Friday, December 31, 2010

Vet Shock

Hey, look at me!  I'm cute too.

Although I always tell potential buyers that owning a dog is a luxury, it was really driven home to me yesterday when I took Mariah, Patrick & Edward in for vaccinations, and the boys for health checks.  For years I have given my own shots, but because we have had so few puppies, I can't use a box of vaccine before the expiration date.  No wonder Vets are complaining that fewer clients are scheduling regular visits - they can't afford it!  I am well aware of the argument that the routine visits pay for the office help, the mortgage & utilities, etc., BUT the idea that a vaccination should cost $62.50 for $3.00 worth of vaccine is a bit much.  Fortunately it was Vaccination Clinic Day, something I was not aware of when I make the appointment, and the shots were half price, but still the damages were almost $200.00 for three healthy puppies.  How can the family with two kids and a new puppy afford to take it to the vet?  OTOH, if it gets sick how will they pay for it?  Dogs are a indeed a luxury, but are also a necessity for many of us.

That reminds me that there is someone soliciting donations to help pay for surgery on a 4 month old Dalmatian puppy who has what sounds to be Persistent Right Aortic Arch, a very serious condition that will eventually kill the pup.  However, the surgery costs something like $6,000.00 and the person who owns the dog does not currently have a job . . .    It may sound heartless, but euthanasia would be a good option in a case like this.   Sorry.   There are probably suddenly unemployed owners of  middle-aged beloved family pets that also need vet work that will not be nearly as expensive.  I'm always more than a little suspicious about such tales anyway, but I can think of far more useful ways to spend $6,000.00 and help many more animals.

I realized yesterday that I was actually reading/listening to SIX different mystery novels at the same time.  Oops.  Better get a few of them finished this weekend, since I just picked up a new audio book at the library, one I had been waiting for.  Two on the IPOD, two on the Nook, one on the CD player, and one in the car.  Sometimes a bit hard to keep the plots straight!  Bless the technology that makes it possible to be as O-C as I want to be!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Oh Damn, Ice Dams

Very weird weather today, temperature above freezing already. It's supposed to rain which will take down the snow level, but unfortunately it will make the ice dam problems worse.  A lot of people are doing to have roof leaks this winter, as the ice backs up under the shingles.  Haven't had a dam for 25 years, but this is a very unusual winter and anything is possible.  I put a lot of work into insulating my attic some years back, so this will put it to the test.  The companies that remove them (they steam your roof and gutters) charge close to $500.00 because of the cost of doing business - equipment, insurance and workers comp.  Hard to imagine anything much more dangerous than working on ice covered roofs.  Fingers crossed.   I have a $1,000.00 deductible on my home owners insurance, so hope to heck I don't have to make a claim.

Jess came over last night to play with pups and we took pictures of Patrick & Edward.  Poor Mariah was so jealous that the pups were getting all the attention.  She's used to being the baby around here and acted just like a small child with a new baby brother (or two).  Pups had a blast playing in the family room, and continue to be friendly and fearless.  Both got their first visit outside and had fun playing in the snow on the deck.  Hope to get them out again today, before the cold weather returns.

Jess agreed that we should hang on to Eddie, who looks quite handsome at this age.  We got some pretty good stacked shots of him and were surprised to find that he had a neck - the fat rolls make it less obvious when he is just mooching around here.  A friend has offered to take Eddie "for camp", so between that situation and/or perhaps sending him up to Canada for awhile, we should be able to hang onto him without everyone going crazy.  Two pups at a time in the winter is a bit more than I care to deal with!

Pups have their first vet visit today for a check up and their first vaccination.  Mariah will go along for her 3rd shot.   Hopefully Ron will come along to help!  Wish I could just take the day off - but at least tomorrow is a holiday.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

No Post, No Time

Hey, that's my ear!

No time this morning, as the pups need some out time - and a paper change, I'm sure.  If they were staying I would switch them to raw which makes clean up a whole lot easier!  They are doing great and met Mariah and the adults last night.  Very brave pups, handled everything perfectly, even being bullied by jealous Mariah!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Things just got busier

Edward & Patrick at 5 weeks

The boys are here!  I took yesterday afternoon off work to meet Dan & Paula in Mason City and retrieve Patrick & Edward.  What cuties, and so good.  They were perfect on the way home - no car sickness either - and settled right into their new home. No fussing last night, and I just turned on the basement light to wake them up before I go down to play with them.  Very handsome pups and they should look good when they lose a bit of weight.  Tess had lots of milk and only two pups to share it, so they are QUITE large for their ages.  I think Patrick will be OK to travel in the Sherpa bag next week.  He's the chow hound of the two but will be eating small meals until then!

Preliminary evaluation of Edward says he is most likely show potential.  Nice markings, complete trim, dark eye (and a blue eye, which is acceptable), correct scissors bite, two testicles, nice and square, short toes, and plenty of bone.  His face is very cute, his head shape is correct and his ears are the right size and set correctly so they hang correctly .  He has plenty of neck length, seems to have a level back, and correct body shape.  His tail is high right now, but that's very common in 6 week old pups, just something we will keep an eye on.  Haven't had a lot of chance to watch them trot very much, but he appears to move correctly on both ends.  Argus kids tend to be particularly nice "coming in", and his hocks and stifles appear to be correct "going away".  Haven't had a chance to see how he carries his topline when trotting, but when I stack him on the table, his topline looks nice. 

Patrick is also very handsome, but because he has a patched ear he will go as a companion.  His markings are a bit more even than Edward's and he has more angle on both ends, but he also has a longer back, a different style of dog.  Tess had several littermates who were built more like Patrick, while Edward is built more like Tess, but looks quite like several of Mariah's brothers too.  I'm starting to recognize a certain "look" now in Argus sons, since I have seen them from a variety of dams now.

Off to play with pups!

Have a number of emails and phone calls to return.  I'll get to you, I promise!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Another Christmas Past . . .

Such a nice Christmas we've had.  Christmas Eve with Ron's brother and his family, Christmas Day with my family.  That's us on the right, picture taken at my sister's home in rural Elmwood.  We were missing nephew Davis who's leave from the Navy does not begin for a few more days.  We hope to celebrate at my mother's next weekend, with a Pizza Party for Davis.  Hopefully the weather cooperates.  We always miss my brother Al & his wife Alison who live in Costa Rica.   Mariah got to come along for our Christmas get-together, and had a wonderful time. She had been attacked by an ill tempered Labrador when we were out walking on Saturday, so it was great that she had a chance to play with her Cousin LD.
Mariah had a great time playing with LD.

The dogs had a wonderful Christmas, with new toys from Ron & me, packages of treats from Aunt Ginger, and the wonderful new Tuff Toy dinosaur from our friend Loretta & her Dal Cheyenne, a daughter of Josie's. Josie & Argus were particularly pleased with the toy.

I hate shopping the day after Christmas, but I have a gift card burning a hole in my pocket and I want to purchase some sort of MP3 player. I'm not so much into music, but it will be great for recorded books. When I discovered how many books were available to download through Net Library, I decided I needed one more new toy this winter. The EBook Reader is working out well, and I am enjoying it immensely. So many cool "toys" out there!
Mariah & Josie amidst the wrapping paper.

