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Monday, June 29, 2009

Puppy Celebration! 1 Day Old

The umbilical chord is still attached in this photo.
It fell of this morning.
1st born white female.

Second born gray masked female

Third born male named Tumac. He will be the potential breeding male for Uktousa Kennel in New Hampshire. His bright red nose and feet are typical of a healthy puppy after feeding.

A still very tired Tuloon with Tumac.

1st born female

Fourth born beige female

Three females

Sad News; Another Loss

The fifth puppy, the second boy, passed away late last night. I've heard from others that the mortality rate in pups can be high but I never thought I would experience it as much as I have the past couple of days. It's a horrible feeling of helplessness.

The photo was taken just before the down turn. In short, his temperature got very low and he stopped suckling. He then became septic (developed an infection) and the emergency vet indicated that once this occurs, the downward spiral typically begins. We thought it more humane to have him euthanized than to allow his little system to suffer any longer.

The cause? Sometimes this can remain unknown. He was the fifth puppy and it took him 3 1/2 hours after the fourth to arrive. We are told that in prolonged labor, the later puppies are sometimes compromised. Or this could have been an indication of something bigger such as kidney and/or liver issues that might not come up for weeks or months if he were to have made it through initially. Or it could have been just a fluke.

Whatever the cause, the pain of another loss still remains. It doesn't matter how old they are or how long you have them in your lives. They each touch your heart in very strong and different ways.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ilu's Birthday #4!

Ilu at 4 years old.

Ilu turns 4 years old today. As you can see in the photo, he has just begun to shed and is in need of daily brushing.

Ilu has found his place in wheel in the Points Unknown sled dogs teams. He could do well as a leader if his pace were a little quicker so the huskies wouldn't run him over and if the musher had a lot more patience for a very happy-go-lucky, goof ball leading us down the trail. He has been up in lead and did a fine job. He's also been known, however, to pick up things on the trail and carry them back to base camp like cans and articles of clothing and on one particular occasion this winter, a bag of hamburger buns that must have flown off a snowmobile during a fish fry weekend on Gunflint Lake. He was very gentle not to squish them and the bag had not one hole from his mouth hold.

Many life's lessons can be learned from this mild mannered and light hearted boy. One that he reminds us of twice a day is that NOTHING should be taken seriously except dinner time.

Happy B-day Ilu!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Whole Gang

Melanie waits for the next pup to arrive.

Tuloon smiling after the delivery of her first pup. (So glad it was over, no doubt)

Tuloon and pups

Puppy Pile! The two dark tannish pups are the males. The lightest pups and the darkest pup are females.

White Hedlund Huskies

Migo from Mush Knik Networking in Knik, Alaska at 12 years old


Kim of Mush Knik Networking with Migo at 8 years old

Polo from Mush Knik Networking at 8 years old

We were very pleased to see two very light Hedlund pups in the Tuloon/McKenzie litter today. One female is pure white with some black pigment on the ridges of her ears. The other is a very unique beige with less black pigment on the ridges of her ears. Some pups get lighter with age and some get darker. It will be exciting to see how these girls turn out.

Above I have included photos of two other relatively rare white Hedlund Huskies.

Tuloon/McKenzie Pups Have Arrived!

White Girl - 1lb 3oz (BIG girl!)

Gray Mask Girl - 1lb

White Flash Boy - 14oz

Beige Girl - 1lb

Tan Mask Boy - 14oz

The journey began yesterday morning at 8AM. Tuloon's temperature read 98.5 degrees after having been at 100 degrees the night before. When the mother's temp drops below 99 degrees it is an indication that the puppies will be born soon. There are different ideas out there about what "soon" means. Some say 12 hours while other say between 24 and 48 hours. For Tuloon it meant the first pup would arrive at 2:51AM this morning and the last would arrive around 9AM. Not certain of the time as I was in a daze at this point after having no sleep. AND she did it all naturally after having a "C" section in 2007 which was the first time around! Yay for Tuloon! It wasn't easy but she did it.

