Monday, October 31, 2011

Fright Night

It's Halloween and I don't usually get that many little ghosts and ghouls to my door. The sign that says 'Property Guarded by Rhodesian Ridgebacks' with a silhouette of a dog on it probably deters most people. I'm not sure I want people to the door much; the house erupts into total mayhem for about 10 seconds and I have to stop whatever I'm doing to give away candy. Candy! I love candy so to have to give it away stings a little each time there's a knock at the door.  

I was a little more in the spirit this year because I grew a perfect Jack o' Lantern sized pumpkin in my backyard and wanted to carve it. I saw something similar online so decided I could do it too. I took an ad for a certain dog I bred and copied it onto paper. Then I cut it out and traced it onto the pumpkin and somewhat carefully carved out the shape. I think it looks very nice although I can see where I'll need to either pay more attention next time or just get better carving tools. It's pretty darn cool that I grew this pumpkin, bred the dog and carved the whole thing myself. Happy Howl-oween everyone!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Good Year

It's that time of year ... actually, it's a little later than I've been in the past but better now than never. For the past couple years I have offered a Ridgeback calendar for sale as an addition to a calendar that I print for myself. This calendar has sold well in the past and is usually purchased by people who either have my puppies or just like the photos I take and enjoy looking at gorgeous photos of Ridgebacks in the course of the year.

Most of the photos in the calendar are ones I have posted either here or in my Facebook albums but I don't always post every photo and certainly not everyone has seen every photo I've ever taken. The bonus to this year is the addition of puppy photos since it's the first year of doing the calendar that I've had puppies to add. There were some pretty cute photos of the babies so don't miss your chance to look at them all year in glorious cardstock!

If you are interested in getting a calendar from me please email me at invictushounds and make your request. I plan to have the calendars in the mail before Christmas but if you want one as a gift please let me know and I'll try to get it out sooner. As an example of what might appear in the calendar here is one of the Boy taken a few days ago while we were enjoying a sunny Autumn day at the beach.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Shallow Hal

I have been fighting with Leeloo about her weight for a few weeks now. She is about 4 pounds over what I'd like to see her at and as they say, those last few pounds are the real challenge. I admit I spoiled her for a while after the puppies were born mostly because I just couldn't say no. She has a way.

However, this past couple weeks I've gone concentration camp on her butt and she has finally started to show the result. She's not quite there yet but if we have many more walks like we did a couple days ago it won't take long.

Leeloo likes to do the 'silly run' at least once per walk. Most people who have owned a dog know what the silly run is. They don't need to be chased, they don't need to be encouraged, they just get this crazy look in their eye, assert the silly tail and dash in loops and circles with utter abandon. Leeloo does this when she's trying to get Cora to chase her but once she realized Cora was not big or fast enough to keep up she just started show boating. It was a delight to watch. See the 'silly tail'?

Here she is actually dive bombig Cora who has already collapsed on the ground in a puddle of puppy goo because she knew she was going to get smashed there anyway. Leeloo doesn't care, she does a quick fly-by and is off again on another circuit through the grass.

With a few more days of walks like this and you'd never know Miss Leeloo was ever anything but svelt. Keep up the good work Doodles - you'll be running marathons in no time.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Tree

It's so easy to love my dogs. I'm sure that's true for a lot of people but mine are special. It's hard to know when you get a new dog how it will fit into the house and how you will feel about it. It doesn't go without saying that you will automatically bond with or adore a dog when it enters your home, sometimes the bond takes time, sometimes it doesn't happen at all. I put a lot of pressure on Cora from the moment she was born because she was essentially my only option out of this litter - if she didn't turn out the way I wanted I'd have to try again.

Thankfully Cora is easy to love. I'm not sure if it's because in her I see so much of each of her parents, or just because she has the right temperament to suit me. I've never owned both the parents of a litter before, I've never met Raimi or Archer's sire so I have no real idea how much of them is Halo and how much is their dad when it comes to temperament and habits. Every time Cora does something I think, "That is so Raimi" and sometimes it's "That is so Leeloo" and occasionally it's even both.

She is developing into a credit to both dogs and seems to be a balance of their virtues which means they each corrected what the other had wrong with them. To get this in the one puppy I really wanted to keep is a blessing. Then again, I knew Boy would do anything for me if he could. 

