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: 61. Daisy’s Last Stand

As a room mom at Meghan’s school, Lauren often went on class trips when they did something fun. She had left Daisy alone for six hours on one such trip which was the longest Daisy had been left unsupervised in quite some time. When Lauren got home she called me in tears telling me that Daisy was dying because she was almost unresponsive. I told her that I would come right home.

I was working up near the New York border at the time, so “coming right home” meant a 90 minute trip, and when I got home Daisy did indeed seem to be nearing the end of her time with us as she seemed to be barely breathing and had no energy. She didn’t even have her eyes open while Lauren spent hours with her that afternoon lying on the floor and talking to her. Daisy seemed as though she would draw a final shuddering breath and be gone at any moment. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 60. Daisy Saves the Day

Since we lived in the woods, we often had wild turkeys roam by our yard. When Cozy was alive she would bark and scare them off, so they never got too close. In fact with Cozy around, the only thing that would come inside the fence were the numerous insects and the gas man. He liked big dogs, as did many of the insects.

At any rate, Daisy had gotten very sick, and didn’t go outside much except to relieve herself. One day we had a flock of wild turkeys come visit. Cozy hadn’t been around for over a year at this point, so two of them decided to fly inside the fence. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 59. Return of the Crab

Just after we celebrated Daisy turning 12 ½, we took her to the vet where we were saddened to learn that Dr. Fritz, the beloved vet for both Cozy and Daisy, had died suddenly in New York. With Dr. Fritz gone, we took Daisy to a new vet who discovered a tumor in her belly that had apparently been there for some time. The good news was that it was probably benign, though large. The bad news was that having a heart arrhythmia at her advanced age meant that she would not likely survive the surgery needed to remove it.

This was a shocking blow for us. While surgery could save her from the tumor, we weren’t sure that we would want to put her through that. The point was moot, though. Since we had not had her heart problems resolved, she would likely not survive surgery to remove the tumor. Lauren and I both felt like we were to blame. After living through Cozy’s ordeal, we had put our beloved Daisy in a similar situation. Of course it wasn’t that simple, but we blames ourselves nonetheless.  (more…)

Cozy Tales: 58. Dog Years

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While every dog is different, I would estimate that 10 years is about the average lifespan for Newfoundland dogs. Cozy had only lived to be eight, but we considered her to have died too young. The oldest Newf we had ever heard of was Henry who lived to the ripe old age of 17 ½. Such long-lived Newfs were very rare however.

Someone on Newf.Net had posed the idea that once a Newf reaches the age of 10,  every half year should be celebrated. Of course Lauren took that to heart and we celebrated accordingly. Still, Daisy’s 12th birthday was a special occasion, even when counting by half-years. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 56. The Duchess

Over time we slowly adjusted to life without Cozy and Daisy developed some interesting eccentricities as during that time. When Cozy was so sick, Lauren had done anything she could to get her to eat including cooking bacon and eggs for her every morning, and liver most nights for dinner. If you’ve got two dogs you can’t give bacon and eggs to only one, so Daisy of course enjoyed the bountiful new eating arrangements. Not only did she get her fair share, she would also get Cozy’s on the days when Cozy didn’t feel like eating.

Once Daisy had a taste of the good life, she had no interest in returning to the common fare of the bourgeoisie and so The Duchess, Miss Daisy, became beneath such insulting grub as kibble. She demanded that her dinner be handmade to her exacting specification.

In other words, she had become a royal pain in the ass. (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: 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…)