Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Golden Compass

I know everyone wants to see Ridgeback babies but today we get to see a Golden baby. My friend Tanja, who had Halo over the summer, recently got a Golden Retriever puppy. He was 3 months old - or so we think - his owners had gotten him at 8 weeks, kept him in the backyard most of the time and crated in the garage the rest of the time, decided to move and offered him for sale.
This is NOT how responsible people behave and it's certainly one of the key reasons I have a first refusal clause in my contract. I'm pretty sure his breeder (albeit a backyard breeder as he is not registered, tattooed or chipped) has no idea he is not with the family they sold him to - question is would they care? Probably not as they got their money for him ... but I digress.

Teddy is now in a wonderful home with a new name and is just now getting socialized for the first time since leaving his siblings. He does the puppy roll as introduction which is good, and he is a learning to play with other dogs. He started playing with Emmie who we'd arranged to meet and after a few false starts he was joining in the fun.

This is his introduction to the river. It's quite shallow and slow and you could walk across it if you needed to go in and rescue him. As it turns out rescue was not necessary.

Once he figured out that the water was safe and fun he had a blast and got nice and wet. I was watching him and thanking my lucky stars Ridgebacks don't like water or have long coats.

This is my favorite picture of Teddy in the water. He is obviously having a smashing time ... it makes me wonder how people can just lock dogs up in backyard and never let them see the world.
Eventually he got deep enough into the water to swim. You could tell when his toes stopped touching the bottom and he figured it out. He just seemed to want to swim for the fun of it.

He learned the hard way that he can't swim with his head under water. He came up snorting and coughing but dove right back in. What a trooper.

Out in the river swimming in circles is fun when you're a puppy and have just discovered something new that feels instinctual. It's amazing how he never panicked - swimming just came naturally.

Not like this dog. I don't think there is any need to explain what is happening here. This is Halo's first foray to the park since having the puppies ... you'd think she'd be happy but that is not the Halo way.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Critic's Choice

My picks for this litter are Archer(green) and Elsa(maroon). If I was keeping a girl I'd keep Elsa. As a breeder you are not really supposed to 'choose' your puppies until they are old enough to properly evaluate at 8 weeks. Of course, I'm human and these are not cars, they are little bundles of potential so everyday I'm weighing one against the other and seeing how they differ from previous litters and each other.

Archer was my pick at birth. As soon as I saw his gorgeous head I knew he'd be the puppy. I try to be careful not to play favorites and at one point I was leaning toward White for a couple reasons but always I go back to Archer.

Archer will be Invictus Blood Diamond and like Leonardo Dicaprio, (for a dog) he's a hottie. He is confident, smart, attractive, independent and goes his own way.

This is important for peace in my house because Raimi would be devastated if I got another Boy. Hunter(white) will be like that and I can't have competing 'luvahs'. Sometimes it's not just structure which makes you choose a puppy, sometimes temperament compensates for a short coming in assembly.

So far Archer seems to have the best of both worlds.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Five Easy Pieces

Is it really 5 weeks? Hard to believe. Halo is completely recovered from her surgery, seems to be a little depressed since she's essentially been house bound for the last several weeks, a prisoner in her home. Soon they will be weaned and she can join us at the park. Her milk should dry up very quickly.

I had to express milk the other day because one of her ducts seemed to be backing up into her abdomen so there was me, sitting on the floor with a cup and milking Halo. She stood patiently while I expressed 3/4 of a cup of milk from the boobie. That's a lot of milk for one duct and the danger in not expressing is mastitis. I poured the milk into the puppies lunch gruel and not my coffee.

It's playtime! Rio and Elsa just before a tackle. They are starting to get more and more scrappy the more they grow. It essential they learn dog cues from each other and that socialization is continued into adulthood.

They learn to back off, stand up for themselves, invite play, and how to get along in a group - well, maybe Elsa in the background there needs some tutoring. Missy(pink) and Hunter (white) are clearly very good students.

My pick Archer doing the ever popular paw wave. Or he is a gentleman inviting me to dance ... I accept.

