Saturday, May 31, 2008

Final Destination

It's hard to believe it's been almost two months since I said goodbye to Petal - I had popcorn the other day and remembered how much she liked it. A real popcorn fiend, she'd hover and wait for me to 'accidentally' drop one and then hunt around for it wagging her tail the whole time. I guess she figured the tail wagging made her more endearing and garnered her more popcorn ... as it turned out she was right. She knew as soon as the microwave started making popping noises something good was on it's way.

We have continued with life as we know it now and while I still think of her more than once a day it gets easier and less painful when she pops into my mind. Although when I have to tell people who do not know that she died or explained how it happened I still find it hard to relive the end.

The stupidest things make me tear up and I have to admit that people who knew me years ago would not believe it. It's frighteningly like I'm aging and becoming one of those soppy wedding cryers which I was definitely not in my youth. Anything that even remotely sniffs of sappy and tear jerking has me welling up. It's pathetic. So you can imagine what happened when I got this via email ...

It's Petal's urn. I don't have it yet but I imagine once it gets here I'll end up in the same state again. Her final vessel. It was important to me that the face was right because that how we identify our friends and the tail is corded as well which I made mention was pretty important too. I debated on the angel wings and decided I did want them because I wanted it apparent that it was not just Petal sleeping, it was Petal in whatever your idea of heaven is.

I'm so glad I chose this as her urn and can't wait to have it here - it will seem like it was everyday when I left for work - Petal snoozing and waiting for me to come home. I guess she still is in a way.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Attack of the Clones

So you can probably tell how much I like Weasley. I mean really - what's not to like?

This is the same Halo who starts dog fights ... or at least the one who tries to protect her son from other dogs.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Truth About Cats & Dogs

Weasley has integrated himself into the house very well. As far as I can tell he's a pretty normal naughty kitten who climbs curtains and has no fear. He also seems to really like the dogs.

Halo likes him enough to cuddle but we'd just gotten back from the park so perhaps she was trying to get warm again.

Raimi is so big he doesn't necessarily take notice of Weasley til he's running around like a maniac - then when The Boy is sleeping Weasley sneaks up and gets cosy. Can you see him????

I think he knows how big they are because he makes sure that he's in a relatively safe place when he wants to sleep with them. The dogs are usually pretty careful too.

I think he feels safe when he's with the dogs, wouldn't you if you were sitting next a leg this size? Of course you want to make sure it's a friendly leg before making yourself comfortable. When Halo lay down she made sure not to lie on him and he didn't move at all, would that she was this careful with her babies.

Raimi stretched out on the couch and Weasley decided that his giant foot would be something good to cuddle. It's almost like he's looking up Raimi's nose - maybe he's looking for a brain?

The other cats didn't enter the house til they were each almost a year old so they don't have the same relationship with the dogs. Ceilidh really liked Petal but it think it was because she was small!

See that smug little smile of Weasley's? That's because 2 weeks ago Mallaig was terrified of Weasley to the point of hysteria. Of course Weasley knew all along that she would not be able to resist that charm.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Hard Rain

Yesterday we chanced it again and headed out into the rain. This time Halo was a little more cheerful as it was not a heavy sprinkle like the day before - it was more of a on/off rain. She still looks unhappy but at least she's not tucking her tail like usual.

Raimi nevers seems to notice the rain unless it's really pouring down or Halo is making a particular show about how bad it is and then he follows with ' Oh, we're being sad now'. Otherwise the occassional shake to get the excess water off is about as much notice as he takes.

There is an area off the beaten path at the park that we go to since it's quiet and very pretty and offers the dogs some new smells and bush to run through. After some construction last year the city has defined some slope recovery areas which I can't really understand as it looks the same as before except now there's fabric fences and mesh on the ground.

Halo discovered a family of squirrels who live in the area there off to the left - it has become her life's mission to get one of those squirrels. See how Raimi is also looking, he's looking because she is ... he has no idea what they're looking for or at.

From where they were standing they have a pretty level view of squirrel territory - you can see them looking up into the trees. Yes, the tree rat is 30 feet from the ground but to the dogs they are oh so close.

