Raimi has a pretty large fan base. Not because he's some great show dog, or because he rescued someone from a burning building or found Timmy in a well, or overcame an abusive puppyhood or has a disability he triumphed over (well, he's not very smart ... does that count?). People love Raimi because he's The Boy. They are drawn to his soft nature, his gentle eyes, oaf-like size, athletic ability, and the silly things he does because he's just not that smart. His key talents are but few; they include squirrel hunting, finding things to pee on, and turning in a million circles before lying down. They are all well and good but the one that accounts for almost every synapse of his brain is reserved for lavishing all his adoration, devotion, love, and affection on me. In return, hindered by my flawed and human limitations, I try to show him that although I am not deserving of such worship, he is worth every breath he takes.
I've been thinking a lot lately about puppy waitlists and how long people have been on my waitlist and whether some of those people are still wanting a puppy - I guess we'll find out when I have a litter! I came across this article that pretty much sums up a lot about how I think and feel about people who contact me. If you are thinking of contacting me, or another breeder, about getting a purebred dog - not necessarily one of mine and not necessarily a Ridgeback - have a read and take notes because this is pretty darn accurate. I am not a store, I am a person, I love my dogs and you get what you pay for.
Yesterday it rained all day. It was the 10th of February and I've never seen rain in the middle of winter before so it was a bit of a marvel. Today we are paying the price for the above zero temperatures of 24 hours ago with what looks like a scene out of Doctor Zhivago with sheet ice covering everything. It took me about 10 minutes to get into my truck today and an additional 20 to clear the quarter inch thick ice off the windows, and that was with the defrost on while the truck warmed up. Once that was done I let the dogs into the backyard so I could take them around the side to load them into the truck and realized the gate latch was encased in ice. I had to shut off the truck to use my key to get back into the house to take them through that way and two at a time load them into the truck out the front door. Once loaded we crept our way to where I've been walking them recently and discovered that the frozen creek is no longer frozen, it's about 6 inches deeper and just has a crust of snow across the top which Esme and Cora discovered the hard way - fortunately Raimi and Leeloo avoided it and saved themselves cold wet feet.
We took ourselves on a more roundabout way to the path I've been following, I think it's actually a deer path, and once the dogs were on more solid ground they had a bit of an explore but seemed to feel a little differently about this walk than those of the past. There was hesitation, caution, and a sense of unease which is unusual for them. I think it was the feel of the ground underneath them and the sounds of the woods were different. Everything, and I mean everything, was covered in ice. I think to the dogs, who have been the to woods countless times, it made somewhere familiar seem almost alien. The ice changed the way things absorb sound, the way the trees move in the wind, the smell of them and the atmosphere was a little unsettling. Leeloo was done about 10 minutes into the walk, as her expression clearly says.
Esme, as ever, is game for whatever. She is the only dog who didn't seem to notice anything different and carried on with gay abandon much as she leads her entire life. You can see the ice on the tree with the droplets frozen where they formed. Every branch, twig, tree, leaf, needle, and pine cone had a coat of ice.
Boy spent a lot of time standing a listening to the strange rattling and rustling the trees made as the wind swept above us. He didn't explore as much as usual and he stayed closer than is normal for him - he likes to be taking point and following his nose but today he kept an eye on me.
Cora, like Esme was in exploration mode most of the time although she also stuck closer than would be normal for her. She keyed off her parents for mood and was not as boisterous as usual although this stick got a good working over. Covered in ice ... just like everything else.
Can you see me? I'm invisible. Fortunately she is not as thin as her mother was at this age or you might not be able to see her behind this sapling!
No stick is safe from these two. Despite the effort it took to get into the truck and the hassle to get the dogs loaded and the shortness of the walk (only about 20 minutes because of the cold), I am still glad I made the effort. It's good for the dogs, it's good for me and since I plan on spending the rest of the day watching TV in bed I won't feel so guilty!
