Monday, December 21, 2009

We've come such a long way, Pacer

A little over six years ago, a scared little shadow of a dog entered our world. We called Pacer "the ghost dog" due to his solid white coloring and reluctance to have anything to do with people. He lurked on the fringes of our lives, too scared to get too close to anyone.

Then about four years ago, Pacer ended up on the bottom of a pack fight and almost lost his life. It turned out the be the best thing that every happened to him. For six weeks, his options were put with me tending to his wounds while being forced to live inside or die. Pacer may be shy but he's very bright and he knew I was trying to help, even when it hurt!
Pacer started to unpack his baggage as he recovered. He decided to remain a house dog, sleep on the couch; he does have his own pen to protect him when no one is home. He's a much happier boy these days, especially since Tehya arrived. She has taught him the joy of Husky WWF playtime!

Tehya has recently been freed from her crate at night. Most nights she ends up on the bed. She likes to snuggle. In the wee hours this morning, I felt a little husky sneak up on the bed and snuggle up beside, sharing my of Tehya's favorite tricks. For several hours I slept hugging the little dog I assumed to be Tehya. Until the alarm went off and I discovered it was Pacer snuggled up to me!
Oh, how far we've come my little devil dog....from living on the fringes of the yard, to reluctant acceptance of contact, to snuggling on the bed! And it only took six years!

**Devil dog comes from his ears...his behavior is not devilish at all, but when he's happy and relaxed his ears look like little devil horns!**

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Another sick one...

Had I been thinking with my head instead of my heart when I was bringing most of this pack home a few years ago, I would have thought "hey they are all going to get old at the same damn time; maybe I should space their ages out a bit?" Alas, I did not think that and probably wouldnt' have changed a thing even if I had thought it! So now I have a rapidly aging pack that while still mainly healthy is starting show signs of it's age!
Life was not kind Goldie for her first few years, so she may seem even older than she really is. Goldie is a tough dog; a sweetie at heart, but one who bears both physical and psychological scars from her early years. Goldie has one true friend in the whole pack, her beloved Chase; she doesn't like other girls and she is not fond of cats; she spent over two years in the local shelter; she has badly bowed front legs, likely from poor nutrition as a wee puppy; she has been on pain meds for many years due to an old pelvic fracture that was never treated and healed incorrectly. Goldie is tough, but she also loves to be hugged by her people, adores her Chase, delights in a good walk, and never ever lets anyone or anything in her driveway without warning me that something is coming. She even has different barks for strangers, people she likes, loose dogs and moose. She's a good girl....
Unfortunately, she's a good girl who is full of cancer. Goldie was diagnosed with bone cancer today. The tumor covers most of the right side of her rib cage. It is not removeable. Surgery is not an option. We have decided not to subject her to any further testing or procedures. Her prognosis does not change in any case.
We are adding a second pain medication in the hope of keeping her comfortable for as long as possible. Goldie has known enough stress and pain in her life. Before it ends, she will know only safety, security, comfort and love, from her humans and her special canine friend, Chase.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The loose wire connects...

Now don't get me wrong, we adore Chase. He is a sweet, gentle lovely dog who is the best snuggler in the pack. However, he is truly a dumb dog. As his Uncle Nick used to say, Chase has a loose wire upstairs. Something just doesn't connect! He would loose some of his charm if he was a genius dog anyway!

But every once in awhile, Chase shows a flash of brilliance. Tonight when I got home, Chase was in the wrong pen. He lives with Goldie in their own pen. Chase is the only dog Goldie will tolerate on a full-time basis. He's not bright enough to be dominant! Goldie likes a boy she can boss around!

Chase has figured out that he can use his extraordinarily long legs and the block of ice frozen into a bath tub that is their water bowl in the summer to launch himself over the fence! Fortunately, that just puts him in a bigger pen and Chase gets along with everyone. He had a self-scheduled play date for the afternoon!

Of Course he's not smart enough to figure out how to get back into his pen and was a bit stressed about being seperated from his girlfriend.

He's no genius, but maybe he's not quite as dumb as he appears!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Sometimes it's the little things...

Tonight for the first time in his life, Antare walked through the front door, under his own power, with just a moment's hesistation and right past me!

