Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Sound of Music

The noises the dogs make are always so intriguing. The sounds depend a lot of what they are doing at the time. Right now I'm listening to Raimi whine his love song to Leeloo who is whining her walk song to me. She hasn't been for a walk in several days because the thought of all the neighbourhood dogs setting upon her bottom whilst we enjoy a leisurely stroll terrifies me. The boys haven't been for a walk because I'm afraid the absence of the brains right now might result in them disappearing into the woods to look for Leeloo.

The dog noises are often amusing, occasionally annoying and always informative. Leeloo makes these little grunting pig noises when she is comfortable and settled in for a good sleep. Usually the noise immediately proceeds me putting a blanket over her. It makes me smile everytime because the contented, satisfied dog tickles my heartstrings. Her other noises include the walk whine, growling out the window at the neighbourhood kids and sneezing happily when I wrestle with her. She rarely barks except during play when she is frustrated or annoyed at something.

Archer is also a happy grunter but his is more a moan of contentment. He also has a pretty varied repertoire of various whines that indicate many states of being. The happy whine of excitement when we are going for a walk. The desperate sitting-outside-the-back-door whine listening to me prepare their food. The drive-faster-mommy-so-we-can-get-to-the-dog-park-sooner whine which often gets a 'Shut UP!' from me. The I-can't-live-without-Leeloo whine with which we are now all too familiar. The first-thing-in-the-morning whine to get me up so he can get fed(that's my least favorite and often results in LIE DOWN until 8am). Archer doesn't bark much so he's pretty much a one trick pony with the whining.

Raimi is not really a noisy dog at all. He is whining now because of Leeloo but under normal circumstances he is a relatively quiet dog. He doesn't whine, rarely barks unless there is cause(or he thinks there is) and his most often used vocal communication is a shallow grunt of happiness when I am giving him some love. He is a loud sleeper though with the light snoring and heavy breathing so sometimes I have to poke him to get him to move his head and stop the noise.

I speak often to the dogs as though they were people and respond to their vocalizations with questions, comments, complaints and concerns. I usually get some sort of a response and we can carry on a conversation for a few minutes. I know I'm not the only person who does this so don't look at me like that.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

In the Cut

Removal of dewclaws can be a controversial subject but one I make a stand on. I will remove my own puppy's dewclaws until the day the law says I can't (and even then just try to stop me). There was one litter I did not remove dewclaws from and I regret it. I have had at least three owners tell me of incidents with their dog's dewclaws that required vet care and frankly ... I just don't like to hear that something I could have prevented has resulted in a dog's pain and vet bills for their owner.

Poor Karma. Her mom Adine was injured (it will be a funny anecdote once she's a few months/years removed from the incident) and was unable to take the dogs for a walk for a few days. It was also pretty cold so it was a good excuse to stay in. Eventually though, Adine decided to take the dogs out for a run. After some roaring good fun in the snow she noticed blood as Karma ran past.

The hard crusty top layer of snow had cut Karma's dewclaws and caused some serious bleeding and the pad of the dewclaw had been sliced open. Off to the vet where it turns out both pads were cut but only one was obviously bleeding. I'm unclear if the dewclaws themselves were removed or just the skin but either way ... suck for Karma. I'm sorry Karma, I wish I'd just gone ahead and taken those suckers off at 2 days ..

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Shining

Descent into madness ... spiralling out of control.

Must ... not ... kill ... the boys.
Whining ... whining ... whining.
Times two ... brainless ... useless ... senseless ... dogs.
One Leeloo remains sane and sweet. She is my saving grace.
Heaven preserve me from testosterone.
Only ... three, maybe ... four ... days left of this insanity.
Boys separated ... so many hormones cause curled lips and possessive posturing.
Lack of sleep ... making me loopy ... is there an end ...?
Where is the end ...?
Let it end soon ... please .. soon ... soon ... please.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Flapper

