Monday, February 25, 2013

A Puppy Update

I've had a few people write and ask me for an update of the pups.  They are both doing well and quickly finding there own special places in the family and in my heart.

Athena and Demeter are the best of friends. Seeing the two dogs roaming around the back yard looks quite comical considering the size difference.  Athena lopes along at a normal St Bernard pace and Demeter scampers along at a very non normal Border Collie pup pace, but has not trouble keeping up.  She does seem to need more sleep than Athena though and I wonder whether it's not all because she is so much younger and her faster pace in life has something to do with it.

 Athena is very concerned about the size difference and is very careful not to hurt Demeter.  This has resulted in Demeter taking unfair advantage and we often have to rescue Athena from the tiny pup.  It seems Athena has very tasty ears and it has to be said, a temptingly large area of  them.  She is so patient with Demeter.  A few days ago I was in the kitchen watching them through the window as they played.  Demeter was trying to jump up to attack Athena's ears as usual.  She was getting frustrated with not being able to reach.  While I stood at the window and watched, Athena lowered her front end, in the classic downward dog yoga pose, to get down to Demeter's level so the game could continue.  It quickly turned into a wrestling match with Athena lying on her back while the little black and white ball of energy attacked various parts of her body.  At one stage Demeter attached herself to Athena's ear and Athena couldn't do anything to dislodge the pup. She tried moving her head from side to side, but Demeter hung on tightly.  Athena tried batting the pup off and despite the huge paw brushing at her gently, Demeter continued to hang on tightly. Of course there was lots Athena could do if she lost her temper or hurt Demeter but Athena never has so far.  I tapped on the kitchen window until Demeter realised she'd be in trouble if she didn't let go of Athena's ear.  I'm pretty sure she was hurting Athena, because when they got back to their game Athena wouldn't bend down to Demeter's height again, although she was happy to keep playing as long as her ears were a safe distance from sharp puppy teeth.  Still, the little episode didn't damage the friendship at all.

They are a force to be reckoned with in the back yard and are always extremely excited when I go outside.  I spend quite a while fending off bouncing puppies and leaning St Bernards before I can move a few feet away from the house. I am always escorted wherever I want to go outside.  If I manage to sneak out without them seeing me, there is a mad scramble to get to me as quickly as possible once they notice I'm outside.  It's nice to be loved.  

Both girls continue to steal boots and anything made of plastic including my gardening clogs.  Thankfully they have the three treasure trove spots in the garden and it's usually a matter of checking these out to find the missing items. Strangely, Graeme's work boots rate their own, fourth spot in the yard, well hidden among a little bushy area in the corner of the front garden. Boots they don't chew thankfully, just steal and drool on.   I've had one pair of gardening clogs ruined and the second pair (bought to replace the first) severely chewed.  We try to keep them up out of reach but old habits on our part die hard.  We are used to being able to leave our shoes on the bottom of the shoe rack and have them remain there unmolested.  This is no longer the case.  Plastic on the other hand is destroyed if we don't rescue it quickly enough.  The kitchen hand broom is the latest casualty.  Graeme used it outside on the porch when moving the back door for our kitchen renovations.  He turned around and couldn't find the hand broom anywhere.  I found it up near the chook pen.  Suffice to say I've put a new hand broom on the shopping list. 

Athena has taught Demeter the joys of swimming in the dam.  It's usually just a wade out until Athena's tummy gets wet, but that relatively shallow depth is a full on swim for Demeter to keep up with her much larger best friend.  Most mornings I am greeted by two thoroughly wet and happy pups.  Now remember what I said about how glad they are when I go outside?  Add that exuberance to the muddiness and sogginess of the pups in the early morning and you can see that mornings are fraught with problems.  Our toilet is in the laundry outside the back door so there's no avoiding the muddy paws first thing in the morning.  