Usually he comes in the side door, into the arctic entry, but only if he's following another dog, only if the door is wide open and I hide behind it.

Tonight, he acted like a "normal" dog

Sometimes it doesn't take much to make my day!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A new toy....

I'd been saving up for a new camera for awhile...the dogs kept draining my camera account! Last week, I finally took the plunge and ordered a Nikon D300s. It arrived a few days ago. Oh my! I've shot with a digital SLR for more than three years and this thing makes me feel like I've never even shot a plain ol' point and shoot camera before! Hello, learning curve!
Fortunately, I have some cooperative models. Antare likes it when I take pictures of him from a safe distance. It also means my hands are full so I can't try to pet him, something he would prefer to avoid if he can!
Pete is always glad to assist with developing my low light shooting skills!
Occasionally Mother Nature sends along a model too, like this eagle who spent some time in the yard this afternoon! Nothing shuts the ravens up faster than a really big bird!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Woke up to Winter

It's my day off so I slept in this morning and at about 9am woke up to this:

Welcome back winter! Not that I'm quite ready for you yet!

Somewhere under the several inches of snow blanketing my yard is a few thousand feet of garden hose, which I thought about bringing in yesterday after I finished filling all the dogs' tubs.

Mac and some of the younger dogs are enjoying the snow. Sleet decided that today was a good time to play her "age has it's privledges" card. She won't go outside for any longer than absolutely neccessary. For a former lead dog, she has quite an aversion to snow now!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Maybe he's listening more than I think....

Stuart does not share my football obsession. He'll watch the odd game with me, if the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are playing, but he doesn't care. He would not rearrange his work schedule so he doesn't miss kick-off...something I do every time the Stamps play out east! He's pretty sure all pro sports are fixed. I prefer to believe there is not enough money in the CFL to bother rigging anything!

He got home last night from a two week camping trip with his buddies in Alberta. Told me there was a present for me in one of his bags. Shopping was not part of this trip so I was expecting a rock; I love rocks too and he's dragged some heavy suckers home for me! I did find a really cool rock and in a bag underneath it, a Stampeders jersey with Jermaine Copeland's name and number on it.

Two weeks ago, the Stamps won a game on a Copeland circus catch in the dying seconds of the 4th quarter. When Stuart called that evening from his work, I said "I am so buying myself a Jermaine jersey." Seriously, I was pretty sure he just tunes out my football related ramblings!

I'm pretty impressed!

Monday, September 14, 2009

My new sled cover

Last winter, Stuart said he would build some kind of cover over where I keep my dogsled, harness up the dogs ect. There are two gates at one of end of the "chute", one of them is 10 feet wide. Shoveling the snow away from that gate is a huge hassle. I figured he meant throw up a couple planks and put a tarp over it for a roof.

After 10 years, you'd think I would know better! Stuart has a bigger is better theory on most things he builds! This is what I came home to find him building last week...complete with trusses, extra support beams, a place to hang all the lines and harness, and enough room to store not only my dog sled, but the ATV and snowmobile too! And still open the 10 foot gate with no problem!

The finished chute cover, with a full tin roof! Two gates I won't have to worry about clearing this winter!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Oops, I forgot one...

There is one more canine patient right now!


Franklin has always been a late shedder, the last of the dogs to let go of his winter coat. So I wasn't too worried when he started to look a little ratty! Until I noticed the bare spots of skin, the red patches and the incessant itching started! Everything about Franklin screams this dog is hypothyroid, but after running every test known to man for that, he most definately is not hypothyroid.

He's on his second round of antibiotics for a bacterial skin infection. Now we think it's secondary to seasonal allergies. I can so relate to those! This time we added in a dose of prednisone, which has knocked out the itching.

