Friday, April 29, 2011

Breaking Bad

If I didn't think Leeloo might be pregnant I might have already throttled her unconscious at least 4 times in the last 2 weeks. Her behaviour is so un-Leeloo-like it's as though someone has replaced my Darling Bubbalicious with a doppelganger. Some might suggest her behaviour is because she's in whelp but I can't confirm that for at least another 3 weeks. Today, though, I can easily imagine what she might look like pregnant because her tummy is full of at least 5 or 6 cups of stolen dog food kibble. Oh yes, she broke into a bag of dog food and ate until she could eat no more. I hope she has a tummy ache. She is also on a diet so this means no dinner tonight and no breakfast in the morning. Bad Leeloo.

To run off the fruits of her gluttony we take our walks among the daisies - and yes, those are little yellow daisies, not dandelions. We must sniffy together on one side of the path ...

And then we must sniffy together on the other side of the path. Gives new meaning to stopping and smelling the flowers.

Leeloo keeps an eye on the forest for any creatures who might show their bushy little chattering selves. No squirrels were seen on this walk be you can be sure I felt very safe with Leeloo on the look out.

The pussy willows are out. I'm sure the dogs would prefer them to be actual pussy cats but no matter, they can find other things to amuse them until we get home where they can roar at the neighbour's mangy feral felines.

I think this one of Esme is bang on exactly who she is. GO GO GO! Never stopping for long, always busy with the hustle and the bustle. The Ridgebacks are unceasingly tolerant of her constant throat tackles and hock gnawing ways and maybe, just maybe, Esme can get Leeloo to stir to lose a pound or two with a couple of rounds of tag in the woods.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Shanghai Surprise

Almost 9 weeks ago, about 6000 km away in Mission, British Columbia, Rifka was bred to a dog named Akala. Rifka is one of Zero's 6 sisters and she has been busy cooking up puppies to carry on the Invictus or rather, to start, the Elyia Ridgeback kennel. She is loved ... scratch that ... adored, by Taryn who has doted on her for the last two months (and her entire life) and has been eagerly awaiting the arrival of an undetermined number of puppies. How many were waiting to burst forth?

This morning Rifka surprised everyone and easily whelped 9 healthy puppies, all with ridges and each easily 16 ounces. Apparently she popped them out, cleaned them all up and carried on as if she'd done it 100 times. There are 6 boys and 3 girls, 8 of them have what we in 'the biz' call show ridges and one multi-crown. So far Rifka is the only one of her siblings to produce no ridgeless puppies! Just like her Momma ... seems she takes after her mother in a lot of ways - this is Halo when she was on day 58 with Rifka's litter a mere twinkle in her eye ... or a lump in her tummy.

Rifka is a very surprising 5 days early to whelp this litter, she was only bred 9 weeks ago on May 1st. Large litters do have a habit of showing up before their due date but this early is not very common - I certainly didn't expect to have to start bugging Taryn for maternity updates until at least Thursday!

Rifka is being the fantastic mother we all expect from these girls and with the milk bar shown above I am quite sure there won't be a shortage of food! Congratulations to Rifka, Akala and Taryn on a wonderful healthy litter, hope they are everything you wanted them to be and more. I am of course showing this to Leeloo and expecting her to live up to her cousin's reputation! Then again, Leeloo does what Leeloo wants ...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Leap of Faith

Halo, as we all recall, just turned 7. Seven is considered  a senior or 'veteran' in dog years. However no one told Halo she was a veteran and she certainly doesn't look it. Her brother Riley in Oregon doesn't know he's a veteran either since he just completed his AKC Grand Championship - continuing the Aegis tradition of excellence.

Halo, also known as Haley by her local peeps, is staying active and living large in Quebec. The barn her owner Pia works at is Eastwood Stables and they hold horse shows in the summer. But in the winter, when the season is at an ebb, horse people find interesting ways to amuse themselves and stave off cabin fever. (Photo credit to Kinuyo Matsushito)  

This is Halo with Mike Lawrence of Eastwood Stables taking her through her paces. Pia subbed in Mike as Halo's 'rider' and I think they make a very good team. Halo has that Very Serious Business look on her face that is so familiar. "You want me to do this? Then we do it RIGHT."

