Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A short history of my best family Christmas cards.

I've owned and lived with Rottweilers since 1995 but the first family Christmas card didn't come about until 2001. It was a very crude and amateur attempt using a grainy picture taken with my first digital camera, a Hewlett-Packard. I actually printed this out and mailed it to my friends until one friend responded "That's your Christmas card?" I went back and hid in my cave for a few years with hurt feelings.
Here is another Christmas scene a year later but not a Christmas card.
December 22, 2002. Mocha and her father Nikko.
Then came my retirement, and a lapse in time and a whole new family of Rottweilers. By now I began to learn how to take better pictures LOL. 
Then I made this one in 2012, the best of our complete family.
But last year it became necessary to no longer include the two humans. It was not a good year for us.
But I didn't give up trying to have us all in the picture. This year, 2014, I tried once again but my original attempts were not very good as you can see. You can look at more examples of the outtakes for 2011 in the archives. http://livingwithrottweilers.blogspot.com/2011/12/making-perfect-rottweiler-christmas.html
Then I tried again with just the Rottweilers and this is the one card I really loved.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The outtakes. For those who think its easy to get just the right picture.

I must admit that some of these photos were digitally altered in my computer before posting them. I am not a professional photographer, I take hundreds of pictures and manage to get lucky with a small handful. In these pictures the Santa Claus hats each had an elastic chin strap that I removed so it wouldn't show and all three Rottweilers had their leashes on in my failed attempt to get them to stay still. In the past I had relied on my wife to hold at least one dog while I worked the timer and shutter on the camera. But none of that helped and because of her Alzheimer's she wasn't able to assist me. One good thing about this comedy of errors is that it makes for some funny pictures. Old man Axl doesn't sit very well like he used to and after a few seconds he lays down and I couldn't get Ruff to look toward the camera. To make matters more complicated, we now have a puppy that is a bundle of energy and it's impossible to predict which way she will move or what she will do next.

Last year was the first time I stopped trying to include me and my wife in the picture and took our Christmas card photo with just the three Rotts. I tried it once more this year with the same problems plus a new one that I didn't have before. But as unpredictable as baby Bessie was, it was in that very last picture that she decided to give her over-sized boy friend Ruff a loveable little kiss and made everything perfect. So here are a few of the outtakes.

This was almost a useable photo except that Bessie was supposed to be sitting between my legs instead of me looking like I just got off a horse and Axl decided to lay down and Ruff got the Godzilla eyes. My wife is still holding some of the leashes but I removed the chin straps and the leads connected to their collars.
I have read that there is a remote shutter release made for my camera. I am going to look into it. If it is workable then my wife and I can still sit on the couch and get the dogs in position in front of us before taking the picture. Up to now the major problem is me having to release the timer on the camera and then walk back and sit down. But on the plus side, the Rottweilers are more photogenic than I am anyway so who cares what I look like.  

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a very enjoyable holiday.
p.s. If you are keeping track of Bessie's progress, you may be interested to know she now weighs 61-pounds and is 5 1/2 months old today.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Merry Christmas, everyone.

After several attempts to pose a family Christmas Card it turned out that it takes more people to make it work than I have so I ditched the idea of the five of us sitting peacefully on the couch and just went and made one with the three Rottweilers. Hope you like the results. 
And in the very last of almost 20 photos, Bessie decided to give Ruff a kiss. Bless her little heart, she really does love the big clown and I wonder if that is a shocked look on Ruff's face?
Why not make love and not war, it is the Christmas season, isn't it. Maybe we humans could learn something from them. They are the noblest of all the canines God created.
Merry Christmas, everyone.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Sometimes its best to wait before passing on the bad news.

I wrote a few weeks ago that our old man Rottweiler Axl had surgery to remove an oral melanoma tumor from his lip and another growth from inside his thigh. The tumor was sent out to a lab for testing and a few days later I was told by our Vet that it was malignant. Malignant meant Cancer and my first thoughts were to panic because cancer is often and usually deadly and at the age of 13, even considering the available treatments would not be good for this old boy. 

Well, today I brought Axl back to the Vet to have the stitches removed from his leg (the stitches in his lip were self-dissolving). The Vet explained that if the cancer had started to spread it would move first into his lymph nodes then to his lungs. After a close examination the Vet said that Axl's lymph nodes are not at all swollen so it looks like we got him treated before it began to spread and it looked like the Vet did a good job removing all of the tumor.

