Monday, November 26, 2012

Relative Insanity

Sometimes extended family comes home. At least for a visit anyway. This past weekend I held a Ridgeback Family Reunion at my house and invited all the dogs I'd sold within reasonable driving distance and of course anyone else who has Ridgebacks who might also want to attend. As it turns out we had only Ridgebacks that I'd bred able to come but I am hopeful when I hold another event in the Spring that not only more of my puppies can attend, but also that my non-related RR friends who were not able to come can attend as well. As it was we had 9 Ridgebacks here and one bossy Puli.
Delta was the first to arrive with her family and she was a little concerned that she was the only dog here who was not part of the 'pack'. It's intimidating for a lone dog to come into an established pack and none of the dogs know or remember each other, it's been over a year since they were together. Delta started to relax a bit though and a few hugs and cuddles from Daddy were just the ticket.

Cash arrived and shortly after that his little sister Rue showed up. They became instant friends and spent a lot of the time wrestling and showing off their long legs. Cash is from the first litter and Rue is from the second. Rue is an absolute carbon copy of Leeloo, it's uncanny, and I am very curious to see how she matures and how the two will compare.  I'm quite sure Raimi's genetic influence has not kicked in yet since her feet are still a little large for her body!

Once we had 6 Ridgebacks in attendance it was a free for all and Cora had a great time showing everyone around the property. She doesn't mind other dogs coming over to play! Esme spent quite a lot of time trying to herd everyone but I think she gave it up as a lost cause in the end.

I saw Cash last June when I went up to Canning for a dog show, his mom Jill was nice enough to put us up for a couple of nights. At that time Cash was just a year and was every bit the gangly out of coordination teenager. Since then however he has matured and discovered that he now has complete control over his limbs. And he uses them. I could tell he was running for the pure joy of being able to run in complete harmony with his body, it was lovely to see him so coordinated. He is very tall still (obviously) but he's well put together and incredibly fast and fit.

Once there were more dogs to take the concentration off of her, Delta relaxed quite a bit and had a round of showing off by herself. Once she comes to a couple more events she will be more comfortable and enjoy herself a lot more. Most of the other dogs in attendance have seen each other as they were growing up so it's hard for Delta to come into a party where she doesn't know anyone but they all seem to know each other. We've all been there Delta.

Delta also brought her own kid Emily who loved playing with the Ridgebacks and had absolutely no fear of being run down by one. She stood in the middle of 9 Ridgebacks playing and thought it was an absolute riot. Cora, on the other hand, didn't know what to make of this small person. Cora has never seen a small person up close and personal and spent some time trying to play bow to her, getting close and then bolting away just in case Emily tried to eat her. Silly Cora.

Franco arrived a little late but made up for lost time by getting right into playing with his brother and best bud Cash. They have spent a lot of time together growing up and the instant they see each other they set to playing. It's also very obvious that Franco also adores Jill, Cash's mom, and it's great to see families meeting up and becoming friends through the dogs. Franco reminds me a lot of Raimi, in looks and personality. He is clearly a happy go lucky sort of guy who doesn't have a mean bone in his body - he just wants to bring joy to the world. It's hard not to like him.

It was a cold day but we suffered through and stood to watch while the dogs ran and ran and ran. At one point there were 8 or 9 dogs chasing about on the lawn and it was an incredible sight. My neighbours must have been having a heart attack. I love that I can now provide a safe, open and landscaped space for the dogs to come and play. I am a bit of a hike away from where everyone lives but to see the dogs in their glory, getting along and playing so well is certainly worth it. They are all so well behaved, no one argued, no one was hiding or scared, and everyone had a great time.

Raylan had the benefit of being here a couple weeks ago so he had a leg up on all the other guests. I am very impressed with how he's maturing and he's even looking better than he did a couple weeks ago. Sandra is doing a great job with him and he will be an incredible Ridgeback when he's all grown up. I hope to show him in 2013 but I'm still waiting to see how (ahem) tall he gets! So far so good ...

Rue's buddy Ethan suddenly became very popular when it was discovered he had some treats in his pocket. I hate to point out that 5 of those 6 dogs are mine. Archer is on the far right and although I no longer own him he certainly developed some begging habits while with me. It looks like he taught Raylan a thing or two as well. The other 4 are definitely mine!

The only dog there that wasn't a Ridgeback obviously, was Esme and she didn't have any issue with a Ridgeback invasion. Why? Because as this photo clearly demonstrates Esme owns this joint. I love this photo of her as she demands to be the centre of attention. Ridgebacks? What Ridgebacks? 

