Saturday, December 30, 2006

Home again....

After a nice visit with my family and a bit of a kerfuffle with Air North on the way home, I made it back to the Yukon a few days ago. My nieces were a very good distraction from my grief. Kids, particularly four year olds, do not care that you just lost your best friend. They are very busy and have things they want to do right now!! It is Auntie's job to make sure they get to do those things! It's one of the best parts of being the Auntie. Mom's are too busy sometimes, Aunties never are.

Things like going sliding

And snow surfing, although this almost gave Auntie heart failure! I had visions of spending Christmas Eve in the ER!

And skiing, which also had it's stroke inducing moments. It's a good thing kids are bendy and bounce well!

Oh, and skating....

And bike riding. Just because there is two feet of snow outside doesn't mean you have to put your bike away!

And I could still get some purr therapy. Mystic is showing his age(17), but he's holding his own and still enjoys the holidays!

Now Auntie needs a holiday to recover from her holiday!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Preacher falls silent...

Preacher has given his last sermon; His big voice will no longer echo through the forest.

A few days ago, Preacher stopped eating, a most unusual thing for him. Dinner was always the highlight of his day. Yesterday he went to the vet. A barium enhanced x-ray showed a blockage in his small intestine. He was to have exploratory surgery this morning. His blood work was excellent. No complications were expected. He was supposed to come home tonight after they removed what he had eaten. Preacher did like to eat the stuffing out of squeaky toys.

You know when the vet calls again in under an hour that the news is not good. The blockage in Preacher's intestines was a large tumor. He was full of cancer with tumors on his spleen, stomach, abdomen wall and throughout his GI tract. He had been fighting this battle for a long time without showing any signs.

He became symptomatic this week when a small piece of his Sunday dinner got stuck on one of the intestinal tumors and punctured his small intestine. His prognosis was bleak, less than a 10 per cent chance he would ever recover from the intensine damage and the cancer would have taken him very soon even without this incident. We chose not to let Preacher wake up. He would not have been Preacher anymore and he would have had no quality of life. It would have been selfish of me to ask him to stay any longer. I always said that when Preacher stopped eating, it would be time. I desperately wish I had been wrong about that.

I am grateful that he waited for me, that he let me be with him as he crossed and that he made it very clear I had no choice. I am not sure I could have let him go if I had any hope left that my bossy, sassy, goof could have come home.

Preacher was my introduction to fostering and six months after his arrival, my first foster failure. Stuart told me that I should "just adopt him. No one is ever going to love that ugly ol' mutt like you do." He was right. I adored that dog. I will forever adore that mutt! I signed the papers the next morning to adopt Preacher and his best friend, Franklin. They could not be seperated at the time. Franklin couldn't function without Preacher. He was afraid of everything and Preacher was afraid of nothing. Franklin now explores his world with the same confidence Preacher once had. Perhaps Preacher knew his work with Franklin was done. Franky and I will both be a little lost without him.

I will love and miss you forever, big fella. It is so damn quiet without you. It is appropriate that you left on the longest, darkest night of the year. You brought me great joy and love; my world is a little darker without you today.

Rest well, ol' boy. You've earned it.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Fun, fun, fun!

Our weekend started off with one of the best runs this little team has had in a long time. We ran into two big dog teams. Between the three teams, there were over 30 dogs in a short section of very narrow trail. This was my team's first head on pass in two years! First time we've seen another team in a very long time and just to make things extra exciting, I had Franklin, my little gator, hooked up! My first instinct was to freak out, but the dogs pick up on that very quickly. If the human is freaked out, they must freak out too! Both passes were almost flawless. No tangles, no growls, no aggression from Franklin and no one jumped him! Wooo Hoooo!

On the way back, we ran into a skier with three loose dogs. Again, no problems getting by any of them. I may have to stop calling Franklin an alligator soon!

This afternoon we received a package from a Secret Santa exchange. The critters are set for a long time for toys! There was one bag for each of them, plus one for me!

Rope toys, tug toys, cat toys, stuffies, tennis balls....even squeaky tennis balls. Toys of all kinds!

Sundin has just learned how to play. He's going to have a riot with this bounty of toys!!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Northern Lights....

