Saturday, December 31, 2005

What a difference...

Today marks four years since Pete told us he was sick. Pete blocked completely for the first time on New Year's four years ago. Stuart had to host our bonfire party alone as I was at the vet clinic most of the night. Pete was very close to death and I wouldn't leave just in case. It was the start of five long months of trips to the vet with a very sick kitty. In May we gave up and Pete had surgery. The surgery didn't solve the problem, but it does prevent Pete from blocking. That is the life-threatening part of his problem. The rest of the symptoms seem to have improved as Pete has aged.

Today, Pete is fat, happy, healthy and has a bit of 'tude from time to time. Earlier today, he brought a mouse in from the kitty enclosure. What a difference from December 31, 2001!

Yes, it is warm enough to open the enclosure...sigh...... The snow last night was just a big tease. Not much accumulated, but I'll take every flake the Snow Gods want to drop at this point!

Friday, December 30, 2005

What's that???

There is white stuff falling from the sky, covering the ground and the dogs! What is that stuff? I seem to recall something similar from winters past, but it's been so long....could it really be SNOW??????

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Howlidays

With Pacer as our spokesdog...
From all of us at Wandering Spirits Kennels

Happy Howlidays!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

How I spent Solstice...

Tonight is the longest night of the year. I didn't see the few brief hours of light we did get today--Never let all the managers and all the assistants go on holidays at the same time. It can get ugly! Like letting all the female dogs loose at the same time! I will be pointing that out to my director when he returns from his holidays. Thank God this isn't really my job! I like being a peon!

So after the nuttiness at work, did I do anything fun today. Go to the longest night concert, light a bonfire....anything fun?? NOPE! I came home to discover someone had bit Paxil. I am instantly pissed. So I tie up the most likely suspects while ranting about what a bunch of ungrateful heathens they all are. Nothing my dogs hate more than being on a chain, even if it was for less than an hour. The bite is in a weird spot, on her chest, near her front legs. I suppose it's possible that she ran into something, but I like to think she's not that clumsy--she's my leader; she's not supposed to be clumsy! None of the other dogs have any wounds or even look like they've been chewed on. So I spent the first 20 minutes after I got home doctoring Paxil up. The wound looks worse than it is and she's already on anti-biotics. I expect it will heal fine. She ate and wooed at me to hurry up with the grub so she's feeling okey dokey.

Then I go into the back pen where I discover that Mac has killed a raven--the bird not my dog by the same name. Nice work, Mac. I do hate those birds. Apparently this one teased Mac a wee bit too much. He is a fast little bugger. Of course Stuart is not home so I had to clean up the raven remains myself. Good for the diet though as it did kill my appetite!

Then I notice Raven, the dog, not the dead bird, is limping. What the hell!? She has a nice gash on her front leg, right on the ankle joint. I have no idea when she did that. It's not a bite. It's perfectly straight, no jagged edges, no puncture sites. So I let Raven into the arctic entry. Did I mention she's insane? She forgot her leg hurt and did a couple extra laps of the yard before coming to the door. Not quite as fast as usual, but enough to make me think that the limp was faked! Cleaned her leg up and wrapped it with some vet wrap, made another mental note to buy my own stapler. It's going to take forever to heal. Every time she bends her leg it pops open. But it's not bleeding, doesn't look infected, and Raven is more or less her silly self. I'm sure the vet wrap has been chewed off in the 10 minutes she's been alone! Good thing that stuff is cheap!

Not a great pic and an older one, but it does explain why we call her Crazy Raven!

Apparently, the dogs had a very busy day. I'm exhausted just dealing with the aftermath!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Just cuz pics...

Today's team--I love not working on Mondays. Even driving the ATV is better than working! I had planned a longer run today, but I was freezing--another drawback to not having enough snow for the sled. It's hard to run beside the quad! Much warmer on the sled! It wasn't even really cold today, but sitting still equals cold toes and thumbs! So we did our most frequent loop of about 15km. Pingo-Raven, Hobo, Antare-Chum, Pacer-Chase. Raven is a much better leader than I tend to give her credit for. She got Pingo to turn today when she wasn't listening to me.