These Ridebacks. It's a choir of hounds; actually they are trying to grab each other's ears and play bite but I think the moment is pretty cool of them appearing to sing together. They could form a pop group with Raylan in the middle singing lead and Rue and Cora doing back up vocals.

And that ... was that. We had a potluck in the house and as I opened the door to let everyone in someone said "You're letting all the dogs into the house?" Sure! Dogs live here, they are allowed everywhere in the house, and since I know none of the dogs were raised in a barn they all have house manners. There they all are, nine Ridgebacks, all related. Thanks to everyone who came and I hope to host you all, and more, again in the Spring.

Back row L to R: Archer, Raylan, Raimi, Leeloo, Cora, Franco
Lying down L to R: Rue, Delta, Cash

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Extended Director's Cut

And even more news about the extended Invictus family ...

As anyone who's been following for any length of time knows, Zero is a Big Deal when it comes to the show history of any of my dogs. I've had my own wins, nothing major or really and truly exciting, but Zero is the dog that has picked up any slack I might have been feeling here at home. I didn't get into the breed to set the world on fire, really to do that you need a lot of resources and to be in the right location, I just wanted to add a few dogs to the world which I could point to and say, "I did that" and be a little proud. When Zero went to live with Aegis Ridgebacks in Utah I knew he was going to have much more chance to show off his quality and contribute to the breed than if I'd kept him. I was not wrong and that is only to the credit of his owner Erin and her exemplary promotion of this worthy dog.

(Zero RRCUS National 2012)

This past year has seen Zero in semi-retirement. He's been to a few shows to keep him frosty and in those few shows he's managed to get to the number 10 Ridgeback in the USA which means for three years running he's been in the top 10, two of those years he was top 5 Ridgeback. His other wins, perhaps more significant, include ACK/Eukanuba 2010, Westminster 2011, and an Award of Merit at the RRCUS National Specialty in 2011.

To me Zero seems to be a 'Specialty' dog. His best wins come when he is in competion against several of his own breed. He never did win an All Breed Best in Show and it's the one thing that's missing from his resume. However, in a sense I think winning against dozens of your own breed is almost a harder feat because the judge is comparing like to like and that can be a lot more difficult if you don't have a firm idea in your mind of what you want to see. Zero's Specialty wins have come under judges very well respected in the breed and who know good type, movement and showmanship - and Zero has all of those in spades.

(San Diego RR Specialty - Best of Breed 2012)

This year Zero was only hitting the shows that his owner Erin either liked, thought he had a chance with the judges, or were close to home. He started the year with a bang at the San Diego Ridgeback Specialty and then petered in and out of shows for several months, often handled by Erin instead of her professional handler. While I was in Barbados Zero was at a show in California and once again pulled off a Specialty win at a show held by the Bay Area Rhodesian Ridgeback Club with another large entry. He sure knows how to keep up with the times!

 This year was leading up to the RRCUS National Specialty in November, since Zero likes to show so much it's good to keep his head in the game with the occasional show since the Specialty is where, if you are going to show well, that's the place. It was held in Florida and all the reports I'm hearing indicate it was a show to remember. One day I hope to attend since there are typically upwards of 500 Ridgebacks in attendance - that would be something to see. Zero showed his heart out again and I was keeping up with the reports online - he made the first cut, then the second cut and finally he wins another Award of Merit! For those unfamiliar an Award of Merit is a judge acknowledging the quality of a dog after their Best of Breed choice - basically indicating that the quality of the AOM dogs was on par with their Best of Breed choice. This is Zero's second consecutive Award of Merit at a National Specialty and I think, a nice swan song to his career.

(Zero Award of Merit 2011)

Erin has several Zero sons and daughters to show, plus his nephew Ziggy who is turning more and more heads as he matures. Ziggy is Rifka's son and he was sent to Erin in the USA by Taryn of Elyia Ridgebacks in BC. She knew I'd sent Zero to Erin hoping for a great career and Erin turned out a picture perfect dog, I'm confident Ziggy's future is also bright. He is certainly a boy to keep your eye on!

