Wednesday, December 23, 2009

December 23rd Puppy Envy

The dark spot at the bottom of the photo is Moon's nose, she wanted to sniff the camera.

Poor Freya. She's so tired of being mommy and wants to be a puppy again. She plays and plays with me and with Samantha's puppies, trying to regain her own puppiness. I have to keep reminding her that she is bigger than the 5 week old pups, and needs to take it easy with them. She hasn't hurt any of them yet, but she has scared them quite a bit, and I don't want it to get out of hand. She plays with her own puppies, but much more gently. One thing good has come out of all this, is that her shyness seems to have completely disappeared for the duration. I hope she stays as social and friendly once the pups are totally weaned. They eat mostly moistened or dry puppy food, but still nurse as much as they can from Freya who doesn't want to nurse them much at all.

Samantha rarely nurses her pups, and is almost done with it. They subsist almost entirely on puppy food and puppy formula. They are fat and happy though, and are doing fine. They will be 6 weeks old today and are full of run and energy. They are so fun to watch, not so fun to be chewed on by, but fun to play tug-o-war with old socks, rope toys, etc. For the most part Samantha's pups play well with Freya's, except Xena, who still needs to be reminded to take it easy.

Demon is great with the pups, but also needs to be reminded once in a while to take it easy. Yukon still runs away from them. Samantha will play a little bit with them, but not much. She still cleans up after them occasionally, but not often. That job has fallen to me.

The puppies got to pig out this morning. First, they ate all of the moistened food, so I filled a regular food bowl half with milk and mixed in puppy formula. They drank that dry, so I opened a can of puppy food for them. They devoured that until their bellies hung so low they had trouble walking (okay I exaggerate, but they were rather rolly polly). Samantha's pups got to have an outing in my room and played for an hour before conking out. Freya got to spend that time in the kitchen eating up the rest of the canned food. I let her out, and put Samantha's puppies back in the kitchen after cleanup and before my shower. They were for the most part, unconscious when I left for work except for Squeaker who was out in a dog igloo with Demon. I got James up and told him where Squeaker was before heading out the door.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

December 22nd The Great Outdoors!

Squeaker has learned a new trick! She figured out earlier how to get out of the dog door. This morning, she learned how to get back in on her own! She loves going potty outside, and this is the beginning of a beautiful training opportunity. It's great when a dog's natural wants coincide with what you want! She's a good little pup! She comes when called (except when she is really sleepy and already settled in), and sits when asked to. I really love that little girl!

It was amusing to see Freya try to play with her this morning. Squeaker has also learned a trick from the Red Menace, the "Leave me Alone!" growl!

Freya was taken aback! "What? What did you say to me?"

"LEAVE ME ALONE!" or more appropriately: "ROARWR!" Man did she sound seriously mean! For such a tiny delicate pup, to hear such a noise was a bit scary. It worked though and Freya found another pup to pick on, namely Moon.

Moon quickly learned that Freya is not so fast at crawling under the bed. She would race around the room to get Freya's attention, then dive under the bed and laugh when Freya tried to follow. She would quickly crawl out the other side leaving a half annoyed Freya to shimmy back out from under the bed, as she couldn't fit under the lower footboard opening, only the sides.

The pups love playing in my room! They have traction! Man can they run! I can't wait until they are old enough to put in harness, especially Moon! She is a running little pup! Zoom, zoom, zoom, she makes me tired just watching, and she keeps it up for a good hour before finally laying in to the water and food. With a full belly she crawls under the bed for a snooze.

Okay, I admit, Squeaker does have a down side. She, well, she squeaks, or more appropriately screams bloody murder if she is awake, in the kitchen and she knows I'm home. I have created a spoiled little monster, and she knows if she screams loud and long enough I will eventually crave silence enough to pick her up, carry her around for a while so that she can decide on what to get in to, then let her go make trouble. I think though, that if she continues to let herself out and back in, the point will be moot, and the kitchen may no longer be the bane of the great adventurer, Squeaker.

Monday, December 21, 2009

December 21st Happy Solstice!

Winter is here, although by the look of it here in Kentucky, you wouldn't know it. The snow we were supposed to get went south of us. Major bummer, though we did get a dusting of snow.

