Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Magnificent Seven

Four dogs and three cats made it 5000km and they truly were magnificent.

Since the camera cord is still not working and needs to be replaced you'll just have to make do with my word pictures and your imagination.

The house was pretty much as remembered. Small, cute, in need of paint, elbow grease, TLC and a big damn fence. We set up the expens in the back yard off the deck for the dogs to roam around while we unloaded the trailer.

The dogs have been very good ... until the point where Archer realized he could fit between the steps of the deck stairs and I found him and Leeloo fence playing with Leeloo inside and Archer out. He did it a couple more times before I managed to adjust the pens so that even if he goes through he's still in the penned off area. Phew.

Raimi and Leeloo spotted a cat in the neighbours yard the other day. Leeloo raced off the deck to the grass and stopped at the expen fence to stare intently at the cat. Raimi took her idea one further and in his hurry to inspect the cat he leaped over the expen. I saw him go and gasped, ran out the door and called him back. I'll admit - though I was mildly panicked I was also impressed. He leaped that thing as though he didn't even realize he'd gone over it. Hasn't tried it since but then my paranoia has kicked into high gear so he hasn't had much chance.

We marked out what we think is the property line for the new fence that will go up in the next week or so. Really need a proper fence. I saw an intact black Labrador wander past on Wednesday and thought "Leeloo should be coming into heat soon" - better get that fence up. There also seems to be a high number of cats on the prowl - I assume most of them have homes but the fewer critters the dogs can see to chase the better.

The dogs have spent an inordinate amount of time on the bed because that was the only soft surface that has been available. Now that I have a couch - purchased today for a mere $200 as an interim couch til I get the money saved for the leather sectional of my dreams - they are crammed on it and here I am sitting on the floor. Mostly because the internet cord won't reach the couch and I need to buy a armchair for myself, but also because there isn't much room left on the couch.

In all the dogs and cats have been very good - Archer's house training has taken a turn for the worse and we are pretty much at square one. Can't really blame the tyke, the last two weeks of his life haven't exactly been routine oriented. Hopefully we can start proper training in earnest in the next week because I'm tired of encountering stealth pee and poop in various rooms.

Tomorrow we head to Wallace for a Sunday dinner and to allow the dogs a good stretch. I did find a nice field here to walk them but the house has sort of taken priority and I've neglected the walks of late. Poor kids. I'll have access tomorrow to an unchewed USB cable so I can get some photos off the camera and post them.

Seems like the comatose dogs have the right idea and I think I'll take a hint.

Monday, May 25, 2009

At Close Range

At long last we arrived in Nova Scotia today at about 5pm Eastern time. I was so excited to cross the Nova Scotia border. The dogs were starting to get annoyed with each other and the cats ... well, they are just sick to death of being trapped in the truck. I can't blame them.

I finally have lots of pictures to update except they are on my laptop and I'm using my Dad's computer to use the internet so photos of Quebec, New Brunswick and my first glimpse of the ocean will have to wait til I have my own internet up.

I tried to kill Halo today, not like all the other times I wanted to do it on purpose. I shut the window a bit when she was looking out. She panicked although she didn't need to and hit her head on the door frame. Maybe I'll learn my lesson and not let them stick their heads out but they like it so much I probably won't stick to it.
H..lere is Halo and Raimi sniffing Nova Scotia air for the first time ... I love how Raimi's lips go flappity flappity flap in the wind ...

Currently Archer is fussing on my parents couch and the rest of the big dogs are in a dog run. Leeloo is PISSED. She's never been in an actual dog run and thinks it's the worst thing ever. She's been barking for the last two hours in total indignation. They can come in to sleep but they are rather ... boisterous to be in a host's house.

We took a walk around my parent's property and they had a marvelous time bounding through the grass - I'll take some photos of the property tomorrow - it's just beautiful here.

