Thursday, May 30, 2013

Welcoming Witchfire Rudolph Valentino

Brace yourself: this is a long one.
This is a very long over due post. It's been two weeks today that Mr. K and I boarded a train to go and pick up our newest little furry family member. We both had troubles sleeping that night because we were both so excited. I didn't fall asleep until 2 in the morning and Mr. K woke up at 4:30 and couldn't get back to sleep. I was up not much after that in order to make sure all of the dogs were walked, watered and relieved before our departure. So, needless to say, we were both fighting yawns. However, the excitement of meeting our new little guy, his kitty parents and the breeder was enough stimulant to get us both through the day.
The trip down was pretty uneventful. We grabbed some breakfast at the train station since we arrived quite early to ensure we didn't miss our train. Coffee was worked into the equation as well and we hopped on the train. I pretty much finished my coffee and then collapsed over the cat carrier we had brought with us and fell asleep for the duration of the trip. Mr. K kept himself entertained with watching TV shows on his tablet and before we knew it, we had arrived.
The breeder's husband was kind enough to pick us up from the station and we had a great chat with him back to their house. I really enjoyed learning about how they powered their house with just a wind turbine and solar units.
Upon arriving we were welcomed in and he made us some sandwiches which made me super happy. If you know me, you will know that I will never turn down food. It seems like I am always hungry. We sat and ate our sandwiches, chatting some more with the breeder, just learning about the cats, various governing bodies and cat showing in general. Once lunch was finished and we had talked the breeder's ear off, she showed us upstairs to the kitten room where Mr. K and I got to meet the whole litter. We both sat down and waited for the kittens to come out and introduce themselves to us, all the while still chatting away with the breeder. She left us briefly to draw up all of the paperwork and we spent some time playing with three very fluffy, playful kittens. It was great to see how social and active they were. All three boys bounded around the room, getting into everything they shouldn't. One boy really enjoyed chasing the shiny reflections my engagement ring made. There was one boy, smaller than the other two, who we both were in love with named Romeo. If we had been picking out pet kittens instead of a potential breeding stud, I think we would have chosen him. That said, as you will learn if you keep reading, our guy is fantastic and we already are smitten with him. After kitten play time, we headed out to the cattery and met all of the adult cats. We got to see the mother and father of our boy and our "queen" who we will get to bring home in the fall. (She is pregnant right now and so will come to us once her job with her babies is done). It was really interesting learning about the various colours that the Siberian cat can come in and the "desirable" traits one would look for in a breeding and/or show cat. I really like the idea of breeding specific colours, but at the end of the day, my number one goal (and our breeder's too) is to produce happy, healthy and friendly pet kittens. The breeder's husband is building a "cat garden" and it is the most amazing thing ever. It essentially will allow cats to be outside, but in a safe environment. I'd love to see it once it's finished.
It was amazing just how fast the time flew. Mr. K and I didn't even notice the day slipping away until we went out to see the cats and realised that it was a lot cooler than earlier that day. We went back in to fill out paperwork and sign breeding contracts. We talked a bit more about feeding, litter, showing and whatever else popped into our heads. The breeder's husband went up to the kitten room and came back down with our kitten in his carrier. He didn't make a peep. In fact, he didn't seem bothered at all. Once we were sure he was settled, and that we weren't taking a second cat home (Romeo almost made his way into the carrier), we loaded up the car and headed back to the train station, only to discover that we had missed the last train back by fifteen minutes. Of course I flew into panic mode because the dogs were alone. Carmen had been over to feed and relieve them, but being the protective dog Mama that I am, I didn't want them alone for the night. While Mr. K figured out how we'd get back, I got a hold of Carmen who agreed to go over again and let the dogs out before bed and again in the morning before she went to work. This arrangement made me feel slightly better, but I was still freaking about them being alone over night. Once new tickets had been purchased for the next day, we found a hotel for the night. It was quite a pleasant place and by the time we'd settled the cat carrier into the room and were down in the restaurant getting dinner, I'd calmed down a bit. I could fret if I wanted, but worrying would not fix the situation. I might as well make the best of the situation. So, I ordered a glass of wine and ate a delicious dinner of salmon and new potatoes and spent the evening chatting with Mr. K and a few business men who basically live at the hotel during the week because they have to travel for work. We didn't stay too long though since the kitten was upstairs in his carrier.
