Monday, April 30, 2012

Golden Eye

When Leeloo's litter, the one she was born in, was announced, I instantly decided that I wanted one of the puppies. I already had The Boy and Halo and I knew that Halo's next litter was going to be her last. It was the middle of 2008 and I realized that the future was in another bitch since I wanted to keep a boy from Halo's final litter(that was Archer and he is now neutered). Leeloo entered my life and changed how I looked at the breed and what my preferred type is within the breed. What Leeloo has contributed has impressed me to no end but the thing I didn't really know I was getting when I bought her were her incredible eyes.

Oh, those Leeloo eyes. Melting, heart-rending, expressive, intelligent, and eerily intuitive; Leeloo's eyes never fail to convey how she is feeling and almost to the word, what she is thinking. They are remarkable to the point that at her first show weekend, after our first go round in the ring and we stopped for our exam, the judge said "Oh, aren't *you* pretty?" I knew then we had a shot at the points (but not Best Puppy in Show which is what those pretty eyes got us that day.)

I can't explain whether it's the shape, the correct round eye as in the breed standard, or simply the expression in them, but when Leeloo looks at me, Leeloo gets what Leeloo wants. I'm sure that will happen with Raylan who is currently demonstrating his mother's lovely eye and his father's excellent earset.  Oh Raylan, how I love thee.

Rue inherited her grandma Halo's darker face with her Momma's lighter color and she will be a heart stopper too. With the added depth and 'make-up' around her eyes and muzzle Rue's family is going to have a hard time saying no to this little monster. But why would you? She has never done anything wrong in her life. And probably never will.

Zeke is going to turn the heads of all the ladies! He's more like his mom than his dad and I expect he's going to be a lovely size and a totally correct boy who, with those killer eyes and lovely temperament, will make friends where ever he goes.

Oh dear Peggy. You ended up with more Dad than Mom but never mind, you got those eyes and that's what we're looking for today. It's strange to see photos of the puppies from the last litter because when I look at most of them I see Raimi's head looking at me using Leeloo's eyes. I'll have to gather some recent photos of the last litter so you can see what I mean. I missed a few puppies in this photo session and will have to wait until the weather improves (again) to get them outside - Vesper, Kota and Kenzi ... I didn't forget you.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Demolition Man

The bigger the puppies get the more concerted their efforts to create mayhem. They are conspiring in their naughty behaviour and it's a little un-nerving. Good thing they start to leave in a week! Little Rue here is pretty excited and if her new home has any plants or bushes that need trimming she's up for the task.  

Kota (Mini) is glad to be travelling with her sister Emma, they are quite the pair and of all the girls these two are the most demanding. Emma is the most personable puppy I think I've ever had. If there's a puppy tugging at my pant leg, nine times out of ten it's Emma - she loves to be spoken to, petted and her mission in life is to give you as many kisses as possible in as short a time span as possible.  Kota is the busy-bee puppy who is always finding something to get into, chase, chew, and drag - good thing she'll have Emma to squash in Calgary.

Zeke is also quite the little character and he definitely knows his own mind! He stands up for himself and is quite demanding when he wants to be. Both the boys, Raylan and Zeke, have very similar personalities because they are both confident, inquisitive and fearless... not always a good combination!

Peggy is learning that sticks and grass are good for flossing. Let's hope she has lots of vegetation to choose from at her home in New Brunswick. I hear her owners are building a new house at an acreage so not only will there be lots of room to run but she'll also be able to help landscape. Ridgebacks are excellent landscapers ... just ask my garden.

It's strange, still, to think of these guys as the tiny one pound babies born a few short weeks ago. In only 55 days they have grown from blind, deaf, helpless sausages into 12 pound monsters bent on the destruction of my house and mental stability. Hard to believe unless you live to tell the tale.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Showdown at Heartbreak Pass

If I wasn't a breeder with and was not looking for the puppy with the best structure and breed type my choice in this litter would be Mini/Kota based on sheer adorable-ness and moxy. She is a little spunky firework and her new owners will have quite a project on their hands! She is, hands down, the cutest Ridgeback I've ever seen and her little white sock makes her that much cuter.

