Monday, February 28, 2005

Hoodoo left this world a year ago today. Actually a year ago on February 29.

You probably think that's pretty funny, don't you, Hoodoo? Only a creature with your sense of humor would have left on a day I can only truly mark once every four years. I imagine if you had your way I would only be sad once every four years, but it doesn't work that way. I miss you every day. I miss listening to your pretty howl. I miss watching you run and play. I miss cuddling with you on the couch while we watched tv.

The overwhelming pain that followed your death has subsided and left in it's wake a dull ache that somedays is almost gone. Other days my brain still screams that this isn't happening and you're still here somewhere. You're just faking! Remember how you faked that limp when you wanted extra attention? How I wish you had been faking this time. I'd give you more attention than one dog could handle if I had the chance the again.

Four year old dogs don't have strokes and die suddenly. You were supposed to grow old here. I was supposed to be able to watch you grow from a goofy youngster to a dignified old man. It's not fair that I never got that chance. It's just not fair!!

When you left I could find no comfort in anything. Slowly I have been able to remember and smile at your silly memories. This weekend we told the story of how you, Howlin' Hoodoo, refused to howl in the dog howling contest and actually laughed without tears.

At first I was so angry that you had seemed fine two days before you died. It didn't seem right that we could have had such a fun day together on Friday and that you were dead on Sunday. Now I am grateful for that day. I'm so glad that you had one last fun day, that you got to romp and play, even that you ran off into the forest for awhile--any good husky should go dig if he gets the chance! I remember your happy, dirty face when you came back from digging that last hole. I'm sorry there weren't a thousand more holes.

I'm eternally grateful to Dr. Rick for his compassion that day. I'm glad your crossing was gentle, peaceful and that the two people who continue to love you most were able to hold your paw while you took your last breath. I could not have handled knowing you suffered and am deeply thankful to not have that burden on top of your loss.

You will never be forgotten, dear Hoodoo. You were our very first rescue dog. The 19 who have followed in your pawprints are a constant reminder that you were here and that you opened our hearts to the joys of second-hand dogs. Your presence still lingers in this yard. I will love and miss you forever my bi-eyed beauty. Be a good boy at the bridge. I'll see you when I get there.

Hoodoo's memorial page is located at:

Monday, February 21, 2005

A year ago today, a wolf tried to turn Hobo into his dinner. Hobo wasn't even my dog at the time. I was caring for him and 13 of his teammates while their musher was hospitalized. The very first night they were in my yard a wolf came through and attacked two of them. Little brave Hobo, all 35 pounds of him, probably saved his entire team from the wolf's teeth. Hobo slipped his collar and ran and ran and ran. Despite a belly that was ripped wide open, a badly injured back leg, Hobo ran and kept running until he found a safe house. Hobo suffered many injured to his back end as the wolf chased him. The muscles supporting his tail were torn, his rectum and sphincter muscles were torn. My vet was sure he would never regain bowel control, if he survived at all and for the first week even that was in doubt.

This picture was taken several weeks after the attack. That back leg just wouldn't heal!

When his musher was able to take his team home, Hobo was left behind as payment for the vet bill. Hobo still needed intensive care. He suffered several setbacks in his recovery including a wound on his back leg that wouldn't close, an infection that got into the bone on his front leg. But by the end of July Hobo was fine and on July 31 he made his first training run in harness.

That's Hobo in lead on that first run, back when I had dreams of turning him into a lead dog. That was not to be!

Today, Hobo is fully recovered. The only sign of the attack are some scars visible on his back legs and semi-circle that was ripped out of his ear. The biggest scar is psychological. Hobo is afraid of the dark. He won't sleep outside anymore and has claimed a spot beside our bed. In the summer he will sometimes spend warm nights outdoors, but it never gets dark here that time of year.

Hobo's gait is a little off when he's tired now and occasionally he limps when he's done too much. But he's still a harness banging lunatic in the team. He wants to come every time we go for a run. He's full of energy and 35 pounds of solid muscle. He has to run alone as he is too nutty to put beside another dog--he scares them. So now I run a seven dog team on the days Hobo comes along.

Last night, we had the pleasure of hosting Hobo's old owner for dinner. Jim has recovered from his injures and is racing again. He broke his pelvis when his sled hit a tree last year. The other dog injured along with Hobo has also recovered. Diesel's gait has changed, but he is back sprint racing. Diesel was with Jim last night and it was nice to see the little guy again! Jim told us all sorts of stories about Hobo's younger days, all of which confirmed what we see in him now. Hobo clearly remembered Jim and was happy to see him. However, when Jim left, Hobo ran to the bedroom and snuggled into his bed. He was not taking any chances that he might have to go. Jim left still giggling about how Hobo had "lucked out".

Hobo is my happiest little dog. He greets every day with pure joy. Every meal is appreciated like he hasn't been fed in days. Whenever he gets a treat, he gives my hand a quick "thank you" lick before running off with his treasure. He does the Hobo Dance of Joy regularly all day long. Both his physical and mental strength amaze me.

