For the last few weeks, change has rained down fast and hard upon us. As well as the general changes as the weather warms up and takes us out of racing season and into a wet, wild spring, we've also struck a few major life changes. Firstly, there was the realisation that we'd brought a really special souvenir home from our honeymoon in Scotland - not that we've actually counted back too precisely, but when I've been really crook with morning (all day long) sickness, its been fun to call it the Wee Loch Ness Monster.
In our planning for the new arrival, due in March, we've decided its time to move into a new place. We'd hoped to be able to buy our own place next year, even if we couldn't afford 15 acres to lay out our own training trails! Alas, we've decided that its going to take us a little longer, after a year of massive vet bills, a wedding and a honeymoon. So in the meantime, we're moving into a smaller, more affordable rental. Yes, it will have plenty of room for the dogs, even if J and I will have to give up having two living spaces, two studies and a walk-in robe. And, in case anyone is still worried about the dogs, we will have an off-lead park within walking distance, as well as a series of walking trails leading into the Dandenongs and along the Eastlink freeway.
So we've spent the last week frantically packing. And every so often, we stop to look over old photo albums and marvel over how things have changed. I was fascinated to see some of J's early photos of the dogs.
I was fascinated to see a photo of Czar's sister, Zombie. A red! As you can see, they had extremely similar markings, and if she had half of Czar's intelligence, they would have been a terrifyingly smart team. We've long been interested in who might have bred Czar, and will probably use him as a benchmark for any dog we acquire in the future. Unfortunately, we've been unable to find Czar's breeder. Certainly, that any breeder that would sell a brother-sister pair to a couple of young men, living in an apartment, without a contract to return the puppies if the home was unsuccessful, suggests that they were either bred by unscrupulous puppy farmers, or by ignorant back yard breeders. In the picture above, they are about 9 months old and already on to their third home, due to this lack of responsibility by the breeders. Fortunately, Czar has been here ever since, and Zombie was soon rehomed through SHCV Rescue, to a loving family, who were kind enough to rename her!
J doesn't have any really early photos of Bolo. Bolo arrived severely malnourished and filthy. The earliest photos, some months later, show a decent coat over a very skinny frame, emphasized by enormous ears. In this photo of Bolo running with Frankie, the twelve months difference in age is exaggerated by Bolo's skinniness. I find this a bit shocking - today, Bolo stands a couple of centimetres taller than Frankie, and I wonder if he had a late growth spurt once he caught up on his nutrition.
Its also interesting that Bolo once had much more of a mask than he does today - several early photos show dark patches around his eyes, similar to Frankie's. But the biggest change is undoubtedly in Ishka, whose puppy photos I find unrecognisable.
Ishka still has a distinctive blaze down her face, but, like Bolo, her masked eyes have lightened over time. Actually, her entire coat has lightened - I did not recognise her puppy photos at all. Around the time she was three, and putting up with annoying younger brothers Bolo and Czar, she is a much lighter colour, similar to the grey I've known her to be. Her littermate Rex, who still lives up in the Victorian High Country with Ishka's breeder, is a similar colour, although he apparently went properly grey around age 7.
And of course, some things never change, right cheeky Bolo?