Cozy Tales: Afterword

If you’ve read this book and think you’d like a Newfoundland dog of your own, I strongly urge you to reconsider.  Every year hundreds of giant breed dogs are put up for adoption or worse, destroyed because someone fell in love with the fluffy little puppy and brought it home, only to be overwhelmed by slobber, food, vet bills, and the sheer size of their full grown dog. If you cannot make a commitment to this – or any – animal to keep it forever, then please don’t get one. Would you give up a son or daughter because they got too big? Certainly not. Anyone who thinks a Newfoundland is any less than a child doesn’t understand the breed.

Breeders ask a lot of questions to see if you are capable of being responsible for a Newfie. They don’t want to see their pups end up in shelters two years from now. The scene where I describe being grilled by the breeder really happened. When we started talking to rescue, they were even more insistent that we be the right kind of people. (more…)

Cozy Tales: Epilogue

This book was written over the course of about three years, starting just before Cozy’s death. It was then re-edited and posted online almost 10 years later. Often, while writing, I would become overwhelmed with grief and sit sobbing in my chair, alone, wishing my Cozy were there to comfort me. I usually write late at night when everyone else is asleep, so my family was blissfully unaware of my suffering. Writing was cathartic as I’d hoped, but it was difficult none-the-less. The easier parts I wrote while sitting in various Starbucks in the area. If you’ve seen a quiet guy sitting in the corner of a New Jersey Starbucks writing on his Macbook Pro wearing a Tilly hat, it might have been me. Actually except for the Tilly hat that describes many of the people in Starbucks. I can only hope that there will soon be a run on Tilly hats so that I might retain my secret identity. The chair in the picture is the table in Starbuck where I wrote. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 62. Empty Wrecked House

For the first time in ten years, there were no dogs in our house, but we could still hear them.

We would hear their collars clinking on their water bowls. Sometimes I would hear them snore at night. Other times I would hear them scratch at the door, only to become overwhelmed with sadness after catching myself walking to the door to let them in.

We continued to hear the dogs, but there were no dogs to be heard. There was no snoring, no woofing, and no other disturbances except those caused by Meghan and Colleen. Even with two wonderful, energetic children, the house seemed somehow devoid of life. Cozy had been the one to fill the house with life. She had been the one to show us that we were capable parents. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 55. Cozy Comes Home

Just when I thought I was done crying, Cozy’s ashes were delivered, after which I sat in the office with her and wept all over again. We couldn’t decide where to put her. I wanted  to keep her close, since that’s all she ever wanted, but I knew that anywhere near where I sat and worked posed a risk of her being knocked over.

We talked about putting her in the entertainment unit in the living room. She would be protected behind glass in there, but that wasn’t my Cozy.

We decided to put her on the mantel in the family room. The family room is where I would sit and watch movies at night with Cozy either at my feet, in her favorite corner, or with her head in my lap begging for scritches. When it would get too hot from the fire she would go outside and lie on the patio, but always so she could see me.

Guy Germaine, one of the more active members of Newf.Net, had posted many pictures of his woodworking skills. He had donated some wonderful creations to Newfoundland Rescue which were auctioned to raise money for their cause. I contacted Guy and asked him to make me a special box for my Cozy. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 54. Grief

The weeks after Cozy’s death were very hard for me. The hardest part of the ordeal was first receiving the news that my Cozy was terminally sick. The vet told us she only had days, and looking back I think he was right. I think Cozy also finally got me to understand how sick she really was, and then needed to stay to make sure we would all be okay. Either that or she really just liked having eggs cooked for her breakfast every morning. I’d like to think it was a combination of both.

During the last two weeks I spent with my Cozy, I struggled daily. I should have been spending as much time as possible with her, but I was so sad some days I couldn’t bear to do anything but sit in my chair and weep. My mind would scream what a waste – she’s still here! so I would go sit with her and weep. Many times I pulled myself together enough and take her outside and take some pictures, some of which have graced these pages.  (more…)

Cozy Tales: 53. Cozy Lets me Know

In the midst of Cozy’s ordeal, Colleen had her fifth birthday party. She had a good party, and I don’t think the recent events at home impacted her enjoyment much, if at all. What five year old doesn’t like to be the center of attention? Certainly not our Colleen.

The party was held at a local business built solely for the purpose of hosting children’s birthday parties, and Colleen enjoyed her party. As usual, Lauren was busy running the show while I took pictures. The break from the drama in our lives was welcome, but Lauren and I both wanted to get back to Cozy. We felt guilty for leaving her, but Colleen deserved to have her special day. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 52. Week Two

On Sunday March 5th, we once again loaded up the two cameras and went outside with the dogs. Cozy was feeling pretty well, and she played with the Kong while we took pictures. I felt very fortunate to have the opportunity to take some great pictures given Cozy’s prognosis. I had agreed to shoot a wedding a month prior, and had purchased some wonderful lenses for the occasion. Those lenses added a certain magic to the images that made Cozy look almost ethereal. She was beautiful, even so close to death.

We took the dogs out into the woods near the stream where I had taken pictures of Cozy in the snow. Cozy threw her Kong into the water and stirred up the mud looking for it, determined to cause trouble even when she was so sick. I could see the glint in her eye as I managed to find the Kong with a stick. I had managed to protect the Kong from the mower for all these years and there was no way I was letting it get lost in the mud now! (more…)

Cozy Tales: 51. Week One

Sunday morning found us with a suddenly perky Cozy. Before I woke up that morning, Cozy lay outside while Lauren went about her morning rituals. When Lauren called to Cozy to come in and she didn’t respond, Lauren feared the worst and went to check on her. As Lauren approached, Cozy’s tail started thumping the ground.

Cozy could be a stubborn pain in the ass when she felt like it, and Lauren probably thought this was one of those times, though the events of the night before added a bit of confusion to everything. We had seen Cozy refuse to listen to anyone but me, but usually when this happened there was no wagging involved. Content that Cozy was just enjoying the yard, Lauren turned back to go inside. As she turned, Cozy got up and ran past her to get to the door first, wagging all the way. Lauren stood and stared, wondering if the previous day had been nothing more than a dream. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 50. The Crab

As I pulled into the driveway from my long commute, I saw my Cozy sitting in the yard waiting for me like she always did. I parked the car and got out ready for my greeting, but there was no boisterous dog at the fence. My Cozy always ran up to the fence with a joyous bark when I came home. Always.

Something was wrong.

I went out and sat with her in the yard, and she thumped her tail a couple of times as I approached. She was lethargic, and had that same I’m sick Daddy, please help me look on her face that she did when I rushed her to the vet. She didn’t seemed distressed this time; she just didn’t seem to have any energy. When I went inside she followed me in with her head and tail hung low. It was an obvious effort for her to move. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 49. Pizza and Movie Night

After completing the new high definition home theater in our family room, I proclaimed that every Friday night hence was to be pizza and movie night™. I always made sure I was home on Friday evenings so we would be together to enjoy a movie, some local pizza, and some good old-fashioned togetherness. Without fail Cozy would curl up by my feet, though only after she was sure that there was no more pizza crust to be had.

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. (more…)