Until a few years ago, my husband and I had always had small dogs, all of them less than 20 lbs. Over the years we discussed getting a large dog, but we were undecided what kind. We liked labs, but they seemed, somehow, very ordinary. We decided, finally, that what we would really like is a Newfoundland. If we were to go large, let us go GIANT! Besides, we like hairy dogs and what could be hairier than a dog which looks like a bear?
Then, six years ago an acquaintance had a litter of Newf puppies. We decided the time was right- we have a big fenced yard and a house with enough room to move around, even with a dog as big as a full-grown human. I picked out a black male from the litter and brought him home July third of 2005. He was 10 weeks old and as big as a cocker spaniel. We decided to name him Muzzy after a gigantic, hairy alien in the BBC Language Course (he introduces himself by saying, “Hi, I’m Muzzy…BIG Muzzy”) When we arrive home I put him in the back yard and went in the house for a few minutes. When I returned, he was lying underneath the sprinkler, letting the water flow back and forth across him. Yep. He was definitely a Newf.
Our other dog, a Yorkie named Kai, was used to being in a multi-pet family and had no problem adding to the pack. However, Kai, who is definitely the leader of the dog pack, gradually began to realize that this newcomer was going to be a problem. Muzzy is a very submissive dog and he accepted that Kai was the boss, but as the disparity in their sizes became greater and greater their relationship altered a little. Muzzy would lay flat on the floor so Kai could stand on his hind legs and put his paws on the top of Muzzy’s head and lick his face, showing that he was the boss. However, when Muzzy, still a puppy, wanted to play, he could easily knock Kai over in his exuberance and physically Kai could not dominate him. One time, he playfully picked up Kai by the long hair on his back (needless to say, we jumped in to rescue him!). Kai made good use of hidey-holes such as behind the couch to escape when Muzzy got too carried away when playing.
During the first two years of his life, we kept Muzzy gated into our kitchen/family room area to prevent chewing and housebreaking problems (which didn’t occur…) and Kai would take advantage of this and show his power by stealing Muzzy’s chewbones, jumping over the gate and then hiding them in the living room. He also ate Muzzy’s food, even though he had to stand up on his hind legs as high as he could to reach his head into the raised dish where the food was. (He still does this). In general, Muzzy will politely sit there and wait for him to finish. On a few rare occasions he has become annoyed with the little pipsqueak for stealing his food and lets out what can only be described as a roar and goes after him, sending the humans in the room into scrambling mode.
Don’t get the idea that Kai was just a “taker” in this relationship. He taught Muzzy to bark at animals outside in the woods. First, Kai would bark like a maniac at a deer. Next time, Muzzy would run up an look at Kai when he barked. The time after that, Muzzy ran up and started barking at Kai. Finally, Muzzy realized that Kai was barking at something and looked out the window so he could bark too. We were so appreciative of Kai for this help training his brother!
Last year I thought I would take some more author photos while my photographer friend was visiting and I thought it would be fun to put the dogs in the photo. The entire time of the shoot Kai was racing around, jumping up to lick Muzzy’s face, leaping off my lap, jumping in the air to look at the camera…well, you get the idea. Finally, I clamped Kai between my ankles and we got a great photo with Muzzy (160 lbs) lying nobly with his gigantic paws crossed next to me. When you see this serene photo, think of Kai, all 8 lbs of him, wiggling to get free from between my clamped ankles while the photo was shot.