Cozy Tales: 21. Grandma

We visited my mother and her husband David in New Hampshire for thanksgiving in 1998.  My mother had moved there with her then new husband back in 1984 and I had made the trip once or twice a year since then with one of those trips always coinciding with the Thanksgiving holiday. Traveling the 350 miles by car was usually a six to eight hour experience that could range from boring to fun depending on who was in the car, and this trip was surprisingly uneventful given the fact that we had almost 300 pounds of dog in the back of the Subaru.

Since we had two slobbering beasts stuffed into the car with us, we stopped often to let them out so they could walk around, relieve themselves and enjoy some time doing anything other than being stuffed into a car. Come to think of it, those were the same reasons that we usually wanted to stop. After what seemed like 384 hours on the road (it was seven) we arrived safely, setting a personal record for the most stops caused by the need to clean drool off of the back window (four).  (more…)

Cozy Tales: 20. The Pool

A well groomed Newfoundland dog is a majestic animal. Their shiny coats glisten in the sunlight and they seem to exude power, grace, and nobility. A soaking wet Newfoundland dog is the very image of the pathetic drowned rat. Their voluminous coat lies flat on the skin, and their long fluffy tails attain the appearance of being thin, pointed and dare I say, scaly.

It gets surprisingly hot in New Jersey, and we didn’t have central air conditioning. We did however have a hose, and we would have great fun hosing off the dogs in the midst of hot summer days. It could be a challenge getting a Newfy wet enough to do their rat imitations because their coats were very water resistant but persistence and good aim won every time. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 19. Clever Cozy

Cozy was a very vocal girl, and she would often talk to us with a string of woos, growls and wufs, all put together as if she was trying to articulate some form of language. My youngest daughter Colleen imitated people talking in a similar manner from the moment she could make sound. We have videos of her in her high chair babbling at us with all the inflection of a grown adult, even ending her requests with eeeeeese adding a tilt of her head for dramatic effect. Though Colleen had not yet been born, looking back it seems to me that Cozy was trying to do the same thing. She would have complete conversations with me but lacked the cognitive ability (or maybe just the lip structure) to form accurate syllables. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 18. The Park

Taking a dog to the park is, to me, part of the great American lifestyle. Taking a big dog to the park, though, is more complicated than just hopping in the car for a ride. There’s the drool on the windows to deal with, not to mention the drool down the back of your neck, on the rearview mirror, and in the cup holders. There’s also the space they consume in any vehicle to contend with. Some people are fine with their dogs on the seats, but we preferred to keep them in the back of the Outback since Cozy wasn’t all that different than any other wild bear with a drooling problem and a textbook case of attention deficit disorder.

With one big dog, the operation was usually pretty straightforward. One dog was happy to be there with their person, and they generally stayed with them. This isn’t always the case, of course. For example, there are dogs that love to run, or puppies with excessive energy that need careful attention. Many dogs, upon the first whiff of fresh park air, just like to sprint from the car as soon as the hatch is opened. Cozy was just such a dog. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 17. Cherrybrook

Out in northwestern New Jersey there is a wonderful pet store called Cherrybrook that lets you bring your pets into the store. This was a big deal in the late 90’s, as not many places had started to allow such things yet, so we decided to bring Cozy and Daisy to Cherrybrook, in part to show them off, and in part to help socialize them.

At this point in Cozy’s life she was probably 140-160 pounds, but still very much full of youthful energy. She was a puppy in a huge dog’s body that couldn’t understand why she could no longer fit under the dining room table. Being the intelligent people that we were, neither of us could imagine how anything could possibly go wrong during a simple trip to the store.  (more…)

Cozy Tales: 16. Ginny

Dogs, we discovered, are a lot like children; if you have no idea what you’re doing, they become brats. With Cozy being so alpha coupled with the fact that she was incapable of being nice around unknown dogs (earning her the new nickname Cozy-Brat), not to mention the whole Daisy dragging Lauren incident, we decided that it was time to bring in professional help.

We found a local dog-training company and arranged to have someone come to the house to help us. Ginny was tall, thin, attractive, female, and had long curly red hair. I have a thing for women with red hair – especially long curly red hair. I found myself suddenly hoping that Cozy would require lots of extra work. Lauren was not amused.

The part of Ginny the Dog Trainer will be played by Deborah Ann Woll in this tale. You may remember her as the vampire Jessica Hamby from the HBO series True Blood, a show which occurred 15 years after the tale being told, and thus has nothing to do with the story. I must also point out that any similarities in this tale to redheads, vampires, actresses, succubi, dog trainers, or other creatures real, fictional, or imaginary is purely coincidental. And by purely I mean mostly. And by coincidental I mean have you seen Deborah Ann Woll? Damn…

Cozy Tales: 15. Crazy Daisy

One day while walking the dogs at the park, we had stopped at the playground so people could fawn over our big black lovable dogs. Since there was a water fountain in the playground, we would often stop there for a drink and some Newfy socialization.

During one such visit, we were standing in the playground when someone walked by with two small dogs. They yapped at Cozy and Daisy the way that small dogs do, and I restrained Cozy the way I always (barely) did. Lauren knelt down next to Daisy and while petting her, told her to relax. That’s when the excitement began. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 14: Door-to-Door

Living in rural New Jersey was wonderful, but there were some drawbacks that may not be obvious to those who live in more urban areas. For example, we lived in our house for 12 years before there was a pizza shop that would deliver. We couldn’t walk anywhere since the nearest store was four miles away and there were no sidewalks. Children didn’t walk to school, and many had to sit on the bus for 40 minutes or more every morning and afternoon. The benefits, though, were many; clean air, plenty of trees, and perhaps most important to me, we couldn’t see any of our neighbor’s houses except in the winter when all the leaves had fallen from the trees. This seclusion also seemed to preclude most anyone from visiting unannounced. Usually.  (more…)

Cozy Tales: 13. Cozy Learns to Swim

There are a variety of ways in which we might have learned that we had become crazy dog people. Spending more on grooming equipment for them then we ever had for ourselves was a clue. Buying at least one vacuum a year due to an apparent infant mortality problem in modern vacuum cleaners was another. For us, though, the act of taking our dogs to the lake in the rain was the defining moment. We hadn’t planned on going to the lake in the rain. We took the dogs to the lake on a cloudy day and when we got there it had started to drizzle which then turned to light rain. Even that didn’t make us crazy. What made us crazy Newfie dog people was the fact that we never even considered leaving. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 12. Cozy’s Nemesis

We lived on a nice two acre rectangle of land in rural New Jersey. The house had a large front yard that bordered the street along the front edge and the mailbox was in the middle of the yard along the road. I really wanted the mailbox to be by the driveway, but years ago I gave up trying to move it because four inches under the soil was some sort of material impervious to any of tool I could legally attain. Logically, I imagined this to be some sort of buried alien spacecraft, the discovery of which would cement my name in the annals of human history forever. Digging is hard, though, so I just tried not to think about it. The unfortunate mailbox position forced us to get off our lazy butts and walk to the mailbox every day, or at least on the days we felt like it. (more…)