Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Good Year

As always at this time of year we reflect on things we cannot change and look forward to a fresh start. This past year has seen a lot of adventures, some good, some bad but always we come out the other side intact and prepared for more.

The year started, of course, with the litter of twelve just a week old and thriving. By this time Halo was done like dinner and we were at a stand off over her nursing them. Only one more time Halo ... I promise.

They grew up like weeds in a fertilized pasture and 12 wonderful homes were beginning a new adventure in Ridgebacks. I met some really great people and made wonderful friends.

During the time the puppies were being raised Raimi, at just under a year, started his Champion point count and won a Hound Puppy Group. He loved being shown and was a ridiculous goofball just about everytime he went in the ring, but still, each time he improved and I could tell the pattern started to click with him.

March brought Halo's first litter's first birthday on the 14th, also the day little Weasley was born - little did I know this mischievous kitten was to be mine. My faithful old minivan found a new home with my friend Tanja to replace her dangerously sad Rosie Van. My van had little monetary value but I knew it was reliable and would see her through at least the next year. My replacement vehicle was a shiny not-new Ford Explorer which I love to pieces. March also brought a new cat, Mallaig, from the Happy Cat Sanctuary in Strathmore who settled in like she's lived with dogs her whole life.

In April Petal took her leave at 12 and a half years old. She came with us to the Red Deer show and was cheerful as always, happy to be out and included, even if she was a little slower than usual. Four short days later she made it clear it was time for the body to rest, so we said good-bye for now ... wait for me at The Bridge my darling Precious.

Raimi continued to mature into the spring and finished his championship in Medicine Hat with a third in the hound group. It was a great way to end his introduction to the show scene and he enjoys being my 'pet' until he's properly grown and mature enough to handle a show campaign schedule. Weasley came to us in May also, a darling bundle of kitten joy who snuggled and cuddled with a dog 96 pounds heavier than he.

June took us down to Montana for the show circuit there. Six days in the motorhome with my mom, her Pulis and one very large Boy. He did not understand the show routine and was off his food (until I hand fed him) but rallied well and brought home a major. He placed in his classes everyday and was getting the hang of the routine by the time it was over. The same circuit saw Geddie take home two majors and Zero's very first show, at exactly 6 months old, saw him win a Reserve to a major. A great circuit for Invictus. Halo stayed with Tanja and we decided she would stay there over the summer to see how it worked out.

July saw my 4th 29th birthday and I wanted to thank everyone again for a totally marvelous time! July also saw the very first show for the Christmas Eve litter. In three days we took all three puppy breeds, Rifka won two of them, Karma the other, started her point count and placed 3rd in a very large sweeps class. Rory did very well despite his sisters taking all the glory!

The end of July and into August had us at the ever popular Alberta Kennel Club show. I judged my very first Sweepstakes for the Alberta Sporting Hound Specialty and was vindicated in my decisions by a well-respected judge who chose my winners again almost to the letter. The balance of the show weekend was a little soured by some unsportsmanlike behaviour but in all it was a good time with friends and the weather cooperated. Oh, except the part where Raimi was running loose on the show grounds looking for me and when I went to collect him I missed taking Rory in for Reserve.

August introduced the never sought feeling of dread when you get a phone call about a car accident. Halo ended up with a bruised muzzle, some scrapes and probably a sore body for a couple days but recovered very well. Tanja and family were fine but we did bid a final adieu to the faithful minivan of lore.

In all the summer weather was weird, it never seemed to resolve into true summer and that took us into the fall with and odd feeling of no summer at all. Early in September saw Leeloo born into a litter of twelve and I had high hopes for a light wheaton white footed baby girl. Myself, my mom, Raimi and two Pulis headed to Montana again for a couple days but Raimi did not seem to feel well and thus did not show well. We did finish one of my mom's dogs and for that the trip was a success.

October brought a much anticipated trip to Nova Scotia and a nice vacation. The fall colors, which everyone talks about, were more spectacular than you can imagine. The hospitality and sane mentality was beyond anything I have ever experienced in Alberta and I strongly suggest everyone go there! It was much much too short a time to spend and I look forward to returning this year. Raimi stayed with Tanja and when I picked him up I'm pretty sure Halo was pushing him out the door!

November brought us to the Halo/Leeloo exchange and even though Raimi welcomed this little annoying bundle he was not really sure he was okay with her staying on a permanent basis. Halo, of course, settled into her life with Erin admirably and the wait began for her to come into heat. Our November weather was unseasonably kind this year and apparently it was just a fake out for what was coming.

December of course brings Christmas, stress, irritation, annoyance, tension, and aggravation ... but all these things exist in Calgary independent of Christmas so make of that what you will. The weather has been truly deplorable and everyone has had just about enough of the -20 temperatures. Raimi has fallen for Leeloo like every other creature in existence and we have established a peace in the house that no longer involves Raimi's sad eyes whenever I pet or talk to Leeloo. Halo is stubbornly refusing to come into heat but I am hopeful January will see a burst of moody, sullen, contrite, penitent behaviour which marks her heats and scars everyone's psyche.

In all it was a good year and I look back with few regrets. I set out a plan at the beginning of 2008 and by gum every single thing I set out to do has been done. I strongly believe a plan is paramount but must be flexible enough to accommodate the things in life you do not plan ... like an additional cat in the spring, a new puppy in the fall and the loss of a Precious friend.

Have fun tonight, forget making resolutions, meet the new year with a fresh face and my goodness ... what WILL you do with that extra second we gain in 2009?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Homeward Bound (?)

A few people will remember that Halo's full brother Corbin went missing in Arizona in October 2007. He got out of his owner's friend's house in an unfortunate set of circumstances and has been missing ever since.



He has been seen several times in the last year, often recognized too late and wandering up and down the desert outside Tuscon, Arizona. The hope of catching him stayed alive as he does keep getting reported ... so at least it was clear he was still out there.



Now, as 2008 winds to a close, with 15 months on the lamb, Corbin could be just days away from getting back on the couch where he belongs.




The story is a bit confusing but as far as I can gather, Corbin is now travelling with some 'desert gypsies' and their band of desert mutts. A woman and friends were riding in the desert and came upon a 'nomad' camp, they noted 5 dogs; 4 mutts and 1 dog who did not appear to belong. He was big, so huge in fact they did not want to dismount, and was barking at them. He was a deep rich golden color and was clearly a stand out. They acclimated him to the horses and eventually managed to approach the dog, discovering that he was extremely well trained.


The woman mentioned this to an aquaintance who knew of the missing Ridgeback and was shown a photo of Corbin. She could not swear it but felt very strongly that it was the same dog. No mention of the ridge. There are plans to head out and confirm his identity, on the sly, because I suspect there is a fear the gypsies will disappear if they think the dog is either worth something or will be 'stolen' from them.



Erin, Corbin and Halo's breeder, is working with the people in Arizona to confirm the identity of the dog. Corbin's registered name is Am. Ch. Aegis Beg, Borrow, And Deal and as it turns out he may have to live up to his name to ensure his safe return.


Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion! All our positive thoughts and hopes go out to Corbin, that it IS him, that he WILL be home soon, and that 2009 will start with an incredible bang.

Monday, December 29, 2008

All Quiet on the Western Front

It's been a pretty relaxing holiday thus far. Nothing exciting has occurred which I suppose is very good in a lot of respects. I'm not much into the holidays this year. I just want the holidays and 2008 to be over because 2009 will bring exciting things that I've been anticipating for years. Quite literally. More details will come up in the New Year but because of some circumstances I can't divulge too much just yet. It's a secret ... sort of ... but not. Email me privately for details if you wish - invictusrr (at) shaw.ca.

