Sunday, November 4, 2012

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

In the aftermath of something like Rifka's loss there needs to be some good news. The puppies are doing incredibly well and hitting all the milestones they are supposed to and Lola will be able to go home to her own family in a very short time. I am really looking forward to seeing what kind of quality comes out of this litter and have high hopes for a special Rifka daughter for Taryn.

(Rifka's litter continues to excel)

The circumstances surrounding a loss like this really brings home how connected we in the purebred dog world are, and how we pull together to help each other. This is never more apparent than when tragedy strikes, but it also works the other way and allows people to come together to make good things happen. I know that through the whelping of Rifka's litter Kim of Enigma Ridgebacks in Alberta, was right there via text message for almost every moment. She was the first to learn that Rifka was gone, hugged her own girl Emmie and cried the tears for which Taryn could not spare time. Texting doesn't seem like much of a support system but I've come to learn that no matter how you communicate, the medium is not as important as knowing someone is there and understands.

(Kim and her girl Emmie spending some quality time)

I've known Kim for years now, I referred her to another breeder when I didn't have a puppy for her when she inquired. She got her girl Emmie as a pet and we met up a few times for Emmie and Leeloo to play. Over time Kim decided she wanted to try and show Emmie, she bred a litter and added Ridgbeback boy Draco to her home. Although by then I had moved to Nova Scotia, we stayed in touch and have praised each other's wins, lamented the losses and ground our teeth about some shocking and unsportsmanlike behaviour in the dog show scene. It's great to have friends you can trust to bemoan the injustices of the world.

(Kim teaching her boy Draco to stand while Emmie waits for the fall out)

Over here in Nova Scotia I was in discussion with Luke's owner Stephanie about her next puppy bitch. She wanted good lines that might one day compliment a breeding to Luke and since I know the lines and several breeders who have dogs with familiar pedigrees, I was casting about for a good match. Over in BC Coso RR had just had two litters and both were out of dogs whose pedigrees were similar to my own and also included some nice outcrosses. I sent Stephanie to Lance and hoped a puppy from one of the litters would make its way to Newfoundland. The reason I was so interested in getting one of these puppies to Newfoundland is because they are directly descended from my own dogs. Halo is their great grandmother - hard to believe she's already a 'great'! - and are out of Birdie. I was an integral part of planning the litter Birdie came from and was very interested to see what she could produce. She was bred to one of Lance's dogs, Kija, who is from well known lines in the US. The expectation for this litter was understandably high.

(Birdie with 3 of her litter)

In due course I chose the puppy I liked most for Stephanie and had hoped it was the one Coso could send to her ... but there was a problem. Since they literally live on opposite coasts, it was going to mean a flight for a puppy. There are no direct flights from Vancouver to St. John's and even though I have shipped puppies many times with no issues, I always try to find the most direct flight. Something about moving a puppy from one plane to another makes me nervous - even when it's the same company. Lance and Deb were reluctant to fly a puppy when it involved multiple take-offs and landings and possibly plane changes.

(Even at just a few weeks this girl caught my eye)

Fortuitous timing and circumstance was on our side - last weekend the Tradex show in BC was held and Kim drove over the Rockies with a couple of her own dogs and a friend. I had only been home from Barbados for 24 hours and was catching up on all the show news. I found out that although there was a chance that Stephanie could get the puppy I thought would be best for her, there was still the issue of shipping her to Newfoundland. On Sunday morning I was sitting at my computer, thinking about how the heck to get Stephanie this puppy, when it hit me.

(The best puppy is a napping puppy)

There is a direct flight - with a stop to refuel in Toronto - from Calgary to St. John's, Newfoundand. Kim lives 45 minutes from Calgary. I texted Kim right away to ask if she could do me a huge favour: take the puppy home with her and put her on a flight to Newfoundland. There wasn't a lot of time to hash out details - all I knew was that the puppy needed to get to Calgary if she was ever going to end up in Newfoundland. To Kim's credit the firs thing she said was "But of course" and the only questions she asked were "Where do I get a crate and what size?" She was showing only a couple hours later and then needed to hit the road immediately since she had a 10 hour drive home so I made a call to Stephanie to ask if she was SURE she wanted this puppy because I thought I had a way to make it happen. It would involve a lot of favours but it was the only way I could see her getting this dog.

(There she is stealing the spotlight in the middle - 3 weeks older than her 'friends')

You're probably wondering why I didn't initially text Lance(of Coso), even though it was their puppy to sell, but it was because I knew they were dealing with not only showing their own dogs but also with transferring Lola and Rifka's litter to Taryn plus they had a sick dog at home. Kim was also showing but I knew she'd see Lance in person and explain the plan and discuss logistics - much easier in person! It was really more about whether Kim would be willing to do me and Stephanie this incredible favour. Just as Kim was hitting the road I spoke to Lance to clarify some details and it was official, Stephanie was getting her puppy. Taryn stepped in and lent Kim a crate and so, with the support of not one, but 4 breeders behind her, on the evening of October 29, Quinn was on her way to Calgary. She travelled in the good grace and exceptional company of Kim and Colette and of course with Lance and Deb of Coso trusting us all to make sure the puppy made it safely to Newfoundland.

(Quinn riding shotgun with Colette)

So Quinn was in Calgary. When to get her to Newfoundland? With Hurricane Sandy bearing down on half of North America there was some concern about delays and issues with the stop in Toronto. We carefully watched the forecast but it looked like it was all systems go for Thursday, November 1st. After only 3 days in Kim's company Quinn was quickly adored and it was going to be very hard for her family to let her go - including a 2 and a half year old Draco who was now in love.

(Draco using Quinn as a pillow)

At the last minute Stephanie, Lance and I worked out and clarified the contract agreements on the future breeding career of Quinn and everything was set. Kim was off to the airport despite the flight being delayed by an hour and, bless her heart, she waited there until the very last minute before they needed to load Quinn on the plane - now delayed by 3 hours because of weather in Alberta. It never occurred to me that the delays would be at the Calgary end since we were all anticipating a hold-up in Toronto! So Kim gave even more of herself and her time to ensure that Quinn was comfortable and ready for a flight across the country.

(Napping with her buddy Draco)

And that is how Quinn landed in Newfoundland November 2nd at 3:30am. I was incredibly concerned that there wouldn't be anyone at the cargo bay when the plane arrived so that Stephanie could pick up Quinn right away (it has happened!) but she called the office when it opened and they told her "Not to worry Stephanie, we're not Air Canada, as long as your dog is coming, I'm not going anywhere." doG bless Westjet.

(Quinn exploring The Rock)

I couldn't possibly thank Kim enough for her kindness and generosity in helping not only Taryn in her time of need, but for responding without hesitation to help get this puppy to Newfoundland. She has her own life to deal with, plus the emotional strain of Rifka's loss and a friend's ailing dog; taking on a puppy for a few days and getting her to the airport was going well above and beyond. I owe her a lot and should the day comes when she needs something from me it will be without question. Thank you Kim, for everything.

(The well loved Quinn)

So watch this space for news of Coso's Here Comes Harley Quinn - she may not actually be my dog but she certainly holds a place in my heart and the hearts of the people she touched along the way. I look forward to seeing her in person in the New Year!


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