We will be keeping a close eye on Mr. Axl in the coming weeks and months and he will see the Vet if anything unusual appears. I looked up what they symptoms were, an Axl has none of them and hopefully never will. The symptoms include loss of weight, mouth odor, frequent salivation, problems with eating, blood discharge or loose teeth.

Well, that's the good news and I'm glad I did not write about the initial lab results when I got it. Now to take care of some holiday duties I have to go back to working on our new Rottie Christmas Card. I just took a few pictures and here is a sneak peek. It is unedited so some things that show will be removed, including the chin straps. I will also be taking several more pictures later this afternoon.

Hey, the kiss was a bonus.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A few more thoughts on three dads raising one little girl.

Up to now baby Bessie has been getting most of her training from her two male Rottweiler surrogate fathers and some minor house-breaking from one ragged old human. On the subject of that ragged old human I think I really am getting old. Next month I will be three-fourths of a Century old. Yeah, the big 75, and it shows. I have been measuring Bessie's weight every week by picking her up and standing on a scale then measuring my own weight and subtracting the difference. Bessie is now 5-months old as of December 1st and she weighs 58 pounds. I only mention it because I can hardly pick her up. I was beginning to think she weighed a lot more until I realized I was just getting weaker with old age. Just for comparison, here are two pictures taken when baby Ruff was still a baby. He was 8 months old when these were taken and he weighed about 80 pounds.
It is worth noting that Bessie has been putting on more than 10 pounds a month for her first 5-months so it will be interesting to see what she weighs two or three months from now when she will be as old as Ruff was in these photos. Of course, that will have to be done at the Vets office because I don't think I will be able to lift her up on the scale.

I saw Bessie reveal her female dominance the other day. I had her and Ruff outside and she wanted Ruff to do something and stared him right in his face and lowered her head and gave a very distinctive bark. Reminded me right away about our girl Sassy telling the boys to behave. This also makes me wonder if her three dads can raise her the same way a female Rottweiler would. Sassy had a way of doing play school with Ruffin like Ruffin does with Bessie but with one big difference. Ruffin can not bring himself to tell Bessie to STOP! the way that Sassy did. Ruffin lets himself be a big play toy and he is so infatuated with the little girl he just lets her do what she wants until the two of them collapse to catch their breath. They also seem to be starting the tongue-kissing stuff that I saw with Ruff and Sassy. Bessie sticks he snout in Ruffin's mouth while they are playing. Sassy did that a lot but she knew how to end it as you can see here.
Now I can't leave this post with just some old pictures and not show any progress with our new girl. Except for her growing like a weed nothing else has changed. She is still going to play school but the subject she is learning now is about love. Love according to Rottweilers.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Meanwhile, the May - December romance is in full bloom.

I think Ruffin has given up trying to teach Bessie about respect and discipline. Maybe because the big lug has fallen madly in love with the pretty little Rottie girl. I noticed a few weeks ago that he started to cover up her pee outside so that officially makes her a girl, in his eyes. Funny how he didn't do that from the day I brought her home.
I took these pictures the other night while I was trying to watch television. This kind of wrestling is what goes on, all day long, in every room in the house. Yeah, even in the bathroom and thankfully not too often in there.
I know it must be love because I can't keep them separated. When we need some peace and quiet I will take Bessie into my den with me and close the door only to find Ruffin laying right outside, breathing heavily under the door. By the way, Baby Bessie has passed the 50 pound mark, two weeks shy of her 5-month birthday.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Bessie and her favorite Grandpa.

After her two ventures into the Fall snowstorm, Bessie and Axl waited while we got the Mom out of bed this morning. And these two now seem to be best friends after Grandpa Axl laid down his own rules. He made it very clear that he was not going to be Bessie's playmate like Ruffin is. And she does not treat him like a playmate, she treats him with respect. And so it shows.
The part that amazes me is that old man Axl never snarled, growled or barked at Bessie any differently than Ruff does. So why does Bessie treat Ruff's growls, snarls and barks as a challenge to play harder or attack harder and when Axl does the same thing Bessie treats him with respect? Guess there are some Rottie Rules that I haven't learned yet.

Bessie has her first taste of snow - literally.

