Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Snake Eyes

Today I did something I have never done, nor thought I ever would. I touched a snake. It was a 24 inch garter snake and I didn't really have a choice.

I was going to go to the lower park but traffic was backed up so I took a right instead of a left. We decided to follow the path the city put in after ruining access to the river - they dug up a bunch of the woods and then laid down a loosely woven plastic mesh. The mesh has been there a year and it has not broken down and I don't think it' s designed to - it catches on the dogs feet, the tread of your shoes and is pretty unsightly until the grass grows over it. I suspect it's there to prevent erosion while the grass grows in to hold the dirt.

Know what else it does? It tangles the animals who live in the woods and kills them. Raimi and I are walking down this path and he does his 'startled by a weirdness' act. He stops, looks with wide eyes, wrinkles and tippy toes and slowly backs away. I always go to see what it is so I can either torment him with it or drag him away. This time it was a snake.

I smiled thinking about Raimi's cowardice and was going to continue our walk when I noticed the snake was not leaving. It was stuck. Seriously stuck. The last third of it's body was twisted and tied to the plastic mesh which of course was attached to the ground. Twisted so badly that it had cut into its scales and was obviously in dire straits.

I debated. Having never dealt with snakes I was reluctant to interfere but knew I couldn't possibly just walk away. I also knew it was harmless and I was safe to assist. I was limited to the tools I had at my disposal, my keys, and I was in a part of the park where no one would pass by for ages. I could go back to my truck but couldn't think what was in there I could use. Thought of going back to my house to get some scissors and returning.

In the end I used my keys. The plastic mesh is fishing line thin but very weak so my first extremely tentative attempts at breaking it were successful. I got a little braver and even though I probably caused the snake more distress there was no other way to get him out. I cut away as much as I could that was holding the snake to the ground mesh and that eased the lines around his body. Gradually the pressure decreased so I could pull some line away from his scales and slide the keys underneath to cut it. I didn't actually want the ground lines cut while it was still around his body because he would slither way with it still wrapped around him. Finally it eased up completely and I cut the last of the line.

Through all this Raimi spent his time sniffing in the woods and entertaining himself and thankfully staying mostly out of my way. I can't help but smiling because the ground is littered with long thin branches the wind blows off the trees and everytime Raimi stepped close to one he jumped away like it was a snake and then did his doggy impression of "Phew." I guess it's an ingrained instinct as many snakes in Africa will kill you.

In the end the snake slithered away very slowly like he couldn't believe he was free. If he doesn't die as a result of his injuries he will likely always have that corkscrew kink in his body. Snakes are soft and smooth ... and cold. I was surprised how cold he was. I guess one might ask why it mattered since it was just one little snake. Well, the oft repeated reply of course is ... it matters to the snake.

The Princess and the Pea

More puppy pictures! I forgot to add another of one of the girls who might become a Leeloo. I think there are 5 who are prospective Canadian citizens. If they knew about our winters I bet they’d all be pointing at their siblings and saying ’Pick her.’ That is, of course, until she met The Boy and then she’d just fall head over heels and not even notice when it’s -30 degrees. Okay … maybe not.

Here is the little runt girl who was 9 oz at birth, in three weeks she’s gained about a pound instead of more than tripling her weight as she ought. Compare The Little Princess to her siblings against Puppy Wrangler Betty‘s hands! She will make someone a wonderful companion I’m sure and guess what? This very lucky girl got an additional crown on her head too. A true Princess.

This is the age they start noticing their have built in sibling entertainment. Play involves a lot of misjudged distances, toppling over, drunken sailor walks and random paw waving. The incredible persistence of these guys astonishes me everytime. No matter how many times they fall they just get right back up and keep trying. It is an important lesson more people should take to heart.

And sleep. Ah the blessed sleep of a tired puppy. No pooping, peeing, eating, chewing, chasing, barking, growling, yelling, or being underfoot. Can’t tell you how many times I have gone into the puppy room while they slept; you make one tiny noise and a head pops up and blearly eyes open. You freeze for about 5 or 6 seconds and hold your breath til the head goes down and eyes close again. It’s like waking Fluffy … Harry Potter fans will know ... very apt.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A River Runs Through It

It's so much fun to take Raimi for walks and think about the little Leeloo he'll be playing with in a few short weeks. I suspect she will be far braver than he is exploring new territory - Halo would crash hell bent into the woods but clearly Raimi watched The Blair Witch Project and took it to heart.

