Saturday, July 23, 2011

Morning Walk

What now?

We've missed our morning adventure the past two days, so today Argus & I went off to Hidden Falls Park on the Mississippi.  It's only a couple of miles away, and really a very nice, under-used park.  We saw a few fishermen, some walkers, one guy sitting in a lawn chair drinking coffee and watching the river, and a group of people having a Breakfast Picnic - what a great idea!  Argus had fun splashing in the river off the boat launch, but the river is still very high and most of the beach areas are still under water.  Because the park is so large and there were so few people, Argus got to run off leash for part of the time.  His recalls are getting much better, but if he saw small furry dog he'd probably blow me off and go say Hi to the dog before coming when I called him.  We practiced some long Recalls too, with very good results.  I do plan to show him in either Rally or Novice this fall.
Watching a coal barge

It was interesting to watch a series of coal barges being pushed up river by the tugboat Becky Sue.  I suppose the coal was to feed one of the power plants up river, to generate all the electricity we're using for our air conditioners this summer! The Becky Sue kicked up a nice wake, causing waves at the shoreline, something Argus had never experienced before.  He had a great time chasing up and down the shore chasing the waves, just like Murphy did so many years ago.

We watched and heard a storm roll in and got back to the car before the first raindrops hit, but the people having the Breakfast Picnic along the shore probably got wet and windblown.  Then off to White Castle for a breakfast sandwich to share.
The tug Becky Sue

Lots of projects on my To Do List, including taking my mother to church.  So where will we walk tomorrow?  If it really does cool off, I've been wanting to try the Rice Creek Trail.  The mornings got too hot for asphalt paths during my "vacation" but we might get a chance to try that tomorrow.  So many adventures just waiting for us!

One of the nice things about having a medium or large sized dog is the increased comfort level when walking in new areas.  I admit to being a little nervy when walking alone, but with Argus I feel safe in most places.  There's one particular park I don't go to anymore though, even with a dog.  Too many car break ins, groups of obnoxious teens, militant bicyclists, and uncontrolled dogs.  A shame, because it's a lovely river park with good trails.   Good thing there are so many other areas just waiting to be explored!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Personality Of A Dalmatian

Putter with his ears turned inside out

I handled the puppies last night, wondering how they would turn out for both "looks" and "character".  Because we show our dogs "looks" are one of the things we breed for, but "character" is even more important, because most of our dogs end up in homes with families.  Even most show dogs in this breed are family pets as well, and without good character (temperament, attitude, responsiveness, trustworthiness) the most beautiful Dal in the world is of no value to anyone.

Later that evening I received an email from Angie, who owns a dog from Josie's first litter.  Putter is a tall, heavily marked Josie son who lives with a large family of school age kids.  The family visited Josie's litter several times, played with all the pups, and mom chose Putter.   They had lost an older Dalmatian and wanted another, as they enjoyed living with a Dal and a Viszla.  I asked Angie about Putter's personality, and received exactly the kind of information I love to hear.  This is the personality of a Dalmatian, beautifully described by Angie. 

Putter is all energy outside (very controllable,) still gets the "zoomies", sprints around, likes to play tag and fetch the tennis ball until it's too slimey to pick up, but once we're back inside, he's a couch potato.  He chases chipmunks, and has caught a few, eats half and leaves the rest for me to come across. Not many squirrels around for him to chase, but rabbits dart through the yard now and then for a good chase. He's curious about deer, but hasn't gone after them as they run as soon as he makes any motion towards them. His recall is flawless, so I don't worry about him chasing anything as he comes back as soon as I call. He'll "leave it" every time, too.

Not destructive at all (except for stuffed toys,) doesn't beg or drool, doesn't bother the kids when they are at the table eating, but will come running if he hears anything hit the floor. He's quite the velcro dog with me, always wants to know where I am, but not whiny if I'm gone. No separation issues, no problem being kenneled, even if we're home. I often kennel him when friends come over, and then let him out when it has calmed down a bit, and he's been fine meeting people. Putter is a little pushy with strange dogs. He doesn't like to back down when a new dogs gets bossy with him, does better meeting them in neutral territory rather than in our yard. And he has a few doggy friends in the neighborhood he can play with.

