Friday, January 30, 2009

Demolition Man

Most Ridgeback owners will one day come home to the sound of a dog bouncing with excitement on the other side of the front door when they are supposed to be safely locked in a containment area. Most dog owners will probably experience this but the difference lies in the destructive power of the dog on the other side of the door.

Thus I was greeted with much glee today as soon as I stepped inside. The first thing I noticed, beneath the feet of the excited dogs, was shredded paper. The paper out of my coilring notebook with my cute little poems in it. I should add "destroyed by dog" to my list of reasons why I haven't done creative writing for a while.

The quantity of paper did not equate an entire notebook so there were two options: the notebook was under something and the dogs were unable to complete their task, or they ate it. Since it was a coilring I experienced a brief moment of worry which was quickly over-shadowed by the thought of the added work I now had to do before Adine arrives with Karma for the show this weekend.

Also, all my chocolates in the candy dish are gone. Again. I hope the dogs both have diarrhea it will serve them right. At least it was not an entire dish, just a half dozen or so, and it wasn't filled with ju jubes which would have made me more angry.

On the plus side Leeloo appears to have gone the entire day without peeing anywhere. This is the third time this week she has managed it and I am hopeful that soon she will reliably hold it for the day like any normal, sensible, clean dog.

At this point the mess is cleaned up, I found the notebook under the couch with poems intact and Raimi is currently apologetically sleeping with his head on my lap because I yelled at him for jumping on my groceries when I came in the door. He has been apologizing all night and while I forgave him some time ago he still needs a bit of comfort.

His sister is on her way and all thoughts of how much he loves me will fly out the window when he sees her.

Soft Target

Raimi is obviously in love with Leeloo who is obviously in love with him.

I call this one "This mattress is lumpy."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Notebook

As a creative outlet sometimes I write little rhyming poems to amuse myself with my cleverness. Often this occurs in gushes of ideas which peter out into "I'll get back to it" and then I forget what I did with my coil ring or I used it as a whelping notebook or I stashed it in a cupboard or I thought I lost it and bought another ...

I'm going to occassionally test my poems on the blog because I figure they are better off in cyberspace than locked inside a $2 notebook and the only one who marvels at the prose is me.

Here's one inspired by a Ridgeback's appetite.

A Cookie

Bright eyes insist on pleading
Beneath an upturned brow
Hope is writ unspoken
I can has cookie now?

It's gone before the palate
Knows that it's been et
The eyes return to question
Will you give me cookie yet?

A memory convenient
A thousand treats or one
The endless disbelieving
The cookies are all gone.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Barbarians at the Gate

As I mentioned I was at my parent's house last weekend starting to help my mom pack for their move to Nova Scotia. I took some pictures of the dogs there. My parents breed and show Pulis and since their dogs are not accustomed to the big red dogs they were seperated by a dog gate.

This is Leeloo's best "Pretty please?" because we were in the kitchen preparing dinner (by which I mean we put a pizza in the oven). Her ear is taped again - it has been on and off as she teethes - just the right ear and yes, that is purple hockey tape. How can you deny those eyes?

Here's the eyes times two. Raimi took a different tack than Leeloo's gate rattling and employed the more annoying brain seizing whine. Whenever I was in the kitchen it was a combination of rattle rattle rattle or whine whine whine. Sometimes they would alternate the tactics but the end result was always "Stop it!"

And here is little Berry. She is so cute and is the little Reserve Queen - always the bridesmaid - but did finish her Canadian Championship. Everyone loves Berry because she is so charming and loves dog shows. For anyone who does not know what a Puli looks like there are way better pictures on my parent's website for Immerzu (to the left) or just click here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Monty Python's Flying Circus

I haven't been able to update any pictures recently because whenever I attach the camera to my computer it does something weird and I can't download the photos. Some setting has changed and it opens the wrong program. And seriously ... there are some pretty darn cute photos on that camera. I'll try again later tonight and see if I can figure out how to get it to behave.

