Cozy Tales: 11. Nosy Cozy

As my Cozy grew and grew, she seemed to get more and more nicknames. One of my favorites was Nosy Cozy, which is what we’d call her any time she’d stick her nose where it didn’t belong, which was pretty much all the time. We often called her Cozy Bear or simply Bear, since she looked like a black bear. Daisy was often called Daisy Bear for the same reason.

We called Cozy Baby Girl a lot, too. For Lauren and me, without children, Cozy was our first attempt at nurturing and growing a living thing with more personality than an iguana. She was our baby girl in every way, and she was doted on accordingly. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 10. Bloat

One of the greatest fears of knowledgeable large breed dog owners is bloat. Bloat (technically gastric torsion) is the result of a dog’s stomach actually flipping over which causes the gasses therein to have no means of escape. Imagine taking a loaf of bread while still in the bag, then holding the open end and twisting the loaf. This action causes the opening of the bag to become twisted shut which is basically what happens to a dog’s stomach during bloat. As you might imagine, this situation is not good. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 9. Homer

Here in rural NJ we have always had a bit of a deer problem. Often herds of ten or more would wander through, destroying carefully tended gardens and trees in the process. They also brought with them disease ridden parasites aptly named deer ticks. My friend Bill, an avid hunter, once told me of harvested deer so covered with the parasites that the skin was hidden under huge patches of bumpy engorged ticks. Delicious.

There are two common types of ticks in New Jersey; the dog tick and the deer tick. I have no idea if those are their scientific names, but that’s what they’re known as ’round these parts. The dog tick is what we used to call a tick when I was a kid since none of us had ever heard of deer ticks back then. They were about a quarter inch in size normally with a dark brown flat body and icky arachnid legs. They were easy to spot and easy to grab, though they were notoriously difficult to kill. If you found an engorged one it could be an inch long or more and swollen to the point of bursting like a juicy blood-filled grape. As a kid I remember throwing engorged dog ticks into the fire and waiting to hear the pop of them exploding. Farm life is filled with myriad other delightful memories of a similar type. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 8. Tales of the Kong

Many dogs love toys. Some love their stuffies, some love a sock, and some have a penchant for the fine bouquet and delicate aroma of whatever tennis ball they happen to find that day. Cozy had a nice collection of toys including an orange octopus that she enjoyed, a small squeaky dog-catcher man, and various pull toys made of rope, nylon, and rubber. For Cozy, though, there was only one toy that mattered, and that was her Kong. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 7. Daisy

We were a happy family with two people and one big ill-behaved dog. Having somehow convinced herself that we needed more of a good thing, Lauren started to drop hints that we needed another dog. Coincidentally, the local paper ran an article about a two year old Saint Bernard that had been hit by a car. A vet had volunteered his services and the picture of this beautiful dog that needed a home graced the front page of the section. I was in love, and since he needed a home, I put forth the idea of adopting him.

We made some calls and discovered that we were about sixteenth in line since the article had brought this poor boy’s story to light and many dog lovers had offered to adopt him. I was happy that he would get a good home, but I was sad that it wouldn’t be ours. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 6. Alpha Bitch

Cozy adored me, and though she also loved Lauren, with Lauren it was different. Cozy’s love for me was multiplied by an additional layer of respect. With Lauren, well, let’s just say that they didn’t see eye to eye on the whole female hierarchy thing.

Through our research we had learned that dogs live in a strict hierarchical society in which there was, in every pack, an alpha male and an alpha female. The alpha male and female are like the king and queen of the pack, and with rank comes certain privileges. Alphas expect to be obeyed, and they don’t take insubordination from inferiors. We learned that if a dog thinks that it has alpha status over its owner, then the owner may have problems ranging from the dog not obeying commands to aggression issues to the owner being downright afraid of his or her own dog. We weren’t afraid of Cozy, but we were starting to have some issues.  (more…)

Cozy Tales: 5. First Christmas

The year 1997 introduced us to our first Christmas with Cozy, who was now 80 pounds of crazed puppy energy. She was at the age where the spot on the floor made by a flashlight would occupy her for hours so long as you kept moving it. She was also tall enough that she could put her nose on the kitchen counter, which as you might have guessed, was a problem. This led us to instigate one of the first of many new rules for dogs in our house: no noses on the counter. This was a rule only in the academic sense, and was one in which Cozy had no interest in obeying. This rule would also come to be interpreted as no noses on the table, which was much harder to enforce since Cozy could actually rest her entire head on the dining room table. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 4. Bath Time

A Newf puppy, like any giant breed dog, grows like a weed for the first eight months or so. At 14 weeks of age, Cozy weighed in at forty pounds which meant she had grown those 40 pounds in just over three months. Given the opportunity she would eat anything that looked like food and, being a puppy, many things that did not. She would routinely grab things that she shouldn’t have and trot away with her head and tail held high as if to say look at me! I bet you can’t catch me! As soon as you’d take a step towards her she’d bolt just out of reach, then turn to face you with her whole body wagging and her treasure hanging from her mouth. She was fond of any type of laundry, but it was the underwear that really enticed her. She would often be found trotting through the house with bras, socks and anything else that would mortify the average young person. The constant public display of our inappropriate unmentionables was an inconvenience at most. Water, we quickly learned, was a much bigger problem. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 3. Homecoming

After eight long weeks, we received a call from Linda saying that we could come pick up our Cozy. We found her just inside the front door of Linda’s house, all puffed up from being freshly washed and blown dry. There is nothing quite like a Newf puppy, especially as we would soon discover, a fluffy clean one. She looked like a stuffed animal magically brought to life that easily seemed twice as big as she had been the week before. She still had her silver-grey eyes and her mischievous little face just seem to scream Play with me!, while also showing just a hint of nervousness. She still had blue around her neck and was living proof that the word adorable is an inadequate representation of the truth where puppies are concerned. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 2. A Pup Chooses Us

As the weeks went on, the pups grew and grew, progressing from the little black potatoes we first saw into fluffy bright balls of energy hell bent on discovering, chewing, and otherwise making a mess of everything with which they came in contact.

We went back often to play with the pups and watch them grow. Since the pups would be ready to leave their mothers at eight weeks of age, time was running out for us to make our choice. Since all of the male pups were spoken for, we were excited to learn that we had the pick of the four females in the litter. This narrowed our listed choices down to two: the blue and the white collared puppies. They were both very energetic and both seemed very bright, but how to choose? (more…)