Took a couple of the pups out in to the yard. Squeaker's coat is thick and fluffy and she had no problems. Ace too seemed to be fine as far as the cold, but she got a little intimidated by the boys. She loved playing on the porch though. But out in the snow, she explored a bit, then wanted to be held. Squeaker loves the boys, and goads them to play with her. I have to keep reminding Demon and Yukon that she is just a young pup though and they need to play gentle. They haven't hurt her, but being pinned down by an adult dog is intimidating. I think Squeaker is getting used to it now, as it doesn't seem to bother her at all, she's just happy the adult dogs are playing with her. The other pups, though, kind of freak when Demon stands over them and 'itch' bites their fur. It's his way of being gentle and playing, but some of the pups think he's genuinely trying to eat them. He wants to rough house and tumble so bad, but knows they are just babies.

Moon gets cold rather quickly in below 30 temps, but did well at 34 degrees. She is starting to get over being intimidated by the boys, but still is not too fond of being 'itched' by Demon. She loved playing on the porch with Squeaker. The two of them ran from dog igloo to igloo picking up pieces of straw, chewing on the odd dead beatle, cruching up stored kibble, chasing eachother around the igloos, and seeing who was brave enough to stay out in the snow side of the porch the longest.

It is so fun to watch them play, but I also need to let the big dogs have fun, so I hooked up Samantha to just me and we went for a slow jog Saturday. We ran about 3/4 a mile. Samantha loved it and wanted more, but she was tired, her composure told me that she was pushing herself, so we walked the last 1/4 mile back to the house. She seemed sorry that it was over when we got back, but when it was apparent that I wasn't taking her back out, she flopped down on the couch and dozed off.

Sunday I got the cart and the two boys out, and we went about a mile and a half with me assisting on the up-hill. This time, I put Demon in dual lead with Yukon, and he was fantastic! He really put his considerable brawn in to it, and goaded his brother in to pulling harder too.

It is the greatest feeling to be at one with the dogs, to feel their power and free spirit. To know the joy of the run and the wind. You really get to know what is in their hearts and minds. It is a kind of mock-hunt, where the run is the game, and at the end of the trail there is meat. It is play and instinct rolled in to one event, one joyous venture into the wind and wild with the pack, and I do not dissapoint them. At the end of the run, they get meat and they are fulfilled in their trust in me their provider and benevolent diety. They shower me with their love and obesence, happily pushing each other away in order to show their devotion is deeper. I return their affection whole-heartedly and check their feet, massage their shoulders, legs, back and belly, ensuring there are no knots or anything out of place. They love the rub-down and lick my face enthusiastically showing their approval when they can.

It is a ritual passed down from the depths of time. An ageless unity of soul for human and canine, and the awe still lingers.

Friday, December 18, 2009

December 18th, Snow in the Forecast!

1-2" of snow in the forecast for tonight. Here's hoping for a white Christmas!

Silver is the pup in the middle facing out and is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Her personality is just manifesting itself, and I'm quite pleased with the outcome. She's very affectionate, and loves to be petted. Her little tail wags a mile a minute when you are petting her, and she'll roll on her back and wiggle the whole time you pet her belly. The longer you pet her belly, it is like winding up a spring until she can't stand the exuberance any more! She rockets to her feet and bounces around like a toy dog, her tail wagging in circles until she comes back for more. She is such a happy affectionate little girl, and she loves to run around! She plays with all of the pups from both litters, and is probably the most social.

All of Freya's pups are starting to manifest definite personalitites. Brownie also is a very affectionate pup, but unlike Silver, he will patiently nibble at your fingers while you pet his belly. He loves to eat, and is in clear running with Silver for the biggest puppy. He loves to play with Samantha's pups, and singles out Mitu and Ace who are both his color. He hangs out with Ace most of all.

Face too, is a very affectionate pup, and loves to be petted. He's always on the go, though, and doesn't like to be still for too long. He's one of the best eaters of the litter as well and often is at the food or water dish. Originally he was the runt, but he's been gaining ground quickly and appears to be passing Buck in weight and muscle. Face is a happy pup, and generally amuses himself when not playing with the other pups. He too is very social, but loves to hang out with Xena or Elvis. He comes running, though, when I step in to the pen, and excitedly tries to climb up and lick my face along with all of Samantha's pups.

Flakes is only semi-social. He plays mosly with Cat or Silver, and occasionally Buck or Brownie. He won't seek out Samantha's pups, but will play with them if they come to him. He loves being petted and have his belly rubbed, but doesn't come seeking it like Silver, Face and Brownie.

