Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Thank You, Heath


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Random Notes

The dog yard has been completely snow packed since mid December. One night at the before bed potty break, Veronica started rolling on the ground, then pushing herself on her side. She gave one big push and slid 15 feet dow the litle hill. We never thought about adding a sledding hill to the kennel before!

Yoda and Tigger are a pair of silky terriers who stay with us frenquently. Yoda is a hoot though, so hyper and likely to jump straight up in the air several feet - with no outward sign of having even flexed his muscles! He's a total litle superball, going every which way. And he's feisty too - he'll engage even the bigest dogs, cause he knows he can scurry away quicker than any other dog out there.

Vislas are a breed of dog known for having a lot of energy. Well, Monte just puts the rest of his breed to shame. The little guy NEVER stops moving! His owner agrees, saying he thinks he's trying to make up for being the runt of the litter. But unlike Yoda who is just a little bundle of fur, Monte is shorthaired and long legged, and somehow coordinating his front end with his hind isn't something he has the patience for yet. We decided he was like two superballs connected by a spring - everything is moving all the time, just usually in different directions.

While entertaining, it actully was a problem in the fact Monte would never slow down. We were warned that he tended to lose weight in play facilities. So we were prepared to increase his food if he started looking thin. Well, we literally couldn't get enough food into the guy. By the time he checked out he was eating more than Mateo, a 180 pound Newfoundland - more than 4 times his own size! And he was downright scrawney. Talking to the owner it was clear he's ben checked for paracites and what not. It's a mystery how he can eat so much and not retain it.

Mateo was the biggest, cudliest Newfie we've had. Really just big playboy. His companion, Gallena, a mere 130 pound Great Pyranese, however, had the bad habit on the of pinning random dogs down to the ground. So we had to watch them closely. They weren't real vigorous players anyway, so they stayed up in the slow yard with the "littles". It's funny that the biggest and littlest dogs often go best together. But Mateo would play right along - lumbering after the tiny dogs who were teasing him.

Zoe's nickname quickly became Ball-Destructor. Within a day of her arriving, every tenisball in her yard had a hole in it. Within two days most were torn in half. This was not a little bit annoying in that we'd just gotten a niece big bag of used balls to be ready for the holidays.


Friday, January 04, 2008

Ms. Penny Wiggles

I'm quite conscious of the fact that I frequently mention Penny in my blog. But she just has this personality that demands to be noticed! I rechristened her this stay, because 'Ms Penny Wiggles' is just too fitting to not stick.

Ms. Penny has no concept that other dogs may want to play - without her input. Particularly when a ball is involved, and even more so when her favorite big blue rubber ball is involved. I don't think she was with us for even a day before we went and got a second of those blue balls off of our retail rack so she could have one all to herself. And that worked great, for a day. She'd hoard the ball, and when it was in her mouth she really couldn't bark. (hurrah!) Or see out of more than one eye, for that matter, for whichever side of her mouth she carried the ball in squished her cheek wrinkles up into that eye closing it shut. But she'd waddle around, following the action - either in her own yard or the adjacent one. Frequently it was the adjacent one.

I say she waddles, because she is an English Bulldog after all. All told I think there is more torsional action around her ribcage when she moves than actual forward progress. And she's got this little stubby tail that when it gets is a blur but her whole back end is waging as well. But she's not slow - throw a ball and she's after it like spitfire and not terribly gracious in wrestling with competitors to get it in the end.

Eventually she tired of carrying the ball with her, so she'd put it down to take a rest - put her paw on top of it, and commence 'commentating' on all the action around her.

Listen, You. Step AWAY from my ball!

I wish we had gotten a pic of her with the booties on. Her first day her feet were sore (because as you might imagine of a BULLdog, she always spends her first few play times running full speed, everywhere, and wears her pads raw.) Knowing that she'd do this, we put booties on her for her second playtime. Dogs in booties are always funny, but Ms. Penny was downright hysterical. Picking up each of her feet as high as they'd go, which on such a short legged dog made her look like a little 4-legged Russian soldier. To top it of, they were extra slick on the snow, so she couldn't get enough traction to run around without wiping out frequently.