Tomorrow I'll drive to Mason City to meet Paula and pick up Patrick & Edward. They need to go in for their check ups and first shot, so that Patrick can go off to sunny Phoenix with his new mom who is flying in to pick him up. Fingers crossed that he will be small enough for the Sherpa Bag! Because there were only two pups, they got LOTS to eat and are large for their size. Eddie will stay for awhile, and then perhaps be "farmed out" with friends while we see how he develops. I was not pleased that he had a blue eye, and was not expecting blues in this litter. Argus' percentage of blue eyes is low, even when bred to blue-eyed bitches, and I did not expect that from Tess's pedigree either. BUT, like patches, blue-eyes go along with the extreme-white-piebald gene that makes Dalmatians look the way they do, unlike any other breed of dog. They are perfectly acceptable to showing in the U.S. though are considered a fault in other countries. We've finished the championships on multiple generations of blue-eyed Dals in the past, but haven't shown one for a long time. Well, someone has to be Argus's first blue-eyed champion kid! And if Eddie turns out not to be show quality, he'll be an extra handsome pet for someone.

Friday, December 24, 2010

T'was The Day Before Christmas . . .

and all was madness & confusion as Sue tried to get everything ready for Christmas.

Whew, good that I'm not entertaining this year as I seem to be less organized than usual.  Calls from Ginger about Westminster tickets, from Laurie about this & that, and from Paula about when we will meet so I can pick up Patrick & Eddie.  Oops, better touch base with mom too about when we will pick her up tomorrow. 

Got the fabulous sweet potatoes done for tomorrow.  All that is left is to bake them and to add the mini marshmallows and pecans.  Had a momentary meltdown as I tried to figure out where the vanilla might be.  Ah, in my tackbag, but that's another story.  As I took out the tackbag Argus got all excited, thinking that he was going to a dog show.  Sorry buddy, not for another month.  As I took my bag of pecans out of the freezer where they have lived for a long time, I noted that the bag indicated that they were best if used by June 2008.  Oh, well.  They taste just fine, especially once they are toasted.  Obviously I need to bake a bit more often!

Next on the agenda is chopping cranberries & draining crushed pineapple.  I'll add sugar and put the mixture in the fridge until tomorrow when I add whipped cream.  A family favorite we NEVER have except at Christmas.

OK, then I get to finish wrapping gifts, mostly dog gifts, so everyone has something to open tomorrow.  Told them they were getting a new nail grinder for Christmas (sort of like coal in your stocking) but I have not picked one up yet.  Am sure they don't mind waiting on that gift.

Christmas Eve with Ron's brother Bob and his family and friends.  Christmas Day with my mother, Ron, Jess & Don at my sister's.  Kris is working 12 hours today (hard to turn down overtime) so hopefully her husband Bob and son Erik can fill in on the basics.  Kris is doing the turkey, dressing, and potatoes, mom is bringing the pie, Ron bought the wine, and Jess and I are bringing the salads and vegetable, rolls, condiments and such. 

Now, if Mother Nature would just do her part.  Kris lives in rural Wisconsin, down a long and winding road (hey, that would make a nice song) that will be a bugger if it is snow-covered and slippery.  A little sun would be welcome!

Have a wonderful holiday everyone!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Thanks - And A Little Venting

Life is rough in Paisleyland

Thanks to the dear friends who took the time to call or drop me an email after yesterday's blog posting.  You really touched my heart.  Things are OK here, and I slept well last night, although now I have added some new concerns. There's always something to worry about, isn't there?

Yesterday's snowfall was manageable, only 5-6 inches, but the freezing drizzle that is falling on top of the snow promises to create major problems for the rest of the winter.  It allows the snow to pack into ice, and will give everything an icy armor coating.  Now I can worry about ice dams on my roof too, something I have not had for 15 or more years.

More snow due on Thursday, although so far the forecast for Friday and Saturday looks OK.  We will all be very disappointed if we can't get to my sister's home in rural Wisconsin for Christmas Day.

This will be the 6th Snow Emergency for the city of St. Paul, something the cash-strapped city can ill afford.  Although this particular snowfall is not as heavy as the previous one, there is a lot of clean up left from the last one.  Hopefully they do a careful job this time and plow us curb to curb. 

Several of the busier streets in my neighborhood are no longer wide enough for a car to get through when there are cars parked on both sides of the street.  Duh people, use some sense here!  One street over is a major roadway, and because people don't park close enough to the curb, there are places where two cars going in opposite directions can not pass.  WHY do people think they have to park far enough out from the curb to let their passengers exit - and then just leave the car that way?  Just let your passengers out and then pull up close so you are not obstructing the roadway!

My other complaint is the fact that sidewalks are to be shoveled "edge to edge".  What part of that do people not understand?  No where does it state that a narrow path through the middle is enough.  It states that sidewalks are to be shoved edge to edge, and that if you live on the corner you are responsible for BOTH sidewalks, as well as the curb cuts.  I could cut people some slack if they were seniors or disabled, but most of the offenders are hale and hearty, and some of them have teenagers living at home.  So why aren't those kids out shoveling, working for their spending money?  Which brings up yet another point - why does it seem that kids (at least in this neighborhood) no longer try to make money by mowing or shoveling?  There's plenty of money to be made this year, and no kids to looking for shoveling jobs.  Too busy playing with their computers or video games?     Eeerrrr.

Wow, Spellcheck caught only one error!  Wonder how many mis-used words it missed?

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Hours Before Dawn

The late, much missed Rob. My "heart dog".

Suddenly I am laying in bed wide awake.  Must be 5:55 and time to get up, but no - it's only 3:20.  Although I turn over and try to get back to sleep, I know it's not going to happen as a jumble of thoughts start racing through my mind.  I've gotten through the past few months with very little "down time", for which I am grateful, but I dread the worrying nights, when all concerns & questions seem to be magnified.

Why did I spend so much money on Christmas?  Did I get everything?  Do I need more cards?  Who did I forget?  How much will my Xcel Energy bill be and will I have enough in my checking account to cover it?  Will my car insurance bill come on the 23rd?  How will I pay that?  Did I make my furniture payment this month? Did I even get the bill?  How can I possibly consider going to Westminster?  Will Argus drop out of the Top 10 all breed?  Should I have gone to Chicago this weekend?   How much snow will we get this time?  Where will we put it?  How will St. Paul pay for another Snow Emergency?  How will we get down the streets that are already too narrow?  How can I afford another tie rod on my car? Is the car going to be a money pit as it gets older?  Is my job secure?  Can I master the new accounting system?  Will they fill all the empty positions, or will we be forced to "make do" without enough people to get the work done?  Are they setting us up to fail?  Will the state go into lock down mode next summer?  Why are politics so polarized in Minnesota?  Will state government get anything accomplished this session?  Will state employees ever get a raise again some day?  Should I refinance and get my wiring redone?  Will I need a new roof?  How much money will I lose on Tess's litter of two?  Will Michele be able to fly out with the patched boy?  Will Eddie be show quality?  Will Patti want to take him in January, or will I have another pup to house train? Will Mariah bully him too much?   Is Mariah big enough for her age?  How can I afford a puppy training class for her right now?  When am I going to get the patio door stained?  Why didn't I spend the extra $200.00 on a prefinished door? 

And of course when I start worrying, I worry for everyone. Will Wendy & Kathleen find a backer for Pauli or will she sit home and go to waste because of the enormously high cost of campaigning a show dog? Will Coral stay healthy? How long will she live? How will Ron handle losing her? Will Ron stay healthy? Should I nag him for about eating better? Getting out more? Losing a few pounds? And what about Jess? Is she backsliding? Is my sister smoking or not?  Will Kris Hatch find homes for her puppies? Can Laurie afford to get her car fixed?  Will Don's father stay out of the hospital over Christmas?  Will Mom stay healthy this winter?  How about my sister's car?  Will it hold up all winter?  Will my brother-in-law get the job he is hoping for? Will the weather in Costa Rica be OK for next year's flower crops, and will Al get his hours adjusted the way he hopes?  Will Ginger's mother be OK?  Will the AKC survive?  Why is Tom so difficult?  What's wrong with Cheryl?  Will I ever get Lucy down here to show?  Will there even be any points next year?  How will Argus handle retirement?  How will I handle Argus's retirement?

