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Gone To The Dogs

I spent way too much of the last two days watching the dogs at the Westminster Dog Show.

For any non-dog people reading, the Westminster Dog Show is the most important (and prestigious) dog show in the world.

I was, of course, mainly interested in the Newfoundlands.

I was thrilled that Cody, a Newfie from Bear N Mind Newfoundlands, won as the “best” Newfie.

Fred’s dad/sire, Travis, is a Bear N Mind Newfoundland.

Fred and I were very proud to watch Cody win.

(Yes, Fred and I watched together.  We cheered and hugged each other when Cody won.)

After the show was over, Fred had an encounter with a Great Horned Owl.

And by encounter, I mean a giant owl WHO-WHO’ed at Fred.

Fred cocked his head sideways in an adorable attempt to understand owl-speak.

Then the owl WHO-WHO’ed again.

Fred let loose with a howl and barking I didn’t know he was capable of.

The owl flew away.

Fred won?

My whole life seems to have gone to the dogs lately.

Fred and I are headed to the vet today for his sixteen week check-up.

15 Fred @ 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

I’m always curious to find out how much Fred weighs.

The amount of food he’s fed is based on his weight …

And he’s growing so fast, it’s helpful to weigh him every couple weeks.

Fred should get his last parvo shot today, too.

I’m not sure if there’s a waiting period after the last vaccine ….

But, this last shot is the big milestone we’ve been waiting for.

(My vet will let me know if Fred is now cleared to go out to public places and/or tell me how much longer we need to wait.)

I’m so excited to start showing Fred more of the world.

I’m going to give Fred a bath this afternoon.

He’s due.

Fred likes to get dirty anyway he can.

I’m sure he wants to look his best as he begins exploring the big wide world?

It’s been a very doggy few days.

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Kentucky Derby Hats

I’ve been invited to attend the Kentucky Derby this year.

The Derby is the first weekend in May.

The friends who invited me have planned a “first class all the way” experience.

I think they’re excited to show off their home state, and the Derby itself, in the best possible light.

“You’re coming all the way from California after all!” they say as they update me on the (elaborate!) plans they’ve made.

For me, a bohemian California beach girl, the experience will be very special.

It’s an entirely different world than I’ve ever experienced.

I’ve already learned SO much.

I knew the Derby was all about the women’s hats,

But …?


(Just google or pinterest Kentucky Derby Hats to see what I mean!)

Last weekend, my daughter and I drove down to San Diego County to meet with a “famous” hat designer.

Yes, I know I rarely wear anything but old, beat-up, yoga pants and tank tops.

I’m stepping way out of my comfort zone here.

I’ve never met with an apparel designer of any kind before.

By the end of a long day …

My daughter and I both had selected our Derby hats.

The hats are being made and should be shipped to us in a couple weeks.

They will have to be shipped back to Kentucky prior to the Derby –

And then, shipped back to us in California after the Derby.

(There’s no easy way to travel across the country with giant hat boxes.)

I will not show any photos of my hat until I “reveal” it at the Derby.

But, I will tell you it’s big, and it’s purple … or “orchid” as the designer calls it.

My daughter’s hat (which is her birthday present this year) is a beautiful, classy mix of creams and whites.

Her hat is absolutely gorgeous.

I’m in love with my daughter’s Derby hat.

(Yes, I wanted my daughter’s hat for myself but it looks so much better on her … with her face shape and coloring.)

I’m relieved to have the “huge” decision about a Derby hat behind me.

Now, I need to find a dress/pair of shoes/handbag to go with the hat.

I don’t ever wear dresses so I’m expecting the search to be difficult.

I don’t even know how, or where, to start.

I know “fancy” sundresses … “church” dresses or “Easter” dresses are the norm for the Derby.

(Also very high heels … ouch!)

What colored dress would look good with a purple hat?

And how does a mom-age person pull this all off stylishly?

Most sundresses are designed for twenty year olds.


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Fred Friday

Every day is Fred The Newf day lately!

Have I mentioned (just a few times?) we have one more week until Fred is done with parvo vaccines and we can get a life?

I asked Fred if he’d take a few selfies with me yesterday ….

He wanted to kiss me instead.

He’s grown so much this week.

It’s hard to believe he’s even the same dog he was a week ago.

His head might be bigger than mine now?

Fred is such a love.

He wants to hug, and kiss, and snuggle, most of the time.

Yesterday, he convinced me he had important puppy secrets he needed to share with me.

As you can see in the above photo, puppy secrets are very ticklish.

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Beating The Heat

It is SO hot here.

It was 87F/31C at my house yesterday.

The rest of the week is expected to be hotter.

Fred and I have approximately one more week until his final parvo shot …

And all the newfound (Newfoundland?) freedom we will BOTH have then.

