Thursday, July 31, 2008

Double Standard

Tomorrow is my very first judging assignment. I’m judging puppy sweepstakes for the Alberta Sporting Hound Association – I love puppies! I will admit I’m a little apprehensive – I’ve been studying hound standards and reasearching online but today I had to stop. I’ve been giving myself heart palpitations whenever I start reviewing so I put the binder away and will just have to trust my gut. I have 29 (32) years of looking at show dogs and at some point I just have to trust my eye.

There are a couple breeds that are very unfamiliar to me in as far as body shape and the Dachshund tops the list. It’s an interesting little dog and has the most detailed standard which is very helpful. It includes leg angles, measurements and some pretty finite requirements of the breed – don’t even get me started on their three coat types.

Some standards are very sparse, the Greyhound and the Saluki leave a lot of room for interpretation however these breeds have changed little in thousands of years – a remarkable feat what with humans and our penchant for screwing things up.

I will say that because of researching illustrated and ellaborated standards I now want a Scottish Deerhound. They sound lovely. They look like big fuzzy charcoal greyhounds.

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll be fine, I just have to trust myself and I know I have a good eye for a dog … but I’ve never had to say yes or no to a stranger’s baby puppy! I just hope there are no classes with 5 dogs - that means one dog gets nothing. But I get to pet lots of puppies!

Monday, July 28, 2008


Well thank gawd other people have cameras that haven't been eaten by a Ridgeback (yet). Kona's dad sent me some rare pictures of a Ridgeback in water from a hot weekend. The temperatures have been pretty warm, not excessive or oppressive, but the dogs still appreciate a good cool off in the water when they can get the chance.

Halo has NEVER liked water. It's an extreme distaste that borders on the pathological. While I think it's definitely a breed trait, Halo's genetics scream "Water is evil." So whenever a Halo baby encounters water it's an interesting juxtaposition between a puppy's natural curiousity and an inherited disdain for getting wet.

So here's Kona. Photos that capture precious moments like these really tickle me. The expression on his face seems to be that if a picture could say a thousand words they are probably not words you'd want to see in a bubble above his head - or they'd look something like this: *&^*#$%#!!! Ah Halo ... your boy done you proud.

He is giving it the college try I guess and a photo of him going out into the river is promising in the perception that it's likely voluntary. I can't imagine he was trying to retrieve that ball but hey ... a Ridgeback who goes into water AND retrieves would make him a real trail-blazer in the world of Ridgebacks.

This photo had me laughing out loud. LOL for those of you no longer accustomed to reading entire sentence structures. Apparently he got in a little deep and had to actually use swimmy type motions and this resulted. So ... er ... maybe not so much the water dog then. This photo was called "I am Drounding' which presumably he didn't.

So there we have it. Kona hits the rivers and shows Labs they don't have a monopoly on the waterways, however; with examples like this last photo I bet they're not that worried.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


This weekend Shane has stayed with me while his mom and dad go to a wedding in Lethbridge. He is such a sweet and serious kinda guy. I can tell he doesn't hear raised voices much (I'm kind of a loud person) because whenever I'd raised my voice (like the time I couldn't get the mower started and was swearing at it) he looked mortified. Raimi is sort of used to it and ignores me unless he thinks it's directed at him ... even then he kind of ignores me anyway because he knows I am quick to forgive him.

Shane has one ear that is oddly cock-eyed. It sort of sticks up and flips forward a bit so it makes his head look crooked. He's got a beautiful head tho, a nice masculine Halo head with more bone and a more pronounced stop. And can he move or what? He is one of those effortless puppies who, like Halo, never moves like his body parts don't fit each other. He trots along in that ground covering gait and never seems to expend energy doing it. A true working gait.

He and Raimi blasted around at the park yesterday afternoon in ridiculous heat and then again today. Raimi had to show off how fast he was and while Shane never could catch him on a straight run he sure has his mother's knack for ambush and quick turns. There were a couple close calls and narrowly avoided collisions. They both especially enjoy the tall grass now at the park and delight in ga-boinging their way through it.

The cats are fascinating to Shane and while they don't much care about the dogs they sure know when they are being stalked. Weasley knows too but he encourages the game of chase and I caught Shane with a little too intense look on his face and told him to back off. Of course the cat knows no better and still insisted on teasing the heck out of him anyway.

Now they are both curled up fast asleep exhausted after their morning's romp, a half hour of avoiding the lawn mower and watching me weed. Such a hard life for a dogs.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Random Hearts

I feel a little lost without my camera. No new pics to update so we have to settle for old ones. Today is a bit random - it feels like a random week.