We did manage to go to the park on Saturday which was great because the past couple days the temperature has dropped yet again and no end of frustration for the dogs. They have significantly reduced their activity level and are napping most of the time. They now play madly in the livingroom and up and down the hallway making the wookie noises we all love so well.

Not good news with the new laptop. Fatal Error. Blue Screen of Death. So frustrating. Owned the damn thing for about 6 days. My mom warned me about Dell and now she gets the ultimate "I told you so" which I can live with unless it happens again. Then Dell is going to answer for it's incompetence. I'm sure the 2 hours on the phone, hard drive re-formatting and re-installation of the drivers and software will fix the problem. Right? It still won't connect to the internet so I'm stuck with the old laptop which is missing several key buttons and has what I suspect is a grotesque amount of dog hair, cat hair, crumbs, coffee drips and dog drool under the keys.

There is much napping to be had by certain dogs now, I'm heading out today to meet an old friend who's in town for a few days and the dogs know that once I leave they are given the treat balls and lots of goodies. Ah to be a dog ...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Stand & Deliver

Here is little Leeloo at 4 months on Christmas Day. She was 37 pounds and is in perfect weight for a puppy her age. She is such a sweet little girl and she and Raimi are madly in love with each other.



We were finally able to go to the park yesterday after 2 and a half weeks of bloody cold weather and Raimi went silly in the head. Leeloo tired to keep up but she does not enjoy drift bounding like Raimi so she stayed on the path and Raimi ran circles around her. Leeloo started to get cold so we headed home but they were satisfied with their run and are now, in the face of dipped temperatures once again, napping soundly on the couch.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Head in the Clouds


Being used as a pillow by a head that size must be disconcerting.
She was finding it hard to breathe but stayed put and went to sleep.
What a cute couple.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Christmas Story


After Christmas dinner nap ... turkey DOES make you sleepy ...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Christmas Carol

Happy Christmas to all across the world on this day of giving and time spent with family and friends.

The dogs and cats got their gifts this morning and are in the process of devouring some of them. There was a bit of an argument about who got what but they have sorted it out. Who got the better toy ... just like children except the toys were the same!

The cats, just as with children, were more interested in the packaging than the toys. Wrapping paper brings out the silly in a cat. They now have a dish full of cats treats and the dogs have enough goodies to last them til Raimi's birthday! They got more gifts than I did!

I bought a duck toy with a Santa hat which was intended for someone else's dog except my dogs got hold of it when it started quacking and now it covered in dog slime and not really 'give-able'. I switched out one of their gifts for the duck and the dog recipient will be none the wiser.

We've led up to this day for weeks, now it's here and I'm so glad 2008 is almost over. It's been a great year, has gone by faster than I could have imagined and was a success I think in all. Big things afoot in the new year, a new litter on it's way and more exciting things happening as we approach spring. Stay safe this holiday time and be merry!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Life Begins With Love

And it's a very Happy Birthday to the Christmas Eve 2007 litter! You guys were a great gift ... even if I didn't get a Christmas dinner!

Zero, Rory, Lulu, Bella, Mya, Mungo, Karma, Isis, Kona, Rifka, Shane, aaaaaaaand Ramsay!


















Here they are just hours old. What a handsome bunch. What a good mom ... for about a day ... and then things took a turn to total disinterest.




















You guys are lucky I was there to supplement or you would have starved! Your mother was more interested in the comforts of a couch than taking care of a bunch of whiny kids.


You were all super easy for a litter of twelve. So quiet and only woke up when cued for dinner and you let me relax in the evenings. It made being a 'single mom' so much easier!




















Once on the move things got a little dicey but we still managed to maintain a semblance of sanity. It was easy to keep up and I only lost a couple of you once or twice in closets and behind curtains ...


You almost ate me out of house and home - in the last week I went through a 40lb bag of dog food every 3 days. You sure loved your food then and I'm sure time has changed nothing!



















It started to get crowded, tempers flared and I knew the time was close for them to go. Some pretty significant smells started to accumulate and I was going through an incredible amount of newspaper ... recycling at it's finest.


















I was sad to see the end of the twelve puppy Christmas Eve story ... Halo sure wasn't. but knew that your stories were just beginning. I'm so proud of the dogs you've all become and the homes that take such good care of them.


















Happy First Birthday to all of you and I hope no one gets shorted on birthday gifts just because you were born so close to Christmas! Kisses from your extended family!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Perfectly Normal

We have been waiting with baited breath for the last few weeks to get Halo’s Degenerative Myelopathy DNA test results to determine whether she is normal, a carrier or at risk. You can read about DM here.

Merry Christmas from Halo to all her babies and her future babies … she is NORMAL!

Halo was bred twice to Travis who has not yet been tested but is consistently producing DM normal puppies which means he is likely also normal.

Halo will be bred to Zuli in the next month and he is also normal. If Travis comes back normal this means that none of Halo’s babies, past, present or future, will ever suffer from Degenerative Myelopathy.

This is a fantastic Christmas gift from Halo to me, Erin at Aegis, all her babies and the breed. If any dog was going to pull it out of the hat it would be Halo. She continues to excel and exceed our expectations at every turn.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Born to Win

Of course here we are barely hours away from Christmas and I’m wondering to where the last year disappeared. It was just moments ago I was waiting impatiently for Halo’s Christmas litter to arrive. It would be a year ago today that the litter was born … well, technically. They were born the Monday before Christmas which was Christmas Eve last year.

She went into first stage labour at about 10pm on the Sunday evening. I felt sort of bad because we’d gone for a Fat Momma walk that day. Granted it wasn’t exactly a fast walk but she stretched her legs and got some fresh air – the weather was considerably different! Petal appreciated the slower pace I’m sure and Raimi bounded around us like a 9 month old puppy would.

I remember looking at her sitting next to me on the couch earlier that evening. She had arranged her bulk in her usual spot on the couch and just … sat. Looking at nothing and yet looking inwardly at everything. She sort of spaced out and if you said “Halo” she would snap out of it for a moment, give you a second of attention, and then internalize again.

Eventually she started with low grade contractions which can go on for hours. We prepared for bed in the dog room, everyone lay down and I tried to get some rest. Halo was up and down quite a bit and every time she was restless I’d wake from a light sleep. She’d lay down again for another 20 minutes and then be up tearing paper, re-arranging towels, and generally nesting. The behaviour gradually increased in intensity as the night wore on.

She asked to go out to pee once or twice and she waddled around the backyard without peeing so I knew we were close. I called her in and told her no puppies were to be born in the yard! Strong contractions began at about 7am and around 8am on Monday morning Christmas Eve 2007 the first puppy arrived. It was a long day with puppy after puppy about every 45 minutes, some faster, some slower but they just kept coming. And coming. And coming. I was exhausted, Halo was exhausted and Raimi could NOT understand why he was not allowed in the room! Petal just slept on my bed.

It’s not technically the Christmas Eve litter’s birthday today but it is exactly a year ago, per week count, they were born. And here we are again waiting for the next Halo litter to be conceived, waiting for the first sign of heat and waiting, always waiting, to see what beautiful Ridgebacks we will get. It’s a never ending cycle to keep the breed alive, to improve what already exists and to find forever homes for the babies you so carefully create.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

10 Things I Hate About You

“There is a fear that the Ridgeback will be construed as a popular breed and bred to death as a result of being listed on a site like Kijiji (quite a leap of assumption)”

The Ridgeback does not suffer from the same glut of popularity in Canada that it does in the US. There are several reasons for this and they are reasonably simple. Weather. Country population. Breeder population.