Cat is fickle. Sometimes he likes to be petted, sometimes he doesn't. Sometimes he plays with Samantha's pups, sometimes he runs away from them. He's always up for a tussle with Flakes or Buck, though, and will mingle with Silver and Brownie. He's not usually the first to the food, and sometimes doesn't come to drink the milk mix. He's still a big fat pup though, so I know he's being well fed.

Buck is an odd one. His light tan (buckskin) coloring set him apart from both litters. He's a narrow chested and narrow hipped pup, unlike his burly siblings and cousins. He is still coming in to his personality, but he has a very odd quirk. Buck doesn't bark, whine or howl like the other pups, he screams, albeit softly, when things don't go his way. It sounds almost like a young human saying "AH! AH! AH!" in a high pitched whistly voice. Buck hangs out with Face or Silver when they are around, but he mostly sticks close to his mommy, Freya. He will occasionally follow another pup around, seldomly play with Samantha's pups, but always close to first to the food or milk bowl.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

December 17th Chores!

Spent the entire evening from the time I got home from work until the time I went to bed cleaning, mopping, relaying down papers and pads. Whew! Good thing my son helped lay down the papers. Time to get the barn fixed up for the pups! I've picked up a heater and have lots of straw, just need to fix them up an insulated box to get out of the cold, and fence in enough area to let them romp, pee and poop in the area that has been sealed and rubberized (hose cleanup sounds so much more fun than papers and mops. I have a bit of straw ready to lay down in the box once I get it built. I also plan on picking up a sleeping bag (mine didn't appear to have made the move from NC) and sleeping with them in the barn to be sure it is warm enough. If it gets too cold, I take them and myself back inside.

Samantha's pups are at the point where I think they can be trusted with light supervision with Freya's pups. I've been letting them socialize under heavy supervision for the past few days and corrected rough play enough that they have gotten the idea quite well. Freya's pups are thrilled to be playing with the bigger pups, and take every opportunity to romp with them. I still worry about their development as they were a good week and a half/ almost two weeks early, but they are growing fast and strong. Their coordination is getting better by the day and improves by leaps and bounds as they begin to play with the older pups.

Brownie, Silver, Flakes and Cat are as big as Samantha's pups, Buck and Face are still a bit smaller, but heavier than Squeaker. Poor Squeaker looks to be the runt of both litters, but she is fast, agile and smart, and, of course, cute as a button. She is also the only dark eyed puppy out of both litters and I have to wonder a bit about the genetic sequences of dogs, and where eye color sits on the chart. I had thought that blue eyes were recessive genes in dogs as they are in humans, but I'm beginning to rethink this. The fact that Squeaker has undoubtedly dark brown eyes suggests that brown eyes are the recessive gene in Siberians. Anyway, they actually make Squeaker look prettier than if she had blue eyes. It completes the striking markings she has on her face.

Can you tell Squeaker is my favorite? Heh, I love the little spunky gal, and she obviously loves me. When I come home, she howls bloody murder until I come and pick her up. When she is awake, she's not happy unless she is either exploring the larger world beyond the kitchen, or being held by me. She has the cutest puppy smile when I pick her up, but the amount of time she wants to be on the go makes me firmly believe she would make a great addition to the team, and her looks and agility would probably garner her a solid conformation. I'll probably take her to the kennel club when she reaches 3 months of age.

Moon is strong and on the go a lot as well, which is a great sign, but her ears have not yet picked up. I'm hoping they will, but if they remain semi-floppy like her father, she is out of the running for a show prospect even if she will be a good addition to the team. She is affectionate to one and all and loves to lick face, chew on ears and fingers, and be held. She is very pretty, almost white, but really a very light gray with barely discernable white markings. I certainly hope she maintains her coloring in to adulthood. Moon is pretty strong and probably as strong as Mitu, but she is not quite as heavy, but is more agile on her feet. She is also very smart, and is one of the first to escape from the kitchen when the opportunity arises. Her soulful blue eyes tell you about the love and mischief inside.

Mitu is a dynamo of energy, is incredibly heavy/stocky like her father, but she has his ears without question. She is going to be a great sled dog/puller/agility dog, or whatever her future owner has planned for her. She is outgoing and affectionate, loves to be held and petted. It will be sad to see her go, but I'm happy she has a great home to look forward to (former musher and vet tech).

