Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Water's Edge

Pictures from Cape Breton coming right up. It's only the middle bit with this huge lake but it's pretty spectacular just the same. That there is the hind end of my parent's motorhome making its way down one of many hills we encountered. Beyond you can see the Canso Causeway, a land bridge we have to cross to get to Cape Breton.

This is the bridge that allows the water to pass from one side of the causeway to the other, it also opens up to allow boats to go through. Given the "come visit Cape Breton" hype you'd think they'd pretty it up a bit - a few cans of paint wouldn't go amiss here.

Something I didn't expect. A canal with a one lane bridge. You had to stop at the light and let the oncoming traffic cross, then green means go. There is an actual canal that runs under this bridge and allows boats to travel from the Atlantic to the Bras d'Or lake. This bridge could also use a coat of paint.

The lakes, or rather, lake that makes up a large part of Cape Breton is very, very large and very, very long. It runs almost the entire length of the island - it's hard to get away from water here! It is 100km long and 50km wide and is entirely salt water ...just an interesting little factoid for you.

Here's the top of another hill and the back end of the motorhome again. I memorized the back of that motorhome for the bulk of my drive up. The lake is off in the distance there and this is about halfway up the lake - only another 50km to go! 

And that is the south-eastern most side of the Bras d'Or Lake region of Cape Breton on the way to Glace Bay which is literally the end of this road. I hear they are planning on making the road a major highway in the coming years as the final extension of the Trans Canada Highway ... that will certainly encourage more people to visit. Certainly the scenery is enough to encourage people to go ... although in winter I bet the roads are some kind of treacherous!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Weekend Warriors

Back from a successful weekend in Cape Breton way up at the top end in a little town called Glace Bay. You can actually see the Northern Atlantic ocean from the show grounds, how crazy is that? The drive up there is pretty spectacular since you follow the edge of the Bras D'Or Lakes up through the middle of the region. I will post photos later once I unpack the truck.

Raimi spent the bulk of his weekend either in an expen or in the truck depending on where I was at the time. If I was in the show ring with Esme it meant he was in the truck since he can't get out of it, at the set up meant he could be in his expen. Poor guy was sick of being trapped in a 4x4 space but there was no alternative since Leeloo was and still is ripe for the picking. Nice timing Leeloo. To my consternation Raimi, in addition to not eating, also stopped drinking. This meant I had to soak his food, get it really watery and then hand feed him. It's like having a 100 pound baby. When we got home I had to force him to drink from a syringe, fortunately he is now drinking on his own but he doesn't realize how sick he can make himself by refusing to eat or drink for almost a week ...

Leeloo spent the weekend being Leeloo. She is disappointed this morning that we didn't go for a walk but there is no way I'm dragging her into the bush in standing heat! She enjoyed most of the weekend, except being stuck in her expen and but she loved sleeping in the tent. Apparently she was made to lounge and what we all have come to accept is that what is good for Leeloo is good for everyone.

Oh, and the reason we dragged ourselves all the way up to Cape Breton in the first place? Why to show gorgeous little Esme. It was a 4 show weekend and the although possibility of Esme finishing existed I didn't think she'd pull it off ... well she almost did. She won a point at each show on Saturday which put her at 5 and then on Sunday she took Best of Winners twice over Parker, who actually finished the day before, to bring her to 9 points. We were hoping for a look in the Herding Puppy group but there is quite a nice Bouvier puppy being shown and Esme, being a Puli, isn't going to get the same consideration as the more commonly seen Bouvier, an sad truth but a truth just the same. I can live with owning a Puli who finishes as a junior puppy - something that has never been done in the 61 Canadian Champions Immerzu Puli's have produced. Number 62 is right around the corner.

I also brought home my first cold in over 2 years. I haven't been sick with a cold since I can't really remember but it's here just the same. I wanted to stop on the drive back and take photos and whatnot but all I could think of was getting home, having a cup of tea and chicken soup and going to bed. Between blowing my nose all night and Raimi's whining it wasn't a very good sleep but at least I don't start work until almost noon ... it's sure nice to sleep in after a weekend at a show!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sullivan's Travels

Depending on whether I can get a wireless signal in Glace Bay, Cape Breton, there may be a lag in posts until Sunday night or Monday morning. I am leaving for the Big Island today with dogs in tow and Raimi madly in love with Leeloo. It should be a fun ride up let me tell you. I'm not sure if I have accurately described the whining Raimi emits when he is desperate for Leeloo's love but it sort of drills into your brain like a Black & Decker cordless.

