Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Law and Order

It's almost October and time to start thinking about next year. Why would I be be thinking about next year when we have 3 more months in this one ... well, it pays to plan ahead. Which is why you need to email me at invictushounds @ (remove spaces to email) and order your 2011 calendar! It could include photos like this one ...

Once again I am making a calendar for myself of photographs I've taken of the dogs over the past year. It will include such delights as Leeloo, Raimi and Archer. I also hope to be making a Puli calendar which would include little Esme but the one I'm offering now is for the RR lovers out there ... hope you enjoy photos like this one ...

Cast your mind back to all the great moments we shared on this blog, some of those memories and photographs will be the months of 2011. It's very hard to choose photos for the calendar because while there are so many that I love dearly, they get eliminated due to size, format or season ... yes, season. Can't have a summer photo in November can we? This one might be more suitable ....

The calendar for next year may not be the same format as this year, simply due to changes in format from the supplier, but rest assured it will be fabulous regardless. Don't delay and remember, I will not be ordering any more calendars than orders received, no exceptions, if I do not have your order by December 1st, no calendar for you. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Belles on Their Toes

Many miles under these toes.  Twig snapping, footprint making, leaf turning, puddle splashing, ocean wading, dog show gaiting, snow drift breaking, cat chasing, wrestle smacking, welcome waving, contented scrunching, owie healing, show off leaping, bone holding, hole digging, wet grass refusing, door pounding let-me-in toes.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Why, who is this handsome fellow with the bright intelligent eyes, giant schnoz and mischievous wrinkles? It's Archer! Who could forget those beautiful browns? I have to admit, seeing photos of him makes me nostalgic for his ceaselessly cheerful company. I must always remind myself the reasons I said goodbye and although it doesn't give me a lot of comfort, seeing photos of him happy and settled in his new home certainly does.

His best pal in the world now is Tyson. They wrestle and play tug of war, howl a symphony together and most importantly, spend quality time snuggling on the couch. Archer is also taking obedience classes with Tyson so they can learn to be Good Canine Citizens, loves his walks, love his New Mommy more, and has even managed to convince them that sleeping in their bedroom is best for everyone (although in a crate since sleeping with Archer is a bit smothering). I admit I have pangs of missing him but am convinced he is now exactly where he should be.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Follow the Stars Home

Every single day the air speaks to the dogs. Stories tied up with little bows of intrigue are unwrapped by the twitching nostrils of a domestic canine whose instincts burst to the surface like little snaps of ethereal spark.

Tangible scents dropped like the dew of ages are swept off leaf and limb and absorbed into the eager passages of nose and mind to spark the heedless pursuit. Oh to be so driven, so single minded in purpose, to forget all but this finite quarry whose seductive path inexplicably dissolves into nowhere.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Leeloo and Raimi are like peas in a pod. Rarely are they ever found more than 50 feet from each other on a walk and that is stretching it. The clinging is mostly done by Raimi. Leeloo is Raimi's girl, plain and simple. At a show recently a Ridgeback owner brought over his two males and insisted that he 'knew' Ridgebacks well enough to know how to handle Raimi who was low-growling a threat to the two males - he said Raimi didn't mean anything by it and that his dogs were fine. I tactfully shut Raimi away - I don't need a dog fight between three 100+ lb dogs.

I know my Boy and I knew that he was very unhappy that there were two boy Ridgebacks anywhere near his girl - particularly since she was in heat at the time. Never mind that Leeloo told them to get the hell away from her pen and out of her eyeline. It drove home the point that Raimi sees Leeloo as his girl, and not just when she is in heat.  Nothing and nobody will come between them.  Except maybe a little sunlight.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Speaking of 'special' boys, not to be outdone by his brother Zero, Raimi has a little showing off of his own to do. He is a master berry picker.  I'm not sure what these berries are but Raimi thought they were worth a try. I'm pretty sure they aren't quite ripe but what's ripe to a dog who eats deer poop?

Picking the berry off the bush can be tricky but eventually he managed to get one or two which he promptly spat on the ground. I guess they are either not ripe or do not hold the same magic as little brown deer nuggets.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Zero Effect

Down yonder in the US of A there is a dog who is from my second litter with Halo. Brother to 18 other siblings, this dog is making quite a name for himself and giving the competition a run for their money.

I speak, obviously, of Zero. Officially known as Am. Gr. Ch. Invictus Nightmare Before Xmas JC, Zero is one of those dogs who was born to show, just like little Esme. Who knows how or why some dogs bring a light into the show ring with them, it's an uncanny ability to draw your eye, a 'look at me' attitude that is hard to ignore. The more you show them the more they love it. They know they are being admired, praised and talked about and they love it. I imagine, even for a dog, it's addictive.