Three cups of coffee later, with time out for hugging a few dogs, things are looking a bit brighter.  I'll take this one day at a time, do my best, and try to be patient and understanding.   I'll remind myself how fortunate I am to have a job, a roof over my head, a wonderful family, good friends, and my beloved dogs.  That's enough for now.   Things will be fine.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

All Good Things Must End . . .

Future star Argus at 4 months.
This was to be Argus's last "regular" show weekend, but we'll be sitting this one out for a variety of reasons.  He's not retired from showing, but is retired from active campaigning, and there's a difference.  From now on Argus will do Specialties and an occasional show where the judging panel is particularly appealing but will skip the regular shows.  Argus never got a full year of active campaigning, starting in April the first year, battling a MRSA infection the second, and working around my broken ankle and his own injury this year, but he accomplished all our goals, and them some.  Next year we'll concentrate on finishing up some of the extras, and hopefully add an obedience title or two.

Argus's record at AKC shows includes:
  • 101 Bests of Breed (10 of them being Dalmatian Specialty shows)
  • 21 Group One wins
  • 2 all breed Bests In Show
  • 3 years in the Top 10
  • Grand Championship
  • Dalmatian Club of America National Specialty Best Of Breed (2008)
  • 2 - DCA Awards of Merit (2009 & 2010)
  • 2 - 1st in Stud Dog Class at DCA (2009 & 2010)
  • Register of Merit Sire, with 12 champion kids, so far.
  • A Best In Futurity daughter
  • A Best In Show daughter
  • His CHIC number
  • International Championship with multiple Bests In Show
  • UKC Championship with multiple Bests In Show
  • Canadian Championship - we're going back to Canada next year
Always amateured handled by me (and by Jess for a few shows when I broke my ankle)

Thanks to my best buddy Argus for never letting me down, to the judges who appreciated his soundness, attitude & exceptional breed type, to his breeder Carrie who let him come to Minnesota and always believed in us, to Mark & Ginger who made it all possible, and to friends and family who cheered us on.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Two Trees

Dog ornament tree in foreground.

We put up the Christmas trees last night, yes tree(s).   Some years I do the artificial one, occasionally I have done the Charlie Brown tree, but most years I buy a real tree.  I found a lovely little 4 foot spruce for this year, but a tree that size does not have room for both traditional and novelty ornaments.  While Ron decorated the "real tree" with regulation ornaments, I set up the top half of the Charlie Brown tree, and decorated it with dog and fish ornaments.  Always such fun to go through the dog ornaments, remembering the people who gave them to me.  I have never purchased a Dalmatian ornament, but have accumulated many of them through the years.  Several of them are from friends who have passed away and it's a nice time to remember them.

Christmas cards finally got ordered too - I love ordering them on-line and picking them up the next morning.  So handy!  Now to find time to send them.  I love getting Christmas cards, and particularly enjoy picture cards and the ones that include letters.  Hope I get a few picture cards of dogs we have sold - those are my very favorites.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What's Wrong With Calling A Snow Day?

Argus/Tess P. pups at 4 weeks.

Got to work yesterday to find that the parking lot was only minimally plowed and the cars were parked every which way. The big piles of snow took up about 1/3 of the lot - which we pay to use.  Hopefully they replowed last night.  The portion of the Sears lot used by customers (if they had any) was plowed perfectly of course.

To make matters worse, Admin had not plowed any sidewalks on the Rice Street side of the DOT building, so we had 4-5 foot drifts to climb through!  Ah, yes.  They had plowed the handicap parking spots but had not bothered with those of us who have to use the regular lot and walk to the building.  We walked in the street in rush hour traffic past the loading dock (yes, that was plowed too) to the end of the building, a mighty cold walk.  I understand that some very loud and ugly phone calls were placed to Facilities Management, and relayed to the Department of Admin (which doesn't give a damn anyway).  An hour later (after everyone was already at work) many of the sidewalks were clear.  Not a very good way to start the day, and a lot of people who couldn't make it in.  

The schools are closed for a second day, but of course the state could not even consider calling yesterday a Snow Day.  If you haven't been plowed, just stay home and take vacation . . .

Monday, December 13, 2010

Digging Out?

A group of neighbors dug out cars.

Well, not exactly.  There seems to be a few glitches in the system this time.  Although the first Snow Emergency started at 8:00 PM on Saturday night, and the second Snow Emergency on Sunday night at 9:00 PM, my street has yet to be plowed.  We got ALL the cars off the street by 8:00 AM Sunday as required, but the plows never showed up.  Not sure what's happening now.  Managing 16-20 inches of snow is difficult in densely populated cities,  but something went wrong here.

Because I wanted to put lights on the Christmas tree last night, I ventured out yesterday afternoon to look for a string of LED lights.  Traffic on the majors streets was moving just fine and the shopping centers were crowded.  It's tough to keep Minnesotans down - what's a little snow?  Clearing the residential streets seems to be one of several majors issues though, and schools are closed in both Minneapolis & St. Paul because the school buses are not operating as they can't negotiated many of the streets.  The other major issue is the collapse of the Metrodome.  I suppose the stadium debate will really heat up now.
Mariah finds the snow a bit deep!

The dogs are managing the weather and even got (very short) walks yesterday.  While the snow was coming down so hard on Saturday, we kept a path shoveled to the dog yard, so Mariah could manage the snow which ended up being over her head.  Argus has packed paths in the yard and is not bothered by the weather, but poor Josie finds it very unpleasant.  Like the late Sidney, she really seems to feel the cold more than the others.

They just reported that we have now had 34.6 inches of snow for the season, 60% of our normal snowfall.  And winter hasn't even begun.  Oh my.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Puppy Camping

Pups need to be comfortable with other dogs.

Sorry I've been a negligent blogger. 

I'll get this one done eventually.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Heating The Great Outdoors

Pups can assume the strangest positions.

Promises to be a stressful week with the new patio door scheduled to go in "starting" on Tuesday.  The process  was originally supposed to start in the morning, with the expectation that it would be completed the same day, finishing work and all. The phone message I received on Friday said "early afternoon", so it sounds as if my house will be torn up for two days.  Ugh.  I don't mind the mess nearly as much as the pending heat loss.  How do I keep the house warm when the patio door is removed and the temperature outdoors might be in the single digits?  A sheet of plastic is not going to keep the furnaces from going crazy

Marah is going home with Jess today so she will not be underfoot and needing to go outdoors while the men are working on the door.  Mariah definitely needs the exposure to other dogs and new situations.  She visited both PetCo and Chuck & Dons' this weekend and was extremely friendly with people, but horrified by other dogs.  She obviously needs some canine friends of other breeds.  When Argus was about this age and in need of socialization with other breeds, the first friendly small dog he met was Gomez the Wirehaired Dachshund.  He's been intrigued by Dachshunds ever since.  Going to the office with Jess and interacting with Stella the Cavalier will be good for Mariah, as will learning that house training does not mean that you can ONLY pee in my backyard.  So far she thinks that is the only acceptable place.