Only Esme is entered in all four shows which will make for a nice break after showing both Raimi and Esme at the last show, two breeds for two shows per day was a bit much for me and them, no idea how professional handlers do it but my hat is off to them! Good thing I didn't enter Raimi anyway, he'd have been more useless at this show than he was at the last and Leeloo wasn't even in heat!

I am looking forward to seeing Cape Breton, I hope to stop on the way up and enjoy a bit of the scenery. I've heard so much about Cape Breton for the past year I am a bit curious what all the fuss is about. Everyone keeps telling me that the Cabot Trail is the thing to do but I don't have time, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line so I need to go up the middle, not around the outside. Maybe next summer I can take a weekend and head up with the dogs for some camping and enjoy the tourist side of the Island, as it is I have a show to get to and not a lot of time to get there!

In case you are interested Cape Breton is actually an Island separated from mainland Nova Scotia by a waterway - to get to the Island you have to go across the Canso Causeway, similar to the causeway I cross everyday to get to work. It's a land bridge with a regular bridge at the end to allow the water to pass through for the tidal changes. I think boats might be able to get through too but am not entirely sure. Anyway, I have to drive up the middle bit along a scenic lake, which will be nice) but apparently driving around the Cabot Trail is something else entirely, I will do it one day ... just not this weekend!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Move Over, Darling

In dogs it's all the rage to talk about side gait and to post photos of how amazing a particular dog's movement might be. You're looking for a solid and level topline, reach in the front, drive from the rear, tail carriage, head carriage, flexion through the elbow and shoulder, extension through the rear assembly, efficiency of movement and balance, balance, balance. Tremendous reach and drive are the big sellers in the show ring these days although I see a lot of wasted movement with too much flash and not enough substance, typical for people who don't know what good movement really is. It's not speed and grand standing that makes a sound working dog; it's an effortless gait that requires the least amount of energy to cover the greatest distance of ground per stride. I've seen lots photos of Ridgebacks in ridiculous suspended trots moving at an unrealistic speed to attain that flashy effect - inefficiency at it's height. I'd never say that my dogs are perfect but sometimes I catch a nice photos of them showing me exactly what I like to see in side gait. Unfortunately, sometimes things get in the way.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Whenever someone mentions the movie Rambo: First Blood I immediately call to mind the scene where he is camouflaged in the mud and as a Bad Guy walks past Rambo emerges from the muck to dispatch said villain. The Ridgebacks, thankfully, rarely feel the need to immerse themselves in mud but they do often manage to disappear into their environment. And it's not even like they try to blend, they just do.

If you're not looking for the dogs in the field you can rarely see them. Surprisingly, even in winter on a white background, they manage to disappear as well. In the summer, it's a bit of a hassle trying to get nice photos when the surroundings are constantly over powering the focal point of the photo, although it might help if I had a better camera, one day my DSLR will come.

Then again, if you are a black dog in light grass it's hard to blend, but put her in the shade, step back a few feet and she becomes invisible.  Unfortunately her breed is not typically inclined to stay unnoticed which is why she is rarely found standing in one spot long enough to disappear.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Places in the Heart

It's been a week since Archer left and I am hearing good things from his new home in Cole Harbour. He is settling in nicely, suffering from a little seperation anxiety but that is to be expected especially considering the memory of me leaving is still fresh in his mind. He has attached himself to his New Mommy and is very devoted to her every footstep. I am particularly glad to hear this because I always felt he was a little cheated in my house since for Raimi I am his everything (unless Miss Thang is in heat) and Archer was always vying for my attention. Now that Archer has his very own person (because his new bro Tyson is more attached to Archer's New Daddy) there is no one to stand in the way of him smothering his Goddess. Just as it should be right?