We have started going to the lower park because it's so pretty down there, much quieter and it's got lots and lots of different trails and smells. There are hills too which I'm not a huge fan of but what's a girl to do ... The Boy needs a stimulating walk.

You have to drive through one of the most affluent neighbourhoods in the city to get to the park - these are the old school wealthy homes that were built before the super hideous modern and contemporary homes came into fashion. It's always an interesting drive to see how the other half lives.

Eventually you come upon the river itself as you walk and since it drains off the reservoir at the Glenmore dam it's quite low and slow - when the water level is way down you can walk right across it. Not that Ridgebacks do ... just that they could.

Raimi likes to splash along the river because it wets his whistle and there are so many more interesting smells down there since animals in the bushes come to drink and leave their scents all over the banks. I caught him a couple times watching leaves floating past in the water - so adorable.

More camera testing and fiddling with the aperture to see what sort of shutter speeds I would get in various light. For much of the walk he was back lit because we were walking into the sun and he insisted on going first - by which I mean if I passed him while he was sniffing something he would shove me out of the way to get in front. So polite my boy.

And what blog entry is complete without The Boy demonstrating his dignified and impressive status as my loyal companion?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bringing Up Baby

Little Leeloo is now about 3 and a half weeks old. Eyes are wide open, they are learning to walk and are shedding out their black guard hairs with their wheaton shade resolving itself.

Now I don't yet know which puppy will actually be Leeloo but it will end up being one of these puppies. Since they are only 3 weeks old you can't really evaluate them very well - the best you can do is determine who you are going to keep an eye on.

Even when you think you know what you have sometimes a puppy will surprise you and come up with some quality that you can't ignore or a temperament that just says "Pick me."

There are some really nice fat long ridges in the litter which was expected as Bing's ridge is incredibly wide and Tailor's line produces long ridges. The same thing happened with Halo's litters to Travis because both breedings are very similar.

At this point the puppies are most adorable because the world is a new experience at every turn. In the coming weeks they will get faster, bigger, eat more, poop more and will be able to explore and destroy more of their environment . Is it disturbing that I wish they were at my house ...?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Toy Story

Last night Raimi was almost defeated by one of the scariest things he's ever encountered. This was a former cat toy which I haven't yet gotten around to either re-instating as a cat toy or tossing. I think Raimi thinks it should get the boot.
A close inspection ... wide berth.
A cautious sniff.
Manfully suppressed panic as it tips away.Startled curiousity as it bows back.
Brave enough to reach. Braver to taste.

Eventually he taught it who was running this joint.

I can't decide if I should be embarrassed on his behalf. He is, after all, a lion hunter ... a brave warrior ... a hound of Africa. Pink wobbly cat toys beware.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hot Under the Collar

Leeloo is now just about three weeks old and she and her siblings are growing like little weeds. Here they are at brunch with Momma Tailor, she looks like a much more patient mother than Momma Halo. I wonder how many times Tailor’s owner has said to her at 3am “Lie down and STAY there you *&^%$*#* bitch!” Ah … good times good times.

I also just bought Leeloo’s collars and a lead. I did debate about getting a plain red collar but Halo wears red and I don’t like the idea of ‘replacing’ one dog with another so I went with the banded collar. Seems to suit a Leeloo don’cha think? I also debated between a pink, purple or red lead but the pinks and purple were not a close enough match to any of the colors in the collar so it was the red that won out.

Here is Weasley contributing his oft sought opinion - looks pretty good against his coat color huh? I also held the collar against Raimi to make sure it matched. I have seen Ridgebacks with some hideous collar colors like neon orange, gag-me yellow, and a pukey green. Please consider a color that compliments the dog rather than your own favorite color when purchasing a collar. I mean, if your dog is white or black you have free reign … but dogs that are certain shades need collars that don’t clash with their coat.