Sometimes they'll be running and playing and when suddenly they freeze as though they just realized they've forgotten something but are not sure what. This is Blue and Bridget(Invictus Bridget Jones' Diary) taking a moment to reflect on the past 5 weeks of life ... it was a very brief pause.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

These puppies seem to be bombproof. They knocked over an ex pen panel which hit the floor with a bang. They all froze for a second at the clatter and then ran toward it. Absolutely what you want to have puppies do. They seem to be fearless. I expanded their play area into the hallway and they just swarmed beyond their comfort zone like it was an everyday thing.

They have seen the cats on and off all of their short lives, particularly Weasley who does not stalk them so much as observe. I keep expecting him to flip open a writing pad and start jotting notes. Occasionally he gets in there to encourage certain behaviour - he wouldn't make a very good journalist.

Maroon, who lost her ribbon, and who I now call Elsa (reg'd name Invictus Born Free), decided upon a close inspection. Weasley returned the favour. I'm not sure if it was much of a stare down because Elsa's vision is limited to very near sight and a world of fuzz beyond.

Weasley must have thought this was a little too close for comfort, much like being a biologist surrounded by a pride of lions. Elsa escorted him (cool if you get the Elsa reference) out of the room.

Blue, who is slowly catching up with everyone else, decided to see what the fuss was about and they all disappeared into the hall. I didn't follow but the puppies returned a moment later cat free.

Not much has been seen of Ceilidh this litter, she's been through two litters so far and this is old hat for the fluffiest cat. Once again Elsa is the puppy taking on the cat.

Ceilidh did an about face and Elsa saw her on her way. Elsa is a pretty darn confident puppy.
The cats do not seem to feel threatened by the puppies. No claws, no hissing, mostly quiet contemplation and passive avoidance. Where's Mallaig ... not a hair to be seen. The puppies are totally alien to her.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


I know there seem to be a lot of photos with Leeloo. It's hard for me not to be amazed by her patience and tolerance for the puppies. Halo doesn't spend a lot of time with them anymore, in fact while Leeloo was playing with them Halo put herself back to bed!

Being a mom is hard work. Leeloo knows. Or think she knows. You can see the sigh of "Kids these days" and the ever popular eyeroll.

Getting mobbed by adoring fans is all in a days work. It's mostly the boys which does not surprise me. Leeloo is a heartbreaker. Ask Raimi standing alone in the hallway with the big sad browns.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Catch & Release

Not to be outdone by his big brother White's Leeloo adventures Mr Blue decided he could take on Leeloo and win.

Much like a bear trap Leeloo's jaws mean certain death. Fortunately Blue doesn't have to knaw off his leg, he has me to admonish Leeloo with a 'careful'.

Leeloo doesn't always listen as evidenced by the leg still in the mouth. It just goes to show you that it doesn't matter how small the opponent, Ridgebacks will always go for the legs.

This move puts Blue in more dire straits than he realizes. Despite the danger he appears to be in Leeloo is remarkably gentle. I'm not sure how Mr White feels about getting squashed thoough.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Clan of the Cave Bear

Supervising Leeloo activity around puppies is parpamount. Otherwise things can get out of hand. She doesn't realize how big she is so she can accidentally hurt a puppy. The puppies let her know when she's being too rough but she doesn't always listen so I step in to back them up. They still love to hang out with her - she's the cool chick.

Mr White's world suddenly went dark. And humid. And smelled a little like dog food.

He decided he didn't like it and made sure Leeloo knew he was not impressed with being engulfed. What a tough little guy.

Too bad he's a slow learner. Leeloo was very gentle but chances are it was still an unpleasant experience. Or perhaps White likes spelunking.
Everybody makes up in the end and all is forgiven. I keep telling Leeloo she has no idea what's in store in a couple weeks ...

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I like to get photos in series showing an event. There was the famous Raimi vs The Wobbly Thing post but you have to be in the right place at the right time. Not always possible and dogs are certainly not predictable!

Leeloo is obssessed with this elf toy I bought on sale after Christmas. She is desperate to chew off his arms and legs so I try to keep her contact with it to a minimum or to at least supervise. Mr. Green wanted in on the de-limbing action.

He sort of play bowed a little and tried to invite her to let him join the game. The poor elf was probably praying for mercy.