Lunch with my mother on Sunday.  I try to get together with her once a week if possible.  We went to Perkins to try the new Biscuit Bakes - very good.  Mom seemed to be in good spirits and we talked sports, politics and family.  I also brought along the Christmas letter (more of a note) that mom had me type up to send out to friends, since she did not send out any cards last year.  She's really looking forward to Christmas at Kris & Bob's, something she missed out on last year because she was feeling so bad at the time.  Hope mom stays healthy through the Holidays this year.  Last year was tough on everyone. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Rug Fuzz & Other Temptations

This tuft of fuzz is so tempting

Tonight I am going to crawl around the family room and look for puppy-level temptations.  By dealing with them before Mariah actually notices, I can prevent puppy damage.  Rug fuzz is a major temptation, so I need to trim the doormat.  It's an inexpensive continuous filament mat, and by pulling on this tuft of yarn Mariah can unravel a long string, one that if swallowed could do a lot of damage.  Although we don't leave her unsupervised, pups can get into mischief very quickly.  Any hanging threads on furniture covers and dog beds will also be trimmed.  I'll also use my bottle of Bitter Apple to spray items I've noticed she is attracted to, like the rugs on the bar stool that are exactly "mouth height" to a puppy.  By paying attention to small details, I can prevent from developing destructive habits.  We've got lots of toys and chew bones laying around, so there is always something acceptable for attract her attention.

Fish club meeting last night, the Plant Extravaganza which is generally the largest meeting of the year.  The club purchased several thousands of dollars worth of aquarium plants which members can buy at very very affordable prices.  Many plants were priced at $1.00 a bunch, with potted plants going for as little as $2.00.  Crowd management is important, as the greedy act like this is Black Friday, and the club wants everyone to have the chance to try some new aquarium plants.  Milo is our go-to-plant guy and he does a wonderful job of organizing this every year and gives a great talk on plants beforehand.  There's a huge amount of work involved in ordering, receiving and keeping the plants for a few days, then pricing hundreds of plants.

Our club has a number of people who are actually into the aquatic gardening part of the hobby a lot more seriously than the fish keeping part.  That's one of the appeals of the hobby, and some of the planted tanks are absolutely fabulous.  High intensity lighting, added CO2 and precise fertilization can yield fabulous results.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Lily Pad enjoying the cool grass.
Wish I was out in Long Beach, California, for the Eukanuba show.  Argus qualified, but there was really no reason to go other than to have fun and visit with friends.  Wait!  Is that not enough reason to go?  Maybe I should have gone without Argus, but it takes a lot more money than I have to do all that kind of stuff.  With Westminster in February and the Dal National in May, I need to be saving both money and vacation time.  A bit of warm weather and sunshine would certainly be welcome though!

The Dal pictured about is Lily Pad, a daughter of Argus & Lily (black Lily, not liver Lily).  Lily Pad's eventual owner met Argus's son Ben at a show in the Pacific NW and liked him so well she waited for over a year for an Argus daughter.  Lily Pad probably should have gone to a show home, but when good pet are homes waiting, it doesn't seem fair to not place a puppy.  Lily had a large litter and a number of nice pups, and her owner had few show reservations, so sseveral other lovely pups also went as pets.  I often wonder how they turned out.  Ch. Echo CD/TD/RN came from that litter and turned out well indeed.

Tess P's two boys are doing well, Paula says.  Trim is done, spotting is nice, eyes are dark, and both of them seem to hear already.  The patched boy will go to a pet home in Phoenix, to live with a patched Josie daughter.   Fingers tightly crossed that the other boy turns out to have show potential.

Fish club meeting tonight, the plant extravaganza where members can select from a huge variety of aquarium plants for just a dollar or two apiece.  Really a good deal as aquarium plants are SO expensive at most aquarium stores - and many of the plants sold at places like PetCo are not even aquarium plants.  They are terrestrial plants that can survive for awhile underwater.

Dogs have an interesting breakfast coming up - Bison oxtails.  Each dog gets a whole oxtail, as the bones are small enough to be totally consumed.  Even the pup will get a chunk of it, although I will have to use my trusty cleaver on hers.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Did I Miss Yesterday?

This gate has seen better days!

Oops, don't recall this I posted yesterday.  What was I thinking?  Hey, I'm fine, just ran out of time!

Mariah is doing well and his really settled in as a member of the family.  House training is almost 100% now, probably because WE are trained and get her out regularly and keep a close eye on her when she's loose.  We also keep her confined to just the family room and kitchen - that's one of the secrets to house training.  By limiting the pup's access to other parts of the house it is MUCH easier to keep an eye out for signs of an impending accident or mischief.  Because Ron spends much of his time in the family room, and my computer is just on the other side of the gate, it's a lot easier for us to keep an eye on young dogs.  If dogs are raised with limited house privileges, they are perfectly content.  Accidents still happen and damage still gets done, but at least it's confined to just a few rooms and it's part of raising a puppy.

When Ron asked what I wanted for Christmas, I told him what I really wanted was a new Elongate.  I have one of these sturdy metal adjustable gates spanning the five foot doorway between the family room and dining room and it's done a great job.  But it's getting pretty tatty looking!  The plastic coating is just a bit too tempting for young dogs, and over the years several of done a fair amount of damage.  When "someone" was not paying attention, I might add!  The gate is still sturdy, but it does look pretty battered.  Ron's response was that he could paint it.  Yeah, right.  Someone else suggested white duct tape.  Ron would like that idea too.  But, I think Santa is bringing me a new one.  Yay!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Where Did My Vacation Go?

Everything is a toy, including a plastic bag!

Odd that I rarely get around to blogging on weekends, when I SHOULD have more time for it.   Have my routine for the week which includes a blog post, but weekends are a bit more free form, I guess!

Lovely long weekend that ends all too soon.  It would be interesting to have a whole week off and just stay home and play catch up, something that I have never done.  My vacation always involves going somewhere for at least part of the time, so four days at home is the most I have ever had - and obviously it is not nearly long enough.

New patio door goes in next week and I'm praying that the latch does not fall off before then.  This is much needed project, and because the door will be installed before the end of the year I will get the tax credit.  When we got the estimate, I opted to finish the wood trim myself and save $200.00, which turns out to have been a really stupid decision on my part!  I assumed the pieces would already be cut to size and easy to wrestle down the basement stairs.  NOT!  Six 12-foot pieces of lumber, three of them heavy oak boards.  Like most hundred year old houses this one has a very small back stairway with a tight curve at the top and it is exceedingly difficult (and sometimes impossible) to get large or long items around the corner and down the stairs. 

I love staining wood and am partial to the Watco oil stains, but I really hate the prep work.  Went through three sanding blocks doing that hard oak, but am very satisfied with the results.  Three 12-foot pine strips left to stain, but it will require a lighter shade as softer pine takes the stain so much differently than  harder oak.

One of my projects for the weekend HAD been to scrub, restain and eventually wax the kitchen cabinets, but all the sanding made my tendinitis flare up, so that will have to wait for another time.  If roads are bad this coming weekend and I stay home from Kankakee (a bugger of a drive in the winter) it will be a good time to get started on that.  I'd like to see Ginger, and the judges are OK for Argus, but Pauli is entered too and they are probably better for her.  So if I stay home, it's no big deal.

Mariah continues to do well and is such a doll.  Housetraining has been a snap as it so often is with Dal pups.  After a couple of rough days, she's settled into being a Perfect Pup, and is great in her crate,  The adults all like her so she generally has someone to play with, usually either Argus or Josie, but sometimes Watson too.  Coral still ignores her and pretends there are no puppies present.  She's done her share, she says.

Argus in entered at two shows in the Chicago area right before Christmas.  I don't like doing those shows by myself, so invited Jess to ride along.  She would rather show than watch, so she suggested borrowing Nena from Stephanie and taking her along. Nena has been sitting home growing up this fall and we wanted to see how she looked, so Stephanie and Nena met us at the training center yesterday, and we worked Nena, Argus & Mariah for awhile.  Nena is definitely ready to go now, and Jess is excited to try her.  We worked with Argus to see if he was moving soundly, which he is.  Because he is getting more treadmill time this year (and I am not going to risk all the roadwork on ice this year, having learned my lesson) I needed to be sure that he was moving correctly.  Roadwork badly done can cause more problems than it helps. 