Ace is a very beautiful girl, calm and quiet for a husky, which may not make her a good sled dog, but she would be a great companion, pet or show dog. She has very pretty blue eyes, erect ears, and near perfect perportions. She is happy amusing herself, playing with the other pups, or being held and petted. Quite unusual for a normally high-energy breed. She could probably do well in any home, which gives her a secure future in this area of sparce dog sports.

Christmas is a nice blend of active on the go and affectionate. She would make a great show/agility/pulling/sledding dog as well as a great canine ambassador. She has a good amount of intelligence and learns quickly. She was the first puppy to learn to be gentle with the younger litter, yet plays with them a lot. Freya's pups adore her and follow her around until she lays down and bats at them with her paws and mouths them when they jump on her.

Elvis too is a lot like Christmas in temperment, intelligence and affection. He loves his belly rubs most of all and will come up to me and flop down on his back for a rub. He especially loves the belly rub when he is sleepy, and will fall asleep while you rub his belly. When he's not sleepy though, he is very active and inquisitive. If you rub his belly while he is fully awake, expect your fingers to be gnawed upon, but not very hard.

Xena, well, she seems to be the epitome of a sled dog. Very active, not so endeared of being held or still long enough to be petted for any length of time. She is fairly independant, but she is also a good looker, striking markings (she has a white 'mowhawk' stripe down the back of her head and neck, and a mostly white face. She is the only true black and white puppy of the litter, the rest are mostly gray or dark gray and white) and strong personality (like her names' sake ;-). She is smaller than Mitu, but constantly challenging her dominance. She doesn't mind me holding her for a short period of time, but doesn't put up with being held by Jim or James. She may be the toughest puppy to place appropriately here in this land that has barely heard of sled dogs. She may end up on the team by default, we will have to see, as I would definitely not put her in a pet home at this time. We will have to keep an eye on her development.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ace chews/rests with her toy. That puppy is a happy little girl who amuses herself most of the time, or plays with the others. When she is sleepy though, she will grab the nearest toy and settle down with it, gnawing on it until she falls asleep.

It amazes me how nice both Samantha and Freya are to each other and each other's puppies during this time. I guess the pack mentality is really forming strong bonds, and I'm happy. Even Samantha's puppies are learning to take it easy on the younger Freya puppies. Christmas in particular has become a great playmate and cousin for Freya's pups, as she has learned to be gentle with them and generally plays well with them. She is allowed free reign in Freya's enclosure, and we only need to remind her once in a while that she is too big to suckle on Freya.

All of Samantha's pups have displayed keen intelligence, and I'm very happy with their development. They are all getting very well socialized with people, with their siblings and cousins. Freya's pups are just starting to show some personality and becoming socialized. They are still quite a bit behind Samantha's but it is amazing to me that the bigger pups are as big as Samantha's. Brownie is almost the size of Mitu, and almost as heavy! He's going to be a very big boy! Kind of odd that he is not shaping up to be dominant, that seems to be going to Face, the runt. Mitu is definately the alpha puppy in Samantha's litter, and never loses an opportunity to show the other puppies her dominance.

While Jim took James to college this morning, Samantha knocked the gate over and let all the pups loose in the house. He found six of them sleeping under the dining room table, but one was missing. In a panic he looked all over, but could not find Squeaker. He called me but I was on a conference call with customers and could not answer the phone. While he was on the phone, he noticed Demon out on the porch, laying at the front of his igloo with his face inward. Knowing this was very unusual for Demon, he went out to see what was up only to find a cold and shivering Squeaker (it was 11 degrees this morning) curled up next to him in his doghouse. Demon had corralled his daughter and kept her safe and warm in his house once she had managed to get out the dog door. What a good daddy! From now on, the dog door block goes in before Jim leaves the house.

Monday, December 14, 2009

December 14th War Zone!

Samantha's and Freya's pups are now settled in the kitchen. We've kept them separate simply because Samantha's pups are older, more coordinated, and, well, a little rougher on each other than Freya's pups. It took some time for Freya to realize her puppies were in the kitchen and not hiding under my bed... But, she finally got the idea by Sunday morning.

I'm so happy that Samantha and Freya have been getting along! I had fully expected them both to be overly protective of their pups and possibly get in to it over the young'uns, but they've been very social to each other and even going so far as to care for each other's pups. This has made me very happy and been a nice surprise for a change.

Sunday, I removed the barrier to clean the floor and lay down fresh papers and puppy pads (an on-going exercise only with mopping once a day), and both sets of pups were allowed to mingle. It was cute to watch them cautiously regard each other. I only had to break up two play matches when one of Samantha's pups got a bit rough on one of Freya's, but other than that, they had fun playing with eachother.

