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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Happy 2nd Birthday to Rilla and her siblings!

I am way behind with posting, but last weekend when I was attending dachshund field trials in Batavia, NY, I got really sick. This weekend I was scheduled to judge trials in Maryland but I was not up to it so I am staying home.  I am not the only one affected, some people's bronchitis is much worse, but in the last six days I have not done much.

Anyway, a lot of material waiting for posting is not time-sensitive but this post is. Yesterday, on May 25, it was a second birthday for our R-litter (Joeri by Gilda), and Stan Kite sent a really nice update on Rilla. The story is long, so this is a shorter version. Thank you Stan!

I'll start back on the last week of November, 2011. I had laid a blood trail the day before, weaving in and out of the hedgerows of my neighbor's alfalfa fields, and took Rilla out to run it in the morning. Right from the beginning, something was wrong--she had absolutely no interest in tracking. This was the first time I'd ever seen behavior like this from her. No matter what I tried, she just preferred to walk along right next to my legs or sit down!

I called Darren Doran to vent some frustration, and he asked me if she was in heat. I knew it was close to that time, but wasn't sure...lo and behold, a few days later, Dec 5, we found drops of blood on the tile floor. Her mind and body were not focused on tracking, and now I knew why.

We are now getting close to her next heat, but last weekend we had a great track in our swampy, briar-filled woods...(She did fine, but I got so tangled up in briars, I lost a tracking shoe and didn't even know it at first) LOL. We will see if her interest is again temporarily derailed at heat time!

After the heat ran its course, we did two 24 hr lines, one after a hard rain, and she did phenomenally. On one line, I dragged a rabbit carcass perpendicular to the line in 3 different spots just before we ran it. When she turned at those points to investigate the rabbit scent, I just calmly told her "no" and directed her back to the track. I plan to continue this every so often to remind her of the business at hand.

Next, about 60 days after the blood drops we discovered, came another false pregnancy episode. It was pretty intense. She stayed in her wire crate with one of Vonnie's slippers, only wanting to leave to eat and relieve herself. Her weight increased also, up to 22 lbs. She had been staying between 20 and 20.5. She wouldn't even leave the crate to come to bed with us, which she normally loves! I even put her in the bed one night, and she tried to jump off, so we let her stay in the crate. After about 2 weeks, it started to subside, so we took the slipper away, and over the next few days, all symptoms disappeared. She returned to her former self, and actually seemed to want to make up for lost time--she was extra playful and happy!

**This brings up a question--do bitches who experience false pregnancies tend to keep on doing that after every heat?** (Stan, the answer is yes)

I had cut her food back, and she actually got down to 19 lbs, and is now hovering between 19.5 and 20.

Now I want to comment on the vocalizations of Miss Rilla.  Long story short, she makes more types of sounds than I've ever heard from a dog. She has her mean growl, play growl, mean changing to happy growl, various purring type noises, sighs, squeels, etc. It's really funny and I am still learning them all. One really neat one is in the middle of the night, when I come back to bed after a bathroom trip. I always feel to see where she is, and she gives the strangest noise, a semi-tapering off purr, which seems to mean "I'm right here, and I'm content, so please don't lay on me"! LOL It's the only time I hear her make that particular noise, and it cracks me up.

Speaking of her sleeping habits, one we really get a kick out of is this. When I first put her in bed, she immediately burrows under the covers, going down to around our knees. The funny part is, a lot of times, near morning, she comes out just enough to put her head on Vonnie's pillow. When I roll over, I see this little innocent face looking at me, just like a small child laying there. It's so cute!!

One Sunday in March, Bunk (our older son) and I were in our woods re-posting our property line and checking the fence. Rilla was along, and she usually stays pretty close. Just in case though, I had her e-collar on, with bell attached. We were about half way finished, when Rilla started a steady, chopping, guttural bark that I've never heard before. It was very rhythmic, and not real loud. I said "She's barking "tree'd", like a coonhound". She was only about 10 yds away, but I couldn't see her through the brush. Sure enough, she was peering into a hollow stump, and inside was a raccoon. I quickly scooped her up, and away we went. She seemed to have lost interest, but then went right back there. I ran to her again to see her jump back quickly; the coon must have taken a swipe at her. I could not call her off, so I gave her a quick hit on the e-collar. She came right to me then. I do not want a 20 lb dog that thinks it can tangle with 15-20 lb raccoons; don't think that would be pretty.

