Tuesday, April 29, 2008
We were driving to the mountains to do some hiking – Halo was about 9 months old and in the back seat of my (now) ex-boyfriend Phil’s Pathfinder with Petal. The window was open about 6 inches so that Halo could stand on the arm rest and put her head out. Petal couldn’t reach the window so only got residual wind gusts – it’s just safer that way.
I looked back and thought ‘The window is open a bit far’ and voiced my concern. Halo could get her head out and to my eye it looked a little too much like the body could follow. Here’s where Murphy’s Law steps in.
We had just entered a playgound zone which meant we slowed to 30km/hr – this is a Very Lucky Happenstance – when a large orange tabby cat decided to cross the road and Phil said ‘Look Halo, there’s a cat’ and I thought ‘Oh. Shit.’
I looked back just in time to see Halo with her eye on the prize and that maniacal gleam they get when they think the prey is doomed. She forced the power window down about an inch and tumbled from the truck. Phil had anticipated her exit and was stopping before she hit the ground. She had landed on the pavement, lost her footing, likely rolled a couple times and started to limp her way around the truck to the sidewalk. Thankfully the cat was forgotten. By this time I too was leaping from a stopping vehicle and grabbed her as she came around the front of the truck and had a look.
Barring a couple scrapes and some missing hair she seemed to be fine. I dusted her off and trotted her up and down a bit to see if there was any lameness but she – like Petal – shook off the fall like a trooper. The expression on her face said ‘How did I end up here?” She got back in the truck, the window went up so there was only a half inch gap and Halo started looking around for the cat again.
Halo, like Petal, did not learn her lesson and would have exited the car on several more occassions upon seeing rabbits, squirrels, cats, gophers and birds were it not for the inch wide crack no dog could fit through. I, however, have learned my lesson and really, I’m the only one who needs teaching.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
One glorious summer day Philip, Zoey, Petal and I were driving back from the park with Petal behind me on one container and Zoey behind Phil on the other. Petal liked sticking her head out the window so much that sometimes just her head was not enough. The window was open about 4 or 5 inches so she could fit her head out comfortably and she also liked to hook her elbow over the glass and feel the wind ruffle her hair and flip up her ears. I’m sure this paints a clear picture of the consequences.
Thankfully I had just turned a corner and was anticipating turning another so was not going very fast but the result is the same. I heard a noise and thought ‘What was that?” and Phil turned in the passenger seat and calmly said, “Petal is not in the car.” Words I will never forget to my dying day.
Sure enough I looked in my rear view mirror and there was Petal in the middle of the street looking totally bewildered. The car behind us – which was far enough back to avoid her – drove around her as she limped her way to the side walk. I of course slammed on the brakes, leaped out and ran to her. She was limping a bit and covered in road dirt & gravel and smelled strongly of car grease. I carried her back to the car and drove around the corner to Phil’s house where it was discovered that she was perfectly fine, the lameness disappeared in a few minutes and in all she was just a little dirty. We were lucky.
After that of course I made sure the window was only open a teeny crack so she could stick her nose out because Petal did not learn from her experience – she still insisted on leaning out the window given the chance. Her little nose twiched and her ears flew up in the wind and her eyes squinted up … I’m sure there are cars at The Bridge to take dogs for a drive round the countryside. She would definitely go everyday. I actually have a picture of her and Zoe with their heads out a window but I need to scan it.
I knew I couldn’t tell this story to my parents while Petal was alive because I’d never hear the end of it … I think that’s probably still the case tho. Next time I’ll tell the tale of when Halo jumped out of a moving vehicle.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Surprisingly I live in a relatively nice neighborhood –most of my neighbors are composed of older couples or young families so it’s pretty quiet. The house two doors down has so far been rented (in my time at this address) to Saskatchewan bumpkins who left a fridge out on the front lawn for about a month and also thought it appropriate to do vehicle mechanics on the front lawn even though they have a HUGE parking pad in the alley … and drug dealers. These landlords need a better screening process.