Weather. Sucks it. Really … an African breed so seriously does not want to live here. You can wrap them up in booties and coats and snoods and leggings but they will never love the cold.

Country population. Our population is about a 10th of the USA. Such a low population means the odds of Ridgebacks gaining a comparable popularity to the USA is not something bettors would put money on.

Breeder population. Look at the club website. Even if you assumed there were the same number again of non-member breeders in Canada that’s still a very low number … between 30 and 40 probably in the entire country. Not all of them are breeding either, some people only breed every couple years and some people don’t breed at all, they just have websites to show off their breed and their interest in it.

So the argument goes that if Joe Irresponsible sees a reputable breeder on a site like Kijiji that he will assume the breed is popular and get one to breed to his Rottie because a ‘lion hunter’ to his Rottie will make an even tougher breed. Or someone un-ethical will see the ad and decide to churn out puppies because they have the idea that the dogs will sell like hotcakes.

Say uh, what?

What’s to stop them from seeing the breed pretty much anywhere else? It’s not like they are a secret. Anyone could see a Ridgeback at the dog park. Shopping at a pet store. Walking down the street. Riding in a car. On TV. In a movie. A vet brochure (coming out soon!). A magazine. A dog food bag (there’s an RR on the Large Breed Iams bag).

An ad in Kijiji placed by a responsible breeder would make it pretty darn clear that no breeding to the Rottie would occur and no puppy will be sold to someone intending to start a puppy mill. They can ask. And get educated. They may listen. Or not. The point is an opportunity is wasted if the right information is not there at all. If they see the dog at the park, search Kijiji for one, find a ethical breeder and get educated then what’s the problem?

To ignore the opportunity to educate for fear that the breed will be construed as popular is a little short sighted. Certainly the breed is becoming better known, which is not the same as popular. As long as what people find online are good sources for information and education then there shouldn’t be a fear of popular breed syndrome.

There seems to be a misconception by some breeders that they can control what other people do. Sorry … you can’t. People lacking in moral fibre will always find some way to inflict their poison on society and they know, through experience, you can’t do a damn thing about it if their actions are not illegal. Breeding dogs irresponsibly is not illegal and you can’t stop them – it is however; illegal to harrass, slander and libel them. (You know who you are.)

Long Day's Journey Into Night

I just had to boast a success story because I've been pretty frustrated with Leeloo's refusal to 'hold it' while I'm out. I had to go out yesterday afternoon and couldn't take the dogs so I debated about what sort of situation to leave them in.

Leeloo in her expen and barking all afternoon and evening?

Or Leeloo loose with Raimi in the dog room and no barking?

People live above me and her barking is not okay.

So I left her loose in the room with Raimi, put down lots of paper in the hope that she might hit a couple sheets when she did go. I was gone longer than I intended, a full 8 hours, and turned the key in the front door with trepidation. The house was quiet which was a good thing because it was midnight and everyone was asleep.

Sniff.

Nothing.

So I walk into the dog room and there before me is a rearrangement of basically everything in the room but no poop! So I let them out and inspect closer looking for pee. No pee! Hooray! Not sure what brought on this unexpected development but I certainly don't expect it to last.

So we will see how she does over the next few days but such a positive step forward is a boost in my confidence we will lick this problem!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Guardian

Something came up that I thought I'd touch on in regard to dog ownership. For the last few years there is an increasing trend of changing the semantics of how we refer to dogs. 'Selling' puppies becomes 'adopting' puppies. Changing the word 'owner' to the word ' guardian'. What we call something also alters the way we think about it and how we perceive it in society. Think about political correctness and the ridiculous lengths to which it's been taken ... it's a dangerous trend.

My dogs are not my children. They are dogs. I am responsible for them and their well being. They are not my equals. They do not have the same rights that I have as a human. It is my job to ensure they are able to function in a foreign world of people and social structures that they could not navigate safely without my assistance.

I sell my puppies. I do not adopt them out, I am not an orphanage. I own them. I create them and therefor they are mine until I sell them. Sales come with contracts to ensure that the puppy's well being is taken under consideration for its lifetime. The people who buy my puppies do not give me an adoption fee; they pay me for the puppy, the time it took to raise it and everything leading up to getting that puppy safely to 8 weeks old.

I can't express it better than this article by Jon Katz. Please take the time to read it. Whether or not you agree with his opinion it is certainly food for thought.

Can't Hardly Wait

It’s been slow going with Leeloo and the crate training. By far she is the very worst puppy I’ve ever had to crate train.

Every time she goes outside she pees within moments of feet hitting snow. No problems there. The only times she’s peed in the house is when I haven’t been watching her carefully enough.

The crate thing is now completely beyond me and I’ve given up. Three days in a row this week I came home to a pee covered puppy and crate. I know she hasn’t peed in anticipation of me coming in because it’s partially dried to the crate and her. She doesn’t care if she sits in it for hours. So rather than waste my time cleaning her and a crate for a half hour whenever I come home, I’ve put her back in the ex-pen with paper. No pee on the puppy, easy to clean up and it preserves my sanity. I didn't anticipate or appreciate the poop smearage of Thursday but I need to be consistent and will stick with the expen for now.

She is a smart dog. I know she’s smart. This … huge stumbling block. She can hold it for 9 hours at night (yes I get 9 hours of sleep most nights … sue me) but she can’t hold it during the day. Very annoying.

So I’ve changed the routine. She gets about 2 cups of water in her food in the morning and that’s it – no bowls are down. She won’t die of thirst while I’m out. She gets peed when she wakes up and then again just seconds before I leave. There is no water in with her. She needs to develop the habit of not peeing in her pen during the day. It will be slow progress and I’m pretty much prepared for that at this point.

One thing I hate is a dirty dog. Hate it. Can’t have it. Raimi can hold it all day and has been able to since he was about 3 ½ months old. There is no reason Leeloo can’t too.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Very Bad Things

Owning dogs is a real treat. Often things happen that one day will be a funny anecdote but in the moment you‘re mostly restraining yourself from committing dog homicide. I actually have an upcoming post that covers part of the problem here but this was just too good not to share. Want a Ridgeback? Really badly? Are you sure? Okay … read on …

The dogs are separated during the day but are in the same room. Leeloo is in her ex-pen and Raimi is loose in the dog room but blocked from getting out by another ex-pen. The door to the room is open to facilitate the expen set up – it’s complicated to explain but let’s just say the door to the room stays open.

Lately Leeloo and I have had a bit of a stand off over her inability to not pee or poop during the day so she is in her expen with newspaper. By this age Zero was able to hold it all day and be loose in the room with the adult dogs but Leeloo is of a different mind. In fact so different it has started to affect Raimi’s behaviour.

How?

Well, yesterday I came home and as I walked up to the house I heard a bark. A big bark. The kind of big bark a bog dog does when someone is approaching his house. The bark did not come from the room he was supposed to be contained in, it came from the kitchen. Sigh. So Raimi is out. All kinds of things ran through my head such as what he’d ruined, how he got out and how I was going to prevent this from happening again.

He was all joy when I walked in and I was immediately even more unhappy. I’m always happy to see The Boy but it was more the smell that set off my annoyance radar. It was coming from the dog room where Leeloo was barking off her fool head in excitement and irritation.

I fended off a very excited Boy and herded him outside, let the (shit covered) puppy outside and (almost) successfully prevented her from getting shit on me.

