The adventuresome life of a Great Pyrenees/Newfoundland dog in Northwestern Ontario

Posts tagged ‘Cocoa’

Goodbye, Old Friend

Jeff the Tree Man paid us another visit, partly to haul away the Balsam Fir bits left from the fire, but also to take a look at a very old and ailing friend.

The bear Cocoa chased up the White Spruce tree.

There’s an old White Spruce that has stood about twenty feet off the eastern corner of the two-legger house. It used to shade my first house and hide it somewhat from the busy world of two-leggers. It’s the tree, I’m told, that my predecessor, Cocoa the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, chased a bear up one day. The scribe and her brother used to climb it when they were little two-leggers. The squirrels love to climb up to the very top and cut down spruce cones to feed on through the winter. The Robins like to nest in it some years. I’m sure it could have told us all kinds of stories about what has gone on in its branches and over our yard and bay, stories that were from many years before even Kay and Elizabeth moved out here nearly 50 years ago, for, the Scribe says, it was a huge tree even then. Mind you, she was much smaller in those days…

But something happened this year. I guess it had been happening for a while, but it really became noticeable this year. The giant Spruce was dying, and this summer, it seemed to die back an awful lot. Jeff the Tree Man said he’d better take it down. After the fire, we sure didn’t want the big Spruce to fall the wrong way and demolish half the house!

So, one day at the end of September when the sun came out (I think it might have been the only day the sun came out during the last half of September. I was beginning to wonder if it was still up there…), Jeff the Tree Man brought his ropes and all his saws. He rigged up the tree and climbed up very slowly, removing the branches as he ascended. The Scribe and I were doing our Bookshop gig that day so we missed the action. But Jeff the Tree Man wasn’t able to do the whole tree that day, so he was back the next, and I got the Scribe to take some photos for you to see.


There’s Jeff away up the tree. I think he sees us…

Watch Out, Elizabeth! Maybe he didn’t see us after all.

We’ll try that shot again. This is the bottom of the big White Spruce.

Look up further…

I told you it was a tall tree. There’s Jeff the Tree Man again.

Jeff came out for a third day to get the tree cut up so we could use it for firewood to heat the house in the winter. He also had to take down a dead Aspen so the Spruce wouldn’t get caught in it and hang, so we will also have some firewood from it, too.

Elizabeth says that the White Spruce was one of the granddaddies of our forest. There’s another one at the edge of our driveway. A third, which was the biggest, down by the creek, was decapitated in a very bad storm about five years ago. It seems to be surviving, but Elizabeth thinks its days are numbered. There are a couple more at the east end of the estate, too.

We all are very sad to see this tree go. The whole area it shaded will change now, and things will never be the same…

Under House Arrest

It’s that time of year again…

My two-leggers are so afraid of my fearless abandon when it comes to ridding the estate of undesirable intruders that they have placed me under house & bookshop arrest. I’m only allowed out on a leash and just before and after rides.

“But WHY?”

“Because, Stella. The hard water is thin and the Sneaky Deer with trees growing out of their heads are in rut, and it’s just too dangerous to be on our own out there!”

“I can look after myself.”

“Yeah… I know all about how well you look after yourself, Stella.”

“Oh. Well, yes. But I was young and foolish then. And, as I recall, it was you who went through the hard water last winter. Not me.” She did, too.

It was the strangest thing when it happened. She had run across our bay to get a picture, then she thought she’d go for a longer walk with me. As she went around the end of our point, there was a sort of popping noise and Elizabeth fell flat on her face. I came over to see what she’d cried out for, and the hard water began to make a funny cracking noise. Elizabeth yelled at me to get back, and she managed to get her leg out of the splashy stuff and the hole in the hard water. Then she rolled really fast until she was on the trail the noisy machines that travel on the ice make.

I had a good sniff at the hole she made. It wasn’t very big, but it was fascinating. Who knew the water wasn’t hard all the way down? I was able to have a nice drink of cold splashy water. It was refreshing!

We’d had snow flurries all day and the sun was just breaking through the clouds late in the afternoon. Elizabeth took this picture just before she fell through the ice.

Elizabeth looked a bit worried as she looked over our bay toward the house. It wasn’t very far away, but she’d got her whole left leg soaked and had to walk home through unpacked snow and up a steep hill in -27 C and wind.

Two-leggers are different from us dogs. They aren’t as hardy. She was swinging her leg in a funny way by the time we got to the door – all the human fur she’d put on it to go outside in the first place was frozen solid! I tried to help her by biting the ice out as we walked home, but that just got her angry at me. She wanted to get home in a hurry, I guess, and I was slowing her down.

“That’s true. I did fall through. That’s why I worry about you. What if that sly rascal Fox decided to lead you a merry chase —”

“I’d get him!”

“And he ran out onto the ice?”

“I’d get him!”

“Exactly what I’m afraid of.”

“What do you mean?”

“That sly rascal Fox weighs a lot less than you do. He can run over the ice and not fall through, and he knows it. But you have only one thing on your mind: catching that fox. And before you know it, the ice is breaking underneath you because you weigh at least four times more than the fox does!”

“Well, then, I’d climb out!”