Back in the room, we opened his door and let him roam free. We made sure the room was kitten proofed and shut the bathroom door so he couldn't go exploring too far. Thankfully, we had food for him and the carrier had dishes built in so he was able to have food and water, but we didn't have a litter box. I was really worried he'd poop somewhere, but again, what were we supposed to do about it? If he went, we'd just clean it up. We both fell into bed utterly exhausted.
The next morning we didn't find any poop, but kitten had peed on my shirt. Thankfully, I had been wearing layers and so I still had a tank top that was not peed on. I guess it serves me right for leaving my clothes on the floor, but at least he didn't go on the hotel carpet. I held my breath as I checked out the rest of my clothes, worried he had used my jeans as well, but all was safe. We had a quick breakfast down in the restaurant and then headed off to catch the train again. All went smoothly and aside from some minor meowing at the beginning of the train ride, the kitten traveled very well. He was exposed to a lot of noises that day. When we were finding a taxi to take home from the station, bagpipes were playing and the castle's 1'o'clock cannon went off as well. He didn't even flinch. That afternoon he was checked over by our vet and just purred the whole time while eyes, ears and teeth were examined. We introduced him slowly to the dogs, who by the way were so excited to see us.
In the two weeks that have followed, Witchfyre Rudolph Valentino, fondly known as Rufio (named after one of the Lost Boys from the movie Hook), has made himself right at home. He battles with Otis, who sometimes needs reminding to be gentle just because he is so much bigger than Rufio. He snuggles with Hermione and Roscoe. Strangely, he and Nala are indifferent to each other, but that is okay. I think he's busy enough with Otis and Hermione. He does cuddle with Nala from time to time, but he usually chooses Roscoe or Hermione. He likes to lie on the couch and watch TV with Mr. K and I and will meow persistently in the morning for me to let him out of his room so he can be with all of us. He's one of the most social cats I have ever met. Everything I've read says that Siberians are like dogs and they weren't kidding. He follows you around and is not skittish at all. Anyone can pick him up and I've managed to trim his claws twice. He loves being brushed and will not tolerate you being in a different room from him. Of course he has kitten qualities as well, such as dumping my entire coffee mug on to the floor, but you adjust-I use a travel mug now. He attacks shoe laces and sometimes accidentally sticks his claws into you when using you as a launch pad, but he's a baby and that is what claw trimming is for. The best part is watching Mr. K with him-the man is head over heels for the little guy. It's great. I think he'll definitely enjoy this showing thing as much as or perhaps even more than me.
Now that I've written a novel-that's what happens when I leave this blog alone for too long I suppose-I will sign off for now.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

HappyBirthday Lady Yellow

Nala turns two today. It's amazing to think that a dog who wasn't even two years old can embrace her job with the grace, composure, precision and enthusiasm that she does. Of course she has her moments where I'm reminded that she's really still a young dog, but it can be easy to forget.
Yesterday was one of those days where it was easy to forget. I met Carmen at a nearby bus stop and then we spent the afternoon at a shopping centre. Nala's guiding was amazing and her behavior in all of the stores was more than perfect. I was mostly impressed by her in the Pets At Home which is basically like a Pet Smart. I have never taken her into a pet store and she did not disappoint. She was certainly excited, but she was easy to re-focus. We stopped in for a few birthday treats which were dispensed this morning. Carmen was patient enough with me while I browsed and found exactly what I was looking for. We left the store with two small toys for our new kitten (who I will update about soon), three elk antler chews (we had a brand new one at home to complete the four we would need), a squeaky cupcake and a new collar for Otis (he has outgrown his other one).
