Friday, November 5, 2010

Where does the time go?

A week ago at this time, I was on the verge of arriving in State College, PA, to hang out with my brother for the weekend, and see Penn State play Michigan in football on Saturday night. I look forward to this annual weekend with my brother, and as usual, we had a great time. The fact that Penn State pounded Michigan in the first half and then held off a Michigan comeback was a nice added bonus. I had never seen Penn State beat Michigan in person, so it was very enjoyable for me. The game marked Joe Paterno's 399th win as the head coach at Penn State.

Then, after not much sleep on Saturday night, I started driving home - an 8+ hour solo drive. By the halfway mark in the trip, I was not happy. I was being hit by intermittent snow squalls, my car still had soft-rubber, summer-only tires, and I was sleepy. I pulled over at a rest stop and called home, and my wife suggested I just get a hotel room for the night. That was a great suggestion, but it meant I started my work week a bit late on Monday.

But, after a few late evenings this week, I've more than made up for that time. It seems like the work week has flown by. I managed to get in two CrossFit workouts, but I skipped yesterday because I'm still fighting a residual cough from an illness a couple weeks ago. It seems like I didn't get nearly enough done at work this week, so my weekend is probably going to involve a lot of work.

But, tomorrow, I'm taking the family on a brief road trip. When my dog Rocket died a couple months ago, I let Rocket's breeder know about his unexpected death. We talked back and forth, and I mentioned that my kids were very interested in getting another Rhodesian Ridgeback. Having never lost a dog this way before, I asked the breeder's opinion on when would be the "right" time to consider getting another dog. She said it's very variable - some people need a long time to grieve and others, especially people who have multiple dogs in their household, find that they (and their other dog(s)) are ready fairly rapidly. My kids had made it clear that they would love another dog.

So, I asked Rocket's breeder when she was planning her next litter. It turned out that she had just tried an artificial insemination using the frozen sperm from Rocket's great-grandfather. She hadn't publicized it yet, so we got on her waiting list fairly early. It was odd thinking that we might purchase the great uncle of our recently deceased dog, but the idea of a dog related to Rocket was very appealing. Regretfully, the artificial insemination failed, so we started looking at some other options. One local kennel had an older male - about six months that needed a home. And, a kennel in MA had two pups left from a gigantic litter of 16 pups. We checked into both options, and found out that the older dog had recently found a home. So, we started researching the kennel that had the two pups. It turned out that the puppies were the great-great-grandpuppies of Rocket's great grandfather - the same dog whose frozen/defrosted sperm had failed.

If I can figure out how this works, these two puppies are something like third cousins, once removed of Rocket.

So, tomorrow, we are taking a trip to meet the breeder, see her kennels, meet the puppies, and in all likelihood, we will return home with a new puppy. We've got our sights set on the male given that we already have a female dog in the house. He's a cute little boy at the moment, but one of those puppies with huge paws that remind you that he won't stay little for long.

Serious specialty breeders are really nice people to work with. Both previous breeders that we've worked with have been very helpful when we've had issues with the dogs. For example, our female has had ear issues since she was a puppy, and both breeders helped us to dissect her diet to see if we could find a cause. Eventually, we discovered that she simply couldn't eat grain of any kind and stay healthy. And, they serve as references when you are talking to another breeder about a dog. Because we have now had Rhodesian Ridgebacks in our house for almost a decade, and we've taken great care of them, the process with breeders is getting easier. When we got Rocket, the interview process was more daunting than most job interviews.

But, with the new breeder we are visiting tomorrow, the process has been less formal. Rocket's breeder vouched for us, and after almost ten years of living with the breed, the breeder knows that we know what to expect.

So, if all goes well, tomorrow evening, our female Ridgeback will be introduced to her new "baby brother". We can't decide if she'll try to adopt him or kill him, but we are obviously hoping they become good friends.

The breeder has been calling this dog Johnny. My son is a big fan of punk music, so we're thinking of calling him Johnny Rotten, the name of a member of the band The Sex Pistols. Then, when we register him with the AKC, we might use the name "Shabani's God Save the Queen". Shabani is the kennel, and God Save the Queen is an amazing Sex Pistols song.

Or maybe, if we meet the little guy and the breeder, and things don't seem to click, we'll come home empty-handed. But, I'm guessing that by tomorrow night, we'll be living with a puppy. Yikes. Put everything that can be chewed on above head level!

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