Saturday, December 10, 2011

Just a plain brown tabby

Just a plain brown tabby,
That's probably what most people saw looking at Sophia.
I saw the cat against which all others will be measured for the rest of my life; my most favourite little purring being. 
She was sweet, snuggly and sick.  Sophia was never 100% healthy in the almost five years we shared.  She was an older cat long before she got here.  She arrived with massive dental problems which eventually lead to the loss of almost all her teeth. 
She bossed me around every chance she got; demanded canned food multiple times per day, despite the fact that she could chew just fine!

Sophia was not a lap cat; she was a face cat.  When I first pulled her out of a cage in the shelter, she nuzzled into my neck purring her head off.  Her mission, when she was not demanding food, was to be as close to my face as she could get.  I often awoke with my nose full of cat fur and convinced I was being smothered! 
Sophia passed away in the wee hours of Friday morning; she died in her favourite spot, curled up on my shoulder with her little tabby face pressed against my cheek.  Her tiny body could no longer win its multiple battles. 

I will miss you, my little purring scarf.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Big Kahoona

The first time I saw her she jumped up on the gate to her chain link kennel, stared me straight in the eyes and dared me to take her home!

If I had known then what that stare meant, I'd have wished her well and walked away. All I saw was big brown eyes an an underweight dog in a kennel too small for her. I loved her instantly and paid her adoption fee on the spot.

Kayleigh was the toughest dog I have ever known. Tough in every sense of the word. She was huge, tough to control, tough to confine, tough to train with a stubborn streak a mile wide. It took her a long time to realize she didn't have to defend herself here; that there would always be enough food; I would not forget to feed her and there were more tennis balls if she wrecked one.

Kayleigh pushed her limits her whole life. There were several emergency runs to the vet...she liked the taste of porcupine, she ate a box of toothpicks, her littermate who we briefly fostered tried to rip her throat out. There was never a dull moment in her younger years!

We were not the perfect home for Kayleigh. She was not meant to be a pack dog. She would not tolerate most dogs anywhere near her territory. Kayleigh had an out of control prey drive. If it was smaller than her, it was prey. She had been hungry as a puppy and she never forgot that feeling. Age mellowed her a bit, but she was always a 110 pound handful!

By the time we realized Kayleigh was not just having adjustment issues, that she had real issues that weren't going to be easy to fix, it was too late. We loved her and she had such a history of chaos that we could not have responsibly placed her in another home.

So we set out to give her the best life we could within her limits. My husband built her a pen more secure than the local jail; full of places she could dig with lots of room to stretch her legs, connected to the shop ; so she could still be an inside dog. I would sneak her out late at night in summer and take her to the quarries for a swim. She loved to swim!

Kayleigh was tough, but she was not tough to love. She was full of personality, vibrant and happy. She had a quirky sense of humor and more than a hint of mischief in her eyes. She firmly believed she was not too big to be a lap dog. She loved a good belly rub, a long cuddle and a good game of fetch.

Kayleigh turned 13 in October. Acute kidney failure stole her from us yesterday.

She taught me more in the 11 years we shared than I could have learned from 100 easier dogs. I will miss her dearly.

It wasn't a perfect life; I hope it was enough.

Kayleigh, the Big Kahoona
October 21, 1998 - November 23, 2011

Sunday, October 09, 2011

How things have changed...

A year ago today, we released Sleet and Goldie from their failing bodies. 
They were both old dogs, good dogs, so different in so many ways, but such good girls. Such a huge part of this place.
Sleet was our very first Yukon dog, my first lead dog; so smart it was a little scarey and the sweetest creature I've ever met.  She was pure sugar! She was almost sixteen when she died; her spirit still strong, but her body unable to keep up anymore. 

Sleet was a creature of habit.  She hated change.  She never missed a turn on the trail, always knew the way home, but could not figure out how to go around a box in her way in the house!  I still keep her path clear at all times!