Bad ear day? I'll say. All things point to a left hand 'that-a-way'.
I didn't really intend for that to rhyme but it's fun that it did. In case your eyes deceive you, she was not mid-shake in a photo, her ears were stuck like that. Here's an totally unhelpful angle to demonstrate.
There I was, minding my own business, listening to Archer's uninterrupted whining behind me and I glance over and see Leeloo with her ears ... just so. How they got that way is a bit of a mystery unless there was a tornado in the livingroom of which I was not aware. Maybe a cat did it - they are such practical jokers those kitties. At any rate, I righted the wrongs of her ears and we can return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Madness of King George

Raimi knows not to bother Leeloo much because she is not actually ovulating and likely won't for another week. He doesn't obsess over her, he doesn't whine and carry on. Not like the love stricken puppy who is currently whining constantly with his head in my lap because he just doesn't know what to do to stop his love for Leeloo from consuming him. Last night was the first of several(I'm guessing) that will go a long way toward making me completely insane. Archer, who just can't leave Leeloo alone, spent the night in the expen. Raimi slept next to me on the bed without bothering Leeloo who was also on the bed. They had a very fitful sleep and neither behaved out of turn. Raimi knows that wasting his energy on fussing over Leeloo is pointless. When she is actually ovulating, that is when I'll want to kill the both of them, but for now I just want to kill Archer.

Right now Leeloo is in an expen looking morose, she isn't 100% clear why she's in there but the boys pacing back and forth in front of the pen should be clue enough. She is trying to remove her panties, I can hear the velcro ripping, and she is fussing with her bottom because the panties are uncomfortable. Since she doesn't have access to the boys she's ignoring Archer's pleas to be his one and only.
Archer's love is in vain but sadly Leeloo has led him on a bit. Up to now, before the incessant whining began, they could spend some time together with her in her panties and under my critical eye. However, since she started smacking Archer around and waving her pantied bum in his face all access has been denied. She wants Archer to pay her some manly attention and he's game for a little action.

So now I face another 10 days of this madness and it can only get worse from here because Archer's behaviour is pre-mature. What on earth will he be like when Leeloo is actually ready to be bred ... I'll have to whip out her chastity belt and hide the key.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Wonder Years

In case you can't tell, Archer is getting all growed up. It's hard to believe he was that little tiny puppy I drove across Canada with - just a couple more months and he'll be a year old. This time last year I was making plans to go pick up Halo and prepare for her final litter - little Archer was just a twinkle in her eye. He's just as a boy should be, obsessing over Leeloo's panty covered bottom, sniffing and licking where she's peed, chattering his teeth and drooling like a leaky faucet. Huh. Sounds like The Boy only smaller. I can see recently his head has filled in a bit more, he's starting to body up and get a little more control over those goofy feet which still seem to be a touch too large for him.
As you can see he is still no where near the adult dog he will be, give him at least another year to get there. He still bounds like a puppy, pounces on blowing leaves and snow balls like a puppy and wags and smiles like a puppy. He seems to be carrying on this puppy thing for much longer than I recall the other dogs doing so... must be smart enough to milk it.
It's okay though, he's such a pleasure to be around, a little ray of mobile sunshine, that I am willing to put up with the occasional naughty act and penitent ears ... it keeps us both young.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Swing Kids

We took a walk today at the elementary school since it was a sunny day and there was a nice dusting of powdery snow on the ground. I know it messes with the two boy's psyche's to swing on the swings so I did that for a moment or two and they got all confused and excited. It doesn't take much. After I got off the swing it continued to sway back and forth and this was also cause for some interest.
Archer, bearing the burden of the brains in this twosome, lost interest fairly quickly. It took the Boy a little longer to absorb the mechanical mystery.
The Boy isn't going to set the world on fire with his grasp of physics but it's sure cute watching him try to figure it out. The best part is how he sucks in his lips while he concentrates.
Fortunately he lost interest before his head exploded.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Return to Innocence

