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!!!