As with Spring the signs of a drug dealer on your street are pretty easy to spot; lots of foot traffic from the knobs who are told to park anywhere except in front of the house. One brilliant young man in Risky Business sunglasses used to drive up in a white limo circa 1986 because we all know how cool THAT is. And inconspicuous. They’d park in my spot while I went to the dog park too – not a sure sign but definitely pissed me off lots. You just have to wait 20 minutes tho and they’d come skipping out of the house and drive away in their shitheap. The window smashing incident of February 2008 was the biggest tip off - I guess not getting your drugs when you scream from the alley that you are going to beat the shit out of someone means destruction of property is okee dokey.
So there have been two late night busts at this house complete with police dogs, whirling flashing lights, half a dozen cruisers and hand cuffed morons laying on the sidewalk. My brilliant and protective African lion hounds slept through these events like the guard dogs they are. This resulted in a sigh of relief from the neighborhood but it was short lived as the drdges of society shuffled back in and set up shop again pretty much right away.
So still they come. As mentioned one of them killed my back fence because he doesn’t like using the front door and signals to his home-cheese to go round back. On his way he likes to destroy property and leave gates open. So I hope the house blows up. With all of them in it. My sympathy for humanity ends when drug dealers begin .. actually it ends long before that but who’s counting.
In un-related news my brother and his family are looking for a new place to rent in this City of the Damned but are having some trouble because they have cats and a black lab. It’s so hard to find a good place to live especially when you have pets – and two doors down from me sits a once nice house full of weak-willed rotting souls. Frankly, I’d rather rent to someone who has a black lab than a meth lab.
There are obviously several factors and unless you are a professional handler or are campaigning an owner-handled specials dog you aren’t going to go to every show. Some people have more money and time and are able to hit more shows but for argument’s sake let’s say we’re not in that category.
First consider whether you will have competition - if you know other people in the breed you can organize class dogs and ensure that someone will get points. The average cost for entries is about $25 per dog per day. Based on showing one dog and single pointing your way to the championship (except the 2 point major you are required to win) it could cost a total of $225 but only if you win every single time. If you have several dogs in competition it’s faster because winning against more dogs gets you more points but with more competition it’s harder to win. If you don’t win the cost goes up.
Secondly you need to decide how far you want to drive. I think a reasonable distance for a class dog is about a 5 hour drive. Beyond that I start looking at my gas cost and questioning my sanity. It also depends where you live – if you’re way out in the armpit of the boondocks then you have further to go than people who have several shows a year on their doorstep. Distance driving also means hotels, food and incidentals unless you carpool to a show. Carpooling is great for me because I travel with my mom and since we’ve been doing it for so long we have a pretty good routine down. If you are travelling alone you bear the brunt of the cost.
You will need to bring all the crap that dogs require on the road. Crates, expens, leads, dishes, water (if your dogs won’t drink local water), food, beds, and all the other goodies your spoiled little muffin needs for comfort. A tack box is a great idea because it holds all the things you likely won’t need but are good to have when you do need them. A tack box can hold: leads, shoes, paper towel, towels, scissors, brushes, instant coffee, gum, Rescue Remedy, kleenex, baby wipes, ibuprofen, elastic bands, business cards, pens, paper, poopbags and whatever else you want to cram in there. It should be like a Mary Poppins carpet bag.
You also need to have a show outfit or five and make sure they have pockets. If they don’t you’ll be stuffing bait in your bra, mouth, armband and various other places liver has no business being. At the end of the show you must empty crumbles from blazer pockets because if you don’t you may end up with a chewed hole from a dog trying to get the last dredges of goodness from the fabric. Ask me how I know this …
There are of course other incidentals you have to consider when showing and travelling to shows. Some show venues have free parking and some want your first born. You may want the show catalogue which is usually around $5-7. You may need to eat at the show which I don’t recommend so pack a lunch. Then there are the booths with all kinds of goodies breed specific and dog related. Things you never thought you’d need until you see them and think ‘Why, I really do need a tiny electric fan to cool my dog’s crate during hot weather.” You can buy things you never dreamed with your breed on it that will crack open your wallet faster than you can blink.
