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Just dance!

A busybusybusy weekend. Although actually it was only busybusy, as math class was canceled due to ice on the roads. Sid didn’t get the day entirely off, though, as once it had melted off we headed down to Blackthorn Kennel to hang out with Christine for a couple hours and drop off the other three dogs and Roo, then we headed on to Harrisonburg to see my friend Wheelchair Dancer perform with other members of AXIS dance company.

The show was absolutely amazing, two hours of emotion, athleticism, and grace. The humans thoroughly enjoyed it, Sid slept through most of it. This was actually slightly a problem as the burst of applause at the end of the first piece startled him and he launched himself into my lap. Well, his upper half into my lap, which is as much as will fit. There was a Q&A after the show, and then a reception where we managed to hook up with Wheelchair Dancer and get a bit of a chat in between members of her adoring public arriving to talk to her, and people showing up to talk to me about Siddy.

Back at Blackthorn we got some fitful sleep while Roo did laps of the room, periodically trampling us and yelling. He’s lucky he’s cute. Then Sunday it was up and Christine joined us for the trip back to Harrisonburg and brunch with Wheelchair Dancer. Afterward, she and I played in the parking lot of her hotel! Sid worked for us both simultaneously, keeping me upright and providing propulsion for her, moving with a careful sensibility of having two people to watch over. He was beautiful, turning his head to check in with me, then to the other side to check in with her, adjusting speed, and eventually learning to watch for wheelchair clearance on his left side automatically, rather than needing cues from me. Wheelchair Dancer also let me use her Smart Chair electric wheelchair so Siddy and I could take a solo spin, and it was pretty amazing. Also, Siddy thinks pulling a wheelchair is fun! I see wheels in our future… He also consented to work for Wheelchair Dancer, the first time he’s ever worked for anyone other than me.

After not enough time, we headed back up here and fell over. I’m still tired enough to wish I didn’t have to go to work but what the heck. The chickens and cats all survived our absence, and now it’s back to the grind, at least until AXIS comes back this way in May!

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I do not appear to have been raptured.

Spent the time waiting for the Rapture last night with Christine of Blackthorn Kennel, Wanda, and Christine’s Mom. We had a good ol time and consumed nommy Mexican food although I did have to wrestle my cane out of Wanda’s hands — I was carrying the one made of a sassafras stick with an antique doorknob for a handle and she had cane envy. Well, “lust” is maybe a better word given the way she was fondling it. It was sort of…intense. Ahem. I told her the cane was working and not to distract it, but she did not listen and I felt too guilty about trying to distract her service dog in retaliation. Although out of harness Wanda’s dog Blitz is a big sweetie who tried to climb into my lap and stick her tongue up my nose.

Anyway, I picked up a pair of mottled Old English Game bantams that Christine had procured for me on Friday, petted the 4-day-old chicks that arrived from the hatchery Thursday (13 or so of ’em are mine) and collected 11 eggs from Christine, which are now sitting in my incubator, incubating. Christine has promised to take all the baby chickens away at the end. I just wanted to play with my new toy.

I hope you’re doing well, gentle readers, and that your Saturday was similarly marked with a lack of catastrophic earthquakes &c, and that if you were Raptured it was all you hoped it would be. Come to think of it, if you were Raptured, you probably aren’t reading this. Those of you who are also sticking around for the Tribulations should come on by, we’ve got plenty of eggs and the garden’s looking real nice so there will be plenty to eat.

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My quest may have ended…

So I am always on the quest for The Perfect Leash. In my mind, it is thick enough to be substantial but not so thick as to be difficult to handle; durable; long, but not too long, and easily shortened for those times when long is not good; also convenient and easy to use. I stand in the leash aisles at pet stores, hefting them, bending them, wrapping them around my hands, running them through my fingers, searching out just that perfect leash. Thus far I had found perfectly serviceable leashes, but not yet The Perfect Leash.

