Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Meet Aslan

 Aslan and one of his brothers.

 Aslan, or to use is full pedigree name Aslan's Gift if the beautiful boy on the right.   He's only about four weeks old in the photo and it's the only one I have of him face on, but I think he's gorgeous.  In case you haven't guessed Aslan is now my dog.  I'm just waiting for him to reach eight weeks of age and then his breeder will bring him down from Queensland and meet us in Goulburn and Aslan will come home with us.  This will all happen in a week or two,

I've told Cleo all about him but at the moment she remains unimpressed.  She just wants me to play with her squeaky toy with her.  I hope she is more impressed when she meets the little scrap of fluff - although I don't suppose he'll be a little scrap for very long.

I had some trouble obtaining a pup this time.  Trying to buy a good quality male dog from well known studs proved a lesson in humility.  So many of them were very reluctant to sell to me because I have no dog show history.  They weren't willing to take the chance that I might bring their stud's reputation down.  The stud from which I bought Aslan has a great reputation, breeds top quality St Bernards,  temperament tests each pup before sale and offers life long support to purchasers.  The lady I spoke to was supportive, offered lots of useful advice and suggested I should get into showing if I'm going to be breeding.  I feel confident I've bought from the right people.

Not only that but Aslan's Gift's father is named Aslan's Pride (hence Aslan's Gift's name).  I am a big fan of the Narnia series and told Graeme I had to have a pup by this father (not a very professional way to choose a pup I know).  I had been toying with names from Egyptian mythology for Cleopatra's mate, but when the breeder gave me the opportunity to name the pup I immediately chose Aslan as his name.  Aslan's dad is a beautiful, big boy with the best puppy dog eyes you've ever seen.  I hate to say it but he reminds me so much of Billy. 
Aslan's Dad.

I'm sure to tell you a lot more about him when I pick him up in a week or so.  There are sure to be lots of photos, both of Cleo and Aslan.  Before I go, here is one last photo of Aslan.  He's enjoying dinner with his seven siblings and I'm not entirely sure which one he is but I think he might be the pup in the middle with the almost completely brown back.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Cleo's Big Day Out

 Hello Everyone,

On Friday I went out for a long drive to Central New South Wales with Mum and Dad. Apparently the power was being turned off for the day while the electricity people fixed something on the big pole behind the house.  Dad said something about not wanting me to drool on the electricity people, but I'm sure that's not right.  Everyone loves my drool and I'm always so excited to see people - I'm sure they don't mind being knocked over while I'm saying hello.  I always apologise very nicely while they're on the ground with lots of licks and a bit of my drool.  I'm getting very good at sharing my drool - it's a new thing with me.

Dad took two photos of me while we were out.  Here is the one where I was actually looking at the camera.  I'd just been for a nice walk in the bush behind the car.  The smells!  I have lots of nice smells at home, but the smells out here were all new to me and very interesting.

I had lots of trouble lifting my nose off the ground and walking back to the car.  Mum said we couldn't stay out here all day sniffing the grass, but I couldn't see why.  Mum didn't even sniff it once so I don't know what she meant by "we".

I had a wonderful day.  I made Dad lift me in and out of the car every time we stopped - the man's got to have some fun in his life.  The last time we got out of the car I nearly jumped out myself, but remembered in time that it was Dad's job.  The temptation to jump out was due to my discovering a new taste sensation.

Have you ever heard of Paddle Pops?  If you haven't you just have to get one!  They are delicious.  Mum bought me one, even though Dad kept telling her I wouldn't eat it (Mum knows me so much better).  She reminded Dad that they used to buy milk shakes for Christie, her horse (no idea who Christie was but I'm sure she loved the milk shakes), so they could buy a paddle pop for a St Bernard.  She opened this paddle pop thing in front of me and my nose started twitching as soon as she opened the pack.  Then she held it in front of me and I thought I'd found Heaven!  I moved forward and bit off the very end of the tail gate and took a bite (Mum miscalculated how far I could lean out of the car and not reach the delicious treat).  Well!  All I can say is, "Why wasn't I told about Paddle Pops ages ago?!"  I'm ten months old after all.  That's ten months where I could have been eating Paddle Pops and haven't been!  I almost jumped out of the car to get the rest but remembered in time that this might upset Dad who was having so much fun lifting me in and out of the car.  Once Dad had done his thing and handed my lead over to Mum I was right there looking up lovingly at the Paddle Pop and I even "Sat" without being told - I was so eager to get the rest of that treat inside me.  Mum held on to the stick and made sure I couldn't get my teeth on it.  That was OK.  I have a feeling it would have tasted good too, but Mum said she didn't want a trip to the vets' so I couldn't have it.  I slurped up every drop of the Paddle Pop and looked for more.  Mum said she needed a bath before she could eat hers but Dad just got the water tank out so she could wash her hands and then - would you believe it! - they ate their own Paddle Pops without giving me so much as a lick!  I tried my puppy dog eyes look, I tried a little whine, I even tried strings of drool, but nothing would convince them to share.  I promised not to eat the whole lot and leave them a little bit, but nothing moved them.  When those two selfish parents were finished we got back in the car (Dad made some comment  about spoiled dogs but I know he must have been talking about some other dog.)

