Thursday, December 23, 2010

Riagan's Mama and Sister With Santa

I wanted to share a sweet Christmas greeting from Riagan's mom and sister. Her sister is on the left, and her mama is on the right. (Santa seems to be keeping a close eye on her sister).

And, a picture of Riagan taking over our laps last night as we watched, The Grinch That Stole Christmas. Riagan got a little bored with it and fell fast asleep.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Beautiful Riagan: 9 Months

Maybe the reason Irish Wolfhounds are noble, and they are, is because they are so big they have little to fear. Even when they play fight, they learn how strong they are, and how few living things could hurt them.

They are so very smart and generous.

Once a week I give Riagan a shower with me, and she always comes right in (she doesn't have to be dragged) and sits calmly as I spray her with water, work in the shampoo and groom her.

In fact, nothing seems to phase her except being separated from us. As long as she's by our side--when we sleep--when we wake--when we work outside--she's very content. When she's around, I have very little to fear either. There is no one, no thing, that does not give her instant or, at least, quick respect.

Her handshake, which we are trying to her train out of, is coming behind a guest and standing full up (which is about at their height) and pushing them with her paws. Big men have been pushed forward with her strength and turn in awe--like what beast is this? They're all amazed at her and, generally, can't take their eyes off of her.

Or maybe it's just me--I can't take my eyes off her.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Irish Wolfhound Track

This is Riagan's imprint (track) at 9 months. A dog track and a cat track are not much different, but a dog's two front toes (lead toes) are usually straight across, whereas, a cat will lead out with the third toe of the foot it's placing down. Also, you can usually see the claw on the dog's track--but not usually on the cat's.

Dog Track:

Cat Track:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wolfhound: 9 Months

Riagan is now 31" at the withers. She's lean and strong, well over a hundred pounds, and dense. She can bound through and over high snow at rapid speeds. She is a baby in an adult body.

Her mind is keen. She is naturally submissive. We taught her to lie down on command easily the first time we tried. She responds very well to hand-signals.

We feed her a little over 6 cups of food a day. If she eats more, she throws it up.

She is very good with strangers and children. She has never shown a bit of aggression.

The only issue we've had with her is she chewed the sole of my brand new Uggs and she's so damn big! Last month we removed the large leather couch from the living room to make space for her. When she lies out in front of the fire, she takes up about five feet or more of space. She makes our house seem small. Now I see why only royalty owned them in the golden-olden days. You'd need a castle to house them.

But she doesn't seem to know she's big. She still has these sweet puppy eyes and big goofy mannerisms. She comes begging with Maggie, the lab, (who now looks no bigger than a Chihuahua to us), and, though she towers over Maggie, she sincerely believes she's the baby sister.

I take showers with her every week. We have one of those removable heads that you can take down and move around. She knows to come in, sit down, and get a bath, and she's really pretty good at it.

The thing I love most about her is the way she makes me feel. She has this crazy, intense loyalty to us--she won't leave the bedroom until we're out of bed, for instance. She'll jump on the bed and lay down over us and paw/claw our faces, but she will not leave until we go with her. (Imagine a 6 foot, 120 pound dog jumping on your bed!!) She stays by our side when we're working the property. She makes me feel safe. It's like I have this huge bodyguard with me at all times. She has this fierce loyalty and protectiveness (always looking way out on the edges of the property for intruders) yet this big heart and gentle spirit. I see why some people consider them spirit guides--they do seem to want to guide and protect you through life.

If you're going to raise an Irish Wolfhound puppy in your home, you'd better be a laid back person. Everything a puppy does naturally is done by an IW, but on a much larger scale. If you can't handle a small puppy, please do not get an Irish Wolfhound. IWs are not for all people, they are for special us. I say this jokingly, but it's true. If you don't that have that special quality to roll with the flow, fly by the seat of your pants, tolerate chaos, you are not Irish Wolfhound material.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Walking Wolfhounds

First, I have to say, Riagan has the honor of having been the easiest dog I have ever trained to heel. It never felt like work.