I took stock. Puppy pen smeared back to front and sideways with dried, caked-on puppy shit. Crate, blankets, toys, floor, wall and pen wire panels coated. Not diarrhea, not explosive, not abnormal in anyway … just … pooh. Thankfully I don’t think there was much, if any pee mixed in … the consistency was too thick. Yes … I really did just write that.

I then took stock of the property damage caused by Boy in his attempts to amuse himself.
* Large cardboard box(pizza size but not a pizza box) torn into a million pieces in the kitchen
* one winter boot in livingroom
* one winter boot in hallway
* my toy Tigger in livingroom (he has an obsession with Tigger)
* my teddy bear in livingroom – eye missing
* one sock in livingroom
* one sock in hallway
* couch moved
* bed comforter very rumpled and clearly slept on
* slipper in livingroom
* and more importantly – and entire dish of Christmas ju jubes … gone. Raimi luuuurvs sugar.

I also think he spent much of the day playing with the cats because the curtains were all askew and they looked tired. Fortunately he didn’t actually do damage except partially blind my teddy bear. In all I’m thankful it was a near miss and that my Christmas tree is on a table.

So how does this happen? Well, when I was cleaning out the puppy pen Raimi was hiding around the corner and when I called him he (I kid you not) peeked around, sniffed low, looked at the poopy pen with distressed eyes, and backed away. I’m quite sure that after the poop parade came through he decided being trapped in a room with Shit Stink Leeloo was not cool and he wanted OUT. He hopped on a crate next the pen (which has since been moved) and jumped over.

Leeloo doesn’t care if she’s covered in shit or pee. It is so un-Ridgeback-like of her I’m not sure what to do. As I said I have another post coming up devoted to that topic and I welcome suggestions how to combat it. It is literally like she is an 8 week old puppy who stomps through the waste and doesn’t notice. I am now treating her like an 8 week old and we will make slow progress toward crate and pen training … but it’s a weird thing to have to do.

Poor Raimi. He is so good … but he just HAD to get out of that room. Can’t say I blame him. It took hours for the smell to dissipate despite Mr Cleaning it twice and Lysol spray. So far this week my ‘welcome homes’ have all involved pee or shit in some capacity …

Far and Away

I thought I would update Halo’s situation since she’s been out of the picture for a few weeks.

Halo is bossing the Ridgebacks of Utah around and not in heat yet. I’m putting her between Christmas and New Year’s to actually come in because she seems to go about 6 months and a couple weeks between heats. If we’ve hit the middle of January I’ll wonder if she’s effing with me for kicks. She’s totally like that. Fortunately I have Leeloo now and that will really piss Halo off. We are love/hate Halo and I.

She was bossing around Erin’s aged Standard Poodle who was both deaf and blind and Halo had to be told off a few times for her bee-yotch behaviour. Sadly Keeno crossed the rainbow bridge a short time ago so Halo has to find someone else to pick on – hopefully they can at least see and hear.

Halo will either be happy or jealous to know that Raimi is slowly transferring his ‘love’ to Leeloo. This bigger Leeloo gets the more he seems to think she’s a good Momma substitute. I think Halo might be pleased with the transference because when she comes back chances are she’ll be in whelp and last time she was SO not interested in playing at all anytime thank YOU very much now eff off. Leeloo’s presence will ensure that Boy’s Momma harassment is at a minimum.

It’s hard to plan a breeding from so far away. I know it’s a bit of an inconvenience to Erin to have Halo and I’m depending on strangers to get the dogs together and make the magic happen. Halo will be fine – Halo is fine in pretty much any situation you put her in. I don’t think I’ve ever met a dog more stable than Halo … you can ask her for practically anything and she will hardly ruffle a feather.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Stand By Me


The Devil Wears Prada

“Breeders who post on Kijiji are in league with the devil … or words to that effect”

A reputable breeder who posts their kennel on Kijiji could be tarred as a bad breeder by their peers. There is a truly simple and silly reason why. I’ve actually already covered it here. Breeders can and do treat each other with disrespect sometimes.

It may surprise Average Joe that some breeders get along about as well as two male Betta’s in the same fish tank. You know those fish, they were long known as Siamese Fighting Fish – can’t have them together or they fight.

It’s not that breeders can’t get along, we are supposed to all be working toward the same goal, the improvement of the breed which means we are all working for the greater good(ha!). I have friends in the breed who I trust and respect absolutely and while we don’t always agree on type and structure we see past the differences and get along just fine. Some others I just can’t stand – and not because I don’t like their dogs but because I have a very low tolerance for hypocritical and passive aggressive behavior.

What would happen to you if you were a reputable breeder and you posted your kennel on Kijiji? You might find great new homes for your puppies BUT you may also reap the reward of disdain, judgements, rumours, libel, slander, lies, and snot-raggery of other breeders. It won’t actually matter the quality of your dogs if you post with an online board or in the newspaper; you could be shunned.

I guess I just don’t care what other people think unless they have first earned my respect. It’s hard to earn my respect and once lost is almost impossible to regain. Does anyone care? Probably not. There is a silent peer review when it comes to dog breeding and people are loathe to buck the norm in case they gain the ire of other breeders.

So what?

If you know what you are doing is ethical, moral, safe, sensible, and in the best interest of your dogs then do it. As a member of the breed club you will have read the Code of Ethics so follow it to the best of your ability, if you’re not a club member (for whatever reason) you should have a keen understanding of the rights and wrongs involved in dog breeding. Why does it matter where potential buyers saw your kennel name? There actually aren’t any breed police despite what some people think. Some people think they ARE the breed police and have libeled, slandered, harassed and harangued people out of the breed.

Is that okay? Clearly not but it has been done and will be done again in the name of ‘breed guardianship’ which is just a smoke screen of hypocrisy and dangerous politicking.

So as snotty as some breeders come across to the public … we are way, way harder on each other. Sometimes with legal implications if we’re not careful.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Inside Man

I tried last night to post this but for whatever reason Blogger zapped it and it disappeared. Friggin' super. So I'm trying again.


Leeloo and Raimi are getting used to their restricted exercise and are changing their indoor habits to make up for the lack of run time. This means playing in the house. Playing in the house means lots of wrestling, yowling, barking, cat stalking, games of keep away, and furniture re-arrangement interspersed with my admonitions to stop the noise, get out of the way, put that down or leave the kitty. Relaxing evenings they are not.

This is what they get up to only it's all over the place, not just the couch. I just try to keep out of the way.




This is Leeloo post-raucous-playtime. Actually this was during the -30 degree stint and both dogs were not interested in doing much more than sleep.



Isn't she just so darn pretty? I love that she is not manipulative like Halo. She is a thinking girl but she only problem solves in the moment, she's not yet problem solving for future gain.




And we all need private moments.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Day After Tomorrow

Okay so it's freakin’ cold.

Add to that the fact that Leeloo got caught in my laptop and yanked out the internet cable(without carefully depressing the plastic stopper with her thumb so it broke and now can’t be plugged in) on Friday night thereby rendering me internet-less all weekend. She seems to have some sort of aversion to my laptop … hopefully she likes the new one which is on it’s way as I type.

Since it is -30 Celsius now and was all weekend I was figured I could live without the internet for a couple days and not bother to drive anywhere to get a new one.

It goes without saying how the dogs feel about the cold but they react different ways. Raimi’s body is okay but his feet get cold. He successfully stood on two legs in the middle of the yard with a forlorn look on his face. The look said “Come carry me to the door.” No chance. For a dog so worried about his cold feet you’d think he wouldn’t be picky about where to poop but no … the poop location decision is still a major one regardless of temperature. By the time he’s found the perfect place his feet are so cold he can’t think to poop. We tried his booties but he spends so much time worrying about the booties that he forgets to do anything except think about his booties. I’ll try them again today and see if he will learn to use them properly.