After I sang her a silly version of "happy birthday," Nala trotted proudly off with her squeaky cupcake. However, it was quickly forgotten because I promptly busted out the antlers. All four dogs sat quivering with excitement as I passed the chews out. They have all been chewing away contentedly for the majority of the morning. It came as a relief to discover that none of the four beasties could destroy an antler chew in twelve minutes the way Glacier used to. I am happy to report that an hour and a half later, all chews are still intact. In case Nala had jaws of steel like Mr. G, I selected short, fat antlers instead of the longer, slender ones. I figured the thicker the better. Not to mention, a lot of the longer skinnier ones had strange prongs sticking off of them and I was concerned that the prongs could snap off easily or stab the dogs in the mouth.
Today may be a low key birthday day for Nala, but I've invited Toby, a giant of a Chocolate Lab, for a birthday play date on the weekend. We'll head over to the park that is close by and I'll dispense plenty of home made treats for both my crew and Toby as well; ensuring he has a baggie of his own to take home.
So, even though today may only have squeaky cupcakes, antler chews and some working, happy 2nd birthday Nala.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sir Siberian

Just one more sleep! This time tomorrow Mr. K and I will be on the train to pick up Sir Siberian Kitten. We are both so excited that I'm not sure we'll be able to sleep tonight. Mr. K is going to spend some time today fixing up our second bedroom as a kind of kitty safe haven in preparation for Sir Siberian's arrival. He turned three months old yesterday and so will probably be quite small still, therefore, it's beneficial for him to have a safe place to stay for the first couple of days. Giving the kitten a space of his own allows him to get to know your household from afar and gives him the opportunity to come out and explore when he's ready. Most kitty websites call it the "bonding room" and it reminds me of when we used to lock ourselves for hours on end in the tent with the sugar gliders. Thankfully, the bonding room is an entire room and we won't have to squish two fully grown adults into a pop-up tent in the middle of the living room again. The breeder said he's quite bold and would do well with our dogs. This makes me think that he won't be in the bonding room for long. However, we obviously will let him come out when he's decided he wants to explore.
I am actually glad that we're getting him from the breeder that we have chosen for several reasons; one of them being that she has four dogs herself. She obviously has her cats as well as she breeds both Siberians and British Short Hair cats. Witchfyre Rudolph Valentino will have had a good solid socialisation foundation by the time he comes home tomorrow evening.
Of course I'm excited because we're bringing home a fuzzy creature-you know me and fuzzy critters, the more the merrier-but I'm also excited because this could be the first step in a very interesting adventure. I'm looking forward to socialising him and prepping him for his first show. I've already started looking at a few governing sites that have the breed standard and photos of the Best in Breed cats and kittens. Maybe hoping for a Best in Breed (or BIB as it's known) is jumping the gun a bit, but you can't help and wonder what sort of potential is there. Bringing our new little guy home means that we're really doing this showing/breeding thing and it's all very exciting, and a little overwhelming/frightening as well.
I think we have everything we need to welcome him home: litter box/scoop/litter, toys, bed, kitten brush,  climbing tower/post (Mr. K calls it the "kitty fortress" because it's massive), carrier, leash harness (for clipping him into his sling carrier for socialisation purposes) and of course a lot of love. We don't have his food yet as the breeder provides that and some of the litter he's used to in his kitten pack. I am not sure about bowls, but if necessary we can run out to pick some up.
I am also a bit nervous about the trip because I have to leave Nala at home. She's more than welcome at the breeder's house, but they are picking us up at the train station and their car is too small for all of us to fit. Carmen was supposed to look after the dogs tomorrow, but she got called into work. She still may get home before us, so I am going to give her our keys so she can come and let everyone out and feed them dinner. I've left Nala for a few hours here and there, but never for half of a day. I think she'll be fine, but I guess I'm more attached to her already than I thought.
So, other than running out later to pick up a blanket for the bottom of Rudolph's carrier, we're just going to be counting down the minutes until we get on the train tomorrow...and then probably count down the minutes some more on the train until we arrive at the breeder's home.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Day Out

We've had a fun filled weekend, complete with several doggie walks and play dates in the park. Today, Mr. K and I took part of the day for ourselves, and each other really, and it was really nice.