I would safely say it will cost me over $1000 to finish Raimi with everything included. I know someone who took years to finish a Golden Retriever, I think he finally got his championship at about 8 years old – anything can finish if you slog away at it. I also know dogs who have finished in one weekend. It all depends on how much competition you have, how good your dog is, who the judges are and what commitment level you have toward showing your dog.
None of the above includes the use of professional handlers, training classes, and your time and effort to get the dog ready for showing. Anything you do will cost you money and you have to also be prepared for things you did not anticipate. If you are committed to a hobby and enjoy the thrill of the win and the expectation of the next days results then you won’t look at the numbers. Sometimes you only win once out of 4 shows but that one time keeps you writing those cheques and gassing up the truck.
Next on the docket for us is tracking, draft dog, and herding … wonder what those will cost me.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
On the plus side I discovered yesterday that I’m not alienating as many people as I thought I was. Phew. I seemed to have been on a kind of roll what with my bad attitude last weekend and lack of patience and general dour outlook on life as we know it. It’s been a rough couple weeks but things are looking up. The friend I thought had returned to Scotland is actually staying an extra few weeks and we have finally managed to connect. Seems we both entered the twilight zone of bad timing and crap circumstances at the same time. We were on parallel paths to insanity. Well, we still are on the insanity path but at least we can now send smoke signals to each other.
I’m thinking the zoo might be in order this weekend with my friend Tanja and her children – weather permitting of course. Sadly they don’t let you take dogs to the zoo which is probably good because Raimi would be terrified of pretty much everything there. The Boy isn’t exactly a poster dog for the courage of the breed, could have something to do with the utter spoilation he has experienced in the first year of his life.
Halo has settled admirably into the role of Queen Bee-yotch and lounges luxuriously on the couch in a dog version of Cleopatra. If you never seen the QB in her glory on the couch I give you Exhibit A.
Last night Raimi had jammed himself next to me on a section of couch sized for a dog a third his volume but who’s counting? He wants to be near me and steal Wine Gums – which he did and when I said “Wha …?” he went ‘PATOOWIE!” and it stuck to the carpet. I retrieved it covered in dog spit, lint, cat and dog hair – a quick evaluation determined it was not recoverable and I let him have it. Utter. Spoilation.
Every day I say good morning and good night to Petal. Her urn is on order and being made as I type. Should only take a few weeks to come and once it’s here I’ll show you what it looks like - should actually just look like her. Life moves forward and we adjust to the changes – it’s been almost 2 weeks since Petal left us and here we are still walking around with a hole in our lives. Well, Raimi and I are … Halo can’t believe her luck.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
We seem to have settled into a routine of sorts at last. Raimi and Halo are playing much more – mostly because Halo had been either preggers, nursing babies or Zero was interfering in their play relationship. Now it’s just the two of them things seem to have taken a turn toward maniacal play in the livingroom while I’m trying to watch TV. This wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact the TV is blocked by Raimi's Gigantor bulk and they have no mute button.
Also … the cats. Now, I do love the sweet little kitties – they are so entertaining. Ceilidh is clingy and loves to snuggle on my lap while I watch TV or surf the internet. Mallaig is less snuggly and more about 'play with me'. It’s the night time activities that are testing my patience. There is no reason to run like elephants up and own the hall at midnight, wrestle on the pillow next to my head at 2am or walk up and down my body at 4am. Demanding to be fed at 6am does not help either when I have another hour of sleep left on the clock.
Cats wrestle silently. It’s eerie. I have grown used to the wookie/yowling/mawing noises that come from the Ridgebacks while they play and the general cacophony of two large animals pretend killing each other. Watching cats play is like watching a silent movie – I keep expecting cartoon KABLAM! BIFF! KAPOW! to flash before my eyes with little stars in orange on blue color explosions.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
We are adjusting to the sudden absence of two of our household. It is odd. The loss of Petal is obviously the harder one for me to bear but Zero being gone is harder on the dogs. Raimi seems like he's wondering who's next. Halo has realized that she is now the alpha butt kicker after me and for a couple days there it sort of went to her head but we've sorted it out.
