Monday, August 31, 2009

The Hot Spot

Last night I wanted to use the computer to you know .. compute. I was met with this little scene and decided to wait a bit. I'm such a sucker. She was napping on the laptop and when I walked by she sat up. Cats are experts at finding places to nap ... particularly if they are warm spots. (That is my new/old cute little 'antique' desk and my new/old Eastlake chair - dated from about 1900).
So after seeing Malliag looking so pretty I decided to go in search of the rest of the cats. Ceilidh was napping in the new 'cool' corner for cat naps. I put a curtain in front of the washer/dryer/garbage/water heater area and the cats thought that was the bomb. Since I'm still a sucker I put a cat bed on the washer lid. And Weasley sitting on the window ledge eyeballing the neighbour cats. I'm not sure if he realizes he's facing the wrong way for sticking out tongues at them.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fly Away Home

We're home again much to the dog's relief. Well, Raimi's relief - he likes his routine quite a bit. Also perhaps Archer too since Trevor(a Puli) worried him a little though I'm not sure why it would since he's seen Pulis before). Leeloo is fine where ever she goes as long as there is somewhere soft to sleep and food. Lots of food. Halo misses the forest adventures I'm sure.
It's so exhausting for the dogs to house sit. You know, all that doing nothing and going for leisurely walks in the woods. It can really make you lose your head.
They do love their own couch (even if it's not leather) although it's hard to tell what with all the comatose dogs littering the area.
Leeloo doesn't care much where she sleeps as long as her tummy is full. When I got home I baked some banana muffins and she thought that there was just no way she was not getting one. She got a dog treat instead(the muffins were too good to give to dogs!) - I'm not sure if she could tell the difference.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Step Up

Currently I'm not at home(which is being protected by three fierce attack cats for any burglars reading this), I am house sitting for some friends of the family who have three Pulis and seven Duck Tollers. It's been a pretty relaxing weekend so far - being away from home means I'm not being stared in the face with all the things I'm putting off (like painting, moving things around, and tolerating a plumbing issue that is quickly becoming un-ignorable).

The dogs travel so well, they are currently scattered through-out the house on various soft surfaces. Halo is in love with the property here since it's almost entirely made up of forest. Forest means creatures and creatures mean glorious smells and tracking hound heaven. I have only lost her a couple times to the under growth but that's likely because I'm so diligent about "Where's Halo?" Raimi and Leeloo a troopers and embrace this sort of adventure with gusto - Leeloo needs only know where the food is at and Raimi ... well, he just needs to know where I'm at.

We encountered a couple obstacles(literally) that I had not anticipated. In his short past Archer has only ever encountered stairs that were less than 5 steps high. This is a two story home with hardwood stairs and the TV and comfy couches(important) and the spare bedroom on the second floor. Going up was no problem, they followed me like it was the stairway to heaven. Down however, presented a couple issues that needed to be overcome.

Pretty much everyone in their life has seen what blind panic looks like. All the dogs were up when I decided I needed to go down so after a moment or two of 'hmmm' by Leeloo and Raimi(Halo never hesitates - she's seen it all) my entourage clambered down and followed me to the kitchen. Except of course Archer who I could hear whining at the top of the stairs. Huh.

So up I went, dog cookies in hand, large dogs shut behind a door to keep them out of the way. People who know me know I'm short on patience and not much of a coddler when it comes to wussy behaviour regarding things that pose no significant danger(except to me - like moths and spiders in trees or crawl spaces). So I grabbed Archer's collar, spoke gently to him and dragged his ass to the edge of the stairs. He almost choked himself but since it was the martingale the worst he could do was scare himself. I manhandled his feet to the first step and put my hand behind his bum.

Ever so gently we slid from step to step. I even commented to him that this would be a lot harder if the stairs had carpet on them(however he would probably not be so reluctant to go if it was carpet - the wood must feel a little unsafe to dog feet - and socked feet for that matter). I spoke calmly to him the whole time, how silly he was being, how it was not scary, how he was perfectly safe, how he could trust me to not let anything bad happen. At some point he started to believe me. By the time we were halfway down he had relaxed quite a bit and when we were about 6 steps from the bottom he was perfectly fine and walking down on his own. He got a bonanza of treats and has not hesitated since.