Tomorrow we see my house and begin to unload the trailer. The dogs will get to relax at
last, the cats can get out of their mobile prison and I can sleep more than one night in one place. Can't bloody wait.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Hang 'Em High

We are now in Riviere-du-Loup, Quebec in a lovely motel room and it is our final motel night. Tomorrow we should be in Wallace Nova Scotia and staying at my parent’s house where the dogs can run and play … they have been very good so far but their patience is wearing thin at this point. They no longer want to get back in the truck, I have to insist, and the cats have had enough of the inside of that vehicle to last a lifetime.

It’s been a hot day and we’re all tired. The problem with the camera cord has finalized into no downloading at all so the camera has a zillion inaccessible photos on it. I’ll get them downloaded as soon as I can.

Today was the first incident of the trip involving a dog. I knew there had to be at least one. To get fresh air into the truck I open the windows. The dogs like to stick their heads out so when I'm travelling below 60km/hr I open the window enough for the dogs to flap their ears in the wind and twitch their noses on the breeze.

The windows have child safety locks so when the windows are open for the dogs I lock them. I did that yesterday as a matter of course. This morning I opened the window while we drove out of Pembroke where we’d spent the night.

Suddenly there is a crash and Leeloo has knocked over the water dish and is panicking. I turn to look and there she is, with her head stuck in the window which has closed on her. I quickly rolled it down and she was freed. She sat for a moment looking distraught and shaking her head.

I pulled over and checked her out. She was fine but definitely very upset and shedding like crazy. Poor little girl.

Overnight the cats must have clicked the child lock off and I didn’t notice in the morning. Now I’m paranoid about it. Only one more day and we will be safely home and hopefully all in one piece … assuming no one else tries to hang themselves.

Run Lola Run

On Saturday I stopped at a gas station somewhere between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury and noticed there was an empty school yard behind the gas station. Perfect.

I let them out of the truck and Raimi went silly with happiness and Leeloo only encouraged him. They had a marvelous time with Leeloo grabbing his tail and Raimi acting all surprised and annoyed.

The dirt here seems to be almost entirely sand which I think the dogs really enjoy.

Eventually the running eased up and they started sniffing around. I did take pictures of Archer but the camera cord seems to have been compromised by puppy teeth and isn't uploading the photos properly. Huh.
As I watched the dogs play I started to get dive bombed by little black insects. They became more and more aggressive and eventually I had to start making my way back to the truck. Meantime Halo tackled Archer and toppled him over ... he came up dead lame on one hind rear and was yelling his head off. I tried to evaluate the damage but was being mercilessly attacked by flies to I picked up the puppy and ran. I threw everyone in the truck and closed all the windows. In the end I did get two bites on my shoulder which 4 days later still itch like mad.

It is totally great to be able to let them run after being cooped up in the truck for hours on end - next time minus the flies and damage to the puppy would be good. Sniffing the wind helps to pass the time though - I bet their noses are telling them all kinds of things ...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Lake House

I took photos of the dogs on the beach of Lake Superior yesterday but there are so many photos that I thought I'd just post the album and you can look at your leisure. It was pretty cute - Raimi was scared of the waves - I can't decide if it was the sound or the movement ... probably both. Halo spent some time rolling Archer in the sand which he enjoyed at first but then started to get frustrated and eventually I had to save him from her attention. Leeloo, as usual, did her own thing and spent the majority of her time exploring. I'm not sure whether the province of Ontario frowns on dogs on their beaches but it was totally worth it.

I'm now a day behind in the photos so I'll post more tomorrow of the dogs from today.

Friday, May 22, 2009


I swear I haven't forgotten the dogs anywhere. There have been some internet related technical difficulties so I haven't been able to post plus I've been ridiculously tired. The drive itself isn't bad but the not sleeping well at night has me wiped so blogging is low on the priority list.
The dogs of course just sleep all the time. Sometimes in some pretty interesting positions.
Archer especially gets to sleep in whatever way he wants.
And sniff the wind. Leeloo and Halo like to stick their noses out and suck up the new provincial scents.
We stopped in Winnipeg and stayed with Jeff and Danielle of Jahina Ridgebacks and the dogs really appreciated the chance to run. This is Leeloo body slamming Ellie ... nice to know Ridgebakcs the world over all play the same.