I'm still walking the dogs along the frozen creek these days since it's not on any paths other people use and it allows the dogs lots of exploration in a relatively safe space. I'll keep going there until the creek starts to melt and then I'll walk in the woods until the foliage has grown in so much I can't get through. Plus the bugs are very bad in the trees so that will nullify walking there. In the summer I can take them to the beach which I haven't done in some time since the bridge to get to where the beach is suffered a fatal structural error in that it fell down. A snow plow was crossing it and it's unclear whether the snowplow caused it to fall or if it was just unfortunate timing but I'm just glad I was not crossing the bridge when it happened.
The big plan is to list my house in the Spring and move somewhere I can walk the dogs on my own property. I have a nice backyard now but it's really just a potty space for them. They need room to run and explore and the only safe way to attain that is to buy the land they need. Otherwise I am forever walking them off lead against the County bylaws and I refuse to accept that walking them on leash in the town is a) safe and b) gives them the exercise they need.
It's not safe because I have been responsibly walking them on leash in my neighbourhood and had other people's loose dogs approach and attempt to attack my dogs. I won't have it. I think tethering a dog to your front porch is dangerous, stupid and should be banned. The dog that attempted to attack Esme was tethered, ran toward us, hit the end of the rope and broke it, chased Esme around and around me(she was hysterical) while I attempted to hold back Raimi, all 110lbs of him, from attacking the other dog. In the end I fell, let go of his collar and he lunged at the other dog knocking it to the ground. As soon at it realized who and what had body slammed it, he bolted for home. It was not one of my finer language moments but I was proud of Raimi for only knocking the other dog down and then backing away. He didn't continue to attack and he and the other dog both knew he'd made his point. If it had been Leeloo I think there would have been blood, Leeloo takes no prisoners and I have to be very careful with her - she has turned up the intensity of her protective nature since her first litter and she makes no bones about what she thinks about strange dogs near her 'pack'.
So I will continue to 'break the law' as long as I believe that my town is not safe for me to walk my dogs on leash or until I have at least a half acre to fence and turn into our very own dog park.
The battle over my chair continues. Until lately it was often a matter of who gets to the chair first; me, Leeloo or Raimi. Sometimes Cora sneaks in but she usually defers the chair to her parents. These days though no one is brooking a retreat and things have escalated to somewhat unusual methods. Normally I'll be seated on the chair, Leeloo will hop over the arm and land behind me and then Raimi would wander around the room thinking about the chair until he finally gave up and settled on the futon. The other day things took a turn in his little brain and the result was part sad and part funny and all Boy.
I swear he fell asleep like this. The expression on Leeloo's face is priceless.
We had a pretty good snowfall the other day and I like to walk the dogs in fresh snow since it makes everything look so pretty and clean. I found a nice new spot to take them on a creek that is currently frozen over so it's easy to walk along and the dogs can explore the woods on either side.
I also needed to test out Esme's new suit that finally came. It's extremely well made, possibly better made than some of my own coats. The problem is there were a few errors with its construction that make it almost impossible for Esme to use and although I had her test drive it for this outing, it's not going to work for my purposes. I am keeping the boots because they are awesome and have worked out an agreement with the company's new owner for a replacement coat for Esme in the Spring.
One of Leeloo's favorite things is to race through the woods leaping over fallen logs. I worry a little in the snow because she can't see what's under it but so far none of the dogs has twisted anything in a mad dash through the trees.
Cora is so beautiful. I know I say it a lot but boy do I love this girl. If I could have designed her from scratch, which in a way I sort of did, she is pretty exactly how I wanted her to turn out. So far her parent's size does not seem to be playing into her development and I'm hoping there isn't a crazy growth spurt in her future!
Leeloo and her dusting of snow waiting for a cookie to be popped into her mouth. I discovered the new Milkbone tiny treats and put a few in my pocket for every walk. This means on occasion Leeloo remembers I have cookies and pokes at my pocket insistently until I give one or two or three up to her. Who could resist those eyes?
The Boy seems to be incapable of looking less than impressive and handsome on every walk. You'd think I'd get tired of photos like this but I don't. Whenever I see one like this I am reminded of how much I adore this Boy.
Cora is still so much the puppy. She found a stick and was teasing Esme with it. It's not like there aren't a zillion sticks in the woods for them, THIS stick is THE stick. When you're a puppy, being in charge of something another dog wants is extra important!