Finally got the settings right on my trusty Olympus c-5060 camera to take pictures of the Northern Lights. I owe Stuart a tripod, thanks to the dogs' "helping" me set up, but I finally got some pictures of the Lights! Kinda blows my whole "I need an Evolt-500" theory. (I still want one though!)

The lights were quite spectacular tonight.

And they were out much earlier than usual. Usually I see them when the dogs wake me up at 2am!

One more reason to love living up here!

And one picture of my cozy little house, also taken tonight, just because I like the picture!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Pingo's gift...

Monday afternoon on the lake! I love a frozen lake! Come May, I'll be impatiently waiting for the ice to disappear so I can get the kayaks back out, but right now, I love that ice!

It's probably been safe for weeks, but we made our first crossings on Monday afternoon. This team was Paxil-Sundin, Pacer-Franklin, Anvik-Chase.

We ran into one loose dog and for the third time this year, Franklin had a completely uneventful pass! Franklin is a bit of an "alligator", through no fault of his own. He got attacked a couple years ago by a loose dog and he's never forgotten that incident. Takes one lousy pass to mess a dog up and a hundred good ones to undo the damage! Every good pass Franklin get in is a bonus! I'm pretty proud of the little guy!

Team two on Monday was lead by the remarkable little Pingo. She really is little!

I never noticed just how tiny she is until I put Raven beside her. Raven is not a terribly large dog, but she makes Pingo look like a puppy!

But size is irrelavant to Pingo! She is the boss of this team, at least when she's in harness. She's a meek and mild mutt when she's not working! Pingo is a solid lead dog--reliable, happy and at over 9 years old, still in fine shape. Pingo's true gift though is not in her ability to tell "gee" from "haw" or willingness to train new dogs or in her ability to blow past distractions on the trail. Pingo's gift is her trail sense.

Notice in this picture, it almost looks like there is only one lead dog. I still haven't quite figured out how Pingo did this without causing a major tangle, but she let her tug line go slack and dropped behind Raven;

came up on the other side;(she is dominantly left pawed)

And dragged the entire team over to a different track across the lake, one that was more solid, faster and much more fun to run on! She absolutely always knows which trail will be best to run on, which turn will get us home and since she hates getting her paws wet, the fastest, safest way through overflow. She's truly a remarkable little creature!

Which is why when she's not hard at work, she has full couch privledges!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

How to stop, according to Anvik

When you are long on legs...

But a little short on brains and completely without brakes...

The best way to come to a complete stop is to crash into your favorite human!

It's fun for everyone! This approach works better in the winter. It's harder to bruise the human when she is wearing a parka!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

More trailbreaking...

At last we have tons of snow. It's a little fluffy for holding a snow hook, but that's what snub lines and trees are for! It will get packed down soon enough.

This is why I live here!

Just a little side note to the A**hole we passed on his skidoo yesterday. Did it make you feel good to scare my dogs and spray snow all over us? I did call by-law with a description of you and your machine. Don't forget Mary Lake is well within the city limits. My team is properly liscenced and registered with the city. Is your machine? I will keep calling by-law every time I have a problem with you or any of your speed freak friends. Maybe you should take a lesson from your kids. It's always middle age males driving machines who seem to think it's fun to harass my dogs. The 16 year old boy, who one might expect such behavior from, are almost without fail more polite and respectful on the trails than their fathers.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Good-bye Kasha

This post is typed with a heavy heart and through a veil of tears. Today, I helped Kasha make her move to the next life. Kasha was pushing 16 when she arrived here. 15 months later, pushing 17, it doesn't seem that she was here nearly long enough. Kasha was always fiesty, full of attitude and always seemed remarkably healthy for a cat of her age. None of the usual problems that elderly cats developed seemed to affect her. Her kidneys worked just fine, she ate like a kitten, played a bit, arthritis didn't hinder her ability to jump and find a good napping spot. All that changed on Monday night, when Kasha became lethargic, even for an old cat! Tuesday she was no better. She wasn't eating, not even baby food. She hardly moved and she let a dog sniff her without splitting his nose! So off to the vet we went.

Kasha was diagnosed with end stage liver disease. She had been fighting this battle for a long time, without ever telling anyone she was sick. Cats are phenomonal at hiding illness. Despite intensive treatment, Kasha did not get any better. She developed jaundice; became less responsive. Even force feeding her wasn't successful.