The breeder at Laloba Hounds sent a very large, self-compiled notebook with Riagan when she came to our home. In that notebook she had a section on how she and her husband preferred to walk their wolfhounds in the early processes of training. Their method distributed pressure throughout the chest rather than solely on the neck.

So, when we walked Riagan, we used a horse lead draped over her right shoulder and collected up on the other side. It was a sort of chest halter--when she'd move forward out of the heel position, I'd pull her whole body back by my side.

Today was the first day I switched to the choke collar. Half of her walk was with the chest halter--the other half solely with the collar alone. The collar, therefore, was not the main method--it was only a reminder to come back.

It only took Riagan a couple of reminders, after that, she could be called back verbally with a very gentle, "Riagan, heel," and no pressure to the neck or chest. She walked with a slack lead the whole way--even past barking dogs and loud trucks.

All and all, she has had very little walking training of any sort since we're cautioned not to over-walk young hounds. But as she enters her sixth month and we are, more and more, in public on a leash--and she is, more and more, leviathan, there is a particular need to walk nicely and not yank mama's arm off. (No yanking here).

Which leads me to my overall conclusion (and Wolfhound owners will not be surprised by this)--

Wolfhounds are SMART.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Wolfhounds Love Kitties

Don't wake the sleeping Giant! She's only six months, but watch out when she's full grown. Note to coyotes: avoid our property!

We have a Wolfhound who loves her Kitty Sisters. Here she is running with her puppy sister, Maggie, to the barn to see the rest of her family.

Kitty: What big paws you have...

Wolfhound: All the better to pet you with.

Kitty: What a big nose you have...

Wolfhound: All the better to tickle you with.

Kitty: What a long tail you have....

Wolfhound: All the better for you to chase and play with...

Kitty: My, what big jaws you have.

Wolfhound: All the better to kiss you with.

Note to Coyotes: Wolfhounds love kitties.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Irish Wolfhound in The Washington State Governor's Mansion: Archival Photos

(Old article on Irish Wolfhounds--Governor Daniel J. Evans of Washington and his dog Peggy. Click on picture to read larger image. Peggy with Gov. Evans and family below)

Riagan is almost six months now and looking more and more like a pony. Her appetite has also increased.

More and more, she ventures out towards the horses (probably in search of horse manure--her new favorite thing), but she is very cautious. They tend to ignore her. I researched this whole thing about dogs preferring to eat manure--and, apparently, it's perfectly normal. Just try to keep them away from it--you can't. Riagan seems to like it more than our Lab, Maggie. I have no idea why.

We are still having the issue with her jumping on people when they arrive. I don't think it's abnormal for dogs to do this when they're super excited about guests, but she's too big to allow it to happen. We've taken to keeping her on her leash when guests arrive, letting her say hello politey, then taking her off to our bedroom until she settles down a bit.

They say most IWs don't bark, but Riagan does. I think she's learned it from Maggie. If she sees something going on up the road or neighboring property, she begins to bark--very deep--not very loud--as she remains in the "sit" position. She doesn't always do it, but occasionly does.

Her teeth came in great with the upper canines and lower canines clearing the gum line nicely and allowing the jaw to sit nicely when closed. She didn't have any crowding. A good bite with a dog like an Irish Wolfhound--who have a very long, narrow jaw, is an awesome genetic trait, and one which I'm very thankful she has.

The conformation of her legs is also quite nice--they don't bow in our out when looking at her from the back. This gives her beautiful forward movement.

Almost to month 6 and time for the Rabies shot!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Irish Wolfhound People

Here's an article my parents collected back when we had Mish.

As I was looking online for IW articles the same day I scanned these, I came across a review of the book, Sight hound, by Pam Houston. Since then I ordered and read it, and I also ordered a DVD of an interview with her and footage of her dogs.

Her book is, admittedly, about 87 percent non-fiction, but listed as fiction. Her first Irish Wolfhound really was named Dante (like the IW of the story) and, we can suppose, many of the events are true.