(Photo credit Erin Coogan)

So congratulations once again to Erin at Aegis Ridgebacks and Team Zero - I look forward to seeing Zero's get prove that quality doesn't stop with Dad - he stamps himself on every puppy he produces and I have no doubt his legacy will carry on for years to come.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Visitor

All the puppies from the last litter are growing up so fast and although they are only 8 months old they are mostly following in their parent's footstep when it comes to size! It's great to see them in person on occasion and in about 10 days I hope to see at least 6 or 7 of Raimi and Leeloo's puppies for a bit of a family reunion. This past weekend Raylan came for a visit with his buddy Archer and Cora was over the moon with glee.

They played and played and despite Raylan being about 10 pounds heavier than Cora she managed to school him pretty well. She is a quick little bugger and he certainly had his work cut out trying to catch her. He did manage to get some of his own licks in and had a little help from a determined Esme.

Raylan is maturing into quite the handsome fellow. He still has the rolly poly puppy tone that doesn't firm up until they are over a year old - they aren't exactly over weight but they don't have that fit and lean look I like so much about Raimi and Leeloo.

And Cora ... who is incredibly toned, even more so now that she is going through a growth spurt and I've almost doubled her food. She was looking a little lean a couple weeks ago when I brought them home from the kennel and I thought it was just from being somewhere strange for 9 days. I upped her food and then realized she was trying to fill in more so I upped it again. This is the age for another growth and I sincerely hope it's to fill out and not get taller - she is the perfect height. Look at how gorgeous my Baby Booble is - still so puppy-like - and I hope in some way she retains that innocent softness around her face ... even though she is the exact opposite!

It was a great day for all the dogs and Archer thought Cora was thrilling to play with, until he got a little too pushy and she told him off. He stayed back for a little while like a coward but recovered enough to have one final romp in the fading light of the afternoon - hard to believe it wasn't even 4pm yet. 

The aftermath. What I like almost as much as the visits from the happy healthy babies I've produced, is the peace and quiet of a soundly exhausted Cora.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


I'm very tired today despite going to bed at an almost reasonable hour. The reason I'm tired is sleeping on the chair with her binkie over her waiting for me to finish this blog so we can go for a walk. I won't complain too much about being tired while sitting at my computer in the comfort of my house since it means that I'm not at the vet urging a naughty Leeloo out of anesthetic ... or worse.

Yesterday Leeloo got out while I was at work and made an undoGly mess in the house, ate an entire box of mini Milkbones, an entire bag of Pedigree Marrowbones, almost all of the Pedigree Dentastix (about 25) and possibly a potato. The house was a disaster but she didn't do any damage ... just made a mess inspecting the garbage and recycling and enjoying stolen treats.

Previous history tells us that Leeloo is capable of eating a lot more than that. I can recall at least 4 times that she's done this but those incidents involved her eating dog food only, not very rich dog treats. As my fury at her actions abated and I cleaned up the mess I inspected My Fair Leeloo. She looked like she was pregnant again and it was an all too familiar sight given her greed induced history. She was behaving normally though and was happily passing gas and belching at varying intervals. We sat down for the evening to watch TV and although she asked to go outside a little more than usual, everything was normal. I listened to her tummy with my stethoscope and heard all the normal, albeit extremely active, noises of a dog tummy.

I headed to bed and in the midst of a deep slumber I was awoken by the sound no one wants to hear in the middle of the night: a dog vomiting. It was Leeloo retching and coughing, like she had something stuck in her throat. Initially I woke to see where she'd vomited but she hadn't, she was just retching and trying to vomit. Alarm bells started to go off. Over the course of the next little while Leeloo quit trying to retch, had a drink, and was very restless - getting on and off the bed and was unable to get comfortable. Her tummy was still big but no bigger than it had been a few hours previously. I stumbled out of bed and checked my references for bloat - or gastric torsion.

I ran down the list of symptoms - retching without production, coughing, shallow breath, inability to get comfortable, anxiety, drinking ... and started to get dressed.  It was 2am and I was quite sure Leeloo was bloating. Up to that point I'd been telling myself that this greedy bitch had done this kind of thing before but she had always been able to vomit some of what she'd eaten and she had come through with simple discomfort (and less food for her next couple meals) as a penance for her gluttony.

I tend not to panic in these situations, I'm not sure why. I panic at silly small things that make me angry or are frustrating but when it comes to the brass tax I tend to focus on the job at hand. While I was getting dressed I was talking to Leeloo and asking her how much this was going to cost me and that she was a silly greedy bitch but nothing better happen to her, especially not on the heels of Rifka. As I was preparing to call the vet at this ridiculous hour Leeloo was lying on my bed feeling very sorry for herself - her breathing slightly laboured and shallow (a very concerning sign) - Boy was wandering around the house wondering why I was up and Cora was fast asleep on the bed.

