Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Only Child

So I've had a night's sleep on the decision to place Halo and I'm still sticking to my guns that this would be the best thing for us both. Sometimes you think of something and after a time you realize you probably shouldn't do what you were thinking you wanted to do. You now, like when you write an angry email you should let it sit a few hours or overnight before hitting 'send'. Chances are time will temper your emotions and you will edit. After a night's sleep (and many new home offers) I have not changed my mind.
Halo has an appointment today at the vet to see about that lump on her leg above the elbow. I need to find out what it is and what to do with it. It doesn't bother her but it is getting bigger very slowly - it hasn't developed an eye or mouth yet so early times - but since I've put the word to the Universe about finding her a new home I should get it inspected.
People are in turns surprised and then, after some thought, not surprised that Halo is looking for a new home. It is best described in saying that Halo is over shadowed by the three forces of nature here who elbow her out of the way. She never pushes to the front and I think that's because she thinks she shouldn't. I believe a one dog home is right for Halo so that she becomes the spotlight, however; if a home comes up that has the right chemistry and there is already a dog in residence - I'll entertain that too.
Right now I am in discussion with what sounds like a great home. We meet next week with Halo to see what first impressions are - well, I already know Halo's first impression ... Boing boing boing! HELLOOOOOO! I'm Halo and you love me right? Everyone loves me! See how I can kiss your cheek and you don't even have to bend down? Oops! Did I smash your glasses into your eye socket? So sorry about that! Let me take a closer look! Boing boing boing! Aren't I special? I can jump up but I don't put my feet on you so you can't get MAD! Aren't I clever? Do you know any kids? I love kids! Is that kid? Look! It's perfect licking height! Kids taste so good! (and so on ad nauseum)

But then - in a one dog home ... who on earth would she beat up? Although I think the trade off is worth it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Face the Music

Such heartbreak to write this post ... is it totally wrong of me to consider placing Halo with another family? She is 5 1/2 and I owe her so much. She did owe me a new couch but since she produced all those fabulous kids I guess we're square. Where would I be without The Boy? The gift of his addition to my life should be enough for me to keep her forever but maybe it's time to face the music.

Anyone who knows me is aware of the un-relationship Halo and I have. It's hard to explain. We have been at odds so many times that it's hard to pinpoint just why we do not connect. I can't talk to her the way I do to the other dogs - it comes out false. Sounds evil of me doesn't it?

Most people who deal with Halo think she is a perfect angel. They think I'm crazy for imagining this rift between us but I do not imagine that Halo is unhappy. Despite the walks, treats, couch, and sleeping on the bed ... Halo is melancholy. She needs a PERSON of her OWN and for whatever reason that person is not me. I'm not sure why, I can't explain it, she and I live in the same house but she is not ... mine. There was a story I heard once about something that never belonged to one person ... it belonged to everyone. Maybe Halo is that which belongs to everyone since anyone who has ever met her thinks she is wonderful. She gives so much to other people but falls short with me.

I am so very proud of her and her accomplishments. I am terrified of placing her in another home and it not working out as it has once already. Maybe my guilt at this relationship paradigm is strictly the reason I would hesitate to place her. If Halo had one family who doted on her, gave her treats everyday, a corner of the bed to sleep on, a cushion of the couch, a walk to herself everyday ... she'd be so happy. It would be Heaven for Halo. Who am I to deny her that?

Halo is used to travel and change. She's been away for showing with handlers, she's been to be bred three times, travelled extensively up and down the continent with various strangers, lived in several houses, and every single time, without fail, Halo has gelled and become part of the scenery seamlessly. In effect, she is the perfect dog for placement.

So what brought on this tirade of emotional reflection? I swear for the past 48 hours I've been thinking hard - (insert singing nuns here) what do you do with a problem like Halo? And today - like a thunderbolt - I got an email from someone looking for an older dog between the ages of 3 and 6 years who just lost their Ridgeback. It got me thinking. So I emailed them back and basically said 'It depends ...' Before Halo, or any of the dogs, go anywhere, I must implicitly believe that they will live out their lives in the comfort to which they are accustomed in my home ... and I set a pretty high bar for spoilage!

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Invisible

Raimi loves the woods. Actually all the dogs do but he particularly seems to get a lot out of our walks there. I am very much looking forward to walking them in full autumn fall colors - they will probably become invisible!

He can often be found frozen in place with his nose tilted up and catching the tantalizing scents that drift past his nose.
This is one of my recent favorites of him. It's hard for de-evolved humanity to understand what a dog can possibly 'see' in the air but I bet it looks something like this feels.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Blair Witch Project

The eyes, as is often said, are the windows to the soul. I have some big souls in my house.

Halo has calculating eyes. They are bright with active intelligence. You can certainly tell she is thinking of a way in, on, around, behind, next to, under, or through whatever rule has been set out. I think what bothers me most is the Big Show she puts on when she gets caught - like she just wants to DIE - even though I know she'll try it again any chance she gets. Apparently I am almost exclusively privy to this behaviour since everyone who has ever met Halo thinks she's an angel - THAT is how smart this dog is.