Back in the yard. It was cold enough to get frosty today. Chase has great eyebrows!

Hobo the happy. It is impossible to stay grouchy with this little guy around. And that tongue! I have more pics of Hobo with his tongue out than all the other dogs combined!

Getting a harness on Chum can be challenging. He has issues with his paws being touched. He does really well once he's hooked up, it's just getting the harness on that's tricky.

Oh, and getting it back off. This is Chum's very best "I dare you to touch my paws" look!

And a quick Paxil update. She amazes me! She is choked that I left her behind twice! She's bouncing around the yard like nothing is wrong at all. She blew a stitch yesterday while she was outside. Apparently she's feeling just fine! I haven't got any further test results yet, but based on how Paxil is acting, I'm not that worried!

This was yesterday afternoon as she was enjoying a Jumbone--the only treat she really likes. Of course, she likes the expensive stuff!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Pretending it's winter...

Since winter won't really arrive here this year, we are relagated to using the ATV some more. God, I hate that thing! But a tired husky is a good husky and my dogs have not been tired lately. Yesterday, Heyoka went after Preacher first thing in the mornign, Mac and Founder got into it in the afternoon, then the whole pack of them chased Pacer around in the evening and freaked him right out. Fortunately, there were no injuries or serious alteracations, but it was painfully clear that there would be and soon. The dogs needed to run!

So I hooked up a 7 dog team, should have been 8, but Hobo wanted to run and he has to run alone. There were nine dogs in total as Mac and Daisy(not one of mine, but she tags along anyway) ran loose. I consider them my early warning system. I always know when there is something ahead of us on the trail and can kind of prepare for it. Unfortunately, their reaction is the same to a loose dog, a hiker, a skier or a moose so I never know exactly what is coming at us!

"Why are we stopping? Put the camera away, we don't need a break yet!" They ran 15km with very little help from me and never did need a break. Several of them would have run the loop again!

The trails were very busy today. It's too nice out so everyone is out walking. I greatly prefer it when it's -25C and almost everyone stays home! Pingo lead us by several loose dogs, walkers and skiers without incident. She has picked up Paxil's habit at barking at people with loose dogs--"Get your **&%$%$ @## dog outta my way!"

I was a little worried about this combination when I hooked them up. Franklin and Deuce have never met and certainly never run together, but they are similar in size and stride. I tend to worry about Deuce as I'm still waiting for the aggression I was warned about to suddenly surface. I suppose after 7 months I can relax a bit. I've never seen any sign of aggression from Deuce. He's a great dog and it makes me ill to think his extreme energy level almost cost him his life!

Franklin has issues with loose dogs. He has no problem with other teams or people, skiers, or skidoos. It's just loose dogs. He has been jumped so many times, that now he is the aggressor. He's an alligator. I've been trying to run him when the trails were quiet and hopefully build up his confidence. Turns out that putting him beside Deuce may have done just that. Deuce has a one track mind in harness. He's working and that's it. He keeps his head down and his tug line tight. He never veers off the trail, never even looks up at distractions. Today when Franklin thought about going after a yappy little Jack Russell, Deuce kept him on the trail and moving straight ahead. Franklin never had any negative interactions with any dogs today! I will be running these two together much more often!

Tuckered out Deucey! I love his frosty look! He's very sweet when he's tired too. No bouncing into my nose which makes him much more pleasant to pet!

Ozzy and Antare, just because I adore these two timid little souls.

Going to do a snow dance tonight...hate the ATV, hate it! I just need enough to convince myself I could set a snowhook if I had to!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Paxil is home...

Paxil is home recovering from her surgery. She's very whiny! It's a little disconcerting to hear whining from a dog who never, ever whines! Paxil woos, barks, howls and carries on long conversations, usually about how mean I am to make her go outside or how slow I am getting her dinner ready. But she never whines. I gave her a dose of Metacam and she seems more comfortable now. She's quiet and resting on her little bed beside the woodstove.

Two lumps were removed today. She's got good size wounds in each spot. I sure hope that means Dr. Candance got all the cancer cells this time. I realize that with Mast Cell the odds of another reoccurance are pretty high anyway, but they are lower if both tumors were removed with clean margins.