The light was fading fast so the photos aren't great but Halo, Raimi, Leeloo and Ellie blasted around the backyard like crazy and sensible little Archer decided to sit that rodeo out.
Tomorrow I will try to post photos of the dogs on a beach of Lake Superior. It will take some time to do as there are some fabulous shots. Assuming I have internet of course. Details on the actual trip of course are on Wee Bonny New Scotland blog.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Road Trip

We're on the road and currently in a motel in Swift Current, Saskatchewan - about 5 hours east of Calgary. I was hoping to be able to get some wireless along the way and here we are. The dogs are understandably bewildered, especially since my house looked like this yesterday. Today it's empty and all my worldly possessions are outside this hotel room with the cats keeping guard.
I'll take a picture of the truck and trailer tomorrow - I keep forgetting for some reason. Too tired I guess. The dogs are handling this adventure well. Halo is very well travelled and is the road king pro. Leeloo doesn't appear to realize anything is different ... she's just as happy go lucky as always. Raimi, well, Raimi is not handling the moving stress well. His eyes are bloodshot and he can't take them off of me except to sleep, he pooped in the empty livingroom this morning while I was loading the truck last thing this morning, he had emergency poop in the middle of the night - he's very worried. That didn't stop him from stealing my Tim Horton's bun when I left the motel room for a split second but I'm sure he had help ... Leeloo. Archer is acting just like you'd expect a puppy to; open eyes, interest, happy, and curious. Napping lots and holding his pee until we stop for gas. They are all doing marvelously well.
The cats are also doing remarkably well, silent as the grave for the most part. I have the greatest cats. They are loose in the truck for now and when I went to check Mallaig and Ceilidh were stretched out on the dog beds and Weasley was hiding in the cat post still. Usually he's very adventurous but I think he is a little motion sick - one of them threw up but I have no way of knowing who but he seems a little sullen. Ceilidh is amazing - I left her out and the first thing she did was wander over to me and start purring with happiness. I think she was thanking me for letting her out. I'll take a photo tomorrow of the cats in their crate - it's a pretty sweet ride if you're a cat.

Shorly I plan to look like this ... last walk, shower before bed, and blessed sleep.

Final Destination

Sort of an ominous title for a blog huh?

Here it is. The final night in Calgary. Everything is loaded(in the rain of course - why wouldn't it be sunny?), the house is empty except for me and the completely baffled and totally exhausted dogs and cats. Spent the day having mini panic attacks over what would fit and what wouldn't. Had to let go of a few pieces; a trunk, a chair, two bookshelves. It's just stuff right? The important things are loaded. The more important things will travel in total comfort with layer upon layer of soft beds and blankets. Spoiled.

Cats ... in their crate will just have to suck it up. They have it pretty good actually; a litter box, lots of toys, drugs, cozy spots to sleep.

No pictures yet but I hope to along the way. If I can get service I'll blog along the way but try not to hope too much. My email address is down tomorrow morning so if you send me anything after tonight I won't get it. I'll get a new one up as soon as I can.

This plan has been three years in the making. I set out a yearly goal list and even with a few bumps everything has ticked into place as I hoped. We hit the road tomorrow at about 10am at the latest ... I'll be thinking of all those I leave behind and feeling melancholy but my foot won't be easing off that gas ...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Addam's Family Values

Night one without siblings. Here I am at 5:30am once again propping my eyes open. Although - today I get up at the butt crack of dawn without complaint. Archer went 6 and a half hours last night without asking to go out once. Could have had something to do with him sleeping on the bed and snuggling with me all night but he never once made an attempt to find a place to pee. I suspect it's a one off thing but I'll take it.