I think Mike could use a little extra practice but he has good clearance and isn't drifting too badly. However if I could offer some advice to a learned horseman (as I recall from Pony Club years); look where you're going, not at the jump or the horse(dog). Halo is looking for the next obstacle ... such a good girl and clearly entering this endeavour with all the gravity it deserves.

Such form, such style! Her sound structure serves her well in every life stage. She is in fantastic shape, is obviously in an amazing home, I hear nothing but praise for her temperament, how easy she is to live with, how great she is with people and the (often very expensive) horses, other people's dogs, various goats, donkeys, pigs, cats and critters that attend horse shows and live in horse barns. There will never be another Halo and I am hoping that although she is 7 and a veteran now, she has at least another 7 years to go. Keep up this level of care and conditioning and it's not such a stretch to believe.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Littlest Hobo

Today we headed out to Malagash to my parent's house to enjoy a turkey dinner and pick up Esme who has for the past week been holed up there while Leeloo was in heat. Our friend Donna came up with me to spend the day as well since there is a litter of 7 Puli puppies and they are always fun to play with. Esme was over the moon to see me but the Ridgebacks were her main focus of the day. That and running as much as possible. (I must apologize in advance for the quality of the photos - I forgot to change the setting on the camera so they are a little all over the map in exposure and composition)

Leeloo thought Esme's reappearance was extremely handy since she also had a lot of steam to burn off. And fat. So why not kill two birds right? They took about 5 or 6 turns around this gazebo until Leeloo figured out that if she stopped Esme would come around to her. Fortunately Esme has the ability to turn on a dime and avoid getting trounced by a Leeloo.

Boy cut himself yesterday on our walk in the woods so he didn't feel much up to racing around like a maniac. He pretty well kept to a steady trot and ate deer poop.

And rolled. He loooooooves the grass so he went down a couple times to roll around. Leeloo thought he was inviting play and in a way he was ... she's pretty spry for a chubby Bubbalicious. 

Esme ran and ran and ran and ran and ran and ... well ... it's pretty well all she did. That and tackle Leeloo.

She's on the other side of Leeloo 'tackling' her. She didn't actually take Leeloo down, Leeloo was already down in a silly roll but when Esme ran up to trounce on her she tried to get up quickly and this was the graceful result. You are all class Leeloo. If she has puppies consider this fair warning to their various owners ... don't expect ballerinas.

And NOW she gets tackled for good and for real. However, the only way this ever happens is if Leeloo is already on the ground, otherwise Esme spends all her time leaping at throats.

Boy ended up needing first aid when we got in since his brief gallops opened the cut on his foot and he needed some vetting. Fortunately I have the handy dandy dog first aid kit in my truck so a little vet wrap later and voila ... all better. Well, if not better then at least covered and clean. Until next time ...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Today was the day, 7 years ago, that a star was born. Never one to demand attention, steady and reliable and trying very hard to always do the right thing, Halo (Can/Am Ch. Aegis Halo ROM) is the bedrock of everything I build my reputation upon. She came to me as a 9 week old puppy, my very first Ridgeback and my introduction to this one of a kind breed. It's so hard to believe they all start out this small. The girl with the lucky #7 on her chest definitely lived up to expectations and far exceeded them.

She grew up in Calgary with me and my boyfriend for the first year of her life, made many friends and learned the dog parks and walking paths of the south part of the city. Her favorite perch the chair by the bay window to watch the world go by. Look at those ears!

When I struck out to live by myself she obviously came with me and Petal and we learned what life was like on our own terms. She came with me quite often to my parent's house north of the city where she ran through the fields, thought about chasing horses and grew a little more each day.  

Eventually she finished her US and Canadian Championships but the show ring was not where Halo excelled. It was making outstanding babies. Not that Halo liked being a mom, I think she almost despised it, but the results of her efforts are undeniable. (This is Halo and Archer at 6 weeks)

Halo is a funny duck. She is manipulative and generous, soft and hard, strong and weak. She is whatever you to want her to be - or rather, she tries very hard to be what you want but her Boss Bitch nature sometimes gets the better of her! Don't be fooled by the penitent Halo ... there is a real bee-yotch hiding under there!

