It’d be wonderful to see his face if Rusty Pup succeeded in this!
She’s a lovely family pet, not bred for shows. She plays with Alex & loves people and children. German Shepherds have a bad name due to history and association with security services, but they are bright, friendly idiots who love a tummy rub & attention (who doesn’t?).
She’s not a precious pampered handbag pup, she’s a real world lady and I for one would love to see Alex’s face if she wins.
Rusty has been chewing on a big old cow hip bone that we got her for the Christmas break. She loves it, but it’s had to go outside because, and not to put too fine a point on it, it smells like death now.
Any way, it inspired this little mess about with iMovie on the iPad…
Back in the 1960’s my dad (a scientist at RAE Farnborough) worked with an Alsatian in a project to use them to find black boxes at air crash sites. The old recorders were very susceptible to getting wiped by people searching crash sites with metal detectors, so alternate methods needed to be found.
My dad loved the dog that was trained at RAE Farnborough for this task.
The dog was called Rusty.
As many people will no doubt know, we love our animals, be they hens, crows, cats or horses, but we have wanted a dog for some time. So, in memory of my dad, and his Rusty work mate, we looked for a dog to fill our homes dog shaped hole. It had to be a GSD (German Shepherd Dog) with a good temperament and fine with children and other animals. Chris did a lot of research and found a breeder in Ireland called Alsace Royale German Shepherds, who had exactly the style of GSD we wanted, and raised from a pup with children and animals around it. Chris did her homework, asked around and decided that these were the ones for us.
These dogs were originally called German Shepherd dogs until the war, at which point having something ‘German’ became unsavoury. As such, they were renamed ‘Alsastian Wolf Hounds‘, and then shortened to ‘Alsatian‘. Much campaigning took place, and in 1977 the original breed name was given the okay to register under again. In 2010 the ‘Alsation‘ tag was officially dropped.
We also knew who we wanted as the parents of our pup, so were going to wait until next year when they would breed the pair again… but in the meantime I went behind Chris’s back and talked to the breeder. I wanted to see if I could get a head start and somehow get a puppy ahead of the time Chris and Alex thought we’d be getting one, and then it would be a great surprise for them both.
Alex has been using pocket money and treats to buy dog toys, ready for when we got a dog, even though he knew we weren’t getting one for a long time. Even when asked what he wanted Santa to get him for Christmas, he replied “Dog toys please“. When asked why he didn’t ask for a puppy, he said “That’s not going to happen for a long time, so I’m not even asking”.
I asked what could daddy get you to make daddy better than Santa (expecting “a puppy!!!”) and he said… “A hug…”
Yeah, that knocked me back a bit too.
Well, that really made me want to surprise him. What a lovely, selfless answer. He didn’t want toys for himself, he wanted things for a dog that we wouldn’t be getting for a very long time, and the one thing he did want cost nothing.
Then Jackie from Alsace Royale called me just over a week ago. She had some news. One of the previous litters from the parents we wanted, had to be returned to the breeders because the new owners had some news after 8 weeks of ownership that meant they would not be able to keep a dog. A 15 week old female short hair GSD was available. Okay, she wasn’t a 10 week old GSD next summer… but what’s six weeks older, just to see the looks on Christine and Alex’s faces?
How could you not love me?
Here she is as a few weeks old, from the Alsace Royale web site (she’s the one who sniffs the camera):
After some careful planning, lots of calls with Jackie and a traffic jam encountered by Lenny, the Alsace Royale specialist dog courier, Alsace Royale Rusty showed up at our meeting place. I had intended to keep this all secret from Chris, and then turn up at Alex’s school that afternoon and wait at the gates as they left… but in the end, I took Chris with me, and some excellent friends picked Alex up after school – telling him that mum and dad had broken down in the car, and would be around later to pick him up.
Rusty meets Chris
Well, it goes without saying that Chris and Alex were really surprised and incredible happy. Rusty absolutely loves Alex, and her temperament is perfect. She gets on with our hens and cats, and is a really well behaved around strangers and other dogs.
Alex and Rusty – “Santa didn’t stand a chance daddy…”
She’s already become close friends with Ytsur, the mirror dog…
… and she’s discovered the lake, where she doesn’t care less about the swans and ducks…
Gregory Peck has learnt a game… or he’s taught me one…
I placed a fir cone on a shelf for him. The shelf is at an end of the cage with a door in it. The shelf splits the door opening, so with the door open, you can either reach in to the shelf, or the floor.
Anyway, I opened the door, placed the cone on the shelf to encourage him to investigate.
He walked under the edge of the shelf, reached up and grabbed the fir cone and placed it on the cage floor, just under the shelf.
I opened the end door, he stood back so I could get the cone. I reached under the shelf, took the cone & placed it on the shelf again.
Once more, he hopped forward, reached up & took the cone, placing it nearer the middle of the cage floor.
I opened the door, reached under the shelf, took the cone & placed it back on the shelf. Again, Gregory hopped over, reached up and took the cone to the middle of the cage this time.