I didn't get a chance to talk to the vet tonight--the clinic was insanely busy! I do know her home phone number, but I am not going to use that information! I'll call on Monday and go over the results with her. I'm a little concerned that Paxil used a bag of saline solution. I'm assuming that means she needed some help waking up, but maybe that was just a safety precaution! Muskwa had an IV inserted when he got neutered last month, but he didn't get any saline--or maybe it just didn't appear on my bill. That happens sometimes!

I'll be calling on Monday to get a full report on what the blood panel showed and Dr. Candace's impression of the surgery, Paxil's prognosis, all that stuff!

When we walked into the clinic this morning, there was a rottie on the waiting room floor in a full blown grand-mal seizure. That dog didn't get to come home tonight. Her owner was back at the clinic to visit when I picked Paxil up. Having been the crying owner sitting in a kennel with a sick animal, I have great sympathy for that lady and hope her pupper pulls through. Also puts things in perspective for me--Paxil is home, happy and there's a good chance she'll be here for a long while yet. Isn't that the most important thing?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Pingo's Gotcha Day!

Our second anniversary this week. It was three years ago today that little Pingo joined our family. Pingo came to me from a musher who simply wasn't using her anymore. She had been bumped from his A team and was sitting in his yard doing nothing while he trained his distance racing team. Pingo was only 5 1/2 and no where near ready to retire, but racing is not her thing. Pingo's conformation is a little off and she crabs when she runs. Somedays she sprints along and other days she likes to watch the scenery a bit. Makes her a bad dog for a serious racer, makes her a perfect fit for a team like mine.

Plus she is a reliable leader, something I really needed at the time she arrived. Pingo doesn't always take commands. She is a trail dog at heart and somedays likes to pick her own trail. So I taught her a new command, if she's been listening well, her reward is "PINGO PICK A TRAIL". She decides which fork in the trail we take. She loves that! She occasionally ignores a gee or haw the first time, but she never misses an On-by. Sometimes on a busy trail, that's even more important than which direction we go.

Pingo also has great trail sense. She always knows the easiest and safest way through overflow. Somedays she even has better sense than I do! Once last winter, about 5km into a truly distasterous run, Pingo came to her senses and without a word from me turned an 8 dog team around, without a single tangle or problem among the dogs and headed for home. I had already been dragged twice, had a major tangle, a run in with a loose dog and was stopped as three stuck snowmobiles blocked the trail! As she started to turn, I started to argue with her, but quickly realized she was right--this run was not going to get any better and we better go home before someone got hurt! At that point, it was already fairly amazing that I was still with my team! Not one thing had gone right from the moment I pulled out the harnesses! We never should have left the yard. Pingo realized that first!

(obviously the pic is from last winter as we have no where near this much snow right now!)
Pingo is a little timid, has some neurotic tendancies--she hordes things, not anything useful like bones or toys. She hordes junk, stuff she steals from the recycling, old tennis balls and rocks. Never eats them, never chews them up, just hides them in the straw in her doghouse. She has a bit of border collie in her too and enjoys showing off her herding instinct sometimes. The local mountain bikers probably don't enjoy it as much as she does! Pingo's very sweet, enjoys a good cuddle, would never even consider getting involved in a fight, all the other dogs like her, she's good with the cats, she's a good dog and I do adore her. Hopefully, her son, Sundin, will soon come around the way his momma did!

Happy Anniversary, little one. Time flies when you're having fun!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Founder's Day..

December 13 means it has been two years since Founder joined the pack. Founder was another one of those long term shelter residents who seemed to all end up here for awhile! He earned his name when the morning shift of shelter staff came in and found him tied to the fence. He was a pretty fearful boy at that point. Not super timid like some of the others here, but he didn't like any sudden movements or anyone trying to touch his collar. To this day he still cringes at raised voices. Stuart brought Founder home after a shelter fundraiser. His theory was that I had already taken all his friends out of the shelter, so why not Founder too? Stuart likes to blame all the animals on me, but in reality he's a big softie too!