Remember how I said Leeloo was super smart? She has already figured out that the faster you poop and pee the faster you get to come back inside. She zips out the door, walks 3 feet, pees, walks another 2 feet, poops and then comes to stand by the door. Raimi hasn’t even chosen his spot to pee yet and she’s already emptied both holding tanks. Her body seems to get cold faster than her feet so she stands shivering and looking miserable while Raimi makes his decisions. If I open the door they both come in whether they've completed their assignment or not so I wait.

Fortunately where I work has an underground heated parking garage so if the weather hasn’t let up by this weekend I’ll bring them to the garage and let them run around. The office is closed on weekends so there won’t be any cars or traffic (it’s a secured garage) and they can blow off some steam. Of course I hope there is a break in the weather but the rest of the week unto forever looks pretty dismal.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Da Vinci Code

Reputable breeders are not Special Citizens touched with Divine Power. Being a purebred dog breeder makes you a ‘specialist’ in a particular field. That’s it. That’s all. No special privileges as a human being.

The impression I get from the general public that they think dog breeders are crazy and are not sure what all the fuss is about. To most people a dog is a dog.

I mean really … what IS all the fuss about?

Breeders are experts at fuss. We fuss over everything. The shape of a dog’s eye. Timing the progesterone levels of a bitch. Becoming the number one dog in your breed/group/country. What handler you hire. Whether Rescue should take in cross breeds. Which judge to enter under. How much milage your motorhome gets. Whether a show ground has good facilities or not. What the hell the CKC is doing with my goddam money. That article by that author in that magazine that was so good. What constitutes good movement. What training methods work best. What health concerns we should be looking at. The price of Vari-Kennels. The best homes for our puppies. The next stud we want to use. The best food to feed. That orange piece of plastic (where’s the rest of it?) your 8 month old prospective Specials male just pooped out … well, you get the idea.

It’s a lot to cover. A lot to learn. People new to the show world are either captivated by the depth of it or totally freaked out by it. I was born into it so I’m accustomed to the insanity. What I don’t get is the people who come into dogs being so-called ‘normal people’ and end up just as batshit as the rest of us. How do you start normal and then get railroaded into this delusion that you are somehow special because you breed and show dogs.

Seriously. You are SO not special.

As far as I can see a lot of the problems breeders these days face are things they have created over decades of immersion in a finite world. Not only is that world finite but within it are mini-worlds which are even more finite. The more finite you get the more tunnel vision you suffer and the more Mad Scientist giggling you do.

I was out of showing and breeding for about a run of 8 or 9 years. I went to shows sporadically, I only had Petal so no show prospect there! I had friends outside the dog world, I talked to people about it and I can tell you, the prevailing reason that people do NOT buy from purebred dog breeders surprised me.

Attitude.

Since I was immersed in the culture I did not see what outsiders do. Trust me. It’s seriously unflattering. No one, and I mean NO ONE likes to be looked down on. Breeders are educated in a particular field and when someone comes asking about that field it is very hard to NOT sound superior and throw out terminology a pet owner couldn't hope to understand. It matters how you comminucate that information! It matters because the consequences of being a snot rag could be devastating (which I'll get to in a sec).

Now, every breeder gets to choose who they sell to and they go by whatever process they feel comfortable using; puppy questionnaire, gut instinct, chicken bones scattered in a pentagram of salt ... whatever right? As long as the end conclusion is that the puppy ends up in the right forever home.

Now, if the process involves essays, plus a questionnaire, plus a home visit, plus they visit your dogs, plus agreeing to your strict dog diet regimen … that’s little excessive. I refused to buy a dog from someone because she had a contract stating what I was allowed to feed. Er, no. (Jelly beans were not on the list and frankly my dogs love them – contract violation?) If a buyer is comfortable with the hoops, then finebut a lot of people are put off by that intrusion into their lives. Yes we should know what sort of family our puppies go to ... but who they intend to leave the dog with when they go on vacation ... so not our business. It's really not. (If you don't think so go look in the mirror and introduce yourself to the control freak looking back at you.)

Let’s face it – most people are basically honest, otherwise society would fall into anarchy in a micro-second. Honest and informed are not the same thing though and it’s our jobs as breeders to educate inquiring minds and together we figure out if this is the breed for them. If it's really not don't get up on your high horse and stampede them ... not cool.

Do we make them cry? No. Have we heard stories about a breeder making someone cry? Why yes … yes we have. Do we know that person went to a known Ridgeback puppy miller and bought a dog there no questions asked? Yes ... we do.

So what’s the scenario here?

A supposed reputable breeder gets an inquiry, has such a lofty view of their dogs, kennel, breed and self that they upset someone to the point of tears. That person, upset but not discouraged, finds another breeder who will sell her a puppy. She has no way of knowing that the breeder of her puppy has churned out litter after litter out of untested, unshown dogs because the miller knows all the right answers to all the questions.

So is this okay? Well, my opinion is pretty clear but I’m in the minority I think. I don’t expect extra special people(who are they anyway?) to own my dogs; I want average, reasonably honest, law abiding normal people who's lifestyle suits the breed to have a Ridgeback as a pet and love it for the rest of it’s life with good care and consideration. Those people really aren’t that hard to spot if you know what to look for and they seriously don’t appreciate being read the third degree and talked to like morons when they call or email to inquire.

Yes, I’m one of those crazy breeders but I also have some sense of what the real world, outside of the insular dog world, sees. Good homes will find you because they want what they want and are willing to find it – the question is; when they do find you, are you going to buy them a one way ticket to the welcoming arms of a BYB or Miller with your psychosis?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hitman

I’m, like, the worst puppy owner ever.

I was at the park last night walking the dogs. It was pretty quiet, it’s dark and cold so far fewer people come out. The only dogs you really see are the ones with lots of hair. Except me of course. Another reason I’m comfortable at the park now is the snow. With the snow reflecting ambient light I can see the dogs very well and they show up as a little blob and a big blob, once the snow melts it will be harder to see them but for now it’s a good outing.

Leeloo does NOT like the deep snow. She follows the path almost exclusively and does not want to bound through the drifts like Raimi. Raimi luuuurvs the snow. Boing! Boing! Boing! Bolt! Spin! Bow! Charge!(toward Leeloo who hits the ground) Fake left! Fake right! Over! It’s fun to watch.

A jogger appeared out of nowhere and Raimi got a stern warning from me to stop uh … investigating him. The guy should have stopped and said something to Raimi but he didn’t so Raimi did the suspicious dog approach (which looks aggressive to the untrained eye) and tried to sniff jogger. Since Jogger didn’t stop running it seemed like Raimi was ‘chasing’ him where he was actually just trying to figure out if Jogger was a threat. I told Raimi no and of course he didn’t listen so I grabbed him and gave him a good talking to. Lately he’s been ‘ignoring’ my orders and I think it was high time he got a brush up on listening. Leeloo was following Jogger too but lost interest quickly when she heard me throttling Raimi.

Since when did the old adage ‘If a dog chases you stop running’ get replaced by “Ignore the dog and keep running so its predator instincts kick in and the dog’s hearing mysteriously becomes selective”? People make me CRAZY!

