Since Cozy was always around me, she often ended up in the same room as Meghan. On hot days, when Cozy’s tongue would be hanging out of the side of her mouth, Meghan would grab for it, but Cozy would usually slurp it back into her mouth to get it away from those grippy little fingers. Meghan was persistent though, and she really wanted to stand. If the tongue was out of reach, Meghan would try and grab a lip, or perhaps some loose skin around Cozy’s face. Whiskers were also in danger, but grabbing was one thing; it was the pulling that was a problem.
Newfoundlands are known for their excellent behavior where children are concerned. The original Nana in Peter Pan was a Newfoundland for this very reason, though Disney would later change her to be a Saint Bernard. Newfies and children are a natural match, and this had been a big factor in our decision to let them share our lives. Still, we hadn’t brought Cozy and Daisy into our lives to be playthings for our children.
To witness Cozy, the 160 pound descendent of wolves sitting still while Meghan would pull on her lips and tongue in order to stand was frankly amazing. Cozy would simply sit there and wait for me to help while Meghan climbed up her face. The only sign of displeasure from Cozy was the look on her face that seemed to say please get it off.
Naturally we wouldn’t condone such things, and we would try to keep Meghan from annoying the dogs, but as anyone with children will tell you, what you want a 12 month old child to do, and what they actually do can be two very different things. Cozy was part of the family, and apparently one of her jobs here on Earth was to help Meghan learn how to stand.
Cozy never growled at Meghan. She never showed any sign at all of being annoyed other than the occasional please help me looks. We have pictures of Meghan watching TV as a toddler using Cozy as a pillow. We have pictures of Meghan sitting in the middle of Cozy and Daisy: a thirty pound child safe in the midst of almost 300 pounds of dog. A toddler never had two guardians more noble and true.
We taught Meghan early on to respect the dogs, so her face grabbing period was measured only in days. Cozy quickly learned on her own that when Meghan was afoot, grippy fingers were soon to follow. If Meghan started to be a bother, Cozy would simply get up and go sit somewhere else, as is the Newfoundland way. Without the temptation of a furry face or tongue within reach, Meghan stopped grabbing, so the problem turned out to be self limiting.
As I write this so many years later, this small chapter in Cozy’s life is the one that Meghan, now a teenager, claims as her favorite. She doesn’t remember any part of it, of course, and we have no pictures after the fact due to me likely dropping the camera in order to save Cozy from Meghan’s fingers instead of taking pictures and waiting for Cozy to lose her patience. I think what really appeals to her is the idea that she could trust such a big and powerful dog so implicitly. I think that’s what makes Newfoundlands so special; for all their strength and power, they are gentle creatures that wish no harm on anyone. They simply want to share our lives.
As for Meghan transition to a vertical lifestyle, she finally learned to stand by climbing up the side of the coffee table, no doubt discovering that it was a much firmer means of ascension than Cozy’s elusive tongue. Cozy watched from a safe distance, no doubt unaware of the implications of Meghan being mere weeks from discovering bipedal mobility.