Goldie was the first shelter dog I met in the Yukon. It took me three years to get her to our home, but I knew that first day that she was meant to be here! 

Goldie was tough.  Life was not kind to her in early years.  She was abused, malnourished and unloved. Three years in the shelter would break most dogs.  Not Goldie!  She had issues, but she moved on.  She formed a deep bond with Chase; she delighted in every opportunity to stretch her short legs; she relished every meal and made it her mission to keep the Ravens away from her pen!  She was fiesty, funny and very vocal.

In the end cancer was tougher than even Goldie, but she put up one hell of a fight.  Given weeks to live when diagnosed, she stayed for 18 months and enjoyed every minute of her time. 

We knew that Sleet and Goldie were leaving that day.  What we did not know was what the next year would bring.  In the next 12 months we lost five more dogs and one of our feline crew.  Only the feline death was not horribly shocking. 
Puff was at least 20 years old.  She was not expected to live long when we got her.  She stayed for four years before leaving on her own terms to find her first owner again.  We mourned her passing, but it was not a suprise.

We did not expect to loose Founder in January; the way Bandit died will haunt us forever; euthanizing Mac & Ozzy was the single hardest thing we have ever done and a heartbreaking decision we hope to never face again.
Earle was 12, but we were expecting a couple more years with him.  We continue to struggle with the fact that the best dog ever is gone. 

The changes around here in one short year are amazing.  Some of them are terribly sad; the absence of our departed pack members is felt everyday.

At the same time some of the changes are nice.  I did not realize how much tension Mac & Ozzy caused in the pack.  I have not broken up a fight, rushed a bleeding dog to the vet, tended wounds, stitches, drains etc in months.  Since the end of February, I have not had to break up a single dog fight.  I rarely have to even yell "KNOCK THAT OFF" anymore. 

The yard is quieter, more peaceful these days . The dogs, except for Tehya, are all seniors.  They don't cause nearly as much havoc and chaos as they once did.  No one digs under the fence or leaps over it.  Getting through the gate is much easier! 

Feeding takes much less time and so much less food!  One 5 gallon bucket of meat chunks feeds the whole pack.  It used to take two of those buckets. 

One of my extremely timid dogs, Sundin, has decided it's safe to unpack his baggage now. He's still a shy little dude, but he hangs out in the main yard quite often now.  He lets me pet him with increasing regularity. 

Pacer used to have to be in his pen all the time.  The other dogs picked on him and he was seriously injured a couple times.  Now Pacer lounges on the deck, joins in group howl sessions and is able to go wherever he wants without getting beat up!

We decided some time ago that we would not be adding to pack anymore;  not filling the empty spots left by those who move on.  That has been a difficult decision to stick to sometimes, but we have new plans and new horizons to explore. 

We have enjoyed and continue to enjoy life with a big pack.  It's been quite an adventure so far!  This past year has brought many changes.  The coming years will undoubtly bring more, some heartbreaking, some delightful. 
I would change the heartbreak if I could, but not if it meant missing out on knowing, living with, loving this group of furry friends.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The best dog ever....

He deserves poetic words and fitting tributes, but such things escape me right now...
He was simply the best dog ever; from the moment we met when he was just a wee puppy until the moment of his death 12 years later,  he was the best dog ever. 

It was a blessing to share his life. I will miss him for the rest of mine.

June 19, 1999 - August 29, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

The big dog miracle

A couple years ago we were told to prepare for losing our big dog, Heyoka. He had something wrong in his throat. We never really knew what was, but it was serious and made every breath a bit of a struggle for Heyoka. Until February 2011 he stayed a happy if somewhat sedate dog. We got used to his noisy breathing, to the snoring and the gasps.