It has come to my attention that out of 6 puppies sold to new families ... 3 of them are now owned by firefighters. Huh. I don't do it on purpose, I swear.

So yesterday it was obvious that Missy was at a fire station in Yellowknife where her Dad works. They also sent a boot inspection photo ... fortunately *she* doesn't have to fill those boots but I bet she'd chew on them.

Gracie(formerly Elsa) now has a Dad who works for the Calgary FD. She also lives with her new mom and three children ... Gracie will be busy! I can't figure out how to save the emailed pictures but once I do I will post them!

Hunter arrived safely last night in beautiful Kelowna which is protected from fire by his Dad who works for the Kelowna Fire Dept. Hunter is apparently telling the neighbourhood dogs who's now running the place. When pictures come through I'll include them too.

Although it appears so I don't actually bias puppy placements toward the service professions ... just seems that the breed attracts police/fire/rescue individuals. I know two other Ridgebacks owned by police, one owned by an paramedic, and a breeder who is in the military. The breed is a challenge and I suppose people inclined to occupations involving challenge would be drawn to them.

Of course, we can't forget the rest of the puppies who have bravely set forth into the world ...

Odin ... or 'Rodie-Odie-Odie-O' (as I like to call him) is kicking up his own little rodeo with Kika (of the Advantix ad campaign fame) and is settling in well with his new BFF.
And Rio who went home on Friday is also settling in well and busy bossing around her new BFF Jack the German Shepard puppy. Yes ... that is a puppy still. Goggle your eyes all you want but when your RR puppy is 7 months old and HUGE you too can say "Why yes, he/she *is* still a puppy." Jack is a doll and Rio will have him under her thumb in no time ... if not already.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Last Action Hero

Here we are on the flip side of another litter. This morning Odie, Gracie(was Elsa), and Hunter went off to start their own lives. They disassembled a pile of newspaper in my livingroom and then one by one they were carried away. Front are Hunter, Gracie, Archer and in back is Odie.
Archer, alone at last, looked a little forlorn. He tried to find comfort in Leeloo and of the three adult dogs she was most obliging. Raimi sees a usurping punk, Halo sees another clingy Boy but Leeloo simply expects adoration and handles it with aplomb when she gets it.
Of course, no puppy can stay sad for long and like all the resident Ridgebacks he has quickly fallen under the Leeloo spell. Halo is less than enthused another one is staying(possibly with vague hope he won't be as clingy as the last puppy who stayed) but with a stern command from me, "It won't kill you to comfort him" she allowed him to sleep next to her for the evening. And word from Missy who arrived safe and sound in Yellowknife, that's in the North West Territories for those who can't remember grade 5 Social Studies - and yes I had to look it up. I hear Missy will be adventuring all summer with hiking and camping and soaking up the 24 hour sun. Good thing too ... Ridgeback's need for a lot of Vitamin D if you know what I mean!

Independence Day

It's the end of a long day and the first time I've ever blogged three times in one day. It's been an exciting time here at Invictus ...

First off the biggest news:

Invictus Nightmare Before Xmas today became Halo's first American Champion! Go Zero go Zero go Zero! Halo celebrated by stealing puppy poop(again) but I think I'll stick to champagne. Big thanks to Erin and Juliet for showing off this handsome man - I'm sure a lot of his competition on the circuit are now happy he's done!

Rio's mom Nikki came to help me take puppies to the vet to get them microchipped. The ordeal is always transporting the puppies from house to truck, truck to vet - my apologies once again to Nikki for trying to shut the truck hatch on her head ...

Speaking of Lady Jazz Hands(more on that another day), she too had to get a microchip because the Avid that she'd been chipped with in the US is not accepted by the CKC. Leeloo is pretty much game for anything most days and today she wandered around the exam room amusing herself until I grabbed her collar, held her head and allowed the vet to inject the microchip. Leeloo's expression went from innocent curiosity to total indignance that some *woman* just stabbed her in the back of the neck. After that Leeloo wanted to LEAVE and NOW and that woman was not allowed to come anywhere near her. The vet fed her a treat and Leeloo(never one to turn down food) ate it with an expression that said "I'll eat your damn cookie but I'm not going to like it."

