Saturday, January 31, 2009

Fox On The Run

Kikas first Ridgeback Run was early September. Tamzin organizes these periodically. Anyone with a Ridgeback (or wanting one) can come. There are also honourary Ridgebacks such as Deuce the pug. We all meet at a local park, the dogs play and you get to meet people who love Ridgebacks as much as you do. Kika will be meeting Emmie there so they will each have someone to play with when the big guys get to be too much for them. It was a beautiful day. I know Kika wore herself out racing with Emmie and chasing the big guys. She was so tired she was asleep the moment she got into the truck.

Emmie and Kika are always happy to see each other!

The girls saying hello to Levi. Kim captured this moment.

Hey you're not a Ridgeback! Ridgebacks are breed snobs, they won't even look at other dogs if another Ridgeback is there. This little guy was cute and fun so Kika played with him anyway.

The incomparable Raimi with Halo. The wonderful scenery is River Park in Calgary.

Deuce keeps everyone in line. He shares a home and a blog with Ramsay - Ramsay and Pug Friends Unite!

The big guys playing. There was quite a group this day. Besides Emmie and Kika - Raimi, Halo, Ramsay, Levi, Lucy, Zuli, Shane and Ryder...

Corralling the girls at the end of the day

Exhausted Kika at the very end of a great day.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Emmie and Kika attend classes at the same puppy school. Not in the same class though, could you just imagine that chaos! Here they are at their first puppy playtime session, I wonder what they are plotting!

Today puppy class, tomorrow the world!!!

It's really evident in this picture the differences in the two girls. Emmie is still the tall, leggy blonde sister, who, by the way takes after her Mum ...

Girls on Film

Errr .... Girl and Boys on Film may be more accurate, but there's no 80's song of that title that I know of .... So sorry Boys, you'll have to grant some artistic license here.

Ridgebacks Rule!!! Tamzin heard back from the advertising group ..... Ridgebacks have been selected over all the other breeds for an advertising photoshoot. We get to take Kika to downtown Calgary to a professional studio for the photographs. Tamzin will be there with Raimi and Kathryn (Rory's Ramblings Blog) will be there with Seth and Rory. Seth is the senior of the group. Rory is from Tamzins most recent litter and will represent the adolescent of the bunch. Raimi will be stretching his acting chops and playing the role of adult!

I was really anxious about the whole thing, I didn't know what to expect and was worried Kika would piddle in an inappropriate spot. Thank goodness Grandma offered to help out. But just for good measure Kika has practiced her sits and lie-downs for days and looks like a pro at it now.

As it turned out, needn't have worried at all, we all had a wonderful time. Aside from the exploring, all the cuddles and attention she got, I think Kika's favourite part was hanging out with Seth. Seth may have a different opinion of his favorite part of the day - but Kika wanted to be his friend "big time". Then it was a whirlwind of getting her to sit or lie down and ducking out of the shot. They needed her to be in specific positions as all the other dogs are boys, so there was some strategic posing going on. She finally got tired and fell asleep under the lights, in exactly the position they wanted, only backwards. So with some quick spinning she was perfect and ended the shoot on a high note.

Exploring with Tamzin

Kathryn got a shot of Kika working it for the camera.

We left the studio when Kika was finished, she was really tired. So we missed all the boys in action, but from all reports they did really well although it seemed their favourite part was lunch.

We had just left the studio when a man passing on the sidewalk stopped and exclaimed - "That's a Ridgeback puppy!" We stopped to talk to him. Turns out he and his family had recently lost their Ridgeback and were in the process of adopting a rescue. I was really proud of Kika as she played with him and gave him kisses and cuddles. He took some photos of her with his phone and was off, a large smile on his face and already e-mailing the photos to his family. I remembered how much the kindness of a stranger meant to us when we were missing our Ridgeback so it was really nice to be able to return the favour.

Recipe for A Good Day; start with an adventure, add some good behavior, mix in some nice people, make a few friends, stir in one good deed. And Voila - now it's a Great Day.

Hot In The City

Time for a philosophical question; "How do you describe a dog's life?"
Well .... This should put a lot into perspective;

Like all good Ridgebacks, Kika loves the sun and will follow it around.

