Thursday, October 30, 2008

Casualties of War

Yesterday Kathryn and I were at the park and saw what I hope to never seen again. Below is an email I composed to the head of the Park Committee. She and her group are working hard to ensure the park remains off leash with the hope that everyone can just get along. I sent her this warning so that she may get the word out and hopefully at best this never happens again and at worst the owner of the dog is shamed into never coming back.

Hi Candice,

I having been using River Park almost everyday for 3 1/2 years and in that time I've seen a couple minor incidents, been involved in a couple minor scuffles, and generally had a very good experience most times I go. I have never before seen what I saw yesterday evening.

I was at the park with my Ridgebacks - my adult bitch, a 100 pound male and a friend with her male Ridgeback puppy(who I bred). None of these dogs are altered since I show and breed them so I'm kind of a hypocrit when it comes to other dogs in the park who are un-neutered but I consider myself a responsible dog owner and breeder to the best of my ability. Usually the dogs I have trouble with are neutered males; Mastiff types, Sibes, Shepherd crosses ... I try to keep to myself to avoid issues.

We encountered a pit bull type dog, male & neutered, who was playing with several other dogs at about the half way point where the big garbage bin is. My adult male said hello to the PB and his owner tapped her dog and said something to him and he promplty ignored my boy. My dogs and I continued on our way.

We passed a Doberman who I have encountered in the past. He is an entire, male, uncropped Doberman, probably about 4 years old, owned by a tall, large man who I actually haven't seen at the park in a couple years. I had rather hoped he was gone for good since he yelled obsenities at me once for inquiring about his having bred that dog before one year old, not shown, no health tests(but that is another story).

Anyway, We were about 100 feet along from the pitbull when a dog fight broke out. Actually, I believe it was more of an unprovoked attack. The Doberman, having encountered the PB, attacked without warning. Several witnesses, upwards of 15 I would say, saw the attack and were dumb-struck. The Dobe's owner was yelling at his dog to "Let go!" which the dog ignored and the Pitbull was unable to get away. The Dobe's owner grabbed the back feet of the Pitbull and hauled him up and told someone else to grab his Dobe's back feet. I would say it took upwards of a minute for the Dobe to let go of the other dog's head and neck.

Once the dogs were released the Dobe's owner shoo-ed his dog away from the crowd and the Pitbull and without a backward glance, walked away. He allowed his Dobe to remain off lead and continued toward the north end of the park. No one stopped him. I yelled for someone to stop him but no one did.

The Pitbull's owner looked her dog over and I assume the damage was negligible because he continued to play with other dogs. I really hope he is okay and that the wounds, should he have any, were not very serious. Regardless the owner SHOULD have stopped that Dobe from leaving in and gotten his information. Someone said it was lucky the Pitbull didn't have ears because he woud have lost one or it would have been seriously damaged. Having not seen the start of the fight I can only assume that witnesses were correct and the Pitbull was not the instigator - either that or the PB warned off the Dobe and the Dobe took offense.

I will tell you right now if that Doberman had attacked one of my Ridgebacks not only would there have been a three dog fight with the Dobe getting the shit kicked out of it from my bitch(who is VERY protective of her son) - I would have been in there with fists and feet and that Dobe would be hospitalized or dead. No one attacks my dogs. The person I was walking with has seen my reaction to my dogs getting harrassed and I take no prisoners.

I am completely disgusted with the owner of the Doberman and if I encounter him again I will call my dogs in and tell him to keep his dog the hell away from me and my dogs or I am going to use force. I am writing this as a warning to anyone else at the park with large male dogs - watch for an uncropped, un-neutered Doberman being walked by a very tall, large irresponsible man who has no regard for the safety of anyone else's dogs. I would label that dog as dangerous under the City by-laws and had it been my dog attacked I would be pressing charges.

And I mean it. I would follow that guy home if I had to and make sure his dog and he are made accountable for their behaviour. There is no excuse for walking away from a fight your dog was involved in. Even if your dog was not the instigator you do not just walk away. Take responsibility for your dogs! If they are harrassing another dog STOP THEM. Put them on lead. Discipline them. You do NOT know the other dog's thresh-hold and if you allow your dog to continually bully another dog a line may get crossed and you will end up with a dog fight. After seeing that fight yesterday ... don't take chances.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pure Luck

I try to arrange a Ridgeback fun walk about once a month or so depending on how busy everyone is and when I can get my act together. However, sometimes the cards are dealt a lucky hand and you end up with a Ridgeback run you didn't plan.

I met Kathryn & Rory today to run Halo(who is home til she leaves for Utah) and Raimi and we set off down the length of the park. Halfway along we met Ramsay who was of course thrilled to get beaten up by his brothers and mom.