We are happy to announce that we have FIVE healthy pups and sad to include that number six, a beautiful little gray female, was lost. Number five waited 3 1/2 hours after number four to arrive and the vet believes that number six just stayed in too long. She was lifeless upon birth and efforts to revive her proved unsuccessful. This is a sadness that comes with the joy of puppies. We've only lost one other pup and the losses aren't taken easily. At the same time, Tuloon gave us FIVE beautiful and healthy pups, three females and two males and our attention needs to be focused those gifts.

Let the cleaning begin! I've already done two loads of puppy laundry and again have disinfected the whelping area. A nap might be the next item on the list.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tuloon/McKenzie Litter Due Soon!

In the lower, right hand portion of the x-ray, you'll see the little spins.

Getting used to her whelping area

Trying to stay cool in the air conditioning when it is 95 degrees outside! (yes, in Minnesota!)

Tuloon is still very concerned about her photo being taken in this "state". Apparently, she isn't too keen on being so overweight and out of shape. She actually weighs almost 3 lbs more during this pregnancy than she did in 2007 about the same time so she has done a good job of keeping a little extra fat on her ribs this time around. Of course, one might think this extra weight means more puppies which was a thought until the x-ray she had last Friday seemed to indicate she would be having six puppies again! That is, unless there is one hiding.

It is important to us to know how many pups we can expect so we know when she is done and we can be off guard duty. The x-ray isn't harmful to the pups or mom. The puppies are counted by looking for their little skulls then following their spines. Six little sculls were easily seen.

We have been busy preparing Tuloon's whelping area. She will have her pups in a plastic kiddie pool lined with comforters that will be located in the laundry room which has a ceramic tile floor for easy clean-up and to help maintain a sanitary environment. As always, there will be a stereo nearby tuned in to Minnesota Public Radio to keep her company during those long days of nursing. I also like to think that the puppies benefit from the classical music. Studies have shown that human babies form brain connections that would not be formed otherwise, while listening to classical music. Might this do something similar in puppies? It certainly can't hurt. I will say, however, that I won't advocate playing jazz to a litter of pups. There is something peculiar about the litter we had that was raised on jazz music........they turned out to be wonderful dogs and excellent leaders but seem to have this very bad incurable habit of jumping up on the kennel walls, gates or people. They just can't seem to keep their feet on the ground no matter how hard they try! I'll just blame it on the jazz.

So Tuloon's pups are due any time between June 25th (this Thursday) and July 1st. Her temperature will be taken twice a day beginning tomorrow night. When it drops below 99 degrees she will likely have her pups within the next 24-48 hours. In 2007 we had company during her due date that proved to be too much stimulation for her and we believe this is why she required a cesarean section. This year, all visits were planned around Tuloon's whelping dates and there will be no one but myself and possibly Melanie, our kennel helper present for the whelping. The vet have indicated that a natural whelping can occur after a cesarean section and this is our hope.

The anticipation continues to grow the closer we get to Tuloon's due date. A litter of puppies is such a joy and not a responsibility to be taken lightly. These little guys have all had homes with either Points Unknown or with another kennel in our Hedlund Husky Preservation Program since before they were conceived. This litter is very special in that it will be a deep Hedlund Husky line breeding. Since we discovered that Tuloon is one of only TWO deep Hedlund Husky females left, it was extremely important that we do our part to preserve this line and make certain that her daughters continue to pass along their extremely valuable and cherished genes. The Hedlund Husky line is truly amazing. Ask anyone who has had the privilege of being in their company. Please go to the Hedlund Husky website for more information.

Dog Yard Tour

Sunrise over Oake Lake

The clematis vine in full bloom greets you at the main entrance to the dog yard.

The dogs have an excellent view of the lake.

The main yard with gates connecting to the play areas

The huskies are in the upper pens.

The Inuit Dogs are in the lower pens closer to the lake.

A clematis vine in full bloom greets you from the main entrance to the dog yard. It is attached to a wood picket fence and just beyond it is the first kennel. This narrow strip acts as a "runway" for the dogs in the back kennels to gain access to the main yard. Behind the clematis is a metal plant hanger adorned with wind chimes to provide occasional entertainment for the dogs on windy days.