Anyway, on to the bad puppy owner incident. Raimi likes to chase sticks. He retrieves them, takes them about 50 feet away from me and starts to destroy them. So I find a stick lying on the ground next to Leeloo. It’s about 18” long and I pick it up. Leeloo wants it but of course it’s for Boy to chase so I call him, he comes crashing back through the bushes, sees the stick and I wave it a little and throw it.

(Aside: I have bad hips and shoulders. Don’t laugh – I was born with hip dysplasia – yes, a dog breeder had a child with HD and while it has affected my hips since I was about 20 my shoulders didn’t start going til I was about 25. I have always been a bad thrower. Mostly because it actually hurts and feel awkward to throw over-hand. So I usually throw objects like a discus, in an arc across my body, because it’s more comfortable. My aim is always bad and I can never be sure exactly what direction an object will take. One day I’ll tell the tale of when I threw a stick for Halo and partially dislocated my shoulder - that was fun.)

So Leeloo is standing next to me presumably looking up at the stick which she sees as a fun toy. I hold the end of the stick, and throw in a discus fashion as hard as I can (not very but hard enough). No idea where the stick or Raimi went but Leeloo lets out this horrific yelp and shoots away screaming like I just hit her as hard as I could with a 18” long stick.

Whoops.

So there is Leeloo, screaming and yelping and shaking her head and backing away. I catch her to see what damage I’ve done, none is apparent but she is still very upset. I haven’t actually ever owned such a drama queen. She is grumbling and whining and letting out and occasional yelp and I say it’s home time. She is not lame so I’m pretty sure I whacked her in the head. I was worried about her eye but I think I caught her on the skull where the bone is pretty hard.

Poor baby. She is fine. No permanent damage. Didn’t break the skin. No swelling. Possibly a bit tender. She is talking to me again. I think she accepted my apology. She was all Miss Snoozy Cuddle Pants last night so I think she will make a full recovery.

Perhaps I should just take a hint and not throw anything else, clearly it’s beyond my abilities.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Centre Stage

"Breed promotion is not okay” & “Breed education is OK via Approved Venues”

I combined the two points because they were getting mixed together in my rant.

Breed promotion gets the breed exposure which allows people to learn about the dogs – leading to Breed Education. Case in point – when I was approached by an ad firm to use Ridgebacks in the upcoming Bayer campaign I could have stood on snotty principle and said “(Gasp!) We don’t want our breed promoted on a national brochure”. But no – I took pride in the request to show off beautiful, well bred Ridgebacks. Dear oh dear … skewer me sideways.

There are several avenues to promote dog breeds: club websites, purebred dog magazines, pet expos, dog shows, your own website, books, breeder classifieds on various dog related websites. These are deemed acceptable mediums to advertise because they are ‘dog world’ specific. Thus people involved in dogs, people who ‘get’ you and your obsession, will see your ads and assume you are a reputable breeder.

There is a fear that if you promote your breed anywhere other than the aforementioned mediums you will attract the attention of people who you do NOT want owning your breed. This assumes that the people you do not want owning your dogs don’t use the internet, buy magazines, go to shows, expos, or buy books. There is a broad based assumption that the ONLY people who use Kijiji etc are those you don’t want owning one of your puppies. No faulty logic there.

The number of Rescues in the US is a sad commentary on the state of the breed there but there is no one reason to point to – certainly not breed promotion. The good breeders in the US are breeding good dogs and finding good homes. That has been and always will be the case. There are *known* millers in the US which Rescue and other reputable breeders are trying to stop. It has little to nothing to do with how much or little promotion the breed has received.

Popularity is a double edged sword – you get an influx of interest in the breed which can be good (new people showing, new people learning, new people bringing money to the club and shows) but you also get people breeding with the wrong intentions or out of ignorance. Those people exist and all our tut-tutting won’t stop them – all we can do is BETTER than them and take their business. But we aren’t are we? We are being run over by them because of our attitude. Of course so-called reputable breeders aren’t always completely ethical but your chances are better than good.

I guess I want to promote my breed to the world because well dammit … I’m PROUD of them. I take pride in their temperaments and their ability to live with cats, love everyone they meet, manage strange situations well, and get along with other dogs. I am proud of the lack of health concerns they, their parents, and their parent’s parents have. I love that they are champions and are out of and by champions in a direct line back 50 plus years.

I guess this blog is a form of breed promotion. Gasp. Swoon. I tell all about them … good … bad … angelic … poop machines … doggy destructo. I don’t sugar coat them. No one is really educated about something if all they see is butterflies and rainbows which is all BYBs and millers offer in the way of information. If I’m promoting a breed it’s not like I’m having a movie premiere and only saying how great the movie is … I’m selling the bad before the good and if the bad is something you can live with, well, then welcome to the good.

Promoting the breed is not a sin. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are not the Holy Grail. It is not necessary for breeders to create a labyrinth of clues so that only the truly worthy can find a breeder and be graced with a puppy.

Which leads me straight to the part where I eviscerate myself.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Christmas Carol

I am still working on the 'Breed Promotion' post but til that's ready I thought I'd regale the tale of the Christmas portrait.

Last year the portrait was much easier as all the dogs were trained and there was only one cat. Now it's three cats, a partially trained dog and an untrained puppy. So ... a five ring circus. It took lots of Temptations, dog treats and dire threats of choking off a puppy's airway til she was barely conscious and then propping her against Raimi or a table leg. It was a close call.


The Best. One may note an absent Weasley. He was done with the ordeal and lassoing him and Leeloo was proving too difficult so he cleaned himself on the cat post while everyone else was reasonably well presented.




So far the tree has survived four days of cat curiosity. A gift or two has teetered precariously close to the table edge but I've been able to rescue in time. No ornaments as yet removed and I have high hopes it will make it to Christmas day without incident.



Weasley is the most insolent of the three and just has to be the Cool Guy doing cool guy things. He is not so interested as what's on the tree as hiding behind and beneath it. Not sure which I prefer.




Ceilidh is all sorts of dignity these days. I don't think what she's sitting on is squishable - or at least I hope not - but her wide butt plunked itself down like "Now here's a good place to sit."


This is Mallaig's first Christmas with me - or anyone. In fact I think her first Christmas was spent somewhere along the highway in a barn or something. She is most interested int the shiny balls and toys on the tree so if there is a prison break ornament I suspect she will have been involved.
And that's Christmas at my house. I am rather glad of the small tree and ability to table it since I am very certain that Leeloo would have been carting it around the house within minutes of it's completion with garland, ornaments and lights leaving a trail of destruction down my hall.
Only a couple weeks yet to the Big Day and while those dog and cat stockings are empty now ... hoo boy! Santa's coming!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Snow Day

We had a sort of freak snowstorm today which started mid-morning and has continued all day and overnight it will probably add to the already 10cm on the ground. Keep in mind that the snow you see has accumulated today from *nothing* to that depth in a little under 5 hours. Now imagine the roads.





This is Leeloo's first experience with serious snow. What better way to get her used to snow than a good solid overdose? So it was off to the park. It was pretty overcast and I left it a bit late in the day to take decent pictures but you get the idea.

Raimi, who has obviously seen snow before, thought it was a thrill and a half but Leeloo took sometime to warm up to the fun. Once she realized that snow could be a rollicking good time she had to tell Raimi all about it.




Raimi decided to copy Leeloo's pointing pose and ear flap fold. They are quite a pair of copy cats.

It has finally happened. The ear flap phase. This is the age at which the ears are perpetually folded backwards. Not sure why. It' s not like they listen any better ... in fact it seems to get worse. Hope she didn't get too much snow in there.