In order to achieve what Zero has done, to reach the #4 Ridgeback in the USA(based on dogs defeated) and be multi-group placing in some pretty tough competition, takes dedication, money and time. Zero is shown by professional handler Juliet Clendenon almost exclusively, and occasionally shown by Erin Coogan.  This team has a winning formula that gives them an edge, that edge is that Zero adores his people and will work for as hard for them as they work for him.

How do you pick a dog like Zero out of a litter of 12? I can tell you, it's not that hard. He was a stand out, plain as day. Not that other puppies in the litter weren't very nice breed representatives, just that he drew your eye. I remember standing in my kitchen when Zero was about 7 weeks old and talking to Erin about why I was not keeping the best puppy in the litter (besides the fact that she wanted him). He was the kind of puppy, I insinctively felt, that would need more than I could offer in the way of showing and international exposure. I am happy to be able to say I was right.   

The Ridgeback National Specialty Best of Breed judging is at the end of this week and Zero is entered. He is young yet and just at the start of his show career but I do hope he gets a good look. It goes without saying he will show his heart out.  Best of luck to Zero and his fabulous team of supporters, to Erin and Juliet, thanks a million for helping this boy shine!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Happy Gilmore

It depends on who you are when it comes to what makes you happy. For Leeloo, going for walks makes her happy.  Leeloo is never more cheerful than when on a walk. Not that she is unhappy at home, just that we all have things that bring us True Joy and walks are Leeloo's bliss. I know this isn't a very good photo but it does capture how she is feeling about exploring her woods.

I was around the corner so I didn't see but, heard, the sound of a pheasant being surprised into flight and the dog's subsequent mad dash in circles trying to find it.  The pheasant made it safely into a tree and the only evidence was a lone feather on the path. I showed it to Leeloo who promptly slobbered on it and told me with expressive eyes how concerned she was that this is all that was left.

To console herself she found something brown and smelly to roll in. The dark streaks on her shoulder and neck is not a trick of the shadows. She then took a moment to sniff the wind as it was a very blustery morning what with the tendrils of Hurricane Igor brushing past our coastline.   

More exploration ensued with bush-whacking and lots of sniffing, some crashing noises, some false alarms and general dog activity. This is what makes her most happy; being part of the natural world as the huntress, living in the moment, thinking about naughty squirrels and following her nose, never planning for the future and never thinking a future exists.

Once home, however, that 'wild animal' instinct is temporarily put on hold to enjoy the comforts of the good life. I wouldn't have it any other way and certainly neither would she. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Somewhere I'll Find You

Ever think that when something is lost it wants to be found so it puts itself in your way in the hope it might be spotted? I had that happen once where under almost impossible circumstances I managed to reunite a pair of earrings when all hope was gone. It's almost better, actually, when you find something you didn't know was lost until you stumble upon it where it shouldn't be.

Today I was walking with the dogs when suddenly the noses went sharply to the right, the ears perked up, tails flagged high, the wrinkles came out and then in a flash both Ridgebacks were crashing into the bushes.  I waited a moment or two for them to smash their way around the undergrowth and then, satisfied that whatever it was had plenty of time to escape, I carried on down the path. The two hunters returned at full speed well pleased with themselves and for the rest of the walk they continued on high alert.

I contemplated doing a loop instead of doubling back but decided in the end to just double back since for the loop I'd have to leash them a lot sooner.  We took our time wandering down the paths while the birds chirped a welcome to the day, the squirrels scolded mercilessly, mist gently sighed out of the fields and the sun crested the trees and lit the day with a golden wash of warmth. Such moments make waking early every day to walk the dogs well worth the effort.

As we approached the area where the dogs had bolted into the brush they clearly remembered what fun it was to make a terrible racket while on the hunt and repeated the journey. I smiled and crossed my fingers that there was no lingering forest inhabitant stupid enough to wait for the second act. As I walked I happened to glance down and beheld something that didn't belong amongst the leaves and grass of the path.  

I hadn't noticed that Leeloo, for the preceding 20 minutes, didn't jingle when she walked. Her tags must have come loose during her first foray into the brush and as she ran down the path they fell off entirely. I stood and stared at these brown tags amongst brown grass, dirt and leaves and marvelled that I'd seen them at all. I picked them up, told them that I'd secure them to the collar with more diligence next time and tucked them into my pocket.

