Monday, June 30, 2008

A Fun Afternoon With Kids and Newfs

Our friend Charlotte came over for lunch on Saturday with three of her children who were all adopted from China: Raeghan, Riley and Rachael. They had been watching videos of the dogs on our blog for months now and they were really wanted to meet Katie and Louis in person. I had a feeling that they would have quite a different reaction to the dogs in real life. Even though neither of the dogs is full grown they do add up to almost 200 pounds of Newfie and that can be overwhelming for a child that has never seen such a big dog. Katie and Louis were barking their heads off from all the excitement when the four of them arrived, so that did not make the situation any easier.

Here the kids are seeking refuge on the kitchen window seat. Louis is very curious. He was especially taken with Rachael the youngest of the three. I don't know what it was about her (maybe because she is the youngest like him :-), but much to her horror he wanted to give her lots of kisses.

Me saving Rachael from Louis' kisses

Rachael trying to communicate something to Gary

Gary snuggling Raeghan

Raeghan gets brave and decides to pet Louis.
I love the expressions on both of their faces.

I walked into the bathroom and found 5 month old Louis in the bathtub. I called the kids in and you can tell from all the jumping up and down that they thought this was just hilarious.

We love you too Katie!

Gary and Rachael in the living room

These dogs are pretty nice after all!

Louis makes the best pillow with his soft puppy fluff.

Now that the visit is almost over everyone is completely comfortable with the dogs.

Getting ready to go.

Riley and Louis

Riley's face says "These dogs are cool!"

Balsamic-Honey Roasted Root Vegetables

This week I had a bunch of stuff in my fridge from the CSA (community supported agriculture) program that I really didn't know what to do with: turnips, beets, radishes, carrots, onions and garlic. I found this recipe on the internet and it turned out great. I didn't follow the recipe exactly...just used what I happened to have. I used fresh rosemary from our herb garden - yum!

Balsamic-Honey Roasted Root Vegetables
by What's Cooking? modified by Charity

* 5 large carrots, unpeeled, in 3/4 inch slices
* 1 large yam, peeled, in 1 x 1 inch cubes
* 1 large rutabaga, peeled, in 1 x 1 inch cubes
* 4 turnips, peeled, in 1 x 1 inch cubes
* 1 large parsnip, in 3/4 inch slices
* 3 yellow beets, peeled, in 1 x 1 inch cubes
* 8 garlic cloves, peeled
* 3 stalks celery, in 3/4 inch slices
* 2-3 small red potatoes, in 1x1 inch cubes (optional)
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
* 1/3 cup honey
* 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* fresh ground black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Toss ingredients in a deep baking dish.
3. Roast, uncovered, for approximately 45 minutes or until all vegetables are soft throughout, browned and caramelized. Toss vegetables occassionally.
4. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Little Louis Wins Again!

Last night, Louis competed in his second AKC fun match. First he won Best of Breed. An easy task since he was the only Newfoundland :-)

Best of Breed Part 1
It takes him a couple of seconds to get in the groove,
but then he rocks it!

Best of Breed Part 2

Next, Louis went on to compete in the working group. There was some tough competition and I really wasn't even thinking of him winning. When they announced that the Newfoundland was the winner I was so surprised...just like I was the first time he won the working group. Gary and I were so excited. Bill and Bonnie, breeders to both of our Newfies, were there too and were thrilled that Louis won.

Some of Louis' Working Group Competitors, beautiful Samoyed Pups

Prepping the Pooches

Louis Smiling Up at Me During the Working Group Judging

Louis Won the Working Group - Hooray!!

Resting Between Rounds
Louis the Frog Dog

Waiting our turn for Best in Show Judging
Beautiful LouisHe didn't win best in show, but he had a fun time. Although by this time it was 9:00 pm and he was quite hungry and getting a little tired. He was a trooper though.

The Proud Papa

Louis' Ribbons and the Toy He Won
Finally, I get to relax and play with my new toy.

Lots of Licks

Katie licks the camera and then her Daddy in this video. Little Louis is playing with a stick in the background.

Louis wants to make sure his sissy has clean ears while he practices his dominating skills. Katie doesn't seem to mind...she is a very patient sissy :-)

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Life and Times of Louis

Little Louis is almost 5 months old. He has been a busy puppy lately. Tonight he is going to be in another AKC fun match. He got a bath last night in preparation for the show, so he looks much cleaner than he does in the below pictures. I hope he can manage to stay fairly clean until the dog show tonight, but that is a big challenge for a playful pup.

Louis at Puppy School with his girl friend Chloe, the tiny Maltese. Of course as the biggest puppy in the class Louis choose the smallest puppy to be his best girl.

