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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Klaus and Sweet Pea Turn 6 Today!

Sweet Pea and Klaus in lead, Fall training 2005

Klaus between 6 and 7 weeks

Klaus open country leading on Gunflint Lake, Winter 2007/2008

Sweet Pea between 4 and 5 weeks

Sweet Pea resting after a run, Winter 2007/2008

Klaus and Sweet Pea were born at Points Unknown in 2002. Zulu, our now retired leader, is the proud papa. Interestingly enough, both Klaus and Sweet Pea were placed as puppies in racing kennels. Klaus came back to us at 6 months old when he developed an issue where the eyelash grows in, brushing up against the cornea, causing irritation. We were more than happy to take him back. We feel a great sense of responsibility for any dogs we bring into this world or that pass through our kennel until they pass on, no matter what the circumstance. We believe there are far too many dogs on this planet as it is, to not take on this responsibility. (Alright, off the soap box now)

So Klaus came back, had the eye surgery and we neutered him for fear of passing this issue on. He immediately became part of the team. During his very first test run in lead at 6 months old, he never looked back, kept the light tight enough to bounce a quarter on at all times and kept going straight ahead. His commands took a lot longer to sink in, however. Boys do tend to mature more slowly than girls, that has always been the excuse. Once they did sink in, look out! This dog has turned into the most spectacular open country leader. Do I dare say that he is just as good as his father Zulu? Well, he is. I never thought it possible, only from the standpoint that Zulu has been so magnificent over the years, who would have thought that it could be duplicated? Klaus is not only a superb leader but also one of the strongest and most steady pullers on the team.

As a pup, Klaus was the one that wondered away from the group, wasn't too social with the other dogs and didn't quite care so much for attention from the humans either. He just seemed like he was on a mission. Now his bond with me is very strong and he doesn't take a liking to discipline or structure from an "outsider". Recently we had a visitor from the UK who spent hours upon hours with the dogs. Klaus liked him. However, Klaus did not like the idea of listening to him and did not want the others to listen to him either. When Neil attempted to put his dog play group back in their respective kennels, Klaus stood between him and the others and didn't allow the others to get near the gate. Every time they would attempt to obey Neil's command of "in your house", Klaus would run at them and nip them. This is a dog that at a hand gesture, goes directly into his kennel without hesitation. Neil finally got all of the dogs in their kennels. All but Klaus. Klaus stood at the other end of the yard not budging in the least......until I came out. He even gave me a bit of hesitation this time, I think to make a point. Point taken. I am Klaus' person and there will be no others. Fine by me. We then adjusted our routine so that I was the one dealing directly with Klaus and the kennel went back to its original peaceful dynamic. Talk about the dogs training the humans.........

Sweet Pea came back to us when she just plain didn't want to be a racing dog. She wasn't keeping up with the rest of the dogs in her original placement so was then placed with another kennel who has two of her litter mates. This team is more of a freight team and fast just isn't important. However, after being there for a short period of time there were problems. She was not only having difficulty keeping up with these slower dogs but her coat was falling out and she wasn't gaining weight. Several hundreds of dollars later and she was diagnosed with an autoimmune protein passing disease and her mushers were told that she would never have enough stamina to be a sled dog and would have to remain on steroids and a special food all her life. I encouraged them to send her back to me. I tried something radical the minute she arrived. I took her off the "special" food the vet had placed her on, as well as those nasty steroids. She began eating the high quality, high protein food that all of my dogs eat (Redpaw) and within 2 weeks she had gained 8lbs, her coat brightened up and so did her spirits. This was 4 1/2 years ago. Since then, she has been doing the same miles and pulling the same loads as all of the others without issue.

After much analysis of the situation, we determined that, for one, she just didn't want to be a racing dog in the first placement and then she went to a home that was feeding a food with wheat as one of the ingredients. Might she have been allergic to wheat? It is the number one food allergen for dogs. Whatever it was, it has not been an issue since the day she returned and she is just as sweet as can be.

Sweet Pea was, well, as the name implies, the sweetest of the eight puppies in her litter. She would do anything for you and always with a very coy grin and ears back. This hasn't changed one bit.

Happy Birthday to Klaus and Sweet Pea! We are SO thankful they came back to us!

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