1 November 2017 4.00 PM 30 F Sunny
As is usual for me, I have watched the oncoming months with some trepidation. As previously noted, most of us like to be all tidy and organised for the onset of winter, as most outside chores become much harder, if not downright impossible, to do. It seems we go from perpetual daylight, to an ever increasing darkness at an alarmingly quick rate. That first evening feed where you trip over something because you’re not ready for the murkiness that has descended, is the signal that our schedule needs to alter – or that maybe I need to find the headlamps that got put away in the Spring.
The weather plays its part in this scenario – and has also been a bit of a wild card this year. It was getting increasingly cold, which we were all happy about, especially after the monsoon season that was August and September. We had several nights well below freezing, even dropping to 4 F which seemed a little cold so early. We were excited to get snow in mid October, over 4 inches fell through the night, and things were looking positive for a moment. And then it started to rain – again. It got warm, it stayed wet and things just got muddy and horrible.
One of the things we do at the start of the colder weather, is try and pull the dog houses out of the ground, where they have invariably sunk into the mud a bit, before they freeze solidly. We also like to try and fill in the worst of the holes that have been dug, and generally make sure that all of the dogs have new, fresh, clean and dry straw and shavings in their houses. That has been a bit of a challenge, with the continuous rain, and we seem to have gone through a lot of bedding materials for the dogs. Another item that had been on the “to do” list since April was to complete some new pens – that finally got done at the end of August. We like to have all our dogs run loose each day, but with the new arrivals in January, it becomes ever more of a juggling act, finding out who can be with whom, and so the solution was more pens and thus smaller play groups. That seems to be working, although we find that the dogs love their status quo and each change is greeted with howls of derision and abuse. Dogs who have happily lived side by side and played together on tethers or whilst loose, seem to become instant suspicious strangers as soon as you put a piece of chainlink fence between them.
Whilst all of this kennel domestics are going on, we’re also trying to fit in some training. As ever, we were late to start, and equally normally, had a few interruptions to the routine once we did get going. There have been a few more hiccups along the way, and it is safe to say that if there was a schedule, it’s not so much been thrown out of the window, as dropped from a great height onto a passing truck. The core group of dogs are just about moving regularly, but the daily mileage target is a mere blur in the far off horizon. We are signed up for a 100 mile race early in January and already, I am questioning the likelihood that we’ll be ready for it. However, you never know…………
As previously posted, we have been worrying about the health of a few of our dogs. Happily, and somewhat amazingly, they are all still with us. Wink, whose 15th birthday is tomorrow) continues to astound us with her “get up and go” attitude – although at 3 in the morning, it would be nice if she could perhaps tone it down a little. Cuchi has noticeably slowed down, everything seems to take her a lot longer now, but she still is enjoying life and snoring like a champion. Kaz breaks my heart a little more every day. He doesn’t want to be a house dog, and only the most abject pleading and grovelling to him, will entice him indoors. Even then, he makes a beeline for our bedroom, and camps himself there until he is allowed back outside. Unless it’s raining, he has decided that the rain, he can do without. He is still eating well, and enjoys getting to romp around the top yard with the rest of the house dogs, and he loves going for a walk. There are many times you could forget just how ill he is, but occasionally there’s just an air of sadness about him and I can feel the tears welling up, threatening to overwhelm me.