Chloe didn't like him much at first and growled when he got near her, but Louis won her over with his charm and persistence. Below he is laying down so that she won't be as intimidated by his size.

A couple of nights ago I heard a commotion in the bathroom. When I walked in the room this is what I saw. Louis loves to drink out of the bathtub faucet just like Katie. I think he was trying to figure out how to turn the water on.

Louis says "Let me under there with you Sissy"
Katie says "You knucklehead...don't you know you are just too big for us both to fit in the desk nook now."

Louis and CowBo Toy

Louis with His Stick

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Newfie Playday

Yesterday we had our first Newfie playdate as a family of four. We drove to Lake Dardanelle to meet Ellen & Chuck along with their two Newfies, Bucca & Corena (who are three year old litter mates). We introduced the four Newfs in the backyard with all of them on leashes. I was being cautious and protective over Louis because he is so much smaller than everyone else, but everyone got along perfectly. Bucca and Corena were incredibly sweet and gracious hosts and accepted Katie and Louis immediately.

Soon Louis and Katie were off exploring the big fenced in yard. Louis, our water obsessed boy, quickly found a big tub of water that he stuck his head into followed by his front legs :-). Katie decided to check out Ellen's beautiful flowers.

All eight of us went into the house to cool off. It was fun to see the four Newfs all hanging out inside together. Katie made herself right at home by crawling under a very low coffee table. Ellen and Chuck said their Newfs had never done that and were concerned about how she was going to manage to get out. They didn't know that Katie is famous for squeezing her body into all kinds of tight spaces and gets out the same way she got in. It is amazing how she can crawl so low to the ground. Agility tunnels would be a breeze for her.

Here is what it looks like to have four Newfs in your kitchen :-)
From left to right: Louis, Katie, Bucca and Corena

Corena, was hanging in the background in the above photo, so here is a close up of her. She is a super sweetie which you can easily see in her gentle face.

This is what it looks like to have four HUNGRY Newfs in your kitchen

The humans had a fabulous lunch of gazpacho and salad with smoked salmon. Ellen and Chuck were so kind to make delicious vegetarian food to meet my dietary restrictions. Ellen is going to give me the recipe later and I will post it here because it was divine.

After lunch we went outside to take a few photos of the dogs before their swim.

Bucca and Katie take turns shaking hands. Chuck has trained his Newfs to shake with their right hands like humans do, but Gary trained Katie to shake with her special white foot which happens to be her left one.
Katie waits expectantly to see if anymore treats might be available.
Chuck says "Look my hands are empty". While the boys give him their best pitiful looks. I'm sure Katie, who's face is away from the camera would win the award for looking the most pitiful since she is the most food motivated dog I know.

Time for a little bit of frolicking....right before the camera started rolling Katie was playing with Louis. Our new Newf friends, Bucca and Corena, seemed to think Katie was getting too rough with her little brother and they jumped up simultaneously to his rescue. They had to give him a sniff to make sure he was ok and wagged their tails approvingly.

Most of the time at home Louis is the one to jump on top of Katie. She will just roll on her back and let him chew on her. But yesterday Katie was acting like a teenage sister who wants to pick on baby brother a bit (I think she was trying to show off for her new friends) and Bucca & Corena decided to take on the role of mom and dad. Ellen said they hadn't really been around puppies, but the two them instinctively knew that Louis was a youngster that needed to be watched and protected. It was very sweet to see...Bucca especially would check on Louis every time he barked. Bucca even let Louis play with some of his stuffies.

Katie, by far the most energetic of the four Newfs, gets a sudden burst of the crazies and runs toward the camera...ears and tongue flailing.

After all of the romping in the hot sun we all headed down to the lake to cool off. Louis wore his life jacket so that his waterlogged puppy fur wouldn't pull him under. Contrary to the fact that he is our water obsessed child, he didn't seem to care much for swimming. I think he wasn't fond of the life jacket, but there was no way he could swim without it. Once his adult coat comes in I predict Louis will love swimming.

Corena, Katie and Louis (the pouty one :-)
Katie was the one who really surprised us. She had been swimming a few times but had never ventured into water deeper than her shoulders of her own free will. We were beginning to wonder if she would ever enjoy the water, but she saw Bucca swim out and decided that swimming looked like fun. Once Katie started swimming Gary said she seemed to think she wanted to swim across the lake...thankfully she was on lead. At first she barely used her back legs, but after a few laps she became very relaxed in the water. Having Bucca there was such an inspiration to her. He is a very strong swimmer and obviously enjoys the water.

Here our New(f) friend, Bucca, shows Katie and Louis how to retrieve a bumper.