I'm not familiar with any writer today who showcases an Irish Wolfhound with so much respect and admiration for the breed. After having grown up with Mish in the 70's--our first IW--I can relate like only IW people can.

Believe it or not, and I know this is a stretch of the imagination, but there are people who look at Riagan and think she's uglyish (or so I'm told)--they don't get the whole Irish Wolfhound thing at all. So, I've come to think we are a special group of individuals--blessed with the ability to appreciate the otherness of this breed. You have to look past the big, lanky, shaggy, beastly exterior to see their innate nobility--their quiet loyalty, their deep need for togetherness with their human. And this is something you either get or you don't get.

If you're a prissy type-A, IWs may not be your dog. It's no exaggeration, their big paws are like monster trucks running over your carpet. Kiss "clean" good-bye. And, their height gives them a rare ability to peek into your grocery bags as you're walking to your door--and, sometimes, to nab out of those bags what they find agreeable. Or, at the very least, to rip the them as you try to yank them away from their long jaws.

I do miss clean carpet--and the SD card for my camera that I'm pretty sure Riagan ate--pictures and all, but I'm a sucker for my dog. She just has to tap/pound/maul me with her big paw (her way of asking for attention) and my heart melts.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Riagan, Irish Wolfhound pup: Five months

Getting Bigger.

Riagan finally lost her baby teeth and got her permanent canines.

She's still loosely put together, lanky, and easily injured. Yesterday, she was running circles around the tree as fast as she could when one leg slipped out from under her and she landed hard on it. She has favored it a little since then.

She is braver than she was--moving further out in the pasture and exploring.

Also, she has an attitude like she is one of us. She seems to think we are all seamless rather than she is a dog and maybe, just maybe, beneath the humans here. I really don't think that thought has ever crossed her mind. The Dog Whisperer probably wouldn't be happy with us. But, so far, she shows no aggression. I can take away her food, her raw bones, anything, and she won't bat an eye. She has NEVER shown a bit of dominance or aggression toward any human. She just doesn't see any division between us. We are, in her mind, simpatico.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Old Irish Wolfhound Newspaper Article

This is an article that was sent to my parents back in the '70's. Funny, isn't it?

Life with a sighthound is unique. Whereas, most dogs rely primarily on their ears and are always hearing things far off, the sighthound relies primarily on her eyes.

This morning, I sat in the grass and watched what Riagan watched. First a flock of birds in the sky. Then, her head turned and trekked a hawk who glided high and quiet above us. I'd never have noticed him myself, but she locked in a steady gaze.

What did she see that I didn't? Could she make out the pattern on his feathers, the look in his eye? I only saw his shape.

What does the world look like through the eyes of a sighthound?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Puppy Food for Irish Wolfhounds

My breeder strongly suggested we use Wysong Growth (natural, holistic pet food) for our Irish Wolfhound puppy (it has the lowest rate of calcium), and we have done this. We trust her judgement. After all, it should be the breeder who knows the most about the breed, otherwise, why would you buy your dog from them?

I found the Laloba Hounds five years ago, in my search for a Ballykelly dog, and appreciated their emphasis on longevity and quality of life for their IWs. They have, I believe, nine of their own who share their home. That's love!

Also, you can just tell by talking to a breeder--their love of the hounds should come out loud and clear. In our case, I had no doubt I was dealing with the biggest fan of IWs I'd ever find--a real mother to the breed as a whole. My puppy came home to me with a large three-ring binder she'd compiled herself--pack-full of everything from nutrition to training to history and IW literature.

In all her research and hands-on experience, she found that limiting the calcium intake for growing Irish Wolfhounds is essential. It leads to more managed growth and less long-term joint and bone problems.

I'm impressed with Wysong. It comes in three vacuum sealed packages per box (keeps it fresh), the price was fair, and the list of ingredients is impressive (brown rice, kelp, rosemary, can see some more in the picture of the ingredients above).