I made the unpopular decision to place Halo in 'retirement' home after I moved to Nova Scotia. She needed something I could not give her, somewhere that she wasn't competing with young dogs for attention and relegated to wallflower status. She deserved better than me. Serendipity took over and the perfect home contacted me when I hadn't even finished formulating the thought. She wanted a dog just like Halo. And just like that Halo was reborn as Haley, moved to Quebec and lives a life most dogs, and people, would take in a heartbeat. There she walks with new mommy Pia, eats horse poop to her heart's content, travels to horse shows all summer, bathes in sunlight and lives the life she deserves. Happy birthday Momma Halo, you are everything and more.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sex and the City

You know what they say about men and sex ... let them have it once and they want it all the time. Such is the case with Boy who is so completely love sick he doesn't sleep, barely remembers to eat, and can do nothing except whine at the French door for his one true love. His pleading eyes gaze in desperation at me and then Leeloo, then me again. I was woken almost every hour last night with his whining, barking and general carrying on. My house isn't big enough to put him somewhere I can't hear him so we make do with closed doors and ear plugs. My mom said she'd have put him in the shed ... she's kidding (maybe). If I put him somewhere he can't see Leeloo at all the whining and cage rattling is worse so I let him gaze at her from across the room.

Leeloo, for her part, wants nothing to do with Boy. She probably wishes he was dead, or at least in the next county over. She clearly feels singularly violated from his attention yesterday and certainly is making no flirtatious advances today. Poor gal. She spends her time sleeping on the couch and thinking about when we can next go for a walk. I'm fairly sure she resents the whole world right now but maybe the dog cookies I brought back from the Pictou show this weekend will mollify her. Here's a photo of a happier time when Leeloo didn't know what Boy was capable of and Boy didn't either.

The good news today is that a breeding was accomplished far more easily, quickly and with slightly less screaming. Boy was on her in a trice and after just one slight misalignment he managed to get a tie very fast. Leeloo screamed which we now know means that Boy's right where he should be and once they were settled into a tie she was a little more cooperative. Her problem is she gets bored and annoyed so she starts to squirm and try to sit. She is basically being as uncooperative as possible and succeeding marvelously. Another photo from a happier time when Leeloo thought being in heat was extra fun and flirting was harmless. 

Dog gestation is just 9 weeks and I should know in 5 or 6 weeks if she is definitely in whelp. Leeloo is currently carrying a couple extra 'Mommy Fat' pounds so it might be a little harder for me to tell! I like to think I was preparing her for a potential litter because of Halo being unable to keep weight on for her last litter. This is what I tell myself but we all know I just let Leeloo get a little soft around the edges - she's not fat, she's just fluffy. Maybe soon instead I can say she's not fat, she's got puppies!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

My Girl

Today amidst the blood curdling screams of a bitch being bred, Boy and Leeloo took that first important step toward producing puppies. Last night they were very close to being bred but when Raimi managed insert Plug A into Socket B, the owner of Socket B yelped and her OMG lightbulb went on. I could tell, in his next few attempts, that she had put two and two together and come up with an extreme violation of her person. "You want to put what WHERE?"

I called Erin, the most experienced live cover Ridgeback breeder I know, for a little advice. It was sound, as always. Manage the bitch, not the dog. If he's doing his part just manipulate her until she is in the right spot. See, although I grew up in dogs and have had 3 Ridgeback litters, I was never present for the breeding of Halo - she was bred twice in California and once in Las Vegas. Ridgebacks are not Pulis and both dogs are very strong so managing to get them bred was going to be a bit of a challenge. Quality time with the parents coming right up.

I mostly needed a hand managing both ends of Leeloo. Boy was being very good, trying his best and working in exactly the right spot but everytime he got close to Plug/Socket connection she twisted around and he was unable to get the power turned on. With a little help from my Dad holding Leeloo's head, me directing her bottom, and my mom guiding Boy, we managed to get a tie after a few false starts.

Leeloo screamed for a good 5 minutes or so once they were tied. And I don't mean whining, pitiful noises - she was screaming her heart out. Everytime either one of them moved the crying increased slightly in pitch. It was fun let me tell you. Once Boy was relaxed into the tie and we could turn them(so they are facing away from each other) Leeloo did everything in her power to make the experience as annoying and uncomfortable as possible.