Then he took a turn for the worse. He started using every muscle to breathe, he was struggling and we feared the time had come to let him go. We took him to our vet who wasn't ready to give up yet. She took some x-rays, did some tests and thought the big dog might have a chance, but that chance was beyond the scope of her general practice clinic. Heyoka needed a specialist.
So we found a specialist, loaded the big dog into the van and made the 15 hour drive to Anchorage, Alaska!
If nothing else, it's a beautiful drive.  The Yukon side of the highway is in rough shape, but the scenery is spectacular.  
The night before his appointment we took Heyoka for a walk along Anchorage's wonderful trail system.  About three blocks was exhausting for him!
The next day we took Heyoka to see Dr. Nelson Priddy at Veterinary Specialist of Alaska.  After a very complete exam, he thought he could help Heyoka.  He made us no promises except that Heyoka would be no worse off.  He prepared us for the worst...that his throat could not be fixed; that it was cancer growing in there and that the first hot day of summer would send Heyoka into a respitory crisis if there was no solution.  Heyoka could not breathe well enough to control his body temperature anymore.  He would overheat easily and we would loose him.  Heyoka was booked for surgery the next day.

Several hours after dropping him off at the clinic, we got the best news possible...Heyoka's throat issues were fixable. He had larengyal paralysis.  His larynx simply did not move and no matter what he couldn't get enough air.  The lumps and bumps in his throat were the result of long term irritation, not cancer, not going to kill him.
One side of Heyoka's larnyx was tied back. This means he can breathe with ease, but he's also at high risk of aspiration pneumonia for the rest of his life.  We know what to look for and will get him to our local vet ASAP if he shows any of them.  Other than that and barring a disaster, Heyoka should live a normal lifespan!!!!
This is Heyoka 7 weeks post-surgery! He's practically a puppy again!  He runs, he plays, he is absolutely silent when he breathes, even his panting is quieter than a normal breath was pre-surgery! For weeks after the surgery, we got up during the night, just to make sure he was really breathing.  We had become so used to the noise that it was hard to believe he was alive and that quiet!!!

 He is one happy dog! He comes with me on long walks and slow jogs. It's much easier to have energy when you're getting enough air!

We hope to never need Dr. Priddy's help again, but we would not hesitate to head back to Anchorage with another fur-kid!   Our only regret is that we didn't find him sooner!   

Heyoka means Clown in Cree. It suits him and we are forever grateful to have our big clown back!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

A decade...

10 years ago today, a huge black and white dog jumped on the gate to her kennel, stared me straight in the eye and dared me to take her home.

If I had known then what I know now, I'd have turned that dare down; but I would not know what I do now without Kayleigh. The tough ones are the best teachers.

Happy Gotcha Day, Kayleigh Kahoona. I wouldn't change a thing...except maybe that day you ate the box of toothpicks and damn near killed yourself!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Godspeed, Puff..

Puff arrived here almost four years ago, already an old cat. She had lived her life as the pampered companion of an elderly man who could no longer care for her. Puff was old, sick and just needed a nice place for her last few least that's what they told me. The only true part was Puff was old. At least 15 when she arrived. It must have been quite the shock to go from pampered only pet to this zoo! Puff adjusted and fit in with little complaint.

She was tough, fiesty, full of attitude, but she was friendly and sweet with a purr much bigger than her small size. She gave a headbonk that could cause concussions. She could never understand why I bothered to offer her cat food. She firmly believed she should be allowed to share my meals right off my plate. Cat food was beneath her; she was entitled to human food at her demand.

Puff hadn't looked healthy in the entire time she lived here. She was thin; she couldn't be bothered to groom much; her name was not very fitting anymore! Yet, she ate, loved her nip and meowed her demands to anyone who would listen. She slept even more than usual the last few days, but showed no signs that she was in pain or suffering. She was gone when I got home tonight with no signs of struggle. It appears she left peacefully and like everything else Puff did, she left this world on her own terms.

I hope she has found her first owner. They would be delighted to be together again. I'll miss you, old girl. Thanks for letting us share the last few years of your life. It was a privilege.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Happy Tehya Day

Last Saturday was one of, if not the, worst day of my life. This Saturday marks the fourth anniversary of one of the best....the day Tehya the Babydog arrived at Wandering Spirits Kennels!