The wolf attack was the start of a very bad month around here last year. We lost Hoodoo a week later, Preacher got sick and all the dogs got kennel cough. Through everything, there was always one happy face in the house. Despite the fact that he was in pain and I was popping pills down his throat three times a day & flushing wound drains twice a day, Hobo always greeted me with a grin and a tail wag. His fur soaked up many tears and there were days I would not have gotten out of bed if I hadn't had to take care of Hobo. I am forever grateful that he survived, that Jim gave him to me and for his addition to this pack. He's an amazing little dog who brings me great joy, occasionally frustration, but never a dull moment! I do love the little lunatic!

This last picture was taken just a few days ago as Hobo finished a little snack after a run.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Mac beats me again!

I have once again been beaten and outsmarted by a dog, this time a hound-husky cross. Our yard, all four acres of it is fenced. The fence is at least 6 feet high and in places is up to 7 feet. It's buried underground and there's a layer of wire around the base so the dogs can't go under and the wolves can't come in ever again. It's highly effective for every dog, except Mac.

Before we built the full fence, I would often come home to find Mac loose in the yard. He never left, just ran around the area. If he was in a different pen than his brother, Ozzy, he would find a way to get to his littermate. He would eventually go back in his pen, which is over half an acre, when he got hungry. He didn't get fed if he was in the wrong place and Mac does love his dinner!

Then we built the main fence and Mac would regularly get let out of his pen and get to run around the big yard with some of the other dogs. For the past several days, Mac has been letting himself out of his pen. I found the weak spot in his fence, but it can't be fixed until the snow melts. So I moved him into the biggest pen--one full acre, six dog houses, a doggy jungle gym, toys galare, at least four other dogs to play with and regular visits with his brother. Ozzy can't go in that pen as it is Raven's and Raven has no use for Ozzy, but she likes Mac.

We had a friend out for dinner tonight and when I walked him to his truck, there was Mac--ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE FENCE!! Just waiting to be let back in. Usually when he jumps the fence, he just ends up in the main yard. But in the other pen, he must have gone out the back fence and ended up in the forest! Thank God he didn't run off, but just ran around the front of the yard and waited for me. His penmates are all still in their pen. Mac's leaping ability is at least confined to him. He's never taken another dog out of a pen with him--except for when he learned how to work the latch on a gate, but that was easy to fix!

So now, I give up. Mac is a yard dog now. He's never challenged the perimeter fence and apparently that's where he wants to be. I will quit trying to keep him in a pen and let him have run of the yard. He's still safe in there. All the other dogs like Mac, he never fights or causes scuffles. He just wants to be in the big yard. An acre is just not enough room for a young dog to stretch his legs! He needs the full four! In the spring I will once again begin my quest to build a pen that will be Mac-Proof!

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Paxil's recovery in pictures...

Yesterday, one day after the lump removal. Not a happy dog! Especially ticked to have her nap interupted by the camera!

Today-two days after her surgery. Alert, outside, playing a little bit, wooing alot, demanding attention. Almost back to her usual little self! :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Paxil's surgery

Paxil had her surgery yesterday. The vet was able to get 2cm of healthy tissue on all sides of the tumor. The recommendation for this type of cancer is 3cm, but due to the location of Paxil's tumor, 2 was all they could safely take. It makes for a HUGE gash on her leg. She was allowed to come home last night. She didn't move much and spent all her time on her special bed by the woodstove. Today she is much perkier and has asked to go outside a couple times. She even joined in a howlfest this morning! I'm again amazed at how resiliant these animals are. If I had a gash like that in my leg, I'd be at the hospital begging for morphine and whining to anyone who would listen!! I would not be out running around in the snow!

My pretty girl, the day before her surgery.

The results from the biopsy will be back in about a week. We have all paws crossed that it's a stage one tumor--that would mean Paxil has an almost normal life expectancy. Or even better, we'd like our vet to be wrong--a misdiagnosis would be wonderful in this case!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Quest start...

The 2005 edition of the Yukon Quest started today. I actually talked my husband into coming into town with me. That never happens!

Here's Stuart watching the action!

I'm cheering for John Schandelmier and his team of rescued pound dogs!

Go John!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


Stuart had a hernia repair surgery on February 1--which is why I haven't updated for awhile. He's been very sore and not able to do much at all. Just standing up makes him wince. Hopefully, he'll start to feel better soon. He is not a good patient!

He had to go back to the hospital today for a quick check-up. So I got home a bit early after his appointment. It's staying light out longer now and the evenings are great! It was a little too warm today, but I went for a run anyway!

My little six dog team... up front Pingo and Franklin (started with Mac up front, but he was very distractable today!) Pacer and Antare in swing and Earle and Mac in wheel.

It was pretty slow going today. The trail was soft and dogs needed lots of short breaks to prevent overheating. But they had a good time and everyone made it home happy!