Status quo in this house is pretty much the same with Leeloo and Raimi flirting like mad. I see the timing is working out perfectly for Cape Breton and Leeloo ovulating. That will be fun. 

Esme has a chance to finish in Cape Breton and although I know my mom wants to finish her boy Parker, who is on 7 points, I'm not going to throw the match just for family! I'd love to see Esme get a few points this weekend too! Poor little Dixie who is Esme's bitch competition, had better have her game face on!  Because this little spitfire is a take no prisoners kind of gal! And she's now getting real cords to boot!

Monday, August 23, 2010

When the Cloud Rolls By

There is something in grass that intoxicates the dogs. They love to roll in it; long, short, green, brown, sunny, shady ... makes no difference.  Taking a photo of a dog rolling in the grass typically ends up looking like this one; a blob of tawny brown surrounded by stalks of tawny brown.

Whatever the reason, it makes them deliriously happy. Can you tell? Boy has a particular habit of throwing himself into the grass in a dramatic swoon and then grinding himself across the ground on his back while kicking his feet in every direction. Woe betide anyone standing within shin striking distance.

On occasion there will be synchronized grass rolling. There is much wiggling, snorting, flailing, and drama about it and yet somehow, despite this seemingly clownish display of joy, they still manage to maintain the impression of being a powerful and graceful creature.

A stolen moment in the grass shows Leeloo blended unconsciously with her environment. Of course, the best part of their shenanigans is that they return home smelling of crushed grass and fresh air - hugs all round.  

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Forever and a Day

I didn't have time to post yesterday as I was out all day with the dogs at my parent's house. It was nice to retreat from home to spend some time doing very little. When you're at home you feel obligated to 'do stuff' and not having the grass, or the vacuuming, or dusting, or dishes staring at you is a welcome reprieve.

Leeloo got to ride up front because it was a longer trip than we normally take, plus the back is a bit crowded with smothering Boy and I needed to be able to scold her for trying to remove her panties. She loves to stick her head out the window at relatively low speeds, once we get to about 80 or so she finds the wind a bit too brisk!

At my parent's house there is a large area of about 3 ore 4 acres behind the house that my dad keeps short. My mom likes to walk their dogs back there too so it's convenient to have an area that is cleared although I do know the Ridgebacks love a good snort through waist high grass!

There is a small section my Dad keeps un-mown - I like to believe it's for my dogs pleasure but somehow I think their preferences do not figure large into his mowing agenda.  Either way they enjoy it immensely ... even bounding Esme.

The day was somewhat spoiled by the drive home during which a doe decided to cross with her two fawns about 20 feet in front of me. I stood on the brakes, the dogs got thrown a bit, and one of the fawns glanced off my driver's side bumper. In my sideview I could see the deer lying on the road but attempting to stand. I drove a little further to find an area to turn around but when I got back the deer was gone.  I am hoping, in a childish denial kind of way, that the injuries I caused to the fawn were only superficial since it was not a direct hit and I was braking at the time. It's the first deer I've ever hit and I will always wish myself 20 seconds later so that the twin fawns would have made it safely across the road.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Remember the Daze

Juast a quick update tonight on the household and other myriad goings on. The love-fest is ramping up here with Raimi and Leeloo turning up the heat on what they think is a sordid affair. Leeloo does her stupid 'take me now' face and Raimi does his disgusting drooling and round it goes until I say ENOUGH and they retire to their corners until the next bout can begin. Leeloo has been pantied up with safety pins and is disgusted with me and the world for this embarrassing development. Blood stains on my duvet, couch and carpets is not acceptable so she will just have to live with it for a few more days.

In other news Archer is doing well in his home. I guess I never thought, prior to this experience, how I maintain the 'leader' role. I know a lot of people do not fall in with correction training and discipline but this is not a breed that I coddle when it comes to the actual rules of conduct. Archer knew the rules in my house and although he occasionally ignored them, he understood when he had crossed the line.  Being taken from his own home and placed in a completely foreign environment without his Mommy or best friends is hard for a kid but rules are still rules. Now that his new family feels a little more comfortable correcting him, everyone is settling more comfortably into their respective roles. I know my dogs are spoiled but if they do something I don't like all I have to do is stand up and approach and the activity halts. Trust me, you do not want me to carry through with the implied threat and when I have done so the dog on the receiving end has remembered it! Mostly I scare them with noise and bluster and that is usually enough. There is a big difference between thinking you're going to die and being in actual danger of it ... thankfully a dog can't tell the difference in the heat of the moment!

