Friday, April 30, 2010

Basket Case

Today was a walk in the rain. When we set out from my house it was more of a sprinkle, one of those soft spring showers with intermittent sunlight bursting forth every few minutes as the clouds scud across the sky. By the end of the walk it was umbrellas and sad faces on some wet dogs in a fairly drenching downpour! 

It was a chipmunk patrol day too. Leeloo is looking under every rock and bush for them now, a by-product of having seen one run across the path yesterday.
Once the area is secure it's down to business for Leeloo and Archer. It's not like squirrels or chipmunks are going to miss the noise these two create.
But you can count on Raimi to walk the perimeter and keep us all safe from marauding vermin anyway. He is so cute, he doesn't run and play anymore because in the woods ... you never know what's out there. He spends a good deal of his time standing and listening, standing and listening, standing and listening ...
Archer ready to spring into action on the picnic table, the better to dive bomb Leeloo from above. I'm not sure he knows she's right behind him ... let's not tell him and spoil his fun.  

When Leeloo was on the table Archer did his fly by technique wherein he races really fast toward the table and dekes around it to entice Leeloo to chase. See her smile 'I've got this' and usually she does.
And then they're off with a wet little Puli in hot pursuit. One day I'll actually catch a photo of her biting the hocks of the Ridgebacks ... it's adorable. Don't tell her I said that, she thinks she's a Super Tough Chick and that cutsie stuff is for Princesses. 
I don't really want her involved in this kind of play though, she is much too small to be able to handle a Ridgeback body slam!
Round and round the picnic table and BBQ pit - this little area is perfect to run them because the area is quite large, there's mature trees on the edge of the cleared area, the table, a lovely great maple tree in the middle, lots of flat grass and some longer grass on the edge. They had a wonderful time until it started to pour. We quickly leashed up (because Raimi was a little 'too' on the alert - I think I heard people talking and walking on a path further into the trees - can you IMAGINE  strolling along and this great oaf bursts out of the trees and runs toward you - heart attacks and hysteria - they wouldn't know he'd just want to lick them to death)
And this is the scene at my house after a walk in the woods. Comatose. Except for those bright little Puli eyes that do not miss a trick.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Down With Love

If you've been following along the blog for any length of time you will know that I think Leeloo is just plain weird. It's hard to clearly define but she is incredibly endearing in a Leeloo kind of way. While I know that it's not unheard of for Ridgebacks to like to be covered when sleeping, I wonder how many actually demand you get off your duff when you're over at the computer and put a blanket on them.

What are these demands? Well, in Phase I she employs whining. Intermittent half sigh half whines that go on and on until you look to see what the big damn problem is. Once she realizes you are looking at her she activates Phase II - the tremble. She lies in a little ball with those big bright eyes boring into your soul and every 5 seconds or so has a little shiver. "I'm cold, Mommy, can't you see?" The first few times she did it I was baffled, how can she be cold? The other dogs aren't shivering, it's not cold in here ... and then it all clicked. I'm being played. She sure has me pegged doesn't she? Nevertheless I stop whatever I'm doing and get a blanket, cover her up and miraculously the shivering stops immediately.

When we go to bed Leeloo throws herself down as close to me as she can get, curls into a ball and looks at me pointedly. I sigh and reach for the blanket waiting at the end of the bed, cover her and tuck her in. Raimi gets covered too but since he gets hot quite quickly I usually just cover his head and shoulders. Then we are all ready for sleep.

The *very* best part about covering Leeloo with a blanket is the noise she makes. I cover her and tuck her in, watch the bump of her head settle into the crook of her legs and wait for that noise - it's sort of a groan/moan/sigh and to me it speaks of incredible contentment, happiness, comfort and security. "All is right with the world" says Leeloo when she does that little noise. She does it almost every single time. I think the only time she doesn't do it is when she is very tired. I'll be honest ... it tops up my cup of love.

She also does the head wiggle which, when she does it, is pretty cute. Sometimes it's a little wiggle, and sometimes it's a big wiggle but it's the magic wiggle that increases the comfort quotient. She's the only dog I know that does it consistently. Raimi and Archer do it sometimes but Leeloo is pretty reliable for even just a little wiggle. You know the kind, the one where they settle their head where they want it and then wiggle their jaw around to find just the right spot. It's after the wiggle that the noise comes so I usually get two smile inducing Leeloo-isms for the price of one.

