When I brought Rudder into my life last November, it was just 3 months after I lost one of my Newfs, Baci, who had just turned 11. Baci was diagnosed with bone cancer in June of 2008. Bone cancer is a common canine cancer, especially of big breeds.
I did everything I could for Baci, including taking him to a university vet hospital for palliative radiation, since bone cancer is very painful. The vet originally said that he only had a month until pain meds would stop working and I would have to make that awful decision. He lived two months from diagnosis and his quality of life was just starting to wane when I decided to have him put to sleep. It was very difficult, losing this dog, because he and I bonded from the time I saw him in his litter at 5 weeks. I still have a part of him in my heart, and in his littermate, Dulse, my now 12-year-old Newf.
Dulse is still very healthy, although he has had bad hips since he was a puppy – he is a walking advertisement for Joint Care, Omega-3 Gel Caps, and keeping lean and fit. A lot of people want their giant dogs to be GIANT, even though sometimes it means the dog is obese. Not so with Dulse, who is a lean 95-105 lbs.
Dulse seemed a little lonely after Baci was gone, so I thought a puppy would do the trick – next spring. Then Dulse’s breeder said she had an 18-month-old in need of a home, so in November I brought Rudder into the pack. He is bigger than Dulse – taller, and weighs in at about 135 – but he was used to being the submissive dog, and Dulse, within the dog pack, has always been dominant. (I am, of course, the Alpha of the house – you have to be with any dogs, but especially with big breeds.)
And things have worked out so far. The only problem is when Dulse decides he needs to assert his dominance. Rudder submits, often rolling over on his back to show his acquiescence, but he often gets up fast, knocking over old Dulse in the process, but then Dulse gets right up and goes about his business.
Other than those times, and an occasional rawhide or toy taken away with a growl, it is working out famously and both boys seem to enjoy having each other around. I have also bonded with this wonderful, big-lug-of-a-Newf.