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!