Seeger, we’ll miss you


We had to put our dog Seeger down on Tuesday morning. He was 14.5 years old, possibly older since we got him as a rescue in September 2000 and didn’t really know how old he was. See a copy of our e-mail to friends from fall 2000 about the story of how we got him.

Matt & Seeger – Fall 2000
Emily and Seeger – Fall 2000

Seeger was a mixed breed dog, probably a lab, rottweiler mix though possibly some Newfoundland. He was listed in ‘Uncle Henry’s as a Newfoundland mix I suspect that’s what Uncle Henry’s lists any large black dog as. He was 90 lbs when we got him but over the years, and after his knees and hips started bothering him, he got up to 125lbs or so.

When we first brought him home he was crazy, running laps in the house, never slowing down. He was just so excited to not be tied outside to a tree and to be with people he just couldn’t relax. We finally kept him on a leash in the house just to keep him under control. We almost gave him away, listing him in Uncle Henry’s as ‘free to a good home’ but by the time the ad ran he had snuck into our hearts and we couldn’t let him go.

Seeger and Marcus

In fact when I would walk him and let him off the leash in the woods near our house he would run down the path ahead of me a few hundred feet and then turn around and come charging back at full speed and would run right into me. I cant imagine this wasn’t painful for him but he would get up and do it again. I got very good at bracing myself or dodging at the last moment 🙂

We tried to crate train him for a while but he HATED it. We’d put him in it at night and when we went to work but he’d just bark and bark and bark… and bark and bark and bark. We figured eventually he’d get over it and but he just really hated that crate. Finally one night I let him sleep on the living room floor. No barking. No chewed furniture, just a very happy dog sleeping quietly. So we tried leaving him alone in the house outside the crate. No problems at all. Hallelujah!

He also really disliked thunder. We suspect this was a symptom from him being chained outside to a tree for god knows how long before we got him. But as soon as there we thunder claps he’d started breathing faster and would come over close to us.

When we first brought him home he was very interested in the cats but eventually got used to them and pretty much ignored them. One of our ‘kittens’ we got in Maine, Marcus, even started walking over and nuzzelling Seeger in the morning.

Matt & Dogs

When we brought home Oberon, our newfoundland puppy, in March 2001 Seeger was extremely happy we had brought him an interactive chew toy. No amount of trying to explain to him that this little 25lb puppy was going to (very soon) outweigh him and the two would rough house and roll around with each other for hours. As we expected. Oberon soon grew much bigger than him but they still would play together. They made a good pair, the big black lab mix and the excessively big Newfie.

Ironically, even though he was named after folk singer Pete Seeger he had a strong aversion to guitar or banjo. (Or maybe it was just Matt’s lack of skill on these instruments), but he would get up and leave as soon as either started making any noise.

He was a big sweet dog, very tolerant of having kids climb all over him. After his initial few months of craziness he eventually mellowed down to our speed and became a very calm and tolerant sweet dog. At one point a vet joked that he was so mellow they thought they could probably perform surgery on him without anesthetics.

Seeger and Owen – 2004

Sometime a few years ago his knees and hips started becoming and issue and he slowed down. He couldn’t take long walks any more, he’d just wait while I took Oberon ahead. But he hung in there and even started climbing the stairs at night to sleep by our bed. This was no small feat for a large dog with knee & hip problems, it was a huff and puff for 10 seconds. He kept up this pattern of coming up to our bed until his last days, which was very sweet especially considering the effort it involved on his part.

He was our first dog and it’s hard to realize he’s not lying on the floor nearby anymore. While he hasn’t been ‘active’ for years he was always nearby. We were lucky to have him and he will be sorely missed.


This video was from 2002 or so, Oberon is still a bit ‘puppy-ish’ in it but you get the idea of what he and Seeger were like together. The song in it, “He’s a Good Dog’ is by Fred Eaglesmith.

Finally, for the record here’s probably way more photos than anyone but us would care to look at of Seeger.

Oberon the goofy newfie, we’ll miss you

Oberon's giant tongue
Oberon’s giant tongue

Yesterday we said goodbye to our ridiculously big newfoundland dog, Oberon. He hasn’t been able to go up and down stairs for a while, I’ve literally been lifting him up and down off our porch (which is no small feat for a dog his size) and there wasn’t much hope of him getting any better. But I don’t want to talk about the end, I want to remember the highlights of the 12 years and 5 months he was here.

Warning, you don’t need to read all or even any of these, this is more just an excuse for me to put down all the Oberon stories I can remember in one place. You are welcome to read them all but it’s very possible these are really only of interest to those of us who lived with him. If you want the highlights, just watch the videos at the end of this post.

Oberon as puppy
Oberon as puppy

Oberon as a puppy 2
Oberon as a puppy 2

Emily & Oberon in his puppy pen

He was only 22 lbs when we picked him up from a local breeder, Amy Davis of Birchbark Newfoundlands, in March of 2001. As it turns out many of the dogs in Bar Harbor were from this same breeder, so we got meet his 1/2 brothers and cousins over the years. He rode home on Emily’s lap on the drive home, something that we never did again since he grew so fast, we literally felt like we could see him grow.

