange to see Katie in my Grandmother's kitchen, but Katie just acted nonchalant like she had been there many times before.
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We had a lovely visit and enjoyed some of my Grandmother's Southern cooking. She made a special vegan lunch for me, Leah and my Uncle Brian.
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Guess who is Under my Chair?
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"Just Like Home"
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Katie wanted to lie near my feet under the table while we were eating. Later in the day when we took a meditation/nap break she laid on the floor beside the bed just like she does when I meditate at home. She is such a creature of habit even in new places.

Leah commented after we left that she had never met a dog as mellow as Katie. [Bonnie and Bill, if you are reading this, can you believe that??? LOL] Katie didn't start out this way. She used to be quite a wild child, but she is maturing into a lovely Newfie girl. The terrible twos definitely do not apply to Katie.

Thanksgiving at the Happy Haus

We celebrated Thanksgiving at our house this year. My sister Leah flew in from New York, my mom and stepfather drove up from Southern Arkansas and my Cousins Carrie, Jay and Adison (pictured below) drove down from Northern Arkansas. It was wonderful to have our little house filled with people we love and whose company we truly enjoy.
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Leah, Carrie and Adison
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The dogs did very well with Adison. Louis especially adores little girls so he was thrilled to have her around. Adison got very brave around the dogs and decided it would be fun to try and touch Louie's tongue. Louie, who is just about the most laid back dog in the world, was not at all phased by this. I asked her to do it again so I could get it on film. Louie is so black that he doesn't show up well, but my cute cousin does :-)


Next Adison fed Katie and Louie carrots.


Mom and John on their 17th wedding anniversary which sometimes falls on Thanksgiving Day as it did this year.
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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Reading Day is Extra Fun When a Newf Comes to Your Classroom

Today was reading day in our school district. Almost 700 volunteers were asked to read a story to a classroom of elementary school children. The goal was to have every single class visited by a member of the community. Therapy dogs were also encouraged to attend although there were only a few participating. Katie and I visited a class of second graders at a school less than 3 miles from our home. There are actually a couple of schools closer to our house, but we were told that the need was greater at this particular school.

The school was in a beautiful old three story brick school building. It was very charming and its occupants were even more so.

When we first arrived we went to the media room to receive our instructions. There the media specialist introduced me to the most adorable little boy and asked him to lead us to our classroom on the third floor. The little boy was probably about 7 and was so sweet and well behaved. He struck me as being as well mannered as you would hope a 30 year old man would be. I asked him to carry my book so I could focus on Katie. When we reached our classroom I held out my hand to take the book and he extended his own little hand thinking I meant to shake his hand :-) So I shook his hand and then requested my book.

As we entered Ms. B's 2nd grade classroom the children's eyes got big at the sight of Katie. Waves of exclamation filled the room and Katie grew a bit uneasy. She had never seen so many children all at once. She let out a few very loud Newfie barks which seemed to shake the walls. This startled the kids a bit so I decided I must do something quickly to help Katie and the children relax. I asked Katie to do a down, sit and then shake just to get her mind off the situation. Then I put her in a sit stay and asked "Is anyone feeling brave enough to feed this big dog some carrots?" 5 hands immediately shot up. I left Katie sitting at the front of the room as I passed out a few carrot slices to each of the interested children. The teacher commented that her dog would never stay put like that. I went back to the front of the room and asked the children to come up to Katie one at a time. Katie gratefully and gently ate the carrots out of each their little hands. I asked "Does anyone else want to feed her?" Four or five more hands quickly shot up. More carrots were fed to the Newf and then I asked my question again and round three of the carrot feeding commenced. I think maybe only two children out of about 18 didn't want to feed her.

There was a chair for me to sit in to read my book selection, but I wanted to be near Katie, so I put her in a down, sat on floor and started reading with the kids gathered round.

Our book of the day? "Newf" of course :-) by Marie Killilea
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It is a precious book - perfect for their age group. The children tried to listen politely, but their attention was mostly focused on Katie.

After the story was read it was time for questions. One little boy asked the only question about the book. He wanted to know how the kitten had gotten buried in the snow. So, I had to explain blizzards to a group of Southern kids who are lucky to see 1/2 an inch in a year of the white stuff.

Next the kids wanted to tell me about their pets. One little boy said he had a cat like Katie. I jokingly said "that big?" He nodded. I just let that slide. Then I got the usual questions like, how much does she eat, how much does she weigh?