If eyes were a television The Boy's channel would be LVTV - all love all the time. The only moments he changes channel is when he sees one of the neighbours cats but that is usually just a short commercial break. Stay tuned ...
Leeloo has Halo smarts but is less subtle. She sees, she wants, she (tries to) takes. Often she gets caught because there is no real artifice about Leeloo - she's a ball's out kind of gal. Today we were picking apples from a tree I'd discovered and there was Leeloo, bold as brass, eating as many apples as she could stuff in her face while I picked from above. She has such a soft, sweet expression and absolutely no remorse that it's hard to get mad at her and she gets away with much more than she should.
Archer is a little hard to read because he is currently being filtered by puppyhood. He has the sad browns down cold but most puppies have that ability. He has developed a healthy respect for the repurcusions of getting into trouble and mastered the 'eye & ear' combination to gain maximum sympathy. Sadly he gets confused about when he should use the trump card and offers it when its not necessary and doesn't offer it when he's in real trouble!
And then there is one of my very favorite sayings ... "What has been seen cannot be unseen."

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Sometimes taking photos involves an accident of timing. A lot of photos that you'd think were for the trash can, in another light, can be just as good as any planned shot. I often don't een look at the frame of the camera when I'm taking photos. I just click away assuming there will be a photo that captures what I intended. In other words, I don't often try very hard to get good photos ... I let them come to me. I find if I try too hard the photo looks like I was trying and I just hate that!Here's some of my not-so-throw away photos that speak to me on a quirky level. None of these were the photos I thought I was taking at the time the shutter clicked.

Leeloo telling Raimi just who is in charge here. Raimi's tongue hanging out the side there just slays me.
Archer's caboose.

Halo sniffing up some sun. Archer's thinking wrinkles. He uses them too often for my taste.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Up Close & Personal

Are you ready for your close up? Exactly which is your best side?
Mirror mirror on the wall ... is Archer the fairest of them all?

Beauty's where you find it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Joy Luck Club

There is little in the world that gives me more pleasure than watching the dogs enjoying themselves on a walk. It's hard not to miss the absolute joy they express being allowed to run and play and sniff and smile.
The paths that were cut out of the bush and trees make for perfect dog walking trails. It keeps them relatively on track, makes it easy for me to not have to fight with spider webs and branches, and lets them get their sniffies out safely.
They seem to particularly delight in accidentally losing sight of me and then using the paths as a kind of race track to catch up.
Of course, then there's Halo, who rarely extends herself to actual running unless the mood takes her and she is often content to follow her nose with single minded focus. You can always count on her to silently disappear into the brush and then to reappear as the poster child of innocence after I have made several annoyed recalls.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The New World

Autumn has finally fallen on Nova Scotia. The leaves are starting to turn in some areas and the temperature has dropped to a nice cool livable degree at last. I even had the heat on the other evening. If I was in Calgary in my basement suite the heat would be going non-stop in the middle of the day! For some reason I have been inexplicably excited about the coming fall and winter seasons ...
I have been trying to explore the area to get a better idea where to walk the dogs that is not a beach. Now that it's cooler out going to the beach isn't nearly as fun(like forcing them into the water) so we've hit our usual haunts and done some forest expeditions. As it turns out Google Earth is a great way to get an idea where you might explore next. I found, about a minute's drive from my house, a series of ATV trails that appear to be mostly unused - they are over grown and branches are now several years worth of hanging down in the way. I'm not sure who owns the property - it is most likely Crown land - and is several acres of fields and forest. Perfect for making dogs happy.

This happy enough?
Or how about this? Halo practising to be a carousel horse. Can you tell we are brothers?
No time to stop and chat ... things to explore!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Terms of Endearment

Every person who has a pet gives it a name to personify and help to identify it as an individual. You pick one name you think suits the animal and that is its name forevermore. Or so you'd think. Pretty much everyone also gives their animals nicknames which can evolve over time.

