Christmas 2012, Part II:

On Christmas Eve, it was time to deliver a veterinarian present, pick up the meat for Christmas dinner and run a few other errands.  There were extra treats needed for their Christmas bags, so the Newfs got to visit Petsmart.  Parker did some shopping of his own and selected a red squirrel with no stuffing, but with some crinkly material inside.

The Buddy System

The Buddy System

The Newfs enjoyed running around with their humans.  It’s the kind of thing that makes a good Newf get nappy.  The Versa is barely large enough for two Newfs, but they share space well.  When the big brother lies in the middle of things, the “little” sister uses him as a chin rest.

On Christmas morning, Parker was fully in the Christmas spirit, and in the evening, he was still enjoying the day.  Delicious treat bags were emptied, then shredded.  Jade dismantled the blue box with white snowflakes to discover a fuzzy pink wild thing noisemaker inside.  She was completely enamored with this one, about as excited as a kid who had too much caffeine and sugar!  Parker unwrapped a purple noisemaker toy that sounded like a baby laughing and giggling nonstop.  There were two very long stuffies (frog, chick) that were also popular.  (Target often has something unusual that works well for Newfs.)  The giant chick stuffy got a little attention, but it has yet to be “claimed”.

The wind was howling outside, with the possibility that they may wake up to some of that white stuff that makes Newfs so happy.  However, this time the snow bypassed us.  My nephew and nieces had been wanting to visit during the winter because we had so much snow in the previous winters, but they got their wish this year!  The weather had moved south of us just enough that as it moved northeast, it covered their area in a thick blanket of snow.  Fortunately, they they didn’t lose power.

During the rest of the week, Parker began helping Jade dismantle parts that “shouldn’t be there”, like the little red fuzzy ball on the end of the snowman’s cap.  Jade became concerned, so she walked over and picked up her toy.  Then she caught on to the bait, and the rumble was on!

On Thursday, I left the Newfs at home, and when I came back, I discovered that Angry Birds hatched eggs!  Yes, little Angry Bird chicks along with empty shells were lying in the floor!

The final present for this Christmas was a treadmill.  This was for “me” with the intention that when there was “bad” weather, the dogs could get some exercise indoors.  (Keep in mind that “bad” is in the perception of the beholder, and this morning Jade was greeted by a blanket of white.)  Without knowing how much it would actually be used, and being aware that this is often the case based on the number of treadmills for sale on Craigslist, we decided to buy a used one.  Sometimes “new things” don’t always work out well, although I did begin using the Dremel (a previous Christmas present) recently after it sat in its case for almost 10 years.  However, exercise is very important to good health, and good health and longevity are very important to me.  So, I expect that the dust this will collect will be more from use than lack of.

We measured Jade in a stack and calculated her stride length to be sure that the belt length would be sufficient.  We decided that 60″ would be best. However, there are few of those available used.  So, we took both Newfs to a sporting goods store that had several new and used treadmills, set up for demonstration.  Jade is longer than Parker, so we had her stand on one that was 60″.  Parker thought the treadmills were marvelous, so he staked his claim to that one and laid down.  Since the 60″ deck looked almost generous, we had Jade get onto the next one (54 or 55″).  It looked like that would work well too, so Greg started the treadmill slowly and held her leash at the front.  We were prepared to respond quickly if the moving belt startled her, but she had no concern about it whatsoever and took enough steps for us to see that this would probably work.

Buying a used treadmill that met our requirements turned out to be a bit of a challenge.  The first thing that we learned was to check for parts availability.  Some models have problems with parts availability after a few years.  And some had consistent review issues.  We decided to stick with a few brands, one made in Missouri (True).  We found a used True that was in good shape, but it was old enough that it didn’t fold up and that parts were not available.  In our house, that would be a problem.  We found a few others that met our requirements, but quickly found that there were always replacement parts needed, and that these were often noisy, usually due to something that had long since needed attention.  We finally found one that was quiet, and it had been used very little and folded completely vertically.  It wasn’t quite as long as we had wanted, but we decided to try it.  If when we moved from walking to gaiting, we needed a longer one, we could get a different one later.  By then we would have a better idea how well it would be used.

True to the nature of our Newfs, when we brought the treadmill into the house, they were excited.  What was this?  Another toy?  We gated them away while we cleaned it, then navigated it through the doorway and into the place we had chosen for its use.  But wait!  That was close to the toy box, and in the vicinity of toys and the play area (also known as the living room rug).  It MUST be a new toy!

We didn’t want to curb their enthusiasm, so we negotiated with the Newfs to give us some space.  Parker quickly gave up the space where we wanted to install the treadmill, grabbed a toy, made a circle around us, then moved back into the treadmill’s space before we could lower it from the dolly.  After a few gyrations, we were able to get the treadmill off the dolly and move it into position.  Then we had to negotiate for the space to lower the deck.  We started the motor while the Newfs watched.  Greg got on to test it.  Then we invited Jade onto the deck.  Parker was so excited that he climbed on with her, and he was not to be easily discouraged!  We decided to let him try it, but his first attempt resulted in him landing behind the belt.  Then he tried paddling the belt with his front feet while lying down.  He couldn’t quite figure this thing out, but he was determined to see what could be done with it!  He was so excited about it that he kept trying to get on while Jade was on it, so he had to spend some time “behind bars” (the kitchen gate).

Jade made several attempts, then we found that a cookie worked well to get her to try to keep up with the belt.  I was surprised how easy it was to get her started.  Then we switched dogs and let Parker try again.  He would easily walk onto the moving belt, but when he reached the front, he would quit walking.  He would stand on the “moving sidewalk” until he went off the back.  He has no fear, which is usually a good thing.  But at nearly 11, he needed to avoid major calamity.  We got him to take a few steps, then called the first exercise complete for the day.

As it is now New Year’s Eve, it is time to review and plan for the coming Year, to organize and reorganize priorities.  The economic uncertainty for the coming year(s) is a concern to us all.  My parents were newlyweds during the Depression, and I think this was one of the factors that shaped a core value:  compassion.  With each new year, there are always uncertainties and opportunities.  May your New Year be blessed with fulfillment.

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