Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Great End to a Perfect Week...

My week has been one of immense pleasure. If you recall from my previous entry, I was home-boarding Teal'c, the Rottweiler, from Sunday through to Friday. Would it be melodramatic or unfair to say that I have felt more 'at home' and at ease this past week, than I have in a long time? There is just something about the Rottweiler breed that makes me feel at home in their company.

In some ways, you perhaps have to know Teal'c to fully appreciate the situation. She is not a well dog all-tolled. She has a heart condition, and has had a torn crucial ligament in her rear leg resulting in her having an almost permanent limp, and I think it fair to say, she has gained a few pounds as a result of these things. Her medication routine is certainly not for the faint-hearted, and I am damn sure the monthly vet bills would be enough to reduce many of us to a catatonic state! Oh, and she 'growls' profusely when you stroke her. (It's just her 'talking' and she does it when she gets excited as far as I could tell.) But you know, someone forgot to tell Teal'c all of this. She has the spirit of an adolescent dog that just will not acknowledge that she should be taking things easy, and I love her dearly for it.

As I walked her one morning, it must have seemed like a demonstration of the evolution of man as we trekked across the farm fields. There was Ellie, who at only two years of age, was rushing out in front, oblivious to the ravages of age and constantly looking back to see what was taking us 'old timers' so long. Then there was me. I keep fit as much as I can, but I have to accept that I'm forty now, and so running is not something I do on such rough terrain, and then behind me, there was Teal'c limping along. I found myself talking to the dogs more than usual. "It's alright for you bumface, running off ahead. You wait until you are her age. Won't be so funny then will it? We won't see those amber eyes glowing quite so brightly then, will we?". Ellie, of course, just looked at me with her famous amber-eyed gaze and ran on ahead. Not a care in the world, that girl.

Teal'c II
For Teal'c, I found myself uttering words of reassurance as we walked. "Don't worry, gal, nearly there", I would say as she limped along. Though something tells me that 'woe is me' limp effect might all be a cunningly crafted ruse. A little later, as I walked along a street to return home, two squirrels crossed the road in front of us. Limp? What limp?! It was like trying to hang on to a wild stallion, I tell you!

I also learnt some things about people too. There was a woman who, since having Ellie for two years now almost, I have routinely spoken to on many occasions. She has a small spaniel and we have frequently been on the same playing field together. She has even complimented me on my training and how well I handle dogs, before today. So, I was a little put-out when, upon seeing that I had a Rottweiler with me on the field, she quite literally turned on her heels with her dog and went home, even though both dogs were clearly focused on me and in no way a threat in the least. Good grief, she could probably have outrun Teal'c if she'd stopped to learn a little more about her instead of pandering to preconceptions.

Suddenly, teenagers want to talk to you when you have a 'Rottie', and you hear conversations behind your back about how someone once knew a dog who bit a neighbour, and it wouldn't let go. It looked like that one. These things sadden me deeply. If only they could see what I, and clearly Sue and many others, can see in the breed. It really is a crying shame, particularly with a dog like Teal'c. I believe, such is Teal'c nature, for example, that she is one of the adult dogs on the puppy socialisation walk today.

Now, in other news... The book is here! The book is here! Finally, it is in my hands. I am very very pleased with it. There is only one photo that I am not happy with the quality of and that is the one of me, so I shall change that before people are able to buy it, but that can be done in a minute. So, expect to see those permission forms at training class soon! I'll be passing my copy of the book to Lorraine and Christina so that people can view it at class as soon as possible. Until then, here are some photos...

My New Book
My New Book
My New Book
My New Book
My New Book

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Eight hours and fifteen minutes to go..

Teal'c and Me (Photo by Lucy)
As I depress the first key on my keyboard to write this entry, it will be eight hours and fifteen minutes before I am in dog heaven. Yes, Teal'c, the Rottweiler, is coming to stay with me for four nights. I make no secret of my love for Teal'c. She's the 'rottie' that I didn't allow myself to have. Whenever I see her, I honestly to try to hold off from stroking her for at least a minute (it seems only polite) but nature just pulls me forward and my plan goes out of the window.

The truth is that Rotties are, by far, my favourite breed and I nearly opted for one before getting Ellie. However, I had to weigh several factors in, and it's really about me, not the breed. You see, I carry more than my fair share of those indelible scars of misspent youth, tattoos. I have what those who have been unfortunate enough to have to see me personally might call quite a serious face, I train with weights, and I have short spiky hair. Now, never mind that I'm really quite well-spoken, am competent in more than one computer language, and, even if I say so myself, much prefer humour to conflict (age prevents me from running away too fast these days) I do have to accept that, at first glance, I look like what some wrongly consider to be the stereotypical Rottie owner. I had to ask myself if I really wanted to perpetuate that myth.

You might reasonably argue that had I have taken on a Rottie then I could have shown that it's not always the case. I agree with you. But let's say that my lovely Rottie did just happen to bite another dog, even if it was to defend itself, or just issue a cautionary nip even. People would look at that situation completely differently to how they would look at my scrawny Border Collie defending itself and fighting in the same situation. They wouldn't just see the contextual fight, they would see the tattoos, the dog, the fight and on the myth goes... It's wrong, but it's a sad fact. So that is why I didn't get a Rottie. Maybe when I'm a little older and look a little more ravaged by time. (Anyone who tells me that is not possible is going to be immediately scrubbed from my Christmas card list!)

But maybe even that won't happen as, of course, we now don't dock the tails do we? Charge up your hate mail generators, but I just happen to think that the Rotties look better with docked tails. I do. I've only seen one with a tail so far and I have to say that I didn't think it looked as good as those with docked tails. For people much younger than me, of course, it will soon make no difference as that is what they will be used to seeing. I have spent the past forty years seeing them only with docked tails. It is that complete package of line and form that I fell in love with. Yes, yes, I appreciate it's only superficial and it doesn't change the breed, but when you fell so deeply in love with something so specific, it's very hard to adapt to it again when it changes, even when that change is so relatively small.

But anyway, now you see why I love Teal'c so much. I get to play Rottie owner without feeling guilty about perpetuating the unreasonable myths. She has so much character and is so so gentle. And can you believe, they pay me too!? So if I'm not around for the next four days, you know why, I've died and gone to heaven!

P.S. It's now seven hours and forty-nine minutes... :)