Many people ask if he's a pure bred, as either they've never seen a liver Dal, or don't believe it since he's not hyper. I tell them a good dog is a tired dog. I've even been asked if he's a German short-haired pointer.... I guess I can see that, sort of...

Can't believe Putter's 5... had to check in his file for his papers. Ginger is slowing down, starting to lose muscle tone, getting gray all the way over her head, she's ~11 and had a rough start.  It makes me think about what the next dog will be... do I get a Dal or another Vizsla like Ginger???? Male? Female? Both breeds have been so similar in the dogs we've had... The boys are much more affectionate and attentive, girls a bit more aloof, but more watchful... Guess I'll just have to wait and see what's available. And, Putter is not much of a shedder. In the spring, he'll have about a week where I know I need to rub him down for a few days, and maybe a day or two in fall, but over all, he's very neat and clean, never a doggy-smell with him either.

Thanks for your help. Putter is a joy.

Just what I like to hear.  Putter is a combination of good genes, early puppy socialization, and a perfect dog-smart home.  He's been raised to be a dog, never treated as a child, went through obedience classes, and gets plenty of exercise, companionship and love.  The kind of home we wish for all our puppies . . .

It's interesting that he inherited the low-shed gene from Josie, who also sheds very little.  THAT'S a trait I would like to set in Paisley Dalmatians, but it's not likely to happen in my lifetime.  Excuse me, gotta go sweep the kitchen before I go to work!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Back To Work - Today

The Arboks are 11 days old.

Wouldn't you know it?  A beautiful morning, 67 degrees and less humid, and today I go back to work.  I'd prefer walking around Como with Argus, then having breakfast at White Castle, BUT my bank account is looking pretty skimpy right now, in dire need of replenishment, and there's a mortgage payment due soon.

The Arboks are doing well and growing like mad.  Reebok certainly could have fed more than five!  She comes upstairs more often now, but at the first demanding squeal from her brood, she races back down to check on them.   It's amazing how rapidly the spots are coming through right now, they change almost hourly.  The patterns on the black-spotted boys are pretty clear now, but I'm still waiting on the liver girls who have very thick coats.  I can tell they have nice patterns, just can't see anything very clearly.
Black Boy 2

This morning the pups were trying to walk.  Well up on their legs now, but they still flop over after a few steps.  They stalk around shouting, "Mom, mom, mom", expect to encounter her after a few steps, and get very vocal if they don't.  I noticed a few eye corners cracked this morning too, so pretty soon we can start checking eye color and see if the rims are actually complete.  It's getting fun now, watching the changes from day to day.

 I've been cutting their nails so none of the pups have scratches on their heads, but they do get pushy trying to claim the best nipples.  Keeping the nails trimmed makes things more comfortable for both mom and sibs.  Those little pointy nails have nasty hooks if they are not trimmed and they can make long nasty scratches on their siblings' heads and their mother's breasts.

Each pup gets handled every day, held in a variety of positions, restrained on its back, and held up to my face while I breathe on it and speak softly to it.  Soon they will be looking back at me and hearing my words.  Can't wait!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Back To Work - Soon

Watching ducks at Lake Como

State Government Shut Down comes to an end.  Some time today I will get an email from MNDOT telling me when to report back to work.  Tomorrow?  Have to admit I would not mind waiting until next week, but things will be tight here when the lack of a pay check catches up with me.  Good thing I had no plans for the summer - we knew for several months in advance that the shut down was likely.  I've never had a 3-week vacation, and have sure enjoyed my time off, although I didn't even start several of the projects I had on my list!  That's OK though as I spent some of my time practicing the art of "relaxing", something I've never been very good at.