Deuce the Pug was also there in a supervisory capacity. Long before anyone else was thinking of leaving Deuce was tapping his watch and saying "People ... places to be don'tcha know?" It reminded me so much of Petal I got a lump in my throat.

There seemed to be a unspoken division between who would play with whom and I suspect it had something to do with Halo laying down the law so her boys were scared of her! She played with Raimi and Rory played with Ramsay ... in weirdly close proximity of course. Like bookends.

We continued down the park and met Aura, a livernose bitch, and her 12 year old old friend (who's name escapes me). Rory fell truly, madly, deeply in love with her and got his ass handed to him on a silver platter. That's okay ... he was serving up whoop ass on his brother moments earlier.

There was a girl there with her little 15 week old Boerbel (a South African farm dog) who was kicking butt and taking names. What a tough little dog. His anticipated adult size is about 150 pounds but he seemed to think he was that size all ready!

What a killer! Of course Ramsay here is not much of a match but he seemed to really get the gears. Honestly what a good boy! The Boerbel's owner seemed like a really savvy dog person and was very good with his training ... now THAT is the kind of person who should own a large mastiff type dog.

A few minutes later Shane and Ryder showed up and now we were up to 8 Ridgebacks! So now we had a real crowd of crazies and it was hard to keep track of who was where. Eventually everyone started making their own tracks it was cool down time for before heading home.

Sadly we encountered a psychotic German Shorthair(not pictured) and I had to open my own can of whoop ass to protect my perfectly well behaved dogs. I don't say THAT very often but this time it was true. We also did some practicing with Rory for his upcoming show next weekend and frankly ... the judge had better have a quick eye to see the nice dog between the wiggles and squirms!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

American Beauty

If you want perfection, well ... it will never happen. However, the dream is to get as close as you can and by George I think we're so close we can see the sweat beading on perfection's temple. Okay, so these white feet may be considered 'excessive' by some dyed in the wool breeder who can't look past a minor color detail to balance and type.

But this FACE. Oh dear. Raimi will think he's been gifted the Scarlett Johansonn of Ridgebacks. I'm impressed that I was able to come up with a name for her that so closely matched her namesake character - Milla Jovovich eat your heart out! I could go all day naming beautiful actresses but frankly none of them will compare to the appreciation I have for a face like this.

Putting aside the solid typey head, fill in the chest, return of upper arm, shoulder layback, balance front and rear, length of neck, length of body, tight feet, angle of croup, good solid bone, and strong rear ... she is cute as a button. Although I don't think her ears are big enough ... as if.

Okay, just one more of that face and that big round soft intelligent eye. Raimi is going to pass me over like a day old donut for this little girl.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ready to Wear

I like to think of myself as a fairly dignified sort of person who has a taste for the finer (but not exhorbitantly expensive) things in life. My house is tastefully decorated with the eye of someone who likes complimentary color, balance in a room and a bit of old world style. If you saw my house sans dogs you’d need to Sherlock Holmes your way to the Ridgeback art and deduce that I do not live alone.

And then there is this secret part of me who gets a good ol’ fashioned giggle out of the silly things and I just can’t resist. People lament the trend to dress dogs up for amusement or for fashion and poo poo the costumes and assorted torture we put them through. But that part of me … when I see an especially cute costume on a dog or cat … well, it just tickles me.

Things like dressing up Petal as a lion.

Or seeing Halo’s long suffering hula girl.

But this … this is something just can’t get out of my head. I mean really. This dog's expression is priceless and likely Raimi's would mirror it. Frankly I can’t think of a better reason to buy it than to see the wrinkles and worry eyes on The Boy. You can buy it on the Ridgeback Rescue site … where oh where is my credit card …?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Single White Female

Here she is. The little white footed wonder. Isn't it cute how she looks like she's being tortured? This is 99.9% certain to be the little girl we will all know and love as Leeloo. Clearly show stacking does not agree with her but we will take care of that with treats and training. I’m told she is a stand out in the litter and despite her little white feet I’m sure we can get her finished in Canada.

Canadian judges tend to be a little more strict on the amount of white but since I love it so much I’m willing to take a chance. I guess part of me just wants them to be a little less ‘plain brown dog’. Leeloo’s pale wheaton and white chest and feet will certainly stick out in a sea of red! Her cousin Karma and her will be twins but I think Leeloo got more white feet.

