Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Change

Oh Miss Murphy, look how big and beautiful you are! Cow looks a little worse for wear, however.

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Miss Murphy the Newfie Goes to the Dogtor.

We have this little neighbor dog, a pit bull/terrier something or other on whom her owners don’t exactly keep close tab.  In fact, if she is acting up, the boyfriend owner justs kicks her out the door–and invariably, the girlfriend owner wanders the neighborhood looking for her, even though the dog will never come to her when she calls.  Pretty sure that poor dog has been kicked around a bit, simply by the way it shies away from people.  So even though she terrorizes the fenced up dogs in the neighborhood, you can’t help feeling sorry for her.  You can see her good dog potential.  Her name is Karma.  The owners should have been more careful with her name, methinks.

Anyway, she loves to play with Murphy.  My husband sometimes lets her in the backyard with Murphy, and they have a grand time playing. Yesterday was such a day.  He was working on the garage, and heard a yelp.  He goes to investigate, thinking maybe Murphy sat on the little dog or something, but Murphy was the one limping. We have those yucky winter conditions right now:  the snow has melted, been rained on, and refrozen. We think Murph slipped chasing Karma and hurt her paw.  He made an appointment with the vet fot he next day. Murphy was limping significantly, plodding and favoring her left front paw. Newfs walk pretty heavy anyway; this felt like small earthquakes.

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Silly, blurry Murphy (and her dad)

Murphy loves the vet.  She loves Dr. Lawson and Dr. Welle.  We love Dr. Lawson and Dr. Welle.  And they love Murphy.  At 8 months and change, Murphy weighed in at 90.8 pounds.  There were the usual exclamations about her size.  She was very excited–she loves people and that makes her forget her manners.

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Murphy loves Dr. Welle

Today we get Dr. Welle.  She is really amazing.  She felt that Murph’s injury was a soft tissue one, and gave her a few days of Rimadyl.  We didn’t want to take any chances, because big dogs can have so many problems with their legs.  She gave Murphy a lot of love, said she was perfect, and was glad we weren’t trying to make her humungous like some large breed owners do–it is so bad for their joints.

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Getting her paws and legs checked out

We talked to her about what we call Murphy’s “demon eye”–the third eyelid regularly makes an appearance.  We had been assured in the past that it was probably just a minor irritation, but it seems more like a tic, now.  Everything else in her eye is normal–no excessive tearing, no inflammation.  She said Murphy is actually controlling the muscle in her eye that retracts the eyeball, which is why the eyelid pops up.  She agreed that it looked creepy and demonic, but it probably just a “Murphy thing”.  (Love Dr. Welle!)

After shaving the mats behind her ears (Murphy isn’t terribly easy to groom–lots of biting the brush), she told us that while she was a crazy ginormous puppy, we were lucky because Newfies always settle down eventually.  I gave Murphy a drink from the sink in the room (Dr. Welle thought that was a great trick!) and we went home.  She’s a good puppy.

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Such a good puppy!

Our Crazy Newfie

The year we were married, my husband and I started sharing our home with two dogs, Simon and Smudge.  They were brother and sister, but looked nothing alike.  Simon was what we called the “Montana Black Dog”–a black lab mix with a white beard, white tipped tail, and white feet.  Smudge was also part black lab, but looked like her father who was a Catahoula Leopard Dog.  A what?  Exactly.  The state dog of Louisiana, apparently.  Our friend always called her a Saskahootchie Marmot Hound, so we did too.

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Anyway–to get back to the story, Simon and Smudge were generally great dogs, even though after the age of three, Smudge could not tolerate being around any other dogs except Simon and her mother Osa.  They never really had much interest in the boys, though–Smudge always looked confused as to why they were still in her house day after day.  She died a few years ago at the age of 11, suddenly, from a cancerous tumor bursting in her abdomen; it was, of course, very sad.

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RIP Smudgerella

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Her brother Simon received something of a new lease on life, though.

Finally he could go out in public again, to places where we hadn’t been able to take Smudgie.  He hung out with us in the front yard, went on road trips, went to River’s Edge Park–it was great.