Raimi dug a nice hole to find some great smell at ground level and shoved his head in it. Leeloo saw him from a distance and she ran over to see if he lost his head. It must have been a good smell or it's just some kind of super fun to stick your head into millions of ice granules. I can stand to not find out.


Raimi doing his sexy super handsome run. He could totally be a Baywatch lifeguard ... can you see it? Slow motion running toward you ... ear flaps flying ... flews waving in the breeze ... totally. Boy to the rescue.





Leeloo rodeo. She was ga-boinging through the snow. This is the rocking horse phase of a ga-boing. It's hard to ga-boing in the snow though and it took her some time to get the timing just right so she wasn't tripping through it.


I like the competing angles in this photo - everything is leaning a different way. Good thing I'm looking at this picture sober.


By the time we were ready to go Leeloo was cold, wet and tired but the snow thing was old hat for her. Hopefully it stick around a couple more days so I can take more pictures in some better light. Currently the two of them are passed out on the sofa ... great snow day.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Two for the Money

‘Posting Rescue and Club info is okay’

I’m very in favour of this. Provide people with information on where and how to find the breed they are interested in. Information that allows them to make an educated decision.

As far as I know part of the Club's statute is to educate ... thus an Education Committee which is where all this broohaha began. Of course it's really easy to type "Ridgeback Canada" into Google and the Canadian site pops up right away. However, not everyone searches that way(not sure why but whatever). A lot of subsequent hits lead you to online classifieds.

Right now the options in those internet classifieds are backyard breeder or puppy miller. Let’s use a simple analogy; I’m looking for a car and my only options are Pintos and Gremlins. Which do I buy? Now, I may know that there are Nissans and Toyotas out there but I am intimidated by the salesman, can’t afford it or just don’t care … a car is a car. Introducing buyers to Nissans and Toyotas via a general access internet board will ultimately empower them and they will learn why a Yaris is better value than a Pinto. Or even why a Pinto may better serve their purpose - certainly NOT that they don't deserve to buy a Yaris (which is what some breeders intimate), just that it may not suit their lifestyle.

There is a fear that the online knowledge, provided to anyone who stumbles over it, will be used for evil. That BYBs will morph to clone the ethical breeder’s website, learn what to tell prospective buyers, learn the ‘right’ answers to informed inquiries, lie to buyers to get their money. I’m going to let you in on a little secret which is … *they already are*.

Whuuuuuuut?

BYBs and millers are already cloning websites, stealing your pictures, using your pedigrees, and copying your text. Don't think so ... think again.

There was also the concern that if BYBs see reputable breeders on these boards that they will think it’s ‘okay’ and do so themselves. Well duh. They are already splattered across the online classifieds like arterial spray (sorry for the visual). They are waaaaaay ahead of purebred breeders when it comes to informing the public about what they are offering. Our Club's website makes sense only if you know what a reputable breeder even is.

A lot of people do not or cannot make the distinction. So how do they learn?

That leads us to ... dun dun duuuuhn ... breed promotion.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Smell Of Fear

We interrupt our regularily scheduled programming to bring you this important message:

If you think a puppy continually peeing in her crate is bad, try coming home to a puppy who has spent the better part of the morning mixing pee and poop together like a child finger-painting.

Smearage all over the inside of the crate, caked up and down the wires of the door, spilling over on the hardwood, house reeking of liquified shit.

Puppy leaving poop footprints on her way to the back door. Puppy who *had* white feet.

Stripping work clothes from body in preparation for Operation: Poop Removal.

Crate impossible to dismember because one of the bolts has stripped threads.

Wrestling poop filled rank-as-a-feedlot crate into too small bathroom.

Blasting poop filled crate with scalding hot water and trying to avoid errant drops of pooped filled water.

High pressure spraying poop covered toys.

Washing poop prints from the poop colored floor.

Corralling poop covered puppy into tub and pinning her down for a foot scrub.

Watching as poop free puppy runs amuk like nothing ever happened.

After all that I had to return to work … and now I’m pooped.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

‘Breeders advertising on Kijiji is not okay.’

Ultimately I think it comes down to image. Kijiji, Craigslist, Petfinder etc have been so tainted with backyard breeders, designer breeders, and puppy millers that there is just a glut of garbage on there. Who wants to be associated with garbage? Well, certainly I don’t but if there is no one but garbage out there then buyers will find nothing but garbage and begin to think that garbage is normal. So while the BYBs run rampant across the internet like hoardes of mice, purebred breeders stand on pedestals with our skirts over our heads. Real effective guys.

What tragic things would happen if a purebred dog breeder advertised on Kijiji? 1) Joe Bloe calls you to ask about your dogs and you are given a chance to educate them about whether it’s the right breed for them 2) Joe Assman calls you and says he’d love you to use his pitbull stud on your Ridgeback bitch and you tell him where to stick it 3) John Q. Public sees an RR on Kijiji and says to himself ‘Self, that would make a great cross with my Rottie – tough dog to tough dog makes a tougher dog” 4) the breed suffers a population explosion because as we all know Kijiji is the root of that sort of thing … not movies or pop culture 5) Well … I’m out.

For those not familiar with something like Kijiji, or Petfinder, or Cragilist … you have to be searching something specific. Really specific. I’m looking for a cargo trailer right now and seriously … hard to find. You have to type in the *exact* thing you are looking for. You MUST type in the word Ridgeback. Guess what? All you get is any post with the word Ridgeback in it.

So how exactly would Mr. Assman come across my ad to find my kennel to offer to breed to my bitch? Well, he has to be looking specifically for my breed. Really specifically. He has to have found the breed elsewhere and then used Kijiji as his chosen search mode. If all he were to find was an un-ethical breeder then yes … RR x Pit puppies. If he was to find, say, an ethical breeder, then the chances of him creating that cross could be lowered exponentially.

Just where is that ethical breeder? Oh that’s right. Head … up … ass. Can’t see or hear anything.

In recent years and with careful deliberation breed clubs have ensured that breeders are discouraged from advertising in classifieds. Some breed Codes of Ethics even state that you are NOT to advertise in newspaper classifieds or online forums. New breeders do not want rock the boat so they toe the line … even if the line is like the Berlin Wall. Most breeders probably couldn’t even tell you a rational reason why not to advertise there; simply ‘It’s just not done my dear.’

My guess is that to most breeders it’s just too … common. Maybe they don’t want to get their hands dirty. Many breeders live in bubbles. Many breeders suffer from tunnel vision. Some breeders suffer from delusions of granduer. This is one of the points for another post but seriously – we are near absolute snobs when it comes to our ‘hobby’. One breeder described herself as a Breed Guardian. Really? Do you wear a cape? Leap tall buildings? (I valiantly suppress a giggle.)

Not one single person can sell me a valid, solid, rational reason why advertising on Kijiji is like a bile burp. I have read several reasons from various sources which looked like swiss cheese to me. There is a difference between believing something because it’s actually true and trying to sell yourself something that is kind if well … irrational.

I have never had a need to advertise on Kijiji – my puppy lists have been full prior to the litter being conceived – but I’m oh so curious what would happen if I did. Would the sky fall? Would the breed suddenly explode into Golden and Lab proportions? Would the people I sell puppies to from Kijiji be the devil? Would they be bad homes? Would I abandon my pre-screening and evaluation criteria? Would I have a chance to educate people who did not find the RRCC website? Would I talk people out of the breed whose lifestyle would not fit a Ridgeback?

Gosh. The possibilities are truly endless.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Conflict

I have a feeling I'm going to become very unpopular in a real hurry. Fortunately I was never one to toe the line.

