Friday, July 15, 2011

Back To Work Soon

State Government Shut Down.
The Governor blinked first, backed down, made yet another offer, and the Republicans apparently accepted it.  No one won, and the citizens of Minnesota are the biggest losers.  I hope when all those legislators come up for re-election, the voters remember that they toed the party line, did not increase taxes for those best able to pay, and that those with the least will have even less.   No word on when we will be going back, but my unpaid vacation will be ending soon.  Going back will be difficult, except for the part about getting paid!

So much happened over the past two weeks, so much fun, so many adventures, so many projects completed.  Eliminating the work-related stress allowed me to really relax - can't remember when I last did that.  Just as well we will be returning soon as I could easily get used to being retired - but still have projects to complete!

The Arboks at 5 days
The little Arboks are doing well, growing like crazy, all chubby and polished by their very attentive mum.  Reebok is starting to get bored though, and follows me around the basement when I do fish chores.  She's not quite so eager to come back indoors after a visit to the dog yard, and has suggested that she would like to come upstairs to the family room.  This weekend I will crate up the others and let her come up for a visit, leaving the basement door open in case a pup squeaks and she has to dash down and check it out.

Went through pictures last night and posted a number of flower pictures to Facebook.  Was particularly pleased with the Water Lily and Orchid pictures, but I am annoyed that I can't display the pictures the way I want them here. I can generally make corrections to the html coding, but am at a loss for why one picture won't align right. Oh well.

Water Lilies



Patio door finished, but WHY did I think it was a good idea to stain it myself to save $200.00?  It turned out fine, but was a lot of work.  My pay per hour of work was very low!  Nice to have a screen again, but Josie has already tried to stick her nose through it, and I had to put up a piece of tape at eye height to keep Ron from walking through it.  I have a feeling that this screen will not survive very long here.

Next project, finishing the bathroom.  Wonder if I can get all the wallpaper up this weekend, plus cut and paint a new door frame?  Probably not, but I know that with puppies to tend, and all the resulting company it is now or never.   Pups are so darned cute that if you plan to visit them for a minute, it quickly becomes an hour.

Not much more to be done in the yard this summer, other than keeping the weeds out - and the mulch helps that a lot.  While digging behind the new fence, putting in a walkway outside the gate, I discovered old flagstones beneath 2 inches of sod.  No wonder the grass always dried up so quickly in that spot!  I felt like an archaeologist digging up ruins.  The stones are now covered with mulch which works better, and the ornamental grass I purchased at the Arboretum has been planted.

My birthday sofa arrives today, and the elderly radio/phonograph that took up so much wall space is on the deck covered with plastic, waiting for Ron to take it apart.  Good bye old friend.  Now to figure out how to arrange things.  Might also be a good time to change the pictures, some of which have been in the same location for 25 years!  Where does time go?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What Now?

Wrestling with \Dino

Argus has been standing watching me, sending me thought waves.  "So what fun things are we doing today?" he wonders.   He's had quite a week and assumes the adventures will continue.  He finally decides that if he does something cute, like wrestle with the Josie's dinosaur, that I might respond.  Or at least get their breakfasts ready.

We had such a good time with Laurie & Nikon, and Argus particularly enjoyed the walks around Lake Como and playing in the water with his cousin/ex-wife Nikon.  It was such a busy week and we actually did all the things we had planned, including taking the dogs swimming, going out to the Arboretum, taking the train to Mall of America where we did the aquarium (twice!) and paid a visit to Como Park to do the Conservatory and ride the wonderful carousel.
One of the gorgeous carousel horses

The carousel was fabulous and I took pictures of many of the horses which will go in a Facebook album - watch for the link.  Anyone who loves carousels, horses, or has wonderful memories of either would love the carousel.  Laurie and I rode it twice, and were definitely not the only adults sitting on the horses with big smiles on our faces.  We both had fond childhood memories of riding the carousel at the Minnesota State Fair.