This is Raimi and his couch. It's a love seat and while I do love my boy I like sitting here too. I made him shift his arse and he normally curls up a bit more so I can plant my ass off to the right of him. We spend many an evening with me watching TV or a move or internetting and him in the sleep of the content.

But oh look ... there is still room for Weasley. Sometimes Raimi will get off the couch because he gets too hot or wants to stretch and Weasley hops up. Raimi stares at me til I move the 3 pound kitten.
This is from when Kenya visited a couple weeks ago - Raimi and her had a geat time wrestling with the sheep. They completely destroyed the pig toy - pink pieces of pig littered my floor.

Raimi's park face happens on Saturday and Sunday mornings if I am a bit too slow getting my butt to the park with him. Whenever we arrange to meet people it's usually for about 1pm which in Raimi's opinion is far too long to wait when we get up at 8am.

I relented and we met Rory at the park. I love to see the happy faces running and wearing themselves out. It means a relaxing afternoon for me at home.

Here's Kenya taking a breather. She is a very sweet girl and at the park she is never any trouble - she just wants to plod along and then go for the occassional romp.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Mamma Mia!

We went to visit Halo last week to drop off some food and see how she is doing. Raimi was so excited to see her and after he'd determined she was not in heat anymore he began a systematic harassment of her to play. Eventually she succombed and proceeded to beat him up.

Halo had a bath before we came so that she did not smell like heat and apparently it was a time of trial. Annika was the official bath photographer and you can see that Halo was not impressed with the proceedings.

The end of the bath involved a towel that offered a juxtaposition to her name. Although ... some days I suspect that the devil horns are there but just invisible. She will put up wth just about anything that is asked of her ... even devil horns and photographs.

She has settled in very well with the resident cats and I was sure she wouldn't concern herself too much with her new room-mates. Newman is the orange cat on the chair and Azura is the torti underneath it - apparently Jules the cat has yet to become comfortable enough to be seen in the same photo with Halo.

Ridgebacks can't resist the couch and Halo is no exception. Luckily there is just enough room for her and Tanja's children Annika & Sofia ... I'm not sure exactly where Tanja would find to sit ... however from conversations with her I suspect sitting is not a part of her day.

Tanja runs a day home and this is what Halo 'endures' in the course of the children's stay. Apparently it's off to Hawaii for a little sun and fun and hula dancing. The treats and hugs are definitely worth it and this kind of attention she is happy to humor.

Here we are at the end of the day and she sleeps like the dead. With days as full as hers it's definitely a two pillow sleep.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Bodyguard

Raimi sure is a happy Boy. He has settled into his serve and protect role and is quick to notify me of any odd noises and races to the door or window to ensure that the first thing an intruder sees is a large male Ridgeback staring back at them. I think his deference to Halo’s opinion has been replaced by a realization that he’s solely responsible for me now and by gawd he will step up to the plate if needed. Maybe.

Alarms were triggered yesterday while Raimi was deep in a sniff of long grass and a cyclist rode over a wooden bridge that was about 15 feet away. The rumbling of the tires on 2 x 6 planks caused Mr Tough Guy Guard Dog to leap up and shoot in the opposite direction for about 10 feet before he righted himself and stopped to look at me for guidance. The expression on my face must have told a thousand tales of exasperation. He puffed himself up and nonchalantly walked out of the grass to my side as if it had never happened.

I’m not really sure what he’d do if he thought I was threatened; however, the odds of me being threatened while in his company are slim to nil. Who on earth would be dumb enough to approach a single woman walking a 110 pound dog with anything but an eyeball for their own safety. He is nothing if not intimidating. I must confess … I do like the effect.

He has shown that anyone or thing that tries to get into my house without my say would be sorrier for it. Strange noises, unexpected knocks and odd shadows falling across the windows usually get a cursory growl if not a soft warning bark. He has an incredibly intimidating and deep woof and no one hearing it could mistake that the dog was itself quite large. In fact the first time I heard his Big Boy Bark I thought ‘Who was that?”

This dog is the rock against which I sleep. He is the sighing, smiling, happily snoozing and languidly stretching Boy in the morning. I have no doubt that he would protect me from all comers as fiercely as I would protect him.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Camera Shy

I wish I could show a picture of what Raimi did while I was at work yesterday. He is loose in the house now and is not generally a dog that looks to destroy things, he likes to cuddle and carry things. I think it gives him comfort to have something of mine to hold while I’m gone. He has a particular obsession with Tigger and Mannie the Bear who sit on a chair in my bedroom – I find him toting them around quite often. The $250 shoes … okay … that was a bitter pill to swallow but it doesn’t come close to Halo’s list of carnage.