Took Moon and Squeaker for another outing Sunday. They had fun exploring, but even though it was 45 degrees (F), Moon still got cold after about fifteen minutes, so took them back in. Then I spent a couple of hours scooping the yard before changing out papers in the kitchen.

After cleaning the kitchen again, I took my son shopping for a few things for Christmas. We picked up some shrimp for dinner, and baclava for desert. James and I played a couple of rounds on the Wii, then I cleaned papers again and put up the barrier between the pups for the night. Unfortunately, I only ended up with about four hours of sleep, so will probably take a nap after running with Samantha and dinner.

Samantha has nearly ceased milk production, so her pups are almost fully on moistened puppy kibble mixed with puppy milk powder. Freya's pups are just beginning to eat moistened kibble with milk powder. Of course this causes a few difficulties for Freya, as Samantha's pups want to suckle from her, which we have been trying to keep them from doing while the barrier is not in place. Not always easy, but Freya appreciates it. The only issue Freya has is with Samantha's pups trying to eat her food. I've had to chastise her once for snapping at a pup, and she got the message, but I've kept the pups from her food while she is eating anyway. Certainly do not want any mishaps. Other than that it has been surprisingly peaceful.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

December 12th 28 paws x 4 nails +2 on some that still have dews on the front

Today was nail clipping day for Samantha's puppies. They all were good little pups. With them being so young, I generally use a human nail clipper that is very sharp so it won't pinch their nails. Being the smart person I am, I waited until they tired themselves out, and were sleeping for a good twenty minutes prior to waking them one at a time. Sleepy puppies are easier to clip than wiggly ones. Jim held each one while I stretched their toes and nipped off the curved nails a sliver after the pink quick. The puppies were then treated to a couple of strips of turkey lunchmeat for being good sports and settled back in to their favorite sleeping spots.

Freya's pups have joined Samantha's in the kitchen last night, only separated by a low fence so the bigger puppies don't pick on the younger ones. It took them about thirty minutes to settle in to the new digs, but once napped the puppies seemed to accept their new home. Freya though, took a lot more convincing and kept us up most of the night with her antics. Sigh.

The vet called us today and said they were kind of busy, but we really didn't need to bring the puppies in for another two weeks for their first shots. So we rescheduled for the Monday after Christmas.

Took a couple of the pups out yesterday evening. Squeaker had the time of her life, but Moon got cold rather quickly, so we took her back in and let Squeaker romp around for a bit. The boys were ecstatic to have a pup so eager to play with them, but Yukon got a little too boysterous for Squeaker, and I had to interfere before he got too rough. Squeaker loved it though and didn't yet realize the danger she might have been in. All in all, she had a great time for the thirty minutes of 27 degree F weather she endured.

Today was much warmer, 45 degrees, so I asked my son to take the pups out two at a time to see how they do. Unfortunately I had to work, but want the pups to get in outdoor time.

Friday, December 11, 2009

December 11th Jailbreak! Again, only 3am this time.

So it's 3am and I hear a puppy screaming for mom, only one puppy. As the grogginess begins to clear I also hear the pattering of little feet, much closer than they should be. With a yawn, I pull on my robe, turn on the light, and venture out towards the kitchen. Moon meets me half way, overjoyed. Chuckling, I pick her up and proceed in to the den area where Christmas and Squeaker are wrestling. I scoop up Christmas, and head to the kitchen hoping Squeaker is following. The gate is pushed back away from the cabinet, allowing free passage to all who figure it out. Poor Xena hadn't quite noticed that her freedom was a mere waltz away and she was howling for Samantha. Dropping off Moon and Christmas, I give her an encouraging pat and turn to fix the gate. Moon is faster and had already ran into the dining room while I was petting and calming Xena down.
With a sigh, I put the gate across the entrance, and turn to round up five wayward puppies. Fortunately, they were busy following Samantha around, so they weren't very hard to find. By 3:30 I had them all back safely in the pen, fed and beginning to nap. So following suit only seemed natural until Freya's puppies started up a ruckus. Good thing I love the little dears....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

December 10th Jailbreak!

