Annie: The Beginning

I thought that I would share the story of Annie coming to live with us, since people who were not members of Newf.Net at the time don’t know the tale. You see, Annie was a mistake.

No, I don’t mean that it was a mistake to get Annie, though some days I might grumble otherwise. What I mean is that we did not plan on getting Annie, or any dog for that matter. At least that’s what we like to tell ourselves. Or should I say that’s what Lauren likes to tell me.

I had decided that we would not get another dog until I had finished my book about Cozy. Cozy, who’s page on this blog has remained empty as I struggle to write the perfect piece about her, was our first dog as a couple. She was our first baby, years before we had human children. Cozy had died a few years before, and I had still not recovered.It seemed wrong to me to have another dog in the house when I had not dutifully recorded the life of my beloved companion. The first problem was that Lauren was ready for another dog, though I was not. The second problem had something to do with years passing since Cozy’s death and my not having written a word, but I’m admittedly hazy on the details of that particular issue. Marriages, like most relationships, are built on compromises, and in this case compromise meant “Quit your whining – we’re getting a dog.”

Of course that’s not what really happened. The truth involved Lauren sitting with me and gently bringing up the idea that we should get another dog. It had been three years since we lost Cozy, and two years since we had lost Daisy, both to cancer. Since I can type at roughly 130 words per minute, that equated to about fifteen books I had not written during that time. I was in denial, I was depressed, and I didn’t want another dog; I wanted my Cozy back. As Lauren pushed a little harder I broke down into an emotional mess, blubbering about Cozy and how I just wasn’t ready. The writing had nothing to do with it. The writing was an excuse behind which I could hide while I brooded about my long lost Cozy. I was a mess.

Lauren had healed like a normal, emotionally stable person, and in the months prior to my pathetic sobbing breakdown, had developed a habit of trolling PetFinder.com. She would then send me links to dogs she deemed worthy of our love. I guess we had a lot of love to share, because she sent me a lot of links. This time she had read a post on Newf.net about a puppy in need of a home, and of course, sent me the link. The link contained a listing of many Newfoundland dogs in need of rescue, but the one she liked, named only dog #29, had few details, mostly relating to the fact that this was a puppy, and that it would have to go to a special home.  When I reluctantly went to the page, I saw that there were no pictures in the description of this puppy to tempt the weak-willed. I was not impressed. On the top of the page though, where the rescue orginization introduced itself, there was an adorable picture of a girl holding a puppy. It was the typical sappy fare showing what a Newf was supposed to be like. My first reaction was now THAT’s the kind of dog that we need. I mean look at that face!

Lauren decided that she would send the Newfoundland rescue contact a message. She went to the “contact us” link, started an email, then changed her mind and instead of closing the window, hit send by mistake. Pay attention now, because herein lies a source of contention in our house. Lauren says she meant to hit close, but all we know for sure is that a blank email was sent. I find the entire affair to be a tad too convenient, what with the grumpy husband insisting that we didn’t need a dog, and the devious wife looking for a way to get a dog and all. Still, I wasn’t there, so who am I to say what really happened?

The rescue person who received the blank email replied with a “did you mean to send me a blank email?” response. Lauren then replied with a “no, but…” email, and conversation ensued. We lost our two Newfs. My husband runs Newf.net. We’re lonely without a dog. We read about the puppy. References? Sure we have references. My husband is mental so let’s keep this between us. Home visit? No problem! Let’s schedule!

Somehow I had lost control. Even worse, fate it would seem, was not without a sense of humor. The adorable puppy I saw in the picture, now shown at the top of this page, was Annie, sitting on Mariah’s lap. I have no idea who Mariah is, I just know that her name was included in the picture ID. That cute, lovable, smooshable face in the picture gave the impression of a kind, gentle soul that lived to just lay in the arms of an adoring girl. Somehow her desire to eat garbage, drool on my expensive guitars, lay in the mud and bark at zombies in the night got photoshopped out. False advertising I say!

The universe conspired against me, and beginning with an allegedly mistaken email, a series of events had been set into motion that I had no hope of stopping. My thought of THAT’s the kind of dog we need had been heard, and there was nothing I could do about it. Beware, as they say, of what you wish for.

When we told the kids that we were getting a dog, they became very excited, and started telling everyone they knew. They also started to celebrate the impending event with drawings by the dozens, one of which I recorded for posterity. We kept one of them on the refrigerator for a very long time. It’s probably still there there under the hundreds of other important items warranting display. We even upgraded to rare-earth magnets to avoid having to take any of it down.

For our home inspection we were visited by a local trusted breeder, who we happened to know as a good friend of Cozy’s breeder. She came to our house, asked us the proper questions, enjoyed some conversation, invited us to come romp with her current litter of six week old Newf puppies (Talk about CUTE!), and sent her approval back to Indianapolis where Annie was living.

Virginia, the lovely woman who was fostering Annie and received Lauren’s now infamous blank email, told Lauren that she had one more requirement. If she was going to give up this special dog, then she would require that Lauren become her best friend via email. Annie had made an impression with Virginia during her short stay, and she wasn’t about to just watch this intelligent pup drive away to be forgotten. Lauren agreed without hesitation, and the planning began.