Leeloo will be coming home November 16th and Halo will be dropped off that same weekend for her Las Vegas adventure. I am going to try and arrange another park visit with Halo and all her kids and friends before she goes so I'll keep you posted. We’ll also have to arrange a fun day in December to introduce Leeloo to the resident Ridgebacks.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Blast from the Past

It has occurred to me that while I've been writing this blog, and mysteriously people have been reading it, I haven't ever really detailed my 'qualifications' as it were ... so maybe I'm just talking out of my ass. I've never thought my past was all that interesting and having met people with more complicated histories I think mine is downright boring. Still I should detail a bit of my childhood ... try to stay awake.

The best place to start is at the beginning and the beginning begins with my parents. They moved to Canada from England in the early '70's with their Pulis and within a few years had two children. I was in the ring before I was born and literally grew up attending dog shows every few weeks. There is a picture of three year old me at a Puli Specialty in CA covered in dirt and grime having been 'lost and found' by some Puli people and returned to my parents when they got out of the ring.

I have many memories of Puli Specialties in San Franscico, Los, Angeles, Portland, & Denver. I went to Disneyland when I was 6 but of course it was a day's break from the round of dog shows we were attending. I travelled to Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington ... we were taken out of school without a moment's hesitation to attend dog shows. What was more important? Learning the elements and the existential meaning behind the 'The Grapes of Wrath' or learning how to win and lose with grace and see the world?

My brother and I often showed the dogs that were 'not supposed to win' and sometimes we won anyway. I didn't want to compete in junior handling when I was very young because I think on some level I knew I wanted to be better at it before allowing someone to judge me and not the dog. Mostly I showed the dogs in the classes and my mom took dogs into the group but as I aged that sometimes changed depending on the circumstances. Somewhere along the way my brother stopped coming unless he was absolutely required and it was usually just me and my mom.

I grew up knowing and seeing the same people year after year. They got older watching me grow up. Occassionally I'd get the "I remember you when you were this tall" and I would think "I remember you when you had more hair." People have come and go from the show scene but there are still the die hards who religiously attend the shows and remember me as a child.

I wasn't a really competitive handler until I was in my early teens and was the Puli lackey hauling crates, walking dogs and showing the fillers. Pulis encompassed my life and time at home and on the road - the only thing that captivated my attention outside dogs was the horses we had on the acreage. It was sometimes a toss up between Mouse the Shetland Pony or playing with puppies ... some tragic childhood I had.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Village

Everyone always says a vacation is never long enough ... I was in beautiful Nova Scotia. It was Thanksgiving and the colors were turning while I was there - everyday got more vibrant. What I wouldn't give to see that every year instead of a flah of yellow and then naked trees two second later.

I was in the 'elbow' of the province in Pictou County where the first Scots arrived to make new lives for themselves in the 1780's. They came over on a ship called The Hector which is replicated in the town of Pictou, known as 'The Birthplace of New Scotland'. (Nova Scotia means New Scotland.)

I can't even beging to express how many trees there are in Nova Scotia and by the end of my trip the colors were quite literally like a watercolor painting. The maples of course were showing off the most since they have the most to brag about what with being on the flag and all. I suspect the inspiration for the flag was this kind of maple.

There are beaches in some places, defying the majority of the coast where trees teeter right up over the water. I was at Melmerby Beach where there is a couple miles of soft sand and you can see PEI in the distance across the Northumberland Stait.

I stayed with just the nicest people in the world, they have a couple Pulis and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers. They got one of their Pulis from my parents - Trevor - who was infatuated with me and really, he was easy to like as a result. We even went to a dog show in Truro - a much smaller affair than the shows here but the good dogs were good and the not so good dogs were not so good ... just like any other show.

Have to get back on track with life here and prepare for the arrival one one Leeloo puppy. Raimi tortured Halo the whole time I was was gone ... so it will be his turn when the puppy arrives ...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Holiday

I haven’t been updating for the last couple days – been busy getting ready for my week’s vacation to Nova Scotia. Raimi is staying with Tanja and Halo and he will be so happy to have his momma’s company for a few days. I’m not sure how happy Halo will be but she’s put up with worse.

I woke up this morning to Raimi snuggled all cozy and content next to me and it was hard to rouse him to get up. The alarm goes off and he just makes himself heavier and more comfortable. I would find it easier to succumb to the snuggling warmth of a nice lie in on a weekday except for the attention of the cats who know that once the alarm goes off they will get fed.

Ever wake up to a claw hooked in your nose? Oh yes … try it sometime. Weasley insists on walking up and down the bed purring and meowing and Ceilidh sits at my feet staring at me. If you’ve ever been stared at by Ceilidh you’d understand how it would be motivational. Mallaig sits on the bedside table and occasionally reaches over to tap my head while purring like a NASCAR engine.