I will admit I miss Archer a lot. He really was a cheerful ball of sunshine who is now someone else's ball of sunshine. I miss his walk by kisses, how he stood on my chair to get to the right height to smile into my face, his vertical leaps to greet me, stealing my slippers to chew every chance he got, watching Esme kick his butt, having him worm his head onto my lap while I sat at the computer, his constantly wagging tail, his conversational whining, his leaning as far out of the truck window as he possibly could to catch the wind, and the inevitable drinking out of the toilet. I miss all these things and know that now these are now someone else's Archer Things. I miss you little buddy but hope you are blissfully happy.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wag the Dog

There's a saying in dog sledding that goes "Unless you're the lead dog, the scenery never changes". The same is true for dog walking. I am forever taking photos of tails and bottoms. In the long grass in particular you only ever get a photo of a waving tail and possibly a back or bottom. This is Leeloo smashing her way through some undergrowth during a mission to catch a pheasant.


Across a field in the morning sun she can be spotted by her tell tale, um, tail.  Rarely does the head pop up to see where I am and if she does remember I exist she simply takes note that I haven't abandoned her and continues her hunt.

Raimi is slightly easier to spot given his size and although he spends some time with his head in the grass he is more often found testing the wind or looking for me.

When it comes to Esme it's a harder photo to catch not only because she spends most of her time zinging from place to place but also because she is less than half the height of the surrounding foliage.  In rare cases I am able to catch her motionless in shorter grass or on a cleared path but I have to be quick because in a flash she is off again looking for more trouble. I guess I shouldn't complain though, there are worse views in the world than the happy wagging tail of a dog.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Big Tease

After the departure of Archer everyone has started to relax into a more normal routine. For the first day they seemed a little lost without his constant badgering but the 'Who's next?' vibe is fading. I do know Esme is still a little sad about her best bud leaving but in Leeloo she has found a willing co-pilot to her endless flight of trouble-making.

Leeloo has burst into heat with gale force winds, every heat she seems to get more and more intense about it. She did spend an unbelievable amount of time 'coming in' but now she's in she is IN. She is flirting up a storm with Raimi, bleeding her little drops all over every piece of fabric I own and looking at me with the tragic eyes of the unrequited.

Raimi is obviously madly in love with her and spends the majority of his time with his nose in her hoo-hoo. I lament her timing because based on last heat she should be ovulating right when we are in Cape Breton for a dog show. That means being trapped in the truck for the 4 hour drive up there listening to him whine, making him sleep in the truck because of his whining, and keeping him far far away from Leeloo to prevent any accidents. My best hope, at this point, is that she will ovulate at about day 8(any hope at all?) and be done the worst of it before Cape Breton. Faint hope at that.

To add this to little drama I have discovered that between last heat and this heat Leeloo has gone and grown. She is carrying a little extra weight anyway but she also filled out a whole bunch in the last few months and now her panties don't fit. This is a problem because she leaks everywhere. I'll have to get some safety pins and secure them for now but announcing we have to go shopping for larger panties is not what any girl wants to hear.

I also just bought some nice new shiny dog beds since the ones I had are several years old and showing their age. Leeloo doesn't get to use those until she is out of heat!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Other Brother

The house seems eerily quiet without Archer. Our morning walk felt a little subdued without his goofy bounce to get Leeloo playing, or him bursting out of the bushes and nearly taking my legs out, or listening to Esme tear out his throat. I'm not sure if the dogs have particularly noted his absence, I know they know he's not here but they are not looking for him. Raimi is probably glad the annoying kid is gone, Leeloo is coming into heat and feeling sorry for herself and Esme is finding other new and interesting ways to amuse herself. When they meet again they will know him, but won't think of him until that time - that's just how dogs roll. I will have to video the reunion, I bet it's a gas!