He gives her a little push to see if she'll bite. Perhaps he hasn't experienced the Leeloo level of play enough to know she'll take him up on his offer.

When the other three puppies distracted her he took advantage and went in for the kill. Unfortunately by this time he'd fogotten about the elf and missed his mark by a mile. Maybe next time.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Sky's the Limit

I wonder if there is an adorable limit that when reached you explode sunshine and butterflies. I suspect there is but I haven't maxed out yet - ask anyone who knows me.
Class is in session. Mostly paying attention - there always has to be one clown and one tardy - Orange who ran to my lap as soon as I sat on the floor. Look at Mr Green all attentive, perhaps he's my next obedience dog ... Raimi is a lost cause and Leeloo is, well, Leeloo.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fantastic Four

The puppies are four weeks old today, running fast and pooping lots. They have become quite vocal about being let out of their pen but I don't fall for that pleading whining noise. They get let out when they are fed, run around, get socialized, chewed on my Leeloo, everyone gets some lap-time and are then put to bed.

They go to 3 meals today and after each meal Halo feeds them to top up their tummies and put them to bed with warm milky goodness. Gradually over the next few weeks I'll be reducing the amount of time they nurse from Halo, then cut out one Halo meal per day, then two and then the final meal at the end of next week will see them fully weaned.

The cute factor has exploded. It's almost criminal how adorable they are. They are kissing and snuggling and following my voice very well.

They are now also in the larger pen because they were getting a bit cramped and they race across the pen when I open the door to feed them They are surprisingly fast for such little puppies.

They also pay much more attention to the toys in the pen now. They have a bee, two rabbits and a baby tug toy. By the time the puppies are ready for new homes the toys will be ready for a wash!

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle

Big things afoot over here at Invictus which meant I was distracted and tired and not keeping up with the blog for a whole 24 hours. My job is no more, sooner than I'd intended but fortunately in the manner which I'd intended so all is well there. It gives me more time to devote to the puppies, to the blog, and to my impending move across the country. My posse and I will hit the road at the end of May and land ourselves in Nova Scotia. Details of that move and the subsequent renovation of my new home into a dog friendly abode will be chronicled on Wee Bonny New Scotland. The dog related goo will still happen on this blog.

On to puppies. I can't seem to be able to take many photos without Miss Leeloo in them. Either this means she is a camera hog or she is spending more time with the puppies that their mother. I think the latter is the most true.

The puppies have learned to duck when Leeloo swoops in for a grab. Fortunately she is heeding my "careful" warnings more consistently and they only get bigger and stronger from here.

It's so bizarre to see Nanny Leeloo lying patiently while the puppies crawl all over her. A lot of mothers are not so tolerant.

Occassionally they check to see if she's going to provide sustenance. One person speculated that Leeloo might start lactating in response to their attention. I hope not ... Halo's boobs are more than enough.

Obviously it is a testament to the temperament of Leeloo and her parents. I haven't decided if it's puppy innocence that keeps her attention or maternal instinct. I suspect a bit of both and frankly ... I'll take either.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Lean On Me

I know everyone wants puppies and more puppies but the other dogs deserve a bit of a mention since these are the dogs upon which the puppies will model their behaviour. They are so impressionable as youngsters and they need good examples of dog etiquette.

Or ... er ... not. I like the boot scoot Raimi is doing but Leeloo's incredibly focused dive is most impressive.

The Boy tease. He's checking to make sure she's still on him so he can turn on the burn and leave her in the dust. Show-boater.

He tries to lure her into the bushes but she's seen too many Saturday night specials to fall for that. Usually she stops to wait for him to pop out and then she launches her ambush.

Leeloo's recall is 94.35% reliable. If she knows I have treats it's 100% reliable.

Jumping the rut on a 100% recall. She is quite deer-like - a lot of people compare her to a gazelle. Wonder why that is?

It can't be the color. Well, possibly. It can't be the ridiculously long legs. Hmm-maybe. It couldn't be the need for speed. Perhaps.

Oh. I see.

These two ... characters will mold the minds of the puppies who slumber so sweetly. Heaven help you.