Uumm, warm chew bone .... [insert Homer Simpson impression]

Just working on my colour.

Providing inspiration for the next Sphinx statue ...


Stalking sunbeams ....

All this moving around is messin' with my "mellow"!

Snoozing in the sunshine ....

Full on "mellow" achieved.

Sweet Soul Sister

A big day for Kika, her sister Emmie is coming for a visit. Emmie lives with Kim and Derrick and their 2 boys in Calgary. They had a great time. Recognizing one another right away, they took up playing where they had left off days earlier. When we picked Kika up at Jeff and Danielles, we noticed these two girls playing with each other quite a bit. Racing and wrestling, they sure wore each other out.

Sharing stories in the shade. I have a silk pillow, whispers Emmie, I'm learning all about thread count, and the boys are a lot of fun. Fantastic! replies Kika, I've been focusing on people training myself, it's going so well here I've started working on the neighbours.

Emmie is the tall, leggy blonde sister, she's beautiful and elegant. Kika, well, more of a red headed tomboy, a little feisty to make up for her smaller size.

Let's do something cute so they say Ahhhhh again. They're putty in our paws!

The amateur arborists at work

Apples are supposed to taste good right?

Rough and tumble girls

This photo is courtesy of Kim. Poor Emmie, we know what it's like to be on the receiving end of an aerial assault. I know my face has had that expression of oh &*&% a time or two.

Just like old times, ending the day sharing a toy but this time with their new best buddies, Kims boys!

Actually, this is how Kika ended the day as did Emmie I'm sure...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

These Dreams

We want to provide new photos of Kika as she changes and grows, but so many seem to be out of focus, blurs, or somehow the subject focus changes from her in the middle of the shot to capturing the tip of her tail as she moves out of frame or oh good let's see what a camera tastes like. So out of necessity here is a few shots of her sleep+grow mode.
We are convinced that puppies are so busy when awake all they have time for is adventure and play. Then when they recharge they also direct energy in growing. And with a mischevious laugh "tomorrow I will mess with your mind - I will be bigger".

So far she is always growing with all proportions increasing. We have yet to experience the all legs and ears stage, or funnier yet the back end is higher than the front.

All the comforts.

I think I can....zzzz

It's really exhausting being this cute.


Tamzin has contacted us. An advertising agency has contacted her to see if she has Ridgebacks available for a photoshoot for an advertising campaign. They needed a puppy, an adolecent, adult and senior to show all life stages of the breed. She just needed a puppy and thought of Kika. Only home for 2 days and already in demand!

We sent off some test photos and we all have our fingers crossed that the client picks Ridgebacks for their campaign, but really though, how could they not?

Little Pink Houses

Now that the girl has her name, Kika, time will tell what her personality will be. So far we have met sweet, cuddly, busy, noisy, loves to play with people and toys, busy, curious, adventurous, busy, charming, and oh yeah ... busy.

We are not sure if nurture dominates nature in who she will turn out to be, we are doing our best to provide her all the right stimuli, and somehow a fashionable wardrobe (collars and leads) have graduated to other accessories.

Here is Kika with her (now) signature colour - pink cammo. Also proof that she is capable of slowing down.

Ahhh ... the calm before the storm.

Under My Thumb

Well, it's happened. It's now official, Kika is a Daddy's Girl. Constantly cuddling and following Jim around. She also gives him kisses, to this day I ask her for a kiss and she either pounds me on the head with her paw or bonks me with her nose. She thinks this is funny. And even though I am the one releasing her from her x-pen, instead of being grateful, she has given me a four pointer to the chest, knocked me out of the way and stomped on top of me just to get to Jim. It's utterly sickening...She's lucky she's so cute!

Say My Name

Choosing a name, it’s a very tricky process. If our previous dogs have been any example, they turn into what their name means.
Our first dog, Shadow was a black lab-samoyed cross. He was diagnosed with a failing then non existent immune system at the age of 2. He eventually became so ill he just faded away, a mere shadow of his former self. So sad that he was gone so young, but he lives in our thoughts to this day.

