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Summer time and the livin’s easy

Well, for dogs anyway. Yesterday I grabbed the girldogs and went down to visit C at Blackthorn Kennel again, to help set up new digs for her chickens and coincidentally attempt to tire out my Shedder by treating her to a family reunion. I wasn’t going to take Tink originally because she occasionally finds outings like this stressful, but as she watched me leash up Zille her head and ears and tail drooped, and drooped, and drooped, yet there was a hopeful little light in her eyes and the barest pleading wag to her tail. There are many things I can withstand, but not Tink using her best and most heart-wrenching tactics to ask “But don’t I get to go, too?” Beowulf briefly considered asking to come along, but I offered him a frozen turkey neck and a frozen chunk of rabbit, and he was all “Screw you guys, I has food that is also a chewie toy!” and didn’t even walk us to the door. He is sometimes problematic with other dogs, whereas Zille is the most submissive dog EVER and Tink just declines to get into anything that even looks like a conflict.

So Tink went. She got to stay in the house while C and I rearranged fence panels and installed chicken wire and other barriers and Zille played crazed Shedder games with the dogs she grew up with. I got to visit with the N litter again, and got barked at by the little red-collar dude, who is clearly going to be a vocal Puppy With Attitude. Their eyes are just starting to slit open, and their legs are supporting them for brief moments in time, but they can definitely creep more swiftly than you’d think.

Musket (brother to Macha, who has been mentioned here before) was Helpful!Puppy–he wanted to carry the wrench, he wanted to help hold up the piece of plywood, he wanted to know what you were doing so he could be involved, too. He is a hilarious, charming, and VERY ACTIVE puppy, who is in fact a perfect puppy as far as I am concerned: charming, winsome, and belonging to someone else. He will make someone one hell of a working dog some day, if you’re in the market for a thinky drivey sable boy then let me commend him to your attention. Definitely not a couch potato housepet dog, and you’d best be prepared to give him lots of constructive ways to channel his energy, but a real charmer and definitely wants to be involved in whatever you’re doing.

Nike was helpful, too. Well, sort of. Nike is QUEEN of sad pleading looks of “I am old dog. All I want in the world is for you to throw this ball in such a way that I may dramatically go and fetch it, without having to worry about these nasty young dogs taking it from me.” and also “I am old dog, and won’t you please gently stroke my head?” This meant the chicken coop construction was not without brief interruptions to gently toss Nike’s ball and gently stroke Nike’s head because, seriously. She’s had twelve years to practice puppy-dog eyes and she is GOOD at it.

You can see Nike and Musket both in the Illustrated Version of Will It Float?. Nike is the star, whereas Musket comes in at the third picture down, he’s the good lookin little sable boy nearest the camera.

The chickens had previously been living in a concrete dog run, and when they were finally installed in their new digs, which feature a tree for shade and a deep composty floor and bugs it took them maybe ten seconds to be all “OH HEY WE CAN BE REAL CHICKENS HERE” and start pecking and scratching and digging through the dirt and just, y’know, charmingly being chickens. I really want chickens. Ahem.

After chickens it was time to get in the pool, and we brought Tink out on a long line that let her come socialize with us and also wander off to the shade if she wanted. Zille got in the pool once, not very voluntarily. Tink went so far as to stand on the top step and get her front paws wet, she thought about stepping down to the second step but couldn’t find it (it’s hard for even seeing dogs to find that second step, let alone my little mostly-blind girl) and declined to go deeper but she did have herself a good time hanging out in the shade and occasionally coming over to check on us in the pool. She even got to be off-leash on the way back to the house and for once did not pull her “WHEEEEE NO LEASHES NO FENCES I AM FREEEEE” business but instead upon figuring out she was leashless trotted ahead of us back to the house and then stared back impatiently. “Why are you people being so slow?? Don’t you know the air conditioning is INSIDE??”

Zille spent most of pool time looking for a ball she could have, and a lot of pool time hanging out with Tink in the shade. Zille takes her duties as Seeing Eye Shedder very seriously. This left us with Flint the Loch Blackthorn Monster in the pool, with occasional huge cannonball dives by Nike, who WANTS THE BALL, while C and I just enjoyed the coolish water after our satisfying chicken-related labors.

After swimming, dogs got locked up in the house so we could go to dinner, and then finally I loaded tired girldogs back in the car and we rolled down the road back to the Manor of Mixed Blessings. The girls were so tired that they passed out in the car, got up long enough to come in the house, and then they kicked Beowulf off the futon and stretched out, butt to butt, and snored. At one point Beowulf approached to see if maybe there was room for a boydog there, and they warned him off in synch without ever actually opening their eyes. They did consent to get up for dinner but then it was right back to bed. I followed them after a shower, and then, MIRACLE OF MIRACLES, I got to sleep straight through until 0615. Even Roo did not wake me. What good critters I have.

There are no pictures, C and I were too busy cooling down in the pool. Ah, well. It was still a fantastic day, and the girls are STILL sleeping it off this morning.

In non-dog-related news, my fiance Daniel’s visa paperwork has made it to the London Embassy, which sent him another big pile of paperwork to fill out. We’re currently assembling the required supporting documents so he can send the stuff back and it’s not inconceivable he will have his visa sometime in August! Very exciting, because it means we will probably be able to get married early this fall! At which point, not only will I be able to treat you to the finest in the hilarity of living with a pack of quadrupeds who outnumber me seven to one, but also the finest in the hilarity of a nice British man moving to backwoods Virginia. Woot!

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A pile of puppies!

My friend C (Zille’s breeder!) came over yesterday, bringing with her a PILE OF PUPPIES. I am not kidding, check it:
A pile of 8 week old German Shedder puppies rests on a laminate floor.  Their right ears are green from recent tattooing.  There are four sables and two bicolors (black and tan), and this is seriously dangerous levels of cute, people.

That is the only puppy picture I am posting, as I do not wish to steal her puppy picture thunder. It is possible that she got pics with Tink in the same frame as puppies, but Tink was not about to hang out with puppies and play the auntie. She was relatively calm about puppies in the yard, although she did work herself up to frothing at the mouth, but she found puppies in the house unspeakably disturbing and was confined to the bedroom after she cornered one under my desk to bark at it. Beowulf was much the same, although rather than stare at puppies and froth at the mouth he nobly pretended that puppies did not exist, with random expressions of horror when they came galumphing toward him.

He did, however, flirt with Nike (who is 12ish and adorable), who came with, and Nike flirted back and was all “yeah, I still got it, the boydogs half my age want me!”

Anyway, puppy ears are green because part of the reason they came to visit (aside from the random socialization of visiting a strange place and new adult dogs who look radically different from the other adult dogs they have met) was to get their ears tattooed. So now the little boogers have things like “BORN TO FETCH” in their right ears for ID purposes[1]. And at this age they were over it within 3 seconds of getting it done. In fact, they all learned quite quickly that the puppy scream when the stamp was done meant that cookies would be forthcoming, so the mercenary little buggers were just WAITING for their siblings to cry out in pain. They’re so adorable.

The Feline Horde was mostly absent. Braxton took one look at puppies and disappeared himself. Aida made one foray towards the living room, saw them, and disappeared. Roo on the other hand hovered around the edges whining about being hungry and giving puppies really, really dirty looks. The black and tan girl with eyebrows was brave and confident and followed him around and even barked at him…as long as he wasn’t looking at her. The minute he gave her the Evil Eye, she would back off to a safe distance or the comfort of the puppy pile. It was six different kinds of hilarious.