I just finished taking my shower and getting dressed this morning when I walked out in to the dining room and total chaos. Samantha had knocked the gate aside and we had six puppies running around on the carpet (#7 was sleeping peacefully). Luckily, they had all relieved themselves on the papers earlier, so there were no messes to clean up. But they were having the time of their lives exploring the new world. Demon was going from puppy to puppy to lick their faces, and Yukon sat by the door bewildered at the invasion before ducking out in to the safety of the falling snow. Samantha tried desperately to get away from the fanged and clawed mob that menaced her with threats of suckling. I found it rather humorous as I rounded up the pups and corralled them back in to the kitchen enclosure. The pups were not so amused and complained about being back in the boring kitchen. Even a bowl of moistened food did not pacify them, but eventually they calmed down and commenced to chewing on each other and the toys we have for their entertainment.

Seven puppies sure can make a mess fast, and thirteen in the kitchen is going to be a challenge. Time to fix up the barn with a heater and a doghouse or two for them to snuggle in to.

BTW the pic above is my favorite shot so far of Squeaker (being chewed on by Elvis). She is such a little doll! This shot really shows how beautiful she is as well as her great personality.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

December 9th Squeaker is the cutest thing

She has the greatest personality, and seems to be the most intelligent pup of the litter. Any time I step in to the kitchen she comes running for a petting with her little tail wagging like mad. She has quickly become my favorite with her soulful dark eyes.

She and Moon have mastered the art of escape already, and they can normally be found outside the kitchen barrier exploring the wide world of the living room and the oddly squishy but pleasing
carpet floor. Demon, their father, enjoys their presence and encourages their escapades by licking them over the barrier, then running like hell when they get out. Slowly he will come back if he figures he hasn't been blamed, and lick and try to play with the pups. He is a good daddy, if a bit mischievous. He is very gentle with them, but I don't let them stay out for too long. Carpet cleaning is a bit harder to scrub than linoleum.

Squeaker just makes my day though with her happy yip, bouncy gait, beautiful face and eyes, and gorgeous smoky coat. Her under-coat is black and the tips of her guard hairs are smoky gray. She is very pretty with her stripy forehead markings, and she loves to be held by grandma. She's not the biggest pup, but she makes up for it with intelligence and attitude. She loves the little tiger toy and the fuzzy squeaky toys, and usually can be found curled up with one of them when she's sleeping.

It will be incredibly hard to let any of these pups go. But my farm is only so big.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

December 8th Freya and Samantha puppies

So I've been slowly introducing Freya's puppies to Samantha's and I had a startling revelation. Four of Freya's puppies are ginormous! They are two weeks behind in development, yet they are the same size as Samantha's! I was amazed and shocked to see this, as I hadn't really thought my petit little Freya would produce super-sized Siberian Huskies. Yukon is a big boy for a Siberian, and built like a grayhound. He is key to my speed on the team, but I did not figure he had genes to produce even bigger prodgeny. We will have to monitor these pups closely to see just how big they will get. If they turn out anything like their father or mother, these pups will be dynamite incarnate. :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

December 7th 2 Dog Run and ZOMG Snow!

Harnessed up Samantha, Demon and Yukon Sunday morning since Samantha was whining so pitifully when I put on Demon's and Yukon's harnesses. Since she is beginning to wean, I was going to take her for a short run to help get her back in to some conditioning. But even though I held back Yukon quite a bit, it was evident that she was not ready for his speed. After about a hundred yards, I stopped the team and unhooked her. She was so sad, but I didn't want her to get hurt or to frustrate Demon and Yukon too much. James came and walked her back to the house while I continued on with Yukon and Demon. We went about .75 of a mile since this was the first time back together as a team and with only two dogs out of the normal 4 I didn't want to stress them too much. Demon did fantastic, and was rather frustrated with Yukon wanting to chase squirrels. He has become a model sled dog since he was fixed! He is a real worker, and I think next time I will switch him in lead to see how he does. He has lost a little weight though, so I've gone back to feeding him moistened food and snacked both him and Yukon with some partially freezer burned hamburger patties. They both enjoyed that quite a bit.

The run, however, emphasized to me, just how out of shape I had become in the past month. Even though I've been out on the bike with Yukon, I haven't put any miles on the treadmill or running with the dogs, only walking. So, I've resolved to helping Samantha get back in to the swing of things by running with her every day after work. I was breathing very hard and sweating profusely despite the 25 degree temps after running up all the hills to help the two boys. Back to training for me... lol. After the run, I put up our christmas lights, and then went out shopping, spent waaayyy too much money, came back and put up the tree.