We started with a quick bite to eat at the cafe and then headed over to a local shopping centre, or mall as we North Americans call it. Mr. K was due an update with his mobile, or cell phone for those of us from across the pond, and so I stopped off in a coffee shop to wait for him while he went off to the phone store. I knew it would probably be a long and tedious process and thought my time would be better spent consuming coffee and sitting down at a table as opposed to listening to two men go on and on about their love for anything electronic. Thankfully I opted for the coffee as Mr. K's switch over took two hours. I had run out of coffee within the first 45 minutes, but really didn't want to drink more. I had had a cup at the cafe and two cups of coffee is pushing it for me. Not to mention, I had to pee and adding more coffee to that equation was a bad idea.
Even though Nala and I work well together, if I don't know where something is that I need then she can't get me there. Plus, I was worried that if I got up and went off in search of the bathrooms, Mr. K would return and panic because he wouldn't have known where I had gone. So, I sat for two hours listening to the conversations around me and all of the noises of a busy mall on a mid-Monday morning. Have you ever done that? There are some crazy sounds that made me stop and go "what are they doing and why?" Several times I heard someone behind the counter in the coffee shop scooping large amounts of ice out of something and dumping it into something else. I think this is why I ask "why" all of the time. If you think about it, I only ever get half of the story. For example, I heard plenty of women walk by in high heeled shoes. However, I didn't get to know what kind of shoes, what colour, how high, if I liked them Etc. There are a lot of things like that, like the ice scooping, where I only get some information and have to figure out the rest for myself. Sometimes it's fun, but other times I'd just like to know what's going on. And, that is why, I have decided, I ask why all of the time.
When Mr. K did come back, we decided that we were both hungry and went off in search of lunch. We found ourselves two floors up and at the movie theatre. We found out what was playing and decided that an afternoon watching the second Star Trek movie and eating hot dogs was in order. I'm not much of a Star Trek fan, but I think the movies are fabulous. I enjoyed the second movie so much that I would be willing to go see it in theatres again. There was just enough explosions mixed in with dialogue and humour to keep it interesting.
After our very relaxing afternoon which Nala behaved beautifully through, we stopped in at Boots, a sort of Drug Martesk store, so I could buy a new brush. Then, it was home again, home again jiggedy jig as Hermione and Otis definitely needed out by that point.
Back on the farm, it was feeding time for all four fuzzy creatures and then Carmen and I took all four beasties for a nice romp in the park to make up for the puppies being crated all afternoon. All four dogs were quite happy to get out and stretch their legs. Nala didn't necessarily need to go as she went yesterday and worked all day today, but I couldn't leave her at home while everyone else got to go for a run.
Our spontaneous afternoon out was just what I needed. Losing myself in the world of Hollywood for a few hours and just relaxing with Mr. K was re-energising in many ways. It made coming home to feed four hungry beasts and walk four wild and crazy beasts enjoyable and something I was looking forward to. Not that I don't enjoy spending time with my dogs, but there are definitely days when I need more Mr. K time than furry creature. :)

Thursday, May 09, 2013

A Little Perspective

Most days things kind of run at hurricane speed around here. Poor Mr. K is always telling me to slow down or sit down. He says I'm going to give myself a heart attack. The man's got a point. Going through guide dog school for this third time, with a new school and obviously a new dog who needs different things from me in order to do her job, is also driving this lesson home.
Yesterday a friend of mine sent me a link to her blog. She kept a daily account of her experiences when in training for, what I think, is her fourth dog. She was attending a new school that she had done a lot of research into and she and her new set of eyeballs graduated last August. Despite my new guide dog coming into my life nearly seven months later, a lot of what she wrote about rang true with me and also gave me a new perspective on the whole working with a dog thing. She also was able to put a lot of things into words that I've never been able to. Her writing was actually quite candid and I give her props for that. When I attempted to keep track of my training days with Nala, I think most of my posts focused primarily on the technical side of things and kind of omitted much of the emotional turmoil that getting a new guide dog causes. I took a lot of things from reading her experiences, but the two things that really struck a chord with me were her thank you letter to her dog's puppy raiser and how she struggled to switch from one handling style to another.
