Monday, June 30, 2008

See Spot Run

While we were in Missoula another Ridgeback breeder showed us to a large open space she'd found for the dogs to run off some steam. With several days of nowhere to take the edge off Raimi gets squirrely and goofy in the ring. There's baby Zero bringing up the rear. I love all their expressions ... clearly a great time was being had!

Raimi chases Geddie across the field - Geddie has done coursing and attained her junior coursing title easily. Geddie runs like Halo does, weaving and bobbing and showing off and managed to avoid Raimi for the most part.

I think he surprised her when he cut her off and made a grab, he probably surprised himself too as he almost never catches Halo. He has learned a lot of her dirty tricks and does not hesitate to use them.

There's Zero bringing up the rear again ... poor little guy could not keep up. Raimi demonstrates the famous Ridgeback body slam. It seems to be an instinctual tactic they all use to throw their playmate off balance.

Raimi unfurled his enormous tongue to cool off a bit - it was pretty hot even in the evening.

Geddie threw herself in the cool grass for a breather.

And little Zero. He couldn't keep up but that doesn't mean he didn't run just as hard. His ears still flip over like they did when I had him here - they are HUGE ears!

It was fun to see the siblings running together all grown up ... well ... partly grown up. They have some time yet before they will become the 'final product'. They are all a long way toward exceeding my expectations!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Joy Ride

So we finally get across the border after an hour of being 'held' in the US Customs office with about 20 other people who looked annoyed at the unreasonable delay. They all looked like terrorists to me ... you know ... the family of three Swedes, two senior couples travelling together, the thirty-something couple in granola gear ... ya, good job on the not wasting tax payers money US Gov't Homeland Security nonsense. They seem to be trained to make sure you never want to return to the USA.

Just across the border it turns out there is nothing much in Monana except wide open spaces and scrub land. Here is a house which is conpletely exposed to the elements. I'm not sure if it's because these home-owners are too bad ass to need trees or if trees just will not grow here.

This river is in one of the two valleys you drive through to get to Great Falls. The land appears mostly flat with gently rolling hills as in the above photo but suddenly you'll come upon these valleys that cut sharply into the landscape and the motorhome says WTF is this hill doing here and gasps down to 30 miles an hour.

Once you leave Great Falls and head west to Missoula you leave behind the flat prairie and look forward to the distant mountains. They are not as impressive as the Alberta Rockies but frankly anything is better than the endless prairies, still no trees though. It's called Big Sky Country for a reason ...

Voila! Trees, I think they are Ponderosa pines and they are prolific once you get further into the mountains. The hills started to get more serious at this point, the road got progressively more twisty and turny and the motorhome was not happy about the upward climb to the continental divide.
The mountains that surround Missoula seem to hold the incredible heat we had to drive in. I think the motorhome was built before air conditioning was invented so you have to open the windows and suffer through it. I'm quite sure I got heat exhaustion and my mom had to drive the final 45 minutes into Missoula. The kennel club is called Five Valleys and it is so named because 5 valleys converge to create the 'bowl' where Missoula is located.

I'll leave you with a little bit of Montana identity ... yes, that says Testy Festy and yes, it's a Testicle Festival.

Visit to a Small Planet

Before I get on the road again into Montana I have to mention a Raimi adventure I was so worried about. You know that saying "Don't worry about it til it happens?" Well ... that applies to everything, including your obsessive adoration of a large Momma's Boy.

I was heading to Cochrane yesterday to visit a friend and since I had to do a little training with Rory and assess his development I thought I'd leave Raimi with Kathryn and see how he does on his own in a strange environment. I am going to Nova Scotia for a week in the fall and Kathryn has volunteered to keep him ... this was a test for Raimi otherwise I'd have to find another alternative. Kathryn has lots of Ridgeback experience and I trust her judgement and care.

Well, I needn't have worried. Apparently he sniffed the air a few times to see if I was hiding somewhere ... and then promptly resumed play with Rory and relaxing in the heat. He was so tired last night he could barely stay awake long enough to get in the house and to bed. This morning he was dead asleep with his head on my neck and was very unwilling to get out of bed!

