Monday, October 15, 2012

Working Girl

As promised I have some photos from Leeloo's first show in over 2 years. She looks pretty darn good for a gal whose had two litters since she finished and her youngest litter is only 7 months old. Her under carriage is showing a little loose skin but it's nothing that can't be over looked and I'm told when you have kids things never go back to the way they were. She is fit, trim, and ready for action. My parents were there with a couple of Pulis - my mom finished an Elite Championship on her boy Parker this past weekend (that's his fourth Championship title (CKC, AKC, CFC and Elite CFC) and made a good start on Esme's sister Fanny. If Leeloo looks cold it's because she is ... it was so cold in there.

Photo credit Karen Metcalfe

The nice thing about this show was that it's a lot more of a relaxed attitude with the exhibitors. Because you are relying solely on the judge to award your dog an Excellent, and you don't necessarily have to beat another dog to gain your title, I think it takes some of the competitive pressure off. There are also very few professional handlers so you feel like you are in with a chance since none of the judges know specifically who the 'faces' are (although it wouldn't take them long to guess) and they are looking at the 'correct' end of the lead. I got to chatting with the person who had the Beagle at this show and she very kindly took several photos of Leeloo for me. When I look at the photos and then back at some of the judge's comments I have to wonder what they are seeing that I am not. Her movement is lovely as evidenced by this delightful photo taken during the morning show. Then again, I am obviously biased.

Photo credit Karen Metcalfe

In the Best in Show ring there were 10 dogs instead of the usual 7 so we had a bit of a wait. I didn't expect anything to happen with Leeloo since the BIS judge was the guy who gave her a Very Good the day before. It was likely he did not expect to see her in the Best in Show ring! She was well behaved, as she usually is as long as I keep stuffing her face with food. Not that she starves, while I left her in the truck by herself for about a half hour, she managed to eat my molasses cookie, a block of cheese and half a box of Triscuits. She had also been fed a French fry from another exhibitor, a couple of plain Tim Bits that I bought her and all the bait I'd already fed her that morning. Still hungry. Go figure.

Photo credit Karen Metcalfe

It was incredibly cold in the building because at the last minute the show had been moved to make way for some dairy cow show and sale in the building we usually exhibit in. Apparently the grounds had been sold and the location had been double booked. I think they gave the show a deal on the building and good thing too, my feet were blocks of ice - thank doG for Tim Horton's down the road.

If you get a chance to attend a CFC show I encourage you to take it. I realize that a lot of people don't take any other shows except AKC or a CKC title seriously, but it's a great way to get actual feedback from experienced judges. There are also dogs entered that you just don't see in CKC shows because they are not accepted - where else would these dogs show? The little Danish-Swedish Farm Dog that attended is the only one of it's breed in North America. Don't see that every day. The judges they bring in for these shows are not slouches or the dredges of the dog world, they are well respected across the globe and have travelled thousands of miles in their lifetimes looking at and evaluating dogs. Maybe Leeloo wasn't the type or style a couple of them wanted to see but then again a couple of them loved her. Leeloo got out for a day and although she doesn't love showing and never will, it's good for her to stretch her legs a bit after being a mom - we will enter in the Spring and hopefully she can get her CFC Championship - after that we will work on a few other things. There is life after puppies ...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The International

This weekend Leeloo and I attended a different kind of dog show. It was Leeloo's first show in 2 and a half years and she was a little baffled but game to be fed treats just the same. Her attitude toward showing hasn't changed an ounce, "This is stupid but if you feed me I'll take your bribes and put up with this nonsense". The show is put on by the Canine Association of Nova Scotia which is held under the purview of the Canine Federation of Canada. The CFC (or FCC as it is largely a Francophone organization started in Quebec) is held using the rules and regulations of the FCI -  Federal Cynologique International - whose standards are what most of the world uses. It is the original purebred dog standard classification system.

The shows are quite a bit different than shows in North America, the two biggest differences being that there are 10 groups instead of 7 and the judges are required to write critiques for each of the dogs. They are expected to be able to justify, verbally and in writing, why they did or did not choose your dog. They may use a lot of detail or very little, but they must provide you with a copy of their thoughts for your records. The judges are almost always international - no Canadian judges and only certain American ones.