Tonight he balked at the stairs from the garage to the basement so we could go from the kennel to the house dry rather than heading into the torrential monsoon outside. Same technique again except this time he started to go down on his own after the second step. Sometimes a person(or dog) needs a little push (and a lot of gentle encouragement) to show them how brave or capable they really can be.

I guess my point here is that a lot of the time the more you coddle the more they think something is really wrong. The tone of your voice and the confidence of your actions plays a huge part in how a dog (or most animals) percieve a potential threat. Who would you trust more - someone who was cooing at you and acting submissive or someone who spoke confidently and enforced action? A mistake a lot of people make is giving in to the 'big show' of irrational fear and allowing it to direct their course of action. Pity for the sad eyes, whining and show of "I'm so scared" can cause more fear problems than it fixes. Just ... you know ... pick your battles.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Eagle Has Landed

I headed out as always to take the dogs for a romp in our now usual spot on the Caribou spit of land. As I drove onto the spit a grasshopper leaped onto my windshield and caught a lift. At least he didn't come in through the window since we may have ended up in the bay if he had.
After that little hitch hiker departed I glanced to the left and saw this. At first it was sitting on the beach but as I slowed it took off. It is an adolescent Bald Eagle. When it took off it tried to take a 'body' with it but dropped it in its hurry. It landed again just at the end of the spit where I normally walk the dogs so I pulled up very slowly, turned off the truck and got out, leaving the dogs where they were for the moment. It kept looking at me and picking at the rock it was standing on, eventually it decided to fly away across the bay to the trees.I have seen bald eagles here before but never this close. It seemed curious what I was doing and not really scared, just thinking. Maybe it was thinking about the meal it had dropped. I was curious what it had been lunching on and went to take a look mainly to make sure it was definitely not something I wanted the dogs to go anywhere near.

Sometimes it's sad being right. It looks like a Great Blue Heron - they are both protected species - though not from each other.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sleeping with the Enemy

Okay, so most people know that I sleep with, like, four large dogs on my bed. I sleep on one side and they sleep on the other. Heaven forbid I ever find a man willing to put up with these guys because I'm not sure where he would sleep.

So last night I'm all snug and draped with dog when I hear the never good sound of a dog wandering around the house. Usually it's Archer because he's bored or too hot or just being a puppy. So I yell out "Archer!" and the clicking comes into the room. A big wet nose presses against my cheek and I instantly know it's not Archer.

It's a Lost Boy. Not a vampire thankfully but a very large Ridgeback who has had his favorite sleeping place usurped by one very long and comfy Archer. Raimi likes to sleep right next to me up by the pillows. He is not satisfied until that posistion is made available but he will not force a dog to move, he will fuss until I get whoever is in the way to move.

I could ignore this behaviour and just let him figure out that there is lots of room at the end of the bed or next to Leeloo but no, he spends his time wandering aimlessly around the room or house like a lost sheep.

So I woke up as little as was necessary and pushed and shoved and manhandled Archer until he was moderately out of the way(it was like moulding Gumby). No sooner was this accomplished when Boy climbed onto the bed, settled into a ball, made a happy little grunting sigh and went to sleep. Well, phew, so glad all is right with his world.

I know I should never have allowed the dogs on the bed. One was just fine. Two was okay. Three was making me question my sanity and four makes me think I'll be single forever. I always feel so safe with the dogs snuggled in, it makes me happy that they are happy and a small part of me loves them adoring me so much. Call me crazy ... I like being worshipped.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Born to Win

Adine will probably kill me but she had this photo taken at the Shamrock Kennel Club after their new championship and group third win. Is it just me or is this a super cute photo?