In the course of the night the blanket usually falls off her and for whatever reason I wake up to put it back over her. Probably some internal Mommy Alarm that lets me know one of my charges is discontent. I find the blanket(usually underneath the dogs) yank it out and tuck them in again. A couple times I have actually been woken by the alarm whine that the blanket has fallen off and she needs it replaced - she will simply continue the whining until I do something to fix the situation. After all has been set right she makes that noise and sometimes does the head wiggle. Then we all drop off to sleep again.

Last night, in particular, I realized exactly how spoiled Leeloo is with the blanket. The temperature is warming up now so I thought I'd switch their blanket from the down throw to a regular blanket - mostly because two down blankets on me with two dogs can get a bit warm! We settled in for the night and all dropped off to sleep. At about 4:30am I woke to Leeloo, who was covered with the regular blanket still, having a tremble. I thought it was my imagination, what with being semi-conscious and all, but no ... she was shivering. I tucked her in a little more but to no avail ... trembles. Sighing, I climbed out of bed, stumbled to the livingroom, got the *down* throw and returned to bed tossing the throw over Leeloo in the process. My reward? A head wiggle and a big sigh of contentment. Sweet dreams.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fly Away Home

Today is a day of great news. Rory got to go home and I hear the first thing he did was head for the food dish! Ah Ridgebacks ... so predictable.

Rory is deeply loved by his mom Kathryn who has owned Ridgebacks for years so she is no stranger to their habits, foibles and idiosyncrasies. We have wracked our brains, thought of various scenarios, imagined all kinds of sinister plots and come up almost nothing to account for this sudden and almost fatal illness. I imagine Kathryn will never know what the catalyst was and therefore cannot be prepared to avoid it in the future. So frustrating.

In the end Rory is alive, blissfully happy to be home and on his way to what we hope is a full recovery. It speaks volumes for his condition prior to the illness that he pulled through and is improving so quickly. Although, Halo and his sire Travis would certainly just put it down to good genes.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Band of Brothers

In case you want to follow Rory's hospitalization progress you can head over to Kathryn's blog Rory's Ramblings and there she is updating pretty frequently about his condition. He is improving each day but cause and cure are still a mystery. Here he is at just 5 weeks playing with a roll-a-treat ball ... they grow up so fast.

Over here on the east coast we have Rory's brothers who are rooting for him and hoping for a speedy recovery. That is Raimi in the back and Archer in front. Raimi and Rory are siblings but from different litters sired by the same dog - Raimi was born 9 months before Rory. Archer and Rory have the same dam but a different sire. This is what 2 years difference looks like! Archer has some maturing to do but he will actually never look like Raimi.
Raimi is quite heavy in bone and a little taller than he should be although he says he is just the right height for a Boy. He makes an impressive image ...
Archer will always be a little lighter in body, not as tall and the more 'correct' Ridgeback of the bunch. I'd give him another 2 years to mature into the dog he is meant to be. So when he is Raimi's age we'll get to see the end result! For now though I enjoy watching him excel at being a goofy puppy.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Reflections in a Golden Eye

We are still waiting to see if Rory's condition improves or worsens, at this point there is not yet a diagnosis but his major problem right now seems to be gradual renal failure. His mom is taking in all the information that concerned induviduals can gather and is relaying it to her vet. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to send their best wishes and to offer suggestions as to cause.

As for my bunch they are happy, healthy and comatose. We spent the morning putting out laundry, painting and cleaning and then headed off to the beach.