It seems impossible that they would be found at all. I had no reason to be looking for them and in fact had I been looking for them I am almost sure I'd have had a harder time finding them. Carefully onto Leeloo's collar they will again go and soon enough the fields and forests we walk will be filled with the happy jingle of Leeloo's exploration.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Children of Men

Back from a long day of driving down to Halifax to get Leeloo's eyes tested by a veterinary opthamologist, she checked out all clear and her beautiful peepers are peeping just fine. That is test number 2 of 6, only 4 left to go! I will be waiting a bit until she is well clear of being in heat as that can affect some of the test results but everything should be completed by Christmas.

Raimi also needs three more tests to be done; hips, elbows and thyroid. He can be done sooner since being a boy, he pretty well stays on an even keel hormone-wise.

It's funny how we are so diligent with testing our dogs to ensure that the offspring we produce do not have health issues that can affect their quality of life and the pocketbook of their owners. Funny because we are not so diligent with ourselves. I would wager that if such rigorous health testing was required of humanity, the entire race would be extinct within a generation or two. The general public, and the media in particular, is so critical of purebred dog breeders; often misunderstanding or deliberating skewing the statistics and information they are 'researching'.  These same people, however, think nothing of having children knowing there is a cocktail of mental and health issues polluting their own 'pedigree'.  Their basic right to reproduce cannot be rescinded, regardless of the potential for future generations of health problems their own off spring may perpetuate and suffer. Sure there are billions be spent on research but woebetide the person who suggests we eliminate people from the gene pool should they be a sufferer of a genetic defect. And yet, that is exactly what responsible breeders do.

Over the course of the last 50 years responsible purebred dog breeders have spent hundreds of thousands of millions of dollars of their own money to support veterinary research. This research tries to identify problem DNA, genetic anomalies, debilitating health problems and to attempts to, if not completely rid a breed of a health concern, at least be able to minimize its affect on the breed as a whole.

How many of the shelter dog 'breeders' spent a red cent doing anything more than throwing a bitch in heat into the same room as an intact male and making a quick buck off the result? Those puppies are the product of thoughtless greed - no more no less. Ever hear of a backyard breeder not breeding because the sire of their puppies has serious allergies?  Certainly I encourage people to go to a humane society or shelter and get a dog from there if what they want is a family pet who deserves a better life than from whence it came - but do not expect it to be free of health problems - likely no health testing in any generation of that dog's pedigree has ever been done.

So, do not condemn the responsible breeder for pin-pointing genetic problems in their own breed - they do not do so to make themselves targets of criticism, they do so to ensure that future generations do not suffer as past have done. Breeders did not create the health issues, they were always there, it's unfortunate that selective breeding brought some of those issues to the fore, but life is a series of checks and balances, the trick is to find the middle.  As a responsible breeder I attempt to eliminate the bad, keep the good and produce healthy, balanced, sound and stable dogs ... take a walk through your local shelter and find me just one, I'll be very impressed if you do.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Small Gifts

Off to Dartmouth this morning, not to visit Archer but to get Leeloo's eye testing completed. I have no doubt she will pass as there aren't any problems in her pedigree, but you should really check to make sure your lines stay clear. The CERF clinics are only held in Nova Scotia about once a year so when they come around you make sure to go.

Not visiting Archer was a mutual decision by myself and his New Mommy. It's only been 5 weeks and I want to give him a little more time to settle, I couldn't bear the idea of seeing him again and causing a set back in his adjustment. I'll see him soon enough and he will still remember me, I'm sure he'll remember me forever. I hear regularly from his New Mommy about how he is doing and it sounds like he has everyone spoiling him just as they should be.

I also got Esme's show photos back from last weekend's flood of wins.  This first one is the New Championship photo with her Best Puppy in Group win. Big thank you to Fred Dewsbury for giving this marvelous puppy her last point. All told, technically, Esme finished in 7 shows in the span of 3 weekends out. Not bad for a junior Puli puppy! She beat mature class dogs in adult coat and never lost Winners Bitch - poor Dixie(her competition), I started to feel bad for her!

This is her fourth place win in the Herding group under judge Guy Jeavons - clearly he just loved her. Our weekend, if I tally it up, was perhaps minor compared to the Big Guns of the show world but for a very baby Puli puppy to finish at 8 1/2 months old, with 2 BPIG, Best of Breed twice over specials and a fourth in group ... that is something to brag about. Huge thank you to my parents who bred this little marvel - I knew being born on Christmas Eve made her an extra special gift. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Stalking Moon

Raimi is still a big fan of the stalker pose. He has this nailed although he is far too big to actually be hidden. He drops his head low, crouches a bit and gives Leeloo The Stare. Leeloo pretends not to see The Stare and gazes slightly off to one side, acting as though she doesn't care that Raimi is about to open a can of whoop-ass.