My work hours changed and the dogs, though they don't realize it yet, are going to love it. It means I get to sleep in mornings and work shorter hours. It's the training of the cats and puppy that are going to take some time. They still think 7am is alarm time. It also means I can take the dogs to the park in the daylight instead of the pitch black at 5:30pm. There are also fewer dogs at the park in the mid-morning so less chance of having an 'exchange' with some asshole dog and their asshole owner(which, in the last month, has happened twice; once I was ignored and the other time the Lab's owner demonstrated why her dog was such an asshole. It's nice to know this City delivers exactly what I expect from its citizens every single time - kind of like the guy who cut me off today.)

Halo made it safely to Salt Lake City where she now torments her son with smelling good enough to breed. Once she was bred by Zuli she closed up shop and is quickly going out of heat. I won't know for another 3 weeks or so if she is in whelp but I'm guessing it will be less physical signs and more temperamental changes as the indication for possible motherhood. She gets sort of ... needy ... when she's in whelp. Estrus means sulky and moody and in whelp is more subtle.

I go to pick her up in about 10 days ... hope the weather holds out as I have to drive through a small mountain range to get to Helena to met Erin. It's twisty and turny and can be dangerous in the winter. As long as it's not like two winters ago when I drove down with my Dad to pick up Halo from Helena and we ended the weekend with him being diagnosed with cancer ... that was a drive to remember. He's got the all clear now but it's not really a road trip I want to repeat.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lying in Wait

I've been a little lax in my updates of late ... busy busy busy. My parents are packing to move to Nova Scotia from Alberta and I was out helping my mom yesterday - my Dad is in Halifax now buying a house. Phew! I hope they get the one with the nice ocean view ... I wouldn't mind inheriting that!

Halo will be heading back to Salt Lake City tomorrow I think. She was only able to be bred the one time - once is all it takes right? You like to cover all options but she said no on Wednesday, yes on Thursday and then no on Friday. Picky girl. You wouldn't think she would be given her ho-bag behaviour. As always there are no guarantees but I trust Halo and since she's an ... er ... experienced girl I am hopeful there was success.

Two weeks from now I go to pick her up in Montana. I don't know many bitches who would travel as well as she does but Halo is nothing if not accommodating and easy going ... something that she reliably passes to her puppies. Some bitches can go out of heat when they travel so it's a blessing that she takes new people and places in stride.

Leeloo has lost most of her teeth. Her adult teeth are coming in but the baby ones are all dropping out and leaving big gaps in her naughty little mouth. Raimi is the ever concerned Boy and spends a lot of time licking her gums and taking care of his darling GF. I found her rolling a molar around her mouth the other day and took it away. No ... I did not keep it ... ew.

So now we wait ... we wait for Halo to come home, we wait for sign of babies in the oven, we wait for babies to arrive ... a world of waiting.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Tie That Binds

Today Halo finally convinced Zuli that she was worth his time and effort. I was a day off from my original thought that it would be Friday. So we mark our calendars from today and count 9 weeks which puts puppies possibly the last week in March. She will be bred again tomorrow and Saturday and that will cover the 5 day gammut of ovulation. She will then make her way back to Salt Lake City this weekend and I’ll pick her up in Montana in two weeks.

I have missed Halo in her time away. It’s been a year of upheaval for the poor girl and once she comes home with me … home she’ll stay. Of course, she’ll have to put up with Leeloo while she’s in whelp. The biggest benefit to having Leeloo now is that she will play with Raimi rather than Raimi hassling a pregnant Momma to play. She was long suffering last time …

Nothing at this point is guaranteed of course but we remain hopeful. I’ll be contacting my waitlist this weekend to see who is still interested in a Halo baby. If you are not on the list yet now’s the time!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

N/L's Las Vagas Vacation

I realized yesterday that I haven’t posted a Halo update lately. She made her way to Las Vegas last weekend chaffeurred from Salt Lake City by Erin who is her breeder.

From what I hear we can equate Halo’s behaviour to a desperate Vegas strip prostitute but Zuli is not falling for it or he can’t afford her price. Here he is pictured falling for something but it has little to do with sex - I hear he's just a big sweetie. She probably isn’t ovulating yet or if she is it’s just starting. I’m guessing Friday is the big day.