I heard a noise when I was in the bathroom, thought it was Boy walking around and looked up just in time to watch Leeloo vomit the most fluid and food I've ever seen come out of a dog. She looked up at me with a very guilty expression, trotted over to the couch, hopped up and sat looking at me like, "There, that's better." I'm sure it was.

Her stomach had reduced its size by half and she was suddenly and clearly a lot more relaxed. I stood in the livingroom, half dressed, and watched her for a few more minutes while the stench of dog vomit permeated my house. It's an open concept home so no where is safe. She sat and stared back at me and then curled up into a little ball and settled in to sleep. Oh, okay ... that's fine. You nap while I clean up this horrific amount of dog puke in the middle of the night.

And that is how Leeloo dodged the bloat bullet and I learned my lesson about making sure no one can get out while I'm at work. Because of her previous history of coming unscathed through gluttonous events like this I didn't initially worry that much - she once ate stole 11 cups of dog food, vomited up almost half of it and skated through with flying colors. It was the retching without vomiting that was my real tip off.

Raimi's sister Geddie died of bloat and it is a very real concern for Ridgeback owners. Geddie was rushed to the vet and she still didn't survive - bloat has a low survival rate of about 30-40% and its signs are subtle and deadly. Preventing bloat is a contested subject and the advice varies from source to source but what everyone can agree on is that action must be taken quickly in order to increase the chances of survival.  It can strike almost any time and always has to do with the stomach of the dog twisting and filling gas, cutting off circulation to the liver and spleen. Often dogs die of shock while on the surgical table.

The symptoms of bloat include the following and alone are not always signs of bloat; however, a combination of two or more of these symptoms indicates that it may be best to get to the vet, even at 2am.  Better to make the trip and wake everyone rather than have to collect your dogs ashes in a few days. I have highlighted the symptoms Leeloo had that made me start to get dressed and look for my keys. Leeloo was very lucky, as was I, and we - or at least I - have learned my lesson. I will keep an eye on her for rest of the day but she is behaving normally and was happy to steal a few kibbles of Esme's food this morning. Her crate will be double checked before I head to work and I am very lucky, and happy, that she is currently napping on her chair.

Unfortunately, from the onset of the first symptoms you have very little time (sometimes minutes, sometimes hours) to get immediate medical attention for your dog. Know your dog and know when it's not acting right.
bulletAttempts to vomit (usually unsuccessful); may occur every 5-30 minutes
bullet This seems to be one of the most common symptoms & has been referred to as the "hallmark symptom"
bullet "Unsuccessful vomiting" means either nothing comes up or possibly just foam and/or mucous comes up
bullet Some reports say that it can sound like a repeated cough New
bullet Doesn't act like usual self
bullet Perhaps the earliest warning sign and may be the only sign that almost always occurs
bullet We've had several reports that dogs who bloated asked to go outside in the middle of the night. If this is combined with frequent attempts to vomit, and if your dog doesn't typically ask to go outside in the middle of the night, bloat is a very real possibility.
bullet Significant anxiety and restlessness
One of the earliest warning signs and seems fairly typical
bullet "Hunched up" or "roached up" appearance
This seems to occur fairly frequently
bullet Lack of normal gurgling and digestive sounds in the tummy
bullet Many dog owners report this after putting their ear to their dog's tummy.
bullet If your dog shows any bloat symptoms, you may want to try this immediately.
bullet Bloated abdomen that may feel tight (like a drum)
Despite the term "bloat," many times this symptom never occurs or is not apparent
bullet Pale or off-color gums
Dark red in early stages, white or blue in later stages
bullet Coughing
bullet Unproductive gagging
bullet Heavy salivating or drooling
bullet Foamy mucous around the lips, or vomiting foamy mucous
bullet Unproductive attempts to defecate
bullet Whining
bullet Licking the air
bullet Seeking a hiding place
bullet Looking at their side or other evidence of abdominal pain or discomfort
bullet May refuse to lie down or even sit down
bullet May stand spread-legged
bullet May curl up in a ball or go into a praying or crouched position
bullet May attempt to eat small stones and twigs
bullet Drinking excessively
bullet Heavy or rapid panting
bulletShallow breathing
bullet Cold mouth membranes
bullet Apparent weakness; unable to stand or has a spread-legged stance
Especially in advanced stage
bullet Accelerated heartbeat
Heart rate increases as bloating progresses
bullet Weak pulse
bullet Collapse