Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve

It's the last day of 2011, in case you haven't been keeping track. I won't be sorry to see this year recede in my rear view mirror. Not that I haven't had some great times in 2011, but there have been some things that have marred the past 365 days, enough to make me question what it is I really want to do with the dogs, showing, breeding and the like. The new year will see the end of some things and although endings can be sad, they must occur to allow new beginnings.

This year started out with some pretty exciting plans, mainly the anticipated trip in February to Westminster Kennel Club in New York City. My expectations were simply for Zero to make the first cut and as we all know he managed much more than that. His Best of Breed win at this esteemed show was more thrilling for all that it was totally unexpected.

This experience remains the highlight of 2011 for me since it is among the pinnacles of wins any owner or breeder can achieve in dog showing. It was the highest entry for 2011 and highest breed entry in WKC history and a win I will cherish for my lifetime. No small thanks to Erin for making it possible for Zero to show in New York.

After such a lofty start to the year the following 8 months had a lot to live up to. I have to give them credit for trying! In April Zero made the front page again by winning his Canadian Championship in one Ridgeback Specialty weekend in BC which gave his mother Halo her 8th Champion of Record. Leeloo also obliged by coming into heat and we made Raimi's lifetime by allowing him to have his way with the love of his life. 

Then it was time to just sit back and wait to see whether Leeloo would cook up some puppies. In just a few short weeks it was apparent that she had and how. I felt a little sorry for Leeloo when she was at this stage because it was apparent she didn't understand why she was so uncomfortable, why she couldn't curl into a ball, and what was kicking at her insides.

In short order she was relieved of the burden of being fat and saddled with the burden of 10 healthy puppies. Fortunately she seemed to grasp this task far better than being pregnant and breezed through the care of her litter with hardly raising an eyebrow. Her favorite part was being fed almost 8 cups a day for a couple weeks!

As happens with anything baby they grew up so fast and in the blink of an eye they were almost ready to go home. Before moving to Nova Scotia I was a little concerned about who I would sell puppies to, not knowing the lay of the inquiry-land in these parts, but great homes came up in spades, so much so that I had to disappoint people as there were just not enough puppies.  Now that this litter is 6 1/2 months old I am delighted and impressed with the wonderful homes taking care of Leeloo's babies - some are even crazy enough to want another!

Two puppies had to stay for separate reasons and although I was happy to keep them on for their owners, I was more than happy to send them on their way! Zayi was a busy little monster who never tired of getting into trouble and Gotham was a sweet doll who tried very hard not to be naughty.

After a traumatic drive to the airport both puppies were safely on their way and life could return to normal ... as normal as it could be with Cora staying on to annoy her parents every waking second. A more beautiful and sweet Ridgeback baby I have never known and I am grateful every day for her arrival as puppy #10 ... Leeloo sure made me sweat up until then!

I also changed jobs this year and am now working at a great little shop in town where the people are like family, the customers are familiar, although occasionally curmudgeonly, and work is every day a pleasure. My un-ending thanks to my new boss who looked past the fact that I was from 'away' and hired me anyway!

Shortly into the Autumn the American Ridgeback National occurred and Zero once again proved his mettle among hundreds of Ridgebacks from across the continent. He was chosen for an Award of Merit which is a bit like a runner up in a pageant. Zero ends 2011 as the #2 Breed and All Breed Rhodesian Ridgeback and is second only to his half sister (same sire) Fiona. They also share a common ancestor on their dam's side both having the same grandsire Morgan. The top two Ridgebacks in the USA certainly kept it in the family!

The exclamation point on the year was the third breeding in a row of a 3 year old bitch from my second litter and the "Screw you" of it all pretty much sums up 2011. Not a tragedy but certainly not what I had hoped for little Light Wheaton Girl when I sold her. I can only hope that she comes through safely and is finally spayed before the end of 2012 - that is my wish as her breeder. 

Today the year comes to a close and I look back at this entry and see that besides the above paragraph - which I could have done nothing about anyway - the year appears to have been a resounding success. As I wrote I made some selective omissions and maybe one day, when I'm far removed from the circumstances, I can put into words why 2011 won't necessarily be looked upon with resounding favour. For now though there is hope and expectation for 2012, big plans are in the works and I am excited to turn the calendar over to the blank days that stretch ahead. I hope that along the way you might stop in to see how we are faring and to share in some of our adventures. Best wishes to all in the New Year and I hope it holds as much promise for you as I hope it does for me and my 'crew'.

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