Pizza crust may very well have been Cozy’s favorite food. When we ate at the dinner table, Cozy and Daisy knew that they were not allowed to bother us, so they would stay in the living room until we were done. On movie nights we ate in the family room which meant that we were sitting in reclining chairs and on couches and thus, as Newfie logic dictated, the rules of dinner-time behavior were waived and outright harassment became the order of the day.
We would enjoy our pizza while reveling in the sights and sounds of the latest DVD presented in glorious 7.1 DTS-ES surround sound. It was mesmerizing, but Cozy and Daisy couldn’t be bothered with such mundane things as brilliant video and thunderous sound, at least not so long as there was pizza being consumed at nose level.
I had tuned the system so that my chair was the perfect place to sit. The girls chose to sit on the couch along the wall perpendicular to the screen, but I had to sit in the absolute center of the screen at a perfectly measured distance from the action. The speakers were each configured such that my seat was the throne. In front of my throne and the adjoining couch was the coffee table we had bought shortly after some fat guy had destroyed the last one.
While I enjoyed my pizza and the movie, Cozy would sit to my right, perfectly motionless except for her head which would slowly follow every movement of the pizza in my hand. Every time I lifted it up to take a bite, Cozy’s massive head would move with it. When I put the pizza back down, her head would move down with it. If I didn’t grab any for a while, her eyes would start to dart up to mine then back down to the pizza. If, God forbid, I was too slow, Cozy would let out a single thunderous bark all the while keeping her eyes on the pizza resting on my lap. In Cozy’s world, only the Kong deserved more attention than Pizza, and Pizza was the only thing that would make her drop the Kong.
Daisy would invariably plant herself in front of the girls because she knew that Cozy would get the crust from my slices. The problem with this arrangement was that her Newfoundland-sized body completely blocked the audio and video components, thus preventing me from using the remote controls. No form of yelling or cajoling would help because when there was pizza crust to be had, the rest of the world mattered not. There is, in fact, only one thing that would tempt a Newf away from a potential pizza-crust meal, and that would be zombies or perhaps aliens rising from the spaceship under our house, but thanks to the latest in surround-sound technology, it would take mortar fire to pull them off target.
Now if you think you have the scene in your mind, there’s one thing you’re missing, and that’s the drool. Newfoundland dogs drool. It’s a fact of life in our house and you either quickly get used to it or go quietly mad. I have teetered on the precipice of madness for years, so I learned to deal with the drool within reason in the interest of my continued sanity. The problem was that sometimes the drool was subtle and other times it was not. On the Cozy drool scale where zero is completely dry and 10 is water spilling from her flews after a nice drink of water, pizza and movie night™ rated about a 38.
There are different kinds of drool, you see, and if you haven’t experienced them first hand, some descriptions are in order. First, there is the I just had a drink and could really use a hug daddy kind of drool. This drool is pretty harmless except for the fact that it is utterly soaking. If I was sitting, then Cozy’s dripping head would cover my entire lap during a hug. Imagine sitting on a chair, then someone slapping a big wet mop onto your lap and you’d be about 9/10th of the way there since the resulting mop-loaded deluge would leave you just a little drier than I would be after a post-drink Cozy hug. Still this wasn’t really drool but fresh drinking water that had been filtered by big old hairy dog lips. I tried to keep my sanity by considering the resulting wet lap a gift of love from my beloved Cozy since she meant no harm and didn’t care if looked like someone had mopped my crotch before work.
Another type of Cozy drool commonly seen in our house was the Good Lord it’s hot drool. Dogs drool when they’re hot and big dogs make big drool. This drool is slimy and sticky and when they shake their heads it flies in all directions. We’ve each had drool in our eyes, on our clothes, up our noses, in our mouths and all sorts of other places that decorum prohibits me from listing here. We have had drool on our ceiling fan blades, on our windows and in the refrigerator. This kind of drool is magic because it’s slippery like mucous, but if it dries where it lands, it becomes like super-titanium magic bonding gel which, if you miss a spot while cleaning it up and it hardens, it will remain there forever. Should you then decide to try and remove the stuff, your best option would be to raze the house and build from scratch. If you can manage to secure enough Newfs, I recommend this drool for mortar, though it’s hard to work with even one Newf around. Having enough Newfs available to mortar a house would be some sort of mathematical improbability where the work accomplished surely would decrease by the inverse square of the number of Newfs present due to their propensity to be in the way whenever possible.