Founder already knew most our other dogs no intros went very smoothly. He is still one of the dogs who can meet any other critter with no problems. He speaks good dog!
Even Chum and Hobo don't drive Founder nuts! Those two could drive a nun to the bottle somedays! He does have some minor issues with Mac lately, but Mac kinda has that coming. In a most unfortunate incident a few weeks ago, both Mac and Founder reached for the same chunk of meat at the same time. Founder got the meat, but Mac nailed Founder's ear. The tip is gone forever! I have no pictures yet that show off Founder's new look, but you know there will be plenty soon enough!

Founder is a happy silly boy! Noisy doesn't even begin to cover it! If you don't know Founder and just happen to hear him, you probably think I beat him. He carries on about everything like the world is coming to an end! If you live within about 50km of my house, you've probably heard him! I've heard him howling when I was several kilometres away from home. The injustice of being left behind was broadcast all around our area!

One of my most favorite things about Founder is that his world begins and ends with me. I can do no wrong in his big brown eyes. He's even reliable off leash, a rare trait amongst northern breeds!

My favorite pic ever of him! Founder loves to pull. He's even learning to be a lead dog. Unfortunately, he prefers trails he has run before. He'd be quite happy to take the exact same route every time. He likes familiar routine things. He doesn't take commands, but will follow Paxil's orders if he's running beside her. Desire and the confidence to run up front can't be taught. Commands can be and he's a bright boy. He'll figure it out in time.

Happy Anniversary my big goofy boy!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Good and Bad news....

The good news is we got a little bit of snow over the weekend. Not enough to get the sled back out, but enough to run the dogs on the ATV without any extra risk of injury. Much to their very vocal delight!

Doesn't that face just say "bliss"? Course it doesn't take much to make Hobo happy!

The temps are still way too warm.

Nothing Pingo hates more than being too hot! Except maybe sleeping outside. She does like laying with her belly in the snow after a run. She did very well today. We ran into a pack of loose dogs on the way home. Daisy, my neighbor's dog who tags along with us, helped chase them off the trail and Pingo did a solid ON-BY for the rest of them. No commotion at all. She just barked at them. "Get off of my trail"!

Franklin ran in lead today too beside Paxil. He did pretty well. I don't think he knows the commands, but he did what Paxil did and she's never wrong! This was after his run. Looks pretty proud of himself doesn't he!?

The sky was very pretty this afternoon. Even looks like it might snow some more!

And now the bad news:
I found another lump on Paxil over the weekend. She had a mast cell tumor removed in February. I thought she had beat the cancer, but it's reared it's ugly head again. She was at the vet today and we confirmed it is cancer again. Paxil goes in on Friday for a tumor removal. Dr. Candace is rearranging her schedule for Friday so she can do the surgery. Otherwise Paxil would have to wait until December 23 and that's just too long! Her long term prognosis isn't clear right now. The reocurrance is a bad sign, but the tumor is in a better place, if that's possible. It's up on her ribs this time, not her thigh. So there's enough extra skin that they should be able to get all of it. Last time they couldn't take as much clear tissue as desired and still close the wound. Paxil is not acting sick at all. She even came for run this afternoon.

Hopefully, it won't be her last run in harness, although she will be off for a little while! She did great. We didn't go very far, but she ran well, tight tug line and listening to commands. Her gait seemed a little off, but I think she was doing her happy dog wiggle and trying to pull at the same time! Hopefully, she'll still be doing her happy dog wiggle after Friday!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Christmas Decorating...

Despite my complete lack of holiday spirit this year, I decided to do some decorating tonight. It didn't improve my mood much, but the house looks kinda pretty, in a tacky, overdone sort of way!

Every critter gets a stocking. The dogs will get a candy cane shaped rawhide treat on Christmas day. The cats get some Pounce treats and a new toy or two. I have already bought all the treats, but it's too much weight for that garland to hold up!

The departed furkids still get their stockings hung up too, just in a different spot. I shed a few tears hanging these ones especially Dominique and Twicket's. Hoodoo has been gone longer and it's a little easier now. I still miss him when I'm stringing lights though. He loved to lay under the tree or near the windows and watch the lights blink.