He’s got nothing on the damage Halo did to the couch I used to have, she destroyed it in stages and I tried to use bitter apple etc but it didn’t make any difference. Petal must have been watching her with a ‘I don’t think you should be doing that’ expression. She didn’t try to stop her though, I’d come home to a livingroom full of fluff with Petal greeting me innocently and Halo greeting me guiltily. At the time I didn’t have a digital camera to record the carnage.

This time I don’t have a digital camera to record the carnage either. Why? The camera was the carnage. My cute little Canon Powershot is no more. The lens took the brunt of attention and it still turns on to the tune of a cracked screen and sad beeping noises. I thought I might be able to download the images but it pooped out when I connected it to the computer. I took out the memory card and batteries and set the camera aside as a reminder of my carelessness.

I thought about replacing it with a similar model but since I was planning on getting a digital SLR anyway I may as well just upgrade now. I have a Canon EOS A3 which is a film camera that takes pretty gorgeous photos however digital SLRs are finally approaching what I’d consider comparable to film at an affordable price. (As an aside I am a film purist)

This camera Raimi won’t get near … except when I’m taking his picture.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Truman Show

Invictus babies attended their very first show this weekend. They put in a good showing for such young dogs and I'm very pleased with how everyone looked and are maturing.

Karma won her very first point! She also won best puppy two out of three days. Plus, when she was shown by her owner Adine in the all breed sweepstakes on Saturday she placed 3rd in her class of 9!

She has made quite a splash her first weekend out. She is such a pretty girl with a super stable temperament and I am so excited to see how she matures.

This is Rifka being a very serious puppy. Being at the dog show is not time for playing or being silly. That's girls for you. Halo was the same way 'We are here to work - no funny business.' Rifka and Karma have inherited Halo's need to treat everything they do with the gravity it deserves.

Rifka won best puppy her very first time in the ring and she has so much potential as Taryn's foundation bitch.

Well who knew Rory could move like this? Mr. Rory makes incredible side gait look like a walk at the park. I should know he can do this since ... well ... we've been for walks at the park!

This picture floors me. It's so uncanny how much Rory looks like Raimi at the same age. I think we have another Boy on our hands! He has the same show attitude as Raimi did too - he just has a good time and hopes for treats and hugs.

Our next show is in 3 weeks and I can't wait to see them all together again. They are so much fun to show because it's not that serious for puppies - as much as the girls like to it is - and it's always fun to hang out and talk dogs.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

You Can't Buy Luck

I love Ebay. A lot of really nice things are in my house from Ebay. Usually you can avoid over paying for things, sometimes you just have to have something, even if it means over-paying. Sometimes you get such a smokin’ deal you think it’s not going to be what you expected. Sometimes you get something that’s total crap.

Shoes, prints, movies, art, clothes, jewellery … if it’s not on Ebay it probably doesn’t exist. I bought a red wool coat that fits like it was tailored to me. I paid $16 for a tungsten carbide ring (the hardest metal in the world) that retails for over $100. I have a gorgeous limited edition Harry Potter watch that I love to bits which was $70. I have lost count of the number of Ridgeback goodies I’ve bought on Ebay – some are as nice as I expected ... some not so much. One year I bought 90% of my Christmas gifts on Ebay.

Ebay is the world of the anonymous war – when you really want something you have to choose a price you’d pay and stick to it. A limit. I’ve let things go when they got too high. I've paid too much for something. I’ve been in bidding wars and won. I’ve tasted defeat. No fear … something equally enticing or better always comes along. The wheel keeps turning.

So the lastest purchase I made was something I gave myself a limit on. I bid to my limit and was outbit. Hmmm. How much do I want this? I want it. A lot. Why? Well … take a look.

The dog looks … I mean it really looks like Raimi – knees out, cow hocked, giant head, goofy look and even a patch of white on the chest. And the girl … short red hair, snotty look on her face, wearing my favorite color. I think I was last that thin when I was about 14 years old. The artist who created this print is Lynne Watson, she specializes in Afghan hounds and the sighthounds in general but will do other breeds. She has such an amazing line in her art – I am thinking Christmas already …

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Zero Effect

Once again I have to brag about little Zero ... today he took Best of Winners in California over almost 20 class Ridgebacks ... he is just 6 months and 12 days old. Needless to say Zero is far exceeding our expectations and as Erin has said ... Westminster 2010 here we come! Now ... all we need is a few current photos of the perfect little man ... hint hint Erin :-)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

That Darn Cat!