And the can is opened. SPROING! She dashes to one side and the jig is up in a matter of moments. They resume their non-chalant sniffies through the grass and carry on being Serious Pheasant Hunters as though being silly has never ever crossed their minds.  

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Strange Bedfellows

I had to change the linens on the bed and it's never a fun task - the only thing that makes it tolerable is knowing that night I will be slipping into a fresh, clean bed. Often the cats play under sheets while I trying to tug it all flat, this time, however, I had a bigger problem.

We had been for a walk and the dogs were in nap mode and census said the couch wasn't good enough. It started with Raimi who normally naps on the bed after our walk and while his mournful gaze and hovering presence was not a surprise but it did slow things up a bit.  I managed to get the sheets on but as soon as that was done he figured the time was ripe to get settled. Moments after he got cozy Leeloo threw herself down next to him. I still needed to put the duvet into the cover ... hmmmm.

Esme didn't stay long because I was fluffing and smoothing and generally making sleep impossible. The Ridgebacks refused to shift themselves regardless of what I did. In the end they slept under the comforter for about a half hour until they got too hot, as I knew they would. During that time Esme was in quite a state because she couldn't find the Ridgebacks, and even when I showed her where they were she spent quite some time whining and looking for them. They are her 'flock' and if she can't see them or find them ... well, she just needs to look in the bed. Duh.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Lion's Share

There are some things that dogs can be counted on, regardless of breed. I couldn't decide whether these two  were actually sharing or trying to take the treat away from each other. There can be five treats available but every dog wants the same one at the same time ... it's Universal Dog Law #42.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Shining Season

The mornings now are quite cool and brisk. Hard to imagine just 10 days ago it was 24 degrees at 7am and so humid you couldn't breathe without sweating. The Fall weather has taken over and the dogs are loving it. There must be more creature activity in Autumn because these mornings there is much nose twitching, wrinkle making, and bright eyes looking for something to chase. I'm sure the same can be said for the critters the dogs are in pursuit of ... except the chasing part - their's would be more of a 'run for your lives' activity.

Much smashing through bushes occurred today, a woodland occupant must have been on the move and quite recently. The dogs rarely forget where they saw or smelled something marvelous and I have to watch that they don't bolt ahead if we do a return (instead of a loop) because they remember on the way back what was interesting on the way in.

Today there was a lot of standing and sniffing the air too, I don't mind the sniffing, but the headlong dash into the woods always makes me nervous. They can 'see' things I can't and since the entire province is pretty much woods, having them disappear after an invisible target into the bracken can be a bit worrying. A quick call to 'come' usually gets them returning fairly satisfied with themselves and they are always eager for the next pursuit.

As the days grow shorter the walks will get cooler but knowing these guys they won't mind, the cooler it is the more they run and the more they run the more they sleep. Sounds like a good deal to me.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Morning Glory

I love mornings. Well, I love waking up all warm and cozy with the contented weight of Raimi's head resting on my back. Leeloo is often laid flat out on her side along my legs, her head hooked over my ankle and deep in REM sleep. Esme, if she is on the bed, is at the end in a fuzzy little pile, usually with her tummy exposed to the heavens. Sometimes I slip out of my dreams to find one cat has tidily balanced itself on my ribcage and the other is curled into the crook of my legs, thereby adding their slumbering presence to my waking dream.

That few moments before the alarm sounds and the day must begin are my favorite in every 24 hour period. I am cocooned in down and surrounded by creatures who are sleeping so deeply only because they know they are perfectly and completely safe.

The alarm sounds and first up is Esme stomping on me and the Ridgebacks, ridding the bed of cats and doing her level best to get everyone moving. Raimi always has a languid stretch, steps off the bed, walks around, shoves his nose into my eyeball or cheek and snorts. He stomps around in gleeful anticipation of me getting up and I can hear his tail smacking the wall in greeting. Esme is still leaping on and off the bed, unable to contain her excitement that another day has begun. Leeloo remains on the bed, stretches out those crazy long legs of hers, and starts to wiggle on her back, throwing her feet about. Once she has satisfied herself with that she stands on the bed and if I am not moving fast enough she starts to dig me out of bed with Leeloo noises and naughty nibbling teeth. That usually gets me up. Esme is still smashing around the room, pinging off the walls, Raimi, Leeloo, me and  the bed. The cats are long gone.

