Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Saga Continues: Mating

Houston, we have lift off.


Ridge figured out which end to mount; Elsie stood for him with tail cocked.

And they did the deed this morning.

Their tie lasted only ten minutes, but they tied (necessary for full ejaculation). Ties can last from five to sixty minutes. I was glad for just ten.

The poor things looked completely pathetic and helpless standing butt-to-butt during their tie, but they did what they needed to do.

And then they were done.

Following their mating, they both needed to go outside to do their other business (pee and poop). It makes sense.

Ridge looked a little tired afterward, but Elsie was a happy clam. :o)

No trauma for either. Yay!

I crated them both when they came back inside (after watching them closely outside) so they could rest a bit and so I could get some work done.

And don't you know, Ridge started howling and barking again (wanting to get back to Elsie) after a whopping 15 minutes of being apart.

So like a male. ;o)

But he has to wait another 48 hours. Poor guy. He'll live.

Then we'll let them do the deed again.

Stay tuned. We won't know for three weeks if Elsie's pregnant, but we'll keep you informed.

Oh boy. Are we really ready for this? (More on that to come).

'Til next time,

Joan (who refused to photograph their intimacy -- didn't want to distract them -- sorry, no pics).

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Saga Begins

Yup, that's right.

It looks like we'll be breeding Ridge and Elsie.

Elsie's tests all came back wonderfully ("Good" hip-joint conformity; "Normal" elbows; and fine on her eye certification).

Elsie is now 2.5 years old, and this is her fourth heat cycle. And she's a fabulous Lab specimen: solid on breed standards; super temperament; sweet, gentle, affectionate disposition; high intelligence; incredibly strong retrieving instincts; solid genealogy.

Elsie has everything we'd love to see perpetuated in the breed (otherwise we wouldn't consider breeding her).

Ridge came to us as a three-year-old, experienced stud with solid certifications and genealogy. He brings additional strengths, too, especially agility and color. He, like Elsie, has a sweet, affectionate disposition, high intelligence, strong desire to please, excellent trainability, and solid retrieving instincts.

Since both are yellow Labs, together Ridge and Elsie will produce only yellow pups (anywhere from white to fox red on the breed-standard color spectrum). We're hoping the pups will continue their strengths.

So here they are, the two we're hoping will produce a terrific litter of sound Labrador puppies:

Ridge, the sire:

And, Elsie, the dam:

I think they make a pretty good pair.

What do you think?

'Til next time,

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Curiosity Isn't Fatal

I don't buy it.

You know, that old proverb you hear over-protective grandmothers wagging at their grandchildren: "Curiosity killed the cat."

Well, here's proof (hehe). It's simply not true.

This picture captures DH introducing (or re-introducing) our fuzzy cat, Snickers, to Elsie, Kenya, and Baxter.

We excluded Ridge because he goes a little bonkers around cats. :o)

But Baxter and Elsie have each snuggled with, and licked, and nudged, and sniffed, and been scratching posts for the Snickers beast in the past. They've been buds.

That's one-at-a-time, of course. It hasn't usually been two or three Labs to one uppity feline.

We felt it was time for Kenya and Snickers to become acquainted. Kenya, to this point, had only viewed Snickers from the top of the basement stairs where Snickers likes to lounge. Snickers has generally ignored Kenya's pleas to play so far.

So one day about two weeks ago, Daddy Don scooped up Snickers and brought him up to the kitchen to hang out with the gang.

And all were curious.

Kenya couldn't hold still (forgive the blurred image). She wiggled all over, as if she were thinking ohboyohboyohboy-another-four-footed-creature-that's-furry

The Kenya Bean couldn't have been more delighted and curious!

Snicks, too. He was perfectly content (purred) to be licked and nudged and sniffed and prodded.

Curiosity didn't hurt either of them. And it certainly didn't kill them.

In fact, they were better for it.

I think curiosity is a good thing, not a threatening life-taker. It leads to discovery.

Sometimes the discovery is huge and world-changing (like penicillin). Sometimes it's small and impacts only the single curious soul.

But that single soul is richer for it.