She kept backing into Boy, turning sideways, trying to lie down or sit or simply walk away. My Dad had a death grip on her collar to stop her from moving and I had my hands underneath her tummy to stop her sitting. She took advantage of this by relaxing her hind legs so I was holding her up. My mom managed Boy's head where he simply leaned against her leg with a dreamy expression on his face, panting heavily and clearly in his happy place.

Leeloo's expression was one of horror. Of violation. Of extreme distress. Her pretty eyes were popping out of her head. Everytime she looked at me those big browns bored into my brain pleading to make it stop. They were tied for 23 minutes and then voila, tie broken and dogs seperated. Leeloo is spending a couple hours in her expen feeling sorry for herself and not speaking to me. Boy is satisfied, sleeping on the dog bed next to me, occasionally looking through the French door where he can see Leeloo in her pen. She's his girl don't you know.

Tomorrow we will try again and then skip Monday and try on Tuesday. Canine sperm can live for up to 5 days in the uterus so if we cover the run of a 5 day span it will hopefully meet the eggs when they are most ripe. I can't see me doing a breeding without help particularly considering Leeloo's behaviour. Boy was perfection and did his job admirably - I guess if you're going to be good at something it might as well be that.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Big Momma's House

Since the weekend excitement has died down it's time to revisit the House of Leelooooooooove. Esme has been vacationed to my parent's for a week while the two virgins work out how to make things happen. Esme was getting more and more snotty with Leeloo the further into her heat Leeloo got, I think Esme took it as a personal affront that Leeloo even dare come into heat while Esme is still alive. Anyway, to keep the turmoil at a bare minimum(which is hard when you have two lusty large dogs in the house) Esme is away and Leeloo is quite close to being bred.

It's a funny thing, Leeloo is begging Raimi to give her what she wants and he's all "Hold the phone". He's been through a few heats with her and is very reliable about knowing when the timing is right - it's the only thing he's smart about. She is unconvinced and if she could rape his bones she would. Soon though Raimi will be saying "Yo She-Bitch - let's go!"

So now, unless they are playing "getting to know you," they are seperated to heighten the mood when they have actual contact. It's pretty cute, Raimi sucks on Leeloo's ears, pokes her shoulder and sides, licks her and dances around. Leeloo, for her part, shoves her bottom in his face every chance she gets. It's the waltz of dog lust and it's darn cute. Right now they are playing at the act, when actual breeding is going to take place there is no playing about it. Down to business is the name of the game. Good times.

As they 'play' Raimi has a habit of looking over at me like "Is this okay Mommy?" whereas Leeloo couldn't care less if I was  in the room or not ... she is on a a mission. I can see why people think the dogs are in love or are playing husband and wife or whatever but if we take a reality check what is actually happening is a hormonal tidal wave they can't control. And that tidal wave is crashing all over my furniture while they flirt ... my poor couch.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Wrestler

Yesterday was the final day of the big Canadian Ridgeback Specialty weekend. Seven shows in 4 days and what a rollercoaster ride that was. Friday morning was depressing and Zero wasn't even a blip on the radar of his class. Friday afternoon saw him go all the way to his first 5 point win. Then on Saturday the Reserve win at the national Specialty was a spark of hope but there was no fire and no points - just pretty ribbons and prizes (loot!). Saturday afternoon was a total wash with a cursory class placement. Sunday morning was hardly anything to write home about. Then, it happened, Sunday afternoon a 5 point win at the BC Specialty to put him on 10 points!

This meant that unless Zero won on Monday he'd be stuck at those 10 points until he could return to Canada and get his third and final win to finish. Could he do it? Did he do it?

Team Zero is in the HOUSE!  Zero is now a Canadian Champion with Best of Winners at the all breed show. He is Halo's fifth and final Canadian Champion and is titled in the country of his birth. Way to go Zero!

I am also hearing really great things about Juliet, Zero's handler. Her radiant smile and grace under pressure were remarkable. She took some losses this weekend and instead of moping and storming, she smiled and continued to show Zero to perfection. I cannot tell you how great it is to hear second hand good things about the person taking care of a dog that has your name attached to it. I have heard pretty awful things about some professional handlers so to get nothing but glowing praise about Juliet is awesome!

