It’s Saturday morning.  Are you e-v-e-r going to get up?  <g>  Well, I got to sleep until 8, so I’m neither eligible nor interested in complaining.  It’s a lovely morning, and the sun is sifting in.  My lovely companion places her chin on the quilt and looks at me sincerely.  Then she raises her head, smiles, looks intently into my eyes and then to the bed, then back to me to be sure that I am following her gaze.  Her head doesn’t move, just her eyes, her deep, dark, warm, wonderful eyes.  Her face is remarkably expressive, and her expressions can convey volumes without effort or language.  (not that she hesitates to use language when she thinks that is necessary)

She looks at me again, then at the quilt, since I didn’t seem to “get it”.  “No, sweetie, I’m sorry, but girls in heat can’t get onto the bed, and besides, there isn’t a cover sheet to pull up.”  There is a cover sheet but it is sitting on the chest instead of across the foot of the bed, where it can be pulled up quickly when someone with quick reflexes decides that it’s Saturday (or close enough), so it’s time to have a waking-up-in-the-morning party on the bed.  Sometimes, I think all it takes for a signal is for my breathing rate to change, but most often they observe carefully to see if I’m really awake.  They may get up and stand close to my face for a few moments.  At that point, if they’re generous, they will wait until both eyes are open, and sometimes until I sit up.  Well, they are generous, after all.

Jade has her own set of “uniqueness”, and I’m always interested in learning about the unique minds that come to live with us, from the time they arrive until they can no longer be here.  It’s a marvelous adventure.  Among Jade’s set of unique attributes is her mouth.  She was not a snap-igator puppy; this was good.  But neither did she learn to do the polite nose-bump.  At 4 1/2 years old, Jade still greets the world “mouth-wide-open”.  Newfoundlands, in addition to visual and olfactory sensory evaluation methods, must have extra-sensory perception in their tongues.  A common sound, one that you become familiar with, is the sound of that tongue in motion, self-grooming, licking their front legs, cleaning their food dish or cleaning something nearby, grooming the cat, etc.  Those big, giant, washcloth-sized tongues!  Sometimes they gently and lovingly caress the arms or legs of their human partners.  Those tongues were not only meant to experience the world but to show their affection.

In Jade’s case, her tongue may typically be in it’s holster, but the holster is often wide-open, especially if she’s excited.  So when she is “hot on your heels” behind, you can feel a bump of a wet, soft, open mouth on the back of your leg.  And when she wants to get your attention (apparently you weren’t listening with your eyes), she will do her version of a nose-bump, thrusting a wide-open mouth into your belly (your soft spot, not your harder ones) with a jab-like motion, leaving a wet spot behind and leaving no room for doubt that she’s trying to tell you something.  Here is where a little communication would have helped.  Had I said, “It’s not quite ready yet, you will have to wait,” or “I can’t right now, wait just a moment”, it would have been a good response to her initial gaze.

Jade seems to think that all beings and objects can read her gaze.  As a puppy, she learned to telepath the back door to cause it to open.  So, humans may have unintentionally reinforced this notion.  To this date, she comes to the back door to be let back inside and expects it to open.  She will wait patiently for a short time, then give an agitated bark as if, “Can’t you hear the words that are coming out of my head?!”  Doors, like humans, grow harder of hearing as we grow older.

She’s not very vocal, most of the time, but she can be argumentative, vocally.  When she wants something, and you “get it”, she will be as physically close as possible, to reinforce your good behavior for “getting it” no doubt.  (Newfoundlands, like children, learn from an early age how to train their human companions.)  She is required to Back further away than necessary and instructed to Wait, to help her learn patience.  She may be told not to Crowd.  When your back is turned, at some point, she can’t restrain herself from taking a step forward, or perhaps two if you aren’t watching.  There is also the “Line Drawn in the Sand”, the threshhold between the dining room and the kitchen, when Newfs who are underfoot are banished from the kitchen.  For this, she will stand as close to the line as possible, then lie down, conveniently placing her front feet and part of her legs across the “Line Drawn in the Sand”.  When caught, she is re-sentenced to remove herself from the kitchen and reminded about the line.  To this, she will usually respond with an argumentative bark or a forced sigh.  I said she was lovely, I didn’t say she didn’t have her own opinion about things!

It is funny to watch entirely different thought processes at work.  When they are in the kitchen, Jade will lie still, hoping that you step across instead of send her out of the way.  Parker will be up and moving out of your way, sometimes more quickly than you are prepared for.  Parker will still, upon watching Jade or hearing the Back command, back further and further away.  He will sometimes look perplexed, wondering why Jade doesn’t get it or why she doesn’t follow his lead.  Jade will sometimes back half a step or more, then argue that it’s far enough!  Parker is certain that compliance will more quickly give him access to dinner.  Jade believes that she can argue her way into consent.  Yes, they are just like kids sometimes.  But since their meals are home-prepared, they often have to wait for their food to cool.  That may seem like a burden, but no one complains about the food once they’re released.

They are a lot of fun, entertaining, intriguing and beautiful.  I live with a very lovely Newfoundland girl, and a wonderful companion who is now eleven years old.  It’s not something that I take for granted, and each of their unique traits is something that I marvel about.  As they grow older, I still see their beauty and their youth, and their imaginations at work.

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