For those who want to know (or care) dogs only ovulate once or twice a year. When a bitch comes into heat she is not immediately ready to be bred, she has to ovulate first. They start their heat and a few days in (up to 20 sometimes) they experience a lutenizing hormone surge which triggers the bitch to ovulate over a period of 5 days. The eggs have a kind of shell around them and when ovulation occurs the shell takes about 48 hours to completely open, is open for about 36 hours and then the egg starts to die over the next couple days. Think of it like a banana; buy it green, it starts to turn yellow til it’s ripe, it stays ripe for a couple days and then it starts to die … voila! Ovulation!

You want to breed just as the eggs are opening to catch them at their ripest. Sperm can live for a long time in the bitch so if you breed as the eggs are opening the sperm will be just sitting around whistlin’ dixie until the bouncers open the strip club doors and they flood in waving little spermy dollar bills. The first day the dogs are bred is when your 63 day gestation count starts. Nine weeks later, more or less, you should see little babies arrive.

Halo had her fist litter exactly 63 days from when she was bred … practically in the same hour. Her second litter was born on day 61 which means they wanted OUT. It was crowded in there.

So she spends her days now wandering up and down the Vegas dog run, wiggling her doggy bum and trying to entice Mr. Zuli to buy what she’s selling. Here's a picture of him feigning disinterest ... or it is actual disinterest ... either way I’m pretty sure he’s starting to crack …

Monday, January 19, 2009

Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

A few days ago I mentioned Rory was coming to visit. I haven’t posted on him because the more pressing issue of getting donations to fight for every dog owner in the Surpreme Court. The donations are rolling in and they are fast approaching their goal of $67,000 … lawyers are expensive!!

Anyway, Rory came over on Wednesday night, Raimi was all with the “MY house! MY toys! MY Leeloo! MY Mommy!” and then he got distracted by a piece of floating fuzz …

They played and played and played and played. By the time bedtime rolled around Leeloo was comatose. Rory started out in my room on a dog bed, his fussing made me relent and he was allowed to lie on the bed. Raimi was less than thrilled. By 4am I’d had enough of musical dogs and into the dog room Rory went. His whining could not be heard through my earplugs.

Raimi and Leeloo spent the entire day with Rory but when I got home Raimi ‘squashed’ Rory to demonstrate how much of a man he was compared to this young upstart. Show off. It was cute in an annoying kind of way. Rory just gave in with a “Ya ya sure man … you’re the boss.”

Leeloo thought Rory was great because he was good to play anytime. Raimi got in a few naps while Leeloo and Rory re-arranged my furniture. I was constantly straightening the rugs and putting the loveseat back.

Dogs are not allowed on the furniture in Rory’s home but they are in mine so it only took Rory a couple days before he ‘snuck’ onto the loveseat, made himself veeeerrrrrryyyyy small and went to sleep. If I moved or coughed he’d open his eyes in trepidation but settled when he realized I was not shifting him.

Of course he was delighted to see his own Mommy but not half as excited as Raimi was to see him gone. I'm sure Raimi was getting worried he was sticking around. They’d stare at me and Raimi would hold eye contact in an effort to keep my attention on him alone. It was so sweet. Occassionally I’d catch him looking at Rory like “You’re still here? Why are you still here? When are you leaving anyway?”

Things are back to normal now, Raimi is so thrilled to have me as his alone. Well … me, the love of his life Leeloo, and his mom returns in a few weeks so he’ll be in seventh heaven.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bull Durham

Your right to own any breed of dog you choose has been in jeopardy these past few years, especially if you live in Ontario, Canada. The Dog Legislation Council of Canada needs help to fight the unconstitutional and draconian laws that currently dictate what kind of dog you can own in that province. They are short $67,000 to take this case to the Supreme Court and are asking dog owners across the country to donate $1 per dog they own. Scroll down, click on the Paypal button and donate! They need to raise this money by the end of January.

I am donating a dollar for every dog I’ve owned or bred and I challenge other breeders and owners to do the same. This affects everyone, once laws like these are enacted they are very hard to remove and they make it easier for similar laws to be enacted in other provinces and counties.

Forgo your latte’s for one week and donate $25. Don’t eat out one evening and donate $50. Ask your dogs if they want to donate their treat fund for the next month and donate $20.

