To keep anyone from keeling over having to wait any longer however, I'll say who our new kid is and then ramble on about the rest! *VBG*
Short story: Verity, aka Cuebiyar Dream Come True, who is also Hope's half sister through their dam has made the trip down south to join our family.
We drove up to Greta, NSW which is in the Hunter Valley on Tuesday. We got a late start after a certain Bunny Lala snurched my keys and hid them very, very well! It took us 3 hours to locate them... in my knitting yarn. *sigh* At any rate, we loaded the dogs in the trailer and headed off. It really is a gorgeous trip and there were so many places I wanted to stop but since we wanted to make good time and Laurent was sleeping, we decided to keep driving as long as he slept.
This is the view from our motel.
Nic and Bunny Lala - up in the air!
An ibis I thought was pretty... whole flock of them actually but this one was closer to me.
The next day I got to meet all the dogs and spent plenty of time talking about them and watching videos. Could have done that endlessly!
Sierra and Hope in the field near the motel. For anyone wondering, yes, Cade was with us but his prissy little IG self doesn't like to get cold, wet or in the wind so he was comfortably perched in the car, on a blanket, in a sweater! Same with most of the other pics which were quite chilly!
Meeting Tilley (Hope's mum) confirmed why I love the McMatt line so much - great temperments and big love-sponges to go with their good looks. As you can see, she's got no hesitation in making herself quite at home in my lap and getting an ear rub! LOL I tried to sneak Tilley into my trailer but no luck! ;-p Courage, Hope's sire is the same - beautiful temperment but was elsewhere with his other co-owners this visit so I didn't get to see him.
Of course, I also met both Dawn and Verity since that was rather key! Both girls seemed willing to learn, despite being a bit shy. Both needed socialization but showed they were willing to work with me. Verity I'd liked since she was born... she and Rush were my two favs of the litter since they were newborns but of course there was no way I could put my hand up for a pup from that litter as La was a newborn himself. Having Hope's sister and a dog I'd liked for so long was a very big appeal, she is a gorgeous girl and seems to have a lot of her mum in her and I'm sure she'll be working her audience shortly enough. (She barked at me the first day, barked less the second and has shown absolutely ZERO of that yesterday or today... in my lap, soaking up attention and treats like a sponge!)
Dawn reminded me a lot of a particular dog I'd grown up with... not so much physically but something about the spirit more I suppose and something in the eyes... and of course I liked the lines and the idea of having a dog who'd quite probably have a good bit of working instinct. After the first day I still had no more idea of who would be coming home than when coming up though. I was hoping something big would jump out at me... but it seemed I was in the same quandry - both different girls, different advantages and different points that would need more socializing. One of the big tests was how they'd react to Laurent and again, both very different reactions with different advantages and points that'd need some work. (Bearing in mind neither girl has seen children, let alone a wild-n-wooly toddler who was fed up with traveling and threw a couple of terrific tantrums!)
So the next day back again to talk more dogs, see how the girls reacted to me after they'd been pushed a bit the previous day... I'd mucked about clicking on little things to see how they'd respond to it and both seemed to quickly 'get' the clicker concept and retain it the next day. The first day I'd pushed much longer than I'd normally work a dog as well, so got some insight as to how they might handle being pushed or reacting when a bit tired and overwhelmed. We'd also held off introducing Sierra, Cade and Hope because they'd had enough new suprises sprung on them the first day.
This ended up being the deciding factor. Dawn and Hope weren't a good match... they may have eventually gotten on well enough to live together with some management and work but not an *ideal* match... they'd never really be best mates. Since all my dogs live in the house and together and I firmly believe every one has a right to feel treasured and safe in their own home, how the dogs like each other has always been a big factor in my choice of who to get. Cade chose Bria (who was rescued as a senior and passed away in 2001), then Isabella when rescued from the puppymill where she'd been a brood bitch for years - she was a foster but I'd have literally needed a crow-bar to pry them apart. She crossed the rainbow bridge in 2006 but in early 2004 they'd both chose Sierra and were best friends. I'd looked at a couple pups that were what I wanted in terms of temperment and what I thought Cade and Isabella would get along with as well but the final say was theirs and they kept wanting to play with her most. When looking for Hope I'd given a pretty exact description of what sort of temperment Cade and Sierra got along with since we couldn't go see the pups. It's worked out really well and all the dogs have been very close and best friends with each-other. Unfortunately it didn't seem to be in the cards for Dawn and I felt that wouldn't be fair to either dog to force them to live with someone they only "tollerate" or maybe even "like" but don't love as a best buddy.