Huge thank you to Erin as well for agreeing to send Zero to Canada. I know I filled out the entries right(because I triple and quadruple checked them), they cashed my cheque, and he's officially a Canadian Champion! That's two Champions in less than a month ... so far it's been quite a year for Invictus and it's only April!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Winner Takes All

Dogs shows are a roller coaster any time you go but when you throw two shows a day into the mix it can make for some pretty crazy results. The Ridgeback entry in BC is really high with both the RRCBC Specialty and the Canadian Specialty reaching upwards of 100 dogs entered. The satellite shows, meaning the all breed shows held on the same days, have about half that entry. In such competitive crowds it's hard to imagine the same dog winning consistently because every judge is so different in their opinion of a Ridgeback.

Crazy right?

I mean, what is the point of a 'standard' when it doesn't create standard dogs at all? There is literally nothing standard about it because each judge sees the dog described differently in their mind. The standard does describe a brown average looking hound dog with a ridge on it's back. The finer points of the breed description can be left open to interpretation and because of the variety of types within the breed (a result of breeders breeding to what they interpret as the standard) judges are often presented with dogs in the ring that can be alarmingly dissimilar.

I know it's confusing but imagine several contractors being given the same plans of a building's architecture. The end result, regardless of who builds it, should be the same right? In dogs, because these are living creatures, strict adherence to the 'architectural plans' cannot be maintained - they are organic and as such rarely adhere to the strict tenets of a blueprint. This is what makes breeding dogs challenging and maddening. You are trying to adhere to the standard while accommodating and allowing for faults and virtues over which you rarely have control. It's a guessing game much of the time and you can't always predict the results.

Results? Why yes, I do have results! A dismal morning All Breed show for Zero turns into a fabulous afternoon with Best of Winners and another 5 points toward his Canadian Championship at the RR Club of British Columbia specialty! A few people at ringside are putting it down to rubbing his sister's pregnant belly for luck - hope she comes tomorrow! Now that he is sitting on 10 points he just needs another win under another judge to be considered a Canadian Champion. It needn't be anything more than one point, he just needs to have 3 wins under 3 judges to make it official. If he can win tomorrow great but sitting on 10 points after one weekend certainly makes a great start at getting the job done! Once again Juliet piloted Zero to a flawless performance and this team is proving that a great working relationship is the only way to fly.

I must back up and mention the morning's All Breed show with 11 month old Atlas once again taking Best of Breed over a very large entry and then he went on to a group 4th, Best Puppy in Hroup and THEN Best Puppy in Show! Needless to say this dog has had quite an incredible weekend of wins and is now the #1 Ridgeback in Canada. See? Invictus girls make great babies! But ... we already knew that! Congrats to Team Atlas!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hotel Reserve

The Canadian Ridgeback National Specialty was yesterday and there are some nice wins to report. Because of the time difference I haven't heard yet how the afternoon show went for Zero and although no news usually means good news, in dog shows it generally means no news. He did, however, win Reserve Winners Dog  at the National Specialty which basically means he came in second of all the class males - there were approximately 25 entered. Reserve means that should Winners Dog not be able to fulfill all the duties of the win (as in, he loses his points because he's disqualified for some reason) Zero would get those points. It seems kind of silly to have the win in some respects because usually by the time you've found out you get those points your dog is already a Champion and doesn't need them!  At any rate, the win comes with some nice ribbons and trophies and I am proud of Zero's showing so far in BC. He has a few more shows to try and get his Canadian Championship, otherwise he will have to return at a later date for unfinished business.

Also, a member of Invictus' extended family has had some very impressive wins in the last couple days. Atlas, Ch. Charisma's Mischief Managed w/ Coso has won Best Puppy in Breed every show, including yesterday when he took Best Puppy In Breed at the National and was in consideration for an Award of Merit (an unofficial award). Then, in the afternoon at the All Breed show he won Best of Breed over 51 Ridgebacks and then went on to take a third in the Hound group. He is just 11 months old and this is an impressive start to this young dog's show career.