Today, after a talk with her vet, I decided to free her from her ailing body. I spent a long time holding her and told her how very much I love her. She wasn't here for long, but it didn't take her more than a moment to find her place in my heart.

Her crossing was gentle and quick. She was ready to go. I was the one who was not ready.

Godspeed my beautiful marshmellow girl. I will try to keep the dogs in line without you and remember to fill up your fountain so the other cats don't have to squwack at me to do it. I will miss you and love you forever. You were completely worth this broken heart.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Dashing through the snow....

Ok, mabye it wasn't exactly dashing, more like plowing through the snow. Never a skidoo around when you need one--they break a good trail, but apparently all the snowmobilers in Mary Lake stayed home to watch the Grey Cup yesterday! We broke trail most of the way today, which shortened our first run quite a bit!

There's nothing quite like the look on a lead dog's face when she realizes you are serious this time and she really does get to run! It takes alot to get Paxil away from the woodstove, but a run does it every time!

Plowing through this stuff takes alot out of both musher and dogs, especially when the dogs haven't run for a couple weeks! I should have taken more dogs, but then I couldn't have taken Hobo and he really, really, really wanted to come!

We did get a brief section that was much easier and faster!

And eventually we made it back home where we were greeted with the disgusted howls of the dogs left behind!

And Sweet Sleet waiting by the fence. She's 13 now and been retired for a couple years, but if I asked she'd still try, arthritic hips, cloudy eyes and all.

"That was a lot of work!" Pacer is now regaining his strength by napping on the couch!

Hobo is completely blissed out. He'd go again right now and again an hour later and again until he fell right over! There's no stopping Psycho Puppy!

Annie came for his first run since his surgery. He still has some problems with the incision site. I'm not sure it's ever going to heal. Anvik has never had a clue that he might be sick and that continued today. He ran beautifully. I like him more every time I run him. He's driven, hardworking and he clearly enjoys every stride!

Now I just need to find a kid with a skidoo and get the longer trails broken! Maybe a bit more snow so the hook has a chance of staying set!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Good news from the vet...

Chum went back to the vet today to have all his tests redone--ECG, blood panel, thyroid panel. He was supposed to go the day Earle got sick, but Chum got bumped until today! He was not happy with being put in the kennel this morning. The dog area of my vet's office looks very much like the dog area of the shelter Chum resided in for awhile. I don't think shelter dogs ever forget those chain link walls.

His discomfort is worth it though! Both his resting and after exercise ECG's look perfectly normal. No concerns with his heart rythyms at all. The anemia has resolved and his red blood count is normal too.

His extraordinarily low thyroid levels are now actually high! Chum did go counter-surfing this morning and snagged himself an extra treat. Unfortunately, that extra treat contained Earle's thyroid medication! (I have three dogs and one cat who take daily thyroid meds!) Our vet says that even with a double dose his levels are too high. Like most hypothyroid dogs, Chum had gained some weight. All that excess weight is gone now. So Chum is getting his dose reduced.

Chum is free to return to harness work, running, hiking and all the playing his silly little heart desires. :)

Or not! Whatever he decides is fine!

Monday, November 13, 2006

More Earle...

It's pretty quiet around here right now--no snow, too cold to sit on the ATV for long and it runs like crap in these temps anyway. So here's yet another post about Earle!

He's actually doing much better. He was back at the clinic a few days ago. His lipase levels half what they were 10 days ago, but that's still double what they should be. He goes back again on Friday for another blood test. Hopefully, they've kept dropping. Fortunately, Earle does not care about going to the vet. He likes attention no matter where he gets it from! He has learned to ring the bell on the clinic counter and which techs will give him the most treats!
Like any sick dog, he's playing his worried human a little bit too!

"Oh, no, I'm exhausted still, Mom! I think I need to stay on the couch with Boots"
Boots adores the dogs, a little too much sometimes, so he doesn't mind being Earle's pillow!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Earle is home...

Earle got to come home. He's not himself, but he is much better than he was a few days ago. He has no stamina, but he feels up to playing in short bursts.

He doesn't really get "fetch" but he likes to run around with a tennis ball. That whole "bring it back" part of fetch escapes him!

Few minutes of playing and it's back to the futon!

He's less than thrilled with his new diet--rice and cottage cheese! I'd be less than thrilled too! He did start to eat more today and so far it's all stayed down!