The first thing I did when I was finished reading her blog was send my instructor a heart felt thank you email. I can't remember really telling him exactly how grateful I was to him and the work he did. He hasn't responded, so I may have made him feel awkward, but it was really important for me to tell him thank you.
Secondly, I really thought hard about how the handling of guide dogs has changed since I was first matched with Jetta in 2002. I realised that some of the issues Nala and I are having are because I haven't let go of these more assertive handling tendencies. I mentally swore to myself, and in writing now I guess, that I would work harder to really think about my handling style and really try to implement the changes that the trainer here had taught me. I had learned some of these new techniques when I went back for retraining with Glacier, but I didn't realise just how much I had held on to from my Jetta days that is probably standing in the way of Nala and I becoming a well oiled machine.
In some regards, I have to give us both a break in that we have only been a working team for two months. It's difficult to remember that sometimes and I get frustrated wen we make mistakes. Those little errors will work themselves out with time as long as I stick to the ways that the trainer taught me to work with Nala. I'm not saying that Nala and I are having any sort of big problems, because we're not, but I think I'm a bit over sensitive to a missed cue or a wrong turn because of the issues I had with Glacier. I'm so worried that Nala and I are going to turn into that mess that I don't give either of us enough credit.
What's also difficult is that Nala and I did not go through hardly any growing pains in class. I am used to that happening and have been basically holding my breath since we got home, waiting for the wheels to fall off. I didn't realise I was doing this and since recognising my thought process, thanks to my read last night, I've been trying to alter my thinking patterns.
Today when we walked to the gym, I made a conscious effort to stay plugged in, so to speak, and pay attention to what was going on. I also monitored my voice inflection and response to things that Nala did and realised that I had been using a louder speaking voice before and praising her way too excitedly. I had to be Glacier's cheerleader for four years which was something we talked about in class. The trainer had to keep reminding me to watch my voice and since he's not around anymore, I think my voice was slowly increasing in pitch. On the way to the gym, I kept my voice calm and praised appropriately. Of course I said "good job" in a happy voice, but it's sort of a quiet "I've got a secret that I'm only sharing with you" voice. It's so different from what I had been used to before. I also made a conscious decision to pay close attention to my body position when approaching curbs and to focus really hard on my foot positions.
With both of my previous dogs, when they stopped at the curb you did too. It's the same with Nala, but because of the style of the harness being different here, you have to move up beside her shoulder yourself, whereas, my previous harnesses kept you at the dog's shoulder. So, the extra maneuver by you wasn't necessary. I thought I had been doing this, but I don't think I was doing it soon enough for Nala. She really takes a cue from you moving up to her shoulder and all of her crossings were spot on. In fact, the trip to the gym was amazing. I would say it was flawless. I literally was fighting back tears as I headed into the building. Her speed was fantastic-she didn't need any encouragement from me. Her crossings were exactly right and she was very confident. It was so reassuring to do that route correctly and at her high walking speed as well. The trip back wasn't as magical, but it was still good.
Nala's never been a fan of return trips. I think she enjoys working so much that she just tries to do everything she can to keep going. Most return trips from the gym she tries to take me to a pub that we go to sometimes, Asda and the cafe by our flat. She also walks at a snail's pace and is very unfocused. Today though, I focused really hard on my voice on the way back, even though I was exhausted from running six kilometres, and tried to position myself correctly at curbs as well. I've gone, as they say, back to the basics. Most of our trip home was fine, but at one point, somehow we ended up diagonally crossing. Diagonal crosses always freak me out because it means you have put yourself into the intersection. I think this crossing may have been my mistake as I think I angled us the wrong way to cross the street. None of the crossings on the way to the gym are straight and so it's not surprising that we crossed wrong. I knew the mistake as soon as it happened and in hindsight, I should have directed her back to the side of the street we should have been on, but my brain panicked and I just kept walking to the wrong corner, thinking I was closer to that curb than the one on the other side. Once there, we picked up our line of travel again and reached a crossing where, on the way to the gym, I would have Nala find the pole so I could push the button. She went to find the pole, but I didn't want  to reward her for finding it this time since we approached it wrong. I didn't want her to think that crossing diagonally was a short cut and that she still got treated for finding the pole on the way home. So, I kind of steered her left without realising that the sidewalk opens up right there and we were on our way to Asda.