I'll keep it brief but in order to obtain a Championship a dog must acquire 3 Excellent ratings from 3 different judges in order to be considered a Champion. An interesting thing to note is that you don't have to beat any other dogs to get another 'leg' toward your championship, you just have to be awarded an Excellent - it is entirely up to the judge whether they think your dog is worthy of a potential Championship status, it is not dependent on the quality of the other dogs in the ring. Different, no? This means that if there are 4 dogs and all are awarded Excellent they all move one step closer to their Championship - however, only Excellents can compete for Best of Breed and then move onto the group level. If a dog in the breed is not awarded an Excellent they are done for the day - at the Saturday afternoon show not one of the 5 German Shepherd Dogs was awarded an Excellent and therefore no Best of Breed given or allowed to compete in group (at a CKC or AKC show there would be anarchy if that happened). The ratings are Excellent, Very Good, Good and Sufficient. There are other levels of Championships but for our purposes I'll leave it at what Leeloo and I intended to do this weekend.

Our judges on the first day were from Norway and Belgium. I didn't have a lot of hope for Leeloo because in Europe they prefer a darker dog, less leg and a lot less white. The first judge was so torn with Leeloo, I think he really wanted to give her an Excellent and moved her 5 times around the ring but in the end he settled for a Very Good. He did check the standard and I think he was looking up the white ... well, we've certainly had that happen before! The judge in the afternoon also gave Leeloo a Very Good but made a point of saying loud enough for me to hear as she dictated in her Dutch accent to the ring steward, that this bitch is right on the very maximum of acceptable white. She repeated it just so we were all clear. This is the critique from the first judge - I agree with several points, all things I already knew about her - except the movement in the rear and stiffness in shoulder, Leeloo has a lovely open gait. He wanted more fill and depth in the muzzle and I'm not sure what he meant by 'young' - she's 4 and certainly not going to fill out any more!

It's interesting to see the differences between the judges from yesterday and today and so very helpful in getting an idea of what they were looking at and for. This judge used the word excellent to refer to her movement - which one is correct? Since I know she is a free and clean mover I'll stick with this one! It also depends on what the judge considers 'close' or 'clean' or even what they mean by good. Even a written critique can't get you into the judge's head. The judges today were from Columbia and Brazil, not only different countries but a different continent from yesterday. I can see that for Leeloo I will have to look for the South American judges to award her the final Excellent needed for her CFC Championship. Leeloo also won the Scent Hound Group under the judge who wrote this critique but since the Best in Show judge was the one from Norway I knew we didn't have a hope!

And this is what the cards look like. They are simple little index card sized certificates and to be able to say you have a CFC Champion you have to give three of these to the Show Sectretary who will print off a larger certificate, much like the one the CKC or the AKC will send you in the mail - except you get it right at the show. Our next CFC show is not scheduled until the Spring so I'll certainly be taking Leeloo to that to finish her second championship. Then we start work on her and Cora's American Championships. Cora won't be entered in a CFC show until she is a little more mature, probably next Fall. Added to which it would get very expensive if I was showing Leeloo, Cora and Esme all at once!

A very nice lady with the Beagle took some photos of Leeloo so hopefully she can send me the photos of Leeloo's 'not best movement' and 'excellent type and movement' and you can be the judge of who is more correct!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

You Sexy Thing

I can't remember now how many collars the dogs have been through but I do know it's a lot. Even though they've had several collars I still try to keep with a theme for each dog based on their personality and sometimes what they've been from birth. Raimi was Blue Boy, or Mr Blue, when he was born and therefore his collar has always been some shade of blue. Here he is 3.5 weeks old and tackling a cow hoof. I'll let you take a moment to recover from his adorable-ness.

He's had about 3 or 4 collars, about one just over every year since he's not too hard on them. He had one collar for at least 2 years and I actually still have it stowed in the truck as an emergency collar. It's a sort of nylon but much softer than a lot of versions on the shelf and I loved the chain on it, he was accustomed to a choke collar so when he heard the chain on this collar he smartened right up. It is a fairly utilitarian martingale chain collar because he is a fairly utilitarian kind of Boy.  Hard to imagine the puppy above turned into this hunk of burnin' love ...