It's hard to look innocent when the guilt is written all over your face. Or stuck to your nose. It's hard to see here but that light colored goop stuck to Archer's left nostril(his left our right) is cat litter.
Archer is so like Halo it's almost like she's still here and he seems to have also inherited her sneaky gene. I was reading in the dining room while eating breakfast and could hear a soft rustling noise. Hmmm ... where's the puppy? Archer? A moment later he comes trotting into the dining room the picture of innocence with about 6 grains of cat litter stuck to his nose. "You naughty puppy!" So I told him off and went back to reading. Sure enough, a minute later I hear the same rustling only ... quieter. ARCHER! Back again with grey grains stuck to his nose, 'Yes?' Why is the cat litter accessible to the dogs? Well, I'm moving it to a new location but the cat that was having the 'peeing on the couch' issues doesn't like it when the litter box makes sudden movements. Thus I have to creep it a few inches across the floor everyday to its new location. Yes - this is a pain in the ass. And this is what Archer says to a fully exposed and occasionally unsupervised litterbox "Yummy ... cat litter."

Friday, January 22, 2010

Small Gifts

This is a blog about Ridgebacks. Initially it was started when I had Halo, Raimi and Petal the Puli(plus one Ceilidh cat). When Petal died in April of 2008 my heart was broken. I knew I wanted a Puli again, just ... the time had to be right and the right lines had to be behind the puppy I got. Well, the time is now and the line is right. See, I wanted a Puli from the same line as two other very memorable and significant Pulis in my life(besides Petal). Cassie was a special dog, I did junior handling with her, put a US and Canadian CD on her and she was the dog matriarch of the house for most of my teens and into my 20's. Cassie sticks out in my mind as a significant part of my childhood and although she died too young in a tragic accident she will always stand out as a particularly special dog. She had a daughter, Fay, who was, in her own way, like Cassie. She was the Boss Bitch, she epitomized being in charge. Her feathers were never ruffled, she took everything in stride, and she was brilliantly smart - a once in a lifetime dog. Fay died several years ago now(still sadly missed) and her grand-daughter is the mother of the litter my mom has now. I went to visit them today at 4 weeks old and they are just darling. On Christmas Eve 4 little girls were born and one will be a big surprise to the Ridgebacks in about 4 weeks. Raimi was the only dog I have now who will remember Petal - he just adored her as I did it's probably the very reason I love him so much. Initially Archer will be terrified of the puppy and Leeloo will think it's the greatest toy since the roll-a-treat ball. They still have another 4 weeks of relative peace and quiet to go before the puppy comes home.
My parents are on their 'E' litter so her registered name will be Immerzu Everything Illuminated - so named because her dam's registered name is Under Moonlight and of course under moonlight everything is illuminated.
The puppy will be called Esme(ez-may) which is Old French for 'esteemed' or 'loved one'. I didn't initially realize it but that is the perfect name since it is like a continuation of Petal's well known alias: Precious. I'm sure Petal won't mind a successor ... but Esme sure has some big paw prints to fill. (Below is a photo of Petal and I in 1996 - I was 19 and Petal was 8 months old).

Thursday, January 21, 2010

In the Mix

I just didn't get off my ass yesterday to post and by the time I realized I hadn't I didn't have time as I had to get my dogs to the Peart's house in Trenton. They spent the evening there while I worked and then we all stayed at Chez Peart for the night. Bill and Donna are good enough to put me up when the weather is bad so I don't have to drive home in bad weather. I could do it with my 4x4 but let's face it - a night away from home to watch episodes of Firefly in great company and sleep in a comfortable bed (more comfy that mine I can tell you) is a welcome treat.

Leeloo's heat has continued in the normal Leeloo fashion. She never seems to be able to do things by halves. Her heat blew in this time like a freight train and she is now wearing panties 90% of the time and being annoyed by it full time. She has her big flirt on with the boys but this is just like last time - we are building toward ovulation which will likely occur in about 10 days and then ... I'll be suicidal with the whining. Time to enjoy the relative calm while I can.

And lastly, in this blog of hot topics, a photo to prove that Halo is still alive and well in Quebec enjoying her retirement - despite the snow. Pia tells me this is a new coat - very lovely Halo, it looks just like the old one - and what a pretty new collar too with a brass name tag. Halo has started agility classes with Pia and is showing her the ropes. Agility is old hat for Halo and I'm sure she is the star of the class - Halo does like to be the smartest dog in the room. I'm looking forward to making a trip out to Ontario this summer to go to the Ridgeback National and visit Halo. I bet she'll be fat on horse poop by then!

