Our friend Jack took most of the photos of Nicky and Nora when he was here at the beginning of April. The Deadly Duo didn't mind posing for a few shots for their fans.
Nicky and Nora both turned a year old in March – Nora, as you may recall, is a week older than Nicky. We were going to have a birthday party but there's a bit of a problem: our Nicky is terrified of other dogs. Oh he's all bravado, bark and snap when he first sees them but the running in terror when they accept the challenge is heart rending. Yelping piteously he immediately seeks the protection of one of us. Nora is a little braver and a few Sundays ago at the farm even tried to join in the other kids' games. So this year the party was a bit low keyed: them and us, an extra few biscuits and quite a few more hugs and cuddles -if that is possible.
Nora and Nicky show off their lovely collars sent to them by Aunt Cecilla. We were hoping they would grow into them but we finally had to have them altered to fit. As befits a young lady Nora, and in honour of their favorite scarlet lady, wears the snappy red one and Nicky sports the green one that he thinks set his eyes off perfectly.
It hardly seems a year since we first saw the little bundles of fluff that were to change our life style so radically. They have both grown though sadly neither one grew fully into those beautiful collars their Aunt Cecilia sent them. But as the pictures will attest we had the collars altered to fit them and they now proudly show them off to all and sundry. Next week we are having the tags engraved with their names.
Nora was frankly very leery of our friend Jack when he approached her with his super duper zoom lens does everything but pop corn camera. She figured it was going to flash the way that silly one does that I am forever pointing at her.
Our Nora is a chunky girl – not fat understand, just big boned bespeaking her Hungarian heritage. She's also very cuddly and loves nothing more than giving kisses. Nicky is pencil thin in the style of his Italian parentage and always will be from the looks of it. Oh he eats but he's sleek and slender by nature- the perfect Armani model. And to suggest that he is a bit high-strung – well understatement is always advisable. There are, as at least one of the oriental carpets can attest, territorial concerns and the pack positions are still an issue. The fights can sound ferocious – Nora has a big growl for a little girl – and there is much leg, tail and scruff biting with the odd water break or things come to a standstill after the nipping elicits a loud yelp.
Nicky has been learning his posses by watching the Fashion Channel. If in doubt flash them the profile - that gets them every time.
And training daschies is always an issue – they are bright but stubborn. And Nicky took me completely by surprise last week when he suddenly got the whole idea behind “down”. It came as a complete shock. He and I were out for a walk – because he tends to be more aggressive when Nora is around, protecting his “bitch” we've been told - we often walk them alone. Out of the blue I decided to try a few of the training commands – sit, stay and down. Miraclo! He did all three – perfectly and stayed down until I gave the “ok”. We tried it 10 times during that walk until I finally got a very exasperated look that suggested “basta” enough was enough – point proven I can do it!
Nora really doesn't understand the point of this whole “sit, stay, down”. Oh she can do it, she just doesn't see why she should. Nor does she understand why both food dishes can't be her's – I mean if he doesn't want it why let it go to waste?
Nora knows the angles that show off her best features - like that rubbable pink tummy. And it sort of flashes the red collar to!
In North American the best known breeds of daschie are the standard (like our girl Bundnie) or Long Haired (like my best buddy Reesie), the wire-haired is less well known.. However here in Italy they are fairly common (I'm sorry Nora I know there's nothing common about you baby, nor our boy Nicky, its just a turn of phrase). Of the three types they are the ones most frequently used for hunting and one of the reasons – aside from their tracking abilities, tenacity and ferociousness – was because of their thick water-proof coats. The wire-haired actually has two coats – a soft short undercoat like the smooth daschie and that thicker coarser top coat. Often the colour of the two coats is different – as indeed it is with both Nicky and Nora. This changes their appearance as the top coat grows. That top coat has to be stripped every so often to allow the undercoat to breath and frankly to lessen the appearance of being an unmade bed. The last time the kids were coiffed was sometime back in late October so it was time in early April that they paid a visit to their barber to have that top coat stripped. It is possible – in fact it is mandatory for show dogs – to hand strip the coat but that's a long and laborious job. Just getting the dog to stay still as you tug at lose hair can be a challenge and with those two would be a major campaign.
A few weeks ago when Laurent and I were spending a weekend in Palermo our friends Catherine and her mom Jocelyn took care of the kids. I was absolutely stunned when Catherine told me she had taken them on not one but two bus rides and that they had behaved like perfect little angels. Laurent and I are fast coming to the conclusion that perhaps permissive parenting is causing the little spurts (both figuratively and literally) of misbehaving that seem to happen when we are around.
And these have to be my two favorite photos of my little Hounds from Hell. It wasn't posed - I found them that way in the den one afternoon. They weren't very happy when I woke them. Poor Nicky often goes frantic when Nora isn't around - Nora could care less one way or the other. Heartless female!
18 maggio - San Leonardo Murialdo