I also worked on reformatting the puppy video I took a week ago, but it seems too big to upload here. Maybe put it on youtube. If I do, I'll post the link.

This morning I woke up to a beautiful sight, SNOW! Though it is only supposed to be a dusting and probably melt by evening, it was beautiful!

Friday, December 4, 2009

December 4th Puppy Chew Toy

Spent a good half an hour with Samantha's pups this morning after feeding them. They come running to me when I sit on the floor and chew on me like their favorite toy. Their teeth are poking through the gums now and Samantha is not very enthusiastic about feeding them. It takes much persuasion to even get her to sit down inside the puppy enclosure which we have moved to the Kitchen to give them more room to romp and provide for easy floor cleanup.
Moon is a very happy puppy, and wags her tail any time I pet her. She plays a lot with the other puppies and doesn't seem to get roaring mean when the play doesn't go her way as some of the other puppies tend to do. She seems to be very people oriented like her mother, but happy and go-lucky like her father, the best of both I think. She also has the heavy build of her father and I think will make a great puller.
Most of the puppies have the heavy pulling build I really wanted out of Demon's line, so this has been a very successful litter in that respect. Only two of the pups seem to be dainty, and those are Squeaker and Xena. Those two, however, make up in looks and spunk. It is a toss up between Xena and Mitu as to who is the dominant puppy, and Squeaker, well, she's just real cute with her 3 white stripes on her forehead.
The male of the litter I've finally named Elvis, as he is getting fluffy like his father and looks to have the same black stand-out sideburns as he does. Elvis can get rather fussy and won't calm down until he's either picked up, or gets to suckle, but generally he's quite playful. He's not that fond of moistened puppy kibble, but will eat enough of it to satisfy his hunger if he's not able to get his fill from Samantha. The rest of the puppies will eat the kibble until full then play or fall asleep. They are so cute at this age! They will be 4 weeks old next wednesday.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December 2nd New Morning Routine

So my new morning routine consists of waking up at 5am, feed Freya, give Freya her medicine, Pet the boys and have a morning howllo, pet Samantha, feed Samantha's puppies, keep Samantha from eating the puppies' food, reassure and pet the boys, give all the dogs a treat and a bone, check Freya's pups, clean any messes, check Samantha's pups, clean any messes, play with the puppies for a couple of minutes when they whine for 'grandma', make sure the boys are fed and watered, have coffee and breakfast, yawn, take a shower, get ready for work. All this takes about two hours.
Unfortunately the sun is just rising as I head off to work and has set and getting dark by the time I get home, so most of my training runs with the boys have been on the weekends. Samantha is at the point where any time I pick up a harness, she whines and dances excitedly, then watches sadly as I take the boys. She still has not entirely weaned her pups, and I do so want her to join us, but at this time, she is not ready. Another week and I might get her out with the bike for a few very short runs and gradually increase to get her back in to shape before joining the boys. We will have to see how the situation is with the pups and if she has decreased or ceased milk production.
Samantha's puppies are growing and becoming more and more steady on their feet. They devour a baking tin of food three times a day, play for a few minutes, then go to sleep. Most of them have the idea to get off the fluffy bed and on to the papers to do their business, but we still end up laundering the bed quite often. They are in a 'play' enclosure that is set on top of a tarp and what is not covered by the bed is covered by papers. Papers get changed out daily.
Freya's enclosure is similar, but her puppies still have their eyes closed and not yet walking on all fours or eating solid food. Freya is a good mom though, and still spends the majority of her time with her pups feeding and cleaning them. The pups are glad to be out of the whelping box and have room to stretch out to sleep. Happy puppies sleep more and are much quieter! I've only had to intervene when Freya accidentally sits or lays on one. She's good about it though and doesn't put her weight on them. She'll wait patiently for me to remove the puppy, or she will move depending on her mood. She got the last of her medicine this morning, and I'm glad to see her recovered. I would have been heartbroken if anything had happened to her. It will be some time before she leads my team again, but I'm glad that she will do so in the not too distant future.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Better pic of 'Face'

The all white face of "Face". He'll get a better name once his personality becomes more developed. He is a cutie and a sweet little guy who will sigh in contentment any time I pick him up.

December 1st Holiday Happiness is a Baker's Dozen!

The puppies are growing fast! This is the one that Jim has picked out to join our mushing team and has named Silver Moon. She is a very pretty light silver color that keeps getting lighter with age. She is the largest of the litter, and the most inquisitive. She also seems to have a very even temperment and doesn't seem to get flustered during puppy play with her siblings. Her eyes are a moderate blue which will probably lighten up to crystal like her parents.