Once Halo determined there was the possibility of squirrel activity she shot into the bushes. Rain and wet be damned a squirrel was going to get it's just desserts today.

Instead she ended up empty handed and returned to me with a gouge in her leg caused by who knows what. Considering the speed she was moving through the bush I'm not surprised she got caught on something. It's no more than a superficial cut and she didn't seem to notice it - rather she wanted to return to her hunting.

However it started to rain a little harder and I decided it was time to head for home. Halo took out her squirrel frustration on Raimi on the way to the truck.

During the last few hundreds yards it was was really coming down and they both spent most of the time shaking. I was marvelously dry under my umbrella.

They always know when we're leaving and sometimes they'll start playing to delay the trip home but since it was pretty well pouring they made a beeline for the truck - the back of which you can see just on the other side of the bushes. It's raining again today but I'm sure we'll head out again just the same.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Singin' in the Rain

Rainy days don’t really get me down. I think it’s a state of mind that few are willing to overcome because it’s easier to bitch about rain that to get on your galoshes and embrace it. I want these galoshes in case you’re in Scotland and can fit them in your suitcase. Sure, endless days of pouring rain is a little outdoor-activity-limiting but I’m kind of an indoor girl anyway.

There’s something comforting about the low clouds and thick air that wraps itself around you. Hermitting myself inside with a fire, slumbering dogs, a good movie, and candy while the rain hammers the roof is one of my favorite things to do.Well, would be if I had a fireplace … one day.

But then there are those misers who hate the rain. I live with one. Miserable, depressed, sulky, moody, and if she could speak would definitely blame me for the water coming out of the sky. Halo. She takes it as a personal insult that someone is SPITTING on her. How rude! Snow is marginally better since it’s not actually wet when it touches her but it’s definitely a close second.

So what do I do? I go to the park in the rain because I love it, The Boy doesn’t much care and I get a little tickle seeing Halo’s reaction to being forced to deal with water above and water below. As Raimi and I headed to the truck in a steady spitting rain Halo beelined to the upstairs neighbour’s covered step and watched with a baleful eye. When she was quite quite sure I intended to actually go she Warp 9ed it to the truck.

Once at the park I thought she might perk up with all the smells and the bouncing Boy enticing her with play. If anything her sense of acute injustice increased. Physically Halo became the epitome of misery – back hunched, neck stretched out, head low, eyes squinched up, ears cupped close, tail tucked, and the best of the best – walking like she’s wearing diapers. You know the walk … the one where each footfall is as far from the other feet as possible so that any splashes do not reach the tummy or the other leg. It’s HI-larious.

All this is foiled of course when The Boy comes bounding by and sideswipes her causing immeasurable damage to her mood and comfort. There is a brief moment of activity but it is limited to her telling Raimi to get the hell away from her. Mostly Raimi spends his time doing sliding stops and leaping back and forth across puddles but when Momma catches his eye he just has to get her a little annoyed and dirty.

I stop to take in the wonderful green, peaceful countryside(in the middle of the city) and listen to the patter of rain on my umbrella, the rush of water down the little creek and fill my nose with the smell of spring well and truly sprung. Raimi would stop too – listening – and then bound forward with glee kicking up clods of mud and skidding across the grass. Halo makes her way from tree to tree pretending to be very interested in the smells under the protective foliage.

I seem to spend my life annoying Halo. She returns the favor often enough to pretty much call it even. However she’s probably keeping tally of all the times I make her walk in the rain to come up with something I’ll really hate.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

While You Were Sleeping

Since losing Petal I had been sleeping with just a cat on the bed. That is til one night about a week ago Raimi got skeeeeered by a cat walking along the window sill and he came and lay down at my feet on the bed. I was half asleep so didn’t stop him and we settled in with him sleeping soundly against my legs for the night.

It doesn’t take a Professor Trelawney to figure out where this goes. Now I have a determined Raimi stubbornly planting himself on the bed every night. Halo of course sees Raimi on the bed, comes to politely ask and settles on as well.

But not every night. Some nights it’s only Raimi on the bed, some nights it’s both, and some nights Raimi starts on the bed and then halfway through the night goes back to his own bed. I think those are the ‘hot’ nights where he gets too warm and goes to the cool floor.