I knew where we were, but I didn't know how to get us out. There are a bunch of little criss crossing roads/driveways/parking lots and I wasn't sure how to direct her to get us home. Not to mention, there were three giant dogs barking at each other over by the entrance and she was definitely distracted by the commotion. Instead of flailing about and confusing us both more, and frustrating us both more, I had her sit so that I could collect my thoughts. I also hoped that someone would come by so I could ask them to direct us out. Fortunately, someone did come along and the funny thing is that they were actually two Canadians on holiday. It made me miss home so much just talking to them.. Anyway, long story short, my time out helped me calm down and push the ridiculous panic back down that was starting to take over and the nice Canadian couple helped me get back on track.
After we returned to our correct line of travel, everything was smooth sailing. She found the pole I needed to cross the street and turned nicely on to our street. Her pace was still a bit slow, but quicker than it has been on previous trips home. I kept reminding myself to use my calm quiet voice and it seemed to help. Now that I'm aware that one spot is an issue for us, I can be aware of it next time and make sure we don't go wandering down the wrong path.
Despite there being a glitch on the way back, I am still really glad we went to to the gym this afternoon. We had one magic walk and one good walk that taught us a few things. It gave me a chance to practice being calm and collected when I was stressed out and I think it helped mine and Nala's working relationship in the long run. I know the day will come when neither of us will have to think so much when just trying to get to the gym and those magic walks will be nearly every single one. However, sometimes if you don't have the mistake walks, or the learning ones as I like to call them, you never really get the full impact of the true beauty in the ones that go oh so perfectly. I'm still on a bit of a high from our trip to the gym.
So, basically, what I'm trying to say in a very long and round about way is that, I really do need to slow down a bit, exercise some patience and embrace the newness of this whole experience. Nala really needs a handler who has her head on straight and when I'm rushing about, usually panicking and thinking about everything else except for what I'm actually doing, then she doesn't get that, and really that's not fair to her. We will be a better working team int the long run if I cut us both a bit of slack now and then and really focus on working together.
Thanks to Nala, Mr. K and my friend for putting things a little more into perspective.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Dog Lover (Maybe) Turned Cat Fancier

We got the email. It's really happening now. On Thursday May 16th we will be taking the train to go and pick up our newest family member. I feel like I type that a lot: our family always seems to be growing. This time, however, it's not a dog. Nope. We're getting our Siberian kitten. His official name is Witchfyre Rudolph Valentino, but I think we may just call him Rudolph, or perhaps something a bit shorter. There are photos of him and the rest of his litter on the Witchfyre website which I would link to, but ever since Blogger changed its format I can't post photos or links when using a screen reader. He was born February 14, 2013 in a litter with two other boys. He had been under observation by the breeder for showing and/or breeding and she's decided to let us have him to start up our showing, and if he's good enough, breeding program. I am so excited and a bit nervous too. As Mango Mama aptly pointed out in her comment yesterday, having so many dogs is almost a full time job and now we're adding in a kitten. However, cats aren't quite as much work as dogs.
Well, let me re-phrase that: they are work, but it's a different kind.
Since he's going to be a show kitty, we are going to have to socialise him the same way you would a new puppy. Judges like sociable cats and so the more we introduce him to, the better. Mr. K bought a little sling carrier that goes across your body that we can carry him around in for socialisation purposes. His head can stick out and he will wear a harness which attaches to the inside of the carrier so that he can't escape. This style of carrier will leave our hands free to work with the dogs while carrying the cat around. I can just imagine the looks we're going to get. People must think I'm completely off my rocker. We'll have to take trains and such to shows so we'll have to get him used to public transportation as well. So, the train ride home will be his first introduction.