I might even put a tree up this year if I can find room in the solarium for it--it the only cat free zone in the house!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Bored sled dogs...

Still no snow. The temps have dropped at least 30 degrees since last week, still no snow! It's -33C at our place tonight, according to the cheap little thermometer in the window so give or take a degree or two. No snow, the yard is still a sheet of ice. So what's a sled dog to do? Can't pull the sled. ATV is gone--recruited for a hunting trip that was supposed to be done by skidoo, but there's no snow in bison country either! No way am I trying to skijor on this junk. So what's a sled dog to do?

If you are Sleet, you sit outside the door and look cute until you get inside. Then you use that gift so many Northern breeds have and pretend you are deaf. That way you can spend the whole day inside because eventually the human has to go to work and she won't bother dragging a 12 year old dog to the door! She's a smart one, my Sleet!

If you are Bandit, you suddenly play the "senior" card. Remember you will be 9 in 22 days and start acting your age. No more of this running around and playing stuff. Nope, sleep in the human's favorite chair! She can have the recliner! Seniors should be house dogs, right? Any dog who can get into this chair without tipping it over deserves not to be distrubed!

Paxil goes for the pathetic look and no direct eye contact. Direct eye contact can lead to the humans thinking you need outside. Nope, not this girl, up to 18 hours between pee breaks is just fine with her. Paxil sends a special thank you to her Grandma Carol who sent her the fancy new bed!

The only way to stop Muskwa's incessant whining at the door was to let him in. I did wait until he had shut up for 30 seconds before letting him in. He took over the futon and has been there for hours now!

It better snow soon!!!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

More whining about the weather

Well, it's colder at least now. Not that -10C is really cold, but at least the great melt has stopped. This is what over a week of above 0 temps has left behind!

My entire yard looks like this, except for the odd bare spot. Four acres of solid ice!

Imagine the fun of trying to walk on this crap with a five gallon bucket of food in one hand and 13 dogs trying to get their dinner all around you! Oh, it's a good time! I actually bought a pair of YakTrax this week, just so I have some chance of staying upright on the ice! The dogs are sliding all over the place. I've seen a couple attempt to play chase and end up crashing into trees! It's funny to watch in a twisted sort of way!

This is what my front yard looked like yesterday! We spread almost a full load of gravel right in front of the house. It covers up the ice and makes Preacher's life more enjoyable. Blind dog + ice is a bad mix!

This is what it looked like last year on November 22....WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Going to find some cheese to go with my whine...maybe a bottle of real wine too. Can't run dogs, might as well stay inside and drink a bit! ;) I come from a long line of farmers so whining about the weather is in my blood!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Earle's test results...

Earle's blood test results came back today. It's kinda mixed news. It's never good when the vet interupts an appointment to talk to you. He never, ever does that just to say everything's normal and your dog is fat and lazy! Nope, he only does that when something is wonky!

As expected, Earle's thyroid hormone level is low. Low enough to need medication. Okey dokey, no big deal. Already have the meds and dish them out twice a day to Preacher. I can handle that. Then Dr. Kim says " I need to call the pathologist before we do anything!" HOLD THE PHONE BUDDY! (insert freaking out Tamara here) Pathologist = cancer in my little brain. After reassuring me that pathologists check out other things besides tumors, Kim tells me that some of Earle's test results don't add up. In a hypothyroid dog, the T-4 hormone should be low and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) should be way high. In Earle's case they are both low. This could mean any number of things, from plain ol' hypothyroidism to Addison's or Cushings disease to brain cancer! Hoodoo died from a brain tumor. Earle is Hoodoo's littermate. Kim was Hoodoo's vet too so he remembers all this and does his very best to keep me calm. He also pointed out that Hoodoo had the same test two weeks before he died and everything was perfectly normal.