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Hurricane

What is sadder than a Ridgeback made to go out and pee in the rain?
A Ridgeback made to go out and pee in a hurricane/tropical storm. The worst of the storm had passed and it had been hours since they'd been out but the dogs thought I was being most unfair. For the record this is as far from the door as they got.

For details on our first hurricane experience you can read about it on my New Scotland blog.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

One Magic Christmas

Karma - Invictus One Magic Christmas - is now a new Canadian Champion with a 3rd place in the Hound group to go out in style! I am so proud of Invictus' second Canadian Champion and Halo's third Champion of Record!
(This photo is from Winter 2009 of her 1st 2 point win)

Karma was shown this weekend in Yorkton, Saskatchewan at the Shamrock Kennel Club. Piloted to her wins by her mom Adine, Karma pulled out 3 Best of Breed out of 4 shows. A rare and exotic species of showmanship by Karma who was until recently struggling to even get reserve!

(Gaiting at 6 months - can she mooooooove!)

Any guesses as to which judge gave Karma this distinct honor? Janet Buchanan of Leeloo's Best Puppy in Show fame! I knew the second I saw Mrs. Buchanan slated as a replacement judge(not in the original premium list on the judges panel) for this show that Karma was in with a shot at something good.
I am so proud of Adine and her family's hard work, dedication and determination(with a little bit of stubborn for good measure). It has been a hard, long road with Karma and although there was doubt, frustration, and even possibly some tears, it has been worth it. Congratulations to new Champion Karma and her awesome family - most especially Adine! Mischief managed!


I've seen photos of Ridgebacks willingly going into water. They did not look like this:I tell people all the time that Ridgebacks are not water dogs. I feel like I'm lying when I see other people's Ridgebacks splashing happily through rivers, lakes, swamps, sloughs, and the ocean. I think "My gawd, what is wrong with my dogs?" and then it occurs to me ... maybe it's not my dogs. Maybe my dogs are the ones who, in the wilds of Africa, will live to tell the tale of their friend the Water Ridgeback who never returned from a leisurely swim in the Limpopo River.

I mean seriously, if you were in Africa would *you* go into the water? Want to retrieve a shot bird from a crocodile infested river? Go on ... just jump right in there and swim with the hippos. Was that a poisonous snake that just swam by or a harmless log? Let's not stay to find out. I think on some level my dogs know that water means danger - we'll work on getting them in to cool off on hot days but they'll never love it and I'm not sure I want them to.

This may paint me as a heartless person but some part of me secretly of enjoys the dog's reactions to water. I get a little tickle of glee at their disgust when I ask them to get wet ... and so to satisfy my funny bone I'll keep making them go in ... just one last time, I promise. Always one more damn time ...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Panic Room

The photos I am posting are from a trip today to what I have christened the Caribou Spit where I've been taking the dogs. The tide is in and quite high but since the drop off is so shallow I can walk out up to my thighs and stay relatively dry if I'm wearing shorts. Some of what you are about to see may be considered abuse but no dogs were harmed in the making of this post.

Ahem. Exhibit one. Leeloo. I'm sort of at a loss for words - mostly because everytime I look at this photo I start manically giggling. It's the eyes - they really are the window to the soul and according to Leeloo her soul has been sold to the devil. That would be me.
And Archer. I caught Archer in several different stages of opinion of the water. It started out with curiosity but quickly degraded into "You want me to WHAT?" You can see he is reconsidering his options at this point, probably because this is the stage at which he starts to get more buoyancy whereupon the eject button gets mashed a bunch of times and blind panic consumes him. He's in maybe a foot of water ... Halo did me proud by not complaining too much, coming in when I called and not panicking(much) when I took her deep enough to swim. Here she looks pretty darn cheerful but this was before the forced swim. After that I couldn't get her to come in without leading her by the collar.
Boy. This dog, I'm sure, has a small incarnation of Petal fused to his soul because he follows me no matter what. He got more and more comfortable with the water the longer we stayed and eventually I got him deep enough so he could attain a semblance of buoyancy. He was so proud of himself!I would like the dogs to learn to swim - I know they do it naturally for the most part but the hyper-ventilating panic they display when they lose contact with the sand is something I'd like to reduce. Only Halo and Archer got deep enough to actually swim and when they did I held them under the belly and chest so they felt more secure. Much splashing and desperation ensued but the longer I held and talked to them the more they calmed and settled into the water. They both swam for shore like crazy but the second time there was less panic ... wait til I get Boy deep enough ... he may try to drown me.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bird on a Wire