And sometimes curiosity leads to growth, understanding, surprise, and delight.

Oh, sure, curiosity can be painful (as in a toddler's curiosity about hot stove burners, for example); but even the pain leads to learning and wisdom (that toddler won't touch that burner again).

But, in my book, a life without curiosity would be no life at all: boring, dull, and soul-less. You might be alive, but you wouldn't be living.

I think the best part of curiosity isn't even necessarily the discovery or the end result; I think it's the delight-filled wonder we experience along the way.

It's like we become children again, and the world is our adventure.

It's like Labs whose nature it is stay puppies their entire lives.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

'Til next time,

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Need Tips? Try This Site

Hey folks,

Regular Reader knows I don't often use an entire entry in this blog to direct people to other web sites. But every now and then I stumble upon a gem of a resource worth mentioning.

That's what I'm doing today.

My new on-line friend Tania's blog, Dog Gone Blog (located over at Typepad), is a fabulous resource for dog owners. What I particularly like about her blog is that it's written from an owner's (she has two Labs) AND trainer's (Tania is a professional dog trainer) perspective.

Filled with tons of easy-to-understand-and-apply tips, plentiful resources, practical helps, and much-hard-earned wisdom and insight, Dog Gone Blog is well worth the visit (and a bookmark!).

Here's her button link:

I'm so glad I stumbled upon this terrific resource.

Enjoy! I hope you find something helpful there!

'Til next time,

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Road Less Traveled

Okay, so I stole M. Scott Peck's title, but if you know anything about copyright law, you'll remember titles are not copyrightable (is that a word?). So I'm safe. Phew!

It was the only title I could think of to describe Baxter's behavior at the cottage.

While Ridge, Elsie, and the Kenya Bean jumped in, splashed, waded, swam, retrieved, and competed with each other on the left side of the dock, Baxter consistently waited for Don to toss a dummy for him on the right side of the dock.

He took a different way, the waters less traveled, retrieved every bit as joyfully and effectively, and with fewer competitors and less stress along the way.

Maybe he's on to something.

Oh, to be sure, he had to do some trailblazing: his path wasn't nearly as clean and free of weeds as the path on the other side of the dock, but he got the job done.

And who knows...maybe he even liked the trailblazing aspect of his water retrieving.

But he didn't have to contend with three other snorting snouts, twelve other webbed paws splayed in motion, and the countless splashes of Elsie, Ridge, and Kenya trying to get his dummy (it is his, don't you know!) at the same time. He was free to paddle and retrieve in his way, in his time, according to his style without fear of losing out to some impish competitor.

Did Baxter retrieve the same way the other three did? No, but he was every bit as capable and effective, smoother in the water, and much calmer in the process.

All because he did things in his style and time.


Sounds like a plan to me.

Sounds like a wise plan.

A very wise plan.

I sometimes doubt the wisdom of going the road-less-traveled. I work from home ("telecommute" if you will). I freelance. I work out of my converted-dining-room office. I constantly live with the tension of choosing between deadlines and dirty laundry.

But I get the job done. In my way; in my time; according to my style, and all without the hubbub, chaos, and high-stress competition of corporate America.

Oh, like Baxter's, my path holds more mud and lilypads than the frequented road, and I have to do some trailblazing along the way (as in educating others about the validity and professionalism of working from home), but I complete my contracts, bill my hours, get my paycheck, and finish my work professionally, on time, and with great care and quality.

I do the job and do it well, even if I take a different route to get there.

And I don't have to deal with the commuting, traffic, office gossip, management politics, or the climb-the-ladder competitiveness so many live with each day.

Honestly, I'd die on that path (not physically, but mentally, socially, emotionally, and spiritually). It only took me decades to realize it, but I'm finally realizing the road-less-taken is a valid option for me.

And I'm enjoying the journey.

Baxter knew what was best for him, and waited for his opportunity. Then he seized his chance and exuberantly did what he was called upon to do.

I'm learning to do the same.

See... you really can teach an old dog (like me) new tricks. :o)

As long as the old dog is teachable and willing. :o) Am I? Are you?

'Til next time,

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

More Swimming!