Here we are - status quo being two cats two dogs and a Petal in a temporary vase til her urn arrives in a couple months. She is now a little bag of crumbly bits and dust - still, it feels better that she's here. I say goodbye to her in the morning and 'Hello Precious' when I come home. Her collar and a couple of her favorite cookies sit at the base of the vase and I know she is nearby all the time. That dog would walk through fire on a bed of nails to be with me. Some memories that occurred to me I wanted to post so I don't forget:
Do you need to pee? We taught her this when she was a puppy - she would stand on her hind legs and tap your knee to get your attention, when you asked 'the question' she would race to the door. If you didn't follow she'd come back looking for you and dance around til you asked again. If you got up she would do a little happy dance all the way to the door. One time she asked my Dad and he didn't want to get up so he said 'Ask Tamzin'. She looked at him for a second, looked at me, he repeated 'Go on - ask Tamzin' and she came over and tapped me on the knee whereupon I asked "Do you need to pee?" and it was the happy dance to the door. I have since taught the Ridgeback the question and while I don't get the happy dance I do get the head tilt & wrinkle which is either a 'yes' or a 'I have no idea what you're saying but I'll go outside if you say so'. That second one is obviously The Boy.
I used to go for walks with my friend Tanja and her (then) toddler Annika - when Anni wanted to walk Petal got to ride in the stroller. She loved it. We did this at Spruce Meadows a couple times and got some strange looks! The baby walking and the dog rolling.
Petal loved car rides. It was her favorite thing after to me and roast chicken or pork. It was nerve shattering for anyone who rode with her but I could never deny her the joy she got from making her horrible little whiny, screechy, moany noises when we were in the car. It was so exciting for a little Precious. To this day I have no idea what all those sounds meant but they seemed like happy sounds.
That's all I can remember for now. I'll try to get some others down in the coming weeks. I want to put them somewhere so I can remember ... otherwise ... I'll forget.
I'll talk more about the Ridgebacks soon, Petal is on the brain so it's hard to navigate away from that.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
She was the smallest puppy born into a litter of 9 - one of the largest litters Immerzu Pulis has ever had. We bottle fed her several times a day and encouraged her to keep fighting for life. I used to sit with her in one hand and sing The Last Unicorn to her. She did eventually blossom, I can remember a time she was being nursed on my mom's lap and let out a spontaneous little howl, she wanted to be heard! She was also the only puppy at 5 weeks to ever get out of the expen between the bars of the pen ... not over it. She was that small.
Petal stayed remarkably tiny while her siblings grew like weeds - and then the day came that they were old enough to go to new homes. Petal stayed a extra few weeks because we wanted to be sure she was healthy before placing her. In this time Petal fell in obsession with my Skye Terrier Rena - who hated puppies. Petal followed Rena everywhere and no matter how many times Rena threatened her Petal continued to shadow her wherever she went.
Eventually her new family came to get her and took her away. We knew we would miss her because she had captured our hearts so completely. A few days later they called to tell us she was lame on her right foreleg. We had noticed she held it oddly but was never actually lame. The family had her x-rayed and it was discovered that she would need expensive surgery to correct it. This family - while very good dog owners - just could not afford the surgery; however, they said they'd keep her if we did not intend to do the surgery and put her down instead.
So Petal had her surgery and became known as the little Gimp. She returned from the vet with a little blue cast that said OUCH! all over it covering her entire foreleg and a tuft of black hair peeking where her toes would have been. She used the cast like a crutch and you could always hear her coming; tick tick thump, tick tick thump she would run across the lino. When her cast was removed she was spayed at the same time with another dog named Flo. Flo was thrilled to see me ... Petal wouldn't even look at me she was so ticked off.
There is only one time in my life I did not have Petal with me and that was when I moved to Saskatchewan to work. She was absent from my life for about 18 months and while I know she was fine with my parents I still feel guilty for having left her behind.