Ridgebacks are well suited to nice reds, rusts, some pinks, deep greens, most blues, and obviously black. Leather collars are nice on any dog. You can get some pretty crazy patterns on collars these days but I find them a little garish sometimes – it’s hard to tell what the pattern is if it’s too wackadooey. I think the banded patern is simple yet elegant and since Leeloo is named after a colorful movie I figured she better have a colorful collar!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dr. Dolittle

Phew. I’m back. Been a rough few days and sleepless nights listening to the psuedo hacking of one Raimi Boy. We hit the vet yesterday and he’s now on antibiotic pills that are the size of the tip of my baby finger - and I'm not kidding. I have to cut them in half to hide them in his food otherwise even fluff brain Boy would spot the bright neon orange signs sticking out of his dish.

I did a little research on that most dangerous of tools: Google. Everyone was bandying about the ‘kennel cough’ diagnosis but I’m not quite buying it. All the descriptions I can find tell me that Bordetella is ‘dry’ and ‘hacking’. Raimi is doing neither. He’s snotting and huffing. Seems like a plain ol’ regular cold. Maybe that’s what kennel cough is – I hear tell that Bordetella is not one specific infection but a concoction of several so who knows. Either way we’re hitting it with antibiotics called Cephali-something-medical-sounding for the next week.

We’re avoiding the park to prevent a lot of the huffing that ensues when he exerts himself. I guess we’ll be doing an evening constitutional around the block so the bright orange baby finger sized pills have a chance to work their magic. I’m not sure that he’s contagious and for the most part he doesn’t have any symptoms until something catches in his throat and it sets off a paroxysm of huffing and snorting.

I feel very bad for him. It's not his fault. The sad wrinkles and worry eyes are out a lot these days. I tell him we are working on fixing it so he can sleep better and go back to the park. He just looks at me and goes ‘huff.”

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Rock'n Roll Never Dies

Finding the perfect spot.

Always start with the shoulder.

Wiggle into the grass really well.

Throw in a few good kicks.

Not quite finished yet.

Once last good squirm.

The shake after the roll.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Get Well Soon

Poor Raimi - he developed a little throat tickle on Monday afternoon and my Tuesday it was a full blown hacking cough. He would make little huffling noises at first and gradually it progressed into a GAK and a HURG and then he'd blap some phlegm onto the rug. Would he blap onto the hardwood? No. Straight for the area rugs.

So all night last night he hurked and gurked and got on and off the bed. At about 2am I got up to put in earplugs because I knew I'd never get any sleep otherwise. At 7am I got up to find 5 separate phlegm laden boobie traps in my hallway. I have no idea how I managed to avoid a close encounter with dog snot at 2am.

I picked up some cough medication and gave it to him at lunch - there was a lot of spit and drool and foaming lips but it finally went down. When I got home from work the cough was much improved and he was a little more cheerful. I gave him some more medicine and it was a bigger fight this time as he knew what was coming but I always win.

So far the cough is abating and he's sleeping now next to me without any huffles. We aren't going to the park tonight because I don't want to stress his lungs and he's probably suffering from lack of sleep anyway because of the cough. I know I am.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


My new camera arrived. It's very shiny. I luuuuurv it already. It's a Canon digital SLR - the first I've ever owned. I think I'll name it Hank. I do have a Canon film slr camera but I thought I'd stumble into the 21st century at last; however, I still prefer film to digital despite this current new love. I took Raimi to the park tonight to test Hank out and see what sort of pictures he takes - I didn't mess around too much with manual settings, I just wanted to get an idea of what sort of pictures we'd get ...
Taking in the moment.

Surrounded by grass and sunshine.

Is there a better word than JOY?

Pondering paths and leading the way.

A moment of privacy.

Dreaming of far fields while waiting for me.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Home Field Advantage

Oh boy here it is! Not even a month ago we were hot, tired, hungry, frustrated and having a ball with the dogs at the Glenn Campbell Photo Studio in downtown Calgary trying to get some good shots of the dogs for the Bayer Advantix ‘Growing Up Multi” campaign. Lindsay at Woodruff Sweitzer had endless patience and everyone at the studio was extremely hospitable and helpful.
A quick reminder of the stars: Kika – 9 weeks old, Rory – 8 months old, Raimi – 17 months old, Seth – 10 years old. Kika was darling and squishably cute.