Kenzi is quite the looker but in a totally different way. She is headed to Newfoundland where hopefully she will make her way into the show ring. I plan on seeing her in action at her first show in November ... my first time to Newfoundland and I can't wait.  (How *do* you pronounce 'Newfoundland' anyway? I learned just the other day - say 'understand' and then say 'Newfoundland'. If they rhyme you're saying the province name correctly - unless you don't know how to pronounce 'understand'!)

Who's not impressed? Vesper. She's also going to Newfoundland to be a show dog and frankly it sounds boring. She heard through the grapevine that there are other things to do on The Rock that beat a dog show no question.

Raylan is also going to be shown, only I'll be at the end of the lead here in Nova Scotia. I'm sure at this point anything is better than getting the snot beaten out of him by Cora. Little does he know that Cora will be a frequent play mate as he grows and probably for the rest of his life. Doesn't that sound fun Raylan? Tezlin thinks so but only because she will be in BC and not getting beaten to a pulp by Cora. It's fun to think of the puppies and all the potential they hold, be it show homes or companion homes, and let's face it, they are all companion homes, some just end up going to a dog show once in a while.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Facts of Life

Now that the puppies are solely on solid (but soft) food and their mother is no longer in the picture(until she has dried up anyway), Cora is stepping in to mother the little angels and teach them the facts of life. Given that Cora is the mental equivalent of an 15 year old human I'm not sure that's such a good idea but let's think of her as the reliable babysitter from next door. She and Kota certainly had a heart to heart - girl talk, you know.

As often happens when the parents are away there is some sibling rivalry and a bit of noise created. Just because there's no 'adult supervision' they think they can get out of control. Cora had a handle on it, with a little back up from me, and these two worked out their differences in a non-combative way.  I swear.

There's always one child who is never any trouble. Look at how nice Kenzi sits and behaves herself. It's just as well that you and I both know it's the quiet ones you have to watch out for - don't let that little angelic face fool you.

Cora was doing some arts and crafts with the kids using bits of stick found on the deck, leftover relics from when I cleared out the garden and Cora dragged some lumps of dirt and weeds onto the deck. She spent quite some time demonstrating how to tear the stick into a trillion pieces and distribute it evenly throughout my house.

One on one lessons work well too, Tezlin got a private session which Cora was kind enough to offer. That or everyone else lost interest. It's hit or miss with youngsters these days - they do say if your lesson can sink into one pupil then your efforts are not wasted.

Tezlin was also interested in a bone lesson but this one was a little higher grade of learning than Tezlin was prepared for. Cora found this bone in the house somewhere and brought it out to the deck to chew on in the sun. I was pretty sure this wasn't going to end well.

She took it to the couch to try and get away from prying noses but Emma tracked her down to see what it was that Cora was coveting so much. You may not be able to tell but the look on Cora's face is the one which prompts me to say 'NO!" and take the bone away. Cora was a little too possessive of the bone and the puppies are a little too naive about dog body language to understand that a warning look like this from Cora should be strongly heeded. I am all for puppies learning lessons and social ques from other dogs but not when the learning involves the potential for damage by a greedy 10 month old and an innocent Baby Booble. There endeth the lesson.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Crazy on the Outside

The puppies have embraced the Great Outdoors with typical puppy abandon. Today the sun peeked in and out of the clouds and made for some nice photos on the deck. They are a bit small yet to tackle stairs but rest assured in the coming days they will be ready to go up and down them with all the caution of a 7 week old puppy. For the next couple of days I'm just going to let you bask in the glow of some truly darling puppies who think the world is not enough.

Rue out for a stroll. She owns this deck and soon will own a lovely home in Dartmouth (with a pool and everything - as IF a Ridgeback would be caught in a pool - basking next to it yes, swimming ... no.)

Emma found some old sticks on the deck and for the next hour they were the toy of the century. Stop spending tonnes of money on dog toys your puppy will ruin and get her a stick, an old cardboard box and a pair of shoes you no longer want.

Raylan was working on his sunbathing. If you notice in later years that your Ridgeback is a particular expert as a sun worshiper it's because they start practicing early.

Whadjasay? Sun worship? Rue says "I'm in!" It's not hard to picture this little muffin on her pool deck ... no wait, her pool-side lounger (you think I'm kidding?).