Apparently last evening Archer spent some time howling for me to come back. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind and the best thing for him is severe ties - despite my heart wrenching impulse to drive back down and comfort him. I won't see him for at least 6 or 8 weeks and hopefully by then, and probably much sooner than we think, he will have bonded to his new family. He is, after all, Halo's son! He slept on his New Mommy's bed last night with his new BFF Tyson and with each new day I will fade a little more and his new family will take my place. Sometimes the hardest decisions are the best ones.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Great Expectations

We did go for our walk last night as promised, it didn't go as smoothly as I'd hoped since there was some teenager in the woods making a bunch of racket trying to tease the dogs. I let him carry on a bit, let the dogs bark a bit and then yelled "Want me to send them in?" He abruptly took off in the opposite direction and unfortunately the way he left was the same way I walk to get back to the truck so I had to keep the dogs on lead. Despite that I did get a couple of lovely photos of Archer in the sunset. Ask me again why I'm placing him ... I forget.

He looks so peaceful bathed in sunlight. I was nostalgic for his cheerful company before he even left.

We met on neutral ground at the dog day care Sandra, his New Mommy, uses for his new brother Tyson a couple days a week. They were taken off into a room without their Mommies and introduced in a totally neutral setting. They came out with Archer still being all 'Who is THIS?" and googly eyed but no one was freaking out. Initial introduction complete we headed to Sandra's house to see how Tyson would receive a new dog into his established 'territory'. There was some doggy posturing and tail waving but that is completely normal.

Well, as you can see things went rather well. This is Archer, Esme and Tyson having a gas around the yard. Tyson had to tell Archer to back off a few times because he was being too pushy but once Archer understood they were fine to bounce and play. Tyson tried to get Archer to 'want' his beat up old ball but Archer didn't understand the invitation ... I'm sure that will come with time.

They even shared a bowl of water with no problems, I was so proud of Archer for being a big boy. I was worried he'd be a goombah about it but I should have trusted him more. I just got an email from Sandra who says that while he is looking for me he is not freaking out. He uses Tyson as a comfort crutch but otherwise all he is doing is checking the window and door for me which is to be expected. Soon it will be like he never lived anywhere else.  I am ever so grateful to Sandra and her family for providing such a great home to Archer, here's to many years of shared bowls of water.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bye Bye Love

It's the day before Archer goes to a new home that is so excited to receive him into their family. I am very sad so see him go - he is such a mixture of the ridiculous and the beautiful - kind of like the Cirque du Soliel of dogs.

He bounds through life with glee and has a perpetual smile painted on his silly face.  He definitely embraces life in a way that most only wish they could.

I know he will miss the companionship and wrestling partners in Leeloo, Raimi and Esme - but he has a new buddy to hang with named Tyson. I'm sure after a short while they will be best of buds.

It's not like he will never see them again and we will have to arrange play dates so that he doesn't forget how to kick some Ridgeback butt. Well, perhaps it will be more of a Leeloo smack-down reminder.

Today we will break tradition and go for an evening walk. In a way it will represent the sunset of our bond. The sun will dip below the horizon and say goodnight to more than a year of adventure with baby Archer. Never fear little Buddy, with the morning sun comes light and love and a new family waiting with both of those in abundance.

Friday, August 13, 2010


I wish I was closer for this photo from a few days ago but chances are there is a wasp nest between me and the dogs so I'm glad I didn't stomp through the bracken. Anyway, if I had I would have missed the moment.

This is Leeloo and Raimi flirting. Raimi is doing his very best "Look at me aren't I handsome?' stance and Leeloo is doing her "Meh. I've seen better" pose.

And here's the play bow. You might not be able to see it very well but his nose is poked into the side of her face into a sort of dog smooch. That's his signal that he likes her. Just what every girl wants from a guy, a solid jab in the side of the face.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

In Too Deep

Quick update on Raimi's foot: this morning he was still lame and his toe was swollen so I soaked it and had a look. The cut was mostly sealed but when I pressed it some fluid oozed out. Hmmm. I gently manipulated it a bit and more ooze. So I apologized to The Boy and pressed harder. Pop! Out came some pus. Oh. More gentle squeezing and more oozing clear fluid. Instead of a cut I think we have a puncture. No wonder it bled so much. So now he will get drained a few times a day to keep the swelling down and to prevent an infection setting in. Right now it is gently seeping which is fine, as long as it doesn't seal and brew an infection in there he will be fine.