All through my twenties Petal was there - we went through some pretty rough times me and her but always she had love and food - always she came first and was foremost in my thoughts. When I was working two jobs to pay the bills Petal patiently waited hours for me to come home. Always happy to see me, always ready to snuggle and never failing to be there for me no matter what. We did some therapy dog work in a pallative care unit and while she was a very good girl she was always there for me, not for them, so we retired after a year.
Petal loved Philip. Initially she didn't think much of him and threw up in his truck a couple times to prove it but eventually she started to really like him. Once his parents got a dog we went to the park a lot and Petal tagged along not because she liked the walks but because she was with me. Petal also liked to lick the windows of Philip's truck which drove him crazy but I thought was hilarious. Philip, Petal, Zoey and I had some pretty fun adventures together and some not so fun falling-out-of-the-car type adventures. That's a story for another day.
Eventually Halo showed up at 9 weeks old. Petal seemed completeley disinterested in Halo and remained so to this day. It's a tolerant relationship. I enforced the "Petal is the boss' rule and it has stuck these four years with Halo eyeballing the seat of second in command with calculating eyes.
Raimi's litter fascinated Petal and she was a nurse maid as much as Halo would let her. She cleaned them, played with them, followed them, and they adored her and respected her to this day. Raimi is very careful where he puts his feet so he doesn't step on her and he makes sure that he doesn't lie on her when he gets on the couch. Here at 3 weeks little Raimi is whispering a secret to Petal.
Petal is remarkably patient. Some may call it long suffering. She has been used by three Ridgebacks as a pillow and has endured endless walks at the park to amuse them. One of my favorite memories is walking in the park last autumn, sitting under a shady tree with Petal to read Harry Potter while the Ridgebacks ran circles through the warm tall grass. It truly was Petal's autumn.
Friday, April 4, 2008
Recently it was the re-arrangement of their beds in my room. They used to be located where I got out of bed so every morning I had to carefully navigate my way to the door. Because Petal is Very Small she stays on the bed til everyone has left the room, Zero is Small so he winds in and out of red legs, Halo is Medium and intelligent so she negotiates any and all comers and well, Raimi is Very Big so it’s usually he just stands there like a boulder and the tide washes over him. This leaves me to try and not get my toes stepped on, my shins smacked, fall over, trip or walk into a wall(my curtains are quite heavy so it’s very dark).
I decided I was sick of this nonsense so I moved the beds to the far corner and thus we have the dogs safely out of the way. Well, the first night this change occurred Raimi was at a complete loss. The way I’d arranged things meant his familiar couch bed was covered with a pillow bed and he ‘couldn’t find’ his spot. So I took the pillow bed off it and immediately Zero said ‘Oh why thank you” and made himself cozy in Raimi’s bed.
Well, if I thought the Thinking Wrinkles warmed my cockles; they have nothing on the Worry Wrinkles that tickled my heart strings. He kept looking at me, his bed(in which Zero stomped around making comfy), my bed, where his bed used to be, me again, my bed again … it was darling. So I tried to get Zero to move but he knows a good thing when he has it. So I shifted the puppy and put Raimi’s bed back to the original location and told him we’d give it another go when I wasn’t so tired. He was then concerned because now he was waaaaaay on the other side of the bed from Zero and Halo and was sleeping ‘alone.’ Zero settled happily on the pillow beds next to Halo.
We now seem to have a non-challenging solution for Raimi. I separated the beds from each other – nice big bed for Halo and Zero, Raimi on his own but right next to them. This was okay because he recognized the bed, it is far enough away to stop Zero from stealing it but close enough that he felt he was not ostracized from the other dogs. One Zero is gone I’ll put them together and Raimi and Halo can share pillows and space but for now since Zero is such a primadonna I’ll keep it as is.
Certainly this is not the end of the Thinking Wrinkles – they don’t come out very often but heart cockles beware when they do. Halo does not have Thinking Wrinkles – she has Food? Wrinkles – when it comes to thinking she never gives the game away and hides the thought process veeeeeeeery carefully.