Zeke has bigger things to worry about than the sun right now. Cora was giving him a raspberry and he wasn't sure he liked it. Zeke will get to see both Raylan and Rue in the coming months, and hopefully years, since they will all live within a few miles of each other.

And this is what Emma thinks of that. She doesn't think those three living near each other is such a big deal when she'll get to see her sister Kota all the time in Calgary. They even get to fly there together.

Where am I going? Peggy is demonstrating what it looks like to chew on a couch so her home in New Brunswick can be prepared for it. She thought the couch was tasty since it's been in the rain for the last few days. Soon enough she'll be chewing on someone else's sofa while this sofa will be gracing the county dump.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Great Outdoors

This morning the puppy's world just got a little bit bigger. I blocked off the rail on the deck with, what else, chicken wire, put ex-pen panels across the steps, and tossed the cats in my room (they are not allowed outside to be exposed to the neighbour's vermin cats) and opened the door. The result was immediate interest followed by suspicion followed by "You go first" and then the leap of faith.

One of the puppies missed the big unveiling because she was hounding Leeloo at the French door. In time Vesper realized everyone was missing and got to check out the Threshold to New Adventure without the support of her siblings. She did fine although a little more caution was employed than was strictly necessary.

In the end they all got outside and is normal with puppies it took no time for them to embrace the experience. Raylan took a moment to sniff the spot his Daddy likes to pee. The puppies will be peeing on the deck in short order which is fine with me ... better than my kitchen floor.

Tezlin also checked out the same spot. They may or may not know it's their Daddy's pee here but either way they are learning to read the 'sign posts' of dogs and that is just another part of growing up and learning about the world.

There's this old couch on my back deck which, after the puppies are gone, will be removed poste haste much to the horror of the resident dogs who like to lie on it in the sun. Emma and Peggy spent a few minutes waving at each other around the corner of it.

In due course the puppies made their way back inside and quickly dropped off to sleep. I like how new adventures like this tire them out faster! Hopefully the weather improves over the next few days and they can experience the sun and finally get to go and run in the grass and learn how to use the steps to the yard. All things to prepare them for the big wide world which awaits in just under two short weeks.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Long Goodbye

Leeloo has been self-weaning the puppies and that means tomorrow is the last day that the puppies get to take a meal from their mother. They've been eating Big Dog Food for the last 3 weeks and I've been gradually reducing the number of times per day they eat from Leeloo until tomorrow morning sees the end of the weaning process. Leeloo is producing much less milk now and I've cut back on the amount of food she was getting - from 12 cups at her peak to 6 cups right now - so that when she finally stops feeding them she won't be so swollen with milk that she'll be too uncomfortable. She's already starting to get that svelte figure back and she'll be beating up Cora in no time. The puppies will continue to try and nurse from her for a few days but once they realize that there is no more milk to be had they give up. Miss Vesper here stood waiting for her mom's head to poke through the hole with the hope of a snack (yes, the only clean 'pane' in this French door! If you have windows or glass that dog noses can reach they will perpetually look like this - on both sides if you're lucky.)

Leeloo likes to hang out watching the babies from the livingroom and although they can't get to her, they still show Leeloo she really is the best Mommy they've ever had in the world. Soon they will learn there are other Mommies and Daddies out there but for now they are the satellites to her moon. I am so proud of my Darling Boobles, she did an awesome job raising all her puppies and both she and I can breathe a sigh of relief after tomorrow morning. Zeke and Emma don't know how soon they will be flying the nest so they give kisses when they can.

It's okay though, they still have a couple weeks to get their licks in and once Leeloo is no longer producing milk they will be able to play and spend as much time with her as they want. For now they will just have to content themselves with contact 'through the glass' - how unfortunate it seems a little like a prison visit!

Emma (Pink) didn't let that stop her, she tried to get Leeloo to play and if there wasn't the barrier in the way, Leeloo's expression tells me she'd be game! Leeloo routinely whines to be let in with the puppies but I think it has more to do with the giant saucer of soaked dog food than spending quality time with the kids!