Amra was named after a character in the Robert Howard novel series of Conan. It was a nickname for Conan meaning the Lion King. Amra was the most regal, dignified and protective boy ever. Add to that his immense size; 32 inches to the shoulder, fantastic proportions, 120 lbs of solid, agile and athletic dog and the guy was ripped - muscles on top of muscles by the time he was two.

Tiona was a challenge to name. She hated everything we came up with for her, intentionally and pointedly ignoring everything we tried. Out of frustration we tried every letter in the alphabet for sound reactions and discovered that she liked the sound of the letter "T". So we built a name around it using part of Barb's favourite Welsh aunts name of Meriona. Years later, we stumbled across the name spelled Tiana, it meant princess. Very fitting! she was a little princess!

Griffin received his name when as a young puppy, posed in the sunlight one day and Barb thought that all he needed was a pair of wings and he would be a griffin. Barb couldn't look at his without smiling or laughing, he was such a charming, entertaining puppy. But, as a griffin is a blending of two, so was our Griffin. We used to call him the Jekyll and Hyde dog. So sweet and loving to people but didn't like other dogs, and was very selective which dogs could approach him.

The Princess and her Jester

And now we have our newest family member to name. She will of course have a registered name from Jahina Kennels - Jahina's Sunrise On The Sabie. But we want her to have her own every day name that she regularly responds to. And knowing our household, she undoubtedly will have a variety of nicknames, suiting her disposition of the day or whatever she is up to at a given moment, Danielle and Jeff have supplied her with Hunter, after her hunter green collar that identifies her from her litter mates. This has possibilities; we could call her Hunny which sounds the same. Or succumb to some of the "push my buttons" names that Jim as been messing with Barb on; such as Ripley - a tribute from the Aliens movies, or Xena Warrior Princess, or Red Sonja - yes more Conan!

We stumbled across a name we liked the meaning of - Mistress of all, it was German in origin - Kikka (Key-ka). We thought, why fight it, she will be running things around here in no time. So that's what we chose, although we did change the spelling to Kika... Other alternate meanings for this name include - Canadian for getting on Mum and Dads last good nerve, or not as helpful as she thinks she is, or I'm lucky I'm so cute, or She is a little spitfire isn't she...

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Mama, I'm Coming Home

After many weeks of holding our excitement in check, we have finally arrived at the BIG DAY; we get to go collect our girl.

Jeff and Danielle have been fantastic in keeping us caught up with fresh photos and updates on our puppy. Green collar girl as she has been known is now referred as Hunter, for the hunter green collar. It’s not a permanent name – but we are considering keeping it. As with many purebred animals they usually have their registered names, and then their “daily” use name. But this is a bit off topic for today. We don’t know how Jeff and Danielle manage the time to keep all of us expectant owners up to date, there are 11 puppies and 10 households to keep appraised, removing one as Jahina will be keeping one themselves.

On to our adventure;
Dates correct – check.
Puppy ready – check.
Jahina ready – check.
Tickets – check.
Hotel – check.
Car rental – check.
Planning – check.

All systems = GO. Let’s hit the bat cave and start this sucker.

There really isn’t much to tell about the preliminaries, we flew in late Thursday, went straight to the hotel, got up, bombed around Winnipeg for a bit, then went out to Jahina to meet everyone. Although this might be a good point to explain the last point in the above list ….

Barb is a bit over the top by now in anticipation of our new puppy. Our planning seems to have gotten a little out of control thanks to the internet, Google, and Mapquest. We knew we would have some time on our hands so we thought that we haven’t been to Winnipeg, and rather than showing up on Jeff and Danielle’s doorstep for breakfast, we could see some of the sights, show up in the afternoon and still have a leisurely drive to the airport. So the internet provided some destinations, some friends made a couple of suggestions, and we formed a plan.

With this plan and Barb’s affinity for the computer we now hit the planning part of the comment. Each step of our arrival in Winnipeg and the sights we intended were planned, timed, and had a corresponding map from one stop to the next. You may say – so what, that’s just good planning. Except that … We had a map from the airport terminal to the hotel … Wait for it … a walk across the street from the airport. Then a map from the Hotel to the car rental … yup … across the parking lot from the hotel and airport. I think she was just ensuring we didn’t make a single wrong step “anywhere” as we were meeting our next family member.