The breeder has already picked out a show for us to "get our feet wet" at in August. Thankfully it's not too far from our new house and we'll be able to take the train straight there. He's had all of his standard vaccinations, but there is one more he'll have to have around mid-July. This vaccine is not given at the same time as the other two because the triple dose can cause bad reactions in kittens. We just have to make sure that it's given at least 15 days before the show as per the show's criteria.
I'm a little stunned to be honest. We had planned on doing this eventually, but we didn't think it would happen so quickly. It's all a lot to take in, but thankfully the breeder is more than willing to help us with all of it. She's ben really great about answering the millions of questions I've fired her way. Just last night she answered about ten questions that I had sent via email.
If all goes as planned, we'll bring our first breeding "queen" (that is what a breeding female cat is called) home in October or so. The cat's breeding season ends around that time and doesn't start back up until January or February. It all depends on lighting and temperature. Some experienced breeders can apparently keep and/or bring their queens into heat by adjusting indoor temperatures and lighting, but I don't think we'll ever do that. If we decide breeding is for us, I think a few month break will be good. Anyway, my point was that since she'll be "out of season" until February or so, our first litter will be born in the spring of 2014. After that, if we decide this is something we want to continue doing, we'll consult with our mentor and figure out where to go from there with regards to getting another queen or two.
But for now, we'll enjoy having a little, fluffy baby in the family.
How will the dogs react?
Honestly, not sure.
Roscoe will be fine. That dog is bomb proof. He takes life in stride and is so unassuming. He's such a great dog.
Otis might not know what to make of the kitten at first, but eventually, I could see him wanting to be friends with Kitten. He's another laid back dog who takes life in stride. I have a funny feeling we may have to start a youtube channel dedicated to Otis the French Bulldog and Rudolph the Siberian kitten.
As for my girls...well, Hermione will probably be wary of him at first. I think she'll warm up to him though and probably tolerate him. I don't know that she'll ever play with him like Otis will, but they'll be able to live happily together.
Nala will also be fine, but I can see her being very curious. She doesn't have very good body awareness so we'll have to make sure she doesn't accidentally stomp on him. I think she'll be interested in him until she figures out what he is and then she'll be indifferent.
These are only guesses, so it'll be interesting to see if I was right or not. The first couple of days the kitten will be kept in his own room so that he can settle in without being disturbed by the dogs. Once he's ready to come out on his own, he will be allowed to roam about. I think he'll have to wear a bell so that he doesn't squeak past me out the door, the way Otis has done on at least one occasion.
So, now that we know when we're going to get him, all we have to do is book train tickets, set up the secondary bedroom as a "kitty Heaven" and wait until next Thursday.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Chugging Along

I haven't written in a while because, I guess, I kind of felt like nothing really has gone on. However, when I think about it, there's a lot going on and I probably should have written sooner. In a nut shell:
I have one essay left to finish the diploma part of my MSc. Then, the dissertation researching/writing begins. I'm very excited about this portion of the course. I've already had four people express interest in being interviewed which is good since I only need between ten and twelve.
Mr. K is in his last week of classes before he is off for the summer. After that he has just eight short months before his under Grad is complete and then he'll be off to London to complete a Master's degree in some kind of computer/robotics/Psychology degree. We'll be separated for those eight months which stinks, but you gotta do what you gotta do to advance your lives together. I tease him that he'll take over the world with his robotic army, but seriously, it sounds really interesting and is definitely right up his alley. I'm excited for him.