Here's what he looks like when he's not lounging on the couch feeling sorry for himself. One with nature until he gets a boo-boo ... then nature can stick it and 'I want my Mommy.'

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

In the Blood

Does bad luck comes in fours? It should maybe. About 10 days ago we had the run of explosive diarrhea, then Raimi injured himself with a twisted foot, then yesterday we were attacked by wasps and today ... well, poor Raimi has really had just about enough of being damaged.

We went for our walk, just like always, came home, they were fed, everyone flopped on the couch to relax, I had a shower and got ready to go to work. At precisely 9:59, just as I was taking my book to the front door to put in my bag, I glanced to the right and saw an actual pool of blood on the hardwood.

I did an honest to goodness double-take. The pool had footprints leading away from it into the kitchen and there was Raimi, standing with his hind leg dangling and under his rear paw oozed bright red blood. Seriously, I just stood open mouthed for a moment. Then I looked at the time and knew there was no way I was going to make my shift start. 

Paper towels, water, more paper towel, a call into work, more paper towels and at last I had a handle on the culprit. A centimetre long cut in between Raimi's toes. I dabbed it dry, put some liquid bandage on it, I reached over to put the lid back on the bottle and glanced back at the paw to find almost the whole gap between his toes filled with blood again. What the hell?

I dabbed that dry again, jammed some paper towel between his toes, wrapped it in electrical tape(oh yes I did) and then put a bootie on his foot which I secured with, what else, electrical tape. He stood looking forlorn and lame as a one legged bird. I headed to work and told him not to bleed to death.

When I got home I took off the bootie and the paper towel to find the cut sealed and the blood stopped. It seems to have oozed throughout the day but is no longer actively bleeding. This morning my house looked like a crime scene with globs of blood across the hardwood but now I think, despite the lameness, Raimi will survive. He is feeling sorry for himself but that is not new and I'm sure he'll be right as rain by morning.

What I can't understand is how he could come in, eat, go and lie on the couch, and 2 hours later get up to walk across the carpet, hit the hardwood and explode with blood out of his foot. There is nothing on the couch or carpet to cut him, he wasn't lame when he came in, he didn't bother the foot while he was on the couch ... it just doesn't make sense. I suspect that he cut himself, it stayed sealed somehow as he walked around, then he got on the couch and it started to bleed. When he stood up to walk the clot stayed put until he stepped onto the hardwood which spread his toes a little more than the carpet does and voila ... release the blood clot.

This better be the last injury to the dogs for a while, really .... they've had enough.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Sting

Right now Archer is feeling very sorry for himself. During our walk this morning while he was having a marvelous time bounding through the grass he, or one of the other dogs, ran through and upset a blackjacket wasp nest. Ever seen one? No? I hadn't either until today. They are huge, get angry easily and are persistent. We learned this the hard way.

The dogs were happily chasing each other through the field off to my left and I had just made the decision to head back home when Archer threw himself into the grass sideways and then shot in front of me in an absolute fit of panic. All I saw were three large dark passengers on his back and without thinking I ran toward him, grabbed his collar and with my arm (which was fortunately covered in my dog walking coat) and swept them off his back. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Leleoo and Raimi doing what Archer was doing so I let Archer go, grabbed Raimi and swept his dark passengers away also. Then I yelled, "RUN!" And we ran.

Once I figured we were clear of the danger zone I checked Leeloo who fortunately seemed to escape the worst of the attack. Archer was busy throwing himself in the grass to try and stop the pain when Raimi suddenly yelped and started shaking his head and pawing at it. I saw one wasp fly up and that was it. We ran again.