Current plan is a month of pred and antibiotics, then wean him off the pred. By then there will have been enough frost that whatever pollen or plant he's reacting to will be dead! His coat should fill back out in time for the real winter weather. Franklin loves to run and it's hard to be a sled dog with bare skin sticking out!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Some overdue updates on the patients around here:

The mystery lumps in Heyoka's throat remain just that...a mystery. We can't get a decent sample for a biopsy, even when he's knocked out; they are just too far down. He sounds like a chainsaw when he breathes, especially when he's relaxed or asleep. Some nights I get up and move his head in a mostly failed attempt to lessen the racket! He seems unbothered though. He's a little slower, a bit less rammy than he used to be, but he eats like a pig, fence fights with Deuce, chases his tail and still enjoys a good belly rub. He remains, for the most part, the giant goof he's always been. Since his diagnosis remains a mystery, his prognosis is mysterious too!
Chum is holding his own in his battle with liver cancer. He's a bit underweight still, but he is eating. If you didn't know how Chum used to be, you would be hard pressed to tell how sick he is. Seems a bit ironic that for six years every day I told that dog to settle down and shut up and now I'm thrilled when he growls and runs a bit!
Prednisone and Tramadol are working their magic. It is painfully obvious when he needs another dose of Tramadol. He's turned into a total house dog and a snuggly little guy. Chum has always been the only dog allowed to sleep on our bed. He is supposed to stay on the corner by my feet, but he has managed to take over much more room than that lately. It did not take him long to figure out that the rules don't apply to the terminally ill! He is on borrowed time, but we will borrow as much as we can.

Goldie is also waging a battle with cancer, although her diagnosis isn't as definative or as dire as Chum's. She has a large lump, rock solid and firmly attached to her rib cage. There really isn't a thing we can do about it. It's not removable. Goldie is already on anti-inflammatory painkillers for chronic shoulder and hip pain. She is still content to boss Chase around, hog all the rawhides and bark at the new neighbors!

And Sweet Sleet...She's not really ill. She's just ancient. She is well into her 15th year. Her advancing age becomes more obvious all the time. She is stiff with a weak back end and she prefers to spend her days on her favorite blanket. Her dinner bowl hides a couple different medications! She's still fiesty young punk dog is coming between Sleet and her treats. She showed her vet a flash of teeth and 'tude earlier this week when she objected to a blood draw! When you are ancient your vet comes by alot!

I think that's all the patients right now, at least the canine ones!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Good-bye Princess...

I hadn't even gotten around to posting about her leaving our pack...Princess went back to her owner a couple weeks ago. We thought she would be back here in a few months, as it was pretty obvious her owner wouldn't be able to keep up with her for long. In hindsight, I should have fought harder to keep her here.

Princess escaped on the weekend, a young husky with too much energy will find a way to burn it off. Sometimes that has tragic consequences. Princess was run over while out running around and did not survive.

I'm so sorry, little one. You deserved better.

Godspeed, Princess.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Family drops by...

My nieces were here last week. They flew up all by themselves, a trip they handled much better than their mother, who was a basketcase after she put them on the plane! We had a busy week! Spent the first day in Skagway. It was the first time in several trips over that the summit has been clear. Last time we couldn't even see the Alaska sign!

The forest fire smoke moved in the next day. Hannah has mild asthma so the smoke was a bit of a problem for her, but she never let it slow her down too much! She's a happy, delightful kid!
And a natural athlete. We spent a day at Snafu Lake where Hannah was determined to try kayaking. She's only 11 and small for her age, but she handled 15 feet of boat like a pro! Naomi caught the only fish of the day. After 10 years of trying, my Dad has still been skunked by Yukon fish...not one in all those years!
We went for a tour at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, where there were lots of babies this year! Including these very curious twin mule deer fawns.

My waste of money Sacco cart finally got some use. My dogs all, without exception, either hate the cart or are terrified of it! The kids had a great time hauling each other around the yard!

It's amazing what a six year old will do for five bucks! Emma picked up every old, chewed-up, rotten bone in the main yard and did it singing a song the entire time! Give her a wheelbarrow and she's a happy kid!
We also went to the Copperbelt Mining museum. Apparently it's been there for years, but I'd never heard of it til this summer. It's a pretty cool place. We went for a train ride, had ice cream and got a bunch of information about the quarries near our house, that were once part of the Whitehorse Copper Mine.
My parents showed up a few days after the girls. Everyone headed back to Saskatchewan on Saturday. Yup, they drove 2500 kilometres with three kids. They are supposed to be home tonight. I'll have to call and see if everyone survived the journey!

Hannah tried to train the dogs to be show dogs. That didn't work out so well, but they did enjoy the extra treats and attention!