Once I am vertical everyone makes for the back door, I stumble to the exit, open the door and everyone goes out in a rush with Esme barking and leaping at Ridgeback throats. I shut the door and prepare their breakfast while Leeloo and Esme pee and Raimi stands on the deck and waits for me to open the door to let him in for his snack. That is the first 5 minutes of every day, people who don't have three dogs and three cats don't have this kind of morning, some days I'm not sure if they are missing out or just plain smart. I hope I never find out.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Winner Takes All

What a weekend. I can only take credit for paying the entry and holding the end of the lead. Esme did all the rest. This morning's show went pretty much Plain Jane, Esme won Winners Bitch again but didn't get to go into puppy group because a puppy placed in group. Ah well, better luck next time.

In the afternoon Esme was all in a dither because she hadn't seen the Ridgebacks in some time and I think she feels like she has to keep an eye on them. She fussed and fussed like an over-tired child but when we headed into the ring she was all business. I can usually tell when a judge likes my dog and I felt this judge immediately liked my little girl. She is hard not to like!

We won Winners Bitch again, then in the Specials class she was put in front stayed there for another Best of Breed over group placing specials! So we hung around and then headed into the group ring, expecting the same result from our foray into the Big Leagues as yesterday since a junior puppy placing in the group, much less a Puli puppy without real cords, doesn't stand much of a shot. Mr. Guy Jeavons  proved me wrong! He pulled Esme out for a fourth in group and I was astounded and gratified; here was my special starting her 'real' show career. They grow up so fast ... she didn't actually win the puppy group though because the judge liked the Bouvier puppy better but winning a fourth in group trumps a puppy group any day in my books.

So Esme is now retired from the Canadian show ring although I will enter her a few times at the local shows just to keep her head in the game. A Puli special is generally expected to have an almost full length coat so in about 4 years she will be ready to hit the ring for a planned campaign. She will also be heading to the Puli Club of America National Specialty in 6 weeks so expect to hear great things about this little marvel kicking butt in the USA.

After only three weekends of showing while still a junior puppy, Esme has proven that she has what it takes to become a world beater show dog. She has the attitude, type, and structure to give the Herding group a run for their money. Watch out Herding breeds, in about 3 or 4 years Esme is going to steal the spotlight. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Everything Is Illuminated

On this, a dark day in history, a shining beacon named Esme poked a little hole in the darkness to brighten our lives and mark this anniversary with a happier memory. We will never forget, but we can illuminate.

Today, amidst intermittent down pours, heavy mists and occasional sunspots, Esme became Immerzu's 62nd Canadian Champion. Exclusively shown by her Mommy(that's me) Esme has done what a Puli is rarely known for: she finished out of the junior puppy class. Now, my mom wants me to make sure to note that this is only because she rarely shows junior puppies, thus finishing from this class has never been considered.

But, Esme did it and did it in style. She has never lost Winners Bitch, she has always beaten dogs in mature coat, she has never shown badly, and she is possibly also one of the first Immerzu Pulis to get multiple Best Puppy in Group. In my humble opinion, she is probably one of the best Pulis my parents have ever bred, but I could be biased.

Phew ... I get ahead of myself. We were entered in all four shows this weekend as there are two shows in a day. So this morning at the first show Esme won Winners Bitch for her final point and finished her Canadian Championship. Then we headed in for Best Puppy in the Herding group and what do you know? She wins it! 

In the afternoon show she was just there to play really, get some ''safety' points maybe and give her some more ring time. She wins Winners Bitch again and then, showing against two adult male specials, Esme wins Best of Breed. From the junior puppy class! I was thrilled! In the most dark and secret realms of my imagination I barely allowed myself a moment to think of such a thing, but I know my girl is that good and apparently Larry Kereluke thinks so too! She didn't get anything in the group or puppy but it was just enough to know that she could pull off a win like that.

Currently she is sleeping off her Very Big Day with two very tired Ridgebacks who spent the day staying dry in the truck for most of the time. If you know Ridgebacks you know they do not like rain!

So, if you should so happen to meet Esme one day you may call her Her Majesty or MBPIG Can. Ch. Immerzu Everything Illuminated. I guarantee she will light up your life.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sex, Lies and Videotape

Recently (like yesterday) another breeder of Ridgebacks accused me of telling her some 'gossip' (over a year ago) and then spent what I think is the better part of several days, or possibly weeks, stewing about it to everyone but me. She thought I got the information from my own mentor, accused her, and then when that was flatly denied, I was confronted.