It helps to freak out a little on your vet and also to pay his mortgage and fund his new clinic. ( I want my own wing someday). These things mean that he will call you back asap! So a couple hours later, Kim calls me back. The pathologist says that Earle's pituitary gland has shut down. It's likely that his thyroid is functioning, but without the pituitary gland to tell it what to do, Earle's body has no idea how to use the thyroid hormone. This in turn leads to all the symptoms of hypothyroidism that Earle has been showing like weight gain, lethargic, cranky mood ect.

There are any number of reasons that Earle's pituitary gland has quit on him. It could be a tumor, could be cancer, could be some kind of autoimmune disease, could be, could be, could be....According to Kim, it's almost impossible to figure out exactly what is going on in that gland. An MRI might be helpful, but I'm not sending Earle to Toronto for that! No, No NO!! (see, Mom, I do have limits!) So what is Earle's diagnosis? Idopathic pituitary for "we don't have a clue why this happened".

The pathologist has recommended that he be treated with thyroid meds and see if that helps. Kim expects that it will and Earle will be a different dog within a few weeks. He has to go back in to get weighed and checked out in a month. If he doesn't respond to the thyroid medication, then he'll get more testing. For now, I am choosing to believe that he will respond and he'll be just fine. Yup, just fine!

crossing paws, fingers, toes, tails.....

Monday, November 21, 2005

I hate spring..

Yes, I hate spring, but apparently it's arrived again. It's been above zero and raining for days. Raining in November. That's just messed up! And it's supposed to keep raining until Friday. Bye-Bye snow! I am not a happy camper. My yard is a skating rink. I have to find some of those ice pick things you put on your boots. I need them just to carry the food and water buckets around. The dogs are all worked up and being a bunch of jerks to each other. Hate spring, hate and it's not supposed to be here for at least 5 months! Go away!!

On a positive note, Muskwa survived being neutered just fine and is back to being his normal, whiny, pain in the butt self!

Cross your paws for snow soon!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Vet bills again...

Earle had to go to the vet today. He is fat, cranky and lazy lately! Most unlike Earle. Additionally, we are a little paranoid with Earle. We lost Earle's littermate, Hoodoo, very young and most unexpectely. We never found out exactly what killed Hoodoo. The theory is he had a massive stroke caused by a brain tumor. This would not be genetic, but one of those nasty twists fate likes to toss out occasionally. But since we don't know for sure, every time Earle coughs, we tend to assume he's going to die young too!

Earle put on a performance at the clinic so my vet doesn't believe me that he is ever cranky. Apparently not many dogs flop for belly rubs and lick the vet's face during exams! Earle is a one of a kind. He's getting a thyroid panel too, but the lab is in Saskatoon! So no results until the middle of next week. He's going on a diet anyway. Tonight he won't eat. Either he's pissed that I took him to the vet or he hates his new diet food. Anyone who looks at Earle can see he hasn't missed many meals lately! He can't even run in the team until he drops a few pounds. I'm afraid he'd have a massive heart attack!

(pic is from August) 83 pounds he weighs...damn near 20 pounds more than he did 18 months ago and I swear he's gained most of that in the last month, with no diet change at all! What kind of sled dog weighs 83 pounds!!!??? that's just not right! Dr. Kim, our wonderful vet, did say that Earle appears otherwise healthy--good heartbeat, no signs of pain or joint problems. Nothing obvious wrong. Phew....

Just to add a little extra stress, I booked Muskwa to get neutered tomorrow! I thought it would take longer to get him in for that, but figured I better grab the app't before Stuart changes his mind. Muskwa is 8 years old. For 7 years I have been nagging Stuart to get that dog neutered. He finally agreed, after good friends lost their husky to a cancer that started as prostate problems. So since you can't get cancer in what you don't have, Muskwa is getting the big snip. Please cross your paws, toes, fingers and whatever else you can think of that the surgery goes smoothly and Muskwa recovers without incident. Since this is my idea, if anything goes wrong, not only will we be devastated, but Stuart may never forgive me!

Cute isn't he?

Monday, November 14, 2005

On snow!!!