There are seven kennels in the main yard ranging from 10x20 to an irregular approximately 20x40. Each kennel has enough houses for each canine occupant which ranges from two to four. In the bigger kennels there are ramp-like play structures for dogs to climb up on and sun bathe and there are cubby holes for hiding. Wooden fence panels provide extra shade and they supplement the numerous trees and shrubs around the yard. Many of the trees are volunteers that just happened to seed in the appropriate place. They're free, they look nice and they provide shade for the dogs. You can't beat that! A landscaping shade cloth is affixed to the top rails of a far back kennel providing shade that the trees do not. This entire area had been a very fertile garden site for many years prior to our arrival so it tends to be a very sunny spot. The 100 year old Oak tree on the lake side of the dog yard helps keep out the morning sun.

Some kennels contain 65 gallon sheep tanks purchased at the local farm supply store. They are sturdy enough to remain in the kennels, low enough to the ground so the dogs can easily jump in and contain enough water so that they can stay as cool as they choose. Only about 1/3 of the dogs enjoy taking a dip. Journey is the water dog of the bunch. She jumps in, twirls around, flops down and splashes. The remainder are more reserved, only getting their feet wet while those that are just too sophisticated to get even their feet wet, just take a drink from the side and whisper and point when the other "so-called" sled dogs are caught enjoying the water.

The main yard leads to two very large play areas that each group of dogs enjoys on a daily basis. Here, several dogs can be out at once and stay in touch with each other if not living together. This is very important for the team dynamic. However, there are dogs that can not be out together and those combinations must be managed more closely in the team setting once we hit the trail.

The play area just behind the main dog yard has a very steep incline, making for a very tiring game of fetch(yes, there are some sled dogs that fetch!). The larger play area is within the confines of our backyard and has a very tired three tier retaining wall system with each tier having a different "experience" for the dogs. The top level contains a long row of 40 year old Blue Spruce trees that act as tunnels in places for various agility games. The second tier is filled with large shrubs that the dogs hide in and under. The first tier used to be a very abundant perennial garden that was given up on after the first year we arrived. Now it is filled with the remnants of those plants with an occasional blossom and holes deep enough that only a tail can be seen when the digging takes place.

There is an extra kennel in this portion of the yard which comes in handy when swapping dog groups or for those dogs getting to spend that extra special time that evening in the house. Since we don't want to wake the entire yard, they sleep in this kennel just outside the back door when bedtime arrives. And we are looking forward to using it for a puppy play pen very soon once they are old enough to get out and about. These little guys are due to be born within the week!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Another Birthday! Zulu Turns 13 Years Old.

Zulu, last winter, in full winter coat.

Zulu at 13 years old.

Again, I find myself amazed that time flies by so quickly! I can't believe my #1 lead dog is 13 years old. As the story goes, Zulu was the type of leader that could almost read your mind. Just as the command was coming out of my mouth he was on it! He could go down the middle of a lake, not a shore in sight, and go exactly where I asked him to based upon a quiet voice command.

He was fully retired last season. His arthritis didn't allow him to run in harness for more than one hundred yards. His age hasn't stopped his attentiveness to my wishes, however. Now that he is a full fledged house dog he gets some new commands - "Don't kill the toy." "Don't eat that." "Leave Copper alone"(Copper is the little daschound/poodle mascot he tries to steal toys from.) And when I give him the command to get into his crate, he turns on a dime from the other side of the house and runs directly in. It has been a challenge keeping him busy but I've finally found a toy that he can't destroy. He enjoys that in the evenings while we all take some time to relax on the sofa together.

Happy 13th Birthday Zu!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tuloon Turns 5 Years Old Today!

Tuloon leading with Klaus last winter.
Her daughter, Zala, from the Tuloon/Bazil litter is running behind her.

Tuloon at 5 years old is several weeks pregnant with what will be her last litter.

The princess turns 5 years old today! Time sure flies! I remember just returning from Alaska with her and being amazed that this 9 week old pup was on a mission exploring the huge back yard by herself with all the confidence in the world. Our bond became so strong that she now follows me around that same yard, helping to keep the rest of the pack in order.