Mariah rode out to class in Argus's crate, just to get her used to riding in a crate in my car.  (She sat on the seat when she went in for a vet visit on Friday.)  It was her first time learning to walk on leash and she did pretty well. Sure is a pretty mover.  We also took some stacked shots since she has slimmed down and looks much better than when chubby.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Facebook Withdrawal, Oh My!

For a person who was sure she did not wish to join Facebook, I certainly have become dependent on it!  The Dal lists have become very under-used as so many have turned to Facebook and other social networking sites.  Rather than consistently seeing annoying postings from people you detest, you can pick and choose who you want to hear from.  If you later find them to be annoying or if they have views you find offensive, it's so easy to just "un-friend" them or block their postings for awhile.  Your Friends List can include co-workers, friends, fellow hobbyists, neighbors, relatives, politicians you support, special interest groups you agree with, restaurants, magazines, and news sources.  The list seems to be endless, but the great thing is that you CHOOSE who you wish to connect with.

I confess to being a Facebook adict, and check in first thing in the morning and last thing at night.   Strong hot coffee and Facebook gets me off to a good start in the morning. It allows me to stay in touch with family and friends, exchange ideas and opinions, and stay current on happening out there.  It also provides a very good support network for people who are going through rough times and a group of people to share your excitement over the good things that happen in your life.  Hard to beat that in today's busy and stressful world!

Facebook can also become a source of aggravation when things are not running the way they should, when you can't access pages, and pictures won't upload or download  they way they should.  Yesterday was particularly annoying when I could not access Facebook at all, from late afternoon until I checked just before going to bed.  My gosh, what was I missing?  And how did I function before I joined?  It gave me cause for concern as I am obviously a lot more dependent on it than I should be.  Do I need to rethink my Facebook use?  Perhaps.

Mariah shared a dog bed with Josie & Argus
It always amazes me how quickly new puppies become part of the "family".  Mariah has settled in nicely and seems resigned to being in a crate part of the time.  She may fuss for a few minutes, but then settles in to chew a bone or doze.  Her problem seems to have been the small plastic crate, as she is much more accepting of the large wire crate. House training is coming along well too, no more crate accidents (was that just stress?) and she's quick to get down to business when taken outside.  Yesterday she actually asked to go out once, definitely a good sign.

This weekend we will concentrate on socialization, with trips to PetCo and to Chuck & Don's, and a visit to one of the training schools to work on leash walking on rubber matting.  Never too early to start their show training!  We had a vet appointment scheduled too, as I was concerned that she was peeing too often and in such small amounts, but that seems to be OK now and I may cancel the appointment.  UTIs are not uncommon in little girl Dalmatians, so I will continue to monitor that.

Mariah is working on a chunk of turkey neck.
Mariah is doing well on her new diet, and has eaten turkey necks, egg yolks, ground turkey and chicken backs with absolutely no problem.  She chews everything carefully, and her stools are nice and firm.  I've switched a number of pups over this way and they accept raw immediately and never look back.  I'll start adding veggies and occasional supplements next week.  I also need to place a raw food order, with one more dog to feed.   Although adult dogs eat only about 2% of their body weight in food per day, growing pups often eat 10% of their weight every day.  They do seem to be more satisfied on "real" food though and are not so quick to fuss about being hungry - but they sure eat with enthusiasm!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Good Puppy.

Argus makes a great pillow for Mariah.

As I lay awake in bed, waiting for Mariah to start screaming, I started to worry about her.  Why wasn't she screeching like she had the previous three mornings?  Was she awake?  Was she dead?  I finally went down to check on her and found her sound asleep, so I woke her up and took her outside.  Crate was dry, everything was just fine.

Mariah is now an only puppy, as Ike went home with Marcia yesterday afternoon.  Marcia recently lost her older Dal and was very ready for a new puppy.  She wanted another female and was waiting for a pup from Tess's litter, or she would have taken Mariah had I decided to place her.  Because Tess had no girls, when Ike became available Marcia decided to go with a boy this time.  Ike is a doll and we hope he fits in well and brings her much joy.  Ike was sold with "strings" meaning that we have the right to show him if he turns out well.

Mariah moved from a plastic crate to one of the regular large wire crates in the kitchen.  I put a blanket in the back and newspapers in the front since she had done a bit of crate peeing.  Crate peeing is a bad habit for a pup to get into and is usually caused by confining a pup to a crate for too long.  Although they naturally try to keep their "beds" clean, there is a obviously a limit to how long a young pup can wait.  I suggested to Marcia that she use a small pen with newspapers and leave Ike's crate door open when she is away from home.  I'll do the same with Mariah when we go over to mom's for Thanksgiving today.  It's a hard habit to break if you let it go, so we will deal with this immediately and not leave Mariah in a situation where she is tempted to pee in her crate.  With a 4 day weekend to work on serious house training, we can probably get it resolved. 

Mariah also had a diet change yesterday when she switched to raw.  I sent the rest of the kibble home with Marcia & Ike, as I prefer to switch a dog over to raw "cold turkey" and cold turkey was what she's eaten for the last two meals - although chicken works just fine too.  For dinner Mariah had the thick meaty end of a small turkey neck.  I waited while Mariah ate, in case she was tempted to gulp it down whole, but she did a great job of chewing her chunk of turkey up completely before swallowing it.  This morning she got another turkey neck chunk, but got additional ground turkey and a raw egg yolk.  We'll use turkey as our basic food and gradually add other items such as the ground veggie mix (in very small amounts at first), salmon oil, a vitamin mixture, and other kinds of meat.  We won't use any grains, as she has been eating kibble up until now and has had more than enough grain.  Dogs have no nutritional requirement for grain, and they don't digest it as well as they do meat.  One of the nice things about feeding raw is the small, dry, nearly odor free stools.  If a young pup has an accident, it's far less offensive!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I'm ready to come in now!

Mariah loves playing outside in the snow, doing laps in the yard, chewing sticks and digging for leaves.  She'll eventually be confined to the dog yard when she's out with the others, but this time of the year there's not much damage that can be done to the yard, especially by a small pup.  They've gone from peeing in the yard to peeing on the sidewalk which is not good, but will make the transition to peeing in the pen much easier. Allows me to have dogs AND a nice yard with unblemished grass and lots of flower beds. 

Ike will be departing today, weather permitting.  His new owner will have a long weekend to continue the house training.  Ike has done really well, with only one accident inside that we've noticed and he ALWAYS pees when taken outdoors.  Marcia will borrow a small crate and an exercise pen, so Ike can be in his pen on papers during the day when she is gone, and can work on house training when she is home.  He's too young to stay in a crate all day, and an ex pen is safer than shutting him in a room where he can chew wallboard or cabinet corners when he gets bored.   I've lent my pens out many times and it works well when small pups must be left for the day.

Poor Ike will miss the other dogs at first, but will quickly adopt Marcia's family as his new "pack".   With the long weekend, he should settle in easily.  It will be a lot harder when she goes back to work, so hopefully someone can check in on Ike at noon at least for the first few months.  He'll be OK, but he will stress over being left for that long, and he'll demand a lot of attention in the evening.  It's not the optimum situation for a young pup, but they do adjust.  If having someone home during the day was a requirement for adopting a puppy, very few families would be able to own a dog.  It's all about "quality time" just as it is with children. 