Through the years, I've been envious of people who always seemed to take their dogs everywhere with them. I just never had the right dog to do that, but guess what? I DO NOW! She goes everywhere we can possibly take her safely. She is my constant companion, whether working in the yard, driving in the truck, on our Polaris, golf cart, whatever--we take her anywhere we can; she's very well-behaved in other people's environments, and she gets along with most other dogs. Even when all the "people" in my family are somewhere else, I'm never alone any more! Rilla and I are a team! We have a tremendous bond. I'm constantly amazed at how she reacts to my tone of voice, and little things I say to her. She KNOWS me! If I say "this way" she knows to turn and go the way I'm going. If I tell her "over here" she knows I want her to come to me and look there, whether for scent or rabbits.

Speaking of rabbits--we avoid saying that word in the house, because she perks up, starts looking, and expects to be turned loose for the chase! She has been running rabbits almost every evening for a month or so behind our house. We seem to have a good crop, although I couldn't trap even ONE for Sherry's farm back in Feb (my total was NINE squirrels, a groundhog and a opossum). She really has a passion for running them, and opens freely on sight and hot scent, and you know I love to hear her song! Sometimes she amazes me with her accuracy, and sometimes, if she can't find the track, she runs it backwards to the start...she hasn't done that in a few weeks though. When she sees a rabbit or squirrel when she's looking out the window, she goes nuts. Funny thing is, we have turkeys in the yard a lot also, and they just don't excite her. She just looks at them with no reaction. This morning there were 13 or 14 out there; she saw them, but didn't make a sound. Funny! Last evening we were outside, and there were 4 turkeys less than 50 yds from us...she didn't even move toward them. Squirrel, rabbit or groundhog--forget it--she's off like a shot! She tracks blood with a much more business-like approach, but pulls hard when the line seems straight and easy.

Another thing we find hilarious: For some reason, it took me a long time to teach her to "roll over" for a treat. Other commands were no problem, but with that one I always had to help her roll, then treat. One day a few months ago, I was just starting to tell her to roll over, and before I could say the words, she rolled over so fast it shocked me. I laughed out loud as she sat right up for her treat. Well, since then, no words need to be spoken. If I just hold out the treat, she rolls over; sometimes so fast only her butt is touching the floor! When I don't have a treat, she sits, lays down, etc with no problem, but when she sees the treat held out, over she goes! Even though she is not technically obeying a command, it's too cute to correct! I take her to the barber with me, and the barber gives her treats--when I told her to just hold the treat out and watch, see got laughing so hard, she wanted Rilla to do it over and over. I think it made her day!

When Vonnie goes on her break at work, she usually gives me a quick call....just a habit to check in and say "I love you"...we just do that sort of thing. Anyway, she told me she also feels like giving Rilla a call to tell her she loves her, too! How priceless is that? LOL

At the end of deer season, we made about 50 lbs of raw food from deer meat scraps, and we also put livers and hearts in the mix, probably about 15% or so. It was very satisfying to me to make her food, she loves it and seems to do well on it. We still feed a mix of raw and dry twice a day.

To say she's captured our hearts seems like a cliche, but it's sooo true. Vonnie and I are extremely close to her, and it couldn't have come at a better time as our boys don't spend much time with us old farts these days! She does still growl sometimes, but much less. If we give her a type of rawhide chew that lasts a while, she gets very possessive with it. She gets very edgy around Lee sometimes too, don't know if it's a pack mentality, jealousy, or what, but it's most noticeable with him. Other times she licks all over him, wagging her tail. He's not here much compared to Vonnie and I, so that may be part of it also.

Well, I'm sure that's MORE than enough Rilla info for now, but I haven't wrote you about her for a while, so I figured I'd give you a BUNCH today! Believe me, we have been doing a lot, just not taking the time to write about it. Hope you and John, along with your pups, are doing great. I enjoy your pix and updates on the blog and Facebook. One pic in attachment is her scanning the yard for rabbits, other one is her looking none-too-happy about wearing a goofy birthday hat!

Happy Memorial Weekend!



MTWaggin said...

Happy birthday to the R liter and what a wonderful tale!

Stan said...

Thank you! Didn't expect my note to make the blog! Jola, I hope you are feeling better.