So I needn't have worried and I suspect most of the apprehension is mine but well he's My Boy and I am very attached to him. Since he did so well I'll worry less when I'm gone but it's always a hard to trust someone else with your babies ... who could ever take care of them better than you?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Beyond Borders

Travelling to dog shows is always one of my favorite things to do. It's nice to get away with a vehicle filled with dogs and all the anticipation of how the shows will go. Growing up I never had a vacation in the normal sense - as in flying somewhere hot, laying on a beach or taking a week at Disneyland. Always vacations were dog shows. We did get to go to Disneyland when I was six while in CA for a Puli National Specialty ...

You see things on the road you don't see flying and I have some great memories, all jumbled together, of various show trip landscapes. Here's some of this trip ...

How flat is the Alberta prairie ... well, the warmer the temperature the shorter the distance you can see but the impression is still of endless flat land. You also may notice the size of the sky ... the green reflects the blue ... it's more impressive when there are no clouds.

Here is an abandonded farmhouse on the way to Lethbridge. You can see the bushes and trees planted on the western edge to protect the yard from the elements. The house and out-buildings have long been empty but not removed - I always wonder what happened to houses like this that were obviously once full of industry.

This is the railway bridge that spans the valley leading into Lethbridge. The University sits in the hillside of the valley but I couldn't get a good picture of it as we didn't take the scenic route. Apparently there is some concern that the University is shifting down the the hill into the valley. You don't say.

When we'd cross the border when I was little I'd see a sign that said 'MT POE' which I thought referred to this oddity at left - it's a mountain of sorts out in the prairies at the Alberta / Montana border. MT POE, of course, means Montana Port of Entry and does not refer to the mountain. I still don't know what it's called but to me it will always be Mt. Poe.
The town to cross into Montana on the Alberta side is Coutts but on the Montana side it's called Sweetgrass. I always kind of wondered what the border guards did in their careers to get assigned this border crossing. One officer is a complete asshole and we've had to deal with him twice. He seems to think his position as a border guard gives him some sort of divine asshole power. My mom is not a Canadian citizen, she has permanent resident status, which means to US Customs that she is a serious terrorist threat.
Homeland Security is the biggest crock of shit ever implemented and it tacks on almost an hour everytime we have to cross the border. Travelling alone it takes me about 2 minutes to get across, travelling with either of my parents involves parking, waiting in the US Customs office, filling out a stupid form, having their picture taken, thumb printed and hassled by Mr. Customs Asshole. It doesn't help that my mother can't stop herself arguing with them about what she's doing going to a dog show in Montana of all the horrors. They also take MY passport so they can record the accomplice to the British National Senior Citizen Terrorist.

So we've made it to the border. Does Montana hold an assortment of wonders ... ?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Big Country

We are back from our trip to Montana. We survived. It was a very successful trip if I do say so myself.

The first two days Raimi was the only Invictus dog entered and he did very well placing in his class both days. He acted like an idiot in the ring but he is not accustomed to show road trips and it was a lot to take in for a silly boy. The set up at Great Falls involved a long trek to and from the rings but the motorhome was parked under some lovely shade giving trees and we stayed relatively cool. The mostquitos were persistent and I had Raimi inside much of the time so we didn’t end up in the ring with welts all over him!

My mom finished Leah’s championship in Great Falls. The rest of the trip involved getting single points on the rest of the Pulis and trying to calm Reno down in the ring enough so you could see his movement – he is so excited to be alive it takes some management to get all 4 feet on the floor! I also showed Berry (at left) who is a filler dog - used to get points on 'better' dogs - but gosh and golly she is darling. See how she smiles?

We then drove into Missoula in the scorching heat, did some shopping, and made it to the show grounds in good time. We managed to set up the pens and debated a bit about putting the awning down. See the ominous clouds we decided to ignore? In the end we didn’t bother with the awning and of course it poured buckets that night and everything got soaked. We got the awning down the next morning with a little second guessing and a relatively low level of frustration.

The first day in Missoula was a very good one for Invictus as Raimi won Winners Dog for a 3 point major and his sister Geddie (at left) won Winners Bitch and Best of Winners(which means she beat Raimi!) for a 5 point major. Hooray! It was a really great day for us.