Atlas is out of Ch Invictus One Magic Christmas (Karma) and sired by probably the most winning Ridgebacks in the history of Canada - Argos.  Atlas breeding took into account the desired result, pedigrees and the individual dogs themselves - that is how responsible breeders do it anyway. Decide what you want and using the dogs available to you attempt to get it. I worked closely with Atlas' breeder Adine, discussed it with Argos' owner and ultimately we all agreed this was the best match for what Adine wanted in a show dog. I think we (mischief) managed it!

And if you don't remember, Atlas is the dog who contracted parvo as a 5 month old puppy and through incredible persistence by his Mommy, lived to take on the National Specialty weekend with a vengeance. I think we can all agree he was worth the effort.

Congratulations to all the winners so far this weekend - I am jealous I couldn't be there to see all those fabulous dogs!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Julie & Julia

Today we are leaving the world of crazy dog stories and taking a trip down an even crazier avenue ... cooking.

I'm not a cook. I can't be described as anything near a cook. I'm not too bad at it really, if I concentrate and try really hard, but I just find it boring and if it wasn't for the fact that cooking and eating kept me alive, I'd never do it. If there was a pill you could take that meant you didn't have to eat and never felt hungry, I'd take it. I do have a habit setting off my fire alarm 4 out of 5 times I use the stove but that, to me, is more a matter of the sensitivity of the alarm and less the smoke billowing out of the oven. Also, I tend to get bored with cooking and wander away leaving whatever it is to heat up perhaps a little beyond the recommended time frame.

To me, eating is a time suck and food is just fuel. Don't get me wrong, I like a good meal, I love certain foods and can certainly appreciate a very good dish when served one. In New York there was talk about "experiencing New York food" and "you can't eat at the same place twice when you're in New York". Yes, you can. Experiencing the culinary delights of a foreign land is so low on my list of priorities I can't even begin to describe it. Eat and go ... that's my gig. If I find somewhere that has a good price, good food, a variety of dishes, decent atmosphere and is convenient I'd go there the entire vacation. Jack's on W 39th in Manhattan ... we will meet again.

Back to the original point - the actual process of cooking and even taking the time to eat annoys me. I get in the usual grumpy mood when I'm hungry but part of the irritation is the fact that I have to cook something or even stop to eat. It means that some meals are a bowl of cereal or popcorn, I just can't be bothered to actually put effort into meal preparation. It also annoys me that I am literally hungry all the time - it's like food is just mocking me.

So a couple weeks ago, since the weather is getting nice and the fire alarm needs a break, I bought a tiny little barbeque which is heated with a one pound Coleman propane tank.  It was cheap and I figured how hard could this be? It means that I can cook outside, I love the smell of a barbeque, cleaning up is a snap and dishes are minimal. Plus I do love scorched meat for dinner. I decided to start out small with the barbeque, mostly because if I don't use it at least it's only a small investment. If I find I use it a lot I'll look at a bigger, more permanent one for next summer.

The weather was decent yesterday so I arrived home last night with thoughts of assembling my tiny barbeque little realizing that the process was going to take almost an hour. A miniature Uni-Flame barbeque! I need not mention that I came home hungry and wanted to eat as soon as possible but no, because I'd already started the food prep before opening the box, it meant I had to keep going. It had about a thousand parts, 900 screws, and mysterious contraptions which I am largely unfamiliar with because I've never looked very closely at how barbeques even work. I eventually managed to assemble the unit with Raimi's very close supervision, set it outside and for the first time in my life, lit a propane heated barbeque.

No explosions, there was a bit of a poof but otherwise the flame lit and stayed steady. There were all kinds of dire warnings in the instructions about leaks and whatnot but everything was heating up nicely. Having only used a stove for the past ... ever ... I had forgotten, really, that flames mean heat NOW, not in a little while. If you have a gas stove this wouldn't come as much of a surprise but for electric stove users the blast of flame is a bit of an eye opener.

I had a lovely little marinated pork chop which I threw on the grill along with some potatoes wrapped in foil and some corn. I finished doing the dishes while the food barbequed and although I suspect leaving the flaming unit unsupervised is probably not a good idea, I do still have a back deck and the dogs didn't go anywhere near the grill. I was on the phone with my friend Donna at the time as well and we joked about the smoke detector going off even though the barbeque was outside the back door ... don't laugh, with Chef Tamzin anything is possible.

