Friday, October 30, 2009

Coast to Coast

Another day another best dressed loser. I didn't like the way I did my hair though so the outfit was not as kickass as I'd hoped. Archer and Leeloo were very good, Archer is getting much better in the ring, by the time he's an adult he'll be a perfect show dog what with all this practice in the ring as a puppy. Leeloo was very good too and so I although I'd say we're not losing because of behaviour it sort of leaves the door open to other possibilities. Nah ... I love my babies and know what's at the end of my lead! My mom is also showing a really nice Puli who's quality is not being recognized by the judges out here so we think this weekend will just turn out to be a very nice visit to Prince Edward Island.

Away over in British Columbia, that's 6000km away from me, Invictus Love Actually, known to friends and family as Rifka, was shown by her mom Taryn to Winners Bitch at the Ridgeback Club of British Columbia's Specialty on Thursday, October 29th. I can imagine it was a fabulous win for her mom who is always lamenting that her handling skills do not always show Rifka in her best light. Obviously that was not the case on Thursday(and I'm sure most other days too)! This win puts her at 9 points and 10 are needed to finish. My best wishes and good luck to Rifka for one more win and a new Champion this weekend!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Island

Packed up the dogs, sealed the cats in the house with plenty of water, a clean litter box and food to last for days and hit the road for Prince Edward Island with my mom and two of her Pulis. Joining me on this trip are Archer and Leeloo, this will be their last show of the year and probably until March of 2010 because of the timing and location of the next couple shows. There is a sort of 'winter hiatus' in the Maritimes due to weather so it will give my two delinquents times to grow up a bit.

To get to The Gentle Island from the mainland you have two options: ferry or bridge. We chose bridge this trip, the Confederation Bridge to be exact. It's about 9km(4.5 miles) long and crosses the Northumberland Strait from New Brunswick. I was so excited to cross it let me tell you. This is the approach ... a bit intimidating as it rises in front of you.
You can't really see over it as you drive across, I'm sure if we were in a higher vehicle we could but the best I could take of the water was this of a cute little lighthouse in New Brunswick ... And the Northumberland Strait doing pretty much nothing but being water(that's the barrier in the foreground).
About three quarters of the way across the bridge there is a rise where the bridge is higher to allow large ships to pass through. It's a bit scary to see at first. Prince Edward Island is known for its red dirt and they're not kidding. Immediately the red cliffs are apparent on the coastline which was pretty neat. The province itself is like you're driving through a coffee table book. The red dirt is quite striking and the entire Island seems to be made up of it. My photos do not do the color justice.I have to admit I'm a bit surprised how many people there are here. The countryside is literally house after house and for the most part are very picturesque and well kept. Some small farms line the roads but it seems to be mostly rural acreages and cottage type homes. Towns seem to be made up of a closer cluster of houses but no apparent businesses - my mom kept remarking how very British all the names of the roads and towns are.
We were much amused by the highway number signs which appear to have a sheep standing next to a tree. We were confused by the sheep reference and discussed why there wouldn't be a potato on it since PEI is well known for growing potatoes in their red dirt. After seeing the sign on the computer, thus not looking at it moving at 80km per hour, I have come to the conclusion that in fact it is not a three legged sheep - it's a stand of three trees and one tree alone. I personally like the cute little sheep - see how the sign bolt is his eye?
At any rate, we show tomorrow and I spent a lot of time choosing my clothes for the show so I know that even if we don't win I'll be the best dressed loser there.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pursuit of Happyness

Today I returned the beach of lore where it wasn't as windy, the sun was shining and there was a mild breeze to remind us it is in fact almost the last of October. The dogs had a riot and I'm glad I took my camera. I have some sort of addiction to taking photos of them and can't seem to be able to edit so I rarely have fewer than a 100 at a time in a file. I have added a few of them here but the rest, if you want to see, can be found in this online album.

Halo looking for all the world like a vicious monster. She is the absolute opposite but knows how to kick some ass ... especially when it comes to her kids.
Shadow kids leap along the rocks and burst into sunshine on occasion.
Archer was totally convinced he could catch those damn birds. Not as convinced as Leeloo who followed them up and down the beach endlessly and would still be there if I'd let her.
The expression on Raimi's face tickles me no end. It just makes me happy inside ... kind of what I imagine they all feel when they are out for a run.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Wind in the Willows

Yesterday was an incredibly windy day, in fact several days now it's been crazy windy blowing in torrential rain and sending fluffy clouds skidding across the sky. Why I chose to head to the beach on such a blustery day is beyond me but it was such a dramatic experience I think I'll repeat it sometime! The dogs didn't seem to mind the wind until we'd been there a while and they, and I, started to get cold.

Archer, Raimi and Leeloo lead the way to the beach. This is the place where the parking lot is separated from the beach by a stretch of grass so we follow this boardwalk for about 300 metres. Synchronized beach digging. It was so windy the dogs could almost fly. Doesn't Archer look tough? Not sure if it's the wind blowing back his lips or his irritation that Leeloo can beat him up with one paw behind her back. There is a large mound of dirt being slowly eroded by the wind and sea and today we climbed to the top of it. Perhaps not the best day to do so. Leeloo doing her best "Goodbye cruel world!" Check out the crashing waves off shore.
Raimi is pretty big and perhaps he didn't feel as safe as the dogs that were lower to the ground. That's Halo at the edge of the world behind him.
On our walk back to the truck we were headed into the wind and the dogs weren't sure it was such a good idea. Raimi peered over the ridgeline to see where I was on the beach and eventually came down to walk with me although he was pretty sure he didn't like it.
Archer, Raimi and Halo demonstrating what floppy ears do in the wind.
On the way back I walked on the beach with the young dogs and Halo walked along the other side of the ridgeline in the grass. Every so often she'd pop her head up to see where we were and then pop back down to walk in the relatively wind free grass. No way was she walking in the wind where the sea spray could get her wet. Sometimes she is smarter than I ever give her credit for.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Empire of the Sun

Ah glorious glorious sunshine. Not only does it provide all important vitamin D, a good tan and life giving rays, it can make or break a photograph. Fortunately yesterday I had some late afternoon sunshine at my parent's house and found a part of their field my Dad hadn't mown.

