Saturday, December 21, 2013


Well, Inkwell won't be having puppies any time soon but there are puppies to be considered.... will take you to a page belonging to  good friend with some really nice puppies that are about 5 months old now. Sired by a handsome fellow named Ch. Heatherhill's Shock and Awe (Shocka), their dam is Joann Beavers' Holly . There were 'mismarks' (excess white for the show ring) but absolutely no health concerns associated with the pattern of white they exhibit. NICE NICE puppies and ready to go as soon as the right homes come along, companion and/or performance (they are well made and sociable). . Contact info is on the page.  Located in St. Michaels MD.

In other puppy news, Debbie Mills, Milwin Kennels, has just had a litter of 10 healthy puppies out of her Blossom (Milwin's Wild Flower) and sired by Ch. Aliyah's Semper Fi of Joywalk. These puppies would be ready to go in mid February, Debbie's contact info is  . Her website is NOT up to date. These puppies are located near Culpeper VA.

Merry Christmas!

We have had a couple of small snows this past couple of weeks and naturally the dogs are delirious with joy.  So photos are in order, I think!

My Mantel


Family portrait 

Snow nose?

Left in the dust



I also made a trip tot he Jersey shore to a gallery last week and took Satin and Thumper, neither of which had ever experienced salt water. The beach was empty and the temperature was chilly, perfect for the dogs.

First contact with salt water

In flight

Satin flies a LOT

Winter light is the best

Love the converging footprints

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Thumper's year, and our year.

'Thumper's issue' of the Aussie Times arrives this week, earned as a result of his being #1 in final standings for the ASCA year in conformation competition. It is a bittersweet celebration after a year of highs and lows.

Beware, this is a self-indulgent read, avert your eyes if you aren't a dog person.

Posting this gives me a sense of finality I would so much prefer not to face, but it is what it is. 

Dogs can break one's heart. Or more accurately, our hopes and dreams involving them can set us up for heartbreak; the dogs don't do anything except continue to be their wonderful selves, but sometimes what we plan with and for them just doesn't work out.

Thumper is  4 years old now, successful in the ring and in my opinion at least, a really good  example of the breed. No dog is perfect  and there are things I’d change to make him better, but nonetheless a good dog.
a week old?
 When I bred Ribbon to Caleb 4 years ago for my only 'own' litter, I knew I wanted to keep pick puppy for myself. At 8 weeks it was clear which puppy was the keeper and so Thumper stayed back with me when the other 6 puppies went forth to their new homes.

Month by month he got better. Test by test he came back normal, or negative/negative, or 'good'; in other words, no issues in areas we traditionally do health screening for. Even color testing came back in favorably (Yes! Red factored! No! NOT yellow Factored!).

Temperament to die for sweet, deferential to other males without being fearful, sweet and goofy if maybe a bit distractable); smart and drivey.
10 months old, in the asca ring

He went into the show ring with me, showed without any reservation from the get-go, finished quickly with me in both AKC and ASCA rings, out of Bred-by classes. Yes, fat ME handled him and won all his championship points. (*Well my friend Raechelle helped wrap up in ASCA when I had a prior obligation one weekend. Thanks Rae!).

Meanwhile he was looking better all the time. So off he went, at age 2.5, to spend a year showing with one of the most talented handlers in our breed (Maria Neff). I wouldn't have sent him out if I didn't think he was going to do well, but he did better than that, and so onward we went (they  went, I sent ) to make #1 in Breed Standings in ASCA for the year. Oh and he was Best of Breed at the Canadian National Specialty in July, as well.

So he came home in June at the end of the ASCA year, back to me, for the next chapter, which was to include training in Competition obedience with occasional forays into the AKC ring (want to get his Silver Grand Championship) and ASCA rings (would love to make top 30 for NEXT year's invitational).  Also to include standing to selected bitches. He has had a lot of inquiries (many casual of course but several nice, serious ones as well). I'd always planned to limit him, be selective about crosses, and therefore be able to see how he was producing gradually. I mean he is young, right? Plenty of time. And some wonderful breeders I'd trust with my own dogs planned to bring girls to him.
Except that he 'missed' two bitches in April/May.   This, along with an observation by a  breeder who judged him in May that raised some questions.
Of to the repro vet we went, to find that he had a very low sperm count and poor motility, +Lymes and a white blood cell load.


 He was treated immediately for Lyme of course, and put on a course of antibiotics for the apparent infection that grew out MRSA by semen culture. A sonogram showed all normal structures   except for a small lesion in a normal-sized prostate, presumed to be the source of the MRSA.
Subsequent followup in September showed all normal chemistry labs, all normal hormone levels, normal thyroid, no more bacterial growth by culture, and now a normal sonogram. In short, nothing whatever wrong with the dog expect for, now,  virtually no sperm production at all.
Yeah, they're pretty. Dammit...
 The conclusion from my repro consultants is an autoimmune response to the Lyme disease. I have to assume I sent him  for his year-long campaign already carrying Lyme since his environment while on the road was pretty hostile to the possibility of picking up ticks.  On the other hand I have plenty of deer in my Maryland property. He probably had Lymes   for over a year, without symptoms.My bad.

At this  point his prognosis is very poor for any return of fertility as there is really not a way to reverse autoimmune attacks like this. I haven't completely given up all hope but I am a realist. I don't have to 'do' anything anyway, no real reason to neuter him at this time and we will continue to evaluate him eery few months for the time being.  But the damage is most likely done at this point.