Unfortunately, Chum wasn't himself and spent one day of their visit at the vet. Yesterday we learned that Chum has liver cancer with a large mass attached to his liver and his spleen. There aren't any treatment options for him, other than keeping his quality of life as good as possible for as long as possible. The prognosis is grim and we likely only have a few weeks left with our noisy boy, who isn't so noisy anymore. Hannah gave him some extra lovin' while she was here! We'll keep that up for as long as we can!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A late introduction....

She's been here for a couple weeks, but she hasn't been formally introduced on the blog yet:

Please say hello to Princess!
Princess is an 18th month old husky mix. Right now she's here on an extended play date. Her actual owner, who truly does care about her, is ill and just can't take care of her. How long Princess stays will depend on his health....

Tehya would like her to stay forever! They have become fast friends who spend all day running and wrassling!

Princess is ridiculously small! She tops out at about 25 pounds! She's a pint sized husky!

But she plays like a big dog!

She's alot of fun, full of joy and energy! Tehya is enjoying having another young dog to play with and I suspect Anvik is enjoying the break from being Tehya's chew toy!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

When will winter be back.....

Oh, how I hate summer. Bugs, hot huskies, allergies.....if it's green, has leaves or drops pollen, I am probably allergic to it. This week has been unnaturally warm for this area, leading to more forest fires, which in turn, lead to this.

Somewhere under that haze of forest fire smoke are the beautiful mountains I usually get to look at on my drive home.

There is not enough Reactine on the planet to counteract my allergic reaction to that smoke!

I'd so much rather deal with the ice fog that occurs in extreme cold!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Woohoooo Grey Cup Bound....

My team might not be there, although I like to believe that their rather pathetic season opener was not a sign of things to come. In any case I will be there! November 29, 2009, 4pm MST, McMahon Stadium....with my DAD!! How awesome is that???!!!

Check out all the Grey Cup fun here!

Thanks to my awesome hubby, who bought the tickets and my airfare(my birthday and christmas presents until the end of time I am sure!) and who is staying home to take care of the furries so I can spend a few days with my Dad! He rocks! Actually both my hubby and my Dad rock! My life is richly blessed with good ones!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

More Birthdays....

The troublemaking brothers turn 6 today!

Sweet, happy Mac. How do you resist that smile? He has come a long way from that scaredy dog no one could touch. He can be trouble, with a capital T, but at his core he's a good boy who just needs some really clear a 7 foot fence!

SwSweet Ozzy, scared of his own shadow but determined to protect his territory or at least bark enough to convince any intruder that he's much tougher than he looks! So noisy...sorry about that neighbor people!
Ozzy has healed nicely from his broken shoulder blade. I don't think there will be any negative effects on his sled dog career...thank goodness as a tired Ozzy is a good Ozzy!

Happy Birthday, Mac & Ozzy!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Earle....

Yesterday was Earle's 10th birthday!

How did he go from this little puppy to a senior so fast!??

He's the easiest dog in the pack...happy, sweet, friendly to everyone of any species. It would almost be boring around here if they were all like! Almost......

Happy Birthday, Earle!!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Where does all the dirt go....

Anvik's napping hole gets bigger everyday and yet I can't find enough dirt to fill it back in. It would be a loosing battle anyway. It's hot out. Huskies must dig down to the cool earth!

I suppose I should be glad he doesn't dig tunnels like Kayleigh! She has a elaborate network of tunnels in her pen! Don't know where all the dirt went from those either!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rest well, Paxil

Written through a veil of shock and tears, for less than 36 hours ago Paxil seemed healthy and happy. She was an older dog, but showed no signs that she was ready to move on.

Last night I came home to find Paxil stuck in her favorite dog house, unable to figure out how to turn around or move backwards to get out. She was clearly not feeling well so I carried her into the house and settled her on her bed, right inside the door beside the woodstove; a spot she claimed when she first arrived here and rarely ventured from if she was in the house. She wouldn't eat but she drank some water.

This morning she could not stand on her own. She had not made a sound all night or given a single kiss. This was a dog who talked all the time about everything and anything. There was no point wearing make-up around Paxil, she would just lick it off. My kissy girl.