Rory was a fidgety teenager but we rallied and he finally sat still, Raimi was perfect, Seth was initially a grumpy old man but came shining through.

Those who are looking closely will notice in the actual ad that they neutered Raimi and gave him back his dewclaws. They also darkened Rory’s muzzle a bit and gave Seth more grey hairs than he’s earned. I think only Kika remains reasonably un-retouched because she was just so perfect!

The fruits of our labour have been realized – the photos are beautiful and the campaign itself is fantastic! Watch for these guys in magazines and on your vet’s brochure shelf!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Love Actually

Here is Rifka kicking Rory's butt when she was 6 months old at her first show. And today I got word that she is now kicking even more puppy butt on the BC coast. She won a Best Puppy in Hound Group today in Maple Ridge at the Oceanside Kennel Club. I'm sure a picture is on it's way!

She is shown as always by her mom Taryn who just moved from outside Edmonton, Alberta to the BC coast. What a great way to introduce yourself to the BC show scene!
Can't wait to hear about more winning ways in the coming weeks!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Driving Miss Daisy

Where to begin? Well, it was a rough day for Halo and family. As those who’ve been following along know, Halo lives with Tanja and her children. Halo went to stay while I was in Montana in June and she loved it so much she stayed on over the summer. Halo will leave for the US to be bred for the last time in November but til then she is with the family who will take her once she’s done with her litter (if Halo had her way that would be on day two) and spayed.

I gather this morning started out like any other, kids piled in the van for their trip to school and Halo settled in her usual co-pilot position. I understand that a different route than normal was taken to school and one thing led to another which resulted in a low speed collision in a residential intersection.

The airbags deployed and hit both Tanja and Halo. Halo suffered a helluva thump in the face on the left side of her muzzle which caused abrasions; no breakage of teeth or bones but there was a lot of superficial blood. Initially it was thought that Halo might have hit the windshield but after some discussion it is more likely that the airbags caused the damage.

Tanja and kids are fine … the van is toast and Halo's muzzle is a bit swollen but should be fine. She is clearly in some pain and will be very sore for the next few days but a couple of children’s aspirin should take the edge off. Once a new vehicle is found Halo will be fitted with a dog seat belt and secured into place, however; regardless of a seat belt the airbag would have hit her.

This is the only picture I have of the van - well, it's really of the decal on the back that I designed. There is Halo next to the crate I never used. Petal used to stand on it so she could see better but that was the extent of it's use generally. Oh yeah, I'd put Halo in it if I was going to leave her in the van for long periods because she would wreck things.

Halo doesn’t travel in a crate why? Because the minivan was not big enough to accommodate 4 child seats and a crate big enough for Halo. This is a compromise because the safety of the children is paramount (and lack of child safety seats is illegal) but not everyone can afford a 7 seater full sized monster gas guzzler.

Everyone is safe now and no permanent damage done, except the van of course which I gave to Tanja when I got my shiny new truck … goodbye Daisy van … RIP.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

An American Tail

Yes yes I've been fiddling with the blog title and photo. I'm trying to settle on one that I think speaks the best for the blog. It's very frustrating because I have all these images and it's so hard to pick just one and I'm testing a few ideas and ... well, there it is.

News from the Leeloo front - little babies got their dewclaws done yesterday and while the vet used a method not many use anymore, fingers are crossed for fast healing and minimal scars.

I guess if you Googled Orovada, Nevada you'll have an idea that vets familiar with Ridgebacks are possibly a little thin on the ground. However when a vet asks you (after removing dewclaws from a litter of Ridgebacks) how short you want the tails - you probably want to check for the quickest exit.

Anyway, now safely back with Momma Tailor, and with the entire length of their tails intact, I'm sure babies are growing fat and sassy. I always worry til at least the time they are 2 weeks old about faders, smaller puppies not getting their fair share and squishing accidents. Did I say worry? I meant obsessively paranoid.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Walk the Line

Ah fall ... Raimi, Rory, Kathryn and I met tonight at the park for a warm autumn evening constitutional. The air was still and the sun sat at the perfect blinding height so we couldn't look west without searing our corneas. Sadly this just means that the sun is dropping lower in the sky and soon we will be walking in the dark.

