And So It Begins

27 Sept 2016     2.00 PM         52F          Sunny

Just in case anyone thinks that all that is involved in having a sled dog kennel is constant trips to the vet and the ability to function normally with a broken heart and tears rolling down your cheeks, I’d like to point out that, contrary to the apparent evidence of this blog, it actually isn’t just like that. It is like that sometimes, a bit too often, truth be told, the price of keeping all your dogs for their whole lives.

However, the real reason for having a sled dog kennel, is to run dogs. And with ending of summer and the beginning of autumn, the season for running draws ever closer. With our heavy coated dogs, we’ve had to watch as our neighbour took his team out in temperatures that would have had our guys frazzled and fried. Daily, we wait for the weather forecast and each morning, I wonder if today will finally be cool enough.  Roughly speaking, our cut-off is 50F – and depending on the humidity, it might even need to be a little cooler than that. Our equipment is ready, all replaced after the Sockeye Fire destroyed everything, the 4 wheeler is fuelled and we’re just sitting, twiddling our thumbs and watching the thermometer. Until……………

Yep, a couple of weeks ago, we started training. That’s actually pretty good for us, I’ve seen seasons where we’ve not been out till pretty late in September, so to get out now is great. With all of the drama of last year, we actually hardly ran at all, so everyone basically had a year off = technically 16 months off, I guess. Plus new boy Niko hadn’t run at all and youngster Davaar was just a pup, so at 20 months old, he is getting a late start. Queen’s first litter only ran in early Fall training in 2014, – are you getting the feeling I’m laying the groundwork for a multitude of excuses as to why training hasn’t been the smoothest ?
Actually, that would be terribly unfair on the dogs. After everyone has had 8 runs, we’ve lost the sum total of 2 chewed necklines, which I consider perfectly acceptable, given the excitement levels at hook-up time. Plus, necklines are way cheaper to replace than just about every other piece of equipment !

A misty morning, a quick water break
A misty morning, a quick water break

Generally, I like a fairly calm team, enthusiastic but controlled. With so many youngsters on the team, we’ve got lots of enthusiasm and maybe just a little less control over that wildness.  However, even in this short space of time, we’re already seeing the young dogs picking up on the cues of the older dogs in many areas – except when it comes to taking a break. We’ve also been trying to evaluate some of those younger guys with a view to finding new leaders. Happily, it seems like we have at least a couple of potential candidates and we’ll work with those dogs in the hope that we will find one, or more, trustworthy, reliable lead dog.

Safely home, with Davaar learning how to be a leader by working with Kazek
Safely home, with Davaar learning how to be a leader by working with Kazek

These first few runs are always interesting, there’s a lot to teach the dogs, even if that is just refreshing their memories, and reminding them of the good habits we’re all trying to develop . Any moments of unhappiness I had after one of these early runs was quickly dismissed as I was reminded by my wife that the last run I had, with the team I was wishfully comparing the current unruly mob with, actually led to them breaking my leg, so maybe these young guys weren’t quite so bad after all.

The wonderful Dawson
The wonderful Dawson
Powerhouses, Turov and Xaros
Powerhouses, Turov and Xaros
Youngsters (and brothers), Eris and Raasay
Youngsters (and brothers), Eris and Raasay

At the end of the day, we run dogs to have fun, and hopefully, the dogs have fun too.   The love and bonds we build with them, lasts their entire lives, as all our dogs stay with us for all of their days.  The retired guys who want to, move into the house and those who would still rather live outside, get regularly dragged indoors to see if they’ve changed their minds yet.

Boof seems to have taken to life as a retired house dog pretty well.
Boof seems to have taken to life as a retired house dog pretty well.

For all of the tears and hurt we feel when they pass, the joy, love and companionship they give us, far outweighs that pain.

 

 

 

Goodbye Teague

Harry, Teague and Seven at 2 years old

Gealach Mor Teague  5 Sept 2003 ~ 10 March 2016    (flanked by Harry and Seven)

Today, we say a stunned, heartbreaking farewell to Teague.

It has often been said that these dogs are incredibly stoical – and that many of us don’t regard that as a trait that is very helpful, as time and again, the first indication any of them give about being unwell, it is usually something major. And so it was with Teague. At bedtime, he was fine, at 4 AM he was uncomfortable and by 9.00 AM at the vets, he was gone.

Puppy Teague
Puppy Teague

We’re still in a state of denial and disbelief. Partly, because his sister Seven, was saved by our vets at the end of January following a ruptured spleen caused by a hemangiosarcoma. Her diagnosis isn’t especially hopeful, and we are constantly watching her with varying degrees of trepidation. To lose Teague in such a manner, and the vets suspect that it was a hemangiosarcoma in his chest that had ruptured, was a gut wrenching blow.  Teague had been a house dog since he retired a couple of years ago, and he was a steadying, calming influence, as well as a wonderful cuddler. A dog who loved people, from a very young age, he was also one of my main leaders and a strong favourite of my wife.

Teague and I, after the Can-Am 30, Fort Kent, Maine 2005
Teague and I, after the Can-Am 30, Fort Kent, Maine  March 2005
Goodnight to our sweet boy.
Goodnight to our sweet boy.

We wish our darling boy Teague safe travels to the Rainbow Bridge, and to the joyous reunion he will have with his 5 brothers and his sister, as well as his parents Vader and Beth. Carry our tears and our unending love to them all.

Happy Birthdays

31 May 2012      09.00 AM           48 F       Cloudy

Good intentions and a bad memory do not make for well matched bedfellows.

I had thought to write a quick post for each of our dogs on their birthday, as a way of inspiration and/or encouragement to produce something a little more frequently. Sadly, like so many of my ideas, this too hasn’t quite worked out exactly to plan.

However, we shall start afresh and do a quick sweep to try bring everyone up to date, starting now (except of course there’s been a wee bit of a delay between starting “now”, which was then and now- as in today.)

6 May   Harry  9 years old. Ever the gentleman, Harry is a laidback, well mannered dog, who’s main drawbacks are a propensity to chew his harness at hook up, liking to tip his food bowl upside down and the occasional bout of selective deafness when running lead in the team.

harry on his 9th birthday
Tay Marr’s Harry, hanging on to that winter coat, in mid May.

10 May  Mermaid 8 years old.  Mermaid lives for 3 things, eating, digging and running. She’s generally a happy soul and is a wonderful, reliable team dog.

Mermaid with her dirty paws
Sepp-Lok’s Mermaid

14 May  Rimi 3 years old. Big, boisterous, bouncy and a bit goofy. Another very happy dog, pretty much at ease with his crew in the big pen, where he has accepted that he isn’t above being chastised by the elders, such as Teague and Takeo. Crazy running dog who needs to learn to pace himself.

Rimi, smiling big on his box
Cold Canyon’s Rimini

14 May  Hop 3 years old. Rimi and Hop are brother and sister. Hop is a good bit more fiery than her brother, a trait that REALLY comes to the fore when she is in season. An eye injury as a youngster resulted in her becoming one of the “house dogs”, a position as you can see, she seems entirely comfortable with.

Hop sleeping in her favourite spot on top of the sofa.
Cold Canyon’s Hop