The one thing I had hoped would be corrected in Cora from Leeloo does not appear to be so. Cora is, after all my prayers to the doGs, developing Leeloo's ears. Well, one ear. Poor Cora - although I guess if you have to choose a fault then ears are pretty low on the list of things that can go wrong. We tried and tried to correct it but the stubborn thing just won't listen ... and for an ear that is some kind of feat. I suspect I'm the only one who will ever notice her wonky ear because some people can't even see it on Leeloo ... or perhaps I just obsess!

This puppy is hard not to love. She is so sweet, gentle, calm, smart and loving it's incredibly difficult not to want to look at her every moment. At night she lays her head on my knee and gazes into my face with her big soft brown eyes and a strange calmness comes over me. Perhaps she is hypnotizing me into believing she is never going to do anything naughty again ... or then again, maybe it's simple adoration.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

First Contact

Last week Cora went to the beach for the first time in her life - actually, it was the first time we've been able to go since before the puppies were born. Not going to the beach all summer when it's about a 10 minute drive away seems strange but it was a rather busy summer for me. Next year I'll be there a lot more! 

Apparently to Cora the beach is just like the woods only with fewer trees since she didn't appear to notice anything particularly different ... until we got to the sand. Then it was "Ooooh, what's this?" for about 3 seconds and then she was off playing. Here she is at the start of the walk in the classic Boardwalk pose.

Her parents didn't waste any time re-aquianting themselves with the beach and ran around like maniacs for a few minutes. This shot reminds me of cutting horses skidding after a cow ... then again, Leeloo can be kind of a cow sometimes.

Hanging with Leeloo can also be kind of fun sometimes, especially when she lets you lean on her while she trots down the beach.

Eventually Cora noticed that there was water at the beach. It took her at least 20 minutes to approach the shoreline and her reaction was disinterested at best. It was a totally calm day and there were no waves at all so I suppose the lack of roaring surf didn't exactly make her hair stand on end.

Leeloo was the exploration expert on this walk and mountain goated her way down this cliff with considerable dexterity. I love Raimi's expression, if you can see it, pretty much saying "Watchadoin'?"

I switched up the setting on the camera to black and white just to see what I could get. A Weimeraner is what. Good thing I didn't bring one of those home.

Raimi against the rocks was pretty neat - he was fascinated by watching stones fall from the cliff where Leeloo had dislodged them. I never said he was smart ... only handsome.

A family of three bottoms trailing back toward the truck. It was yet another satisfying, peaceful and beautiful day on the North Shore of Nova Scotia. I think we'll go back one day soon.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Play Niece

The day after our lure coursing Archer came out to the property again for a walk with Leeloo, Raimi and Cora and he had a great time. He loves to chase and be chased and he especially loves to show off and who better to show off for than a neice like Cora who is uncoordinated and much slower than him. He spent quite a lot of time teasing her ...

She was pretty game though and didn't appear to mind him showboating even when he left her in his dust. He always let her catch up.


Just so he could grind her into the ground again. Despite the pounding Cora took Archer was still nicer to her than her mother ever has been, Cora should be grateful for small mercies.

Leeloo learned that sometimes you get your own back and Archer took care of that nicely. She wasn't very happy he ambushed her and told him so. Fortunately Archer just thought she was playing and not really trying to kill him for biting her bottom ... I suspect Leeloo feels he doesn't take her seriously.

It's all fun and games when you're young, carefree and have a lot of energy to burn. Archer will be so excited to have a little nephew of his own to play with ... maybe next year Archer. Meanwhile, Leeloo and Cora will have to do.

The happy family watching from the woods; brothers, cousins, uncle and niece ... aren't they a picture?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Play On Players

It has been a lot longer than I intended to space between posts, not that I intended a space at all, but for some reason the spirit didn't move me. Plus I was painting walls in the house and between trying to keep a puppy from turning a lovely shade of Aqua Fiesta and moving picture frames and furniture around, I felt like I didn't have much time.

The photos from last weekend's lure coursing really need to start with this one of Raimi actually coursing. He's not determined, he's not intense but he's doing it. I am so proud of my Boy. Thanks to Cash's mom Jill for providing this photo.

The puppies fell to playing basically every single chance they got. I am told only one puppy picked up a tick - sorry Franco - and all were completely comatose for the evening which is the best kind of puppy to have. Tara's boy Rhone was very interested to say hello to Cora and Cash - he is young yet so maybe he still remembers what it's like to be a baby Ridgeback.

Cash and Zeppelin had a great time playing. They are both very big boys so they played fairly evenly for most of the afternoon.