Imagine my surprise at being accused of spreading rumours about a bitch I didn't know existed. At this very moment I still can't tell you the bitch's registered name because everyone has been using call names only and I don't know who I am supposed to have criticized. So add to the strange circumstance of having someone accuse you of something you didn't do the inability to even research the dogs you are supposed to have talked about.

What I did, and I'll be honest, is tell this breeder that I wouldn't use the lines she is using because a health concern crops up unpredictably in the offspring but originates at one single dog. This is public knowledge as the dog in question can be researched online. According to this breeder, my research is classified as 'gossip'. Huh, better tell all the researchers in the world they are just a bunch of over-rated gossips. 

What I do know is that the actual 'lie' I am being accused of she has attributed to the wrong dogs. Which makes it more funny because I do remember which are the right dogs and who bred them.  I'm not telling her who they are though, that would be gossiping. (smirk) Added to which, the dogs I know of are not the only ones who are guilty of this little 'issue', nor the corrective measures taken to rectify it.  I am also not the only one who is aware of these 'corrective' measures and it makes me think I am some sort of scapegoat. Stay back or I'll eat your hat. 

It's weird because I have never been accused of something by someone who has flat out refused to accept my denial. Naively I believed that if I said I didn't do it I'd be believed. People who know me know I am not a liar. I am in fact, a terrible liar, even via email. I have a hard time being dishonest and I'm not sure why. I can bend the truth, sure, but I can't straight up lie very easily. If someone asks me a direct question I am compelled to be honest, it's a sickness I know. So to have someone repeatedly call me dishonest and a liar, when I know I am actually not, is a bit disconcerting. Never mind, I'll get over it.

Anyway, it has culminated, as it was bound to, into a legal threat on my part to stop her ridiculous attack. Would it hold up? Who knows, I'd have to prove loss of revenue, damage to my character, libel and slander, all very hard to build a solid case upon. Plus, since I'm 'not important enough' in the Ridgeback world I guess there may be little damage done. I know this, I would rather breed healthy, sound, stable dogs than be 'important', especially in the eyes of someone like that. 

Yes, dog people are crazy, but then, lots of people are crazy when they are passionate about something. However we must learn to keep things in perspective. As my mentor said, these are our pets, they should not define us as people.  Sadly some people are just plain ol' crazy to begin with and that never ends well.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Give a Girl a Break

Not much on the go here of late, the temperature has finally settled down to less than 30 degrees so we are all sleeping much better and our walks are far more pleasant. The sticky hot air is a thing of the past and cooler fall weather has prevailed.

This weekend we are headed to what will possibly be our last show of the season. Esme needs one point to finish and with four shows to gather that point I have high hopes she will be a Canadian Champion by the end of Sunday. The weather is calling for a rainy weekend so I better put her rubber boots on! Raimi and Leeloo will be joining me for the two days at the show but they aren't entered, they are just there as moral support for Esme. I know she appreciates their ringside cheerleading .. or whining, whichever the case may be.

In other news Archer has settled very well into his home in Cole Harbour. The habits I was so accustomed to are coming out for his new family and it is so good to hear that he remains the cheerful smothering boy I adored. Sometimes I think wistfully of his joyful company and miss him in those moments, but the sensible side of me knows that placing him was for the best and he is now happy and well spoiled by his New Mommy. 

So life continues out here on the east coast, every day is like a vacation (even with a job) and when I think of getting away for a break it occurs to me ... a break from what?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Where the Red Fern Grows

In Alberta ferns are hard to grow since it's dry there and ferns need a lot of humidity and moisture. Here, they are all over the place and they get big. How big? Well, the top of Raimi's head is about 36 inches so ... 3 feet? This is his extra hot, extra slobbery face since the day I took this it was about 24 degrees at 7am and the humidity was so high you could practically swim through the air. I guess ferns like this sort of heat but it makes Boys very drooley.

It makes Leeloos kind of silly. How does Leeloo cool off when she's on a walk and needs to lower her body temperature? Well, she doesn't get all slobbery and gross, she throws herself into some nice cool ferns and has a great lovely wiggle. The ferns came off a little worse for wear but as long as Leeloo was satisfied all is right with the world.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Two for the Road

How would you feel if someone forgot your birthday? Pparticularly your mom? Well, it happened to Leeloo. Poor sad Leeloo spent Saturday celebrating her 2nd birthday with a hurricane and I totally forgot it was the 4th of September. Ah well, better late than never!

So, happy belated birthday to Leeloo who is more beautiful than I could have hoped. She spent this morning galloping around a wooded area for a bit of a change from our normal haunt.  There are lots of young saplings for them to race around and they had a marvelous time ambushing each other.