My dogs are lucky, as Ron is retired and is always there.  However, they all get some crate time even during the day.  If our situation changes, the dogs need to be comfortable with less freedom.   New pups need to be confined and left behind even when it's not necessary so they will just accept that as part of their routine.  A pup who is with you 24 hours a day has far more trouble adapting to a lifestyle change than a pup who is comfortable being crated and left behind on occasion.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Some Rest For The Wicked

"Well, what can I get into next?"

Today I got to sleep until almost 5:00 AM.  It was NOT uninterrupted sleep, but we did better than the previous night.   Ike seems to be resigned to sleeping in the crate (rather than on the cushion the pups have selected for their personal nest), but Mariah has not given up quite yet.  Ike is currently playing with his Dad and Aunt Josie while Mariah rests up from another night of protests.  I was hoping that she would be one of those "easy" pups who takes everything in stride.  No such luck.  Maybe I will have to start referring to her as "Bad Mariah", but we'll wait on that decision.  She's certainly a beautiful puppy, so hopefully she fits in well.

It's been interesting to watch how the adults relate to the pups.   Argus loves all small dogs and was absolutely delighted from the moment he saw them.  He plays nicely, but will discipline them mildly if they try to nip at him.  Watson is always good with pups, plays with them a little, but generally stays out of their way.  Josie mostly watched for the first day, and the pups found her a bit scary as she's so lively and the most likely to run right over them.  This morning it suddenly occurred to her that they might play, and play they did.  Josie will gladly keep Mariah entertained this winter, but will not discipline pups.  If Mariah nips Josie or swings from her ear, Josie will cry out but never protest.  Poor Josie.  Coral says, "What puppies?"  She ignores them completely, never looks at them or sniffs them, and stays out of their way.  She seems to feel that if she ignores them, perhaps they really are not there, or maybe they will just disappear.

House training is going very well, although doing two at a time is a lot of work, especially since they are not eager to go out into the cold.  It's a lot easier to carry one reluctant puppy!  They've done great though, and any accidents are just because someone was not paying attention. 

Hopefully the weather does not interfere with Ike leaving for his new home on Wednesday.  It will definitely be easier to have just one pup to deal with, but he's been an absolutely delightful guest.  So cute, and such an adorable personality.

Poor fish are getting neglected this week, but hopefully I will have some time over the long weekend to catch up on water changes.  Four days off and my other projects include getting Mariah out to some new places for socialization and walking on leash, plus cleaning and re-staining my kitchen cabinets.  Also need to do some reading on gastric reflux, which I suddenly have or at least I suddenly realized that was what my symptoms were indicating.  OK, I am not overweight, don't like very spicy foods, don't eat many greasy fried foods, but I do enjoy coffee and alcoholic beverages in moderation.  Hey, how much do I have to give up here???

Monday, November 22, 2010

Puppy Time!

Mariah is making herself right at home.
It's a good thing that pups are cute, so we are willing to put up with all the work!  Mariah and her brother Ike arrived safely yesterday morning.  She is staying here and Ike will be going to a new home on Wednesday.  Poor little Florida pups were not impressed with the snow and cold at first, but before long Mariah was resistant about coming in.  She loves digging in the snow for leaves!  33 degrees was one thing;  we'll see what she thinks of freezing rain, new snow and single digit temperatures!

It's actual a lot easier to housetrain most pups in the winter.  Harder on the owner, but once the pup figures out WHY it is being taken outside, and realizes that once he has done his business he can come back inside, things usually go very well.  Ike caught on immediately yesterday, and peed every time I took him out.  Mariah has much better control and can wait longer, reducing the chance of her actually needing to pee when taken out.  We missed her the first couple of times, but things are going much better  this morning and both pups now pee when taken outside.  We'll still have accidents of course, but once they understand the concept, things go pretty smoothly.  Dals are generally easy to house train as long as the owner is paying attention, watching the pup, and takes it outside often enough.  You can tell if a pup is looking for a place to go, BUT you have to be watching . . .   The pups will have some lapses today, as Ron is not always very good at paying attention to pups, but we'll get there. By the time Ike leaves on Wednesday, he will be well on his way to being house trained, but his new owner will have to watch him carefully.

Ike is not patched, just has some spots that
run together.  He has a tiny blue "flash" on
his left eye, which may or may not go away.

Mariah's brother Ike is a very handsome pup who I almost took as my stud fee puppy from Sugar's litter by Argus.  I love his vivid coloration and his super shiny coat.  He's really a nice little guy and will make a very handsome companion for Marcia and her family. He's going with the provision that we have the right to show him (at our expense) if we want.  We'll decide before he's a year old and if he's not going to be shown he can be neutered and enjoy his life as a pet rather than a part time showdog.

Mariah will stay, at least for awhile.  I've been waiting for just the right puppy girl to join my household.  That puppy has to be beautiful, but also has to have the right personality to fit in here.  There's only one open slot in my doggy household, and it will only be filled by just the right pup.  I have not kept a puppy for 5 years, not since Argus, because I have not found just the right one.  Mariah is auditioning now!  If I decide to sell her later, she'll go as a trained, well adjusted puppy who will be just right for someone else! 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Going To Westminster?

Do I really want to take this knothead to NYC?
Oh my, do I really want to go?  I've gone as a spectator many times in the past, but not for quite awhile.  The logistics of staying in NYC and getting around are over-whelming, especially if I take Argus to show.   He was one of the Top Five dogs in the breed for 2010, so receives an automatic invitation - still have to pay the entry fee, but is assured of a "spot", so to speak.  Westminster entries are limited at 2500 dogs, and in many past years top dogs missed the entry.  With the top ranked 5 dogs in each breed assured a spot, things go a lot more smoothly.  But do I really want to take the vacation time and spend the money?  And do I really want to fly Argus out there?  Too chancy to drive in February, and takes too many vacation days I don't have.  Because Westminster is on a Monday and Tuesday, it's bad enough if you fly.  Gotta get the decision made pretty soon . . .

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Show Plans

Dog shows this weekend, although we will probably only show on Saturday since Mariah is scheduled to arrive on Sunday morning.  Judging panel really sucks, which is typical of the MKC shows.  Not sure how they pick their judges but they traditionally have a panel of very elderly, exceedingly incompetent judges.  How do they do that every year?  It's a rather fun venue though, at the racetrack in Shakopee - yes, rings & grooming ARE indoors, which is fortunate as the weather is generally cold and windy.  It's pretty drafty, and the grooming area is cramped and grungy, but the layout is interesting.  Just two Specials, so nothing much for breed points.  Not the kind of show I mind missing!  Was double-entered in CB where the panel was equally bad.  Ugh.  At least I don't have to face that drive.  Where are the decent judging panels???  Why the same old re-cycled hacks?

Three show weekends scheduled for December, but weather is often an issue for those.  We can generally get to St. Cloud, but Chicago and Kankakee are another story, and Pauli is also in at Kankakee and the judges are better for her than for Argus.  Oh well.  This show year didn't go quite as planned, with me laid up with a broken ankle and Argus with his mysterious injury - which thankfully seems to be healed now.  He "plays" on the Fitness Ball in the evening, then runs on the treadmill.  He still gets his evening walk, but once it gets slippery on the sidewalks & roads he will be getting more treadmill time and less walking time.  I used to laugh off slipping on the ice - no longer!