The snapper who lives in Lake Como
Argus and I took our walk around Lake Como, perhaps the last one on a week day/work day.  We'll both miss it!  It was already 85 when we left at 7:00AM, but today there was a breeze, which made such a difference.  We found a second spot for Argus to swim, so he enjoyed two dips, and we sat on the floating dock at the Como Pavilion, enjoying the breeze, watching the ducks, and being watched by the huge snapping turtle who lives in the lake.  The shortage of ducklings on that part of the lake may be due to his presence.  We met him on the shore last week where I took this picture, and he's a big sucker!

Thanks for the suggestions for naming themes.  Authors, weather and fish are all good ones.  Am thinking I will name the pups after characters in John Sandford mysteries.  The boys can be "Lucas" (Davenport), "Virgil" (Flowers) and "Jake" (Winters).  Not sure on the girls yet, but perhaps "Letty" (Lucas's adopted daughter) and maybe "Sandy" who is a Researcher who works for Lucas, but that's still up in the air.  Lucas's wife's name is "Wether" which sounds more like a sheep than a puppy, so that's out. 

Too early for names yet anyway.  I need to know that the pups hear before they get names, and I'll start checking this weekend.  Should wait until this weekend, but it's hard to wait.  Pups can hear as early at 11-12 days, but most will not hear until 13-14 days - IF they are going to hear at all.  Once I know their status, I'll give them names.  Please keep your fingers (and paws) crossed. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Arbok Are Getting Spots!

Black Boy 1

A few quick shots of the Arboks, who are 9 days old today.   They are doing very well, and are plump, vigorous, active pups.  And vocal!  If they can't find their mother they yell loudly, and shout at any litter mate who gets in their way, or has their preferred nursing spot.

Black boy 3
Trim continues to move rapidly, and the only area of concern is the right nostril on one of the liver girls, but the trim will move for a long time, until at least 6 weeks of age, and sometimes for the life of the dog!  It normally moves more rapidly and for a longer period of time on blacks than it does on livers.  Blacks are also more likely to be born with complete trim and to end up with complete trim.  Liver trim that is not done by 8 weeks of age often will never fill, but as we often joke, a really good liver Dal might finish its championship before it finishes its nose trim.

Liver Girl 1
Black Boy 1 appears to have open markings and just a few face spots.  Black Boy 2 is more colorful, but is evenly spotted with really cute face markings. Didn't get a picture that showed his spotting this morning. Black Boy 3 has a more spotted face and darker ears like Reebok, more color on his chest and legs, but (so far) does not appear to be too heavily marked over all.  I do not care for heavy markings in the show ring, and am hoping this one is still possibly show potential.

Liver Girl 2
The two liver girls both look OK for spotting so far, neither two light or too dark.  Liver spotting is a little slower to show through than the spotting on black pups.

For now the pups will just be Black 1, 2, 3 and Liver 1 & 2.  I can tell them apart, but don't want to give them names until I know they can hear.  Haven't picked a theme yet, maybe flowers or wine, or trees, or something of that nature.  The problem with flowers is that there are so few names suitable for boys! 

Two more mysteries downloaded from  I'm making my way through all the books by local author John Sandford this summer.  Over half the Lucas Davenport "Prey" series read, and working on the fourth Virgil Flowers mystery with a new one due out this fall.  The little iPod Nano is working like a charm now and I've been listening to books while doing housework and fish chores.  Sure makes the time go by more quickly!

Monday, July 18, 2011

No End In Sight

Argus knows how to keep cool

No Special Session today, as the Republicans are not sure they can get the votes to pass the budget bill.  They got their stated goal of no new taxes, but so-called Christian Conservatives have to give up the divisive social agenda that was inserted in with the "real legislation".  Their true colors are starting to show now - looks to me as if Dayton called this one correctly. Guess I will have a couple more days of "vacation".
Our beach was underwater

The heatwave continues, but Argus knew how to stay cool. Our swimming area, a small spit of sand and brush, was underwater yesterday, due to the recent heavy rains.  Argus didn't mind at all, had a great time exploring the area, and even retrieved a couple of sticks.  We'll be heading out in a few minutes, taking advantage of the morning "cool". Wonder how many joggers we will see today?  Just amazes me that they can run in this weather.
This is what Argus thinks of the weather!