The wonderful thing about Penny, though, is that she always tires herself out so much in the yard that she instantly falls asleep in her kennel - and snores to boot!

Not wiggling so much now, are you?


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New One!

Hello Again! Yes, we did make it through another holiday crush and I know I'm way behind on updates here.

I'm back on the bus and haven't been so excited to be so for quite a long time. We had a very successful holiday season. The kennel was at capacity for about 4 days straight. Xmas eve was probably our craziest day. We had so many check ins and outs that for awhile we had about 70 dogs at once! We have 52 kennels, and generally can handle 60 dogs. 70 necessarily meant that we were scrambling for awhile to use crates and every possible holding space to get through the morning! But we usually had 5 or 6 people scheduled for every shift, so at least we had enough hands to go around - even with a few people calling in sick which seems inevitable.

For New Years we actually dropped to half full, but again due to the fact we decided to close on the afternoons of Xmas eve and New Years eve we had a huge turnaround to process Monday morning. Actually it was hysterical when one dog's neighbor showed up (because the owners weren't due back until too late to pick up their dog.) She had set her purse down on top of our play group report - the listing we use to manage which dogs go out together so we can keep the groups evenly sized. So she just saw the dog count for the first group, and said "oh! You have 13 dogs today!" I said actually we have 3 times that and we're only half-full today. I think she had a near melt down when I said we could take 60 dogs. Heh, that was strangely satisfying. ;)

Anyway, I am glad to be on the other side of the holidays. Every time we do this (lol - all TWO times that we have!) I am reminded that I'm just not cut out to work the kennel everyday. I go crazy. Actually that isn't entirely true - when we get to the point where we can justify full time office/kitchen help, I could do that. I like dogs - but dealing with groups of them day in and day out takes a fortitude I just don't have. Thanksgiving is ok, as its only 5 days long. But xmas stretches to 2 weeks - which is about 1 week longer than my resilience. David really seems to thrive out with the dogs, and Ginger too keeps going when I can't. It's a good thing it's them we've assigned to running the kennel.

Thankfully we built in some days off for each of us this year, a very welcome change. We left town just after the Xmas Eve Morning rush, and drove to Canyon City where Phyllis and Mike moved this past summer. We helped them move in - but they've done a lot to the place already so it was fun to see the updates. Not to mention they now have 30 alpaca in their barns, complete with a 3 day old baby at the time. You just can't believe how adorable these guys are!

(yes, I have yet to master the phone camera to make it behave...)

My parents, my nieces, and Chuck, a relative of my father's, were up. Our stay was short, but it was very nice to get to spend Christmas morning with all of them. We'd be eyeing the snow that had been gently falling all morning - but wasn't amounting to anything. Unfortunately, the same wasn't true down in Canyon City just a few miles away. We left about 2 and it took us nearly twice the time to get home as it did the day prior due to the "Winter Driving Conditions" that the electronic roadside signs were being so helpful in notifying us of. Thank goodness they were there - because really, the 12 inches of snow on the shoulders of the highway wasn't enough to clue me in. But we made it home in time to do final turn outs for the dogs while Ginger got a small respite after holding down the fort with very little help for the 3 shifts we were gone.

For New Years we had Brian and Andrea over for Fondu (Fondue?? - this is the current debate. I've never added the e at the end, and aparently I'm not about to start) and games. The fondu totally didn't work this year. It's the same recipe I've always used, so unless I spaced out and put 3 cups of wine in instead of 2, I have no idea what happened. So it was less Fondu and more soup - but oh well, it still tasted good. Everyone was shocked that Dave and I had really never played Scrabble, so we were properly introduced to the game, which conveniently lasted until about 20 minutes to midnight. At which point we made chocolate fondu with which to toast in the New Year.

Cheers, everyone!