Monday, January 18, 2010

When a Man Loves a Woman

If I seem a little short on temper for the next 4 weeks don't blame me ... blame Leeloo. She is on day two of coming into heat. The boys are interested and love her to bits but they are so far not at the whining incessantly stage. Raimi went off his food a few days ago and although it may have been because Leeloo was getting all hormonal, it's more likely a coincidence since his lack of appetite was accompanied by severe diarrhea, a very noisy tummy and some spectacular gas. He is now being weaned from oatmeal and consume back onto regular dog food.

I can't kid myself though, this is going to be a rough go. The boys, once Leeloo is in full blown heat, will have to be separated from her and me and possibly each other depending on how much they each believe she is *their* girl. I have never come closer to strangling The Boy than I did the last time Leeloo was in heat ... it was a close call. this time, though I am prepared, I am not looking forward to earplugs at night so I can sleep and the boys in the expens.

Fortunately Leeloo isn't like Halo. Leeloo gets a bit clingy and more affectionate but without the moodiness and sulking that Halo perfected. Leeloo is a little tramp though - just like Halo (must be an Aegis Ridgeback thing). She also seems to prefer Archer's attention to Raimi. Raimi is more focused on the actual deed whereas Archer is more about the play. I'd say 9 out of 10 girls would prefer Archer's approach. Ladies? Am I right? Anyway, they are hanging out in relative peace since Leeloo is not in actual heat yet - she's still biding her time - I give it another day or so before hell breaks loose.

The strange thing is ... she smells ... odd. I can't put my finger on it. I have an incredibly sensitive sense of smell, I seem to be able to smell things no one else can; this is not a gift let me tell you. So Leeloo smells ... sweet and warm somehow. But not a good sweet and warm - if I had to compare it I'd say she smells kind of like warm blood. I'll let those words tantalize your senses for a moment or two ...

Needless to say I won't be accepting loving licks from any of the dogs in the house until interest in Leeloo's rear end has dropped significantly. Their license to kiss is hereby revoked until further notice.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Couch Trip

I mentioned the other day that I bought myself a chair because sitting on the floor isn't comfortable. The dogs have their couch which we did share but it got awfully squishy at times what with all the dogs wanting to be able to touch me.

This is what happened within minutes of the chair being in the house. This is what Ceilidh thinks of me insisting it's *my* chair. It didn't take long for the dogs to realize that it is The Chair of Power. Remember Archer from a couple days ago ... he was the first to try it on for size. He does fit quite nicely.
Raimi has also had his moment in the chair but he doesn't fit so well. Ceilidh has transferred her preferred location to the back of the chair which is fine.
Leeloo has sat in the chair but has yet to be photographed in it - she's too smart to get caught. The problem inherent in the chair is that there is only room for one ... me. Although if you try telling the boys that they don't believe you. They believe themselves to be Very Small and are genuinely baffled when they can't quite fit on my lap or next to me while I am sitting in it. All the dogs like to be touching me while they nap but with the advent of the chair this will be impossible. Maybe one day I'll own a livingroom large enough to accommodate a sectional but for now this solution will have to do.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

First Blood

The snow here is not something I considered as being a problem for the dogs but I have learned otherwise in recent days. I'm used to snow from about 5 degrees and below, but here, if it's hovering around zero, chances are as likely you'll get rain as snow. This may seem like a cool thing on the surface but it's kind of annoying actually since the rain hits the snow, melts the top layer and then when it freezes it becomes a hard crust over what appears to be a soft blanket of snow. When you walk on it the crust breaks apart and if there's been a succession of rain and snow then you get a layered crust.

It also depends on where the snow is located. I took the dogs to the school yard and Raimi ran across into the large field and stopped, looked at me and then didn't want to play anymore. He was stepping and dropping through the crust and didn't like it ... so I thought. The other two dogs were fine and although it was tougher going they weren't being sissy's about it.