I find it comforting to have a dog on the bed again – even if he is 6 times Petal’s size and weight. Ceilidh consistently sleeps on the bed but she’s not really a cuddler and she is usually only on the bed for part of the night. I think there has only been a brief amount of time in my life where there was not a dog curled against my legs at night.

There are drawbacks to having a 107 pound dog sleeping on the bed with you. Space is now at a premium because Raimi does not know how big he is. He is also hard to move. He also likes to sleep touching me. And touching doesn’t mean he politely finds the crook behind my legs and lays in it to conform to the sleep position I have chosen – touching means ON.

On means crushing my legs. If I’m on my back he lies on my knees which causes them to hyperflex backward. If I’m on my side he lies on my knees which causes them to grind into each other. If I’m on my front he lies on my knees which means he’s cutting off the circulation to my lower legs. Anyway you look at it my knees are taking a beating.

I can usually pull my legs out from under him and if I’m lucky slide them around his bulk and drop off to sleep. Sometimes he’s draped himself sideways across the bed and effectively reduced my sleeping area by half – this is where I employ the fetal position and fortunately it’s one of my preferred sleep modes.

Occassionally he will lie next to me with his head near my shoulder area – this works okay until he realizes my head is very near his and he wants to poke and stretch in glee. He loves it when I look at him and I have to be very careful not to open my eyes or acknowledge him in any way. Otherwise we end up with a foot in my eye and him beating a hasty retreat to his own bed.

Halo is the least trouble as she finds her spot, curls into a tight little inoffensive ball and doesn’t move til morning. Raimi is a fidgeter. This way, that way, up, down, turn around, stomp, stomp, stomp. I’m adjusting to this nightly routine although part of me says I should lay down the law or I’ll end up sleeping on the dog beds but the other part secretly enjoys their desire to spend some snuggle time with me.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Waterboy

Ah spring. I think my favorite part of spring is the smell of it. Everything smells new and fresh and full of promise for the coming year. I can imagine if you’re a dog it’s an over-whelming barrage of information that causes some serious brain overload especially if you’re The Boy.

He does something that boys do and frankly – it makes The Boy’s company a little less welcome when he does it. When we are at the park and he’s poking his nose into every nook and cranny he gets foamy. Momma’s pee is especially foam inducing but pretty much any smell that excites him gets those teeth chattering and the waterworks turn on.

You don’t want a dog doing this anywhere near you. For starters once it’s in foam form it’s volume increases and the adhersion to objects also increases. A head shake will normally rid the flews (flappy lips) of the bulk of foam but the balance always seems to find it’s way onto something I inevitably need to touch. My pocket, Halo’s collar, the stick I was going to throw for him. He also usually wants to tell me all about the wonderful thing he’s just smelled and comes to drool and wipe his mouth on my pants whereupon we dance around for a second while I try to avoid getting slimed and he thinks it's a game.

I’m not interested. Get away from me. Oh gawd …. ew.

I have a deep seated admiration for dog owners who will wipe their dog’s drool with their actual and unprotected hand. Admiration over-shadowed by mild nausea but admiration just the same. No way I’m touching that – it’s sticky, slimy, smeary and hard to get off. If one of my dogs slimes the other I’ll get a stick and try to scrape it off – but I’m not touching it.

The only thing worse than my own dog’s drool on my own dogs … another dog’s drool on one of my dogs. At that point I try not to look directly at my dog and hope that someone else is the subject of a full body wipe where it ends up on their clothes and not mine. Blood I can handle no problem …

Halo doesn’t drool a lot unless she’s waiting for food or just had a drink – she has tighter flews and is frankly far more dignified. The Boy will continue to chatter and foam and I love him anyway but sometimes it’s from afar.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Art of War

I was debating whether I should write about this but because it was my own experience I thought I’d share.

I made arrangements yesterday to meet with Rory’s owner Kathryn for a playdate. Kathryn also has Seth who takes no guff from the unruly young ‘uns (for unruly young ‘uns read Raimi). When Kathryn arrived I was about 50 feet away when the dogs actually met, Raimi got there first and said HELLO! to Seth who said ‘Back off suckah!’ and Raimi of course bounced backward. Halo shot into the fray thinking Seth needed a little tune up about who gets to snark at The Boy. Seth, being an old man demanding respect from the general populace, told Halo to get stuffed whereupon they got into a scrap.