The dogs are all good, of course. Nala continues to amaze me with her working. We had a visit from the guide dog organisation to make sure we are okay and the instructor seemed happy with our progress. I think he might be a bit annoyed that she's not really sitting at curbs any longer, but there were a few things going on that day. Usually she sits at curbs and so I'm not entirely sure why she was picking and choosing which ones to sit at when the instructor was here. Also, she doesn't blow curbs and so I don't really reinforce the curb sitting. It makes me nervous when we are in the city centre and there are hundreds of people milling around; especially women with pointy high heels on. When she's sitting at the curb it is so easy for someone to stomp her tail. Then who knows if she'll stop at curbs at all after something like that. Also, that constant sitting and getting up on concrete is not good for her joints. So, her not sitting consistently at curbs is my fault, but her working hasn't suffered for it. Plus, if we work new routes, I have her sit at the curbs the first couple of times we do it to keep her focused and thinking about what she's doing. I suppose I can justify it all I want, but at the end of the day, as long as she's still working then that's all that matters.
The little ones are good too. Hermione and Otis went for two walks yesterday and are both pretty worn out today. Hermione, who is probably the most mischievous in the house, is the best behaved outside. The whole time we were out walking, we only had to call her back to us once. She sticks by you and never really strays; even when the other dogs are venturing off. I appreciate that about her. Otis, on the other hand, must visit everyone and investigate everything. Yesterday, he went off to eat mud out of his favourite mud hole in the park, but his efforts were thwarted because the weather has actually been beautiful here and the hole was dried up. Nala had gone with him to roll in it, but she came back clean, for that moment anyway. Roscoe was so tired from his outing yesterday that he didn't even want to get off the couch at bed time to go outside for his last bathroom break. He's the old man of the group at six years young.
It's so funny seeing the difference between Roscoe and the others. He can run hard with the rest of them, but that one run is good for him, whereas, the other three could keep going until they dropped. You can see a bit of an energy level difference between Nala and Hermione as well. Nala is about eight months older and I'm not sure if the breed difference or the age difference mellows her out faster. However, both girls are high energy and always ready to go. That said, I've seen Hermione's energy levels settle a bit as of late. She calms down faster and doesn't seem to need as much constant stimulation. She's still a nut though. Just this morning she brought a stick into the flat which I missed because I was half asleep. She chewed it apart on the couch and left a giant mess. Cleaning up stick before coffee is a problem. :P
I also bathed three out of the four dogs this week. We really should invest in doggie shampoo companies. Hermione was showered on Friday because I took her jogging with me and it was drizzling out. Not only was she wet, but she was covered in mud. I planned on that bath as I knew what the weather was like before we left the flat, but the other two were not planned.
We were nearly home from the park yesterday when Nala went face first into a stagnant puddle that resides under one of the over passes we walk under. She was covered and smelled horrible. Roscoe followed suit and although he did not nose dive in like Nala, he was wet and stinky from the belly down. Both dogs were subjected to showers when we got back home. Mr. K and I had dinner plans and so that meant Nala stayed home since she was still soaking wet when we left.
One good thing from that experience was that it made me realise how bonded to me Nala is already. When we got back from dinner I fed and relieved everyone and then sat on the couch. Nala was stuck to me like glue and wouldn't leave my side for the rest of the night. I wouldn't say leaving your guide dog all of the time is good, but there are some benefits to leaving them every once in a while.
As for kitty breeding, I've been doing more research and have been chatting away with a really great breeder. She focuses on a different breed, but the general information she has to share is great. She's even offered for Mr. K and I to come along and show one of her cats at a show for practice before we get our own. It's such a thoughtful offer. The breeder we've talked to about being our mentor had back surgery last Monday and so I'm waiting for her to heal up before having any long winded conversations with her. It's something Mr. K and I are both excited about though. So, hopefully it all works out. We've also been pushing through the paper work to move in June.
Other than that, I've been enjoying the sunshine that we've been getting. It's kind of a miracle how mild it's been. Last night when I took the dogs out for bed time bathroom break, I was wearing just a hoodie over a t-shirt. I don't remember ever being able to go out at night here without a coat. I don't know if it will last, but I sure hope it does. On that note, more coffee and then walkies for the babies. I'm also off to the pool today for a good workout.