Bye, bye ATV, good riddance! I hate that thing. I do like the parking brake but other than that, I hate training on the ATV. Today I ran three little teams on snow! I had forgotten how easy hooking up four dogs is. I hate hook-up, but this practically relaxing! There isn't really quite enough snow, which is why I took little teams. In theory a small team should be easier to control and there should be less need to use the snow hook. The theory worked most of the time today! I did have to use the holy ***&@## rope a couple times--technically it's called a snub line, but whenever I need it, I am swearing!

I forgot the camera for the first team, but got some pics of the last two. First team was Paxil, Chum, Pacer and Ozzy. Chum made it quite clear that he is not a lead dog candidate. Pacer reluctantly got us home. I don't think Paxil is feeling 100% today as she was not her usual perky self in harness.

Team #2 was Raven, Mac, Antare and Deuce. This was Raven's first run as the main leader. Usually she runs beside one of the more experienced girls. We had some minor problems with her direction commands. She didn't really want to turn! However, she did a flawless on-by, passing a loose dog! I have way more trouble teaching dogs that command than directions. She'll figure out gee & haw in no time. I actually think she already knows them, she was just playing with me today! She does that sometimes. She's very sweet and I adore her, but sometimes she is just too dang smart! Deuce took over, from wheel, when Raven wanted to go the wrong way once. He knew what I wanted them to do. He may have been a stray for a very long time in Teslin, but at some point, he was somebody's sled dog...I am sure of it!

Team #3 was horribly mismatched and a little funny looking, but they were the fastest, hardest working set of the day! Up front, Pingo & Franklin, followed by Chase and Hobo. Hobo looks like a puppy beside Chase! Hobo usually has to run alone as he's a lunatic, but he was insistent on coming today. Chase is a freak at hook-up--dead calm, never makes a sound, doesn't lunge, doesn't chew his lines, just stands there and waits to go. He works his furry butt off once he gets the command to move! When Hobo tried to start something with him, Chase just turned his head and ignored him. Very impressive!

Yup, Franklin ran up front and he did a damn fine job! I'm not sure what would have happened if we had run into anyone, especially a loose dog, but the trail was deserted. Frankling gets jumped by loose dogs pretty regularly. He gives off some kind of vibe. It's happened so often that Franklin is sometimes the aggressor now. He's really not an aggressive dog, it's a self-preservation thing. I might try him beside Paxil a few times, when she's feeling better. She is a stronger command leader and tolerates no fooling around! Maybe she can teach Franklin a thing or two!

I just have to show this off. It probably looks like nothing in the pictures, but it's the coolest thing Stuart's ever built--in my opinion anyway!

This is "the chute"...gated hook-up area. I can hook up an entire team(up to a 10 dog gangline will fit), flick the gate open, pull the hook and off we go. No more chasing dogs around the yard, no more loose dogs harassing us in the yard, no more worrying about loosing the team before I even get on the sled, all my stuff is in one spot, ready whenever I am. Sweet.....

Playing in the snow...

All sorts of critters had fun in the snow yesterday, including me. I wanted to run a team, but decided to let the snowmobilers set the trail for me. They were everywhere yesterday! We are off this afternoon though for sure!

Raven and I went skijoring. She did pretty well. It took her awhile to trust me not to crash into her. That happened once last year and freaked us both out!

I spent a few hours sitting in the snow trying to catch Sundin. It's been a week and I still can't catch him, but he's getting closer and closer. He'll come around. I think watching the team leave without him today will help. Most sled dogs hate being left behind!

Even the cats got in some snow time! Boots and Felicia were pawing at the window to the cat run. I tried to explain snow and cold paws to them, but they didn't care!

Boots thought hunting snowflakes was great fun. Boots is a very sweet, affectionate cat, but he's also a little killing machine. If it moves, Boots will hunt it!

Felicia had a great time leaping around in the powery-snow! She is very small and the snow was too deep for her to walk in, she had to leap!

Pete ventured out, but just long enough for me to one great pic of him!

He came right back in and curled up by the woodstove! None of the other cats even considered going out! Boots and Felicia lasted 10 minutes and have not complained again about the closed window!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Sundin made it!

Sundin arrived just after 8 last night. He is not impressed! I probably should have put him on a tie-out. That is what he's used to, but instead I set him loose in Pacer's pen. Now I can't get close enough to catch him again!