They did back off for a moment and then both dogs decided that since no clear winner was named they’d start round two. It didn’t look like a serious fight and often if you give them a moment to work it out they will stop on their own. (You NEVER reach into a fight to grab a dog.) Since they were escalating the intensity I knew we had to get in there quick.

I ran toward them full speed and planted a well placed kick at Halo – I’m pretty sure I was also using some language my mother would not approve of. My kick knocked Halo off her game and Kathryn managed to get hold of Seth who I think was itching to finish the deal while Halo was down.

I won’t lie – I was screaming bloody murder at Halo and smacked the shit out of any part of her I could reach. She was laying on the ground and once I’d determined she was concentrating on saving her ass from me I turned my attention to Seth to make sure he was alright.

Halo, because she’s a bitch and didn’t think she’d done anything wrong, came back in to see if Seth was game on for round three. She didn’t get close because I saw her coming and it’s pretty safe to say that anyone watching might have been in fear for Halo’s life. After a stream of extremely foul language and more ass kicking I took Halo to the truck, still screaming at her, told her to get in, screamed at her some more, slammed the door and walked away.

I looked up to see a guy watching me with what can only be fear in his eyes. I suspect that if he’d tried to critisize my behaviour my head would have spun around and I’d be arrested.

I did notice blood on Halo’s head but since Seth had a cut under his jaw I assumed it was his. Kathryn asked if Halo had any wounds and I said ‘If she does she can bleed to death”. Kathryn put Seth in her truck, cleaned him up a bit and I went back and opened a window for Halo to make sure she didn’t actually die of heat stroke – bleeding notwithstanding.

We then continued our walk with the two very well behaved, mildly shell-shocked brothers. To their credit both stayed well out of the way of the fight – sometimes a dog fight can escalate because dogs are attracted to the excitement and you end up with a real gong show. I know of dog fights where you just had to wait til there was a clear loser before you could get in, break it up and patch holes.

After our walk Kathryn pointed out something I hadn’t noticed – we’d taken the brothers for their 45 minute blast through a busy park sporting obvious splashes of blood on our clothes. Maybe that’s why not many people stopped to talk …

When I put Raimi back in the truck I did notice that the quantity of blood on Halo had increased which could only mean she was leaking also. On the short trip home Raimi cleaned up Momma so by the time I had a look at her in the kitchen she was pretty clean.

Seth’s injuries: one minor tear under his jaw.

Halo’s injuries: puncture in right ear, large scrape on left ear, cut on edge of left ear, puncture right through left ear and large puncture on neck.

It’s pretty safe to say that Seth kicks it Old School. Youth and bravado yet again loses to age and experience. Apparently Seth honed his skills living with a bitch a few years ago and has not forgotten how to give ‘er.

Halo was in the wrong. She had absolutely no business getting involved. Raimi was not in danger, Seth did not discipline Raimi excessively and Raimi listened to him immediately by backing off. Even though it earned her my wrath she had NO IDEA why I was angry, I could see it on her face. Now we know what to expect and Halo will be on lead for walks – Kathryn was very understanding but I still feel very bad for the old man who deserves respect from the nogoodnicks of the world.

Some may say I over-reacted and was too hard on Halo. I tell you straight – there is absolutely no way I will ever tolerate that kind of behaviour and it earns whatever smackdown I can muster without actually causing more damage (unless I can’t get the dogs apart). When I see dogs in the park being bullies and starting shit I just itch to get in there and lay them out with a well placed boot. Bullying should not be tolerated and the social stigma of not disciplining in public does not apply to me. I will ensure that a clear example is made of my dog and you better hope like hell if your dog started it you are freaking out too because I’ll turn on you next to get the point across.

