Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Tukisi, meaning "he who understands" in Inuktitut, turned eight this year. He has never been a power-house puller, being a rescue and not even put in a harness until the age of four, but he has been serious about his job up until this past season. Tuki just decided he didn't want to pull one day. He also became a bit more noisy than his usual mildly "screechy" self and I just wondered...... I've always said that the dogs will decide for themselves when they want to or need to retire. I was just hoping it wouldn't be this early for Tukisi.
This summer, his coat has been very coarse and difficult to get a brush through. He also has just begun to shed but not very much. Keeping weight off this boy in the past few months has been difficult. All of the signs began to add up.
I took Tuki in for a blood test last week, suspecting a thyroid issue. The diagnosis came back today. He does indeed have hypothyroidism and begins his medication tomorrow. With medication, he can get back to his leaner, more healthy self and should feel up to working just as hard as he did before. And if he doesn't feel like working, well, he can just take his turn on the hammock in the backyard and enjoy the view. Hypothyroid sled dogs on medication can lead normal lives other than the need for a pill once or twice a day.
A blood test was done on August 20th and indeed Tuloon is pregnant! This was much awaited news.
Since my return from Alaska, Tuloon as not been eating well. She will skip a day here and there. It has been hot and muggy which could contribute to her lack of appetite, however it appears as though she is just becoming a more picky eater with her pregnancy. (Or this is a form of rebellion for my bringing the puppy back from Alaska) Either way, she needs to eat so the experimenting began.
She seems to like frozen treats and raw meat so I started there. Nature's Variety makes some small frozen raw medallions that she found acceptable, however these are way too expensive to be her main diet for the next few months. Continuing along those lines I came up with the following: 1lb of raw liver, 2lbs of raw lean pork, 8 hard-boiled eggs, 4 carrots, 4 celery stalks and 28 multi-vitamin tablets, all of which ended up in the food processor to make a nice paste. This was then combined with 1 bag of white rice cooked, 3 ice cream scoops of Redpaw's Balanced Fat formula and a heaping bowl of Redpaw's 38/25 kibble. Patties were formed and frozen.
After all of that work it had to be put to the test. Thankfully she ate her first meal of it wholeheartedly. She turned her nose up to the second meal, however, and didn't eat the entire day except for a few raw medallions from Nature's Variety. This morning she ate it but only after letting Zulu loose in her pen and dumping it on the ground. I wonder what this evening's feeding will hold. I'm not about to dress in a butler outfit and serve her from a silver platter but I bet she would like it. That's my little princess.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Today was our Points Unknown Canicross Hiking club hike. The intention was to have Journey come along for some socialization and to have her learn to walk on leash while getting used to wearing a harness. An oversize harness was placed on the 12 week old pup, not intended to use it, and once all the other dogs were ready to go, it was apparent that Journey was not interested in just walking along. She wanted to pull! I clipped the leash to the back of the harness and she didn't waste any time leaping into the air, slamming her harness as she whined to get moving. 12 weeks old. Amazing.
For the remainder of the hike, Journey spent her time divided between pulling in harness, walking on the leash and free running. From the looks of it, she would have been just fine pulling the entire time, however I didn't want her to over do it so she was given some variety.
Journey also continues to be quite the water dog. Upon our arrival at the beach, she promptly jumped into the water and began to splash around. The waves from the passing motor boats threw her for a momentary loop. There are no waves in her water bucket or in the pools at home. She quickly adapted to this new phenomenon and went about her business, swimming, sloshing and digging in the water.
Woods, prairie and vast river valley views were our scenery on our hike into Afton State Park. The temps were in the mid 70s with the warmth of the sun on the beach and cool breezes in the shade.
The hike began on a paved path leading past the Interpretive Center into the woods. The path met the sandy beaches of the St. Croix River where every dog seemed to enjoy the wet break. Heading back on to the trail, it quickly turned to gravel and lead us in the woods along the river. A spur trail through the prairie and up a steep grade brought us vast river valley views to the east. Through the campground and down a steep grade into the woods, we were back at the beach and at the end of the hike. The hike lasted about 2 1/2 hours today.
Friday, August 17, 2007
The week has been spent introducing Journey to all her new friends at Points Unknown. She is adapting nicely and continues to prove to be an independent and highly adaptable pup.
This week's lesson is "no jumping" and "no biting". When called, this little girl has a habit of making a full speed run in your direction, then a last second high leap right into your arms when she arrives. Its very cute now but imagine this behavior from a 60lb adult. I have begun turning my back on her when I spot the little fuzz ball speeding in my direction. She isn't as excited about jumping up when there are no arms there to catch her. Once she arrives and stays on the ground, noticing that I won't be catching her, she gets praised like crazy. She also takes high leaps from the ground on people legs, for attention. Simply stepping back as she attempts to leap, while uttering a low "ah" sound, with a perfectly timed and high pitched "good girl" once she makes contact with the ground, seems to do the trick. I save "no" for major offenses so as not to over use the word.
