Best of 2010: Rain the Pain

This past year (2010) was terrific, horrific, and just plain heart-wrenching. While I’d like to be able to encapsulate all the complication in one brief-yet-pithy blog post, the fact is that this is a blog about life as it relates to books, not all the crap that happened while I wasn’t reading much this year.

Instead, I’ll split the difference and talk about one of the best things to come out of 2010: Rain!

Rain is a seven-month-old Australian shepherd puppy. The photo at left was taken when she was eight weeks old, while the one on the right, taken a few weeks ago, is about the best I’ll be able to capture with a camera for some time.

Rain is bursting with wiggly puppy energy, easily leaping straight up from the ground to lick my nose and land squarely again before I know what hit me. She is a bit of a thief, stealing whatever is in reach on the kitchen counter and will fit in her mouth. She sounds a lot like her mom Skye, but also makes noises that are uniquely her own. Her face has funny freckles like her dad, and as she doesn’t yet have full muscle control over her big ears, she often looks goofy when at full attention.

Of course I’m a sucker for puppies, but I’ve really been enjoying getting to know Rain while I’ve been home from school over break. She has calmed considerably having extra attention and playmates the past few weeks, and my mom has had her hands a lot more free from the puppy tornado now that both my dad and I have come home from several months spent far away.

One of my favorite things about Rain: I delivered her! After staying up all night with Skye in labor, we had to go to the emergency vet. They gave her a shot of oxytocin to stimulate her uterine contractions, as they worked to remove an enormous stuck puppy. (Unfortunately, he had died from being in transit too long.) After that the puppies shot out in quick succession, and we were soon on our way home. As Skye seemed to be having milk problems, my mother left me with the litter to go get some bottles and formula at PetSmart. About three minutes after she left, Rain was born: a complete surprise!

A good go-to book about Australian shepherds is All About Aussies (here’s the blog). It was written by Jeanne Hartnagle-Taylor, whose family has been instrumental in development and history of the breed. All About Aussies is the book my family references for information about breed history (hint: Australian shepherds are not from Australia!), famous Aussies and their handlers, proper gait, breed-specific grooming standards, and more.

At school when I was presenting my redesign of Aussie Times, the official “magazine” of the Australian Shepherd Club of America, a classmate asked why Aussies have docked tails, and I was able to answer based on having read much of this important Aussie reference.

If you’re at all Aussie-inclined, never you mind any book selections you find in a pet store. (That holds true for pretty much any breed or animal: the most authoritative books aren’t going to be the ones that are most readily available.) Pick this book up and your Aussie will soon be Best in Show!

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