On to the main event. We successfully navigated all of our intended stops, and a few unscripted ones …. ‘cause that’s just the way I roll. We arrived at Jeff and Danielle’s with about two hours for visiting time. We wanted some time to meet Jeff and Danielle, their dogs and all the puppies.

Meeting Jeff and Danielle was excellent; they were warm and welcoming, invited us in and were fantastic hosts. The why that this is important is because it really reinforced to us that we met the right people to supply us a quality puppy. Quality in animals comes in many forms; blood lines, meeting breed standards, desirable features, temperament, health checks. And while all those points are important, to us quality was the home environment for the dogs and puppies. There was love in the house. They clearly adored their dogs. The dogs and puppies swarmed them with affection. What a great first impression.

The puppies were in full play and adventure mode in their huge yard to explore. Although a quick call from Jeff brought a herd of red bodies running. They all came up to us strangers; licks, nibbles, wiggles were offered and readily accepted from everyone. We played with all the dogs and puppies, whoever was close. This kind of fun doesn’t happen that often for us, so we wanted a chance to play with everyone. Little Hunter was showing a lot of independence, exploring at times without any siblings as her wing-man. Danielle voiced that she still is the most adventurous of the bunch, so in many ways it would be fitting that she was the first to strike out on her own. We played with the dogs and puppies as much as time would permit, with an interest in making sure that our girl would be extra tired in hopes that it makes for a long sleep while travelling.

So the adventurous puppy was going to have one of the biggest days in her life; leaving the nest, her first car ride, an airplane ride, meeting new people and her new home. This could play out in many ways, including non-stop howling (as we has heard from others that flew with pets) we set off and hoped for the best.

The car ride was a challenge, she wasn’t settling in her travel carrier despite a good start when we loaded her. So Barb reclined the seat and cradled the puppy for the rest of the drive. That seemed to appease the girl; she had just wanted to look out the windows! We conceded this point as it ensured she stayed awake longer – but clearly she had won her first test of these new people.

We checked in at the airport without much fanfare, although going through security had a superb moment. Apparently all animals that are riding in the cabin need to be taken out and carried through the metal detectors and the carrier goes through x-ray. So Jim wrestled the just settled sleeping puppy from the carrier and placed her on his shoulder. As she squirmed in for a cuddle in this position, there were at least a dozen oohs and ahhs from those behind us. Puppies are cute … but damn. She had extra mojo, and she wasn’t even awake.

On the plane all the attendants and most of those around us had to see the puppy. She was allowed on our lap with the travel flap open until we taxied, then she must be stowed at foot level for the flight. This is where we were most concerned. What is she fussed, or relieved herself? Not to worry. She handled it like a pro. Squirmed a few times, but settled and slept if Jim kept a few fingers in the carrier. The flight was a breeze.

Landed back in Calgary, and we went through the terminal to our ride. Puppy was about to meet another of her most important people in her new home. Grandma. Jim’s mom has always taken an interest in the dogs, and baby sat or visited with them just to break up their day. Grandma was offered a choice to drive us home or sit in the back seat of her own vehicle to meet and cuddle the girl. Well, I thought the keys were thrown they left her hands so quickly, and in the next blink she was in the rear seat with outstretched arms for puppy in carrier. And thus a special bond was formed, she still gets extra wiggles every time they meet.

Jahina invested in a new approach with litters “Superdog” sensitivity training that is supposed to make confident dogs that are alert and accepting of new situations. Based on this big day, it was worth every penny as puppy adapted to her new people and home, and the entire adventure without a single whimper. And now Kika’s (and our) Adventure begins.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Waiting for a girl like you

Recognising that our house doesn't feel like home without a furry friend, we decided we are ready for another Ridgeback.

The search is on...

Our friend Elizabeth considered breeding to get us a puppy, but that wasn't to be. She and her dogs are in a well deserved retirement. So Plan B was invoked; the power of the internet. We used all varieties of searches, ad spaces and did not hesitate to call anywhere in North America. After some encounters with breeders we felt less than comfortable with, re regrouped and focused our attention to only those associated with the Ridgeback Club of Canada. After talking to several breeders we were referred to a kennel expecting a litter of puppies. Having made a successful first contact, we filled out a questionnaire and crossed our fingers...