I know it's hard to see but this is Leeloo stalking a Blue Heron. She is on the far left side of the frame and the Heron is on the far right. It was an interesting stand off. She wouldn't venture any further into the water than this but you can see it's an incredibly shallow drop off - she's in maybe 6 or 8 inches of water. She still wouldn't go any further - perhaps the bird was too intimidating. The tide was out(we did go today while the tide was all the way in and I must say it makes for far less muck) and Raimi had followed her but seemed undecided "Follow the love of my life into the unknown or return to the love of my life because she feeds me ..." Tough call. In the end he chose Leeloo. I'll get over it. He and Leeloo communed in 8 inch sludge for a few moments while Archer and Halo watched from the relative 'safety' of about 3 inches of sludge. You can kind of see the Heron in the top right corner of the picture in the water - it came closer and closer the longer Leeloo stood in the water. I now believe in the power of the Nova Scotia Ducking Tolling Retriever (or the Nova Scotia Heron Tolling Leeloo ...)
When they dogs come out of the water they do it with style. Yay ... sludge.
Even better is when a relatively clean dog throws himself into the sludge to ensure maximum sludge coverage.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Red Heat

Good thing I took lots of pictures the other day because we haven't actually been anywhere for the past couple days and likely won't for another few. Poor Leeloo is suffering the worst with the heat hitting her intestinal tract with a vengeance. Gas, unreal diarrhea, and general malaise has befallen my weird little light wheaton. It doesn't help that her body thinks she's preparing for babies which means big boobies and clinginess. Clingy is bad in this kind of heat.

It's the kind of heat that hits you square in the face with unrelenting force when you open an oven to check on your carefully crafted banana muffins(sans baking soda which means they come out like banana flavoured little pucks - the dogs didn't complain). It's eyelash curling heat. It's break into a sweat while I type heat. It's dogs splayed out like so many fallen dominoes on my couch and floor heat. It's the cats seeking cool spots in corners, grass turning brown, flower wilting, life sucking heat.

I'm not saying I'd trade it for the shit summer Calgary is having this year - and has had every year since I've been alive - I'm just saying it's damned hot out and takes some getting used to.

So we stay in, try not to stress the dogs too much with exposure to said high temperatures and watch movies we've downloaded off the internet.

Leeloo - for all her cheer - is going to disown me after I feed her almost nothing for 48 hours and then start her on oatmeal and pumpkin to try and get her digestive system back online. She's all gassy and bloated and although she retains her canine optimism I can tell she's getting as sick of digestive upset as I am. Mind you, she is also preparing for pretend babies(as this breeding line often does) and that can't be much fun either.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Treasure Island

Puppies are always pulling some garbage out of the grass that make you think 1) how did that get there? 2) how did this puppy find it? 3) how am I going to get that off him? and 4) where am I going to put it so he doesn't pick it up again(and Leeloo doesn't either) because sure as the day is long I'm not carrying it on our entire walk.
Puppies are always so damned proud of contraband. He didn't stop to tear it up or chew on it - he just carried it like he knew he wasn't supposed to have it but was manfully suppressing how proud he was with his illicit find. Eagle eye Leeloo was on him in a microsecond.
He carried it for a few feet with Leelo in hot pursuit. You know he knows she's there and she knows he knows she's there. I guess the trash must not have been that interesting because a moment later he just dropped it and didn't look back. Puppy attention spans are minuscule at best, that or Leeloo's eyeballs boring into the back of his head are very persuasive.
The second the bag hit the ground Leeloo stopped to investigate in case it was edible. It's not. She sniffed it for a few moments and pushed it around but a plastic bag full of sunflower seeds isn't particularly enthralling to a dog.
Archer had quickly forgotten the bag and after one last poke Leeloo put it right out of her mind as well. Dogs must prioritize getting covered in smelly muck over chewing up bags of sunflower seeds. Hooray.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mud & Sand