She was a little ball of energy and enthusiasm.
She's been herding huskies ever since!
The border collie-husky is an interesting mix! Tehya is alot of dog crammed in to a mere 45 pounds!
Four years later, she's still a little ball of endless engery! She's always wrassling, playing, running, chewing!

Sometimes the best things happen when you ignore your better judgement. I'm forever grateful that I ignored mine and agreed to let Tehya join the pack!

Happy Gotcha Day, Babydog!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

More Goodbyes..

Mac & Ozzy

June 30, 2003 - February 26, 2011

Every choice I ever made for you, including the last one, was made out of love.

I'm sorry, my boys. I hope you are together, happy and free from your demons now.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Goodbye Bandit

Goodbye sweet Bandit.

I hope you have all the bones & gloves you can chew and a papsan chair to lounge in all day.

We'll miss you forever, our grumpy old man dog.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Rare Husky-Beaver Cross...

This is what happens when you own a very rare breed, the Husky-Beaver mix! It looks like your typical sled dog, maybe with blue eyes, likely black and white, but it chews. Like a beaver it chews only wood! It's hard on fences and gates!

It's also hard on teeth!

This is my very own Husky-Beaver cross, Chum. Chum was on his way home from an unscheduled visit with Dr. Candace. Note the lump on the left side of his face. That is from an abcessed broken tooth...likely broken by chewing on his fence!

Chum is not a happy dog! He'll be going back for a longer visit with the vet clinic staff tomorrow...that tooth has to come out.

Maybe he'll learn his lesson and only chew on the vast quantity of bones, rawhides and dog toys I've always provided to him!

Somehow I doubt it though!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Where do you want this one?

"Where to you want this one?"

That's how it all started a little over seven years ago when my hubby hopped out the truck with a dog and Founder joined our pack.

He'd been at the local humane society for over a year after being found tied to the shelter fence. I'd been taking him for walks and was well acquainted with the big goof. He was a large, noisy dog, with boundless energy. Not the easiest dog to find an adoptive home for & all his buddies were already at our place, so why not Founder too?

He fit right in; one of those dogs who was meant to be a pack animal. He had the occasional squabble when Founder thought he should be a boss dog, but he usually regained his senses quickly and settled back in to his spot!

Even the cats liked Founder and unlike many huskies, Founder had no desire to eat cats. He was content to be used as kitty pillow if it meant he got to nap on the couch too!

He was noisy and full of stories. He was always talking, wooing, yelling. Founder was never at a loss for words. He was pushy and demanding; always wanting all the attention. If you happened to scratch the magic spot at the base of his tail, he expected that you would continue all day.
In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, Founder passed away. Our dogsitter found him collapsed just before midnight. Founder passed peacefully at home shortly after. We do not know what happened. We have taken his body to our vet for a necropsy to try and get some answers.

Answers to the whys and hows are only for our peace of mind. Nothing will change the fact that our pack is missing a member; that our yard is eerily quiet without his big voice; that no big blockhead is pushing his way between us every time we try to pet another dog.

I'm so sorry that I wasn't here when you needed me most, but grateful that you were not alone; that you were with a familar person who cared about you as you left.

We will miss and love you forever, Founder.

Edited to add: we just heard from our vet that Founder had a tumour on his heart and his death was essentially inevitable. We are deeply grateful for Dr. Stuart's quick response, competence; for answering our questions and relieving the guilt and what if's that may have haunted us.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Etsy Sale...

When I'm not dog wrangling and doing the job that pays the dog bills, I make glass beads.

Playing with fire is fun!

Until January 31, I am having a sale in my Etsy shop.

Just enter coupon code YEAREND

at checkout to receive 15% off your purchase!

The shop can be found here:

Bi-Eyed Beading

New items added regularly!