Success! our search is over. Jeff and Danielle Burtch of Jahina Ridgebacks are entrusting us with one of their puppies. A litter of eleven puppies was born on June 13, 2008 and one of the girls would be ours. We spend the next weeks neurotically checking the e-mail for pictures and updates and then to finally find out which little girl they have chosen for us. Puppies are a remarkable thing, soon friends and family were almost as excited as us over the prospect of someone new in our house (actually there were a couple of people who were somehow even more excited than us - you know who you are) Having weekly updates from Jeff and Danielle, we started scrutinizing the photos to determine which were the boys and girls, and naturally we started to have interest in a few we hoped might come our way. Remarkably, there was no betting pool started by family and friends - although it would not have surprised anyone.

We each had our favourite puppies from the photos, but at week 5 there was a picture that captured my attention, a puppy I didn't recall from the previous photos. I sure liked that little girl. When ever the camera caught her there was an intensity in her eyes that screamed - here I am, look out world.

At week 6 we found out - green collar girl was ours! We couldn't believe our luck, of all those we liked, she was #1 with a bullet. How Jeff and Danielle determined she was right for us, we don't know but they nailed it. Danielle described her as spunky, fun, confident and sweet. She was the first to figure things out and the first to do anything! A bit of a handful...There also weren't a lot of photos of her because she was always "busy"....Yup, in hindsight - should have been a big clue...
It was also exciting to find out a family who lives close to us is also getting a littermate sister puppy. These people were new to Ridgebacks, and Jeff and Danielle encouraged us to be in touch with the family to share some of our experiences. A wonderful introduction was made and soon our two households were constantly in touch discussing all things Ridgeback and the excitement and anticipation of our yet to arrive puppies.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Owner of a Lonely Heart

We have been very lucky to have been owned by 3 wonderful Rhodesian Ridgebacks since 1991. All of our pups came from Elizabeth Mahaffey of Norwesia Kennels (retired). Our first guy, Amra, was our introduction to the breed and we have been hooked ever since. Amra had it all, looks and personality. He was very gentle with anything that was smaller than himself, which was pretty much anything! He, at one time, had a pet squirrel.

Amra - 3 months

Amra - 1 year

Amra - "The Nanny" with 3 month old Tiona

Our next friend was Tiona, petite but with personality plus. She was incredibly smart and had us all firmly wrapped around her tiny paw.

Puppy Tiona - 3 months

Tiona - all grown up

6 year old Tiona with 9wk Griffin

Then our goofy Griffin, the peter pan of dogs, he just never grew up. Pranced around - never walked, very talkative and loved to cuddle and make you laugh. For sure got by on his looks!

Puppy Griffin - 9 wks

Typical Griffin

Always together

Although Amra was only with us for 8 years, he was a superb buddy and showed us the great spirit of the "Lion Dogs"

We lost Tiona in September 2007, she was just shy of 14 years old. She battled cancer for nearly a year. Not bad, when she was first diagnosed they gave her days, but that was T. She was made from much sterner stuff than that. Griffys passing at 7-1/2 was much more sudden and much more of a shock. After having a lovely Christmas, he just collapsed and was gone. His big old heart failed him just months after losing his constant companion and mentor. Tiona knew when her time was and she did her best to prepare him, but I know he was as heartbroken as us to have to say goodbye.

In February 2008, just wanting to see a Ridgeback we ended up at the AKC Winter Show at the Stampede Grounds. We saw several, very nice but nothing like ours. Then, Jim spotted another one and drew my attention. There he was, big sloppy grin on his face with an aura of joyfulness around him. My God, I thought, he's a Griffy - which was our way of saying - really goofy. I never approach strangers in public, but before I knew what I was doing, I was tapping his owner on the shoulder and asking her if I could pet her dog. She was alright with us mauling her dog with hugs just before he went into the ring. I then realised who she was and that I had been recently enjoying her blog regarding the progress of her new litter of puppies. Poor girl, I'm sure she was thinking stalker, first accosted in public, then we knew who she was. But, I'm very glad we found her. Thank you Tamzin Horan of Invictus Ridgebacks - and Raimi - your kindness, advice and friendship has been invaluable to us and greatly appreciated.

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