Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tess Joins The Family

Tess now has full house dog privileges and gets along with the rest of the gang jut fine. When she arrived for breeding she was already in season, so she moved to the basement. Because almost all of my aquariums are in the basement, I spend a good deal of time there, so she was not bored, and quickly developed an interest in Fishkeeping. Argus is my official Fishkeeping Assistant, following me around, watching fish, and "biting" them through the glass - the bottom row of tank all have nose prints and "bite prints". Tess now does that too.

I introduced her to the others slowly, being especially careful with Coral and Josie who normally get along well with other dogs. Because bitches can be, well, bitchy their introductions were closely supervised. Tess did not care for Josie's pushy, play-with-me attitude at first, but it all worked out just fine, and peace reigns. Because Tess will be with us until after her pups are weaned, she needed to join the group.

Too early to tell if Tess is pregnant, so fingers all tightly crossed!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Back To Blogging

Wow! It's been over two months since I last posted! So much has happened since then . . .

Ch. "Tess" arrived several weeks ago to be bred to Ch. "Argus", and we are anticipating puppies about September 5th! Tess belongs to Meg Callea (Tramac Dalmatians), and came from Washington State. Jess, Ginger and I are "borrowing" her for a litter of pups, as dog show photographer Meg has such a busy schedule it is hard for her to find the time to raise a litter. Because Tess has finished her championship, has her health clearances, and has a very compatible pedigree, we welcomed the opportunity to do a litter from her and Argus. Tess goes back to my dogs Ch. "Rob" CD and Ch. "Jocko" CDX (as does Argus). This will be a nice linebred pedigree, full of top winners and producers. Tess is sired by Ch. "Trapper" who was a full brother to Meg's Ch. "Mocha" who I awarded Best Of Breed at the National when I judged it in Texas some years back. Tess's dam "Sierra" was also the dam of Ch. "Apple" who was the #1 Dalmatian last year, and Tess's brother Ch. "John John" was Best of Winners at last year's National, when Apple went Best of Breed. This year Argus went Best of Breed there, so it's quite an illustrious lineup.

Now, to have a strong healthy litter of good-tempered, beautiful pups who live up to their heritage! Of course we are not expecting a whole litter of show dogs. Most good litters have a few exceptional pups that go as show prospects, but some of the pups in the litter will go to performance homes and companion homes. I also enjoy placing show prospects in performance homes, because I really enjoy hearing about my beautiful "granddogs'" exploits in obedience, agility and tracking. Companion pups are often just as beautiful as the show dog litter mates, but may have minor "flaws" according to the show standard for Dalmatians. Things like a few too many spots, too few spots, being larger or smaller, a bit of pink on the nose, or a tail carried too high may make the difference between a pup going to a show home, or going as a gorgeous companion, and that is only an educated guess on the breeder's part. Sometimes one the companion pups actually turns out to be the best looking dog in the litter! Evaluating pups can be tricky! Many new breeders think they have a whole litter of show dogs, but as they gain experience in evaluationg puppies, they find out that many attractive pups will not have what it takes to become stars in the show ring. We've been evaluating pups for over 40 years (heavens, am I that old?) and have learned a lot during that time.

Most of the fish survived my 11 day absence when I went to Australia. Ron did a great job, but some losses are inevitable and I did lose my gorgeous Red-Finned Halfbeaks, which was very sad. They were gorgeous fish, not very common in the hobby, and had produced several spawns. Hopefully I will be able to find some again in the future. I've purchased some really nice Blue-Peppered Lyretail Platies from show breeder Rick Graham (yes, there are show breeders in fish too) and hope to produce some outstanding youngsters. Rick works on a variety of color and fin styles in fancy Platies and Swords, and because he was not currently working with this strain he sent me some extra nice youngsters. Although my real preference is keeping and spawning endangered livebearers (endangered or extinct in the wild because of habitat loss or the introduction of invasive species) I love fancy livebearers too, and Chinese Red Sailfin Swords, and several color varieties of Platies. Actually, I keep some of everything, and especially like my Green-Spotted Puffer, the gorgeous Angelfish (also purchased from a show breeder) and my black-spotted Knight Gobies that I call my Dalmatian Fish. They are Argus's favorites too, when he "helps" me with the fish. Tess really enjoys "helping" too, and her favorites are the Red Blush Incisus Rainbowfish.

We're doing well too! I had a wonderful time in Australia, and Ron and dogs survived my absence. Argus went to stay with my daughter Jess, puppy Pauli went to stay with my friend Vonda, and Ron kept the oldsters at home. Ch. "Sid" will be 13 this fall and is rather feeble, but he did just fine while I was gone, and is still hanging on, running the household. My brother just visited from Costa Rica, and we had a chance to see him. Al has many stories about all the exotic birds and animals he sees on a regular basis. My sister-in-law Alison has set up a series of spay/neuter clinics in Costa Rica because of the enormous over population problem. Many of the people have little knowledge of dog care, have no access to veterinary services, and can not afford the cost of a spay or neuter, so Alison and her friends do what they can to help the situation. And because of all the strays they encounter, a certain number come to stay - at last count Al & Alison had 9 dogs, plus 4 others who were just waiting for good homes. When they moved to Costa Rica they took their Rottweiler, the Coonhound, and an elderly Westie. Only the old Coonhound Buckeroo remains, and the other 8 "residents" are Costa Rican dogs, primarily mixed breeds.