Since I can’t, yet, take Fred to the beach to escape the hot weather,

I’ve had to come up with other ways to keep him cool.

First of all, of course, the a/c is running in the house.

He can get cool anytime he likes by hanging out indoors.

But, Fred loves being outside a lot of the time.

I let him go in our big/real swimming pool once or twice a day when it’s hot like this.

He also has his little wading pool he can traipse in and out of whenever he wants.

I toss his “bumper” in it for him.

He thinks it’s great (cool) fun to retrieve it.

Can  you tell how big he’s getting by the above photo?

He’s growing so fast … it’s astounding to watch.

He’s looking pretty messy too since he’s getting in and out of water so much.

(And then rolling in dirt and leaves!)

Fred will get a, much needed, bath over the weekend.

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February 11, 2015

Yesterday, Fred and I had a busy day.

We needed to stop by Fred’s vet’s office … which is not close by.

(Fred is fine – no worries!)

While we were there I wanted to weigh Fred.

(He’s growing very tall this week.  He’s been looking a little TOO skinny.)

A woman approached us.

She had a gigantic dog … a mix of *something really big*, american bull dog, and pitbull.

The dog had multiple metal spiked collars on in an effort to control/train it.

It was an all muscle, fully grown, very big, very strong, dog.

Fred is probably best described as a full-of-fluff, gentle, very mellow, teddy bear …

I would describe this other dog as a GIANT professional body builder/wrestler.

Its human wanted the dogs to meet.

Standing four feet away from each other was, apparently, not close enough for her.

The owner was very insistent and, repeatedly, told me how friendly her dog is “to every dog he meets.”

Now, I know some very nice pitbulls so I don’t dismiss a dog as being “mean” just because it’s a pitbull mix.

The woman/owner asked me if Fred was friendly.

“He’s a brand new puppy.  He’s very friendly,” I replied.

(People often assume Fred is older than he is because he’s so big.)

She moved Monster Dog a foot closer and Monster Dog growled at Fred.

It was the meanest, most ferocious, growl I’ve ever heard come from any dog.

(Baring all it’s teeth!)

“Was that MY dog?” asked his owner.

And just then, Monster Dog LUNGED at Fred, while repeating the ferocious, teeth-baring, growl.

Monster Dog was clearly planning to rip Fred to shreds and swallow him, fluff and all, right there in the vet’s waiting room.

The woman jerked hard on her dog’s leash, gained control of him, and immediately took him outside.

I guess she was mistaken.

Her dog doesn’t like every dog he meets.

Throughout the encounter, Fred had stood still, at my side, and not made a peep.

A chihuahua was the only other dog in the waiting area.

The chihuahua had not been involved in the encounter, but it stood a few feet away – shaking like a leaf.

I glanced down at, seemingly, calm Fred.

Fred, apparently, had also felt stressed.

Fred had his very first drool.

It was the only sign of stress he showed.

I wiped his hanging drool string with a tissue, gave him a hug, and told him he was a good boy.

Fred wagged his tail at me, nuzzled into me, and I hugged him again.

And now, at fourteen and a half weeks old,

Fred knows not everyone in the world is nice.

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It’s Spring – Summer

Yesterday was a very warm day in Orange County.

I can tell spring is here because my eyes are swollen and itchy …

I’m sneezing and sniffly.

And no, I’m not sick.

I’m just very allergic to STUFF.

It’s supposed to get downright hot for the rest of the week.

I suppose we’re going straight into summer?

I hate having to turn on the air conditioner in February.

Yesterday, I was having flashbacks to walking through a cool forest.

I love being in a forest.

Muir Woods:  Click on photo to purchase, or to view larger, in 24atHeart gallery.

Speaking of forests, and therefore trees, I’m on a mission to protect my citrus trees.

Last year, my lemon tree died when our house was tented for termites.

My lime tree only produced about six limes, and I got ZERO oranges.

I’m fighting zillions of birds.

(I live near a protected audobon area and my backyard is like a bird refuge.)

Birds love to eat the teeny-tiny, just blossoming, fruit.

The oranges and limes never get the opportunity to grow up.

Last weekend I spent a long time putting “bird-scare tape” all over my citrus trees.

Unfortunately, Fred thinks the tape – fluttering in the wind – is for him.

Every chance he gets, he sneaks over to the trees, “captures” a piece of the shiny bird-scare tape, and then brings his prize to share with me.

It’s going to be an ongoing challenge to see if I can get a crop of fruit this year.

I wonder if Fred will try to pick and eat the oranges if I do?

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Fred’s Weekend

My world revolves around Fred for two more weeks.

(That’s when he’ll be done with his parvo vaccines and we will both have much more freedom!)