Plans are falling into place for Lucy to come down from Canada for the spring shows.  She should fit in fine here as Coral and Josie are good about visitors, and the boys will be delighted to have a beautiful black-spotted girl as a house guest - and it won't bother Argus that she is his daughter.  He'll still lust after her for the first day or two!  Have to check out the judging panels to figure out when we will want to show her - weather permitting of course.  She'll be entered at the January shows, and probably shown by her young handler, but not sure she will stay.  We may wait until February and TRY to get to the spring specialties - we were lucky weather-wise last year, and got to Indy, Chicago and St. Louis, but there is no guarantee we can do that again.  Most years I enter the shows and miss most of them!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Day To Watch

OK, what do I do with 3 (that's, THREE) new watches.   Yesterday I received my 30 year watch from MNDOT (a nice Bulova) and this time they sent the right one, engraved properly.  Now, to get into the habit of wearing it.  Because my hands are in and out of fish tanks so often I normally do not wear watches (or use hand cream during the day).  Right now the watch is sitting on a table in the basement where I left it while doing fish chores.  At least I remember exactly where I put it, something I can't always do. 

When I checked the mail last night I had an envelope from the AARP shipping department - what did I order from AARP?  Nothing, but the envelope contained a box with 2 watches - yes, 2 of them.  Made in China, with shiny black plastic straps.  Why did I get them?  What should I do with them?  For now they are sitting on the table, but I think they will eventually be added to the collection box for Holiday items that goes to one of the small Food Shelfs near where I work.  (Hmmm, I suppose the plural of Food Shelf is Food Shelves, but that looks wrong too.)   Anyway, for a person who never wears a watch (that's why we carry cell phones) it's a bit much to get three new watches all in one day.

Argus selected a new squeaky toy when we went to the pet store last weekend, a small round vinyl ball that looks sort of like a chicken's head.  I figured that it would last an hour or so, but the dogs have played with it pretty much non-stop for two days.  I have to take it away when I can't stand the squeaking any longer, and then Josie stands and whines and stares at the spot where I placed it.  Josie, Argus & Watson are all crazy about it, although I have to grab it from Argus as he goes outside to bury it (to protect it from the others).

Tess and her day old pups.
 Paula reports that Tess P. and her pups are doing well.  Everyone will enjoy them, although I know Paula will have a tough time when I go down to retrieve them near Christmas.  I am thinking positive that the liver boy will be show quality, so we have something to show from this litter.  I don't need a liver boy and will most likely place him eventually, but if he shows potential he may go up to Canada to stay with Lucy's family when she comes down here to be shown.

So I may STILL need a really good bitch, unless Mariah is star quality.  Although I have two beauties in Penny and Pauli, they will be career girls for awhile.  Lots of interesting litters planned, so perhaps I will consider buying one.  Or perhaps I will start looking for "the right" girl to lease.  Am still disappointed about Tess P's litter of 2.  I had such high hopes for a girl from that litter.

Speaking of Mariah, she arrives next Sunday.  So much for peace & quiet, or rather relative peace & quiet, since it's always a bit lively around here with Argus & Josie in the mix. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gloom & Doom

@#$%&^* et al.

Honest to gosh, I must be jinxed!  We were so eagerly awaiting Tess P.'s litter by Argus.  It finally arrived, all two pups, both males, one patched.  Now to figure out where to send all the wonderful people who were waiting for a puppy.  The only definite pet will be a patched black-spotted boy.  Perhaps the liver boy will be show quality, but a liver boy is not what I wanted from this litter, even though liver boys are my favorite.  What I really want/need is a good puppy bitch, and from the time I purchased Argus, I've wanted a puppy girl from a Watson daughter or granddaughter bred to Argus.  I seem to be running out of options here, as Watson sired very few litters.  His daughter Carina produced 5 champions in her only litter, including the #1 Dal Daisy, but Carina was spayed after that litter.  Daughter Lilly who was RWB at the National one year was bred to Argus, but both Meg & I let the best bitch get away - Carol was the lucky one there!  Echo finished her championship and has a number of performance titles, so it all worked out fine, and perhaps someday I will end up with one of Echo's pups, but that doesn't help right now.

Small litters are fun to raise, and Paula will enjoy these two boys - she promises pictures soon.  Sometime around Christmas I will drive down and pick them up from her.  Fingers crossed that both are healthy, will have normal hearing, and that the liver boy is a good one.  Sigh.  Sorry everyone.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Too Early For Snow

The elderly Christmas Cactus is in flower again.

I am so not ready for snow yet.  Didn't even get my hose drained or the grill covered.  Why did I think I still had time for those things?

It snowed all Friday night and Saturday, and at one time the snow depth was 7.5 inches, but with the temperature hovering around 33 degrees, and occasional light rain mixed in with the snow, there is currently about 6 inches in the yard.  Streets have melted a lot, although the cities have both declared Snow Emergencies.  Wish they would ticket or (better yet) tow the cars of the neighbors who couldn't be bothered with moving them.

Waiting for an update on Tess P. who went into labor earlier this morning.  Hope everything is going smoothly!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Best If Used By December 2003

Mariah will be arriving on 11/21
Because I had yesterday off work and the weather was still relatively warm, my list of chores included mostly outdoor activities, primarily yard work. As Ron was doing the trash he observed that he only had one bag for the trash hauler, so if I anything I planned to throw out, I might want to start a second bag.  Challenge!  Every now and again I get into a Throw It Out Frenzy.  Because I have a good friend who fits the definition of a Hoarder, I live in fear of ending up that way, and my large old house is full of "things" I've accumulated over the years.  It's actually pretty neat most of the time, but I could do a better job of going through cupboards, closets and drawers on a regular basis.  I took Ron's suggestion as a challenge, and came up with three grocery bags of trash, plus another one for the Good Will.  The major cleaning was the kitchen island/breakfast bar where I store small appliances, napkins, plastic cups and other miscellaneous items, and cleaning under the kitchen sink.

Last summer I decided to buy grass seed, and because I did not get it planted I stashed it under the bar.  Yesterday I discovered THREE bags of grass seed, including the newest one.  There was also nice carton of Iced Tea that we never got around to chilling and drinking - too bad the label said "best if used by October 2007".  Had it been that long?  I knew there was a big tub of Margarita Mix, the kind where you add Tequila and freeze.  I'd been planning to take that along on a show weekend when friends were motor homing, but never remembered to take it.  Certainly something like that would not have an expiration date, but it did.  "Best if used by December 2003".  Oh my!

My bicycle sat out all last winter and I didn't want that to happen again this year so asked Ron if there was a spot for it in the garage.  He suggested that if I got rid of the old Schwin (I've had it for at least 30 years) there would be room for the newer bike that I actually ride.  We put the old Schwin out in the alley for the "borrowers" who come by and pick up useful items that are left out.  Ron came in to make a "Free" sign and by the time he got back out the bike was gone.  Works really well, as long as you remember not to leave items you actually wish to keep out in the alley. I lost a wonderful old galvanized sprinkling can that way!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Let's Start This Week All Over Again . . .

This is my pup who is still known as Light Pink

Yesterday was very definitely a "lost" day.  I got through it, but sure don't remember it!  Didn't sleep well on Thursday, got in late on Friday, sat up and talked, and then the pups yelled off and on all night (and pups being crate-trained in the room next to the guest room, well . . .), slept well on Saturday night with the pups moved to the barn, and got in after midnight on Sunday - and had to catch up with Ron, look over the mail, etc.  IF I had not had to go to work it would have been a lot easier!  Am too old for this.  Went to bed at 8:00 PM last night, got up at 11:00 to send the dogs out and turn off the fishroom lights, then went back to bed.  Feeling Oh so much better today.