Lest you think (based on my last entry) Kenya was the only one swimming, here are a few more pictures of the "kids" and their lake adventures last weekend:

Yup, everyone had a grand ol' time. :o)

Labs: what a breed!

Oh, and major Kudos to my DH who not only took all these pics, but did so while keeping track of all four Labs and throwing retrieving dummies for them. It was just him and the dogs, and to get these pics with his 35 mm was quite a feat. Thanks, My Love!

'Til next time,

Swimming :o)

Well, Don and the "kids" are back from the cottage. I had a productive writing weekend while they were away, and they (apparently) had a ball.

Kenya, we learned, is a jumper -- absolutely no fear. Instead of wading into the lake, she leaps -- doesn't matter where she's starting (dock or shore), she leaps all the same.

Check this out:

In the last picture, that's Ridge in the water ahead of her. She's just trying to catch up!

Don tells me Kenya's a natural, unlike Elsie who loves water but swims with much splash (front paws out of the water when she strokes). Kenya was smooth and comfortable from the moment she entered the water.

They both come from the same breeder and had much the same early exposure to water. They both have incredibly strong retrieving instincts and love the water. For whatever reason, Elsie's just never been a smooth swimmer at the lake (very strong and capable, just not smooth). But the Kenya Bean seems right at home there.

I'm delighted. :o)

It was her first adventure swimming, and Don was impressed.

So am I.

Spunky, brave, enthusiastic risk taker - that's Kenya.

I wish I could say as much about me.

'Til next time,

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Kids are Away Playing!

Yup, Baxter, Ridge, Elsie, and Kenya went up to the cottage this weekend to play in the lake, while I stayed here to get some writing done (I'm under book contract, and the manuscript is due at the end of this month).

How I wish I could be playing up there with them!

The picture above is of Ridge and Elsie in the lake returning with a floating kong Don threw for them. It's my favorite water picture of any of our gang, but it's two years old. :o(

Not to worry: Don took his REALLY GOOD camera (unlike my point-and-shoot) to capture the kids' water retrieving adventures digitally so I can share them with you.

Oh...and I when I talked to DH on the phone this morning and asked him about Kenya's response to the water (remember, this is Kenya's first adventure at the lake), he told me Kenya is not only a natural swimmer with smooth, powerful strokes, great eye for retrieving, and no fear of the water (don't puzzle over that comment; not all Labs swim well), she's a dock-jumper, too.

First time down to the water, Kenya spontaneously leaped from the dock--something none of the other three will do - or have never done so far in the years we've been taking them. Baxter, Elsie, and Ridge prefer to wade in and then swim.

Apparently not Kenya! Ahhh... the Little Bean. :o) That's my girl! Gotta love her bold, adventurous spirit.

FYI, here are just a few shots of the cottage and the lake taken last summer:

The photos below are, in order from top to bottom,

1) The cottage's back entrance;

2) the shoreline and our little fishing boat;

3) The dock, north side view;

4) The dock, south side view;

5) The cottage front (lake side)

6) The lake from the top of the bank above the dock (and yes, this is the dock the Kenya Bean is jumping off!)

While waiting for the gang to return and me to post new photos of their water adventures, you can view Baxter, Elsie, and Ridge swimming at the lake in 2005 by visiting these archived articles:

Home from the Cottage

Photo of three swimming

Ridge in LilyPads

Baxter in LilyPads

Anticipating the Best or Worst?

Frantic or Focused?

Or you can view their 2006 water adventures in this archive:

We've Been Playing at the Cottage

That's what I'm doing while I swelter here in my not-yet-air-conditioned home (air conditioning will be installed in just TWO weeks!). I'm sitting here writing (or trying to write, anyway), wishing I was with DH and the canine kids romping at the cottage.

Oh well.

Speaking of wells, our well pump broke yesterday leaving us with no water here, but it was repaired in just a few hours. We just can't drink or use our water now until the chlorine they treated the well with after repair - apparently a new regulation - clears from the system. That'll be another day or so.

The cottage is looking more attractive all the time.

Well... I guess I need to get back to my book manuscript. Yuk.

'Til next time,