I had been wiping Katie's mouth frequently, but the slime got away from me once near the end of our visit. Katie decided to christen the classroom Newfie style and did a very thorough job of slinging slime in at least a 5' radius away from her head. "Yuck" & "Gross" they exclaimed. The teacher was really cool about it, "Kids it's no big deal". I explained to them that Newfs are water dogs and have flappy loose lips and webbed feet to aid them in swimming.

One little girl asked "Are you visiting the other classes with Katie?" "No," I replied "your class is the only one that got to have a visit from Katie. I have to take her home now and go to work." [Let me preface this next part by saying that I was wearing nice black wool pants with a red sweater.] Another little girl said "Where do you work? Red Lobster?" I chuckled a bit on the outside, inside I was rolling on the floor with laughter and I laughed for the rest of the day every time I thought of this question. I guess she associated my red top with Red Lobster. I told them a tiny bit about where I work and started saying my goodbyes. I really didn't want to leave. I would have happily spent the whole day with that group of extremely sweet and well behaved children.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Autumn Days Are Here Again

I am happy; I swear.
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I'm just really good at giving the Newfie sad face. See?
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A little dino-bo distraction is always good.
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Back to looking pitiful...
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Now that the weather is cooler we are enjoying playing outside. But as much as we love to hang out in the backyard we usually won't go out unless Mama or Daddy comes with us.
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Mama's got 'nummies and we want some.
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Happy Autumn EveryNewfy!
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Sunday, November 16, 2008

What the Kids Do When Mom's Not Home

Gary had Veteran's Day off, but I did not. Here is a glimpse into Gary, Katie and Louis' day. Not too exciting to most perhaps, but I always have fun watching videos of my sweeties.





Making the Most of a Mandatory Memphis Mission

I am just now getting a chance to write about a trip Gary and I had to make to Memphis on October 29th.  Some of our adoption paperwork was about to expire so we were required to drive to Memphis to be re-fingerprinted by the Department of Homeland Security.  I am not going to go into all of the tedious and highly annoying details, but of course since our government is not always known for being efficient, well organized or caring, we ran into some difficulty.  To summarize, they almost forgot to invite us to Memphis in time to get our fingerprints before a very critical document expired.  When prompted by me to send us the invitation they sent me an email saying we would receive an invitation to be fingerprinted on 10/29.  By 10/27 it hadn't arrived and I was beginning to panic.   When I inquired about it I was told by email to just bring the first email as proof.  When we arrived we were chastised by the person in charge, "Why are you here today?  Your appointment is for 11/6."  We show them the email.  They look at it in complete disbelief.  "But your appointment is for 11/6" they repeat.  Arghhhhhh!  Do we have to drive home and come back again and each miss work for another day?????  Thankfully, after much shaking of heads and clucking of tongues in disapproval they decided they would allow us to be fingerprinted on the day when they originally told us to come. But as punishment for our inability to read their minds we had to wait in a 55 degree room for three hours before we could have the honor of having our fingerprints taken to show that we are STILL NOT criminals.  I didn't mean to go into so much detail, but once started it is hard to stop.  I will satisfy myself by not describing how incredibly rudely we and several other U.S. citizens were treated by the person that took our fingerprints.

Now that I got that out of my system :-) let me share the rest of our day which was truly lovely.  On the drive over we got to spend 2 1/2 hours talking and enjoying the scenery.  We stopped at a cool rest stop just inside of Tennessee and took a few pictures.

Mississippi River Bridge
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Welcome to Arkansas
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The King
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B.B. King
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On the way home with just a few hours to go before dark we stopped by Louisiana Purchase State Park which is located in Arkansas and contains a marker for the exact spot where the survey for the Louisiana purchase was started.  That in itself is fascinating, but it is made even more appealing by the fact that the monument is located in the middle of a beautiful swamp.  We were the only people at the park when we visited.  It was so peaceful.
In the short video below I tried to capture some of the lovely sounds in this enchanted place. You will also see the monument I mentioned.  We visited during the dry season; in the springtime this area is completely flooded.


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Turtle Caught in a Illegal Trap - Gary and I saw this guy and felt so badly for him.  We would have tried to let him out, but the trap was too far away from dry land.  Gary suggested we call a wildlife officer, so on the way home that's what I did.  We were so relieved to hear that someone was going to go out right away to save this turtle and get rid of that trap.  They confirmed that it was definitely an illegal one.  It was nice to end our day by having a positive experience with someone who works for the government.
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Below are a few pictures from our first trip to L.P. State Park which were taken over 2 1/2 years ago when we made our first trip to Memphis for our adoption process.

A closeup of the monument
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The Swamp During its Wet Phase
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Gary Strolling Down the Lane
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Interesting Plants
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Entrance to the park
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Beautiful Boardwalk
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Swamp
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Tree Tops
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