After that I heard Dad talking about making ramps so I could walk up into the back of the car myself on our next day out.  Then Mum and Dad started talking about getting a friend for me and if we'd both fit in the back.  Dad didn't think so, Mum was confident we would because she said she'd seen photos of two St Bernards in the back of a much smaller car.   Dad said OK then, the ramps were definitely being built.  Mum looked surprised.  She told me later that I had bewitched Dad and she hoped my mate (whoever that is) will do the same.  Dad even agreed to let Mum put a St Bernard sticker on the back of the car next to his Landrover Discovery group sticker.

The last think we did was stop at a shop so Dad could buy boring human food like milk and such for when we got home.  While he was gone and Mum was reading I made friends through the car window with an old man who walked by.  He was trying to get a  good look at me through the smears on the glass when Dad came back.  Dad told him I was just a pup.  He asked how old I was and Dad asked Mum.  She told him I was ten months old and the old man came up to Mum's window and started talking to her.  Mum and Dad said he'd had a very interesting life - he was from an old pioneering farming family and had farmed all over Australia.  He had farmed in all six states he said.  Mum reminded Dad that we'd never have met him if it wasn't for me.

We then went home and Dad lifted me out, grumbling about needing those ramps and I escorted Mum to the house.  She was hobbling a bit and complaining about her back, but I stayed close to offer moral support and I'm sure I made her feel a lot better.  Then it was time to settle down and sleep and dream of a back porch full of Paddle Pops.

Lots of love from Cleo

Friday, September 05, 2014

A Tale of Two Ferrets And A St Bernard

 Pandora and Loki (Loki is the large male ferret on the right)

Just before I started dinner last night I realised I'd forgotten to bring my two ferrets, Loki and Pandora inside for the night so I headed down the yard (with Cleo in tow as usual) to bring them in.  Loki, also as usual, was excited to see me.  He ran up and down inside the cage pointing out I was late, it was getting dark and he was feeling a might chilly.  I apologised profusely and pulled him out of the cage. 

The outside cage lives under our apricot tree where the ferrets get wonderful shade in summer and warm sunshine in winter.  The cage is long, made of wire and stands about four and a half feet off the ground on wooden stilts.  It's the perfect height for a St Bernard to stand at the front, look in and beg for cat food or chicken meat to be tossed out onto the ground.  The ferrets usually comply with these requests.  For once I have ferrets and a St Bernard who actually seem to like each other rather than declaring war to the death on sight.  That doesn't mean I let them up close and personal though because Cleo is what my Nana would have called a gop.  Nana called me a gop all my younger years.  A gop is an uncoordinated, happy go lucky, overly friendly person who tends to bump into things because she doesn't look where she's going, not take things seriously enough or just plain gets on a Nana's nerves.  Nana was right, I was a gop, so I'm well and truly qualified to recognise another gop in the world and Cleo is definitely one.  Cleo's goppiness means that she is likely to squash a little ferret with her huge paws if she gets close enough to play.  She's also inclined to place her head on top of them and rub, which might be a sign of affection but will certainly mean the ferret coming off the worse for wear after such behaviour.

Anyway, now that we have the gop term sorted, back to the ferret cage last night where Loki was last seen dangling from my hand in the twilight.  I put him on top of the cage as usual so I could retrieve Pandora and their bedding.  I have to bring the bedding in each night so the dew or fog doesn't make it damp for the next day.  I had Pandora dangling in my hand ready to place her on top of the cage when Loki started doing "the ferret thing".  Some of you might remember my description of "the ferret thing" in the past.  It involves dancing backwards with your mouth open and twisting your body from side to side while you are doing it.  It's much more fun if you have another ferret to do the ferret thing with you, but Loki took the pragmatic view and did "the ferret thing" solo and kept doing "the ferret thing" right off the side of the cage!  He hit the ground with a thud and sat there dazed for a few seconds.  I bent down as quickly as my poor back would allow only to be beaten to the ferret by an over excited St Bernard.  Cleo had been observing "the ferret thing" with great interest and thought she'd like to join in the game despite her lack of ferretness.  Now that Loki was on the ground where she could get at him a game was definitely on the cards.