The weather is supposed to be fantastic today, so I may use up some of my scarce vacation time to get in some yard work.  Thursday is a Holiday for us, but the weather is due to be "seasonable" instead of sensational by then.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Check Back Later Today

What a Fun Weekend! A quick trip down to Florida to see the Argus/Sugar pups and pick my stud fee puppy. Stayed with Janey & Rick and had a great time. The pups were lovely and there were several that show great potential as show dogs. We did face shots and stacked pictures which I will get posted tonight or tomorrow. The pups had not been worked on the table so the pictures of several could have been better, but they turned out OK. Eight weeks is not the optimum age for stacked shots either – we prefer doing them at 6-7 weeks. I particularly liked the fact that the girl I am taking goes together so nicely. Generally, pups that “fit together” easily into a stack are the pups with the best structure. We spent a lot of time in the yard just watching the pups move and interact – well constructed pups can trot nicely by the age of 8 weeks.

The patch boy was a heart-breaker. We always joke that the patches are often the best pups, and this time it was most definitely true. What a lovely boy. Wonderful structure and great cosmetics too. He may be going to a performance home which would be just perfect. It’s nice to have the lovely patched pups seen, even if they can’t be shown in the breed ring. There were several very handsome boys and I was tempted, but went there planning to select a female and I found one that I liked a lot. Not quite as cute as several of her siblings, but sound structure, a great outline and a lovely personality. She’ll arrive in a week or two, and in the meantime I had better pick a name. All the pups wore colored rickrack collars to identify them in the litter, but I don’t think I need to call a pup “Light Pink”. 

Weather was too cool for the locals, but near perfect as far as I was concerned, near 70 with only a light breeze and a cloudless sky. It froze Saturday night, their first frost of the season, but is due to be 83 by Wednesday – too hot for me. Glad Mother Nature provided such lovely weather while I was there. I saw a lot of Ch. “Sugar”, mother of the pups. She’s such a sweetheart and very well named. I also saw Sugar’s dam and her parents . Sugar’s sire is a dog I have seen numerous times, known for his lovely disposition and the quality of his offspring.

I didn’t get home until about 1:00 AM, so getting up was tough this morning!

Argus spent the weekend with Jess & Don and the Shepherd girls and it sounds as if he had a great time. His kids had a good weekend, with GCh. “ Pauli” picking up 4 Bests of Breed AND 4 Group placings in Indiana, and Ch. “Nati” earning her Grand Championship in Ohio, shown by owner Ann. Argus now has 3 daughters who have already earned the new Grand Champion title (Argus has his too). If you have been reading along with me, you might remember Pauli (known as Bad Pauli) and Nati (known as Naughtia) when they lived here. Both turned out well and are much loved by their owners. Not sure if the new girl stays or goes to a co-ownership home of her own. Depends on how she develops and what Tess P.’s litter contains.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Off To See The Puppies

This is one of the girls.

OK now, what have I forgotten?  Just printed my eticket and boarding pass and need to look over all the printed material I downloaded from Travelocity and USAirways.  Measured my small suitcase and it fits the size limits so I can just do carry on.  My Netbook  is in the laptop bag, and instead of a purse I will use my fanny pack.  Camera battery charged, cell phone ready to go - must remember to pack the charging cord though.  It will be nice to have the Netbook while I am doing a layover in Charlotte.  I used to fly quite a lot, especially when I first started judging, but flying is such a hassle now I no longer approach it with excitement.  Flying only makes me nervous because so much can go wrong - not with the the flight itself (I figure if the plane crashes, well, when you're dead you're dead - right?) just all the paperwork, security check in, flight cancellations and delays.  I'd absolutely hate having to spend the night in an airport!  Ever since I found myself in Auckland, NZ without a boarding pass and only 50 minutes to catch the flight to Brisbane (we were rerouted but they forgot to give me a boarding pass for the second leg of my trip) I get a little panicky about such things.

Fish club meeting last night.  I should have stayed home and done chores but really wanted to listen to Gary Lange talk about his adventures looking for Rainbowfishes in Indonesia.  Sorry to be missing the get together at Mike's tonite!  It's tough balancing two expensive and time consuming hobbies.  Got some nice plants last night for just a few dollars, and bid on and won some rainbow eggs that Gary brought along.  The fish should be fabulous if the hatching and grow out go well.  Also swapped some of my L. vittata for some of Dale's Ameca splendens.  The sole surviving Jenynsia lineata seemed delighted to have tankmates.  Normally I would have quarantined any new fish, but I had a tank with just the one elderly resident.

OK, time to finish my laundry and packing.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Babies On Board

Two weeks to go
Here's Tess P. with two weeks to go.   She's normally a hard-bodied dog with lots of tuckup, so it's hard to guess how many pups she is carrying.  Paula thinks she looks a bit bigger than she did with her previous litter.  Because Tess P. is middle-aged, we're hoping for a reasonable sized litter of 5-7 pups.  They are due late next week.  Cross your fingers please.   If you are on my tentative list for a puppy, please let me know if you are still interested.

Too many Tesses 
This could be confusing!  Tess P. has pups due next week, while Tess C. (who lives in Oregon) has pups due in 6 weeks.  Both were bred to Argus.  Gotta remember to use the initials with the names!  Tess P. is a daughter of our Watson, and her dam is Madurhason & Dakota breeding.  Tess C. is the girl who was bred to Argus last fall and produced some very handsome pups including "Tia" who just went Best In Sweeps and Winners Bitch at the Northern California Specialty at 9 months of age.  Because that litter turned out so well, her owners decided to repeat the breding - and I get a stud fee pup this time (and will also help to sell any companion quality pups if there are more reservations than pups in Tess P.'s litter).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Let The Standard Be Your Guide

This comment was posted to my blog about a week ago and I thought it would be a perfect topic.

About there being "high" tails in the breed...what about low set tails? We showed a bitch a few months ago and she took reserve. The judge commented that he liked her spotting best and he felt her temperament was "remarkable" but he said her tail was too low. We'd never been told this before so I asked him what he meant and he said the back should go straight across to the tail, whereas our bitch's rounds off a bit at the rear. Her rear end looks almost identical  to the the dog named (name removed). So I am confused. I see nothing wrong with my dog's tail, but according to the judge, when their rear "slopes" like that it is a major fault. What do you say about that?

What I would say is that everyone needs to read and understand the AKC standard for their breed.  It amazes me how many exhibitors haven't a clue what our standard calls for.  The standard is our "blueprint" to what our breed should look like.  It helps us plan our breedings to improve or enhance the various characteristics of our dogs and to select the right pups as show potential.  Judges are also supposed to know and understand the standard for every breed they are approved to judge.   Also, we are talking about two separate features here, the croup and the tail.  Although bad tails generally go with bad croups, they are two separate entities.  The standard says -

The back is level and strong. The loin is short, muscular and slightly arched. The flanks narrow through the loin. The croup is nearly level with the back. The tail is a natural extension of the topline. It is not inserted too low down.  It is strong at the insertion and tapers to the tip, which reaches to the hock. It is never docked. The tail is carried with a slight upward curve but should never curl over the back.

Poor croups are very common in the breed, and generally go with bad tail carriage, and are judged based on how serious the problem is.  It is not a major fault, but affects the basic structure of the dog.  A dog with a steep croup can not extend it's rear legs properly which shortens up the stride.  There is a reason for all the structural features called for in our standard.  Our goal is a dog that can trot effortlessly for long periods of time.

The dog she questions does indeed share that same fault.  If I could change one just thing about her to make her a better Dalmatian, that is precisely what I would change, but judges are judging the whole dog, not just it's individual parts.  If a dog is faulty in one area but particularly good in many other areas, it will most likely win in the ring.  No dogs are perfect, and all judges have some faults that bother them more than others.  You have to look at the whole dog, how it is presented, what condition it is in, how it moves and what kind of temperament it displays in the ring.  Although a steep croup is a fault, as is a high tail carriage, they are only part of the picture described by the breed standard.

Hope that helps.