We finally settled on the name Oberon after some debate. Initially when we planned to get a newfoundland we said we would call him Bear. However after reading a number of books about Newfoundlands… everyone calls their newfie Bear. Oberon is the king of the fairies from Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and it seemed regal and important enough to fit a dog we knew was going to be ‘great’ in many ways. Personally I wanted to call him ‘Muppet’ 🙂

When we first brought him home our 1.5 year old dog Seeger thought he was the best chew toy in the world. We tried, in vain, to explain to Seeger that he shouldn’t teach this little dog to play rough since he would grow, but he just didn’t listen. Within 18 months or so Oberon was up to 180 lbs and would knock Seeger over without too much effort. Mind you, Seeger is a 130 lb lab/rottweiler mix so this took some effort 🙂

Oberon in living room

Apparently he was even extra big for a Newfoundland. As he was growing kept Amy up to date on his growth and she kept sending us very clear and articulate essays on not overfeeding him. We kept insisting that we weren’t and the e-mails went back and forth for a year or two until we finally met at a ‘Bernese Mountain Dog Day’ in Ellsworth and she inspected him first hand and said ‘He’s in great shape, not overweight at all, he’s just 40 lbs heavier than his father and any other dog from his litter’. Heh, lucky us I guess.

We attempted to fence in our yard in Maine. I forget what ‘guage’ wire fence I bought but at the time it seemed easily thick enough to keep a dog in the yard. To her credit, my friend Leslie who knows exponentially more about dogs than I ever will had said I should get a guage or two thicker but that seemed so unwieldy that it wasn’t worth the hassle. As it turns out, as was often the case, Leslie was right. Oberon not only would ‘squish down’ the fence by putting his pays over it but eventually he would, literally, just push through it. I watched him do this once from our upstairs bedroom window, he just pushed his nose into the fence and kept going. STRETCH/BEND/SNAP poof his head was on the other side and soon all of him was. Needless to say the amount of time I spent repairing and shoring up the fence, not to mention setting up farm grade electric fence systems and stockade fencing easily exceeded any additional time it would have taken to get the bigger guage fence. Oh and why was Oberon getting out of our back yard anyways? As far as we can tell all he did once he got out was go around to the front of the house and lay down in the driveway so he could greet us when we got home.

We would often forget how unusually large he seemed to other people until we took him somewhere public. Whenever we brought him to Bar Harbor he was like a mini-tourist attraction, dozens of people would cross the street to talk to us about him, Japanese tourists would ask for pictures with him (and would get a big slobberly lick when then knelt down next to him). We debated printing up flyers with FAQ on how much we fed him, what it was like living with him etc. He walked once in a parade in Southwest Harbor and got a large number of ‘Oohs & Ahhs’ from the crowd as he trotted along.

Oberon walking at night
Oberon walking at night

I also would walk the dogs at our house in Maine late at night and would often let them off the leash so they could explore around with out pulling me different directions. They would often go rather far off and then come running back at full speed to zip by me. This became rather normal and I didn’t think much about it until one night my friend J. Greg Williams was visiting and was walking the dogs with me and as we stood their in the street and could hear Oberon galloping towards us in the distance Greg’s eyes filled fear and he ducked behind me. I knew Oberon wasn’t going to run into us, but all Greg knew was that he was standing in the middle of a pitch black dark street with a 180 lb black dog he couldn’t see heading towards us very very fast.

He was always great with our kids, the most he would do when they were literally climbing all over him would be to stand up and move away, though since they’d just follow him he would rarely even do that.

Owen & Oberon 9/2010
Owen & Oberon 9/2010

Marshall & Oberon - 4/2012
Marshall & Oberon – 4/2012
 IMG_0258 DSC_0084


He and Seeger once chased a porcupine up a tree at Lamoine Beach and each got porcupine needles all over their faces. Oberon didn’t seem to mind this much even though they were in his cheeks and he didn’t even wince when we yanked them out. Along the same lines at one point in order to try to keep a curious Oberon, now tall enough to just stick his head in our kitchen garbage can, from snacking from there a friend suggested we try lining the edge of the can lid with ‘Bitter Apple’, a product supposedly so repulsive that it would repel curious dogs. This didn’t seem to be working so at one point when I caught him shopping in there I squirted some directly in his mouth. Instead of being repulsed he looked up at me, licking his chops and wanted more. So much for that product. (For the record, he did stop shopping out of the kitchen garbage eventually)

Oberon consults the wizard
Oberon consults the wizard

We went through a variety of ‘Big Dog’ chew toys and bones and quickly realized all these ‘This chew lasts for weeks’ products didn’t have Oberon & Seeger in mind. Most would last a matter of minutes. The only thing I saw last a week or two were ‘elk antlers’ (Seriously) purchased from my friend Leslie’s online store The Uncommon Hound.

I can’t exaggerate on how much fur this dog generated.  A simple brushing would result in mounds of fur the size of a normal sized dog, and there would always be more. Fur got everywhere, we’ll be finding ‘Obie fur’ for decades (as I’m sure whomever bought our house in Maine will too)

Goodnuss Gracious Great Balls of Fur
Goodnuss Gracious Great Balls of Fur

Oberon getting brushed
Oberon getting brushed.
Oberon in mid-drink
Oberon in mid-drink

Oh and slobber, there was lots and lots of slobber. Everywhere. Emily joked we could collect it sell it as a high powered glue. And he would get it in places we couldn’t figure out, like how did a hairy glob of slobber end up on the phone, or the TV screen or most often.. the ceiling. Ever try to chisel dried hair slobber off a matte painted ceiling?

I have other stories too but this is enough for now. I’ll just include a few more photos for the record and end with saying, we’re gonna miss you Obie. You were a great dog in so many ways. We knew when we got you you were going to be unique, but we had no idea how amazing you would be. Woof!

This was just me with my iPhone playing around with Oberon on one walk but it get his barking recorded, something he really didn’t do that often unless encouraged.

This 2nd video was from 2002 or so, Oberon is still a bit ‘puppy-ish’ in it but you get the idea of what he was like. The song in it, btw, is by Fred Eaglesmith.