Archer by this time was in a very sorry state. He had stings welting up on his body, he was throwing himself in the grass every few feet, tail tucked and extremely distraught. I knew I had to get him home ASAP. I put him on lead all the way back because he kept disappearing into the bushes to scrape himself against the foliage to ease the pain. I didn't want him to go in there and refuse to come out which is what he started to do, so although every few feet he tried to drag me into the brush, I pulled him back out again.

Once home I prepared breakfast for the other three dogs and got the Afterbite ready for Archer. I also gave him some anti-histamine as a pre-emptive strike against an allergic reaction to the stings. He didn't get breakfast because sometimes stings can upset their tummy and I didn't want to end up cleaning up his barf later. Here he is drinking out of the toilet(not sure why he insists on this as there is ample fresh water available) and you can see three large stings on his back. Those are three of 8 total. They are swollen and covered in Afterbite.

Raimi seems to have escaped with only three stings and Leeloo has one small one, she was behind everyone else on the run and possibly saw what was happening and avoided the area in time. I don't blame the wasps since they are just living out their little wasp lives when suddenly a great idiotic Ridgeback smashes right through their livingroom. It would make anyone mad right? We will just have to avoid the area in the future and respect that when we are out on a walk, we are never the only ones there.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Road Hogs

I remembered a story from a while back that I meant to share but forgot at the time. I was driving with all the dogs in the truck down to Halifax and that means highway. On the highway you pass and are passed by vehicles of varying shapes and sizes. I don't often think about the other traffic unless they are doing something to annoy me and I almost never think about what the dogs think about vehicles that share the road.

So I'm driving along and I come up on a guy on a motorcycle. He's not doing the speed limit so I pass him. I carry on down the highway. I notice in my rearview that the motorcyclist has sped up and is now almost matching my speed but he's still behind me. I change lanes to pass another vehicle and the motorcyclist does the same.

At this point Archer notices this 'follower'.  He does not like it. Who, exactly, is this faceless person following us? His concern increases when he realizes that when the truck moves from lane to lane, so does the motorcyle. It got to the point where he was staring out the back window of the truck barking his head off with hackles raised, stomping all over a napping Raimi and Nylabone chewing Leeloo. Esme pinged around the inside of the truck just like usual thinking Archer's game was super fun. 

I have darkly tinted windows on the truck so I can't be sure the motorcyclist saw him but can I imagine if he'd been able to see this idiotic dog barking like a maniac he'd think it was funny. I sure did right up until it got old and annoying. Eventually the biker passed us and Archer went koo-koo banana before being satisfied he'd scared the faceless evil away. I can date Archer's now  incessant need to bark madly at passer's by to that exact day ...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Bird on a Wire

My experience with bird dogs is seriously limited. When I was 18 or 19 I worked for an Irish Setter breeder who did a lot of hunting with his show dogs (try not to faint) and unfortunately I never saw him work the dogs - all I know is that he'd go away for weekends to hunting events and I'd dog-sit the balance of the kennel. I also once photographed a retriever trial many moons ago but that was retrieving dead birds ... not flushing live ones. What I have read about hunting dogs is that there are setters, pointers, flushers and retrievers. Each breed in the Sporting group is capable of doing one or more of these tasks depending on the terrain the dog is working. Having never actually seen more than one of these activities performed (retrieving - which BTW is impressive enough in and of itself - this ain't no tennis ball retrieve) I can't speak to what I am seeing when I walk my dogs.

Leeloo doesn't know how it's 'supposed' to be done, she does it the way she thinks it should be done, just like everything else in her life. All she knows is that there are pheasants in them thar hills and she's going to find them. So what I see her doing is arranging herself downwind and then weaving through the brush to pinpoint the bird's location. When she's honed in on the hiding place she creeps slowly toward the bird and then stops and points. Then she moves slowly forward until the bird takes flight. Honestly, it looks to me like setting, pointing and flushing ... but what do I know?