He currently has a very serviceable collar I got for him almost two Christmases ago and it's still in quite good shape. It's completely made of fabric, except the hardware of course, and since he is not Leeloo he hasn't beaten the hell out of it. I wanted a masculine, but attractive collar for him and I think this one hit the right note. It certainly suits him and at the moment there is nothing wrong with it.

I didn't realise, or rather, it didn't occur to me before we moved here that when we went to the beach the salt in the water would cause the chains to rust. All of the collars I had at the time had chains and they all rusted. So we went to all fabric collars which don't rust but do get unimaginably dirty. Especially when worn by a Leeloo. She never had a collar color at birth because her white feet made her pretty easy to pick out of a crowd, so I randomly chose a sort of pink theme for her. I would have been better off choosing a collar the color of dirt. She started with a smaller version of this collar, taken when she was about 9 months old and not yet familiar with the joys of rolling in things that make Mommy gag on the drive home and pull out the hose in the backyard.

She graduated to a really nice red silk fabric collar and it took her just over a year to almost completely kill its spirit. I didn't realize, because her previous collar was a simple nylon, that she was so hard on collars. I mean, all they do is wear them around their necks. How much damage can they do? As it turns out ... a lot. Leeloo has ground so much dirt into her last two collars you sometimes can't tell what the pattern is and so worn the fabric so that the threads in the middle of the collar start peeling away.
The pretty red silk one got replaced late last year when the threads along the edges could no longer cope with Leeloo's mad dashes through the woods and rolls in unmentionable substances on the forest floors. I chose a nice patterned pink one thinking the swirly flowers might hide the dirt but no, it just became a sad gray version of its former self.
Cora is and will forever be Miss Purple. She was the last puppy born and was graced with the color purple. Since she was born on the heels of her Uncle Zero winning Best of Breed at Westminster in New York, I decided her 'set' would be purple and gold for the Westminster colors.  Don't her eyes just slay you? And those ears ... swoon.
I found a lovely collar for her online which was pretty much exactly what I was looking for and she's had it for the last year, ever since she could fit into it. I really like the collar, it's a nice dark purple with subtle gold pattern and she's been fairly good to it. Of late she's been following her mother to The Dark Side of collar wear since they now have a squirrel to harass and frogs to torture together. Fighting the trail of dirt into my house is a constant battle and the collars are not immune.
So where is this all going? A while back I started seeing some of my peeps on Facebook liking and eventually buying collars from someone called Sexy Beast Dog Collars. I didn't think I needed collars any time soon so I just browsed and thought they were yet another person online selling dog collars. If you've looked for a special dog collar you know most collar patterns repeat and to get something truly original you have to spend a lot and look really hard. However, a spot of loose threads on Leeloo's current collar caused me to look closer at SBDC on Facebook. I was hooked. I contacted the owner and asked about some colors and the price of what I wanted. In particular I was interested in the leather collars. What could be better for Leeloo? I was pleasantly surprised at the cost of the collars and promptly ordered one each for the two girls - The Boy's collar doesn't need replacing really and I'm not seeing colors or patterns that speak to me yet. The girl's collars came today and I tell you I was not disappointed in the least. I saw this product shot of my custom collars on SBDC's FB page today, thankfully after I got them in the mail (only a week in the post!), so the surprise wasn't spoiled, and boy, am I impressed.
From a person who has seen her fair share of collars in 36 years in purebred dogs, I can tell you these are some of the best. I'm curious how they will hold up to Leeloo since she is the queen of wrecking things that cannot be wrecked, but at first blush the girls are definitely sexy beasts on a mission in these collars. Little creek frogs and naughty squirrels beware.
Leeloo's is her obligatory pink with a nice lime green accent which she shows off very well. The leather needs to be worked a bit but I'm sure Leeloo will take care of that in no time. They are not, I repeat ... NOT, wearing these collars in the boarding kennel while I am in Barbados, but there is a faint hope they will survive at least a year or more of Doodlebug wear and tear.
The Baby Booble still has her Westminster theme and she is rockin' it. I always go with the 1.5" collars on my dogs and I think it makes a huge difference to how it makes their neck appear. Both Leeloo and Cora have long elegant necks and to put a heavy 2" collar on it would shorten them and appear bulky. For The Boy, because his neck is already bulky, I go with the 1.5" to make it appear more slender. Same collar, different effect. You gotta know how to dress, right?
The Boy will get his collar soon - after seeing these gorgeous designs and knowing the chains aren't going anywhere near the ocean anytime soon, I will be sure to order him one as soon as I get back from my trip. And Cora, she is always sexy but with this collar, she is unstoppable.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Catch & Release