Well, I got another couple of stories about a dog she had a long time ago and one about Cocoa the Cheasapeake Bay Retriever. Both Pup and Cocoa went through the ice and couldn’t get out without two-legger help. Elizabeth was able to help them, but she’s afraid she might not be able to help me if I got out too far, or if she didn’t hear me or realise I’d gone through. Pup and Cocoa were both Chessies and made for cold water, and they went through in the Spring and close enough to shore that Elizabeth could reach them with poles or by smashing through the almost candled ice to make a path for them to swim out. Fall ice, she says, is different.

And I’m not as strong a swimmer as the Chessies were. I’m only 1/4 Newfoundland. That’s the swimming part of me. And I don’t have the protective oily coat that sheds water – my wool gets soaked pretty quickly when I swim.

So, for now, I’m an indoors dog. I can still sleep under the stars if I want, and I’ve pulled my blanket out of my house a bit for just that purpose. As long as my wool is dry, I’m warm enough! But the only running and chasing I’ll be doing for the next couple of weeks will be in my dreams.


Less than a week left ’til my pal Siggy returns to his Island with his two-leggers! I can hardly wait.

I love the winter – the wind, the cold, the fluffy white stuff and water hard enough to run on. But there’s something I don’t like about winter. I get lonely. All my dog friends seem to disappear with the dropping of the leaves and the first fall of fluffy white stuff.

Last year when Siggy came home, I got so excited to hear his voice that I ran out across the hard water to visit him. His female two-legger, Karin, saw me coming. She called my name and told me to go home. I stopped because I was so surprised she knew my name, then I turned and went back to our point. I came home a bit sad because I thought Karin didn’t like me.

Elizabeth told me that Karin does like me, though, and that she told me to go home because she knew it was dangerous for me to be on the ice, or to visit other dogs and two-leggers without one of my two-leggers with me. I didn’t understand what the fuss was about. I thought Elizabeth was just trying to make me feel less rejected. So she told me a story to show me how much Siggy’s two-leggers really do like other dogs.

Cocoa Just Before her Adventure

Cocoa just before her Adventure

Elizabeth had a dog before me. Cocoa was a Chesapeake Bay Retriever who lived to be very old – 105 dog years old! It was because Elizabeth missed Cocoa so much that she got me.

Late in her life, Cocoa’s back legs got very sore and tired quickly, but she still loved to go for walks on Elizabeth’s trails and to cool off in the river.

One spring day, just after the water had become splashy once more, they went for a walk over to the point. Cocoa went down a rocky slope to get a drink and got stuck. Her legs wouldn’t work well enough to push her back up the rocks to Elizabeth. So, Elizabeth climbed down to help.

She couldn’t carry Cocoa up the hill. Cocoa wasn’t as big as me, but she was still too big for carrying. But Elizabeth saw a series of rock steps just under the water which Cocoa could take to get to a grassy beach that would be easier for her to manage.

Cocoa didn’t want to go into the water.

Elizabeth tossed a pebble out to entice her. Not far.

But it was too far…. Cocoa’s back legs wouldn’t work in the cold water, and Elizabeth couldn’t reach her to pull her back to shore. And she’d be risking her own life to go into the water herself. She called for help, but no one could hear her. Cocoa’s thrashing front paws were taking her out into the current….

Elizabeth ran all the way home to get the canoe and help. She says she was terrified that Cocoa might give up, so she called to her all the way home as loudly as she could to keep her spirits up.

Like me, Cocoa loved walks along Elizabeth's trails

Like me, Cocoa loved walks along Elizabeth's trails

When she got to the two-legger house, she phoned a neighbour with a boat, but got an answering machine. She had yelled over to the island where Siggy lives and no one had heard her, but she tried phoning them anyway. Siggy’s other two-legger, Dan, answered and told her he’d get out to Cocoa right away.

Elizabeth ran back down to the river and hauled the canoe down the hill with her and into the water. Then she paddled like mad around the point. She thought she heard Dan’s boat while she paddled across our bay, but she couldn’t see or hear it when she got around the point. And she couldn’t see any sign of Cocoa in the water.

Heartbroken, she paddled on, hoping she could at least find her old pal’s body to take home. It was one of the worst moments in her life. She’d just killed her best friend.

She kept paddling.

Then she saw the boat, pulled up on the very beach she’d been trying to get Cocoa to wade to. Kay was calling from the other side of the point… and there was Cocoa, wobbling up the hill to find her!

Elizabeth pulled up to Dan’s boat and he told her, “I couldn’t find her at first. Then I saw her nose, just before it went under. She’d drifted almost all the way over to our island! I was able to grab her collar, but I couldn’t get her into the boat, so I held her head up and maneuvered her over to this beach.”

Dan realised that Elizabeth had just about killed herself running and paddling (she has a lot of trouble breathing sometimes – something called asthma), so he loaded everyone and the canoe into his boat and drove them all home. He even helped take the canoe back up the hill!

Cocoa recovered and lived until the fall of that year, thanks to Dan’s quick response. Elizabeth says he and Karin are the best kind of neighbours anyone could ask for.

That's a view of Siggy's Island just about the time he leaves.

That's a view of Siggy's Island just about the time he leaves.

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