The next day Geddie placed 3rd in her class and Raimi placed second in his - there we are the middle dog - the class hasn't been placed yet. A so-so day but a good showing just the same. We spent a lot of time relaxing and I spent a bit of time getting a nice toasty burn on my shoulders. My legs are still ‘maggot white’ as my mother calls them but my feet got a bit of a burn …

The last day was a hoot as it was Zero’s very first time in the ‘official’ show ring at exactly 6 months old. See how handsome he is in his pen? Of course he acted like a puppy but our judge Mr Sabella saw correct angles, clean down and back, open and correct side gait, and a stable temperament. Raimi went on to place second in his class and was then beaten by Zero for Reserve. That’s right! Zero took reserve to a major! That means out of all the male Ridgebacks at the show a 6 month 9 hour old baby boy placed second to all the class boys entered. Geddie won the very large Open Bitch class, then Winners Bitch and then Best of Opposite Sex over specials for 5 points! She now only needs 3 points to finish her championship and that will make her Halo’s first US champion.

Did I keep the wrong dog??? Ssshhhhh … don’t tell Raimi!

It was a great circuit for Invictus – we placed in our classes every day, won 3 of the majors and Reserve to a major with a puppy. I AM SO PROUD OF HALO’S BABIES!!!!!!

Halo is still in raging heat at my friend Tanja’s house and has settled in marvelously with the cats, Tanja and the children. She apparently is the hit of the neighbourhood.

Thanks again to Erin Coogan of Aegis for taking such good care of Geddie and Zero and for showing them so beautifully! And of course for selling me Halo who is an absolute dream of a foundation bitch!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Police Academy

I’m going to tell you what happened yesterday. I had been thinking it was kind of funny but lying in bed last night I realized how annoyed I was by the system.

I have to take Raimi to work. I can’t take him to a day care beause most will not take a large, un-neutered Ridgeback, there is one directly on my way to work but it doesn’t get good reviews and I’m not leaving an intact male with people I don’t know/trust. He’s fine in the temperature regulated parkade under my building. He goes out for a walk at lunch and naps the rest of the time – or howls ... whatever.

That said; yesterday I had to go the a job site (I work for a condo builder) and he obviously had to come with me. It wasn’t hot, about 18 degrees, and there was a nice breeze. I had to go into a building for about an hour so I parked in the shade, rolled all 4 windows down all the way and left him with water in a dish. I could hear him barking his “Mommeeeeeee … come baaaaaack!” bark. The parking lot is surrounded by three condo buildings so I knew he’d be annoying the populace but he was in the only shade available.

When I returned there was – I’m not kidding – a police car waiting for me and a woman with a little bichon thingie dog standing by my truck. I ignored the cop and looked at her, the obvious instigator of these events. Raimi was safely in the truck looking at me with ‘So let me out now you’re here Mommy’.

The woman started with "I'm a vet" (ya right - tech maybe - what breed of dog is this then?) and insisted that my dog was in distress and had been for over an hour. She said she'd seen far too many dogs suffer from heat stroke and didn't want to see another. I leaned into my truck, checked the air temperature which was no warmer than the exterior (except for some lack of circulation) and looked at Raimi. He was panting but with that normal excited to see his Mommy tongue lolling with a smile kind of pant. If she was a vet she’d know that this dog was not suffering from heat distress – he was in Momma’s Boy distress. So I said ‘So you called the POLICE?”

If you call the Humane Society they ask you standard questions based on the information you give them – in this case the questions would be 1) is the vehicle parked in shade? 2) are the windows open? 3) is the dog in obvious heat related distress? If the answer to these questions is: ‘yes, yes, and well he’s barking and whining a lot’ then they say “Call the police if you’re that concerned, we are off rescuing animals in actual distress.”

So she did. The cop stood back and allowed us to sort out our differences (he put his head and hands inside the truck to check the temperature obviously discovering what I did – it was not hot). I did thank her and told her that if he was in actual distress and danger I appreciated that she would get involved. However, I do not believe he was in anything except spoiled brat tantrum angst. She could tell I was not agreeing with her opinion that my dog was in danger and after I refused her offer of water and any other assistance she wandered away.