I made a grab for Cleo's collar while Loki, ignoring Cleo in preference to exploring sites unknown, headed down the yard.  I had Cleo's collar in one hand and Pandora still dangling in the other hand trying to work out how I was going to retrieve Loki while still holding a ferret in one and and Cleo in the other when Cleo bounded off after the retreating ferret, taking me and the attached Pandora with her.  We were dragged along the ground for a few steps while I was yelling at the top of my voice for Graeme (who was still inside thinking of nothing but computers and his dinner) to come to the rescue.   Cleo realised something wasn't quite as it should be.  Usually when she bounded off she made much better progress.  She turned her head and actually looked surprised to find me attached and lying on the ground behind her.  Things weren't all bad though, I had the other ferret clutched tightly in my other hand.  Cleo now tried to turn herself into a doughnut shape to gain licking access to Pandora while Loki continued his exploration of the yard, paying no attention to the drama unrolling behind him. Not being able to reach the ferret I held as far from her as possible Cleo made do with licking my face instead.  A dog has to make do after all.

Meanwhile Graeme was coming down the back steps.  He blithely walked past the questing Loki with little more than a glance at the retreating white form, and headed for me.  I knew there was no point in shouting, "Catch that ferret!" even though the words hovered on my lips (between groans of pain and frustration).  Graeme is anti-ferret and will not have anything to do with them.   I've told my children if I get run over by a bus the first thing they have to do is mount a mercy dash to the farm and give the ferrets political asylum at one of their houses.  Graeme watched Loki meander past him without so much as raising an eyebrow.  He muttered things about animals, and wives who loved them, as he bent down to take Cleo's collar so I could get up and hobble off after the disappearing ferret.   I still had Pandora dangling from my hand as she had been when all this stared.  I rearranged her more comfortably, told her to behave (huh!) and limped off in search of the recalcitrant Loki. 

Thankfully both ferrets are albinos so Loki wasn't difficult to see in the fading light.   Loki increased his speed from an interested meander to just faster than his pursuing owner and headed around to the side of the house where the aviary is located.  The galahs, who enjoy a daily chat with Cleo without a thought, decided that this small white creature was a predator worth panicking about and set up a very satisfactory screeching and wing flapping - making Loki feel that he truly was top of the food chain a (fact every ferret knows from birth).  He had been heading in a different direction until now, but this pink and grey blur of noise and feathers was well worth a ferret's time to investigate further.  He did a circuit of the cage and wonders of wonders found a plastic above ground tunnel around the other side of the cage!  This is a Cleo deterrent I set up to discourage her from sitting on my garden plants around the aviary while she talks to the galahs. In a ferret's mind tunnels top nearly everything else in the world, screeching galahs included.  Ferrets can't resist tunnels so of course Loki had to run in one end and out the other.  Knowing ferrets as well as I do I just waited at the other end and nabbed him as he came out.  Words were exchanged about badly behaved ferrets while Loki just yawned in my face and said he was ready for bed now thank you.

With both ferret in tow I returned to the house, noticing the laundry door was closed with a sad Cleo on the other side, and put the ferrets in their inside cage.  Graeme was back at his computer trying to pretend he didn't live with a woman who owned such animals.  I realised the dratted ferret bedding was still outside so went out to retrieve that too.  I came inside once again and told Graeme he would have to get dinner.  My back was just a ball of agony by now so I spent the rest of the night in my chair working on my cross stitching and thinking dark thoughts about ferrets and goppy St Bernards while poor Graeme once again had to get us our dinner.

Cleo spent the night on the back porch wondering what all the fuss had been about.  She just wanted to play with a ferret when it presented itself to her.

Pandora and Loki spent the night swapping exciting stories of being dragged along by a St Bernard while Mum screamed her head off and things you can see in the yard from ground level, noisy pink and grey birds and a wonderful tunnel hidden around the other side of the house.  I think Loki's stories top Pandora's by a mile and live in dread that she'll try to find her own adventures one day.

Cleo investigating interesting smells - on our walk a few days ago.