After 75 years on the fairgrounds, the privately owned carousel was scheduled to be put up for auction, as antique hand-carved carousel horses are extremely valuable.  A group of volunteers was formed to purchase the carousel, and it was eventually restored to its former glory.  After a short time in downtown St. Paul it was moved to Como Park to a wonderful pavilion created especially for the carousel.  The City Of St. Paul owns the pavilion, but the carousel is owned, maintained and managed by a private non-profit group called Our Fair Carousel, Inc. and is run by volunteers - something I'd like to be involved in when I retire.

The Arboks
The pups are doing well, and Reebok is proving to be an excellent mother.  She's very attentive, but goes out willingly (we had to lift her out of the box at first) and really enjoys having company.  The babies are very plump and polished looking.   Yesterday they were packed up and went in to have their dewclaws removed.  They were pretty vocal about traveling, and Reebok was distressed about their absence and shredded the papers in her box, but everything went smoothly, the pups checked out perfectly, and once Reebok had cleaned them thoroughly and rid them of any "foreign" smells, she relaxed.

I had suspected that the two girls were actually livers rather than blacks, but it was hard to be sure in the glow of the pink heat lamp bulb.  When I could see the pups in normal daylight it was obvious that they were indeed liver.  So Reebok is liver-factored, much to everyone's surprise. Rosie is very pleased!  It's about time to start thinking of names for the pups, although I may wait until after I'm sure of their hearing status.  I find it harder to deal with deafs if the pups have names and identities, so for now they are known collectively as the Arboks, short for Argus-Reebok puppies.  So the Arboks live in their Reebox and are doing well!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Vacation Continue . . .

State Government Shut Down - Will We Ever Get Back To Work?

Nikon and Argus having a good time
In the meantime, I'm having an excellent vacation, doing all the fun thing I normally don't get around to doing.  Helps to have a house guest who enjoys the same kinds of adventures. 

Yesterday we went for a walk around Lake Como and practically had the place to ourselves.  The "point" was deserted, so we took off the leads and let the dogs swim and splash.  Nikon retrieved a few sticks, and Argus ran and splashed, sniffed and tasted, and checked everything out.  Everything!  Mr. Curiosity doesn't miss a thing.

We drove through my old neighborhood just north of the park, checked out my parent's ex-house, and drove past the Transportation Building where I am supposed to be working.  So deserted. So sad.  Am sure the restaurants in the area and the Sears store across the street are really hurting for business.  This shut down hurts so many people.   Delicious breakfast sandwiches at White Castle, then home to hose off the dogs.  The lake smelled fresh and looked clean other than some green algae, but it's always wise to rinse off dogs after swimming in city lakes.

Ron dropped us off at the train station and we took light rail out to Mall of America.  It's a great train, fast, efficient, affordable and fun.  We visited Sea Life, a huge underground aquarium with enormous marine, Amazon, and North American fresh water tanks.  It's set up as a tunnel, so the fish are on both sides of you and swim over the top of the tunnel to get from one side to the other.  Sharks and rays are particularly impressive when viewed from below.  The seahorse and jellyfish displays were also entertaining.

When we arrived there was a sign saying that laid off state employees should check in at the ticket office.  We did and discovered that I could get in free, and Laurie's ticket was half price!  Wow, what a nice surprise!  It was really appreciated, and just the beginning of a wonderful visit.  Because we had saved so much money and had such a great time, we signed up for the behind-the-scenes tour, which was relatively inexpensive and lots of fun. 

A small group of us with a tour guide visited the laboratory where the water is tested and any animal injury or illness can be treated, and the ultra-clean kitchen where all food is prepared - the kitchen is inspected just like any other commercial kitchen.  Then on to the holding area where sick or injured animals cab be isolated and treated, new animals can be quarantined, and animals too young/small for display tanks can be kept.   We looked down on the giant display tanks from above, and learned about the behind-the-scenes maintenance.  What a good life those animals lead and it was interesting to learn that many of the display animals had names - all the large turtles, the octopus,  and many of the sharks.  The endangered giant sea turtles were all injured animals who could not have survived in the wild, but were thriving in captivity  What an adventure!