He goes back to the clinic on Wednesday for repeat tests, just to make sure his lipase levels are back to normal. Hopefully, no permanent damage was done, but we won't know that for some time!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Vet bills, vet bills, and more vet bills!

Anvik was at the vet yesterday, has another app't next Wednesday.

Chum was supposed to go back to the vet today and get his bloodwork and ECG redone. It's been a month since he collapsed and was diagnosed with severe hypothyroidism. Chum is, as Stuart puts it, "as annoying as he's ever been."(said with great affection of course). The treatment is working, but Chum can't work until I know his heart is ok.

I had to switch dogs this afternoon. Last night Earle came inside at 6:30, got on the futon and didn't move again until 7:30am when I had to coax him to the door. He didn't eat, wouldn't even lift his head to sniff his food. If you'd ever seen Earle, you'd know he doesn't miss many meals. He's hypothyroid too and on a diet to get some extra pounds off him. He's a big boy to start with, well over the Siberian breed standard.

Earle is my most laid back dog. He's a pure joy to have around. I can take him anywhere; he can meet anyone; he's never met another dog he didn't like; he never fights; for a Husky his off-leash recall is nothing short of miraculous. Earle is always the first dog a newbie meets. He's been to schools and daycares as a demo dog. He was my very first dog(as an adult), one of only two in the yard that I have owned since puppyhood. (he's 7 now) He is laid back, but not lethargic.

Not eating and not moving much freaked me out a bit, but he wasn't vomitting. He didn't yelp when I moved his legs, didn't act like he had bloat. This afternoon, I came home to pick up Chum and had to search the yard to find Earle. He was tucked away in a doghouse. I decided that he needed the vet more than Chum. I called the clinic and told them that I was probably being neurotic, but they needed to get a different file ready for Dr. Candace.

Earle is well known at the clinic. He's a favorite among the techs, but even they commented that he was taking laid back a little too far today.

After some x-rays(to rule out a blockage) and bloodwork, Earle has been diagnosed with a massive case of pancreatitis. My vet said his lipase levels should have been at about 800 since he hadn't eaten. 1500 would be considered normal. Her machine measures to 6000. It couldn't measure Earle's lipase levels--he is well above 6000!

He will be spending some time at the clinic, likely a week or so. He's on IV fluids, antibiotics and a painkiller. He can't have any food or anything orally administered until his pancreas calms down. The prognosis for pancreatitis is fair most of the time. My vet made a point of warning me that "he could be in some trouble" with his enzeymes so elevated. I am choosing to believe that she's covering her own butt and preparing me for a worst case scenerio only.

I went to visit him before I came home. He looks pathetic. His eyes have lost their little sparkle. The only time he moved was to lift his head and watch me leave--took me three tries to get to the door! There is a tech who lives above the clinic and will check on Earle through the night. I have complete faith in my vet and her staff and know that Earle will get the very best care there, but I want him home. Even with 23 dogs here, it's a little empty without my special boy.

I want this guy back--happy, playing, smiling Earle. Ok, I'd like the water he's standing in to be frozen into ice I can run the dog team across covered with a nice layer of snow, but I'll take just a happy, healthy Earle!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Birthday Delta and Antare....

My timid little boys turn 5 today. Normally this would not be a huge deal, but since there was a time I never expected to see Delta again, it is this year!

Delta spent his day laying in the snow and hiding his Kong underneath him! He's still the most timid creature I've ever met, but he is making some progress. He takes food from my hand now and I can catch him pretty quickly most of the time.

Antare has always been the braver of the duo. Still timid, but not quite the same degree of terror.

Antare celebrating by discovering the joys of napping on the futon(which is really a giant dog bed). This was the first time he's ever been brave enough to get up on the furniture.

Apparently, Earle told him it was ok. Antare does love other dogs and Earle in particular. If Earle said it was safe, there's no question Antare would believe him!

Happy Birthday boys.

Friday, October 27, 2006


Anvik is recovering well from his surgery. He is completely unaware that he is supposed to be quiet and calm. He's not good at that. The e-collar freaked him out to no end. That was not happening! He wears a doggy jacket when I can't supervise him. He's blown one stitch, but that might be a good thing.