The cop came over to say ‘Well, she pretty much said what I’d have said.” I opened the back of the truck and he stood there looking at Boy, who was happy to see me but obviously not suffering heat stroke, and seemed speculative. He said I should not leave the dog like that again and take him for a walk. He mentioned that if the Canine Unit had come I’d get an earful because they lost two dogs last year due to heat stroke. Oh, let’s compare completely unrelated incidents shall we? Those dogs were left in a car with the windows up and AC supposedly on. They died in less than a half hour because the AC cut out. Gimme a break, you can’t compare a heavily tinted truck parked in the shade with all the windows all the way down to a sealed vehicle left in full sun. I’m sorry those dogs died but these are not comparable circumstances.

The cop left and I took Boy out for a walk, offered him some water which he didn’t drink, and headed back to the office.

Remember this blog entry? In January I called in an act of vandalism in progress and screaming threats of violence and the police said "Sorry, can't help you". It's a police monitored drug op (with raids and everything) and people violently acting out their drug induced anger and I cannot get the police do a drive by?? But a dog in a non-life threatening position gets a police officer there in no time? I pay taxes why exactly? So I can get harrassed and the drug dealers can get let off at every turn? The system is FUBAR.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Fun with Dick & Jane

Here's the pics from the weekend ... it was such a nice day out with the dogs.

Everyone sets out on the trail.

Someone pulled out treats and immediately the wonders of the wilderness were abandoned.

The grass was very long all along the path and the dogs loved it. Mungo leaped ... or rather boinged his way through it.

Rory leaps over one of the many puddles on the path to higher ground.

Ramsay's bum pops up as he leaps into the grass. There was a lot of leaping.

Once we got down closer to the lake edge Shane was not happy about all the water he was forced to stand in.

Ryder didn't think the puppies were all that fun and did an about face when they started bolting down the path toward him.

Jackson was by far the fastest and most coordinated dog - he put all the Ridgebacks to shame. He is also about a quarter of their size.

I'll try to get another day organized for July.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Blind Date

Looking for Mr Right? Have I got the guy for you! Tall, muscular, athletic, with auburn hair and soulful brown eyes, this guy has it all. Gets along with everyone. Likes to cuddle and watch movies. Always up for a walk along the river bank or a meeting friends at the park. Hangs on your every word and never interrupts. Misses you like crazy when you’re gone and is always ecstatic to see you. Excellent secret keeper and confidante. Never backseat drives, loves to be with you all the time, and eats anything you cook for him.

Sadly he is unemployed and lives with his mother in a basement suite. Whines a lot. Not very smart. Fortunately he does not know how to play Dungeons & Dragons or World of Warcraft otherwise we'd be in real trouble.

Mansfield Park

This last Saturday we headed out to Lloyd Park again for a Ridgeback walk. I took about 130 photos which are still on the camera as I do not have my laptop right now. As soon as I have the pooter back I’ll DL the photos and post them.

It was a gorgeous day – the perfect temperature for running the dogs. No one got over-heated and there was standing water everywhere so it was easy for them to cool off and stay hydrated. We had 4 babies from the last litter plus Ryder and Raimi and my friend Liana brought her two dogs, Telly & Jackson, for a run as well.

Telly is a pitbull and Jackson is a pittie/min pin cross – both are close enough to the Ridgeback color to get mixed up with everyone else except they both have prick ears. Telly is an awesome dog with a great temperament except she doesn’t always listen – she is more obstinate than any dog I’ve ever known! Jackson was a hit as he is a fast little bugger and the Ridgeback babies had a ball trying to catch him. The only puppy who managed to come close to keeping up was Mungo – I have a great picture of the two of them in full flight.

We meandered along a path that led around the ‘lake’ and the view was fanatastic and as the mosquitos aren’t out yet so we walked in comfort the whole way. Give it a couple more weeks and the air will be thick with blood thirsty teradactyl skeeters.

I think that night everyone would have been very heppily tired and all the homes could spend the evening in peace!

Once I have the computer back and I can load the pictures it will be obvious why we choose to walk the dogs at Lloyd Park … it’s perfect for the Ridgebacks.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Joy Ride

Next week we are heading to Montana for a 5 day show circuit. Some of my best childhood memories are of our road trips. I remember the last weeks of high school two students were awarded a scholarship for having never missed a day of school. HA! I was taken out of class at least once a year to go to shows. I’d wager my childhood was spent more happily than some of my peers. But I digress …

We are going to Great Falls for the first two days of shows – it’s about 5 hours south of Calgary – tack on a couple more hours if you’re in a motorhome. I suspect the biggest time sucker will be stopping every hour to fill the beast with gas. Great Falls is a neat little town – I’ve been there probably 20 out of 31 years – but I’ve never seen the falls and cannot comment whether they are great or not. I do know Walmart is just up the road from the show grounds though.