Dirt. Sand. Water. That is a nasty combination when you have dogs. I'm lucky I have dogs with short coats and that is the only reason I am okay with what you are about to see.
The tide is out. There is a layer of mud on top of the sand where they wrestle. The dogs are feeling frisky. The muck is flying and I am staring in horror.
There were brief moments when they would stop to listen to birds chattering or to sniff the wind. It was in these moments of calm that I was able to get a clear look at the slime carnage with which they were covered.
And then they'd be off again. Raimi is the instigator in most of these clod flying antics and as expected he makes a beeline for me with total glee. I'm not proud - I cower as the earth shakes with his passing and I close my eyes to the spaying sand and mud. At the last moment, as I turn my body to prevent him from knocking me down, he leaps and I find myself briefly eye to eye with a manically joyful Boy. Scary stuff. I do not exit these events unscathed ... usually I am looking down at streaks and smears of mud and doG knows what else on my clothing. Ah well, their obvious joy is worth it. Right?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Joe Dirt

It has been brutally hot here for the last few days - so hot that taking the dogs out is iffy because they can over heat so quickly. I prefer to take them to the water when it's like this but that's a double edged sword since the beach has fewer bugs but is very hot and the dogs won't go in the water. If we go to the school field the grass is cool but the bugs are relentless.

I often head out to a place called Central Caribou. It's never been really clear to me exactly when you are in Central Caribou but I know eventually it turns into what is known as Caribou Island. On the Northumberland Strait side of the 'island' are the long crescent beaches of soft sand and surf - great for running the dogs but they don't offer much in the way of grass and bushes to sniff.

I've been driving past this little spit of land most times I go out and I never stopped for whatever reason. I think it was because I thought someone owned it. There is a path that leads onto it that people obviously use to get to the end of the spit where they launch small boats because it's a shallow entry and you can drive a vehicle right up to the water's edge when the tide is in without fear of sinking into the mire. I don't think anyone does actually own it since it's unusable land that juts out into the bay on the other side of Caribou Island. The spit is about 100 feet wide when the tide is in and extends about 500 metres into the bay. The water is brackish and when the tide is out it smells strongly of sea water, mud and organics. The dogs love it.
Here is a small sampling of what I must deal with to satiate the dog's desire for fun and frolic in the sands of Nova Scotia. If you're thinking "Oh my gawd her truck must be filthy and stink of swamp muck" you would be right.

Remember Leeloo's cute white feet? A distant memory in the face of this kind of fun. I had to stay an extra half hour past my intended departure to let the sand and mud dry so it would fall off on it's own. It really does do that but you have to give it a chance. The white feet reappeared in good time.

How did the dogs get this way? That is a dish best simmered over a few days to absorb the absolute horror I felt upon witnessing the gleeful abandon with which Raimi and his fellows galloped through the low tide sludge. Halo of course stayed relatively pristine and spent most of her time at the edge of the water watching the antics of her kids and half niece (or whatever Leeloo is to her - she is the daughter of Halo's half sister's son) or following her nose through the grass and staying wonderfully clean and dry.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


When it's as hot as it it here, and as humid, it doesn't take much for the dogs to get wiped out. At 11pm at night, after a day of beaches, working in the garden and painting, they are exhausted. There is another possibility though ...

The butler. In the drawing room. With the candle stick.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Home Fries

I'll never get over how weird Leeloo is. It's the simple everyday weirdness that amuses me most but occasionally she'll pull a weird bunny out of her hat.