Archer has come into his own in a big way. You may recall a few weeks ago I went on and on about how much I love this puppy(although he is technically not a puppy anymore since he turned one year).  It seems like in the last couple weeks he's suddenly started to mature in subtle ways. I love the way the dark clouds part over his head as if to highlight the form of the dog beneath them.
When we go to the beach it's best to take photos of Esme at the beginning of the walk because by the end of the walk she looks like a ragamuffin. In fact, it only takes to the end of this boardwalk for her to get dirty.
These two are best buds. They spend a lot of time together, mostly because they are the most playful of the four. If you are looking for Esme locate Archer and vice versa.
Sometimes a beautiful seaside photograph can be improved by the simple addition of a gorgeous dog.  
Esme does her own part to improve the scenery. It's hard to tell but this is one kick ass Puli. Her coat is growing like crazy and is bunching into baby cords already.
There were other dogs on the walk besides Archer and Esme. Raimi and Leeloo spent a lot of time sniffing the wind and enjoying playing in the sand but they weren't as photogenic today as Archer.
Although, I was concentrating him quite a bit because he seemed to be channeling inspiring poses.  Those oversized ears mean his head will fill out a lot more ... but not as much as Raimi ... thank doG!
Leeloo still suffers from the inability to pose like the show girl I know she is. She has better things to worry about like eating seaweed, chewing driftwood, rolling in the sand and chasing the boys.
Way down the beach and out of sight on the other side of the hill Raimi heard and smelled, against the wind, a family of three collecting sand and shells. Yes ... this Boy will do just fine at tracking.
When at the beach we always come across interesting things on the shore. Shells, snails, rocks, seaweed, wood, garbage, and occasionally sea urchins. Wait ... no. That's Esme.
What's this? Leeloo is being attacked by a sea urchin! Noooo Leeloo! How cute are they? Leeloo looks like she is saying "OOF!" And you can see Esme is wet and covered in sand ... Archer kept rolling her. Sigh. Must stop that behaviour or else sand will grow into her cords ... can't have that.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Home Sick

When your family is in trouble what do you do? You rally the troops and get the word out to try and help as much as you can. Surprisingly the Ridgeback community is pretty small. You wouldn't think that someone in BC would know someone in Florida but with the advent of things like Facebook distance is irrelevant. When there is a Ridgeback who needs help, an owner who needs advice, a problem that needs fixing ... the Ridgeback community is quick to assist.

Right now Rory, who is from Halo's second litter and was born Christmas Eve, is in the hospital trying to fight off something unknown. He was admitted with vomiting and lethargy but has now been diagnosed with possible kidney failure. Rory is his mom's own Boy; he is sweet, loving, adoring and irreplacable. Rory lost his own Ridgeback buddy Seth this past January at 11 years old and for his mom to now have to deal with this kind of worry is just the most unfair twist of fate.

If you have a Ridgeback, have a dog at all, or simple love of animals please send your warmest thoughts to Rory in Calgary for a speedy recovery - or at least a confirmed diagnosis so treatment can begin. He gets an ultra-sound tomorrow and while he is a little more perky with IV fluids and anti-biotics he is not out of the woods yet. All my best to Kathryn, Norm and Rory ...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dungeons & Dragons

I used to play Dungeons & Dragons years ago with a bunch of guys. We'd sit around for hours and eat junk food, drink cola, make up characters, roll the dice and enjoy some good old fashioned adventures in imagination. One campaign lasted for months and would have continued had our DM not moved to Washington DC to pursue his career. Those adventures comprised some of the very best memories of my late 20's. To this day I have a soft spot for D&D - I still have my green D-20 and my little J'red character - somewhere someone still has my character pages. Anyway, whenever I see the dogs on a hilltop I think of 'advantage to high ground'.

This is the point in the adventure where our rag tag bunch had recently united with a common goal and over-taken Smuggler's Signal Hill in a deep cove on the treacherous coast of Nova Scotia.
Don't be fooled by her diminutive size and cutsie-pie appearance. She may only be a halfling Sorcerer but Esme is running this outfit. She barks sharp orders and takes no guff from any of these hooligans. 
Archer would be the chaotic but good Ranger who manages to get this bunch into some serious trouble sometimes. Because of his high intelligence though, he has also managed to get them out. He's handy to have around but on occassion Archer makes adventuring a little more exciting than it really needs to be. 
Leeloo is that Rogue Elf who just needs to go her own way sometimes and nothing will sway her decision. She is generally good but can, and has been, tempted by the fruits of Evil. Leeloo also has a plus one just for being a bitch.
Raimi is clearly the Lawful Good Fighter. He is not blessed with a lot of brains but if you need him in a pinch he comes in swinigin no quetions asked. He has a sense of humour but his timing is not always good. He gets a minus one for intelligence but his plus one for strength makes up for it. The group keep him around as 'the brawn' but often they just do not know what to do with him when there isn't a brawl.
As already demonstrated, my dogs are always ready for action so in a pinch, if you need some back up on your next campaign, drop us a line. 

Friday, April 23, 2010

Don't Fence Me In

Leeloo is met with a fence. It's a relatively simple fence to get through but she was perplexed by its gaps. She ran the line for a bit thinking about how she was going to get to the other side where Archer and Esme were spending their time exploring. Manipulating those long limbs through a fence can be a problem for a supermodel like Leeloo.