And thus everyone is now permanently identified. We arrived back home after stopping to pick up some medication for Rio who seemed to have developed a minor bladder infection the past couple days. Once again Amoxocillin to the rescue and she will be right as rain in no time. Will the antibiotics ever end? So Rio headed off with her new mom and a 10 month old German Shepard was going to get a big surprise today.

I put all the puppies to bed and turned around with Missy to head to the airport to ship her off to Yellowknife. She should have just landed and her people will be getting their first look at little Missy in living color. She was thrust into the care of Canadian North Cargo and I headed back again home to a mere 5 puppies.

Bridget left just a short while ago on a long road trip to Kitimat BC. She will be at the exact opposite coast from me and I hear tell there are already plans in the works to get her a lifejacket and go crab fishing or plucking or whatever it is you do to get crabs - the kind you make into crab cakes I mean.

And tomorrow is another big day. Odie, Hunter and Elsa make their way into the world with some great families who are probably not going to sleep tonight. The puppies don't know any different but if they could count they would be currently figuring out subtraction.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Clean Slate

Big day here for the puppies. This morning they got a bath, this afternoon they get microchipped, Missy gets on a plane for Yellowknife, Rio goes to her home here in Calgary, and Bridget gets picked up for a drive to her new home in Kitimat, BC.

I decided to torture the puppies by not only giving them baths but taking pictures of the torture. I started out with Bridget, Missy, and Odie and realized I'd left the camera in the kitchen. However I remembered it for the bathing of Archer, Rio and Elsa. I didn't think I could do 4 at once so I gave Hunter a stay of bathing until the end.

However, he had other ideas and was curious what was happening in the tub. I decided to let him find out. He realized in a hurry that not only is the grass not greener ... it's wetter, soapy, unpleasant and definitely not what he expected.

As quickly as he wanted in the tub, he wanted out. He did that Ridgeback thing where all systems stop, he looks at the water and tries to carefully back away from it. He was stuck in the tub but wasn't going to let that stop him. I'd taken the mat out though so there was no grip to jump and any escapees just slid right back in. Left to right are Archer, Elsa, Hunter and Rio.

At first they tried the very sad eyes and droopy ears but it was all for naught. I am totally unswayed. They got bubbled, rinsed and rubbed dry. Resignation is a beautiful thing sometimes - makes the process that much simpler. They are now all blissfully sleeping off the trauma.

Fly Away Home

I am a mere 24 hours away from being down to 4 puppies. And less than 48 from being down to Archer. I can't express how happy this makes me. This litter has me experiencing flashbacks of the first litter and makes me wonder if I ever actually intend to do this again. Twelve was so much easier than 7 ... not sure why.
I can only imagine that living in my own house, not having neighbours above me, owning the floors they are peeing on, and being able to ignore the noise they make(because I can tune it out but the neighbours likely can't) is going to be priceless.
I am not afraid to admit the puppies have me right at the very tenderhooks of my patience at this point. Let's consider the facts; I am alone therfore all of the work they involve falls directly to my shoulders. I am moving in 4 days and moving, as we all know, is among the most stressful events of your life. I live below people with merely drywall and wood beams between floors. I rent and therefore am responsible at every juncture for any damage they cause.
I am not a bleeding heart breeder who has them out 24/7 because I can't bear to leave the little darlings alone in their room crying their hearts out. I care for the puppies, do the best I can to ensure their health and safety and raise them to the best of my ability. I try to offer them avenues of stimulation such as different surfaces, sounds, exposure to adult dogs to socialize, encourage them to interact with the cats and pay each of them attention in turn. However, I am not swayed by soulful puppy eyes as everyone else seems to be. Tough love baby. I do not accept that a yelling puppy needs to be let out. A yelling puppy gets told to shut the hell up. Door closed and lights out means GO TO SLEEP or play quietly. They are not in danger ... they are just in an expen.
Teaching your puppy good habits is paramount to a sane existence. Falling for the whining, pleading, crying and yelling means they are training YOU. I have started them on the road to habit but it is up to their new homes to carry that tradition forward. 2am whining to go pee is okay for the first week or two but if in month 6, if you are still taking that puppy out to pee you have been trained very well by that dog to cater to it's whims. A 3 month old puppy should be able to sleep through the night (7 hours at least) without soiling its crate. Heck, Leeloo could hold it at 10 weeks.