Then we’re off to Missoula. I really like that town. One of the (many) things I don’t like about Calgary is the very thing I do like about Missoula. It knows what it is. It’s got a frontier town apple pie all-American image. There are neat little Davy Crockett type shops and some store fronts have old timey facades and the restaurants are decorated with snow shoes, animal traps and taxidermized critters. It takes pride in its past and heritage. Don’t get me started on Calgary’s identity crisis … I don’t have time.

I love being on the road, listening to music, reading, napping, the abandonment of a balanced diet (should you have had one in the first place) and stopping for a potty break to finally take that glorious streeeeeetch. The air smells different too … something people rarely believe when I tell them.

Last year on the way to Missoula my mom and I saw a very cool thing. Railroad tracks ran parellel to the highway and we were slowly passing a train which carried a huge ‘tube’ which tapered to a blunt point at one end. The shape was strangely familiar. It was huge – I mean just massive – and was covered in a tarp. We thought about it for a few moments and then the bulb went on … it was a plane fuselage. Probably a 747 or something similarly large minus its wings and tail. You could faintly see the window holes and windshield but it was definitely a fuselage. How else would a plane get from A to B when it’s not built? Hard to believe one day that great bulk would be flying …

Soon I’ll reminisce about the differences between a Canadian countryside and an American one.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Forbidden Planet

It begins. Last week Halo came into psuedo-heat where she started to swell a little but stalled for about 6 or 7 days while she contemplated the actual level of bitchiness she thought she could achieve. Apparently a decision was reached and she has decided to ‘pop it’ and is in full fledged heat.

From yesterday morning to last night she went from a little swelling to Raimi’s head exploding with how much he loves his Mommy. I can’t decide if The Momma's Boy is acting like this because he is now seperated from his mommy or because she’s in heat. Likely both. He hasn’t tried any actual breeding behaviour and seriously – no one wants that – but it’s more a desperate need to be near her 24/7.

I let them out this morning with Raimi by himself in the yard for a few minutes while I prepared their food and Halo clung to me because I had dog dishes. I switched the dog locations so Halo could go pee in peace and he raced from room to room looking for her. I brought her in and put her panties on but Raimi is so in love that she practically had to unstick him from her side to go and eat. He doesn't try to mount her … just holds onto her ears and trots next to her – it’s cute in a stalker-like way.

Thankfully because she seems to ovulate between day 10 and day 16 we will be out of the country and Halo will be at a friend’s house when she’s in standing heat. I can't tell you how happy this makes me. I will be providing the panties and liners for her. Good luck with that.

Raimi needs to be away from his mom and grow some backbone. Halo will be gone for several months while we wait for her next heat (because of timing she’ll hit those damn shipping embargoes again) and we may have Zero as a trade to tide Raimi over. Zero will teach Raimi that you can cut the U cord and not die from it.

So the tally rises of things designed to irritate Halo: 1) she’s in heat 2) her ears are taped under her chin now because all other avenues have failed 3) it’s been pouring the last few days 4) she has to wear embarassing panties. Singularly these things are easy to deal with – combined and I am homicidal toward this dog.

No more park for Halo either – that will not go down well with Boy too as he counts on her for poop cues … Halo doesn’t care as long as there’s food to tide her over while we're gone.

And what blog these days is complete without Weasley? Dear gawd that cat makes me want to vomit rainbows.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Heart of Variety

I have a few pictures I have been stockpiling and I wanted to get them up so today is the day. The new blog picture was from a couple days ago - Weasley is lying safely between Raimi's front legs and you just can't plan that kind of picture.

In my house the vacuum is universally known as the most evil device ever created. I was vacuuming the living-room and progressed down the hall to find these two lion hunters in the 'safety zone' on my bed.

I broke down and ordered the Scottish wellie boots and the most gorgeous purse ever and they arrived in a Fed Ex bag which proved too tempting to Ceilidh. At least I know if I want to ship her anywhere she'll fit in one of those bags.