First off we have to congratulate Zero for his very first point in the USA! He won Winners Dog over about 6 or 7 adult dogs in California! Zero is just 6 months and 10 days old so this is a very good start! It is notoriously hard to win points in CA because the numbers required to get one point, much less a major, are very high. We will see what today brings ...

And a bit of a mish mash of photos of the cats and Raimi. Kenya is here to visit for a week so there will be pictures of that to come.

Ceilidh and Weasley are so cute together ... it's hysterical. Weasley weasles his way into everyone's heart and Ceilidh and Mallaig are no exception. He 'sneaks' up on Ceilidh when she's cozy and squirms in next to her. She used to bolt but now she likes to hug him and squeeze him and call him ... Weasley.

Mallaig is less inclined to play with Weasley but he still occasionally manages to convince her that playing with him is 9 parts wicked fun and only 1 part annoying. She does play with Ceilidh sometimes too but since I created the outdoor pen she spends most of her time out there.

Raimi and Weasley, I'm quite sure, play like maniacs during the day and seem to have developed quite a bond. You can see Raimi's ear while he gives little Weasley a razzberry.

After they are all played out they cuddle in together and have a power nap before play resumes. I have been leaving Raimi loose in the house during the day and I can't imagine what they get up to - well I can because the couch cushions are often in disarray when I get home.

Before Kenya arrived I was playing with Raimi and his sheep. He can be a little annoying when he's here alone because I'm the only one who plays with him besides Weasley. If we don't go for a walk he fidgets a lot and doesn't relent til we are getting the collar on and heading out the door. The sheep is one of his very favorite toys because it makes a bah-ing noise.

Kenya is a godsend this week because they will just play and play and play - which they are doing right now and while it means a lot of bouncing and wrestling in the livingroom ... at least Raimi is happily occupied instead of poking me in the face while I type.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Stay Until Tomorrow

It’s looking like it may be a Halo-less summer. Halo does not want to come home.

There are a few reasons for this; first and foremost Tanja is a lot softer on her than I am. I know how devious and manipulative Halo is and I don’t like it. Tanja thinks those aspects of her temperament are amusing. Also, there are children present pretty much 24/7 which to Halo is a dream assignment. Food hits the floor at every meal so we know that appeals as well, added to which children generally smell and taste of food much of the time. Tanja has a sunroom which Halo loves. She gets to sleep on the bed. She gets to ride in the front seat of the van (my old Caravan in fact) instead of in the back. She gets to sneak cat food and doesn't really get into trouble. Plus Tanja is home all day everyday and takes Halo on most errands so she has company pretty much all the time.

Tanja said that for the first few days Halo shadowed her all the time which ultimately meant that one day Tanja turned to find Halo asleep on her feet in the kitchen. Any insistence that she go lie down was met with ear cupping and head hung low. And so she stood. After a couple weeks though she seems to have decided she can leave Tanja for parts of the day to nap.

Halo has also weasled her way onto the bed and I know exactly how it happened. She puts her head up, then slides her neck along the mattress, then a shoulder, then a foot and then, because it’s so silly and sweet, you relent, she leaps up, settles into a tiny ball and sighs. She then stays put the entire night.

Tanja has also discovered the benefits of having a large dog in the van while she pops out to run short errands with the kids waiting in the van. Who ever would enter a vehicle with a dog that size sitting in the front seat looking at you with a baleful eye? Tanja says she is also an amusing backseat driver since sharp corners will get you a glance that says “Ahem. Excuuuuuuse me?” I know that glance.

The children have adjusted admirably to the dog addition. Sofia, who is 3, calls her ‘Hello’ and while not much in charge of the dog she does enjoy her company just the same. Annika at 6 years is more like me, she says "Halo, come here” and if the command is not completed post haste it turns into ‘HALO! Come HERE!” A girl after my own heart.

Halo is smothered in treats and hugs and admiration … and if the house is willing she will be made a new home there after her last litter and a spay. I can’t think of a better retirement for a more deserving dog. She has done such an incredible job for me and I cannot deny her the very best forever home.

Some people ask if I'd miss her and the answer is yes and no. Halo and I have never seen eye to eye - there are just some relationships that don't work out personality-wise. I love the dog and want the very best for her and know that what she needs is not something I can give her. I can 'use' her to further my breeding plans but ultimately it wouldn't be fair to her or me to be constantly at odds. She has given me some stellar puppies and ultimately that is the point of a foundation bitch. Soon it will be time for her to step aside and let the youngters prove their mettle and she can retire in comfort with a family that can give her what I can't.

Now Raimi … he's never going anywhere ... my heart stops to even think it.