Our first playdate was so much fun for the Newfies and the humans. Many thanks to our gracious hosts and hostesses :-)

The Newfie Line Up: Louis, Katie, Bucca & Corena

Friday, June 13, 2008

Ouch... Teething Hurts

4 1/2 month old Louis is teething. He is whining a lot because his teeth are driving him crazy. I give him tons of toys and frozen rags to chew on, but he generally shuns them. Here he has found his own teething object. I think he likes the feel of the cool metal on his sore gums...poor baby...he and I both can't wait until this stage is over.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Puppy Training Idea: "Check It"

When I took Katie to puppy school one of the things we learned was a useful command called "check it". This phrase is used to help dogs get over their fears of just about anything. To teach this in class we set the puppies up by using objects we thought they might be afraid of. The first thing we used was an umbrella. The teacher was kneeling on the floor at one end of the room with a closed umbrella. We would each walk our puppies towards her and when we got close she would open the umbrella. Most of the puppies were afraid and would be reluctant to approach the scary umbrella.

Here's how "Check It" works. The owner of the puppy says "check it" and then basically ignores the puppy. Then the owner approaches the umbrella (or other scary object) with great excitement. "What a beautiful umbrella, etc" Then you place extremely tasty treats all around and even on the object and repeat the phrase "check it". Hopefully the dog will venture forward to get the treats. If the dog is still too afraid then make a path of treats leading from the dog to the object. Just be patient. Do not touch the dog or give it any reassurance. If you pet the dog and say "It's ok baby" in a sweet little voice while it is afraid you are just reinforcing the fear state. Essentially, you are praising the dog for being scared and you actually start to encourage it to be a fearful dog. Instead, ignore the dog and just repeat the Check it phrase. Once the dog begins eating the treats and exploring around the object tell them "Good Check It" with great enthusiasm. Our teacher said make it like a party...very exciting and fun. It can also help to have a dog who is not fearful to go first. That can also help the scared dog to relax.

One important point to keep in mind is to start off slow with complex item like vacuum cleaners and dog dryers. Begin to teach Check It with these items turned off and not moving. Once the dog is comfortable gradually introduce noise and movement in future sessions. Katie used to be terrified of the vacuum, but now she doesn't mind it a bit.

Here is an example of how I used this method. Katie used to be so afraid of anything with wheels (except cars...they were fine)...strollers, bicycles, skateboards all freaked her out. I was afraid she was never going to get over these fears, but one day a very friendly Dad was out strolling his baby around. I asked him if he would mind helping me to train my dog for five minutes. I went up to the stroller while it wasn't moving and put treats on the ground near it. Then I gave Katie the "check it" command. She slowly came over to grab the goodies. As she was munching with one eye steadily fixed on the terrifying stroller, she began to realize that it wasn't scary. She relaxed and has never been afraid of one since. Of course we had to go through the same routine with a bicycle, shopping cart and even a person using a cane. Eventually they get so used to the check it command that just hearing the words causes them to relax. They think "If Mama says check it, then it's safe. I don't have to be afraid".

Dog School Becomes a Family Affair

Since Gary will be showing Louis in conformation, he agreed to take Louis to his second session of puppy school. This will give them a chance to get used to working together. So Tuesdays have become family dog school night. Katie and I got to watch as Louis and Gary were in puppy class for the first time last week. Louis is the biggest puppy in his class even though he is not the oldest. They really didn't do much the first night, but their second class is tonight and I predict that they will have a lot more fun.
Below is a picture of Katie and I in our novice class which immediately followed the puppy class. We are taking it mainly for the healing practice. In the below picture Katie is practicing her sit stay. She did great sit and down stays even when the teacher got right in her face and put a treat 1" from her mouth. She did not break and she did not take the treat...for Katie (my little piglet) to ignore food is huge...I was so proud. Next we practiced the recall. I took Katie to one end of the room, told her to sit and stay and then walked about 30-40 feet away and gave her the come command. She came to me as fast as she could (which wasn't very fast given the unpleasant temperature of the room) and did a perfectly straight "front" sit. I told her "around" and she walked behind me to sit beside me in heel position. I know for many advanced people this is no big deal, but I am quite pleased with the progress we are making. She also did some pretty decent off lead healing. I am so proud of my sweet Katie and glad we both are having so much fun working together.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Lazy Days of Summer

A Newfie Tribute to the B52's song "Dry County"

It's one of those lazy days
I've got nothing to do

Let the wind blow round my head
Let a cloud be my bed

When the blues whomp you up on the side of the head
Throw 'em to the floor and kick 'em out the door
When the blues kick you in the head
And you roll out of bed in the morning

Just sit on the porch and swing
Sit on the porch and swing

The heat of the day's got me in a haze
Those lazy days of summer are here