Petal was my first real foray into the world of animal aliases. Everyone who knows me knew that most of the time I called Petal 'Precious'. My mom used to roll her eyes whenever I referred to Petal as Precious; probably because it was linked in her mind to The One Ring and the way Gollum refers to it as his Precious. Or it could be the association to Silence of the Lambs in which Wild Bill's toy poodle was named Precious (remember how girl captive pulled Precious into the hole and the dog's leg was broken? Sniff). Or it could have been the way I said 'Precious' - sort of a high pitched drawn out 'Preeeeciiiooouuuss'. Anyway, for years everyone who ever met me and Petal knew that Precious was Petal and Petal was Precious. Her urn even reads 'My Precious Petal' ...
Halo hasn't ever really had a nickname. I'm not sure why. Nothing ever came to me except when she had puppies and then I referred to her as 'Momma' for obvious reasons. I still sometimes call her Momma but not very often - usually when she's doing something motherly to her boys like cleaning or disciplining them. To me Halo always seemed a little too dignified for a cutesie moniker. Which brings us to Raimi. When Raimi was born he was one boy in a house of girls; me, Halo, Petal and Ceilidh, so naturally I started calling him Boy. Eventually he became The Boy and it stuck. I have even had people at dog parks ask me if his name really was Boy because it seemed so generic - fortunately I'm used to weird looks. It has gotten to the point that using the name Raimi is almost pointless since he responds much better to Boy. This is possibly because I use the word Boy so affectionately that he always listens to it.
And Leeloo. It would follow that Leeloo's nickname is weird. I don't often refer to her by her nickname on the blog probably because of all the nicknames my dogs have hers is the strangest. When I got Leeloo she naturally responded very well to 'Puppy'. We'd go to the park and I'd call "Puppy Puppy Leeloo Puppy" to try and teach her to come to her actual name. Since I didn't like using Puppy I changed it to Bubba (which some people call puppies instead of 'puppy'). Bubba didn't roll off the tongue easily so I changed it to Bubby. That stuck for quite a long time until this past summer. I had a flash of brilliance and one day Bubby morphed into Bubbalicious and it has since stuck like, well, bubblegum. I call her Bubbalicious almost exclusively in the house and sometimes it slips out in public. Usually we are deep in a silent forest or on a desrted beach so there is no one to politely ignore the reference.
Archer doesn't have a nickname yet but I'm sure one will come - maybe Pogo? It has to happen organically - you can't force a Precious or a Bubbalicious. Nicknames are very individual and are often created based on the dog's personality which almost makes them more suitable than their actual names.
The cats? They are often at the receiving end of "Bad Kitteh!" so I guess that is their communal nickname. Oh wait - Ceilidh gets an occasionally 'Tubby' thrown in for good measure.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Brother Bear

If you go out in the woods today you're sure of a big surprise.
If you go out in the woods today you'd better go in disguise.For every hound that ever there was ... will gather there for certain because ...
Today's the day the lion hounds have their piiiiiiicNIC!!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

HP & the Deathly 'Howls'

Okay - so I changed the title to Deathly Howls because it's a cute dog adaptation. Also, here we see Raimi keeping an eye on the roofer who looks so much like Neville Longbottom I'd swear it was him but for the missing English accent.
Apologies to my contractor who has been nothing but helpful and reliable for my making the comparison but really ... anyone else not see the uncanny resemblance? I had to take this on the sly because I didn't think it was a good idea to tell him that I wanted to take his photo so I could show all my friends how much he look like a character from Harry Potter. He already thinks I'm crazy enough with all the dogs and cats and whatnot - my love of Harry Potter might tip him over the edge and leave me with only half a roof. If it's any consolation Neville is one of my very favorite characters ...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

13 Going on 30

My roof shingles are being replaced and I anticipated some barking and general mayhem from the dogs as a result. I have been happily surprised by their quick adaptation to the banging and non-descript sounds of movement from over head. So far it has been a relatively painless process.

While they were working on the roof I busied myself with annoying the dogs - something I like to do when I'm bored. I'm not sure why but it tickles me to annoy them in small ways, to find things that confuse them and to create reasons for them to leap from a dead slumber to high alert in a micro-second. Perhaps I should think about getting a job ... nah.

Raimi is often the brunt of my boredom since he's not very smart and it's easy to get a decent chuckle. I removed a ribbon from a new pair of pajamas I'd bought(last year) and thought he'd look pretty. See? He's ready for the ball.
Archer was telling lies about something I'm sure. See how his nose has grown? He was trying to sleep and since I wanted a photo of his 'innocent' look I kept poking him to make him open his eyes. This look seems more 'OMG did you hear that?" than the hang dog puppy expression I was going for. Halo is the most patient of the lot - she tolerates my attention with stoic sighs and thinly veiled eye rolling. You can almost hear the air leaving her lungs and the suppressed annoyance at my attention. Secretly though I know she luuuuuurvs the attention. Archer made the mistake of coming into the room while I was picking on Halo and shortly he became the object of my amusement. He was hard to rouse and the only time I got a real reaction was when I blocked the sunbeam shining in the window. Leeloo was determined to ignore my existence which made irritating her harder than the other dogs. I settled for kissing her silly ears. It annoyed her enough to satisfy me.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Road Warrior

A couple days ago I was walking the dogs and it started to rain so since we were walking along a road in the woods I tried to keep under the canopy of the trees. Of course it started to rain harder so I stopped a moment where it was particularly thick over head and lo and behold I found an old mountain bike trail.
The trees immediately thinned and a distinct path was evident though the trunks. I decided to follow the path since the rain wasn't so bad in the forest and the dogs were having a wondeful time. I imagine a forest to a dog smells like an amusement park to a person; so many different smells competing for your attention and everyone of them appealing.
Archer always used the log bridge to go back and forth across this ditch whereas the other dogs would only walk through the ditch. Noting of course that if there was water in the ditch they'd all use the bridge!
On the walk back to the truck Halo always hangs back hoping I'll forget about her so she can sneak back into the trees.
However, when it's raining she sticks pretty darn close so she doesn't get left behind. I think we can all agree on what sort of emotion she is expressing here.
And you could also stick a fork in Leeloo because she was done. The rain was coming down harder as we walked back and the dogs were tired, hungry, wet, and cold - if they were children they'd be whining up a storm. That evening we all snuggled together under the down comforter and watched TV ... a satisfied pack if I ever saw one.