I have been tragically remiss in keeping up the blog. I know it's true. I'm trying to remember to blog but when the day is beautiful, as it's been for several days now, and the leaves are turning and winter fast approaches, it's very hard to stay inside and type. There are weeds calling to be cut back, rocks that need moving to create my wild rose rock wall, dead fall to be moved, grass to be mown (yes, it's still growing in October), a cat pen still needs to be designed and built, drywall powder to be removed from my lawn (who throws drywall into the tall grass and just hopes it's going to disappear?) and still more garbage to be taken to the dump. Oh, and don't forget the new television season has just started and I have hours upon hours of Downton Abbey, Bones, Homeland, Sons of Anarchy, Survivor, Amazing Race, New Girl, Boardwalk Empire and various other shows I Must. Not. Miss. Plus in a short while my parents and I are heading out on the long awaited trip to Barbados that my mom won last year. So yeah, life is pretty awesome.

The dogs think it's pretty awesome too but lately I thinking we need a break from each other - or at least they need a wake-up call. I'm hoping they learn, while in a boarding kennel(and while I'm soaking up the Caribbean sun), to appreciate the things they have here like a warm bed to sleep on, a walk on 4 acres just outside their door every day twice a day, a squirrel to harass, dirt to dig in, a creek to chase frogs along and hugs and kisses from a (sometimes very annoyed) Mommy. Jumping the fence to go see a dog walking along the road does not a happy Mommy make, so that has to stop. If it means a hot wire or an e-collar to ensure their safety and to stop them going over, I'll do it. Last resort, but their safety is paramount and jumping the fence is unacceptable. I bought them 4 acres, there is no need to try and get hit by a car.

This face looks innocent but he can jump a 4' field fence from a stand still. Yes, we will either be raising it or electrifying it. Can't have Mr Incredible get creamed by a car.

And this one. She followed him only she jumped the part that was slightly less than 4', also from a standstill. Bad Cora. Check out that head. The planes of her skull are almost parallel. Awesome. Plus she's at least a year away from being done growing so there is even more awesome to come. And look at that clever eye ... lots going on in that brain.

Esme wishes she could tell you she is the best behaved dog I own. Her wish is my command because she is. Not that she wouldn't go over, under or through the fence if she could but she can't so ... hooray. She's not immune to her own little misadventures though, shortly after this photo was taken she tried to cross the creek on a log and fell into the deep side (of course she did) and ended up dog paddling. Her cords were all floating around her like a halo. She was incredibly worried and I won't say I wasn't a little concerned. I ran into the creek to grab her and pull her up. She was fine and not really in any danger, a short way down stream her feet would have touched bottom. I made the mistake of telling my mom this story and her exact words were "Don't let anything happen to that dog, she has two majors you know."

Leeloo is not immune to getting into trouble but she finds herself less on the receiving end of a stern talking-to than Boy or Cora. Mostly I end up calling her because she disappears into the woods to stare at the trees and look for squirrels. These days though her second favorite past time has become hunting for frogs. At long last she has realized that there are frogs along the banks of the creek. She is determined to catch one and spends a lot of time smashing her delightful white feet into the mud to startle them into jumping. It's really quite darling. It also means that before heading into the house all the Ridgebacks get their feet hosed off. The water in the creek cleans these toes just in time for them to walk through the mud on the way back to the house. It doesn't help that a natural spring just down from my house is leaking out the side of the hill just under the squirrel's favorite apple tree. Mud galore and in a direct path to the back door.

Every day I have stories about the dogs. So many things happen on each walk, or simply in the course of the day, that I try to stockpile them to tell at a later date ... only to have them disappear from memory before I can jot them down. I'll try to do better. It brings to mind one of my guilty pleasure movies, Catch and Release - at one point Jennifer Garner's character asks Timothy Oliphant's character (who's been single for a while) "But, who do you tell your stories to?" I forget his answer but this is mine; I tell my stories to you.