We loaded her into the van for a trip to the vet, knowing that it was unlikely she was coming home again. She spent the day at the clinic. Our vet believes she had a mass in her stomach, perhaps an aggressive reoccurance of the mast cell cancer she had previously beaten. That mass started to bleed and sent a clot either to her spinal cord or her brain. The vet, sweet Dr. Candace, offered to do some tests and x-rays to determine where the clot was, but that knowledge would not have changed the outcome. Paxil was slipping away, her body slowly shutting down. Whatever made her my special girl was already gone. I sat with her until it seemed she starting to struggle to breath. Then I asked Candace to help her cross. Paxil offered no resistance and left her failing body gently.

Paxil changed my life. The very first time I ever stood on the runners of a dog sled and asked a team to "gee", she was my lead dog.

She was perfect then and I was hooked. A couple years later, the opportunity to bring Paxil here presented itself and I was delighted to offer her a semi-retirement home. She loved being a house dog who still pulled. She was the lead dog musher's dream about...responsive, consistent, she never missed a command, she always knew the way home, she was smarter than her musher, a trait that saved us from a couple long, cold nights in the bush! When she retired at the start of this season, I seriously considered it myself. There will never be another like her in my team or my heart. There are a whole bunch of recycled sled dogs here who owe her their home, for without her I would have no need for sled dogs of any kind!

I will miss her bossing me around; how she always pushed me out of the way to get in the door first, like I was going to steal her favorite spot if I got there before her; how she always waited until I was comfortable before deciding that she needed fresh water; how she followed me around the yard prancing and wooing her tales; that silly spotted tongue and her soft brown eyes.

I hate that empty blanket by the door. I hate that she didn't trip me today and that there is only one bowl of old house dog food being served tonight. I hate that she never told me she was so ill. And I am grateful she never told me, that she didn't suffer or linger for months; that she made it very clear when she needed to go.

Rest well, my girl. You earned it. Thank you..............

Monday, May 25, 2009


We are home from a wonderful vacation in Cuba. We had a great time, loved the country and the people. We started with three days in Havana.

Havana is a beautiful city, full of history, chaos and life! I wouldn't call it a relaxing start to our holiday, but it was unforgettable and we both loved it.

The architecture is stunning. There are remarkable old buildings everywhere. This was once the Cuban capital building, but is now home to a science institute. We stayed in the heart of Old Havana, a UNESCO world heritage site, in a 100 year old hotel. So we could walk to just about all the sites. Being a pedestrian in Havana is a bit tricky though. The Cubans drive like maniacs. There are no road signs, no crosswalks, very few lights. We got pretty good at dashing across busy streets!

We did take a few cabs including these fun little things, Coco Cabs. Basically they are three wheeled motorcycles with two seats and a bubble like topper. Much more fun than a plain ol' car!

We spent a full day exploring the fortresses that protected the city for hundreds of years. I think Stuart wants a cannon in our driveway! He liked the cannons!

We heard alot of great music in Havana and came home with quite a collection of CDs. Every bar band in Cuba has cut a CD!

We also went to the Tropicana show, a spectacle worth every dime of the admission price.

After three days in Havana, we cut a deal with a taxi driver and got a ride down the road to the beach resort town of Varadero.

Now that was relaxing! Twenty-one kilometres of white sand beach, plenty of sun and swimming, lots of rum!

We went deep sea fishing. Didn't catch anything, but as Stuart says it's called fishing, not catching! The open bar on the boat made him a happy fisherman anyway!

I went scuba diving. Stuart is a certified diver, but I'd never been before. His ears were acting up and he couldn't take the pressure in the ocean so he went snorkling and I went diving with Ivan, the uber-awesome dive master. Ivan was very good at getting me past the initial panic of being underwater and trying to breath!We did two dives, on a coral reef, saw lots of fish and funky underwater plants.

The sunsets were amazing. We just don't get sunsets like that up here. We had great weather, with a lovely cooling breeze everyday, lots of sun, no bugs and only a bit of rain on the last evening we were there.

I found some kitties to feed so I was not deprived of purrs while we were away! The hotel in Varadero had a small cat colony living on the grounds. The kittens were very friendly and sucked a few people into stealing food from the buffets for them!

It was a great way to celebrate our tenth anniversary. We will definately go back to Cuba to explore the rest of the island. The dogs didn't traumatize the sitters so we might not have to wait another ten years for a holiday!