Greg and I decided to start a routine:  LIBRARY NIGHT.  As we both fill our schedules well, we made it a recurring appointment in Outlook, only quarterly, but a nice break from the usual routine.  We set our first appointment for our engagement anniversary (a day that we celebrate), but the next wave of snow storm was arriving, so we postponed our very first Library Date Night.  There is plenty of snow, which began as freezing rain on Valentine’s Day, and the lows have been flirting with single digits – and will be for the foreseeable forecast.

We cruised the area where the library sets up books of interest, sometimes according to a theme, and I found a book on old Irish poetry.  In this book, I found what became the Molly Malone song.  One thing leading to another, I sent a note about this to my sister, remembering that she used to sing that when I was a kid.  It’s nice how the internet lets you easily communicate with people next door or anywhere else in the world.  (She’s still on her Peace Corps assignment.)  She didn’t seem to recognize the poem, so I found the song on Youtube and sent that link.  She said that when she was a kid (1940s), she heard and sang a lot of Scottish-Irish songs.  I was smitten and a bit jealous.  When I was a kid, a couple of decades later, I didn’t hear those.  She was familiar with more of our ancestral influence than I was.  (Our grandmother was Irish; she passed before I was born.)  I found another of my (newer) favorite Irish songs on Youtube, along with some traditional songs by the same band, so in advance of St. Pat’s Day, will share that here:

The weather, with all of its recent persistence, has been much to Jade’s liking.  I’ve never met a Newf so enamored with the cold and snow!  But, it poses a problem for her.  As we are all capable of being children at heart, Jade gets pulled into her “childhood”.  She wants to play like a ruffian, only like her version of a ruffian, which is impressive but gentle.  Banner gets a little too serious and competitive about play.  Her idea of one-upmanship, as jealousy is often the case with the new kid on the block, was to spot Jade from across the yard and run like a bullet train, hitting her broadside.  (I think I heard you say “Ouch!”)  So, during the months, which seemed more like years at times, when Banner was growing into herself, and was a little too impressed with her increasing size, Jade would look around nervously for Banner every time she was outside.  She would hide behind the van door as soon as they got out of the van.  Eventually, with constant supervision when they were out together, which was sometimes not fast enough, Banner began to adjust and treat Jade with more respect.  Then came the cold weather season again.  Banner hasn’t been as driven to collision this winter, but has occasionally “spun out of control on the ice” (abandoned self-control).  Enough so that when Banner is loose outside, Jade starts to exit the cabin door, stops with the first half of her body on the middle step and her back feet still inside the cabin, looking for Banner, while we would like to close the door to that wonderful outside world.  When you’ve endured that kind of impact, it has a lasting effect, not only on your memory, but on your body.  This was like Banker when Parker was growing up, all over again.  Banker was a softie, like Jade, and Parker was determined to find a higher spot on the totem pole, however he could.  Parker grew up into a softie, too, and no one would have guessed what his early years were like.  Banner is a lot like Parker in personality.  She takes it up a notch in some ways, but is in other ways more judicious about her choices.  Parker ran straight into a tree one time in cat-chase-play; Banner ran into the Equalizer hitch on the back of the van.  Something about running at high speed sends horses and Newfs into a dream state, and dreaming with your eyes open is still a dangerous proposition when you are running as fast as you can.

Banner is still acclimating to the idea that the cats here have total freedom.  She loves to chase the cats, but doesn’t really want to catch one.  The teenager in her, though, wants to defy the corrections given by the cats, especially that fat black cat who thinks that she is Boss!  Jade is having her own struggles.  Since she doesn’t trust playing with Banner, Sylvia is her cat of choice for play.  Sylvia knows better than to respond to a play bow.  I think it will take a long time for Jade to rebuild trust with her favorite cat once the cold weather diminishes and she returns to a more mature state of mind.  (not that there is anything wrong with being young in mind or heart!)

The root of the competition issue is finding a place in the new “pack” (or pod) where you feel as important and comfortable as everybody else.  So, part of the steps required for adjustment are giving the newcomer ways to increase their self-confidence and self-esteem, without inadvertently encouraging the jealousy.  Walking them together is one good step, as is teaching them important words for communication and training.

Even though Banner has been with us for 16 months, her anxiety can still escalate when she is left inside by herself.  When we leave the house, Jade views it as a nice opportunity to enjoy a nap on the sofa. ; )  Banner, like most young Newfs, has some anxiety about this, and there are scratches through the finish on the new door trim at our front door to attest.  After we moved from the house to the cabin, I took steps to let her adjust to being left on her own in a new environment, leaving Jade in the cabin with her at first.  Despite any competition, the adult Newf often becomes the one the newcomer leans on to “learn the ropes” and settle into the new arrangment.  Limiting their free area can help, but even though the cabin is small, I learned this was still necessary.  They can increase their own state of anxiety when they have too much area, where they can run back and forth.  I found that keeping Banner in the bedroom when she was left inside by herself, with the curtain lowered and the baby gate across the bedroom door, worked better to keep her calm.  This is where she usually sleeps, and she is accustomed to the gate being up during the night, as a normal part of bedtime.

Part of the adjustment is the guided learning that comes with time and experience, although their antics can lead you wonder at times whether they have scrambled eggs for brains at this age.  <g>  Each Newf, as it is new to the home, has to find his or her place in well-developed existing relationships.  The incremental steps of learning will eventually help.  They are all different, and those active, creative minds will come up with “solutions” that you don’t always anticipate.

Now I have a picture puzzle.  Tell me, do you see a hellion in these images, or just a little angel?


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