Nope, he hates me!!! Not even smelly dog treats got him to come near me. Well, hopefully, he's just freaked out and doesn't actually hate me! I'm sure he'll settle in over time. He does sound just like Pingo when he barks/howls! She apparently does not know she is spayed. She was being a little hussy through the fence--to her own son!! Sundin is not neutered, but he will be right quick--well, as quick as I can catch him that is. Gonna be hard to make that appointment if he won't come near me.

Sundin did meet the other dogs today. Mostly through the fence, but Pacer and Chum spent some time in the pen with him. It's actually Pacer's pen so they needed to meet. They got along quite well. Sundin didn't interact much with the other two, but there were no signs of aggression.

Pacer is ok with his new roomie! Maybe Pacer can show Sundin that I am not so scary! Pacer used to stay as far away from me as he could too!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Pacer and Paxil's Gotcha days!

Today marks two years since Pacer first arrived here. Maybe I'll leave out the part where he escaped that first night and spent almost a week lurking in the forest behind our house. He didn't go very far, but there was no way he was letting us catch him either! Course back then, Pacer was afraid of his own shadow and had just spent over a year in the shelter. The little sweetie has made such progress! Pacer gets picked on by the other dogs. He's an easy target when they are in bad moods. He wouldn't think of fighting back. In May 2004 Pacer sustained some pretty serious injuries in a fight and had to spend 3 weeks as a full-time house dog. It was awful at the time, but in retrospect, it was the best thing that every happened to Pacer. He had to put up with me and get used to all the noise and chaos that being inside this house involves. He decided the couch was pretty cool and still likes to spend hours there.

This is how he spent this afternoon.

Pacer has his own pen now that he shares with one or two dogs who are always nice to him. It was cheaper to build a new pen than to keep paying the vet bills when he got bit!

Today also marks one year since Paxil arrived. Sweet, sweet Paxil. Paxil is the start of my obsession with mushing. The very first team I ever drove, Paxil was up front. It took another three years before she was mine--her owner thought she needed to be more of a house dog. But she was worth the wait! She's delightful, happy, silly and an unfailing command leader. The mast cell cancer that almost stole her last winter is in remission. She's active and healthy again. No sign that she was ever sick, except for a funny patch of fur where the tumor was removed.

She spent her day in her most favorite place, beside the wood stove, with her feline friend Ivy nearby.

Sundin was supposed to arrive today too, but his delivery driver has not shown up yet--not uncommon for her! (Right, Steph??) But he will be here soon. It's only 7:30 now so who knows he could still show up tonight!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Birthday Delta & Antare

Sheesh, I almost forgot! Halloween means Delta and Antare are four years old!Antare celebrated with a 15km run. Pulling is his favorite thing to do. All of his fears vanish when he's in harness! Delta is making slow and steady progress, but he's still the most timid dog here. He is a sweetie though.

They are very attached to each other. Antare picks on Delta occasionally, but no one else is allowed to--just like human siblings!

Happy birthday boys!

Sweet, sweet Chase...

Chase grew up in the local shelter. Came in at four months old, already terrified of pretty much everything; got his name from the amount of time people spent chasing him around trying to catch him; came here at about 18 months old. Growing up in a shelter, no matter how nice of a shelter, does funny things to a dog's head. Chase is simply not all there. Quite frankly, he's a little dense! But he is nothing but sweetness and silliness. He's always happy, always up for a run, loves to cuddle and adores Goldie. Goldie is a bit of a bitch and she didn't have any doggie friends before Chase got here. She can handle the other dogs in short doses, but she can't live with them. She can't live without Chase now. They are a little doggy love story!

Technically, this is a lousy picture, but it does give you some idea of how fast Chase is. This was just in his pen. He has a huge pen and shares it only with Goldie.

He's really a very handsome boy, when he stays still long enough for a picture!

And he's a big momma's boy! A trait I kind of enjoy in him!

Off to run a team now....Chase is a great wheel dog too!

Oh, one pic of his girlyfriend!

She does her best to keep up with him, but her short little legs just can't get that kind of speed up!