Sometimes I lose patience with them and let out a roar to which they all cringe and look at each other like "What's with her?" They are fast learners and only take a couple of corrections to think twice about jumping up, chewing on something or whining. They know to run outside and poop right away, they answer, unfailingly, to "Puppy puppy, puppy" in a high pitched voice so teaching their names is super simple; "Puppy puppy Archer. Puppy puppy Archer" gradually eliminating Puppy.
They are smart, sweet, kissy, wrinkly cheerful little blighters and while I look upon each one of them with pride ... they all need their own home. And I need to sleep past 6am.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fast Track

It's super cute to see the puppies doing adult dog things in little puppy bodies. They have started stalking eaching other from across the yard or down the hall. They definitely aren't as sneaky as they think but they get an 'A' for effort.

The pounce is never well executed and certainly does not contain the element of surprise. It's all about learning to interact with each other and certainly fun for me to watch!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Legally Blonde

Leeloo is the kind of girl who is so exuberant about life that it never occurs to her that anything is worth getting upset about. It's quite a nice change from Halo who is dramatic about everything.
Leeloo is hard to photograph sometimes because she is not much of a poser, she's more of a do-er. While action photos are nice, sometimes you want to capture a moment of calm but she doesn't do much 'look at me' standing and gazing into the distance.
Sometimes I manage to capture a moment where she defines the inner peace people spend a lifetime trying to achieve.
Leeloo makes being pretty an unconscious act. I think that in large part is the key to her charm.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Zulu Dawn

At 7 weeks old the puppies are rolling. They move fast, bite everything, chase whatever moves and yell loud to be let out. It's the final week and it can't go fast enough.
Sure they are adorable and give sweet puppy breath kisses but it comes at a price. The price does not have a monetary value - it has a time of day. At 5:30am this morning I had to make a choice.There are two ways to deal with the yelling at 5:30am - stagger out of bed in a fury, toss them outside in frustration, and sit under my little rain cloud for 45 minutes while they play themselves out.
Or, I can embrace the crisp cool mornings, the birds chirping, the silence of the city and just enjoy the playtime they love so much. Then, after 45 minutes I'll crawl back into bed for a couple more hours. I can do that since I'm unemployed.

So for the next 5 mornings I'll gladly roll out of bed at the butt crack of dawn. After that their new homes get to embrace the wee hours of the morning and you know ... have fun with that.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Back to the Future

At long last Halo is looking much better and feeling like she is herself again - whatever that means. We've been heading to the river the past couple weeks and while she is not as exuberant as usual she is definitely enjoying the time spent in the great outdoors. She's also regained the weight she lost with this litter. As soon as her milk dried up the energy started going to her body and she has filled out quite well. She still has a pound or two to go but at least she doesn't look half starved anymore.

Ah pretty Halo. The foundation of my kennel. She and I have had some moments - you always remember the good times and the bad times fade away. Well, at the very least they make good anecdotes.

She is a smart, calculating, manipulative bitch and everyone should be so lucky to be challenged by such a dog. Okay - maybe lucky is not the right word ...

As Halo and I look to the future I see some agility, perhaps Rally-O, hopefully the opportunity to try for her Herding Instinct test and maybe lure coursing in the US if we get the chance. All Halo wants is treats, sunshine and any chance she can get to piss me off.