The peaceful life shattered

Our Original “Gaggle” of Newfs

This post will present Kelsey and Murphy. The arrival of these dogs into our life and some of the exploits of these first years introduced us to Life Among the Giants.

Altesse Kelsey: Newf Wannabe

Kelsey was approaching old age. For the past twelve years this beautiful Golden Retriever had lived a life of leisure and enjoyment. She had been an only dog all of her life, so she was able to awake each morning at her chosen hour, greet the humans in her life, receive a morning treat and many scratches and hugs. Often she would wander the neighbourhood, visiting friends down the street who would give her leftover muffins from their breakfasts. She would finish her rounds, then come home and lie out on the back deck for a while, looking down the creek. In the winter afternoons, perhaps she would walk down the frozen creek to visit a couple of dog friends and watch the children play hockey on the ice. Supper time would see her back at the house where her dinner was never late and always enjoyed. Evenings were spent by the fire with the family, then to sleep for the night at the foot of the humans’ bed. She had always been a gentle, easy going dog, who had bonded very closely to the two legged members of the family.

All in all she had a great life. Now at twelve years old she was starting to slow down a bit and seemed to enjoy the quiet times more often.

Murphy – The Intruder

To her dismay, one day a little black firestorm in the form of a Newf puppy, named Murphy made his appearance. Suddenly Kelsey’s life was uprooted from her peaceful existence to one of constant hectic activity. This little black fur ball, which at nine weeks of age already weighed 20 pounds, spent every waking moment zipping around the house, over this, under that and never too far from wherever Kelsey was trying to relax. Kelsey’s first reaction was one of disdain, ignoring this little creature (or trying to). Then came the discipline period, where she attempted to set this boisterous little guy straight as to who was the boss around here. And Murphy learned quickly.

The first lesson was on his first night out of the crate when he was allowed to sleep in the bedroom with the rest of the family. He came into the bedroom with us and promptly took up a spot on the floor at the foot of the bed. He was innocently unaware (or maybe he just didn’t care) that this was Kelsey’s sleeping area. Several minutes later, Kelsey entered the room as usual and paused at the door, glaring at this nervy newcomer. She then rushed over to him, making quite a fuss, barking ferociously in his face and he wasted no time making his escape. This was our first experience seeing any aggressiveness from Kelsey in all of the twelve years she had been with us. We never forgot it and the intimidated Murphy never again slept in that particular spot.

At this point in our life, my mom was in her seventies and living with Ingrid and me, Kelsey and Murphy, the exuberant little ten or twelve week old terror. Mom was not too steady on her feet but was never bothered by Kelsey, who was a senior citizen herself and was also slow in getting around. But this Murphy guy had no respect for old age. He would tear around the house, run up behind mom, grab the hem of her housecoat and try to charge off running in the opposite direction. Mom was a true dog lover, but sometimes this little guy was just too much. When she was coming out of her room in the morning, she would stay hidden at first and call to us, asking if Murphy was around before venturing out. Many times we found Murphy lying in wait around the corner and when she made an appearance he would charge out from his spot and grab that hem. We all enjoyed those times immensely, including mom, although she never admitted it.

This little furry puppy very quickly grew into an impressive 150 pound gentle giant who towered over the 50 pound Kelsey. But Kelsey’s training had been a success. She was the boss and Murphy knew it. Kelsey’s energy level also increased dramatically. She seemed to hurtle into her second childhood with a vigour she had not shown for years. As the weeks went by, the relationship grew and a tight bond was established between the two dogs. Hours were spent playing tug-of-war and wrestling matches dominated the evenings. With every game played, the winner was never in doubt. Kelsey always came out on top. She always won the tugs-of-war, and consistently won the wrestling matches by ending up on top of Murphy with her teeth wrapped around his throat. Both dogs relished these times and the relationship flourished.

Murphy now joined Kelsey in her wanderings down the creek in the winter to join in with the children and other dogs on the ice. It was as if Kelsey was showing him the ropes. They would frolic away from home for a while, then run back, often bringing along one of the other dogs, usually another Golden, to play around here for a while. Then back down the creek.

These activities, however, did not take place during the summer season because without the frozen creek there was no way for them to get across. During the spring and fall the ice is often not thick enough to hold a 150 pound dog, as Murph discovered one late fall day. I was in the house, dogs were in the back yard. Every few minutes I would look out to make sure the two were ok. At one point I looked out and could see only Kelsey standing on the dock. I heard Murphy’s crying coming from somewhere and when I went to the dock discovered that he had tried to cross the ice and had gone through. He was swimming in circles in the middle of the creek. Every time he tried to climb out the ice would break and he would fall back in. So, what to do? I knew immediately that I was going for a winter swim. I walked out on the ice and waited to go through. What a terrible feeling, but once in the water the duty at hand made me forget about the cold. I hoisted him up on to the shore and off he ran with Kelsey as if nothing had happened. I, on the other hand was soaked through and shivering uncontrollably. However, this was a small price to pay to saveour boy.

Every now and then something will happen which teaches us about another quality of these dogs, previously unknown. One of these incidents occurred one day when I was out in the woods with Kelsey and Murphy. At the time Kelsey was about 12 years old and Murphy was a young, healthy 150 pound boy. We were walking in an old park of about 100 acres which had been abandoned for several years and was now almost back to its natural state with overgrown trails and roads. Water inlets and streams wind their way through this “paradise” and the abundant wildlife is everywhere. On this particular day the three of us were making our way through the long grass and shrubs between a stream on one side, and a heavily wooded area on the other.

At one point I realized that the dogs were not with me and I turned around to go back to see where they were. As I was making my way back, I came upon a huge deer, a mature buck standing at the edge of the wooded area. I was very close to him, about 20 feet, but he had not seen me. I stopped and stood very still just watching him as he slowly crossed in front of me, making his way to the water. This was an amazing sight and for the moment I had forgotten about the dogs. Then to my amazement, emerging from the woods, from the same spot as the deer and about 10 feet behind him, strolled Kelsey and Murphy, very calmly, seeming to not even notice this huge animal in front of them. As I watched, the deer slowly turned away from me and wandered up along the waterway and the dogs turned towards me. We three then turned and continued our walk in the opposite direction. Needless to say, I could not understand what had just happened. Why these two dogs had reacted the way they did, which was – no reaction at all, is a mystery to me. It was as if this was a most normal occurrence, nothing out of the ordinary, something that happens every day.

Kelsey & Murph

Quiet moment with Murphy

Next post will introduce Bailey, the garbage disposal and Enchantee, The Collector

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