Although I burnt the pork chop a little simply because I wasn't sure about the heat level within the barbeque(it will take some getting used to) this flame cooking thing, I think, I could get used to. Based on the results from last night, me and my little barbeque are going to get a lot more aquainted. It won't make me like cooking any more but at least I won't spend half my culinary time fanning the smoke away from the smoke detector. I'm sure my neighbours will appreciate that too. I'd invite you all over for a barbeque but it's pretty tiny and frankly, I want to get a little practice in before attempting to poison anyone.

Anyway, that is my non-dog blog for today. News of Zero's exploits in British Columbia coming up tomorrow. He made up for his dismal Friday morning results by taking Best of Winners in the afternoon and is currently on 5 points but needs to win at least twice more to finish in Canada. With 5 more shows to go, I'm sure it's possible! Best of luck to all entered as well, I hear that so far it's been a fun time on the West Coast!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Special Z

Enough about boring Leeloo and her heat. Only time will see this event escalate. On to more things that we crazy dog people do to make ourselves insane.

This weekend is the Ridgeback National Specialty in Canada. It's a show where the only breed entered is Ridgebacks and they compete for top honors against the best in the breed across the country. The event this year is taking place in Chilliwack, BC in conjunction with several other shows and there are about 100 Ridgebacks entered. I think that is the largest entry in the short history of Ridgeback Specialties in this country.

So the point is that Zero is entered. He is back in the classes again because he is not a Canadian Champion - he will be entered in Open and competing against other dogs who are not Canadian Champions yet either. He may be an American Champion, which is great, but since he was born in Canada I had rather hoped he'd get the title of his 'homeland'.  Erin and I discussed him coming up here and I said that if she sent him up I would pay for the show entries since this is 'my' country.  I also arranged to have an ad placed in the Canadian dog magazine Canine Review and it looks lovely - it is compliments of the folks over at The Ridgeback Register who designed the ad.

Annyway, there are seven shows and seven chances for him to finish his Championship. I am really hoping he does as that will give Halo her 5th and final Canadian Champion. I know Erin and Juliet, who is showing him, are gunning for more than just Best of Winners but since these are dog shows there is absolutely no way to predict what will happen. Especially with foreign judges! There are a lot of really nice dogs over on the west coast and every day will be different!

Hugs to both Zero and Juliet for a good showing this weekend ... hope to have updates as the weekend progresses.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Film At 11

I was thinking the other day about names for dogs. I have a list of movies I plan to use on puppies as registered names - as I think of a movie I like I add it to the spreadsheet so that when I actually have a litter on the ground I'm not trying to spark genius with a sleep deprived brain. I usually like to name dogs in relation to the the movie they are named after ... it's just a thing I do.

Halo is actually not named after a movie, she was named after the video game HALO: Combat Evolved. Man, I love that video game. My boyfriend and I spent countless hours in 2003 fighting the campaign (and not the 'easy for girls' skill level either) and I decided that I wanted to name my first Ridgeback Halo. The name theme was what I always wanted though and I began her first litter with movies that start with the letter A.

Raimi is Army of Darkness and although I was tempted to name him Ash I decided not to because I like two syllable names for dogs. I did not see a future in which he would largely be referred to as Boy.  I chose Raimi because Sam Raimi directed Army of Darkness - he also had a hand in such movies as Spiderman ... you might have heard of that one too.

My second litter went out of alphabetical order because they were born on Christmas Eve and they all got Christmas movie names. I spent many an hour wracking my brain thinking of holiday movies that people would like. Zero is named after the ghost dog in Nightmare Before Christmas - I'd actually initially rejected this name because I didn't think anyone would want to name their dog that - trust Erin to be all "Can I name him Nightmare Before Christmas??" Have at 'er!

Leeloo is obviously from The Fifth Element. She is not of my breeding but I got to name her so I chose one of my very favorite movies - it's quirky, fun, has a mind of its own, is full of surprises, the main character is perfect and beautiful and what better name that that for my pretty girl? I see lots of different spellings of Leeloo but the only one that is correct is the way it's spelt in the script and I made sure I had it right. Details like that are important to me - I have spent my life correcting the spelling of my name - if it's not spelt right it's not my name. Same applies to Leeloo.