This is important. We should have the right to choose the domestic animals we want in our lives. Ontario says we can’t own pit bulls or ‘bully’ types – this based on appearance rather than the dog’s behaviour. Dogs who had never threatened anyone have been destroyed. People have been subjected to warrantless searches and dog have been seized and destroyed without proof. No one is immune and you would be surprised the breeds of dogs mistaken for 'bully-types'. Inadequately trained individuals are given authority to arbitrarily determine that your Ridgeback is a Pitbull 'type' and YOU must pay a lawyer to prove it's not.

Do you know which one is a pit bull?

Who can’t afford to donate $1? A loonie. Half a toonie. Four quarters. Ten dimes … you get the idea.

Take the Lead

I’ve heard some pretty insane stories in the past about puppies doing stupid things and getting themselves seriously hurt or killed. Like the puppy who ran into a wall with food in its mouth, inhaled a piece of kibble and died of pneumonia from the infection the kibble caused. How random is THAT?

So when my puppy does something stupid and it simply results in a lesson learned I take it to heart.

I have several dog leads which make their way from the house to the truck on a regular basis. Normally there is at least one lead in the truck at all times and they are kept a compartment where the dogs are for ease of leashing them. The dogs have access to the compartment so the leads sometimes end up under their feet.

Last night I got home from the park and the dogs jumped out and ran to the gate to be let into the yard. I was opening the gate when I noticed that Leeloo had Raimi’s blue lead and was chewing on it. “You naughty girl” I said as I grabbed the metal clip that was hanging out of her mouth and pulled. And pulled, and pulled, “Leeloo!” and pulled and pulled. Five feet of lead came out of that dog’s stomach.

Slimey, disgusting, gross and thankfully … out. She looked at me in surprise after the last of it hit the snow and then ran to the front door and bounced around “Open open open open.” She was hungry since I was an hour late home and it was WAY past her dinner time. So I guess the lesson here is nothing is to be kept in the back of the truck, and Leeloo, when not fed on time, will fill her stomach with anything. Oh, also … dogs do really stupid things when you least expect it.

Pressure Point

The snow falls again. The weather can’t seem to make up its mind; this past weekend it felt like spring was on the way even though it’s only the beginning of January. Now we are back to our regularly anticipated -12 degrees and snow is falling. I’ll never again own a vehicle that doesn’t have 4x4. We have chinooks roll through every few weeks but they are not all they’re cracked to be. Chinooks cause extremes in air pressure and the result is headaches and migraines for those people sensitive to the barometric changes. Sometimes the temperature can go from -20 to +2 overnight … it can play merry havoc with your brain case. Plus the sloshing, slushing mess on the roads is no fun at all.

We went to the park Monday and I thought it was warm enough for Leeloo to go coatless but by the time we got there it was pretty frigid and we didn’t stay long. Yesterday was a return to coat and she was delighted. Today is pretty cold and a park visit is still up in the air.

Now that the snow looks to be sticking around taking the dogs to the park is far safer. 1) Ambient light reflects off the snow and makes the park brighter than it really is 2) the dark dogs are easy to see against the light snow 3) and there are far fewer dogs out because of the temperature, light and conditions.

Supposedly the days are getting longer but personally I don’t see it. It’s dark when get up, it’s dark when I leave for work, it’s dark when I get home, it’s dark at the park, it’s dark when I go to bed. The only saving grace in this is the south facing bay window I have in my office, if I didn’t have that I’d be a mushroom.

Tonight Rory comes to stay for a few days … should be a riot!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Life is Beautiful

My beauties.

Can't say handsome too many times.

Together the twins.

A far off place.

Bottom's up.

Depth in those eyes.

Keep your eye on the prize.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Meaning of Life

Dogs just being dogs ...

Who else has been here?

Winter berries just waiting for a Leeloo.

Or maybe waiting for a Raimi.

Navigating a steep slope of snow.

There's always something to sniff.

Elegant embodied.

Look high and look low.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Class Action

I got a new camera back in the spring and have been moderately satisfied with it. It took okay pictures but I was frustrated by continual under-exposure. I was comparing it to my old film camera which I really loved and was considering dusting it off to get the photos I wanted. I gave it some thought and realized that there is one thing about my old camera which I had not altrered on the new one so I dragged out the manual for the first time and set it to over-expose by a stop. Voila.