My quest may have come to an end. A couple weeks ago I found Bold Lead Designs on Etsy and got in touch about a limited-slip collar, and wound up talking about leashes, and ended up ordering a custom leash, one of their 8×8 multi-function leads with an integrated limited-slip collar on it.

I am in lurve, seriously. The collar is adjustable, so it works for all the dogs. The leather feels good in my hands, the work and materials are superb. Beowulf used it yesterday and today when we went down to Blackthorn Kennel to ring in the new year, and the leash does just beautifully.

I swear, incidentally, that I am not getting paid by Bold Lead Designs, I am just DEEPLY in love with that leash. I plan to save up for another couple of them, although Tink’s won’t have the limited slip collar on it since she wears a Halti.

In other news, New Year’s Eve at Blackthorn was great fun. There was a big pile of dogs, our three plus two more from other visiting friends, and of course the Blackthorn crew. I was snuggled by approximately a million dogs, managed to stay up to see in the New Year, and ate yummy things and we had champagne and then our goobers let us sleep in until 0700! Which is pretty dang amazing, all things considered. Kate will be here soon, on her way home from her own holiday break, so it will be two days straight of visiting human friends. This might possibly be a record for me if we don’t count the wedding.

Here’s hoping your new year has started off well, gentle readers, and that it continues to bring you all manner of good thing.

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New residents, and an honored guest.

Another trip down to Blackthorn Kennel yesterday for Christine’s excellent company and our final two chickens! Very exciting. We also on the spur of the moment agreed to bring Musket home with us for a week. Musket is Zille’s younger half-brother, a fine hairy sable beastie who was in need of a vacation at the Manor to give his ginormous brain something to do. In fact, Daniel summed up the worky dog thing pretty well when he said “You know that light Zille gets in her eyes when she sees a ball? He has that all the time.” We’ve had one incident of minor bloodshed when Musket thought he might play a chasey game with Braxton Bragg, who beat him upside the head repeatedly. Everyone survived unscathed, the blood shed belongs to the dog who pretended not to notice but now runs the other way when he sees Brax.

The chickens are about six weeks old, so not laying age for another 3 months or so. One is a Welsummer, a Dutch breed, and she has been christened Bebelina. Welsummers lay fat dark-brown eggs. The other is an Ameraucana, a hybrid of some breed crossed with the Araucana, which is a rumpless chicken that lays greeny-blue eggs and is indigenous to Chile. She has been dubbed Ayinnanku, which is a Mapuche name meaning “favorite eagle.” The Mapuche are the indigenous people of Chile who were conquered and displaced by the Spanish, who called them the Araucana, from whence the breed of chicken gets its name. Look at that, history and poultry all in one tidy bundle! But yes, I did name my chicken “favorite eagle.” I am, after all, the same woman who named her Doberman “Tinkerbelle.”

Pictures of all this excitement will no doubt follow when it’s light outside, but for now you will have to imagine the fine hairy sable dog and the charming chickens. Bebelina is brown with yellowy neck feathers, Ayinnanku is mostly black with coppery neck feathers and spiffy ear tufts. Fingers crossed that Lorena and Matilda are gracious about sharing their digs. There still might be bantams in spring, but this is it for full-size hens.

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My god, I ran out of cat pictures!

But I am still alive, and Daniel is finally here after months and months and months of waiting and dealing with immigration! Huzzah! Yesterday we went down to Blackthorn Kennel to visit Christine and the last remaining puppies of the N and O litters. There, I exercised my mad puppy wrangling skills (hire me today to wrangle YOUR puppies!) and added the use of a flirt pole to my Wrangling Repertoire. The pictorial results of this extravaganza start at this picture right here.

In other news, someone needs to buy Nemo because seriously, that little dude is snuggly AND worky and generally just fantastic. You know you want a snuggly worky dog, gentle reader!

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More lazy blogging. Have some puppies!

These pics are a week old and were taken by my friend Christine of Blackthorn Kennel when she brought the O litter and two of the N litter (Nemo and Nora) over for temperament testing, socialization, and snorgling.