Since I've lived here the cat litter and food have been secured in what will eventually be the dining room - there is a gate across the door that the cats can jump over and the dogs could but don't. The cats get fed on the dining chairs instead of the floor because it means less bending down for me - yes I am the pinnacle of lazy. Since the dishes are high up and the cats are not careful they tend to knock pieces of the food onto the floor which they eventually scrounge and eat.

For whatever reason, a few days ago, Leeloo heard the tell tale 'plink' of a piece of cat food hitting the floor of the dining room and went to investigate. I followed her wondering why the sudden interest. She stood at the door of the dining room, gazing longingly over the gate at the cat on a dining chair partaking in a little afternoon snack.

She stood for some time and when another kibble hit the floor she tensed, her eyes got big and her ears got ridiculous. She kept staring at the floor where the kibble had landed a mere 10 feet out of her reach. She shifted from foot to foot and then the whining began.

Leeloo doesn't whine like a normal dog. She emits a low moaning sound that is reserved specifically for food related frustrations. She has an internal clock that would rival the best Rolex - she can tell almost to the minute when it's time to get fed again. I have to keep a pretty strict feeding schedule (as in take food with me if I think I'm going to have the dogs out past their regular feeding time) otherwise she gets creative in her frustration at not being fed precisely 12 hours after the last time she was fed. The whining, if not satiated in a timely manner, turns into woo-wooing and eventually barking - this of course is directed at me because I am 100% responsible for feeding her and if late, am 100% responsible for her distress.

So the cat kibble lay uneaten at the foot of the dining chair and to Leeloo this was sacrilege. I left her to ponder the lonely dusty cat food, eventually she gave up her vigil but I noticed through out the day that she kept going back to check that the food was still uneaten. The cats do get around to finding the food and eat it but for Leeloo food is meant to be eaten and not left to its own devices on the floor of the dining room.

What has come of this initial revelation for Leeloo is that she now checks the dining room on a regular basis to see if there is any abandoned cat food that may have fallen close enough for her to snap up. Since it's on the other side of the gate, across the room and under some chairs I'm pretty sure that is an impossibility but you never know - cats can be messy. She has taken to making these checks at odd hours of the night as well because you never know ... cat kibble could be nocturnal and only wander at night.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sweet Smell of Success

Sometimes on a walk there is something to sniff that captures the undivided attention of all the dogs. Probably deer poop.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Ridgebacks aren't usually ball dogs but sometimes they surprise you. Leeloo found a ball I'd brought in from the truck and once she started playing with it all the dogs just *had* to have it. She was so cute, she'd let it go, watch it roll and then reach out with one of her cute little white feet to grab it. So adorable. Of course being no expert in ball play it rolled out of control and was lost to an eagle eyed puppy. After the requisite mad scuffle of course. Often the ball ended up underneath someone who couldn't see it and there was much confusion and desperate searching until it was located once again. Archer had the ball briefly a couple times but always sat down to chew on it. Leeloo would stand over him demanding to have it returned but he would never listen. Raimi did eventually get the ball and spent a few minutes loving it, pushing it with his nose, picking the fuzz off it and generally doing simple Boy things. Right now the location of the ball is unknown but when I'm feeling a little nostalgic for mad scrambles in my livingroom I'll dig it out from under the couch or TV stand or where ever it happens to be.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Southern Comfort

I guess comfort is relative. I was watching TV last night and glanced over at the slumbering beasts. Halo looks very cozy using Leeloo as a pillow but since Leeloo is easily twice as long as the couch is wide I'm at a loss how this could be restful. I would definitely wake up with a crick in my neck but dogs never seem to. Raimi has it right. Head on armrest, legs stretched to maximum length, body lengthwise along couch. Good napping potential there. Nobody has a puppy's panache for a good snooze though. Wrapped in a goosedown throw in a space just the right size for him, Archer spent the entire night snoring in a most satisfied puppy way. The tongue is a nice touch.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

This is Happy Halo. Can you tell? I was going to rotate it but I think it holds a certain charm just as it is ...