Not to be outdone by the festive gourmet meal that Axl and Ruffin shared last night, a meal that I also shared earlier with my new best girl when we ate dinner, today Bessie saw and tasted her first snow. And eat it she did when she first set foot in it this morning at 8AM. If my observations are correct I would say I think she likes it. Because all Rottweilers love snow.
And Ruffin was there to show his little girl all the really cool things you can do with this new stuff. Playing chase is always one of her favorites.
Like having a game of chase me and catch me if you can.
And, of course, some wrestling to start the new day.
You can tell this is an action shot because her ears are standing straight up.
Never letting some play get in the way of her official duties, Bessie challenges a neighbor who is out cleaning snow off her car. Thanks to Ruffin's combat training, Bessie has become a formidable watch-dog. Judging by the stance you could almost hear her bark.
OK, time for breakfast. Lets go eat.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

We take birthday parties seriously in our house.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR. RUFFIN. You are 8 years old today.

And I have kept my promise. We had a double birthday party tonight. Since I owed old man Axl a filet mignon steak dinner when he turned 13 last month and Ruffin had his birthday today, I decided to give them both half of a filet steak.
As I anticipated, it took only half a second for it to be consumed so I'm glad I made preparations in advance. I hooked Bessie to her leash in the living room just to keep her out of the kitchen. If she had gotten to the feeder the boys would have let her eat the steak. Thats a Rottie Rule. Then I had to get both of the boys to the feeder at the same time. And then grab the camera. Well, it worked.
I wonder if they appreciated the effort as much as I did?
UPDATE: November 17, 2014.
Someone asked me where were their birthday hats. I'm sorry I was so anxious to post the photos that I forgot to "put" them on. Here is the correction.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Picking up where I left off.

I think the latest news first works best because it has been fairly busy around here. As of today, my little Rottie girl is 4 1/2 months old and definitely not so little any more. We have had Bessie in her new home since August 29th, which was 2 1/2 months ago. She was only 13 pounds when I adopted her at the young age of 7-weeks. In those 2 1/2 months she has grown to 50 pounds. I put her on a scale a few times every week and every once in awhile she has a growth spurt. One weekend she gained 2 pounds.  Here is a photo I took this afternoon. And yes, she is standing on the floor. And she already makes a good bed warmer which will come in handy this Winter.
Old man Axl turned 13 last month and yesterday he had surgery to remove two tumors from his lip and his hind leg. He took the whole thing in stride. I was very concerned about him getting anesthesia at his age but the Vet said he had no problems with him at all. The tumor on his leg was about the size of a walnut and hanging by a slim piece of skin from inside his rear leg. He has had it for several years. It was more like a large skin tag than a tumor and I wasn't concerned with removing it until the tumor showed up on his lower lip a few weeks ago. It was heavy enough to pull his lip down when he ate and the food would sometimes drop out of his mouth. The tumor from his lip was sent out to be tested and I am hoping and praying it is not malignant. 

Ruffin's war wounds are healing nicely and he is continuing to get six 500mg doses of Cephalexin every day. The Vet said he only needed the anti-biotics for ten days but I'll keep him on it until the wound in his neck is completely healed. He got this from letting baby Bessie chew on him while playing and of course, her being a girl and him being a gentleman he did nothing to stop her. She has needle-sharp baby teeth and she must have left his skin riddled with tiny holes that got infected, not to even mention it must have hurt when she chewed on him.

Ruffin will have his 8th birthday in two days and I managed to find some "affordable" filet mignon steak so he and Mr. Axl will share one for a joint party. When I promised Axl he was going to get a filet for his birthday I hadn't been to the store to check the price. When I did I found it was $23 a pound. I managed to get into Sam's Club and found it last week for much less. Photos will be taken but since the steak is small and will be divided two ways it will be eaten rather fast so I will have to plan ahead to get a decent shot.



Friday, October 31, 2014

Bessie celebrates her first Halloween with unexpected results.

As previously mentioned, Bessie has been acting like a miniature guard dog lately whenever I took her out front on her leash. And our normally quiet, dead-end street always gets invaded on Halloween by hundreds of kids from surrounding neighborhoods going door-to-door trick or treating. This posed a serious problem. By the time the kids started ringing our doorbell tonight at 6 o'clock Bessie was in a frantic state barking at everything so I couldn't even let her watch from inside the door because she was jumping up against the glass storm door. Ruff and Axl stayed with me out of curiosity and stuck their heads out while I dispensed the candy treats but Bessie was tied up where she couldn't see what was going on. Then during a lull in the traffic I decided to take the boys out along with Bess on her long leash. When the crowds of people began to move up and down the block Bessie didn't know which way to look to begin barking and the biggest surprise came when the first group of kids walked across our lawn right up to the three dogs. Bessie greeted them with excitement but didn't bark at anyone.