A recent hot topic of discussion was brought up amongst some Ridgeback breeders in Canada. I read the intial post and suppressed an eyeroll. There were several points expressed without a finite idea being communicated except derision for people who advertise their puppies or kennel on internet boards such as Kijiji. I believe it started with disgust over designer dog breeders and spiraled from there.

There were several points for debate, each a separate concern but all are inextricably laced together. Debate topics like that always become a chimera because there is no one point to argue and becoming side-tracked is very easy. It’s like having an argument with your S/O and while you started with who didn’t clean the bathroom it turns into how controlling his mother is … everyone knows that drill.

The points posed were:
1) breeders advertising on Kijiji is not okay (one person stated it made her sick – line breeding known eye problems to an untested bitch makes ME sick but whatever)
2) posting Rescue and Club info on Kijiji is okay
3) breed ‘promotion’ is not okay
4) breed education is okay but only via approved venues - what are those ... dunno
5) breeders are elitist snobs who drive buyers to places like Kijiji BYBs (that was mine – they SO are)
6) breeders who post on Kijiji are in league with the devil … or words to that effect
7) a fear that the Ridgeback will be construed as a popular breed and bred to death as a result of being listed on a site like Kijiji (quite a leap of assumption)
8) it’s okay to advertise in the newspaper but not the internet ‘papers’

So that’s it. I guess I’ll start with item 1 and go down the list and try to keep it uh … nice. This is simply my take, my opinion and is based on observances from both inside and outside the dog world. I try to look at purebred dog breeding with a realistic eye … something few breeders seem capable of in these hysterical times.

I feel like purebred dog breeders are drowning in a sea of BYBs, designer dog breeders & puppy millers and instead of learning to swim we are grasping at seaweed on the tide. Have fun drowning guys.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Water

I have to guess how much Leeloo weighs. When she's sleeping and doesn't want to move ... it seems like a lot. She seems to be just over 30 pounds. I love this picture, it's like she's a seed waiting to be watered so she can grow...





... into a beautiful flower. And that little seed drinks a LOT. I mean lots and lots and lots. That means lots of peeing. In her crate. She can hold it all night but can't hold it while I'm gone for a few hours to work. It's very frustrating. Yes, even breeders with decades (gasp!) of experience in dogs still get stumped by behaviour.

Just look at those innocent eyes. You'd never believe that those eyes are calculating and never miss a treat or a cat walking by. Methinks those heart melting eyes are designed that way to forestall the murderous intent when you find those teeth on something valuable. Like a cat.





Like Weasley who got neutered today - he is recovering well and seems no worse for wear. He was starving when we got home and is clearly very happy to be back in his own house. Mallaig was a little weirded out by the way he smells but she'll get over it. Ceilidh doesn't seem to care. This is pre-neuter ... saying the long goodbye perhaps.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Southern Comfort

Leeloo has quickly become immune to my camera flashing and scrambling for a good angle. She has perfected the Look of Disdain I often get when they know I'm taking their picture.


When my head is lower than my body I feel like I'm going to pass out. Dogs must have a different circulatory sytem that allows them to sleep in weird positions.




Initially she was sleeping but woke her when going to get the camera. She didn't care enough to actually get up ... just enough to open her eyes. So lazy.
Puppies are wet noodles when they sleep ... plop them down where ever and that is how they stay. I wish it was so simple for me.

Monday, December 1, 2008

What Dreams May Come

Looking for room at the inn.
Hellooooooo .... are you awake?

Are you SURE you're not awake .... now?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Enough

Another show weekend ... another Sunday night of exhaustion. Karma stayed the weekend with her owner Adine and Raimi was beside himself.


We were trying to decide what he most resembled and it's a toss up between the jock in high school that tries to impress the cheerleader with "I benched 200 today" ... or he's the super annoying drunk guy at the bar who just won't quit hitting on you. Either way ... it got old fast.




Poor Karma got hardly any rest which isn't good because ...


... she does not enjoy the show ring. She did so well at her first show but has derailed since then - we are not sure why but think it has something to do with separation from her family while with being with a handler. We have come up with a formula that will gradually teach her that shows are not awful, do not involve being put in a handler's set up and is always positive.




I will show her until Adine is comfortable doing so herself - the best case scenario because of Karma's attachment to her. Until then I will take her in and Adine will be right outside the ring and every time she comes out lots of praise and treats from Mom.


Karma is like Halo. The more pressure you put on her the more she shuts down. The second Halo gets corrected, instead of taking the correction and altering the behaviour, you get the opposite reaction. You get flipped the dewclaw. No. Screw you. Won't. And now that I'm annoyed ... I'm going to make you look stupid.





Karma - unlike Halo - needs familiar things around her. Some dogs don't, Halo will settle into any situation in stride and still show perfectly, but Karma, who is obviously still young, definitely does not appreciate being left with a handler and kept away from her family. She wilts, gets depressed, and makes backward strides.


So today was a huge leap forward for her. She got reserve which she was not able to do the previous two days, she looked happier, and hopefully she has started thinking maybe this isn't so bad after all. Her next show is in February so there is a lot of time to mature, practice and prepare for a new year of showing.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Willow

I *think* Leeloo is getting bigger. She's taking up more room it seems. She's definitely gained weight ... she eats like a pig. All limbs and no body - it's a wonder she can coordinate all those pieces.

At night we have yet to finalize our sleep arrangements. Seriously, this dog takes her damn time about getting comfortable. And the noises she makes ... well ... they are half frustration and half satisfaction and always annoying.

She likes to sleep ... close. Real close. Like, under my neck or on my head. Raimi also likes to sleep near my shoulders, I'm pretty sure it's because the pillows are super duper cozy and the fold of the comforter sort of envelopes his head. It can get a bit crowded. If I want to turn over it's a bit of an ordeal.

I've started call Leeloo 'Peck'. She's so small compared to Raimi it reminds me of the movie Willow. Madmartigan calls Willow a 'peck' which is a derogatory term for the little people - Leeloo is so naughty anything derogatory will do at this point. Although ... I can't think of an especially naughty thing in the last 24 hours so I suspect she is improving.

Currently Peck/Leeloo is chewing on her hind leg and moaning in annoyance. I can't imagine what is going through her brain but for some reason having legs is annoying her. Raimi is tired after our walk and was trying to relax on the couch but all the noise and kicking over here has driven him to the loveseat. Poor Boy.

We took a walk tonight and Leeloo is much improved. Although she has now decided that when she is sick of walking she makes her way up someone else's front path. It does take some convincing that we are only a block from home. She has stopped trying to head into the immediate neighbour's yards now and knows which is ours. She pulls ahead and starts her bounce when she knows we're close.

What a cute Peck.

Sisterhood of the Travelling ... Dogs

Halo has settled into life in the Coogan household in Utah very well. Like I expected anything different. I remember when Erin got Halo to show her to her American championship; Halo had last seen Erin's house when she was 9 weeks old but she still remembered, 2 years later, where to go to get outside.




Here she is on the couch with her niece London and her son Zero. To me it looks like someone made Curled Sleeping Ridgeback molds, painted them different colors and put them on a shelf. Big blowout sale on Ridgebacks! Buy one get one free! Mix and match! You break you buy ...





And here with London(right). Family resemblance anyone? That's Halo's "With the camera AGAIN?" look. Halo has had her picture taken a lot ... it's old hat for her. I can tell London would excel at the penitent ear clamming and apologetic looks that Halo has perfected.



Halo is just on the cusp of coming into heat and really ... what is better than a moody, sulky, sensitive and conniving bitch coming into heat? One that is 1000 miles away.