Verity ended up traveling supurbly, was happy to munch cookies and pretty quickly worked out I had a lot of good stuff stashed on my person. Since we didn't do the tourist thing on the way up we decided to do so on the way back. We meandered around Newcastle for a good while, haunting the antique stores and found a lovely blue-and-white plate, a lily of the valley tea cup and a gorgeous blue vaseline milk glass hen... perfect condition, the colour being rather rare and hard to find. I'm considering a it good omen since she was quite reasonable price and 'hatching' a clutch of eggs (hopefully hatching new and good thigns for me you see!) We stopped and had lunch as well, letting the dogs stretch their legs a bit.
La was a bit confused over the "hot dog" we got him which was about the only dairy free thing on the kids menu. First it wasn't a dog and there wasn't one to feed it to. Second, every time we told him to eat the HOT dog, he looked at us like, "Are you nuts?!?" and blew on it to cool it off. LOL
The bun, however, made far more sense! Yum! Dinosaur Lala tears into it with a mighty roar!
We went on and stopped at several little places between there and where Nic's mate lived just outside of Sydney.
We ended up staying the night with them, getting to catch up with Dave and Lou and Katelyn (who is Nic's god-daughter, four years old and so astonishingly grown up) which Laurent thought was simply brilliant! It's a pity he's the first child as I think he'd love to have been the second and have an older sibling! He LOVES playing with the big kids! I was so glad we got
to spend the extra time with them as we haven't seen them since February I think and they're not likely to be able to get down here super soon either. After spending the night, Dave had to take off for work and Lou and Katelyn had to get a move on and so did we since it's still a long trip home!
We stopped in several little towns to browse, stopped for a good while in Goldburn to look at the sites as well. Nic had me go first to the War Memorial which was a good place to go but decidedly NOT trailer friendly on top of a peak with a very narrow road and a steep drop. That said the view was lovely and the town quite cute.
It was a bit of a toss up because I wanted to see the Lavender Farm there but also wanted to see the Albury Botanic Gardens since we'd missed some of the nice gardens earlier on. We opted to go to the Lavender Farm after checking in with the tourist information on the roads (several being closed due to flooding or damage from the flooding) and went on our merry way only to find out there were closed for unknown reasons. We ended up stopping at a nursery to get our plant (always try to buy a plant to bring home and incorporate into our garden wherever we go) and got a lavender there called a "Merle" which is a Spanish type of lavender that gets to be 80x70cm and is related closely to Avonview and Ploughman's Purple and a lovely variety of She Oak. Our last touristy bit was about 20 minutes from the border, where we wandered down a walk and saw some little waterfalls, cattle, sheep and roos near a beautiful little river.
I have a whole list of places after that I now want to visit at some point including Celtic Country which looks to be a wonderful time. We spent literally the whole time we were driving talking about everything and nothing, which was wonderfully relaxing and fun. It reminded me how much I love traveling, seeing new places and spending time together like this this... just total bliss!
Towards dinner we stopped at Albury and Wodonga and for desert Laurent got a rare treat - a taste of gellati! He's probably had it about 4 times in his life but was in rapture with it... chiefly because it was GREEN. The red (strawberry) and white (lemon) were studiously ignored in favor of the green apple flavoured one! True Italian gellati has no dairy in it so it was perfectly safe for him but since we don't want him having sweets and don't usually have them ourselves it's a pretty special occasion but this trip warranted it.
At about 1:30 am I was pretty tuckered out, so we pulled over for a brief rest and ended up pulling in the house at about quarter after five in the morning. Good to be home and get the dogs out and into our own home! Verity trotted in quite happily, got bikkies with the rest of them and started horsing around wanting to play. It didn't take long to discover the beds and sheepskins either! LOL
We'll start working on gradual desensitization to anything that bothers her in a few days. I want to give her a bit to settle in, let the stress of traveling and leaving her birth home to live here and getting used to a new family etc process through and have her stress levels and hormones back to baseline before I start anything. Till then she's having fun discovering that all three of us are walking vending machines.