I went to get the cone again, but as Gregory had put it further inside, I had to duck down and reach in under the shelf…
…and with a flurry of wings he flew/leapt onto the shelf (shown no signs of that before) and hopped to the open door!
I stood up and blocked his way from escaping, but he just sat there… watching… then turned around and hopped down to the cone & flicked it.
Yeah, not likely Gregory! I know your plan!
I thought he was learning to play a game, but he was already one step ahead and playing me!
I tell you, these birds are astounding! I knew they were clever, but this is a step above learning to do something for reward by repetitive training! This is thinking things through, observing, testing…
Damn smart bird!
Once he’s healthy & got his feathers back, we’ll see if he wants to fly. A bit undecided, as he’s an old chap we think, and we may have rescued him on his last wild legs. Old, & with a prior respiratory infection, stiff wings, and a mostly bald head, it’s unlikely he’d survive winter in the wild.
Further checks over him show medium sized jaw teeth marks on his back, across his wings and chest, as if he has been caught & held by a dog. He’s a lucky crow.
We may end up making a large outdoor aviary for him. Protected freedom.
The other day we lost Chicken 22 to old age. She was clucked out, but had a fun and free life after we rescued her from battery farm hell. A lovely lady and one of the oldest we had.
At the same time 22 reached her final days, a friend of a friend told Chris that she was moving house and needed someone to take on her hens. Yes, it writes itself… The hen numbers are back to where they were a few months back. Lovely pets, and these two new girls are stunners!
Sally & Mabel
Avid readers of this blog (ha!) will probably have realised by now that we are animal mad…
It just got madder.
Chris picked up a new family member at the stables the other day. An injured bird had been hanging around for a few days, so with our birdy experience, Chris decided to nurse it back to health.
Gregory Peck joined the madhouse.
Now we know chickens are clever, but this guy is worlds apart. You can see him think… he looks at one thing, then moves on, then back to the other thing…. and you see the thought process… He’s not the largest crow I’ve seen, but he’s still a big lad.
He’s been in a fight. Maybe another bird, birds, fox… car? and he has an old scar across his back under his feathers and his head is half bald. This scar may be pulling his skin when he tries to fly, as he doesn’t seem comfortable getting airborne, even though his wings are fine.
He has a mild chest infection, and is a bit bug infested, so he is going through some bird nutrients and a bathing ritual to clean him up. He already looks a lot better.
Corvids are among the most intelligent, if not the most intelligent, of birds. Peck has shown this by completely accepting us as friends. Day one and he was very wary and pecky to us. Day two, after food, bath, blow dry and mite powdering he is easy to handle and no fuss at all. It is said that crows have very good memories and facial recognition, so if you cross one or mistreat it, it won’t forget. From a shy, scared and pecky wreck, he now sits on my shoulder with out a care.
I’ve not felt up to many blog posts recently, purely down to the fact that we’ve had a run of pets all shuffling off of their mortal coils.
They’ve had good lives with us, and spoilt rotten, but the time must come for all of us… human, chicken, pony or cat.
Ginger the hen went today. The old girl had egg peritonitis and went down hill rapidly. One day she was fine, the next day it was too late – it hits the older girls quite hard. She’d had a good run & a free range retirement with a good group of our other rescue hens.
A few weeks previous we lost Miew the giant panther of a cat. 1 stone of solid sleek cat… and an idiot. Honestly, he was just made big, not fat, just all round big… and with the brain of a Labrador. We’d had him since he was a kitten – and back then a problem was diagnosed that hung around his entire life. He had a urinary tract issue that couldn’t really be acted on sufficiently, and any operations were discomforting & stressful. We had him on special diets, and that kept the problem at bay, but we knew it was a matter of time. A year ago the problem came back, and he got through it, but it wasn’t nice for him, and we decided that if it came back again, then the nicest thing would be to let him go, as he was a senior & operations weren’t going to help. He was 12 years old and has left a large cat sized hole in the house.
Only a few weeks prior to that we lost Bonnie. We’d only had her for just over a year – a fantastic pony and the love of Chris’s life outside of the human family. It turns out she’d had a previous problem which reared its head due to dietary changes caused by the lush grass brought on by our incredibly wet ‘summer’.
All in all, not a great time. They all had wonderful lives with us, and we did all we could to make sure the best was done for them – even if that meant a hard decision for us.
I’ll get back up to blogging speed again soon, but I’m just getting into stride in a new job now (3 weeks in), and giving that a great deal of attention due to the pressure on the project we are working on. I’ll fill in those details later…
The girls have settled in well now. Bunty has made sure that the others all know that she is still queen bitch, but the others really only pay her lip service… Sorry, beak service…
The new girls are all competent jumpers, and even with cropped wings they still manage to reach new heights – literally. We’ve had to put higher netting up around the fences after Knickers found herself in the neighbours garden…. after getting on top of the hen house, along the fence & over the trellis…
Three of them are like shadows whenever we go out into the garden. Hulahoop, Porsche and Sonic have to be at our feet as soon as they see us. Hulahoop goes One further and tries to be eye level – or at least as high and close to us as possible. They are all very lovely ladies, and we’re glad that these rescued hens have settled in so well.