Zeppelin had a few pounds on Cora but she still managed to hold her own. Better him than Leeloo although Leeloo probably thinks she's taught Cora some good life skills, like how to lose gracefully.

Franco is no fool and apparently has a good memory. This stare from Leeloo means a storm is brewing and he would be best to run for shelter. Leeloo took it easy on him though ... I hope Cora wasn't watching.

It was great to see the puppies and for the Moms and Dads to be able to chat with other Ridgeback owners besides me. It demonstrates that I'm not the only crazy Ridgeback owner in Nova Scotia! Hope to see everyone again next time and thanks to all for making our first lure coursing event a success!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Fox & The Hound

Yesterday was the RRCEC lure coursing day. Despite the weather's determined efforts to convince us the night before that it was going to be a miserable day, the sun came out at about 8am and although the field was soggy, it was a gorgeous day to be outside with the dogs. We had in attendance about 16 dogs and 3 of Cora's siblings managed to come so she got to play with someone her own size for a few hours.

Since no one had ever coursed their dogs before we weren't sure who would chase the 'bunny' but the only way to find out was to try. We didn't have a particular order of go, just whoever was ready so I can't remember who ran when. I think Shiraz was first up and she is pretty gamey as a bitch but didn't really understand what the fuss was about with the plastic bag - she wanted to know why Momma Tara was running through a field with her. 

Next up Leeloo who, in true Leeloo form, did precisely the opposite of what was expected. She took one look at the plastic bag on the line and promptly ignored it.  I ran with her a little way, I'm sure there's video and photos (to come), until she decided that "This is stupid" and just bounced along with me much like Shiraz did with Tara. She did investigate the bag when it was stopped and if she could have shrugged her shoulders she would have. I have no doubt about Leeloo's tracking and coursing ability with real critters, but a plastic bag just isn't her gig.

Ruby pulled out all the stops and showed dem bitches how it's done. She wasn't sure at first but once the lure picked up speed she was off. She followed it pretty closely for most of the course and it was an impressive demonstration of a dog that "get's it".

I ran Archer for his owner Sandra and although at first he was confused and anxious, as Archer tends to be, once the lure gained some speed it caught his eye and he was off. I ran with him a little way and shouted encouragement but when I stopped running he glanced back and left the lure to come to me. We caught it again as it rounded the corner but by then he'd lost some interest. We did do a second run with him but he was not so game - best not to over do it.

Mayla also had a go but she had a bit of a problem focusing, a bit like the other bitches, and didn't think the lure was all that interesting, more fun to visit people and get attention. Mayla is a bit of a social butterfly so no surprises there!

Ruby and Pearl are housemates and did a run together which was neat to see. Ruby showed Pearl how it's done and they ran very well together. A 'demo dog' can sometimes make the lightbulb go on ... certainly I think it helps. Unfortunately Ruby cut her foot on the line and couldn't run again, that sometimes happens when they step on the line while they are running and it slices them open, just one hazard of chasing the plastic bunny.

Junior took a turn and although he didn't get it the first time he was a little more game the second time and chased it fairly well and it was a good introduction to the lure. He caught it up when it slowed down and he was running along side watching it.

The comedy of the day was provided by Boy - he was the largest dog at the event by several pounds and not exactly the picture of cowardice. As I walked to the start of the course bunny was moved into position and as it did the line made a zinging noise on the pulley. Boy thought the bag made the noise and spooked backwards. He then refused to step over the line to come inside the course to start. I took off his collar so I wasn't dragging him across the line but he wouldn't come to me. Scared Boy. John, who owns Zeppelin(one of the puppies) put the slip collar on him and encouraged him over to me. He was very leery of the line but once the bag started to move Boy was off. Phew. He chased it very well and got up some good speed, lost it on the corner and then picked it up again up the other side. He stayed true to the lure but shied back away from the line every time it made a noise, he didn't like that noise! I had waited until later in the runs to bring him up so I suspect if I'd brought him sooner so he could hear the line for longer he'd have been okay. Since there were lots of people taking photos and video I know there is proof of the cowardly Boy and his redemption as a courser!

Tannin is almost 10 years old and he was also given a chance to prove his ability. He is a multi-titled dog in agility and obedience as well as being a Canadian Champion, Tannin is a truly versatile Ridgeback and he proved that he also has what it takes to be a coursing dog. He bounded along with the lure although he had a habit of spotting people taking photos and going to visit them!

Including the photographer in the middle of the field.  