Then she remembered that she is two now and silly flights of fancy should be a thing of the past. A drink in a shallow pond is more lady-like ... if you're a dog.

It's strange to think of her now being 2 years old, I can't believe she has already been part of my life for so long, it seems like just yesterday she was stealing bones from The Boy ... wait, that was yesterday. Doesn't she look fabulous? She has grown into her legs a bit and has filled out a lot even since she finished her Championship in May; her toes finally point forward instead of east and west and that fabulous depth and fill in her chest, so promising at 8 weeks, has dropped into the lovely front assembly she always had. She is a smooth, clean, and incredibly athletic dog and I feel privileged to call her my own darling Bubbalicious.  

Next stop is health testing and after that perhaps she will produce some puppies with her handsome boyfriend Raimi. For now though it's just fun to race through the trees together, bask in the sun and enjoy the good life of being two years old in Nova Scotia.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


We made it through the storm with little damage done and everyone a-okay. Apparently it was a category 1 hurricane that came through and although I could tell it was a little worse than last year's 'hurricane' it was not a lot worse. Today is a bit windy, and thankfully the +30 temperatures we've had for the last week seem to be a thing of the past. Can't tell you how happy that makes me.

On to other, more interesting news. As you may know, reading this blog, I live alone with no one to open jars for me or do any heavy lifting. When it comes to those things I just do it myself or ... do it myself.  I've encountered several situations which likely would have been easier and faster for a man to do, but I have done them my own way and while it may not be pretty and may not be perfect dammit, I can say I did them and be proud.

So today the truck had a little bit of a think about starting and then wouldn't stay running - it would just cough to a stall when I took my foot off the gas. This is a new problem since I haven't had a lick of trouble with the truck in over two years of owning it(except the passenger side sway bar but that was wear and tear more than anything). I'd already loaded up the dogs so out they had to come, confused of course. I thought I'd flooded it, which I don't think it actually possible with a fuel injected engine but either way I let it sit and think for a half hour and then tried again. No dice.

The dogs, by this time, were a bit put out because they thought they were going for a walk. I promised them that if I couldn't get the truck going I'd walk them to the park on lead. They returned to slumber mode while I set to work on figuring out what was wrong with my truck. The first thing you do, when you're me, is Google "ford explorer won't start". Sound silly? Well, the 258,000 hits tell me I'm not the only one who needs a little guidance. So I read up a bit and discover that a common problem is that the IAC valve in the engine gets dirty and needs to be cleaned. According to all the engine gurus this is 'easy' and there is no reason you can't do it yourself.

So, where, Tamzin asks herself exactly *is* the IAC valve? One then Google Images "ford explorer IAC valve location". There were lots and lots of photos showing me what it looked like when it was in someone's hand but almost no photos of its actual location within the engine. I have discovered through experience that a part on/in an engine does not necessarily look like the same part when it has been extricated from said engine. Also, lots of time the part you are looking at in a photo is shiny and new, not covered in 10 years of road gunk.

So, after much hunting and vague reference to the air intake I think to myself "I wonder if it's under the cover of the air intake". So, with absolutely nothing else to go on I remove the air intake cover and there she be: the magical IAC valve. Not one single source mentioned removing this large piece of plastic - I guess mechanics talking to mechanics automatically assume you know to remove the cover, women who have only ever filled their washer fluid do not. So, part thus exposed I set to work removing it, a surprisingly easy task in the end. I cleaned it out with WD-40 (for better or for worse), set it to dry, went in, had a shower, and then returned to putting everything back together. It all went shockingly smoothly and I had my doubts this was going to fix the problem.

I got into the truck, sent a prayer up to the truck engine doGs and turned the ignition. Immediately the truck roared to life and stayed there. Phew. I gave it a few minutes to think about stalling again but I have been running errands all day, including taking the dogs for their much delayed walk, and so far it seems the problem has been resolved. So now I know that 1) there is an IAC valve 2) it gets dirty 3) it needs to be cleaned and 4) you can do it yourself (even if you're a girl). 

It's pretty obvious that I do not have the option of defaulting to a man for the 'masculine' things in life - some things I do have to wait for my Dad to help me with but 95% of the man jobs in my house are done by me.  As I say, sometimes the process might be a little awkward but usually the end result is worth the effort. The internet can be a dangerous thing but today I am indebted to internet strangers who will never know that their photos, words and advice helped get a redhead back on the road.  It may have taken me a little longer to figure out but I did it and in all honesty I am not ashamed to admit was damned proud of myself.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Storm Cell

Right now we are preparing for a tropical storm which used to be Hurricane Earl. High winds, lots of rain and an indoor day. The storm was supposed to hit this morning at about 3am but I woke at 7 to a relatively still, humid, sticky day. Since the storm is on its way I decided to walk the dogs so that they at least have a chance to get out a bit before we batten down the hatches. The past few days the storm has pushed ahead of it the kind of air that meets your face as you open a steam oven. Now that the threat is upon us I welcome the wind and breeze to blow the heat out of the house and life into the atmosphere.