He was back to the vet on Monday with a collection of fluid under the incision. He potentially needed more surgery to put in a drain. The blown stitch has taken care of that! All the fluid leaked out on it's own. He is on antibiotics for another week.

Chum is also doing very well. My annoying, loud, little nutball is back in fine form!

Hard to tell from this picture, but he's really much more energetic. Maybe a little too much so sometimes. Tonight he managed to instigate a fight! Stuart often says Chum is alive because he's fast and Heyoka can't catch him. Chum got Heyoka wound up, Heyoka went running by Bandit, Bandit thought Heyoka was after his stuff, Bandit lunged, Heyoka responded with teeth, Pingo jumped in just for fun(highly unusual for her). End result, two punctures on Bandit, one on Heyoka both in the exact same spot, right by their eyes. It looks much worse than it really is though. They are both spending the night inside, Ban in the house, Heyoka in the shop. Hopefully by the morning, they will have forgotten all about it, although they will be segregated from each other for awhile, at least when no one is home.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Happy Birthday Muskwa....

Muskwa turns 9 today! Muskwa was the my introduction to the breed that has since taken over my life! I'd never met a husky before he came along. There were plenty of days in those early years that I wished I still hadn't met a husky. That dog drove me to the bottle and to tears repeatedly. Muskwa's puppyhood lasted at least four years! He is too damn smart for his own good! He's mellowed with age and we've worked out our differences! He's still not my dog. I am the food lady, the one he goes to when he doesn't feel well, when he wants something or when he needs some extra attention. I am not and never will be the one he listens to! He is a husky after all. He listens only when it suits him!

Happy Birthday, Muskwa. Even when you're driving me nuts, I do love you!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Poor Annikins...

A couple weeks back, Anvik developed what we thought was an abscess on his right side. Antibiotics did shrink it, but didn't get rid of it. So Anvik went back to the vet yesterday and the desicion was made to take the lump out. (Anvik would like to note that he had no input into this decision, despite his many attempts to get his point across). Today Anvik had surgery--dogs get quick health care!

The lump is some kind of granuloma, which could mean he had a foreign object that his body tried to encase, like a bit of porcupine quill. He hasn't been into anything like that since he got here, but who knows what he got up to in his former life! It could also be "some kind of mass". Isn't that definitive? The vet saved a piece of it that could be sent out for a biopsy. Regardless of what it actually is, the treatment would likely be the same--cut it out! Dr. Kim was very aggressive in his removal and took wide margins. Hopefully it won't regrow and Annikins will be fine!

Anvik has a big wound that I imagine he will play up for all it's worth for as long as he can! He did treat the clinic staff to the "Anvik Death Howl" all day long, except for the brief time he was knocked out! By his behavior tonight, it's hard to tell he had surgery at all. He very hungry and very noisy. I have been throughly told off for leaving him at the clinic all day!

He'll be telling me off again soon when he's not allowed to come for a run. This was taken yesterday. He's doing alright in lead. Paxil is a good teacher. It's snowing like crazy again tonight. Anvik is not going to be happy with being left behind. His harness would rub on the surgical site so he's not supposed to run til the stitches come out in a couple weeks! He should be completely insane by then--or I will be!

And who did I run into at the clinic tonight? dogsled_stacie We have all paws crossed for Ripper's quick and complete recovery!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Thanks, Uncle Randy...

The dogs' Uncle Randy(who is really not related to us at all!) has provided us with some moose scraps and bones. Mother Nature threw in some snow today. It all adds up to happy, quiet dogs, which leads to happy, not complaining neighbors and an owner much less likely to be heard screaming SHUT UP at 2am! It's a good thing!

Earle likes to chow down while standing up.

Ozzy prefers to save his energy for beating up his brother(Mac)and lounges while he eats.

Franklin likes to surround himself with chunks of meat and settle in!

Preacher may be old, blind and basically falling apart, but he can still eat with the best of 'em! When Preacher no longer wants to eat, I will know that it is time to help him into the next world. God help any of the young dogs who tries to take that bone from him. The ol' boy can still hold his own and he won't hesitate to use his teeth on the upstart youngsters! Age has it's privledges! You can get away with being a cranky jerk much more often when you are 13!

Thanks, Randy! We appreciate it! Nothing buys a couple hours of pure quiet around here like a batch of fresh moose bones!