Fred The Newf (now 14+ weeks old) had a very good weekend.

It’s funny because his looks change daily.

One day he has a long nose, and the next day a wide snout.

One day he’s built like a fireplug and the next he’s long and lanky.

It’s normal puppy growth for a giant breed dog.

It was hot here over the weekend.

Fred was gifted with a small wading pool and it seemed like a good time to try it out.

He was very curious about the hose filling it up.

He loves to play with the hose …

And he was wondering why it was in this plastic bubble thing I call a pool.

And yes, Fred has already been in our real pool also – several times.

This little wading pool will probably pop in a day or two.

It was a nice diversion ….

Something interesting and new to break up the monotony of our parvo, home-bound, waiting period.

(Better known as the longest four weeks of my life??)

Fred’s backpack has also gotten too small for him.

“Really mom?  You expect this little thing to still fit me?”

Fred’s little backpack has always been empty.

It’s purpose has simply been to get him accustom to wearing something on his back.

(Preparing him to be my helper once he grows up.)

My arm has been exceptionally trouble-filled this last week.

Paul Newman had to make several attempts to reattach it to my body last Friday.

I can’t wait for Fred to be big enough to become my helper.

In the meantime, Fred has important things to learn.

Like what is that little creature called an ANT?

There’s just so much to learn when you’re only a fourteen week old puppy!

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My Thoughts on Dog Breeders

When I began looking for a Newfoundland puppy –

With the intent of finding my future pup to become a Service Dog –

I was exposed to the world of Newfoundland dog breeders.

I know some of you feel all dog breeders should become extinct due to the thousands of homeless dogs.

I acknowledge the reasons behind that thought,

But I, personally, believe there are benefits to maintaining some lines of purebred dogs.

I’m selfish and biased because of my need for a big, strong, dog capable of assisting me.

There aren’t many breeds who can help me with my particular physical needs …

And I’m grateful for my purebred Newfoundland who can.

Fred The Newf – Fourteen Weeks Old

My Newfie search began in earnest after I randomly met an extremely nice woman (retired Newfie breeder) last July.

We’re still in contact to this day.

She’s a woman of character.

I would never hesitate to get a dog from her if she were still a breeder.

Through her, I began my journey.

Those of you who have followed along these past several months know I experienced a “worst case scenario” with the breeder I intended to get a dog from.

Someone recently asked me if, now that I have Fred, I’ve forgiven Joan Casler from Heartsease for what she did to me and my family.


I have not.

She did something really terrible.

(And yes, I’ve heard how she’s tried to justify it to other people.  What has been relayed back to me is NOT the truth of what happened.)

I’d like to think my experience with Joan was an aberration.

Perhaps, she is the really nice person I initially thought she was.

Maybe she had a bad day as a human …

We all do, right?

But those thoughts are fleeting because:

1)  If it were a momentary failure as a human it would have been followed-up with an apology and an attempt to right the wrong, and

2)  It doesn’t matter anymore – what’s done is done.

I’ve moved on.

I love Fred.

I’m (so!!) grateful I ended up with a great breeder who was professional, and ethical, loves the breed for the right reasons, and is truly a good person.

(All the things I felt were lacking with my first experience.)

But, that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten the bad experience.

It doesn’t mean I’d welcome the “bad” breeder with open arms.

Having a dog I love does not erase what happened.

(My vet – who was very involved in – and appalled by my first breeder experience, commented “having the top ranked dog doesn’t even begin to make up for a lack of personal integrity.”)

In other words, I feel like my search for Fred showed me the worst and best of dog breeders … all in one long journey.

Along the way, I “met” many, many, other Newfie breeders both in the United States and Canada.

I started calling them “The Dog Women.”

(I mentally nickname every person/group I encounter.  My apologies to all Dog Women but I’ve been flawed by this mental nickname process from birth.)

I can’t speak about other dog breeders.

I can only speak about my experience with Newfie breeders.

And …?

Most of the Dog Women I met were really good people.

I know there are bad breeders.

I know all is not perfect in the Newfoundland world.

But, I LIKED the breeders I encountered.

The Newfie community, as a whole, reached out and embraced me.

Literally, there were Newfie breeders all over the country stepping up to help me.

I was impressed with them.

I was touched by their genuine concern, and with their efforts to show me the Newfie world was NOT accurately represented by my first, terrible, experience.

(Although, I have to admit I still have a very bad, lingering, impression of the Dog Show World due to that experience.)

And, now that I have Fred, I continue to be favorably impressed with the Newfie community here in Southern California.

People have been welcoming, and helpful, and kind.

I guess, in the end, there is good and bad in every community.

I haven’t forgotten the bad experience …

I’m just grateful so many wonderful experiences have followed it.