Our walk today was the kind of walk that just sucks the energy right out of your very cells. The air is heavy as though laden with expectation and breathing it in and out feels like actual effort. The dogs explored a bit and then succumbed to walking placidly beside me panting out their steamy breath and dragging their feet along the dusty trail. As the walk progressed the air transformed from being as still as the dead to a kind of Frankenstein revival, twitching and lumbering into life.

We are a bare half hour from returning from the walk and the wind has begun its gusts and the rain has spotted my windows with a few drops of promise. I have taken down the patio set, tied the 11 foot sunflowers to the fence and once the wind picks up enough to blow the hot air out of the house I'll close the windows and settle in for a day of movies and possibly some housework. Raimi is fast asleep on the livingroom floor directly in front of the oscillating fan while Leeloo and Esme will trade dog bones for an hour or two. The storm will come and go and we will tidy up when it leaves, as long as the dogs, cats and I come through the other side unscathed, the rest is all just stuff.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Dawn Patrol

I love silhouette photos. I'm not sure why, perhaps it's because they represent what balance in the universe means to me. A silhouette reminds me that in order to have dark there must be light and for something to shine there must be shadow.

Often the most difficult aspect of photographing against the sun is maintaining detail in the subject, if that is the intent. I love the highlight in The Boy's eye, it makes him seem bright and curious - a state of being uncommon for him.

A black dog against a sun ... that is a true challenge to light! Fortunately she had her tongue out otherwise this would just be a blob of fuzzy black in the middle of the photo. Can you tell this dog is 100 different kinds of naughty?

Leeloo pauses to listen for squirrels. This photo actually speaks to me of movement rather than stillness, perhaps it's because this is her 'spring into action' pose just a moment before dashing into the bushes to teach a squirrel a lesson.

The Boy at dawn. The sun touches his back, grass tickles his belly, the ground rises up to meet his every step and the wind brings him scents of a day just begun ...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Thank Your Lucky Stars

It feels like a day of Ridiculous Leeloo. She was so happy to go for a walk until she realized it was already 24 degrees at 7am. We haven't been for a walk in several days because she was in heat and then we were away and then I was sick - all things conspired to prevent heading into the woods for our usual morning constitutional. She did have a bit of a run or two but they only lasted for a few minutes before the heat caught up to her. This was her first zoom ... she was demonstrating what it means to be FREE!

After that little exhibition she realized she had a Dark Passenger and spent a moment looking to see who or what it was. Can you spot it? I'm not sure how she knew it was there but she was determined that his ride was over.

Then she got a little nose honk just for fun. Beep, beep.

Next stop: Weird Leeloo Expressions. I call this the Worry Eye.

"HEY! Thank you for the walk Mommy!" Leeloo is well known for her walk appreciation moments. She likes to trot next to me with a big grin on her face, or in this case, mow me down when I'm trying to take a photo. You can see Esme bringing up the rear - she is now a regular expert at navigating Ridgeback legs. You're always welcome Leeloo ... and you too Esme.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Crimson Tide

The tides is going out. Leeloo is done with her heat which means Raimi can be near his girl again. However just because Leeloo and I know this, it doesn't necessarily translate to The Boy realizing that the show is over. Leeloo has had to demonstrate the 'bitch' side of her personality to get it through his thick skull that his advances are unwelcome. She would roar at him and look at me waiting for the reprimand for her nasty behaviour and I just tell her "You go girl, he's not going to get it unless you are clear and direct."

Raimi, for all I love about him, is just like any other boy governed by his hormones. When Leeloo told him enough is enough he just got more excited. I had to intervene a few times to tell him to piss off and leave her be, that only worked for a short while and then he was at the poking and licking again. Then we were back to Leeloo telling him off with the gnashing of teeth and snarls. Thankfully this stage only lasted a short while and the house has once again settled into relative peace. This weekend, once I am sure she is well clear of the hormone shedding, I'll give them both a bath and bid adieu to the house of hormones until at least late winter, then, as long as all health testing comes clear, Raimi's dearest wish will come true. My house will be like Disneyland for him ... a scary scary thought.