Weather forecast to be 97 degrees for the next three days, with a heat index of 118!  The dew point of 81 yesterday evening may have set a record, and the only place more humid than us was the Amazon.  I don't believe in Global Warming, but I do believe strongly in Climate Change, and that has sure been confirmed by all the weird weather we've all experienced this year.

Yesterday was spent doing "fish chores" and working on my website.  If I am off a few more days I may actually get the long-neglected website updated!  Didn't think that would ever happen.  Water changes done in all but the largest tanks, the 55, 40, 30, 29 and one of the 20s.  I had to refill the three water barrels and add the assorted chemicals, but at least this time of the year the water can be used at room temperature.  In the winter, when the basement is chilly, I have to keep heaters going in the barrels.

Because I want to keep the puppies warm, they have a heat lamp over their box, but because I don't want to boil the fish, I keep the backdoor open so the air conditioner in the dining room can contribute cool air to the basement! 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Days All Run Together

How do retired people remember the date and the day of the week?  I find that the days tend to run together right now.  Perhaps the morning paper, or the morning news checks on the Internet provide the necessary clues?  Or do people check off days on the calendar, or tear off a page in the 365 day calendar every morning?  It's definitely a weird sensation not to have my life based on which days are spent at the office!

But my freedom will probably be ending soon, assuming the Special Session is called and results in a budget that is reluctantly agreed upon by both parties.  No one is happy with it, but something has to give.  Three weeks will be enough time to be out, and I will always remember it as my "practice retirement".

Six days old
The litter Arboks are doing well and growing like mad.  Spots are starting to show up on the most colorful boy, and the nose trim is moving quickly.  Trim on the blacks is complete, and one of the liver girls is almost complete, while the second liver girl has about 2/3 of her nose trim in.  Hard to tell on eye rims until the eyes actually open, but the rims have color on the inside corners (the slowest part to finish), and a significant amount elsewhere. 

Black spotted boy (l) liver spotted girl (r)
The most colorful boy has heavily spotted ears and the most face spotting, but his body does not appear to be overly dark at this stage.  He has the shortest coat so his spotting is showing through before the others.  The other black-spotted boys have nice (shadowy) patterns, and one has especially cute face markings.  Harder to tell about the girls as liver markings are a bit slower to show through, and both have very thick coats.  Neither has the old-fashioned "livery" markings with speckled faces and smaller spots though.  Argus's liver kids normally have large, bold, distinct spotting and open-marked faces.  Fingers crossed!

Weather is Oh So Hot here right now, and far more humid than we are used to.  Or at least used to be used to.  Our weather patterns have changed so much it's hard to know what is normal.  Anyone who does not believe in "climate change" has their head in the sand.

Cooling off in Lake Como
Four inches of rain on Friday left Lake Como the highest I have seen it this time of the year.  The long sandy point out to the sun dial, where I normally take Argus swimming, is well under water.  Argus had a great time sloshing around in water-cover grassy and brushy areas.  It was incredibly humid and I was dripping with sweat, but the normal compliment of joggers were there.  How can something that looks that miserable make people feel good?  Just hard to believe!

New sofa and floor plan
The new sofa was delivered on Friday, and we had several pieces of old furniture hauled away on Saturday, including the old console radio that has been in the family room since the addition was built.  The young guys who picked up the junk actually laughed when they saw it - I suppose some of my friends have done the same, but the radio worked just fine. Ron was not very happy to give up his battered love seat, but admits that the new sofa is quite comfortable and looks a lot better.

Coral is having some trouble adjusting as that room had been exactly the same for many years.  She stands and stares at the sofa which occupies the spot where her dog bed used to be, and refuses to sleep in the dog bed in its new location.  I put Argus's small bed (that normally sits by my computer) in the family room and she has claimed that as her own.  Hope she and Ron both get used to the new look!