I took so many pictures today that I am going to have to split them into different categories over a few days. Some are silly, some are action, some are portrait ... but the subjects are all the loves of my life.


Here we come to save the DAAAAY! (It's super cool that they are in the exact same stride too ...)

BEELINE! (The fact that they are both looking directly at me is just neat-oh. )


COMING Mummy ...!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Tomorrow Never Dies

Here’s a better portrait of Halo's handsome rendezvous. He’s got a beautiful head with a nice round eye. Doesn’t he look sweet? His name is Zuli but for our purposes we will call him Halo’s Vegas Luvah. He has never had a gambling problem despite being in Las Vegas these past years and that bodes well for his kids not having addiction issues. Except chasing things, that will likely carry through since it’s very strong on Halo’s side.

He also has a degree, Companion Dog, which is an obedience title not easily earned by the likes of Ridgebacks. This also means that he is pretty biddable and since Halo is biddable (under dire threat of death) the puppies should be quite a trainable bunch.

He is an American Champion and earned his points in style with 4 majors while he was still a young man.
Halo of course is up to merry mischief because being in heat means she's miserable thus everyone else's life has to be miserable too. Erin said she was sitting and staring at her for no particular reason with clam ears(pressed against her head so they fold into clam shapes). It's the face of tortured estrus.
Big thanks to Erin who works so hard with the dogs ... especially ones not her own ... and largely goes un-thanked much of the time. Halo will not appreciate what Erin is about to put her through but I do and am eternally greatful for the faith she put in an unknown girl from Canada and her very first Ridgeback.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Red Heat

Finally. It’s happened. The thing. The montrous thing I don’t have to put up with because it’s in Utah right now and will be on her way to Sin City in a week.

Magic Decoder: Halo is in heat. She is actually right on time. I thought if I was lucky she’d come in sooner but I guess I was too hopeful. Not many dogs are this reliable – she is just 6 months and a few days from the end of her last heat – what a gal.

I had wondered when I heard last week that she consumed 15 ring pops and an entire bag of firey hot cheetos if it was a sign. That was a particularly bitchy Halo thing to do and is usually reserved for special occassions. Sort of a dog PMS.

Also, Erin who has Halo right now, just got back a bitch that had been away for a year doing some agility training. I figured an unfamiliar mature bitch being brought into the house so close to Halo’s expectant heat might bring her in sooner rather than later. It’s a bitch thing.

So she will be off to Las Vegas to meet her match with Zuli. Two excellently normal health tested dogs! We expect red wheaton babies with good ridges, minimal white, possibly a light wheaton or two and not many dark masks since Halo is not dominant for them and Zuli has a clean face like Raimi.

Mark your calendars … I will be plummeting into insanity in a few short weeks.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

That Thing You Do

Leeloo does a thing which is so adorable I get warm fuzzies just thinking about it. She gets all comfy-fied where ever she wants to nap; better her head is on me so I reap the full benefit of her habit. She generally drapes herself across my lap but sometimes resorts to a Ridgeball if there isn’t enough stretching room. After she gets settled and cozy she jams her pokey little nose in a good nap spot. Then … then she squiggles it. You know the squiggle. Their head wiggles gently side to side and presses down a bit and possibly stretches a touch for the perfect … most perfect spot to rest their weary head.

That squiggle is like an adorable shot to my heart everytime.

But it gets better because squiggles come with sounds. Sometimes sighing. The satisfied sigh of the truly content. Sometimes groaning. Groaning occassionally alters pitch into a whine so I check to see if there’s a leg squashed or twisted but usually it’s just the groan of the ‘irritated to still be awake’. Moaning is generally reserved for the last dredges of the barely awake letting out the ghosts of plays not played. The head squiggle marks the last moment of consciousness before blessed puppy sleep.

Sleep is also better had if the head is covered so it’s pushed into the crook of my arm, between me and Raimi, behind my back, under a cat … as long as the nose is partially buried. Better the whole body so I try to keep her covered with a blanket when she’s napping which sends her into the deepest of deep sleeps. If a blanket is not handy she at least needs her nose buried and body preferably squished in a too-small space.