Then last year, when it became clear that he was losing weight, Simon was diagnosed with cancer of the liver.  We babied him in his last months, but when it became obvious that he was miserable, we made the decision to release him from his pain.  It wasn’t an easy decision–why should we get to determine his last day alive?  Still–it was the right one.  When he was given his sedative, it was the first time in months that he seemed comfortable.  Still chokes me up to think about it.  I’m sure, selfishly, we kept him around longer than he wanted to be here.

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RIP Old Simon Graybeard

The house was so empty.  And clean.  And empty.  I had long said that our next dog would be medium sized, with a light colored fur.  Our next dog wouldn’t drool or get nose prints all over the picture windows.  We ended up with…a Newfoundland.

555098_10150960599925886_1128409307_nIf you know anything about Newfies, you know they are gigantic, usually dark furred,   slobbery drool-y messes.  When we picked Murphy up, she could rest on one of my fore-arms.  Now, at eight months, she is a full head taller than me when I am sitting on the ground next to her.

Having a Newfoundland is an experience.  She is still a puppy, and acts like it, but she is a nearly 90 pound puppy.  We took her to obedience classes, and she knows her commands, but  looks at us like we are idiots if we expect her to do anything without treats in our hands.  My picture windows look like they have been finger-painted.  She regularly wipes her drool all over everyone’s arms and laps.  She mumbles when she gets in trouble, like a teenager talking under his breath when being sent to his room.  We can (mostly) get her to lie down when we are eating dinner, but she stomps her paw when we haven’t paid enough attention to her.  She walks well, as long as she is wearing her fancy pink Gentle Leader (that little device saved us!) and she knows how to ring a bell to go outside.IMG_0025

We have a few items to work on, though.  She still jumps, is still mouthy, and pounds on our picture windows when she wants to come inside.  And she barks–she takes to the perimeter of our fenced yard and barks at anything and everything.  We don’t keep her outside–that is where she prefers to be.  She will come in for a while to play, but invariably she rings the bell to go outside to hang out on her Coolaroo elevated bed.

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Murphy on her Coolaroo

We adore her.  I’m not convinced that she will become the giant, mellow gentle beast she is purported to be, but I suppose it could happen.  We love her anyway.

Does anyone else have Newfie experience?  Did you have a crazy Newf who eventually settled down?  Any tips from Newfie veterans?

2nd Inaugural Post

Can you really have a 2nd inaugural?  I suppose the President will have a second inauguration, so I can have a 2nd inaugural blog post.

Along with thousands of others, I decided to write a blog.  I was hesitant about the whole blogging thing–is it self-serving? self-aggrandizing?  is it supposed to be?  should I be an expert at something to deserve a blog?

I do love to read others’ blogs, so while the answer may be yes to all of those questions, here I am.

The fact is, I am not an expert at anything, really.  What I wanted was a place to bounce ideas off others, to share things I’m trying, and to opine about things that matter to me, and hopefully to others as well.

I live in Montana.  Never in a thousand years (yes–I do love my hyperbole) did I ever imagine I would live anywhere other than West Michigan.  I wanted to live in West Michigan–I loved it there.  However, true love called and now I am living in a small town with Glacier National Park in my backyard.  I am a cat person, but I now am mother to a gigantic, crazy Newfoundland puppy.  I have two boys who often confound me with their humor and manner of play, as I grew up with all girls.  I have a vegetable garden.  I knit.  I’ve started cooking.  I hike.  I’ve shot a gun.   I am 2000 miles (give or take–not hyperbole) from all of my extended family members.  I attended the University of Michigan and live in an area where my chosen party loses nearly every election in our county.  The only thing that turned out somewhat as I’d planned was my career.  I am a high school social studies teacher (with a bit of English thrown in).  This is all amusing to me, because I am a planner.  I had it all mapped out, but as Burns once wrote “the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley”.

That said, I would change nothing (except maybe to shed these last 10 stubborn pounds).  I would live nowhere else.  Don’t get me wrong–I’d still like to retire someplace warm, like South Carolina, but some how, some way, this short West Michigan girl ended up exactly where she needs to be.

What about you?  Have any of your carefully laid life plans “gang aft agley”?

Columbia Mountain