What I didn't immediately realize was that what Raimi didn't like was not the difficult going, it was the abrasions he was getting on his legs from the crust's edges. I noticed blood on the snow and thought 'Crap!' Sure enough I checked his legs and on the insides of his pasterns and hocks there was droplets of blood forming. I checked the other dogs but so far they were free of damage.

We headed away from the field where the wind had polished the snow into glass and stayed near the forest where the crust was not so thick or sharp. Since that walk we've been a few more times but it's a problem everywhere unless we stay on the service road that gets cleared. I guess that will be our standby when the snow proves to be too dangerous.

This is Leeloo's rear foot - those two spots on top of her middle toes are not her coat color, it's blood coming through the abrasions on her toes. I thought of boots but there is just no way boots will stay on these guys (see wrestling photos from the other day) so we will just have to learn to avoid the bad areas. And Raimi's poor hind foot. That scar is from his dewclaw removal and you can see the blood just in front plus on top of his second toe and along the inside toe. It also seems to be a problem around the nail bed - on Raimi's giant foot here the second toe from the right has some blood on the nail bed. All of the dogs have experienced this now and I'm very mindful of where we walk and what time of day. I like to wait until a little later in the afternoon to allow the temperature to go up, and if there's sun, to allow it to soften the top crust but that means suffering through Leeloo's incessant whining. And when they like to do manic things like the following, it's hard to teach them to be careful.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Much Ado About Nothing

We've had lots of photos of the dogs in action recently. They are an active bunch it would seem. So what do they do when they're not leaping about the countryside? That's easy. They do as little as possible.
Here's Archer uspurping my new chair. The chair I bought for me. First the cats took it over and now all the dogs have sat in it and decided it's the perfect Ridgeback size. We've had words.
Here's what my bed looks like on any given day. Don't they look comfy?Archer's very innocent face, "But I don't eat cat poo Mommy."
Remember the ferocious photo from the other day? This is Archer and Leeloo the rest of the time.
Brothers are always brothers. Or pillows. Same difference I guess.
I'm not even sure which direction to go with this one.
United in neighbourhood cat watch. They are a diligent bunch. The neighbour's cat sits on their back porch where the dogs can see it through my bedroom window. It is the cause of much concern as you can see. I am safe from roving cats with these guys on the alert.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Animal Crackers

Ah deer poop. What would we do without you? Well, for starters we wouldn't have diarrhea in the backyard. Also, we wouldn't be forced to stop on our walks every few minutes to dig through a foot of snow to partake in your deliciousness. If it weren't for Leeloo's deer poop seeking nose we wouldn't really have this problem. Deer poop is a pleasure to be shared and there's plenty for everyone. Is it wrong of me to say I love my dogs a teeny little bit less when I see them buried head deep in snow, scarfing back the magical pellets of delight? I don't think so

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Catch Me If You Can

Ridgebacks tend to be leapers. Halo is notorious for the boing bounce that goes straight up in the air and catches a person unaware in the eye socket with her nose. Archer is following her footsteps, Leeloo is more of a leap and fling your legs out for a grab girl and Raimi is a flyby jumper which can be a bit scary sometimes. The leaping is hard to catch in photos because often I am protecting various parts of my body from damage as the leaping is occurring. Fortunately, they love to leap for snow so that's what we did.

This was my first attempt. Not terrible but not great. Leeloo makes catching snow into very serious business. It took Archer some practice to get the idea of what we were doing. He looks like he's sitting up to beg but in fact he was on his way up to a jump. Raimi. Bless his sweet simple soul. A swing and a miss. Sort of how he conducts his life. Well meaning but doesn't quite get there. Never mind Boy ... I love you anyway.
Again Leeloo demonstrates that having long legs can advance you in ways you never thought possible.
Oh Leeloo. I love looking at these photos. She really was the most entertaining jumper. Her efforts were more of an attempt to be first than to show off. One thing Leeloo is not is a showboater ... she just insists that she must be first in all things competitive. I like how Archer is looking on in apparent awe. Archer started to get the hang of this new fangled game but could not hold a candle to the skill and determination of one Leeloo. She was the star of the show. This is my favorite photo of the day. It has all the elements of her personality rolled into one: interesting, competitive, successful, agile, quick, smart, and weird.