Cozy Tales: 48. Home Theater

In December of 2005 I was making excellent money designing and installing networks for large companies, so I decided to take some of that money and make a home theater for the family. As much as I would have loved to be able to make something as wonderful as the magnificent rooms I’d seen in magazines, our house was pretty small, so I added home theater functionality to our existing family room.

Being an obsessive nerd, I spent weeks researching every aspect of the new project, from large screen HDTVs to receivers to speakers to the wire that connects it all. I was in my element, and since Lauren had agreed to a complete makeover for the room, I had all sorts of leeway with the design. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 47. Pollen

Horror, thy name is pollen.

Ragweed is very common in NJ, as are Goldenrod and Hemlock. Since I don’t need to kill any philosophers, and the goldenrod doesn’t offend me, I’ll focus on the ragweed.  All three plants line our highways and in the rural areas where we lived, a drive down the back roads would reveal miles of farms and fields filled with goldenrod. Next to the pretty goldenrod, filthy ragweed grows.

From the moment the ugly little plants would bloom, the horror would begin. Suddenly my airway would constrict, my nose would run, my throat, ears, and eyes would swell and itch, and the sneezing would continue unabated until early October when the pollen was finally consumed by magic tree frogs or whatever actually happened to all the vile stuff in the air. Unfortunately, after the pollen was gone, my body would still suffer. Since my overwhelmed sinuses had been pouring noxious snot into my lungs 24 hours a day for two weeks, my lungs would invariably resort to some sort of respiratory infection that would torment me for another couple of weeks. I love pollen.  (more…)

Cozy Tales: 46. Slow Cozy

Early in 2005, we had a snowstorm that made everything look like it was covered with vanilla frosting. I grabbed my camera and took a walk in the woods behind my house in order to take pretty pictures. Cozy followed me into the yard, but I shut the gate and left her in the yard since the de-facto rule had always been dogs stay in the yard.

As I walked around in the woods behind my house snapping pictures of the frosted landscape, Cozy barked constantly. There was a small stream behind our house that looked especially picturesque, and as I started shooting, I reveled in the quiet which caused me to realize that the barking had stopped. I looked towards the house and saw Cozy lumbering through the snow after forcing herself through the gate nose-first so she could be with me. That was all she was barking about; she wanted to be with me. That’s all she ever wanted. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 45. One Scary Night

I am a night owl. I rarely go to bed before midnight, and this night found me going to bed at close to 3:00 A.M. When I finally did go to bed, My Cozy wasn’t right. Cozy was staring at me and clearly had something to tell me. When I went through my normal litany of questions, none of them elicited the Yes! response. When I got into bed, she came over and x her head on the bed and stared at me some more. I patted her head and told her that I didn’t know what she wanted. Finally she gave up and went to lie down, though without her traditional snort of frustration. Once down on the floor she would sit there and pant, then seemingly unable to get comfortable, get up and sit somewhere else. She would lie down and whimper, then get up and repeat the process. After several repetitions she’d come over and stare at me with her please help me – you’re the only one who can look. My Cozy wasn’t right, and she was trying to tell me what was wrong. I was feeling tired and frustrated that I couldn’t figure out her message. Then I had a terrifying thought.

Bloat. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 44. Not so Bright

As you might have guessed by now, I’m a bit of a nerd. I like gadgets and have way too many hobbies. I play the guitar, have a ham radio license, build my own computers, fix old tube amplifiers for fun and generally baffle my wife with an endless desire to acquire some new toy or learn some arcane skill. My interests have led me to amass a wide ranging collection which includes guitars, tube amplifiers, fountain pens, headphones, cameras, telescopes and a wide variety of other things. Of course, some of those hobbies get me into trouble. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 43. Fame

Since my Cozy had her own website that many people in the Newfy community routinely visited, her page had references on thousands of other pages. This was at a time before Myspace and Facebook, when the average person was just learning about the Internet. Google did not yet exist, and Alta Vista and Yahoo were the big names in search engines.

I often receive emails sent by people from throughout the world commenting on Cozy or Daisy and how much they loved the pictures and updates, and those who searched for terms such as Newfoundland dog would find Cozy’s page since it was so popular. One day in 2002 I received an email from the Army Corps of Engineers asking if they could use one of the images of Cozy for a project. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 42. Down the Shore

Lauren grew up spending her summers at the Jersey Shore, loving everything about it from the sand between her toes to the nasty jellyfish in the surf. For her birthday in 2002 she wanted to go back since it had been far too long since her bare feet had felt the sand.

We decided that it was far past time to take our water-loving dogs to see the ocean. We had talked about it forever, but somehow life had gotten in the way and it had never happened. While taking two huge dogs to the beach was difficult enough, we were now faced with the prospect of bringing two huge dogs and two small children to the beach. We figured it was never going to get any easier, so we loaded everyone into the Outback and trucked on down the shore. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 41. Cozy gets Spayed

Putting our fears aside, and having had enough of Cozy being in heat twice a year, we decided to do the right thing and schedule Cozy for surgery to be spayed. This seemed simple enough; drop her off, wait a few hours, then pick her up. We had read that Newfoundlands might not need as much anesthesia as other dogs, and that we should use a vet with a lot of experience with the breed. We decided that instead of using Dr. Fritz, we would use the vet group that our breeder used, which happened to be staffed entirely by women. Being the pig man that I am, I of course assumed a veterinary office staffed with supermodels all wearing French maid and nurse’s outfits. I’m not sure where the French maid thing fit in, but we pig-men are  not really a complicated bunch. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 40. Daisy’s Bloody Nose

With my life as an international drug smuggler behind me, I spent most of my nights studying for my next try at the CCIE exam. On one such night the kids had been put to bed and the dogs were eating their dinner upstairs. I could always tell when they were eating because the hardwood floor was directly above my office, and since Cozy’s eating had never been a gentle affair, the large stainless steel bowl would rattle and scrape against the floor while she devoured her food. Daisy was more demure when she ate, having no doubt been schooled in the art of fine dining. While dinner was loud, it was brief, so the distraction never lasted long. This time though, the sounds of Cozy eating were interrupted when Lauren called me with that it’s an emergency tone. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 39. The Smuggler’s Blues

In order to further my career as a networking consultant, I was attempting to pursue a certification called the Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE). This advanced test was given in only three locations in North America at the time, one of which was Halifax, Nova Scotia. After months of intense studying, I booked my travel plans and set off to take the eight-hour test in Canada.

I flew into Halifax and after departing the plane went to wait for my bags at the luggage carousel. I always kept my laptop backpack with me, and I had put it on the floor next to me while I stood and waited for the flashing lights and klaxons to announce that our baggage was soon to be delivered.

Bored, I watched the people around me and noticed a dog being trained by someone in a police-type uniform. This happy puppy was running through the baggage claim area with abandon, chasing something being thrown by the uniformed man with a gun. The dog, a golden retriever that looked to be about a year old and full of life, was chasing a small red Kong just like Cozy’s. (more…)