In Which I Am Mobbed By Puppies:
A skinny woman wearing blue jeans, an off-white t-shirt (it is my Chickamauga shirt if you must know) and a blue headscarf crouches to get mobbed by German Shepherd puppies. Two try to crawl into her lap, a third crouches under her knees, and others are coming at a run!

Little orange collar dude there has a wet butt because he sat down in the wading pool to cool off, bless him.

In Which Zille Instructs The Next Generation Of Pointy-Eared Fetchy Dogs:
Zille, a sable German Shedder, stands in front of a group of puppies, some sable, some black, and one larger bicolor who came along to visit. Zille is looking slightly dubious, the puppies stare up at her adoringly.

Poor Zille, she saw puppies and got all excited and then they mobbed her and a few bold souls tried to nurse and she decided after a few attempts to convince them to chase her that puppies are not actually as fun as she thought they would be. The puppies, on the other hand, never ceased thinking of her as a wonderful fascinating adult dogbeast to follow around.

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A plethora of puppies

So yesterday I went down to Blackthorn Kennel to visit my friend C and do my weekend job as Hand Model and Puppy Wrangler. I am getting quite experienced at this, seriously, so if you’re looking for a Hand Model and Puppy Wrangler, do let me know so I can expand my portfolio. This weekend, we wrangled the O litter a bit, a charming group of babies with East German bloodlines. Adorable? You have not seen adorable until you have eight four-week-old German Shedders trying to eat your shoes. While they’re on your feet.

Here I am wrangling a puppy, who as you can see is calm and cooperative.
And here you see my superior ability to get a puppy face pointed at the camera!

Zillekins went along and had a grand ol’ time playing with her buddies and I even convinced her to go swimming some, which is nice because it gets her clean without me having to pay someone to scrub her down. Although she could probably use a bath before the wedding. And C and I had a grand ol’ time, talking and going out for Mexican food in addition to eyeballing chickens (I have deep, deep chicken envy) and floating around in the pool trying not to get drowned by dogs. The Best Mother Ever came along for a little bit and got to visit with puppies, but then headed home from there. Never fear, she’ll be back next weekend as wedding planning kicks into gear!

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The best puppies belong to other people

Yesterday I went down to Blackthorn Kennel to visit my friend C and socialize with other visitors, and also meet the N Litter. At a whopping three days old, they were the most adorable puppyloafs you have ever seen. Tickling them on the sides, chest, or behind the ear will get you a vague reflexive thumping of one back leg, offering them a finger gets a much less vague reflexive suck. They grunt, wail, and cheep at this age, and have adorable little vaguely feline faces with wrinkly muzzles, plus soft baby fur. They’re also just beginning to be mobile, paddling around their whelping box to find the perfect spot, although occasionally flummoxed by the obstacle of Mom’s leg, and her tail invariably produced a confused halt. At this age, they are probably the best-behaved they will ever be and boy, you should see their rock-solid down-stays (although they don’t maintain a head-up sphynx posture, preferring to do their down-stays on their sides, so I guess it doubles as “play dead”).

I also got to snuggle with Macha, and offer Xita some chicken jerky (I never go to Blackthorn without bribes) which is how I discovered that even though she is looking pregnant, Xita knows how to sit up and beg, which was totally adorable. She’s a level-headed love of a dog, really.

After puppy-snuggling and dog-bribing we all headed out for a movie and then followed it up with some excellent Thai food. I crawled home at 2100 and got a stern lecture from the Usual Suspects, discovered Jeremiah Swakhammer had buried himself in protest at his new surroundings, and then got yelled at by Noodlehead on top of it all. This morning Emmaline came up and explained to me that she hadn’t gotten dinner last night because I wasn’t here, and would need extra wet food. Clearly I am expected to never leave the house.

P.S. C did take puppy pics. I will post a link when she has them up!

ETA: Get your dose of puppy right here, y’all.