Rhone is Tara's other male dog and he was also very game to the lure but like The Boy he was unsure about the sound the line made so while he stayed on course fairly well he didn't get too close to the line. At least we know Boy and Rhone won't cut their feet! Hopefully someone got photos of Rhone because I didn't!

The puppies had a chance to do a 30 foot puppy scramble and most of them chased the lure pretty well and then the fell to playing. They spent most of their time wrestling and getting to know each other again. I certainly know that Cora was completely exhausted and spent the entire evening comatose. I'll post some photos of them tomorrow. The boys are certainly big!

In all it was  great day, very fun and the dogs had a marvelous time. It's nice to get together with everyone and their dogs with no pressure of competition, to talk about training, habits, tips and tricks and to share stories about how great each of our dogs are. Huge thank you to the RRCEC for hosting such a wonderful event, to my parents for the loan of their property and to everyone who came out to enjoy the day. I hope it was worth it enough for you to want to attend another and hopefully we can do this again before too long.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Family Ties

Today is coursing day and I hope to have some photos and updates on that event tonight, if all goes according to plan, but until then we can all gaze lovingly at a small family of Ridgebacks. Well, I can gaze lovingly, you can admire or not as you wish. Some of my favorite photos are of the dogs just being together and this one of Raimi and Cora in the sunlight and shadows is so like a father and daughter going for an evening walk together. If he could hold her hand I'm sure he would - he's just that kind of Daddy Boy.

And although Leeloo can be a bit intense sometimes, she also has a softer side that shows she doesn't actually want to kill Cora. She looks much like a proud Momma here that it almost wipes out the image of her smashing Cora into the ground. Almost.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Field of Dreams

As mentioned we were at my parent's house last weekend and this coming weekend it is the location of the RRCEC lure coursing event is being held. I took a walk across the field just after my Dad had mowed it to see where the boggy spots were since it had been raining for a few days. It's looking very good and the dogs decided to test it out. Cora gave it two ears up.

Raimi tested the area near the trees. Looks like all systems go. He especially likes how short the grass is. My Dad got a new mower and spent some time testing his new toy in preparation for a bunch of Ridgebacks to chase a lure.

Both Raimi and Leeloo spent quite a lot of time racing around and showing off how fast they are. Fast enough to catch a lure? I guess we'll find out in less than two days!

Leeloo. What a show off. When she's not pummeling her daughter into the grass or on a serious squirrel hunt she's chasing Boy who is doing his silly run around the trees. Looks like the field gets the A-okay from all the dogs and that means we are green lighted for coursing!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Old School

Now that all but one puppy are gone life has taken on almost a frenetic quality of Things to Do hard believe considering what things were like with the puppies here. I finally have a chance to sit down and relax for a bit so I thought I'd update with little Cora and her life without siblings. She certainly noticed that she's the only one left of her age group but it hasn't slowed her down much. She was playing hard core with Esme up until last Monday when I left her with my parents to take to New Jersey for a dog show - Esme, not Cora. While at their house we went for a walk and a new partner in crime emerged although I'm not entirely sure Cora is keen to have this particular playmate.

As mentioned before, Leeloo doesn't really pull her punches. I can tell she is a little frustrated that Cora is unable to engage in the level of play to which Leeloo is accustomed. It doesn't stop her from schooling her baby girl with a vengeance.

Cora takes the beatings with all the frightened innocence of a 4 month old puppy and I have to constantly correct Leeloo's intensity. She doesn't listen because she's Leeloo and 'in the moment' so mostly I just make sure Cora is not getting hurt. One thing I know for a fact about Leeloo is that she is one tenacious bitch.

Cora, to her credit, accepts the attention and although she sometimes hides to get away from Leeloo's constant badgering, she usually emerges ready for more play.

That is, until Momma mashes her into the ground and clearly feels no guilt. The expression of glee on Leeloo's face is almost criminal considering what she just did to Cora.

Their play is harsh and often looks like Cora is in danger of getting badly damaged but this is how Ridgebacks play. I say Leeloo doesn't really pull her punches but in actual fact she does, just not always as much as she should - otherwise Cora would get seriously hurt. If Leeloo played with her the way she plays with The Boy, Cora would be in serious danger. Being trounced into the lawn doesn't look like much fun but seconds later Cora is up and ready for more action.

It will only be a few more months before Cora will be able to engage in the kind of play Leeloo wants from her. Until then Cora will have to put up with being beaten up on a daily basis and I will have to get used to uttering the words "Leeloo! Back off!" I'm sure Cora appreciates my supervision!