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Monday, August 8, 2011

Klaus and Sweet Pea; 9 Years Old!

Klaus at 6 weeks

Klaus at 9 Yrs

Sweet Pea at 6 weeks

Sweet Pea at 9 Yrs

The Zulu puppies, Klaus and Sweet Pea turn 9 years old today! It is so hard to watch all of the dogs age so quickly and even harder to imagine these two being 9 years old already.  They are each such a special part of our lives, the dog pack and our dog sled teams.

Klaus is just as good an open country leader as his dad, Zulu, was for us. We did see him begin to slow down just a tad last year, letting Oken do more of the trail breaking in difficult conditions. Because of his exceptional work ethic, we anticipated that he might begin to slow down at this age and we are noticing a bit more stiffness in his gait. We'll see how he does this year and work with him where he is, making sure he enjoys what he's doing and that it doesn't cause him any discomfort. Klaus has never been an exceptionally good house dog as he tends to try to swallow up anything that isn't out of reach but his "edge" seems to be dulling with age. He's been known, lately, to chill out with us in the evening, rather than pace around looking for trouble, after we give the place a good Klaus proofing for our own piece of mind, of course..

Sweet Pea has always been one of our main back up leaders. She can do it but would rather someone else take on the stress. She's as sweet as her name implies. Last year she began giving us signs that she'd prefer to be a house dog more often and we've listened to her wishes. Now she divides her time between keeping the puppies in line and sharing toys in the house with the little dogs and sacking out on the couch. I'm sure she will still want to come along on trail adventures with us for quite some time but I'm guessing there better be a good doggy massage in it for her afterwards.

Friday, August 5, 2011

What Once was Thought Lost, is now Found!

Chester is on the left.

Chester, a half Hedlund line/half Will Forsberg line Alaskan Husky.

Our Hedlund Husky Preservation program has made an extraordinary find! Several years ago three out cross pups were brought into our program. McKenzie, a deep Hedlund line Alaskan, is the sire and the dam is a Will Forsberg line Alaskan. Two of the three were fixed early on due to potential issues that could be passed down to offspring. Wanting to keep the line as viable as possible, these were necessary measures. The third has not been made accessible to the group by his adoptive placement. We thought we had lost this line forever and continued our preservation efforts in a positive light and direction, with the lines currently available to us.

Then, thanks to the efforts of one of our members, we found Chester! Chester was the fourth pup held back by the owner of the dam and then later placed with a wonderful couple that seems to cherish him as much as we cherish our Hedlund Huskies. Debbie describes his personality and demeanor as what we had concluded are the key characteristics of our ideal Hedlund Husky. What an amazing discovery! From photos, he appears to be a structurally sound, thick coated, handsome male that we are very excited to get to know better. The very best thing about finding Chester is that we have also found someone, in his new owner, that is excited to learn more about this amazing line and is glad to participate in any way she can if it means preserving something as special as her most inspiring and beloved furry friend, Chester.

To learn more, please visit our Hedlund Husky Preservation website or the blog.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Our Cute Little Copper Mascot


It's hard to eat a chewy with only one front leg. You try it!

Copper has been with us now for 9 1/2 years! He adapted quickly to country living, after having been picked up on the unfriendly streets of the big city. About a year into his new home as our cute little sled dog mascot, Copper knocked one of his front shoulders out of joint on a file cabinet while doing the crazy puppy run. After months of rehab, the leg would not stay in place and we determined that the best option for this little guy was to remove it all together. It was such a difficult decision. You've got the fate of a little life in your hands. Looking back, it was the best decision we could have made.

After getting over the initial emotional reaction(depression) to the loss, which took Copper a good two weeks, and after figuring out a new way to move, he soon became his old self again. He can still run so fast that folks who don't know him have no idea that he only has three legs until he stops and tries to jump up on them for attention. The only other visual difference that occurred after the loss of the leg was that his once straight down-turned ears began to curl up at the very tips from all of the hopping he does when he moves more slowly. That just made him even cuter.

He's our little ambassador here at Points Unknown who helps teach our guests that life is good and just because you're a little bit different, (and we all are) doesn't mean that you can't go in the direction that your passion moves you and have an even more fulfilling life than a "dog" that appears "normal" on the outside but doesn't go out and be the best dog they can be! Go on, romp in the woods! Fetch those sticks! Roll in the grass!(but if it's something smelly, don't come back to me for a cuddle)

We love our little Copper Doodle.

Illy's Foot Injury

I know I'm allowed on this couch.

I'm not the least bit comfortable on this couch.

What in the world IS this thing back there?

Topa keeps a close eye on Illy as she checks out all of the nooks and crannies of the house.

The onset of a crazy puppy moment.

Poor Puppy! Illy has an unexplained foot injury. We didn't see it happen but know it was likely caused by typical puppy monkey business gone awry. She began limping just a little then it accelerated to more than just a little with the increase in swelling around her back left, outside toe.

The upside of her injury is that she'll be spending a lot more time in the house which always helps create a stronger individual bond. It's difficult, when you've got 17 dogs, to give them an even amount of individual attention, all of the time. She'll also be forced away from Aise during her recovery which will help them each learn how to be a little more independent instead of so codependent. I just didn't have the heart to kennel them apart prior to this turn of events, regardless of what the critics say, because they always seemed so unhappy that way, more so than any other litter mates I've raised. At that point, you just need to decide what's most important and move in that direction. There are certainly also downsides to having two puppies "too" close when working in a sled dog team. Each situation and dynamic is so different, there is not one "right" generalized answer. So, moving forward, they are apart for the next few weeks until Illy can go back to normal play.

Being in the house with Illy also means that we've got to manage the submissive peeing. She and her sister seem to be fountains when it comes to greeting all of the other dogs in the kennel. So, when she's inside with other sled dogs, she's had to have some cute denim pantaloons on with a thick absorbent pad inside. She's managed to stop this behavior for the little house dogs even though she does see them as above her. Thank goodness.
As you might imagine, after a week of being on "bed rest", Illy is literally bouncing off the walls, the sofas and the occasional coffee table even when I've been working so hard to keep her still. She'll be off the anti inflammatory meds in a few days and we'll see how she does but I think a flat out run in the yard is out for a couple of weeks. On a happy note, she should be 100% by the time she begins her first EVER fall training with the adult sled dogs in October!