Tuloon had an unfortunate injury when she was a pup and had surgery on one of her back legs. This surgery caused her to be "toed in" on that foot. It tends to self correct when the muscle is built up once we begin our fall training. Because of this, she will likely develop arthritis at an early age so she is being monitored closely for any discomfort. So far so good! She is a great leader and trail breaker so I don't look forward to her possible early retirement.

Tuloon has developed a strong bond with the little house dogs and in the off season, spends much of her time watching over them as they cruise around the back yard.

Happy Birthday to Tuloon!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

It's 11 Years Old for Isis Today!

Isis at 11 years old.

Isis, a Canadian Inuit Dog, turned 11 years old today! This photo was taken for about the only couple of seconds she was standing still. Just because she's 11 doesn't mean that she can't still do the "crazy dog" run around the yard. If you have a dog, you know what I mean. The "crazy dog" run is the type of run where they zig zag so quickly around the yard you just hope they know what they're doing and don't run into anything.

She and her kennel mate, Tukisi, enjoyed a celebratory piece of pork chop, no pork bones, of course.

Happy 11th Birthday to Isis!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Canicross Hikes 2009; Carver Park

Hiking along the east shore of Parley Lake

Zala was my canine team member today

Annie with her big bushy tail and our unconventional pulling dogs paired up

Roper, the Catahoula mix, and Conan, our German Sled Dog, about half way through the hike. This was Roper's first hike!

Heading back to the trail head

Shirley with Roper

Marilyn with Conan

Rich with Phoenix who is giving Rich a great work out.

Phoenix stands at attention.

Temperatures were cool for our hike today at 50 degrees F/9 degrees C. We had rain the entire previous day so the trails were very wet and soft. Because of the "rain out" conditions, our hike that was scheduled for yesterday was postponed to this morning. There was a little mist coming down as we hit the trail but the dogs didn't seem to mind!

We were joined by two newcomers. Shirley has a Catahoula mix named Roper and Rich doesn't have a dog so he borrowed one of the Points Unknown sled dogs, Phoenix, for the hike. Rich met us off the Gunflint Trail this winter when he and his wife came out on a dog mushing adventure. He was drawn to the Hedlund Huskies and came out to work with one today.

Phoenix did a great job at introducing Rich to the activity. He also taught Rich that unless the dog thinks you know what you're doing, there will be mutiny! And since this was Rich's first hike, he hadn't learned all of the finer points of canicross hiking yet. Phoenix was frustrated that we weren't going faster so Rich decided he would run him back the way we came and meet the rest of us at the parking lot. When almost back to the parking lot, Phoenix went on strike and decided he'd rather take Rich back the other way and all the way around again. They both got some good exercise today!

Roper, Shirley's Catahoula mix, was harnessed for the first time and hooked up to the line. He was hesitant at first, as any dog may be with a new activity, but with proper commands and praise, he soon was pulling up in front with the rest of the dogs. Consistency and practice will only enhance his canicross abilities. The most important thing is that he had fun! And he soon learned that you don't have to be a northern breed dog to be a sled dog! Just look at our official German sled dog, Conan. Marilyn has been working with her German Shepherd for a few years in the Canicross Hiking Club and he does an excellent job. Marilyn also works with dogs of others in her business Pure Spirit.

Melanie began working with Annie, her Siberian Husky, almost three years ago. This was Annie's first hike this season and she was raring to go!

Because of the misty and wet conditions, our hike was shorter than planned but I think it gave the newcomers a good taste of Canicross Hiking and some good things to work on for our next hike.

Please visit this link to learn about Canicross Hiking and to see the hike schedule. We hope to see you out on the trail!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Trumpeter Swan Procession

Oake lake has been frequently visited by four juvenile Trumpeter Swans. The rusty colored necks and heads give away their age. Once they fully mature, they are snow white.

Dog Shots of the Week

Zodiak gives the perfect pose

Klaus' typical intense, blue-eyed stare

Journey's sweet glance