Ruff, as usual, became the center of attention as one youngster after another came over to pet him. When he was inside and just stuck his huge head out the door he managed to give a few kisses to some little ones but he really becomes a clown outside when he is surrounded by older girls. And Bessie managed to get a large dose of instant socialization when she found herself meeting so many people at once. Not once did she bark at anyone for the rest of the night.

I decided to stay outside with the three Rottweilers until the trick or treat period ended at 8 o'clock instead of running inside to grab some candy every time we had a visitor. Daylight Savings Time doesn't start until Sunday morning so by 7 PM it was already very dark and we have no street lights. It must have been a big surprise to Bessie to see the outlines of people walking up and down the street past the porch lights on the other houses and to hear all the talking coming from every direction. In the end I think she handled herself very well.


Unintended consequences. Ruff becomes a casualty of play-school.

Some bad news here but hopefully it will get better. Yesterday I noticed a large wet spot under Ruff's chin that was larger than my hand. It was also crusty so I mistook it for saliva from baby Bessie's make-believe combat. Turned out her make-believe combat hasn't been very make-believe. While Ruff was pretending to fight, Bessie wasn't. The wet spot was puss oozing from some infected bite marks she gave him with her needle-sharp teeth. I washed Ruff's chest with shampoo and scrubbed the crust away and it looked serious enough for a visit to the Vet this morning. My suspicions were correct and now Ruff is on a mega-dose of 3000 units of Cephalexin antibiotics per day for the next ten days and the love of his life is going to be kept away from him.

Looking back on some of the photos of Bessie hanging from Ruff's neck I now realize the snarly look on Ruff's face was not pretend. Ruff was in pain but he never tried to hurt Bessie, he just tolerated everything she did to him. I think that says a lot for Ruff's temperament. He loves his little girlfriend but she is now a formidable 42 pounds and getting quite strong. 

I am sure glad it wasn't more serious than it turned out to be. At least the medication was not too expensive.
Just on a side note, I also brought the little terror with us to the Vet today because Bessie was scheduled for her Stage 4 Parvo shot and the doctor happened to comment on how big she has grown. He said that on August 29th, exactly two months ago, when we got her she only weighed 13 pounds. She has gained 28 pounds in 8 weeks.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bessie and Ruff explore the great outdoors.

With such a beautiful Fall day as this we just had to go for a long walk, and bring the camera. Bessie now has the strength of a small tractor and it is impossible for me to keep up with when she is trotting along trying to keep up with Ruff. So with her long leash still hooked to her collar I dropped it and let her run. And she did the best she could with her short legs to stay next to her hero.
And I managed to capture a sequence of her running toward me with her ears flapping in the air.
Click the pictures for a larger view, especially this one. 
 Maybe I'll try again to get some of her chasing a butterfly.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

In the short span of a month, from chasing butterflies to chasing away burglars. (her opinion, not mine)

I watched in shear joy as my little girl Bessie got all excited a few weeks ago when she saw a leaf fall from the tree and she chased it across the lawn with her ears flapping in the air like little wings. Then she saw a little white butterfly and began to leap after it trying to catch it as it darted over her head. I said to myself the world must be an amazing place for a little puppy, it is so full of exciting and wonderful things. Now Fall is upon us and there are millions of leaves on the ground but my little 4-month old baby girl has already turned into a combat-ready marine with more important things on her mind. On a windy day when the leaves are blowing around Bessie still chases them but it is on the quiet days that I get a glimpse of what she may become when she grows up. 
I am not sure if I should still refer to her as "little" because I put Bessie on the scale tonight and she weighs 41.5 lbs. If she keeps up this rate of growth she will be over 90 lbs by her first birthday.
I have mentioned that soon after she discovered she had a voice, thanks to Ruffin's play-school, combat training sessions, her quiet wrestling sessions became very loud. Then she began to show some new-found courage when I had her outside. Anyone walking down the street would be challenged by her little bark given at the end of her taught leash as she would run out as close to the street as she could. She would stand with legs firmly spread looking like a miniature version of a grownup Rottweiler guard dog. Now the only difference is her bark is no longer little, she now has a serious voice. But there is more. We have a full pane glass storm door in front of our front door and when I go to take her out, as soon as I open the inside front door she begins to bark through the glass as if to let the world know she is about to come outside. We live on a quiet dead-end street and there is usually nothing or nobody out in the street but she barks anyway to give an advanced warning. The only thing I can think of is to compare her to the way a SWAT Team enters a building by first tossing a hand grenade through the door before going inside.