Suffice it to say Halo is very sore this morning and my sympathies are mute.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Picture Perfect

TA DA! New Champion Raimi!
This photographer uses a different method for backgrounds than I have ever seen in dog show photography. First you choose a background from about 40 slides of varying colors and themes - from abstract to autumn trees to an old world library - you give the slide to Inge and she photographs the dog with the background already there instead of inserting it after the fact. This makes a huge difference because digitally inserted backgrounds always kind of look cheesy don't they? They did promise to have African themes soon for the Basenjis and Ridgebacks! Can you imagine how COOL that would be for a National Specialty???

I love this photo for several reasons - it' s the best stacked photo I have of Raimi, I look decent, the judge looks happy, the background is perfect and Raimi and the ribbon stand out because the judge and I fade into the background. Also, the judge and I are both looking at the dog; this means that when you look at the photo your eye is drawn to whatever the people are looking at - the dog - and is a trick of show photos many judges do not consciously do. Special thanks to judge John Rowton for recognizing the quality in my handsome boy and making my first home bred championship one to remember!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Animal House

I am a huge fan of Harry Potter books & movies and in them there is a character family of redheads called the Weasleys with 7 children who live in a house called The Burrow. I think I’m going to name my house “The Burrow’ because I’m actually in a basement suite and I have just added another redhead to the roster.

Meet Weasley – the final cat installment. He is 8 weeks old and comes from my brother’s house of insanity. The last kitten we raised was Jaffa(orange tabby anyone?) when I was about 12 so this has been an interesting experience. He is completely adorable but his antics at 3am can be very trying.

Weasley LOVES the dogs and Raimi has a new best friend. He zips in and out of their legs and zooms down the hall.
I love this picture – the look on Halo’s face says WTF?

Raimi likes to watch Weasley play with the cat toys and I know when Raimi has been ‘playing’ with Weasley because the top of his little kitten head is wet from poking and heavy sniffing.

The resident cats are not happy. Ceilidh is slowly resigning herself to it but Mallaig is quite quite sure Weasley is from the seventh circle of hell. They will only approach him if he’s not looking at them. The second he says “Oh hi!” they hiss and bolt. He is very confused by this but they are all improving everyday.

I will say tho that if you want a cat that is easy going as all hell get an orange tabby. Also, if you want a kitten who is practically bombproof have it raised by a high traffic household with 3 young boys, 6 birds, a dog and a zillion cats. Actually all my cats are friendly, outgoing, and cheerful – the dogs are too so if you come to my house you are greeted by all the redheads whether you like it or not.

My mom thinks I’m crazy. I cannot dispute this given the evidence.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Danny(Raimi): The Champion of the World

Invictus Army Of Darkness wins a third in group with a breed win from the classes over a group placing special to finish his Canadian Championship! He is Invictus' (and Halo's) first home bred Champion.

In a strange twist of fate The Boy took Breed from the classes over the same specials male that Halo took Breed over from the classes 2 years ago to finish HER Canadian Championship. You never know how things will work out …

It was an exciting day for The Boy – fantastic photo taken by Images by Inge coming soon – and he is now enjoying a well earned hiatus to mature and to move out of the way for his brothers and sisters to enter the ring.

I'll post again on the adventures in motorhoming to a dog show ...

Friday, May 9, 2008

Cruel Intentions

This came across one of the dog lists I’m on about a dog that the US Rescue Organization took in.

Quoting Mariann Stone’s post (cross posted with permission):
Just when you thing you have seen it all, heard it all, something new surprises you beyond belief. RRUS rescued a nine month to year old female from a kill shelter in Missouri with what appears to be a man-made ridge down her back.

Eliza and her two brothers were picked up by a kill shelter in Missouri after running loose for approximately two weeks. The shelter keeps the dogs/cats for five days and then on or about day six they are euthanized. Both brothers have beautiful, perfect RR ridges down their backs. Eliza has no natural ridge.

Because of the ridges, I received a call regarding the rescuing of these three pups. At that time Eliza’s scar was described as a long scar down her back. It looks like someone tried to give her a ridge is what was said to me. I was also told it was well healed although still sensitive to the touch in places. When the puplets were picked up, sure enough, there was a long scar down her back. It was well healed and did not appear to be traumatic injury in nature. And it went literally down the middle of her back.