Halo now has duct tape on both ear tips. As a result of the punctures on her ears she kept shaking her head which meant that the tips of her ears split. If you've ever had to deal with a split ear on a dog it's just brutal. Yes, that is a Tigger band-aid on one ear and Pooh is on the other - they are stuck to duct tape because that's the only thing that she can't get off. I do get comments at the park but what's a girl to do?

Everyone is probably just sick to death of this kitten but geez he keeps doing ultra cute things. Here he is hanging from a sleeping Raimi's leg ... irresistible to a kitten.

I came across this one of Petal from last summer. At my parent's house we were in the motor-home for a few minutes and when we headed back to the house I said 'Where's Petal?' We called and called and finally she caught my eye - she was sitting in the passenger seat of the motor-home ready to hit the road. She would have loved the motor-home road trips ... I do regret never having been able to take her on one.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Oh here we go. I realize most people don’t have any experience with a dog in heat. Try and keep it that way. Unless you intend to show, do performance, health check the parents, guarantee health on the puppy, offer new owners support for it’s lifetime, take it back if necessary and do all the responsible breeder things that backyard breeders do not do … ALTER YOUR DOG. But I digress …

Halo is in heat. What this means is that for the next month my life will be a rotation of whining Boy and sulking Momma. They cannot be together at all. She just came into heat on June 4th officially but she’s been building up to it for at least a 6 weeks. Until now Boy has only been drooling over her pee, sniffing her bottom lots and being irritating in a dumb guy kind of way. I can live with that. We turned a corner this morning to almost constantly hassling Halo to sniff her bottom – he’s not trying anything else and he’s not getting the chance. Today they are in separate rooms and will stay that way til I’m sure Halo is finished.

Halo has progressively become more sulky, more moody, scratching her tummy, and peeing every 20 feet at the park. She gets Constant Menstrual Syndrome til about a week after she’s done – it’s a real treat. I have no idea why anyone would keep a bitch intact unless they absolutely had to. It’s just the very worst thing about owning a brood bitch in my opinion.

The list of reasons why I can’t stand this dog in heat are as follows: her temperament changes completely – she’s moody, sulky, clingy, dramatic, obstinent, unrepentant, defiant, and sneaky. Normally, yes, she is all of these things anyway but in moderation. If she’s been bred this temperament remains til about 3 weeks after she’s weaned the puppies. That’s 6 months. You can just imagine …

She smells. Seriously, I just cannot have her sit near me. My sense of smell is extremely acute and it is not a gift. To start she smells kind of like a morgue – you know, where they drain the body of fluids and yes – I do know what that actually smells like. I can live with that – not pleasant but not nauseating. When she starts to ovulate though watch out. She smells like a rotting corpse – I’d say about 5 or 6 days dead – just ripening. It’s so bad I just cannot have her near me at all. I’m sorry my comparison of a bitch in heat is to death but that is what it smells like to me.

The blood. Blood should stay in the body. It’s totally unacceptable to see it anywhere else. And it’s not just blood – oh no – there’s not just the red splotches on the floor, the spots on the dog beds, the never ending battle to keep it well away from my couch and rugs. It’s also a mixture of other fluid which makes the blood more or less viscous depending on what stage she is at in the cycle. And it’s not a little blood/fluid, sometimes it’s a ridulous amount that makes me think perhaps a damn of some sort burst. She has panties and liners that she wears and despises and while I’m sorry to have to put them on her because she gets more moody … I’m so not sorry at all.

To Halo’s credit she is as predictable as the tides. Almost exactly 6 months from the date of the whelping she is bang in heat again. At least that is a comfort so I know when to expect it. This heat we’ll skip as the last litter was a bit of a challenge for us both – 12 is a lot of puppies to raise and I wanted to give her a break. Next heat we’ll see her last litter and then she’ll be spayed. Can't wait.

As we progress into the cycle you will see me quickly lose patience with both of them. Raimi will drop weight (which sucks big time because he’s got 5 days of shows coming up) because he’ll be madly in love with is mother. Halo will drop weight because she always does when she comes into heat- must be something to do with her hormones and metabolism. Raimi will pine and whine non-stop. Halo will sulk. Hooray my life.