This is all a result of having a male Rottweiler raise her instead of a female. I suspect that single fathers who raise little girls turn them into tomboys who have as more fun playing with boys than with other girls. I may be wrong but I am seeing something different here. My first two Rottweiler girls adopted and raised our rescued Rotts, Mocha raised Sassy and she became the leader of the pack but still had a motherly nature. Then Sassy raised Ruffin and Ruffin became the biggest cream-puff who just loves to meet people. He makes friends with anyone who says hello to him. He is only protective in the sense that he has such an imposing presence that a bad person wouldn't go near him. The only time I saw a vicious looking snarl on his face was when he was playing with Bessie. But Ruffin seems to know what kind of upbringing Bessie required so in spite of his gentle good nature he has produced what I am having fun calling my Warrior Queen. I often wonder if I should have given her a more noble-sounding name. Bessie is a cute, girlish name that can be whispered softly in her ear when cuddling with her on the couch. Maybe something with a strong Germanic sound would fit her personality better. I know as I get older I will be well protected.
As they say on television, the adventure begins.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

After 19 years I finally learned something about my Rottweilers.

Since 1995 I have been privileged to have shared my home and my life with seven wonderful Rottweilers and be allowed to witness how they live among themselves. One of the things I've learned is that all of the females in our home were always the leaders of the pack. I have seen the generations of the older Rottweilers pass on to the young the qualities we recognize as being so noble. A friend some years ago told me to be careful of falsely attributing human traits and characteristics to my Rottweilers because it was called being anthropomorphic. But besides the hugs and kisses all species share some common things like compassion, devotion and leadership.  In the last two months since I adopted a 7-week old baby Rottweiler girl I have mentioned the play-school that Bessie has been put through by our almost 8-year old male, Ruffin. But now I see some differences going on from what I saw in the past with our other adopted pups.

In 2003 we adopted another baby girl we named Sassy who was about the same age as baby Bessie was when we got her.
Our 8-year old female, Mocha immediately became Sassy's foster-mother. Mo never had any puppies but she was raised by her mother Felony who ruled our house like a Drill Sergeant.  We were constantly entertained by Sassy's playfully combative attitude with her adopted mother and the fierce and strict reactions she received from Mo. Mocha was teaching Sassy that she was the leader of the pack and that someday Sassy would also become the leader. Then we bought baby Ruffin from a breeder and another round of training began. Ruffin was the only one of our seven that came with a pedigree. Technically, Mocha wasn't adopted, she was a gift from my daughter but we did adopt Mocha's parents, Nikko and Felony.

Sassy's determined schooling teaching Ruffin discipline and respect almost seemed the same but it had a minor quality that didn't become obvious until I began to watch Ruffin teaching baby Bessie. Sassy was teaching Ruff that she was the leader to be respected and obeyed while Ruffin is teaching Bessie to become the leader. Ruffin was letting Bessie get away with things that Sassy never allowed.

At the very young age of 3-months, (she will be 4-months old November 1st), I saw baby Bessie already acting like the protector and leader of the pack. She has become unusually brave and outspoken when she is outside. She loudly challenges everyone and everything. And then it occurred to me that her self-confidence has come from the fact that for the last two months she has been allowed to beat the crap out of a 130-LB male Rottweiler and get away with it every day whereas Ruffin was never allowed to beat up Sassy because she was the boss.

A few weeks after we got Bessie I noticed there were some things she was afraid of and being so little it was to be expected. If I took her outside alone at night and she heard a train whistle or a barking dog off in the distance, she would run as fast as could back to the front door for safety. It was so cute to see when Ruffin was outside with her at night she would run and stand behind him for protection when she was frightened. She doesn't do that any more. Now she stands firmly with her legs apart and listens to the sounds as if she is thinking about them or she challenges the sound with loud barking if it is close by. Another new thing Bessie does is after I put on her leash - as soon as I open the front door she lets out a few barks to let the world know she is coming out. Bessie is becoming our new warrior Queen and Ruffin is her trainer and champion and knight in shining armor. So much for being anthropomorphic.

Friday, October 17, 2014

More odds and ends. In one 24-hour period, not counting the toilet paper episode.

War declared: Ruffin stole Bessie's red ball. The same one he hasn't played with since we adopted Bessie.
The watering hole. Sort of like National Geographic.
Peace declared.
Fighting resumes.
Axl says, I wish these two would grow up so I can get some decent rest and relaxation around here. I thought this was supposed to be my retirement home.
And it isn't even time for dinner yet.