Along the way we met a liver nosed RR named Cliff and the boys played and played and played. Rory was a bit rude with the adolescent mounting and getting his groove on but Raimi did him one better and was licking unmentionable parts of strange dogs with disturbing interest. I told Raimi he should be embarrassed at his behaviour but he didn't seem to appreciate the delicate nature of the situation.

A GSD puppy arrived with many hackles and typically odd GSD behaviour. Sometimes I think dog are a little wigged out by the creepiness of other dogs and in turn become more tetchy and nervous themselves. While Raimi and Cliff had a big run fest Rory played with the GSD who relaxed a little when he realized he was on a level playing field with another puppy.

I didn't see what happened because everyone had been playing so well but suddenly Raimi was roaring at the GSD puppy and there was much gnashing of teeth and noise. I thought it was all bluff until the puppy backed off and Raimi went after him again. Of course I shot after Raimi and grabbed his collar and started yelling at him about how bad he was and the puppy ran to his dad. Then Rory came in with "Hiya guys what's happening?" and Raimi started snarling at him.

Okay so I hardly ever get mad at Raimi. But this was so unexpected from him that I thunked him a good couple cuffs to the head and yelled some more. Cliff's dad promptly took off with Cliff and I'm quite sure he thinks I'm a terrible dog owner or a psychotic bitch ... or both. He'd been asking about when I was expecting my next litter ... I guess that sale fell through! The GSD puppy's owner took his puppy off with a wave and understanding - maybe there is hope yet for the puppy.

Raimi got another yelling at for not listening quick enough which my upstairs neighbours(who were walking their dog at the same park) said they could hear a few hundred yards away.

Every time I discipline the dogs at the park I imagine it looks way harsher than it really is. I create a lot of noise and scare tactics and only employ cuffing if the bad behaviour was violent or aggressive. I look at it this way: if my dog behaves badly people at the park are not going to say "Tamzin Horan's dog ..." they are going to say "There was a Ridgeback this one time ..." What they will remember instead was the psycho bitch who screamed at her dog and made a big scene. What kind of dog was it ... a big red one but he didn't really deserve to get in that much trouble.

If it's any consolation I hurt my hand on his skull.

Major League

Got word today that Rosie - Invictus African Queen - went Reserve to a major this past weekend! She is Raimi's sister and lives with Virginia and Jon in sunny California where the weather is hot and the competition is hotter. Reserve to a major in California is, as Erin puts it, a major anywhere else in the country so we are so proud of little Rosie who is "Halo perfected".

Rosie continues to keep Virginia and Jon on their toes and I'm looking forward to more pictures of this versatile girl in the near future! Good luck in Del Valle and at the BARRC shows!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Big Momma's House

So here we are with some exciting pictures of boring babies. They don't get interesting til they are at least 12 days old and then they start to take on some similarity to the creatures we think of as puppies.

Here's babies partway delivered - there are five here with 7 more to come. This is Tailor being the new mom. What a good girl. Remember - if the dam is an easy whelper chances are her daughters will be too - this is a godsend when you are up at 3am and puppies are on the way. No one likes rushing to the vet to induce or c-section a valuable brood bitch.

And here's a box of babies. Look at all those blondes! I would LOVE to get a blondie! I was so tempted to keep Karma from the last litter just because of her color. I found a great home for her though so I'm hoping one of these little babies is looking to come north.

And here's proud Poppa ... see where the blonde comes from? This litter is going to have kick ass heads. He is patiently waiting outside til he can come in and help change diapers. As if. This is Halo's kinda sorta quarter nephew because his mom is Halo's half sister ... if that makes any sense.

The litter was born in the middle of the middle of nowhere as far as Google Earth tells me. I can't imagine what industry is out there to cause a little hamlet to pop up as if by magic but GE also tells me that there are a large number of crop like circles and so maybe in fact these are alien puppies. Either way I get one!