This has caused some issues with Raimi and me. Raimi likes to be touching me while he sleeps. Leeloo likes to be squashed into oddly squishy spaces. This means the space between Raimi and I. We had a couch war where Raimi was on one side of me and she on the other. Not good enough. She hopped off the couch and jumped on Raimi to lie on him with her head on me which he grumbled about. I pulled her over to the other side where there was lots of room. Off again to go around and jump onto Raimi. LOOK. Sleep over HERE. She calculated a second and jumped off again. Repeat. I finally convinced her that she could sleep across me and stick her head in a small gap between me and Raimi.

Then the cat came along and was sleeping on my knees. Thank gawd for remote controls because there was no getting up after that production.

It really is my most favorite thing to sit on my couch watching TV, utterly covered in warm bodies of happy dogs and cats. Scoff if you will but they don’t care how much TV I watch, they want me to eat MORE chips and salsa and they would never have me anywhere else. I love spending time with them and I look forward to seeing them everyday almost as much as they do me.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Under the Tuscan Sun

I feel bad that my windows are so high that the sun never quite reaches the couches. If the sun does touch the couch it's only long enough for the dogs to snooze in for about 20 minutes. In the summer when the sun is quite high it hardly shines in at all. I have promised them one day we will have a home where the windows are ground level and the sun shines in warmly.

They make the best of it ... or try to. The idea here is clear but the execution, sadly, did not pan out. I'd need to move the couch back a few feet for the sun to hit them directly.

Here the top of Raimi's head is being warmed by the sun which I suppose is good since matter speeds up when it's warm. Presumably in this moment he is slightly smarter than usual. Maybe when I *do* have sunlight for them he will show himself a genius!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

White Hunter Black Heart

Today was the first day in (what feels like) a dog's age that it was not negative 25 degrees Celcius so we headed to the park in the warmest part of the afternoon. The park was teeming with dogs and kids dressed as Michelin men who were sledding down a rather large hill at break neck speeds with dogs in hot pursuit.

I outfitted Leeloo in Halo's winter coat and I think she appreciated the added warmth. Her hair is still a soft puppy coat so it doesn't offer the same protection as an adult coat. Or she's just a princess sissy like Halo.

Off they go with glee and abandon. Leeloo tried her very best to keep up but Raimi was too full of beans to slow down for her.

Ears! Eyes! The coat seemed to fit quite well once I tightened the strap and she had no trouble running amuck.

Come ON Mom ... catch up already! Raimi never noticed the cold I'm sure since he spent most of his time running from tree to bush marking the park with his sign posts.

The rest of the time he was doing silly things like this when the other dog would be enticed to play.

Leeloo got in on the action once or twice but she tends to back down right away if the other dog gets too boisterous.

Apparently Pugs are a deeply suspect breed of dog. We will have to introduce her to Deuce, I'm quite sure she will be won over in no time.

Raimi takes a moment to allow the park to bask in his handsomeness. He often stops to survey his domain and once something interesting catches his eye he bounds after it ... shattering the regal illusion.

Up the path they careen hardly taking notice of obstacles. People move out of Raimi's way because of his size so he rarely hits anyone. Leeloo just mashes into legs and is instantly forgiven when they see her darling face.

Trekking homeward. She remained very cheerful for much of the walk. It was close to the end when she decided that she'd had enough and was ready show the way to the truck - very Petal-like of her!

There and Back Again: A Ridgeback Tale.

Three's Company

The cats don't often get mentioned since not much changes in their lives including my refusal to let them out in -27C weather and the various things they insist on climbing in or on.

They have a real love of cardboard. Not sure why but whenever there is a new box it gets examined very closely and then pieces get chewed off it. Like the Dell laptop box that is returning my 'fatal error' pooter for repair.

More weirdness. I did the dishes and cleaned the sink out with Scrub 'n' Shine and then Weasley made himself very comfortable. He seemed to enjoy spying on the world from his stainless teel bunker.

Mallaig continues to be the sweet, quiet, unassuming cat ... until there is food to be had. Dog food, cat food, my food ... doesn't matter. She's a pig.

Together they are a cheerful bunch ... and I love to watch them enjoy each other's company ... except at 2am stampeding up and down the hall.