Then off to the Rainforest Cafe for noveltry drinks and excellent nachos.  Our table was next to a tank full of wonderful marine fish including a Clown Triggerfish, two large Puffers, and some Unicorn Tangs, one of which kept displaying for Laurie - I could swear he had a crush on her!

Pups are doing well, trim is coming in fast, and Reebok is settling into motherhood.  I even convinced her to go outside this morning without a leash - had to lift her out of he box and drag her outside the first day!  

Monday, July 11, 2011


State Government Shut Down Day ? - When Will This End?

Peekaboo - a pup peeks out from under mom's leg
In the meantime, we have pups to tend!  It was a very good thing I got the Reebox finished on Saturday, since I was anticipating pups on Monday.  Reebok had other ideas and the pups were born early Sunday morning.  We had done only one progesterone test to be sure Reebok was "about ready" for breeding, but it takes a series of tests to be able to pinpoint the days - necessary only if you are doing chilled or frozen semen breedings.  We did just one and "guesstimated" the arrival date - and were off by a day.

We all guessed wrong on number of puppies, thinking Reebok would have at least ten. I was the closest at eight. Although she hung low, Reebok was never "coffee-table wide" like Josie or Peaches or Perdie (hey, I didn't pick the name!) when they had litters of twelve.  The whelping went very smoothly, as if Reebok had read the whelping book, with pups coming every twenty minutes or so.  The last pup arrived at 6:00 AM, but I was sure she still had at least one pup left, just based on her bulk.  However there were no contractions and Reebok was very relaxed, so we waited it out - hoping that perhaps we would get that one last pup born hours later.  Many breeders fall asleep thinking the litter is complete, and wake up to one additional pup, clean, dry and nursing.  Didn't happen.

The down side of the litter was two stillborn pups, #s five & six.  Absolutely normal in every way, just as long but thinner than their littermates.  7-8 oz pups as opposed to 11-14 oz pups.  Perhaps they had poor placental sites, or the placentas detached prematurely.  There are dozens of possibilities.  I'll call the Vet School this morning and see if I can take the pups in for necropsy.  Because this is Reebok's first litter, it is particularly important to do this, and something that every breeder should consider.  Probably nothing will show up, stillborn pups are not at all unusual, but it's best to check things out.  The two pups were wrapped in paper towels, placed in a plastic bag, and stored in the refrigerator.  No, Oh Yucks, please.  Sometimes you have to have a strong stomach to do things right.

The five survivors are three boys and two girls, all black-spotted (I'm disappointed but that's what we expected), and no patches.  I keep checking them, hoping I was wrong on color, but I guess not.  We were hoping for more pups, but five is a nice litter and from a breeder's point of view it only takes one special puppy to make a successful litter.

For the first two weeks I will tend these pups but not get attached to any of them.  Because deafness exists in the breed, until I know everyone hears I won't get attached to any of them.  Argus was from an all hearing litter and has done very good hearing numbers except for one litter.  Reebok is from a litter that contained a deaf pups, so it could happen.  We'll do lots of finger crossing here for a few weeks!

In the meantime, we'll get dewclaws removed.  Dewclaws are the small thumb-like toes on the front legs.  Most breeders have them removed during the first few days, although it is not required.  Penny & Charlie have their dewclaws and it certainly did not hurt their show careers.  They were such tiny pups I did not want to add any stress, so left theirs on.  These five are all robust vigorous pups, so will pay a visit to the vet for check ups and dew claw removal.  I have done them myself, but absolutely hate doing it, so we will pay for veterinary service.

Now, time to get ready for a walk around Lake Como and breakfast at White Castle.  That was planned for yesterday, but the arrival of the pups changed our plans!