While typical Cozy drool was a thing of wonder, none of it compared to pizza-night Cozy drool. You see, while Cozy stood there staring intently at my pizza, drool would be pouring out of her mouth. While I may be prone to hyperbole, rest assured that I am in no way exaggerating now. I don’t mean that drool was dripping out of her mouth; I mean it was pouring. As she would stare, steady streams of white foamy drool would pour from her lips at multiple exit points. If you’ve ever turned on a faucet where the water comes out in a small stream, just enough that it doesn’t drip but flows, that’s about the right amount of drool. With Cozy’s mouth there were multiple streams, each gooier than the last.
Sometimes, Cozy would recognize the fact that she was a big black drool faucet. In this circumstance she would feel the drool and do one of two things. Option one was to shake her big head thus spraying drool over everything in about a twenty-five foot radius. After a few months with Cozy we had learned to turn away and close our eyes when we sensed a shake coming. When distracted by a movie and stellar surround sound? Well let’s just say it was best to keep from getting too distracted.
Option two was the far more amusing (and dryer) of the two. Here, Cozy would realize she had strings of drool hanging from her lips and would attempt to suck them back up. Of course dogs aren’t so good at sucking, so instead she’d pull her head up and snap at the drool in bite-sized parts. The first few times you’d see this it would be a bit nauseating, but rest assured after you take one in the eye, you learn to appreciate any drool minimization strategies.
There was a bit of danger involved with Cozy in full-out pizza drool mode. The dangerous aspect of drool lies in its viscosity. You see, drool is slippery stuff. Did I mention that we had a tile floor in the family room? The image of me, standing up to adjust the volume because Daisy’s big butt is blocking any chance of normal remote control use, then slipping in a puddle of drool was apparently quite funny according to my wife. I, however, had trouble finding humor in this particular anecdote.
There is a special aspect of pizza-night drool that I have yet to share. For pizza night I would always have two slices (you’d be surprised how much less filling pizza can be when someone else is eating all the crust). Once I finished my first slice, Cozy knew it was time for her first piece of crust. I’d break it in half for her, somehow convinced that she would have a problem tearing pizza crust with teeth as big as my fingers. She would gobble up the pizza crust and then commence the staring process once again, which now included copious chop-licking in blissful remembrance of the first piece which took all of 38 microseconds to consume. The drool recipe now included an added disgusting ingredient: crumbs.
Cozy was not a dainty eater. She liked to eat and she liked to eat fast. We used to force her to take a break in the middle of her meals to sit until she belched because we were afraid she’d bloat if left to her own devices. When eating pizza crust, Cozy would bite the crust once or twice then down it would go. The biting, I’m convinced, had nothing to do with digestion, but rather drool enhancement. Once the crust had been rent by Newf-teeth, it became crumbly. These crumbs then attached themselves to the drool much the same way that germs attach themselves to kindergardeners. Cozy would still be pouring drool from her mouth, but now it would be interspersed with bits of crust. These bits were mostly dust-like crumbs, but some pieces were bigger. These big bits were the real treat because they would become soft, slimy, and wet. While drool is disgusting to some, crusty wet chunky drool is too much, even for a grizzled drool veteran like me.
When I finished my pizza, Cozy knew the Daddy-pizza connection was tapped so she would run over to the girls, shove Daisy out of the way and wait for more crust. When all the pizza was gone it was time for a big thank you Daddy hug. If I was smart I had remembered to change out of my nice work pants before I sat down, but being less than smart on most days, I would invariable spend some quality time wiping slimy wet pizza-mucous from my lap while trying to repress my gag reflex. If I was lucky I wouldn’t slip on the puddle of drool at my feet while getting up for the paper towels. I’m a lucky man when considering health and family; when it comes to drool-puddles, not so much.
Falling to the ground is the worst possible fate for the droolaphobic. Not only would I be covered in slime from the puddles used to bring me down, but as anyone who has a dog knows, once you’re down at dog level, you need to be thoroughly checked over by the resident dogs. Being checked over involves a thorough cleaning of all exposed facial skin using the only real tool a dog has, which of course is her tongue. Imagine, if you will, being fully engaged in the humiliation of falling to the floor, having slipped in a puddle of extra-viscous drool while your loving and supportive wife howls in laughter. Now add a concerned Newf who senses that the Alpha Male is in danger. As I’d struggle to get upright from a wet slippery tile floor, Cozy would be at my face, checking me out while I tried to push her away. My attempts at rebuttal would be foiled by her low center of gravity and uncanny ability to avoid slipping in her own drool.
After repeated and thorough baptisms by drool, we finally just bought a rug. A rug which quickly because a large soppy drool sponge covered with pizza crust crumbs.
But the surround sound? Sublime.