With a visit to the Veterinarian for check-ups, vaccines and chipping, I was informed the scar on Eliza’s back was not from an injury. It was a burn. The Vet was unclear as to whether it was a hot or caustic liquid, but something was poured down her back. When I asked if this was an accidental burn or an intentional burn, my veterinarian stated I can only hope in my heart someone would not do this to a living, helpless animal. He then stated I believe it to be intentional. The line down her back is near to being perfectly straight and it runs to near perfect down the center of her back. It is thicker in the beginning and the hind leg area (end) which is usually seen with pouring of liquids. Some horrible person wanted to make this beautiful girl like her brothers.

Through all this Eliza still loves people and only wants to love and be loved. She will be going to a Forever Home when her foster mom believes she is ready. She is receiving hugs, kisses and a lot of belly rubs. Eliza is learning how to be a confident, wonderful RR. Most of all, Eliza is learning there are good caring people in her big scary world and she can trust them. Eliza is learning she is an individual pup and not expected to be or look like her brothers.

I wanted to tell Eliza’s story because as a group we need to be aware and try to combat animal abuse however we can. Education of young and old, talking to friends or anyone and encouraging all to report abuse. And not being afraid to stand up and stop abuse for the breed we love or any other living defenseless being.

I think this speaks for itself and I can’t read it without tearing up. Ridged or not our dogs are living, feeling, loving, breathing, hoping for a cookie, sneaking on the bed, poking in the crotch, digging in the garden, chasing the cat, napping on the couch, running in the park, jumping in the slough, chasing the bunny, wouldn’t trade you for anything friends. You don’t pour hot burning liquid onto friends to make them into what you think they should be.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Little Shop of Horrors

It seems like I've grown a monster ... I was looking at some photos of the dogs and thought I'd post some then and now pictures to demonstrate what has happened to my adorable puppy.

Here is Raimi at just 4 weeks old ...

And here he is at Christmas - The Grinch he's sniffing is about the same size as the red and blue ball ...

Here's Petal with Raimi at 3 weeks - I've used this picture before ...

And I've used this one before too - this is Raimi and Petal about 2 months ago ...

This was his 7 week stack photo - he was being so good ... that's his sister Rosie's nose in the background sniffing out extra treats ...

And this is him from this past Sunday at the park ...

Here's my favorite comparison because it's so obvious ... well, he's the little one in the first picture and the big one in the second...

This is a good demonstration for why it is critical that large breeds not get fat or over worked during their first year(at a minimum). The rate at which they grow is so stressful on their bodies that any additional stressors like extra weight or over exertion means their body has to work against itself. You can end up with a lame dog at 3 or 4 years old and this is why many breeders will not guarantee the joints (hips & elbows) on a fat or over-worked dog - even if it's in the contract. Environmental factors play a huge role in the development of puppies ... consider the years you are potentially denying yourself and the dog the next time those sad eyes beg you for more treats or that exhuasted puppy tries so hard to keep up on a 2 hour hike ...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Barefoot in the Park

Sunday was a gorgeous day just like Saturday so it was off for more adventuring. We arranged to meet Rory at the park and happened upon Shane and Ryder so it was a regular Ridgeback Rodeo. Of course the puppies started playing immediately. It was about 16 degrees and the sun was shining so the dogs got too hot to run and just rolled around in the grass and wandered across the 'Savanah ' of the park. It was a great way to get an evening free while the dogs are zonked out on the couch. We attracted attention as usual and a Boston terrier thought he could belnd ... people started singing 'One of these things is not like the other ..."

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Little Trip to Heaven

I remember field trips at school always being a welcome treat from the monotony of same ol' same ol' everyday. It didn't actually matter if ther place you were visiting was the most boring place on earth - just getting out of classes was enough.

I imagine it's the same for dogs - the park is the park is the park. It doesn't change much - sure it looks different season to season but in essentials it remains pretty reliable. Same paths, same smells, same dogs, same poop bins, same everything. Every so often we like to change it up a bit so yesterday we went to Crossfield where my parents live on 15 acres. Joining us was Raimi's sister Kenya who was staying for the weekend. I'll let pictures tell the tale(you can right click the photo and select properties to see who is in the photo).