Yesterday Athena and Demeter seemed to spend most of the day in dam.  It wasn't a particularly warm day and actually rained from time to time, so what the attraction was I can't tell you.  It seemed every time I saw the girls yesterday they were happy and soggy, wanting to share the wetness with me.  Demeter went one better than Athena at one stage.  It looks like they came out of the dam in a particularly silty area.  Athena's huge feet were coated in grey, slimy dam silt.  Demeter on the other hand was covered from the tips of her paws to the top of her tummy in the slimy, mucky stuff and she couldn't have been happier.  She had the hide to rush up to me, yucky tail wagging furiously, and throw herself down at my feet, exposing the disgustingly filthy tummy and requested a tummy rub. I told her there was no way that was happening despite her hopeful looks and furiously wagging tail.  Demeter couldn't believe that her cuteness didn't outweigh the yuckiness, but no amount of cuteness, and there was plenty of that, would have had me touch that tummy!

I'm going to have to try and get some photos to share with you all.  Photo taking is difficult to almost impossible because as soon as they see me they stop doing whatever it is I want to photograph and come over to bounce or lean all over me.  I don't seem to be able to sneak up on them.  They must be constantly on the watch for one of us to come out and play with them.  I will persevere though, so stand by for some less than pristine, but extremely happy pup photos in the future.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Introducing Demeter

I have been trying to convince Graeme we need a second dog ever since our lovely Dione succumbed to old age shortly after Christmas.  Graeme has of course resisted.  A few days ago he mentioned going away for a few days and I pointed out either Athena would have to come with us or she'd need a friend to keep her company.  After just a little thought Graeme opted for the Get Athena A Friend option.  I threw myself into action before he could change his mind and searched the agricultural newspaper for Border Collie pups.

I have wanted a working dog for myself when I help in the sheep yards.  With my back injury I'm severely limited in how much I can help, but with a four legged assistant I should find it a much easier and less painful job.

Yesterday I rang the dog owners from the first ad I found but all four male long haired Border Collies were sold. I looked in the Rural and found another lot of Border Collies - these ones smooth coated. They had two females and four males for sale and were in Wagga. Yesterday was the best day for the owners for us to go see them so we headed off straight after lunch.  After a short discussion before we left we decided there were more advantages to a female pup than a male pup.  Females, in our experience, tend to be a bit more sensible.

Choosing between the two cute female pups was difficult but eventually one pup seemed to show a bit more independence and interest in her surroundings.  The owner told us she also had the best voice (important when working sheep) so she was our choice.  I apologised to the other pup for slighting her and told her I hope she found a good home with someone else (earning a strange look from the owner).

We are now the proud owners of Demeter (Greek goddess of crops and harvest - very appropriate huh?). She and Athena made instant friends. Demeter was glad to see another dog and Athena has wanted a doggy friend ever since Dione died. Demeter has no problems with being followed around by a giant puppy and Athena is besotted and gob smacked that dogs come in such small packages. She met a whippet yesterday when the people came to buy a ram and thought that was on the small size for a dog, but Demeter is tiny!

Speaking of the whippet - the poor little girl got a grass seed in her side a while back. She's had five operations to remove it as it travelled under her skin. She now has to see a specialist vet at Charles Sturt University Veterinary School because the seed germinated inside her and she has multiple lumps and infections in her little body. She looks healthy and happy, but of course the germinated seed has to be located by ultrasound and removed. Her owner told me the total surgery bill (counting the previous operations) will come to over $2,000.00.

It's been 15 years since I've had a tiny pup and that was Dione and Juno who had their mum with them all through their growing years. It's ages since I've had to look after a sad little pup who misses its mother, but Athena is doing a good job in keeping Demeter company and making her happier to be here. Last night they curled up on Athena's rug together and slept the night away without so much as a whimper from Demeter.

Taking photos was an adventure in itself. Then getting the two dogs to smile at the camera at the same time took me back to my kindergarten teaching days. So photo quality isn't great. Anyway ... presenting Demeter Small aged nine weeks (that collar was the smallest size we could buy without insulting her by buying a cat collar).