I finally manage to get everyone off the bed, flip the covers over and back to ‘make’ the bed (a game for Weasley who always finds himself gleefully under the covers), let Raimi out, try not to break an ankle on the herd of cats preceding me up the dark hallway, make their food & Raimi’s, let him in, hop in the shower and prepare for another day.

For the next week I will miss the four ring circus mornings and wake up to a coastal town on the other side of the country. I do hope Raimi enjoys his visit with his mom and I will have to prepare for the onslaught of overjoyment when I return. Plus - by next Friday hopefully we’ll have some super cute 5 and 6 week old puppy pics to update and a Leeloo chosen!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Face Off

Last Thursday babies were 4 weeks old. Anyone who's seen the progression of a litter of puppies knows a universal truth. Four weeks is the time they begin to upload all the adorable traits of a puppy and are so cute you want to squeeze the bejeebers out of them. Ahem ... I mean gosh they are darling aren't they?

This is 4 and a half ridges ... we lost part of one along the way but I'm sure it will re-appear. They are a mish mash of bewilderment at this point and new surfaces, noises and smells will often tell you which puppies are the 'brave' ones and which are the followers. Personalities will start to emerge and even in a litter this large you will definitely get an idea about temperament.

And here are the pretty faces of which Leeloo has yet to make herself known. The puppy on the far right - with the four white feet - really draws my eye. She is so like Karma from my last litter I can't believe it. In Canada some judges white think that white is an absolute no-no but to overlook good structure because of white does no service to the breed.

One of those little faces will soon be in my home bugging the hell out of Raimi. Can't wait!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Raising Arizona

I had a really good Petal story I remembered at about 6am this morning and thought "no problem" I'll remember it. But now it's 12 hours later and I can't recall what it was. I do know I haven't mentioned a major part of Petal's past ... actually a friend of hers that I still think of now and then.

When I lived in Canyon Meadows in Calgary I had just moved back to town from Saskatchewan and had also just started dating Phil. The Primordial Soup roommate I had at the time was (unbeknownst to me when I moved in) bi-polar and medicated. I had Petal with me of course and Backward Moron got it into her head she also wanted a dog. So of course she put virtually no thought into the process and one day came home with a free puppy named Arizona but was too lazy to actually call her that so she became Zoe.

This little black dog was what my mom likes to call a village dog; no discernible breed, about 30 pounds, maybe 20 inches at the shoulder, pretty foxy face with partially pricked ears. Black all over except a white strip on her chest. Smart as a whip and about 5 or 6 months old based on her teeth.

I lent The Single Celled Organism a crate to house train Zoe which went terribly, she destroyed some of Ho-Bag's hideous slut shoes and generally behaved like a puppy that was pretty much ignored by her owner til she did something wrong. Normally I'd get home before Mattress Girl and let Zoe out to pee and we'd all go for a walk. Gradually this also began to occur on weekends until Phil and I were pretty much caring for her dog exclusively.

An example of the Knicker Nancy's psychosis was when she bought one of those roll-a-treat balls but took it away after a couple days because Zoe would crash it into the wall while rolling it. Nice. She would also let Zoe out of the the crate after 12 hours of containment and scream at her because the puppy peed on the floor 'out of spite'. Trailer Trash had two kids that didn't live with us so they'd come over on weekends and she'd lay on the couch all day with a hangover while the kids played my Playstation. Zoe was living a half life until one day she allegedly nipped one of the kids. Slutface Sally threatened the Humane Society.

Phil and I intervened and told Redneck Skank we'd take responsibility. Basically Zoe considered us her owners anyway so it wasn't much of a leap. In the time that Zoe lived with me we did all kinds of things together; we lounged on weekends, went camping, walks at the park and river, visited Phil's friends and parents. Basically everyone knew and loved Zoe.

Now we had to find her a good home. In the interim one of Phil's friends kept Zoe temporarily so she was not under The Tramp's roof while we found a forever family. We never told McSlutbag where Zoe ended up and she never asked.

So Zoe went to live with Phil's parents and now at about 8 years old she still does. Over the years we spent so many hours walking and camping with those two dogs. I have some really great photos of Petal and Zoe together on camping trips, in the car and at the park. I'll have to scan them in one day. Zoe loves water and retrieving to the point that finds her own stick and puts it at your feet. Her body shakes and she whines, quivering with excitement. Many a happy afternoon was spent with Zoe and Petal on long walks to the river.

Petal and Zoe were good friends and each life was better for having met. A few years ago Phil's parents moved to the coast of Vancouver Island and I can't imagine a better place for her than to have daily access to a beach and endless sticks. I'm glad in a way that I had that idiotic roommate who brought home a free little black dog - she was one of the best dogs I have ever known.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008