It is, however, hard to get in some areas, but easy to order. You can order it on the web at places like or from many local pet food stores, and it seems to arrive quickly.

In Spokane, I use the store Pet Vittles. I LOVE that store. In fact, I want to blog about it in an upcoming post. If you have a special dog like an Irish Wolfhound, you need to find your special store--one where you can get what you want and the owners come to the table with knowledge and experience of their own and are willing to take time with you to share that experience and knowledge. They also have really cool collars and supplies--like the Up Country collection!! You'll get addicted to their pet collars and start a new hobby!! They are such high quality, beautiful, unusual collars. I'll have to blog a special post about them soon, too. The store carries them at cheaper prices than you'll find on the company's site.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

4 Month Old Irish Wolfhound

It seems that the fourth month has seen a major increase in size and a corresponding increase in appetite of my IW.

She's still a baby, but because she's the size of most large dogs (or taller) she appears to be in an adult body. I think people expect more of her even though they know she's four months.

For the most part she's perfect--of course! However, there is one thing she needs to work on that has only recently started--not jumping on people. She gets so excited to see people she knows, she just wants to be right up there near their faces--and those huge paws and sharp claws (which she doesn't know she has) are enough to knock people over. Big no-no.

On the bright side, she hasn't had an accident in the house for weeks and she rarely chews on anything she shouldn't. More and more, she's able to be in the house unsupervised. Although, I'm referring to very short periods here.

She appears to have lost some of her front baby teeth, but not her canines. She still sleeps a lot. She hasn't shown any kind of aggression or protectiveness.

She was born March 16th and today is July 22--so she is just barely into her fourth month.

Friday, July 9, 2010

An Irish Wolfhound Puppy For Us

This blog is dedicated to every Irish Wolfhound who ever loved a family--but more specifically--it's dedicated to Mish--the Irish Wolfhound who loved us.

Because of Mish, I come from a whole family of Irish Wolfhound lovers, and have personally dreamed of one day being able to raise another. This Spring, my wish came true.

After thirty years, I finally have another Wolfhound!

And, OH, does she bring back GREAT memories. There's nothing like the look, the walk, the paws, the sound of the paws, the mind, of an Irish Wolfhound. After being away from the breed for so long--only seeing two others in thirty years--it was like a homecoming, of sorts, for me. Lots and lots of memories of Mish just came flooding back. It's GOOD to have memories like that brought back up to the surface. After all, she did bless our family with her love and protection for ten years--ten of my most formative ones.

We have another wonderful dog, Maggie our Lab, who is helping us raise our new IW puppy we named Riagan. Maggie is a mind-reader--a servant--a natural Omega in the best sense of the word. She has taken Riagan in like she's her own pup.

The one hallmark of this month with Riagan, in the spirit of learning about this breed, is their sensitivity. The breeder, an avid IW lover, really stressed this, but living with a wolfhound is the only sure proof. They are NOT a dog for heavy hands. They are mature beyond their months of life--so little time in the world, but so much instant maturity. Riagan plays, yes, but she also spends a good deal of time sitting at our side watching the road, or the birds, or the sunset.

I've wondered aloud to my husband, as we watch her watching, if their quick maturity has something to do with their short lifespans--as if nature moves them along in everything more rapidly. I don't know if the two are connected, but what is certain is their short lifespans. We were lucky to have ten years with Mish. Some of Riagan's relatives have surpassed ten years, and we have high hopes for her own longevity, but the breed, as a whole, lives far too short.

So, my first month with my new baby has shown me, most of all, that the Irish Wolfhound is a quickly maturing, extremely willing, partner. They WANT to become part of the family. They want to be at your side at all times. They want to know they are home--forever.

Meet our baby, Riagan in her 3rd-4th month of life. (DOB: 3/16/10)

First Night:

3rd day here:

A couple weeks later:

And, a month after arriving (almost 4 months old and an inch higher than Maggie at the back now)