I'm not sure how many 'gun dogs' try to catch the bird as it streaks skyward in a panic but Leeloo gives it a fair go. Then she follows the flight of the bird and races off to find it again. Leeloo lost interest until we looped back to where she initially found it and spent some time trying to locate it again. Fortunately pheasants seem to be unusually stupid birds so chances are high it will be in almost the exact same place next walk. There is always tomorrow Leeloo.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Get Smart

Leeloo is a pretty smart cracker. Sometimes though, she is foiled by sheer physics. The ocean water here is clear, almost crystal clear. So when she is in the water she can see things that are under water very clearly and, being Leeloo, she wants them. Not to eat (usually), just to investigate. But how, pray tell, does a Leeloo investigate something that is under a foot of water? Well, she doesn't. Mostly because that would involve putting her nose into the water and thus the issue comes to light.

Normally, if you paw at whatever is covering the thing you want you can move the obstacle and retrieve said item. However, water is not Leeloo's friend. It stubbornly refuses to get out of her way no matter how hard she tries. At this point I think it's just the principle of the thing but as of 4pm last Sunday water is still the undefeated champion. So, for now and forever more that shell/rock/seaweed will remain untouched by Leeloo lips. That is unless she gets up the courage to stick her nose under water. So ... never.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Trench

What is it about sand that makes it so diggable? Archer has definitely got the sand bug because whenever we are at the beach he insists on making holes. I'd love for him to unearth a pirate's booty or at the very least a map to a treasure chest but all he ever comes up with is sand on his nose.

He doesn't dig in the garden, or on walks in the woods and he doesn't dig around when he is trying to get comfortable in bed, so what about sand says to him "Excavate me"? Perhaps if Nova Scotia's coastline is threatened he might be drafted into service and put to work digging the trenches ...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Feet First

I let the dogs out into the backyard for a few minutes the other day and when The Boy came in he was dead lame. All sad eyes and "Owie Mommy." Since he is such a sissy I am surprised he didn't make any noise when he actually hurt himself but there wasn't a single sound to indicate when or how he hurt himself in the backyard. It was very tender and he spent the rest of the morning feeling sorry for himself. Here is his left foot being all normal and whatnot (yes, I know he has huge feet):

And here's his right foot with a swelling starting on the outside knuckle(on the left there). It looks like he sprained that knuckle although I'm not sure how he managed it. There is a joint right at that bump and it's tender and obviously swollen.

A side by side comparison might make it a little more clear. He's just resting his foot on the floor and not actually putting any weight on it. The swelling is there just above his outside toe - that is a large joint where the foot flexes into the pastern.

He spent the balance of the morning before I went to work sulking in the bedroom. I gave him lots of kisses and hugs and promised he'd feel better in a little while. I'm a bit leery about administering things like aspirin because I second guess myself with dosages etc and giving a dog a medication he's never had just prior to my leaving the house for several hours doesn't sit well with me.

When I got home that night the swelling was worse but he was actually walking on it and seemed in less pain. We didn't go for a walk the next morning since I couldn't bear the idea of leaving Boy behind; much to Leeloo, Esme and Archer's horror (although it was pouring too so it was an easy decision).  You can see the swelling is not as localized and the foot is definitely not as tender as it was 24 hours prior. Boy will just have to stay on bed rest and I'm pretty sure Mommy hugs and kisses help a lot too.  

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ripple Effect

It looks to me like Archer could walk across this bay if he wanted to. In fact, if this was a photo of Leeloo I'd say she'd feel it was a certainty. She'd be walking on the water though, not in it; that's just how she rolls.  This is a quiet moment of contemplation for Archer as he creates ripples in the water. Soon he will start a new life and make new ripples but for now his ripples are all mine. He spent his time at the oceanside splashing about, being silly, digging furiously and making it a joyful experience for everyone (except those Leeloos he splashed).  He has been a perpetual sun on gloomy days and the echoes of his presence may fade but he will always leave wet paw prints on my heart. Hugs to special Archer in these waning moments we share.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Sink or Swim

Try to run through water and you get nowhere fast. Unless you're a dog. 

Scratch that. Unless you're a big hairless dog.

It doesn't make you elegant that's for sure. In fact, sometimes it makes you kind of look like a knob.

But just in case you don't care if you're hairy, don't care what you look like and are just in the water to have fun and cool down, it can make for some pretty fun times.

Just make sure to watch out for large red sharks. Less stealth and more splash is their modus operandi so chances are you won't miss them and will have plenty of time to get out of the water.