It's not elegant but it works. She squeezed her way through by folding up those stilts, scrabbling along the grass and shaking herself off on the other side like the previous 30 seconds of disjointed yoga positions never happened.

Whee! The Other Side of the Fence is the best place to be! I love her smile, I love her ears, I love her happy foot, I love the movement in this photo.

Hmmm. Now everyone is back on the other side of the fence and she is stuck. It's too low to crawl under (elegantly) and too high to jump(easily) because of the top rail. I do believe she is thinking at this point  that going under in the first place was not worth the Whee! But, a girl must do what a girl must do ...

See the concrentration on her face. This is a little more dignified than going the other way. She emerged unscathed from her belly crawl and carried on beating the crap out of Archer as if this, and other undignified moments, had never occurred.
Speaking of fences, I am currently replacing the bamboo on the west side of the yard section by section. Actually, I mean 'As Leeloo smashes it to get to the neighbour cats and systematically ruins it'. I'll cover that particular nightmare on my Wee Bonny New Scotland blog ...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Rear Window

I went back to the provincial park today, walked through the gorgeous woodsy area, strolled along the beach, headed back to the truck, got caught in a rain shower which horrified the dogs no end, and promptly got lost on the way back to the truck because of the maze of paths in the woods but eventually found it not quite where I thought I left it. In all it was a great day for a walk and as often happens Esme and the boys lead the way ... but ... where's Leeloo?

Bringing up the rear ... as usual.  I love the expression on her face - it's hard to decipher but I think she's saying 'What? I'm coming aren't I?"

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Edge

Just about 8 km down the road there is a provincial park that we walk at sometimes when the long trek to the beach is just not in the cards. This park is one of those picnic area, camping spot places which is maintainted by the provincial goverenment and in June it opens to the public. For now though, if you want to walk your dogs there, you have to park outside the gates and walk in on foot. It does say dogs must be on leash but since we are the only people there I figure 'no harm no foul'. Here they are on one of the roads in the park and headed toward the grassy area.
Here's the ocean. Ta da! Okay, not quite, there's a fence, a 30 foot straight drop to the beach and then the ocean. That lump of land in the distance is Pictou Island and beyond that is PEI.
Well, someone is certainly happy to be running on the grass! Archer bounds through life with total abandon!
Here he is exploring the drop off at the edge of the cliff, well, I use the word 'cliff' liberally since it's just a very steep sandy slope.
Leeloo has not let her new championship go to her head, she still hunts for deer poop and rolls in gross smelly things just as always. She and Archer took their chances on the edge.
Archer contemplates the future ... does it hold a Championship for him?
Esme was all over the cliffs as well but since she is Very Small I wasn't as concerned about her going over the edge. She mostly kept to the safety of the groomed lawns and spent her time exploring and chasing Ridgebacks. In this photo she is heading down the fenceline ... can you tell?
It's so hard to tell what direction a Puli is facing ... unless you catch a glimpse if that telltale tongue!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


It feels like every time I turn around it's a dog's birthday. And today is Halo's! She is 6 years old and looking every bit as fit and spry as a 2 year old but perhaps with a little more wisdom about her gaze.
She is enjoying a lovely retirement in Quebec with her new mom Pia who has taken excellent care of Halo and is happy to report that Halo has long since claimed her as her own. I think, more specifically, they have claimed each other.
I'm not sure what serendipitous luck or mechanisms of the Universe prevailed upon Pia to email me just as I was thinking "What am I going to do with Halo?".  Pia sent a two sentence email "I have just lost my Ridgeback. I am looking for a new dog 3 to 6 years old and am wondering if you have any older dogs available?" and the rest we now know as the best thing to happen to Halo ever.
It has been about 5 months now that Halo has been gone and the Ridgebacks here have moved on, although I know they would remember her if they saw her. Only two of them would be happy about it! Leeloo's opinion would start and stop at "She's not coming to live with us again is she?"

Halo is the proud mother of 5 Champion progeny with two more who have started their Championship point counts. She is also recently the grandmother to a litter of 9 out of Geddie and her daughter Karma is due (with incredible fatness) in just over 2 weeks. Halo's genetics come through in the beautiful temperament, soundness, type and health instilled in her offspring and there is little more gratifying than seeing a matriarch flourish in retirement while the youngters she helped produce go on to successful lives of their own.
The happiest of birthdays and hugs and kisses to Halo!! Thank you always to Pia ... I hope she gets the Grade A Sirloin tonight!