Finally, Leeloo looking halfway like the indefinable fifth element I love so much.
Maybe this is where they grow Q-tips? The Boy doesn't look like he wants to be harvested.
Leeloo scenting the sunshine on the fields and absorbing the last of the season's rays.
If I didn't know better I'd say Leeloo was sticking her head out of the bottom of the clouds to peer down at all us mortals.
Halo ponders the puff balls kissed by sun; no doubt wishing she could collect all the rays and keep them for use on a rainy day.
Archer struck by gold.
Leeloo and The Boy sending the seeds of change into the wind. Who will catch them ...?

Tomorrow Never Dies

What are you looking at?I've been out most of the day at my parent's house but have some fantastic photos from the visit so I'll post those tomorrow when I'm not tired, it's not after midnight and I can string together words that will give due credit to the ethereal dogs. You'll see what I'm talking about when I've had some sleep ...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pack Up Your Troubles

I'd forgotten how much I enjoy the Ridgeback walks we used to have in Alberta. I think the last one was in November 2008 and we had about 12 Ridgebacks able to attend. Today we rounded up my four and then Po and Kiki came up from Halifax again with their friend Mayla and her honorary Ridgeback buddy Cheeto - a cocker spaniel. It was a really nice day with brisk weather, no rain and little wind to brace against. There are a lot of photos to try to sift through but I'll put up the ones I think best describe the day from the dog's point of view. All of these photos were taken by Sara - Po and Kiki's mom - are in no particular order.

Halo, Leeloo, Mayla and Archer in hot pursuit of Raimi who's turns of speed are incredibly impressive - so much so he's out of the picture! The group, excepting me of course taking the photo, walking along on of the ATV paths just moments from my house. Raimi, demonstrating that while you may be the greatest in size you are gentle in soul. He *always* lays down for a belly rub of happiness at some point on our walks. Clearly he is the poster child for why Tough Guys should look at another breed for their macho issues. That cannot possibly be MY dogs all begging for a treat. Oh look, a couple aren't mine. Ahem. You can tell which are mine because they are standing(except Halo) - I don't teach sit to my show dogs. I use the show dog excuse but really I'm just lazy. Raimi was on cloud 9 because he was the only 'grown up' boy and had his harem of bitches to monitor. Here's little Cheeto doing his best Ridgeback impression. No really, see how he's bouncing though the grass. Totally Ridgeback. Archer and Kiki running to catch up. Archer was deeply suspicious of Cheeto for most of the walk - as in 'What hell IS that?' Kiki was very tolerant of a young boy's attention. She was stylin' again in her pink coat and Halloween collar. Po pretty much kept to herself, she got involved in a couple of tussles with the pack and bounced around a bit but mostly kept to herself. In the end she had no choice to remain solitary because we think she found some cat pooh to roll in and her company was not sought after that. Raimi was in lurv with Mayla - his little brain was ticking over with a constant 'gurl gurl gurl gurl'.Leeloo and Mayla are close to the same age so they hit it off pretty much right away. Once Leeloo barked Mayla into playing with her of course. It was a riot to see them blasting around like maniacs with Archer in hot pursuit. I got the impression he was saying 'But that's MY friend!'Weird little grouping of Ridgebacks. What could cause that? I wonder. Raimi looking his most smartest. And Mayla's dad Al - I'm not sure if this is his most smartest look since it was the first time we met. Kiki catching the scent of something interesting. I bet those grasses are chock a block full of good stories for dog noses. There's Po peeking through the grass ...
A rare moment of Leeloo and her new BFF Mayla standing still. Mayla has a stick and loves to retrieve - Leeloo thinks she's crazy. Raimi scenting the woods - he's an expert at twitching his nose to the wind. Mayla and another stick. I think it's a sort of obsession.

It's hard to capture the experience of walking several Ridgebacks at a time in one photo. Once the group dynamic is established everyone settles into an easy relationship and you rarely encounter any trouble between dogs. Without human interference they become a cohesive working group and they all know where they belong in the pack within moments of its establishment. I always marvel at the dogs, my own and other people's, and their willingness to get along and enjoy the time they have together without stress. It's something we hope to do more often and definitely something that, if you are in the area, you and your Ridgeback(or if you're thinking of getting one) are more than welcome to join.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Catch & Release

Sometimes I am overcome with the depth of how much I love living here with my dogs. As I walked today through the trees and along the decades old orchard paths I sent up a silent thank you to the fates that allowed me to move to somewhere I feel so happy. It never ceases to amaze me how much each day is an absolute treasure. I am reminded sometimes by the outside world that what I have is singular and special.
Cathedralled paths lined with golden droplets entice the young and the young at heart.
A boy and a girl each listen to the same tune of the woods - a song who's frequency has long been tuned to all but human hears.
A precious few can appreciate significant moments that are handed out in good faith - something tells me dogs are among the few.
Dappled images frozen in time with secrets that dance through the sunshine.
The strength and beauty of this place surpassed only by the power and grace of my hounds.
A golden road with a golden sky and a burnished red dog by my side.