 A lot of people in the breed already know about this, or have heard talk (almost certainly, LOL) about it, and I have been very open about it from the beginning  to the people who needed to know (mainly breeders inquiring about using him in their breeding programs). But because of the interest in him I felt it time to be sure info was offered that is accurate.
Thumper remains the same dog he has always been,  of course.  He stays here, and down the road when I have room I will add a son or daughter of his to the household. I will continue to work with him in competition obedience and will always  have him with me at AKC and ASCA Nationals. And I did collect him, twice, before his counts crashed. It will be a while before I have room for a Thumper son or daughter but I will, at some point in the future, when the suitable arrangement presents itself.  Meanwhile we'll cheer on his puppies from his 2 litters of last year, a few of which are shown here.

UKC Ch. Milwin Monarch of Dove Creek
ASCA Ch. Ninebark Dancers and Dreamers
Ninebark The Gypsy Run, working on agility, rally and OB titles.
AKC GCH/CKC CH.RBIS Ninebark Cops and Robbers
mini-family portrait from a year ago.
ASCA Ch. Ninebark Cowboys and Indians

I hope if anyone has questions, they will ask me. So much more accurate than asking anyone who doesn't own the dog, about it. Really. Ask ME.  

Friday, October 4, 2013

A long trip away from home

Well September flew by very quickly thanks to a full calendar of travel . I believe I put about 5,000 miles on my trusty old van traveling about last month!

It all started with Birds in Art, my annual trip to Wausau WI for the flagship art exhibition put on my the Woodson Art Museum there, showcasing 100 of the best sculptors and flat artists in the world in their juried show. I was included again this year (my 18th in 20 years, I do believe) and an added incentive for attending was the induction of my dear friend Terry Miller as the 2013 Master Artist for Birds in Art. I got to hang the medal around his neck after making a 10 minute introduction to our fellow artists on Friday, Sept 6.

Well, it was SUPPOSED to start with Birds in Art. Due to an unfortunate development regarding Thumper, followed by a generous offer from a fan of his, it actually started with my driving down to Paris KY to leave Thumper for a couple of days of veterinary workup (for an issue not affecting his health specifically but needing workup). Won't say much more until all is said and done. So Paris, overnight, where I got to visit a son of his, 'Lock', and see my hosts' lovely horse operation in Bluegrass Country. 

They also breed Short horns
After that nice afternoon I headed on up to Wausau for the show.
tears flowed!

Hoping the fame can be shared.

Then BACK to Paris Saturday to get my dog, then on westward to the front range of the Rockies. On the way I stopped over at an artist friend's to se her and her marvelous Border collies.
Joni's 'Asher' with new BFF Thumper.
Then onward to Loveland CO to visit and stay with another friend.

 It started raining about the time I was arriving in Loveland and it kept it up until the rivers were overflowing, all week long. We wee fortunate; though we never got up to Rocky Mountain Natl Park, there was no house flooding where I stayed and only the inconvenience of a few road blockages. So many in the region fared far worse. We left Loveland for our planned trip up to Yellowstone and Teton as the rivers were really cresting and had quite the detour that day to get far enough south to find an eastward road that could take us out past the cresting sections of the South Platte river  so we could head north. That little detour added 3 hours to the 1 hour we'd normally need to get to Cheyenne, WY, from Loveland CO.

The South Platte River. 2 minutes after we crossed it, the bridge was closed.
 Once we were in WY and headed west on i-80, the highway overhead signs all read:  ALL ROADS TO COLORADO CLOSED.  I am guessing you don't see that very often outside of the occasional blizzard days.
Dreamer, Deja and Thumper after a little run before entering the park one day.

In WY the weather was fine, if a bit warm, and predictably the warmth made wildlife sightings scarce. the elk remained in the high country (except around Mammoth where they are permanent lawn ornaments), the moose remained hidden, and even bison were in smallish herds scattered about. We actually saw more wildlife outside the park....

Grizzly yearling between Dubois, WY, and the eastern park entrance

Very habituated raven

Female Harlequin Ducks

The Lewis River, heavenly

The Chief Joseph highway. On he way to Cody, and incredible scenery outside the park.

Bison near Tower

Female Harlequin ducks

National Forest road, perfect for an off-lead dog session

A favorite spot in Yellowstone, willow flats. 
Anyway it was a whirlwind trip through the greatest place in the National parks system, but got to show it to my sister and refresh my memory as to what I really want to go next visit. (Paint, and take more time, a week later in the season).  As luck would have it, there was snow in the park the day after we left, which no doubt brought more wildlife down from the high country. and 10 days later came the government shutdown, locking visitors out of the park altogether, *sigh*.

But we (or I and my dog) had a date with the ASCA Nationals specialty show in Greeley, so back to CO we came. Most washed-over roads were reopened but washed-OUT roads will be weeks and months to restoration. Fortunately my commute betweenLoveland and Greeley required no detours.

Quick shot of Invitational judges and ribbon


Premier under Jennifer Cannon

Zoe, a Thumper daughter.

The invitational
He garnered a Premier under judge Jennifer Cannon, but was not the other judges' type, apparently, though he showed beautifully with his BFF Maria. However in the top 30 Invitational Thumper was 3rd, a thrilling placement.

Getting their games on.
In the ring
So all in all a busy 4 weeks. We returned home via Kansas (another Border collie visit!) and  Ohio for overnights, and now will stay home for the foreseeable future whil I catch up on work and play with the dogs I'd left behind, none of which appear to harbor any ill will toward me for leaving them here in the east.