The biting is just typical puppy stuff. A high squeal, once she makes skin contact, similar to the way a litter mate might react when a bite is too hard, deters this behavior.
Tuloon still is not impressed with the new pup. Phoenix is extremely fascinated with Journey and is distracted by her every move. Everyone else has just accepted her. "Oh well, I guess she's staying" might be the attitude of some.
Having not been on a horse but 4 times in my life, I was hesitant to commit to accompany my young dog handler when she suggested horseback riding during our Alaska visit. Melanie has taken riding lessons for 2 years and is a skillful rider. I, on the other hand, am not. Being a dog musher, I am a risk taker. The thought of riding such a huge and unfamiliar animal however, gives me pause.
After days of clouds and rain, this day was the first partly cloudy day. Blue Skies! I had to take advantage of the day and was up for adventure so off we went.... horseback riding. The guide led us along a small river, leading to Resurrection Bay in Seward, Alaska. The trail through the thick Alder brush was a bit challenging. All I had to do was stay on the horse and hang on. Easier said than done when every other step, a "sweeper" threatens to upset your balance and knock you silly, not to mention the leaning involved so as not to get your leg caught in the brush and get swept off the horse. (All this while taking pictures) This is very much like dog mushing! Once I made the connection, I began having wild thoughts of going back to Minnesota and getting a horse. I came to my senses when considering the amount of time it already takes to care for my 11 sled dogs. Back to reality.
I mentioned Salmon fishing. The guide brought along her young Golden Retriever. Since the Salmon were running, he delighted in finding a large school and the fishing began. He finally caught one and left it in the bushes for the many eagles we saw along the way.
Just south of Anchorage lies the most wonderful spot to view many of the elusive wild creatures of Alaska, all in one place. The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is the home of Grizzly Bear, Reindeer, Black Bear, Moose, Eagles and other various creatures.
Our visit to pick up the new Hedlund pup wouldn't be complete without a visit to the center.
Two of the pups were ready to go to their new home with Lidia in New Hampshire during our visit. The remaining pups were first taken to the vet for the health certificates necessary for their plane travel. Having extra hands available was a necessity, as the pups were quite exuberant, as an understatement.
During our vet visit, one of the owner's of a pup already placed met us for another little family reunion. Canyon has one blue eye, is just as sweet as can be and lives with a family in the area, with two young girls.
The male from the litter, Flint, went to his new home the week previous when his new owner Bob, who had been working in Alaska for the previous months, picked him up and drove back to his and Helen's home in North Dakota to join a kennel of Samoyeds and Mals.
After the vet check for the New Hampshire bound pups, it was off to the airport for check-in. One last walk for the travelers and in the crates they went, to arrive safely in Boston and to their anxiously awaiting new family, the next morning.
All pups are doing extremely well in their new homes. Its been fun to find out about some of the common threads in this amazing litter as their personalities unfold in their new settings. Extreme friendliness, intelligence and adaptability is shared by each pup. Something unexpected is that all five seem to have a very strong pull to water. Many puppy stories shared seem to involve constant play in the water buckets, pools, etc. It will be interesting to see how this love for water evolves as they become working sled dogs.
Swanny, a musher in Two Rivers that recently took on two Hedlund line pups from a musher in Dillingham, was kind enough to accommodate my dog helper, Melanie, and myself during our visit and give us a tour of various dog kennels in the area. Swanny has a kennel of traditional freighting dogs and historical matters are his specialty. Rose and Nells are now 14 months old. It was discovered that Nells has cryptorchidism, which means that neither testicle descended, thus excluding him from the breeding program even before seeing how he works in harness. Rose, on the other hand, will be tested in harness and if found to be a hard worker, may very well be the foundation for Swanny's future kennel.
Miriam, a musher from North Pole, took the litter mate to Rose and Nells. Miriam brought Remus over to Swanny's for a bit of a family reunion. Remus is a long-legged, rangy male that if proved in harness, will likely be added to the Hedlund breeding program. Miriam has a kennel of freight dogs and is an artist.
Both Swanny and Miriam are heavily involved in sled dog rescue and rehabilitation.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
While in Alaska, it was important to get to know the relatives. We spent a few days at Mush Knik kennel in Knik. Kim Fitzgerald is responsible for beginning the efforts to preserve and grow the Hedlund Husky line and has some of the old timers still in her dog yard. Sadly, her foundation female, Lupe, passed away last year. She was 16 years old.
We were sad to hear that Journey's litter will be the very last of that Kim will have of her own. She has many old dogs now and plans to be involved with Hedlund breedings, however will not replace her old dogs as they pass on. Thankfully, she has relationships with owners of other Hedlund Huskies in the area and plans to give those dogs a job during the winter; being ambassador sled dogs in her Mush Knik sledding business.