Lauren and Virginia decided that they would meet in Ohio. Annie was in Indianapolis, and Lauren was in New Jersey, which meant that Virginia would drive three hours and lauren would drive eight. We packed up the Nissan Pathfinder with a crate that we tied down so it wouldn’t wobble, a new GPS so she wouldn’t get lost, snacks, clothes for an overnight stay and some music for the ride. Lauren drove non-stop from New Jersey to Ohio, over 550 miles and a full day’s worth of driving, but she was not to be dissuaded. Annie was waiting for Lauren to rescue her, and rescue her she would!

During her drive, every time Lauren stopped or called me, I would post an update to Newf.net. People all over the world were following the adventure, partially because it was exciting that the brooding dogless webmaster was getting another dog, but also because any time one of these long-range rescues are done, people watch eagerly to read about the meeting and to see the pictures. It was pretty exciting.

Lauren only had one problem on the way, which had to do with the fact that she lived in New Jersey her whole life. New Jersey is only one of two states in the US where we are not allowed to pump our own gas. As she stood in the gas station staring at the gas pump and the car, she was mortified to have to ask for help. Her pleas of “I’m from New Jersey”, coupled with the fact that she’s a cute blonde, helped to enlist the help of a strapping young man who helped the damsel in distress. Problem resolved, she continued on her way. After arriving in Ohio, she collapsed into a hotel bed until morning when she would finally get to meet Annie.

The next morning she met Annie and Virginia for the first time in a hotel parking lot. It was a brief meeting, mostly because Lauren had to drive eight hours home. Lauren didn’t take many pictures since she was pressed for time, but I swear in one of them, Annie is giving me the hairy eyeball even before she had met me. Maybe I’m just reading more into it with my perfect hindsight, but I swear she’s looking right at me thinking You are so screwed…

Annie was given lots of love by everyone in attendance, and as Virginia gave her to Lauren, she also gave her Annie’s suitcase. Annie’s suitcase contained such a variety of wonderful, silly and clever things that I still smile thinking about them. There were cards for my two girls. Snacks for Annie, her favorite toy, some of her favorite sticks form Indiana, a prescription bottle that said “Annie, RX, lifelong – many hugs and kisses daily”, grooming items, and a pile of other items to make Annie’s life in her new home full of fun and love.

Annie was a little worried in her crate, and she cried a bit, but she never barked. We had read many stories of rescue dogs on long trips behaving as if they knew that they were being saved. Annie certainly had not been abused, and she didn’t need “saving” so much as a loving home to stay in forever, but Lauren swears that she knew what was going on. She was just a little nervous was all.

Lauren talked to Annie for the entire eight-hour trip home. If I know Lauren, I’d bet she sang to her too, though she probably won’t admit it. That can be Annie and Lauren’s little secret. I bet Annie got a Fig Newton or two during the ride as well. There’s no better way for girls to bond on a long road trip than to share a song over some Fig Newtons. At least I don’t think there is. How girls bond is a bit of a mystery to me. Guys just punch each other and say Dude! a lot. No singing or Newtons required, though beer is often involved.

So Annie made her way to New Jersey without incident. Lauren learned how to pump her own gas, and the rest, as they say, is history. We had prepared the house for a puppy – a process called puppy-proofing by people in the dog world. We knew how to do it since we got Cozy when she was only eight weeks old. We were all sorts of confident in our ability to prepare our house for a Newfoundland puppy. What we didn’t know, was how to Annie-proof a house. What we know now, is there there is no way to Annie-proof a house. It simply can’t be done. Even if it could be accomplished, I don’t think we would want to have a house where Annie couldn’t get into trouble. Life would be too boring.

8 thoughts on “Annie: The Beginning

  1. As the mother to Gary and being told that Annie and Guiness will be coming up to New Hampshire in August with thir “parents” is now causing me the fear that I will soon need some sort of medication to keep me from fearing that when Annie arrives that she will soon find zombies in my yard and woods upon arrival. Now I do have bears,fox,Coons,fisher cats,and Bob cats on occassion but to my knowledge no Zombies.I fear none of God`s creatures but Zombies are a different story.
    My home is tiny Newfies are not.My heart is big and soft-Zombies are not.Mother`s will have children visit no matter what they bring with them But-but–but-but.

    Gary`s Mom

  2. Knowing Annie as well as I do…it is all true! I never reply to a blank email…so why I did to that one I will never know.

    I adored Annie. Through her I have met a wonderful friend in Lauren and it is true, Gary is screwed…Annie has him wrapped around her little black and white hurricane blur of a body. As it should be! She is wonderful, but I admit a handful. She is the very dog I walked into the kitchen to find standing on top of the table, acting for all purposes like a cat. Hummm. She is utterly delightful and oh so smart. I think Gary got what he deserved in this one! I also know Annie got the perfect home she deserved.

    Give her a huge hug from me! I loved reading her story. (Only you should let her write her version sometime!!!) :} V

  3. I know that somewhere up there Cozy is smiling. Our pups are too generous with their love to not want us happy and “with newf”. Have Cozy say Hi to Kimber and Moose for me.

    Art

  4. I think Annie and my Sophie (also a Landseer) may be related in some way 🙂 Sophie was a rescue of sorts at 6 months of age and has just been an awesome dog since living here. She did however decide one day after we figured she could be trusted alone to kill a poor innocent tree then put some toys in the midst of the destruction to make it look like they’d done the damage.

  5. Gary, great story and I loved the perspective it’s written in.

    Those of us who have known the loss of those we have loved & shared our lives with and also the joy of the new arrivals can identify so well with you & Lauren’s experience.

    Thanks to you Virginia for what you do and again I admonish G&L to follow that “prescription” you sent with Annie!.

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