Archer's name is straight from the movie Blood Diamond. The character played by Leo Dicaprio is named Archer, he is an ex-pat Zimbabwein and refers to his true homeland as Rhodesia. Fitting right? There is even a Ridgeback in the movie although very briefly. It is an amazing movie about African diamond trade and smuggling and although you tend not to like Archer very much through most of the movie, he redeems himself in the end. If you haven't seen it ... do.

Esme's call name is actually not from any movie although there is a movie called Everything is Illuminated. It was too long as a registered name so I had to shorten it. It suits her very well since the room lights up when she is in it - whether you want it to or not! She can be crazy annoying and a little monster but it is what makes her Esme. I hope to find agility classes to take her to next winter, I think she'd get a total kick out of that!

And so the name ideas for the next generation, should we be lucky enough to produce one, will be saddled with all kinds of movies starting with the letter 'C'. Coraline, Catch and Release, Catch Me If You Can, Crazy Heart, Clueless, City of Angels, Courage Under Fire ... the list grows and grows. Army of Darkness and The Fifth Element will soon have their chance to stamp their filmographies all over the next generation. Critics will have a heyday!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Batteries Not Included

Okay - you can stop wondering. Leeloo is now in heat. I suspected two days ago she was but didn't want to get anyone's hopes up. Tomorrow the dogs are seperated while I'm out, usually they share a pen and spend the day cozying up to each other. But now, although they get to cuddle and do all the gross dog things dogs do when they are preparing to breed, they are not allowed conjugal visits.

See, while I do want to breed them, I do not want them to do it willy nilly. They are both first timers and while the heat of the moment says YES YES YES, sometimes during the actual act one (usually the gal) can say WTF ARE YOU DOING?? Also, knowing exactly when and for how long they've bred will tell me when I can possibly expect bundles of joy. Plus, you can't expect Boy to know when to quit, he would exhaust himself in the first 24 hours. He doesn't eat or drink when 'in love' and I certainly don't want him passing out!

In case you are not familiar with dog coitus (and I'll try to keep it PG), once they are 'Plug A into Socket B' there is a muscular reaction which causes Plug A to become 'locked' into Socket B thereby preventing the seperation of said parts. Should the owner of the Socket take particular exception to a randy Plug serious damage can occur to both circuits and all kinds of mayhem would ensue.

Good stud managers who host several bitches a year do not allow unsupervised activities between the Plug and the Socket. Many will allow the dogs to get aquainted and hang out together until they are actually ready to be bred; the dogs will flirt, tease and enjoy a little foreplay so that once the action really starts it's not the first time the dogs are meeting. No one likes to be accosted by a testosterone charged Plug on the first date. You know I'm right.

So this 'get to know you' period is fine until the electricity is turned on and the Socket is ready to meet its Plug. Once ovulation occurs, usually about 10 days into the heat but it can vary widely, it is important to keep the dogs seperated and only allow them access to each other when they are actually being bred. This happens 3 or 4 times over the course of about 5 days. Do not be fooled - dogs cannot mate until the bitch is ovulating. She knows it. He knows it. Only they know when the time is right (unless you are doing progesterone testing but that is a whole other story).

Anyway, over the course of the next two weeks or so I will keep an eye on the dogs and allow them to dictate the timing of the breedings.  I don't trust any breeding like I trust 'live cover', which is what peeps in the biz call Plug to Socket canine sex. What is interesting is that during this foreplay period, Leeloo will flirt with Boy, wave her bottom at him and try to get him to play. He will obviously happily oblige. Then the heat gets turned up for five days of canine coitus where they can't get enough of each other. However, once she is satisfied he has done his manly duty she's all "RAWR! Get the frig away from me arsehole!" That is how you know she's done ovulating.

The timing works out pretty well actually because both my parents will be in town for a dog show about the time my slutty little Socket will be ready to receive her Horny Plug. Yay right ... super fun quality time with the 'rents. Breeding dogs without assistance can be complicated and give the size and inexperience of the dogs here ... help is definitely going to be required.

Yes indeedy ... dog breeding is a delight for the ages.

And as a happy aside, Boy's sister Rifka in British Columbia is was confirmed in whelp via ultrasound and will expect a litter in 4 weeks! This is be the very first litter for Elyia Ridgebacks and we are so excited to see what Rifka and Akala produce!