Dogs don't love their puppies on quite the same level that people do (although some people would have you believe otherwise through conjecture based on inexperience) but I wouldn't say that Leeloo was not attached and didn't enjoy her puppies. More now that they are proper dogs and less little parasites determined to sap her life-blood. She wants to play with them, lick them, and teach them the right and wrong ways to behave - that is her job. Moments like this appear poignant, full of devotion and show all the hallmarks of love being given and reciprocated. In truth Leeloo is trying to lick the mash remnants off Emma and answering her invitation to play with an attempt at chomping on her leg - and none too gently. Meh. Let's just say it's love since it's such a nice photo.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Eye of the Storm

Puppies likes to play and if you didn't know how much I'm about to tell you. Everything to a puppy is a toy. Everything. In addition to making any object, animate or inanimate, a play-thing they also seem to think everything is funny. They're that not so bright friend you bring along just so you can laugh at them laughing at nothing. That or your friend is always high ... let's not consider that for the puppies since they are only innocent and we don't want to corrupt them (too soon). Anyway, it seems like for the first 3 years of your Ridgeback's life(and longer if you're really lucky) this is what they do ... only they get bigger and still do it. Without training it will be your head in their mouth but I'm sure Tezlin's (Red) family already has a puppy manners class in mind.  At least Kenzi (Purple) hopes so.

Kota (Mini) took on this toy dog but rest assured the toy dog put up a good fight. Fortunately Kota has been training for this moment her whole life and she will spend the next several years perfecting this move on various things ... let's hope it's not someone's leg.

Vesper (Yellow) took down Peggy (Lime) in a classic body slam/leg twist which, for those of you who are be able to see Ridgebacks play on a regular basis, will become a signature move. The all too familiar 'neck snapping head twist' is particularly disturbing.

Tezlin (Red) attempts to eviscerate Kota's sheep without much success. it will be about 4 or 5 more months before the toy/cushion/pillow evisceration's are perfected. It is common knowledge, among Ridgebacks anyway, that there is something inside toys/cushions/pillows/dog beds that must be extricated poste haste and with the most carnage possible.

Shoes are a popular subject among this breed and my cheap 'puppy whelping' shoes are no exception. The fuzzy pink socks are also of profound interest so be sure not to leave things like this lying around where a puppy can get at them. Nor should you put them on your feet because as we see they are fair game no matter where they are.

Raylan (LW) employs the smother move on his sister Tezlin and that too is a pretty common move among Ridgebacks. Get your prey down and then lie on it. Come to think of it perhaps that's what I am when I'm lying in bed smothered by 3 Ridgebacks who all insist on being able to touch me while they are sleeping.  Maybe it's a possession thing ... great.

Raylan's Tigger was high-jacked by Emma (Pink) and soundly cuddled for quite some time. This photo was post neck-snapping so Tigger was down for the count and succumbed to cuddling without much fuss. I suppose that is the point of the neck snap.

Best not to play with giants in dog crates. Boy doesn't especially like being mauled by puppies but finds himself at a crossroads because he wants to be with me. The compromise is going in a crate where he can see me but be 'protected' from the puppies. Emma thought he was still good for a laugh and if you look closely you can see Mr Grumpy Boy's nose curled in irritation while Emma's little pink tongue reaches out to taste him. So. Cute. He didn't fall for it and more lip curling ensued.

One dog's lip who never curls is Cora. She can't get enough of being mauled and enjoys any opportunity to stick her nose into a crowd of puppies. There were 4 of them all vying for her attention at this point and she just lapped it up. Won't she be sad when they all leave. Never mind, she'll see Raylan often enough to satisfy her.

Another dog who is starting to play with the puppies more is Esme. She wasn't too interested until a couple days ago and now she treats them like a little obstacle course. She leaps over them and races around, grabs at their faces and lets them haul on her hair. She seems to enjoy the size gain she has on them now and I wonder if she remembers how big they are going to get!

Imagine this is your ankle. Rue (Orange) will be happy to imprint her teeth on any one of her new family's hands, feet, ankles, elbows ... whatever. Cora didn't seem to notice this little activity, perhaps she was too bust fending off the puppies who were grabbing at her ears.

My last example is pretty poignant. Zeke is in the last throws before he finally loses the battle against Peggy - he made a valiant effort by grabbing her ear but it was far too late. Sometimes when the puppies are playing I have to intervene because they are now big enough to hurt each other, or at least get someone very upset. Forewarned is fore-armed and with the preceding photographs I hope at least some of the lesson has sunk in. Train them when they are babies, not when they are the size of their father.