Samantha is the mother and Demon is the father of these puppies.

Almost all of Samantha's puppies have a silvery tone to them and their markings are not very clear cut. Freya's on the other hand are all very purely Siberian Husky markings, very crisp clear black and white, red and white and silver and white markings. They are almost all very striking and could all be show potential depending on their movement and how they grow. The only exception being the runt of the litter may not be large enough to meet minimum requirements, but he is cute as a button and has the most striking markings of all. I like his personality too so far. For such a little guy he has a giant's perseverance and the temperment of a saint so far. I personally like the little guy a lot. He's the one in the top center of the puppy pic.

For those wondering, Freya had 6 puppies from an unplanned midnight rondezvous with her co-leader Yukon. We had wanted to wait another year for her to mature prior to this mating, but Freya had other plans. These are the two I did want to see matched, but not at so young an age for Freya. She is 14 months old, and we had wanted to wait for her to reach two and a half first. Regardless, though, she did very well with the pups being so young herself. She did, however, develop an infection from not pushing out the last of the afterbirth, but a quick visit to the vet and some puppy-safe anti-biotics ensured she recovered well. I did end up helping her clean the puppies and break the sacs, but she did cut all the cords and clean up. Consequently I believe the pups bonded partially to my scent. Sometimes they will whine and not sleep until I pick them up and hold them for up to ten minutes and then they are out like a light. Other times, I need to encourage Freya to clean them so they can relieve themselves before sleeping.
She is the main reason for a bit of an hiatus from the blog, mostly to care for her, her puppies and Samantha and her puppies and keep the peace in the household between the two girls. Fortunately there have been no scuffles, the two have been very civil to each other even though it is plain they both want to steal the other's puppies. They have been separate for the most part but I have allowed them to interact in neutral territory under strict supervision simply because of the mother instinct will cause them to react violently to anything they consider a threat to their puppies. But they have actually surprised me and been very nice to each other after the first couple of stand-offs and corrections of bad behaviors (snarls, low posture, ruffs up) and encouragements of good behaviors (sniffing, sitting, laying down, only glancing indifferently at each other, or even standing side by side happily waiting for treats).
Samantha will even let Freya sniff her pups and vice versa. Licking, however, is right out for now. Again, no confrontations, just posturing, but plainly communicated and listened to. Dogs will tell you a lot about what they will tolerate and what they won't if you listen with your eyes, ears and heart.

Samantha's puppies all have their eyes open and small milk teeth are starting to push through the gums. Consequently she doesn't want to feed them any more, and we have been supplimenting their diet with wet and watered down puppy food. They have flat out refused the bottle feeding, ah well. Some of the pups have even begun to demonstrate good hygene and move off their fluffy bed onto the papers to do their business. What good little puppies they are! We encourage their good behaviors as much as possible. I think they will make very fine and well adjusted dogs that will be pretty well trained by the time they are ready to find new homes.

Friday, November 20, 2009

November 20th

The red I call Squeaker because she gets excited when she feeds and "squeaks" almost like a little squeaky toy. Squeaker is laying on Miss Adventure for a comfortable snooze. Squeaker is also spoken for already, and has a great life to look forward to with a former musher and vet tech. I'm happy she will have a good home.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

November 19th Nights are for Sleeping?

This puppy I've nicknamed Ace for Ace of Clubs since her marking on her head sorta looks like it. Ace is a mild tempered puppy so far and will let you pick her up and hold her. If she is sleepy, she will immediately fall asleep if she woke up when you picked her up. Most of the time, she is a deep sleeper and doesn't wake up if you are careful enough. If she isn't sleepy, she will explore and sniff until she is certain that she is hungry then she will whimper softly until you put her near momma. She is more than likely the one I will keep for show if she continues her mild manners and grows into an excellent conformation prospect. It will be a hard choice between her and squeaker though. Squeaker has a very striking set of markings, and would look unusual enough to grab attention in the show ring. For a good sled dog though, I think Miss Adventure will be my best pulling prospect as she is amazingly strong already, and has outsized the other puppies. She is a bit headstrong like her mother though, so again, time will tell. It is still a bit early to really judge their personalities and prospects, but they are all very healthy good looking pups.
Samantha has finally begun to spend time out from the puppies, of course this means she wants to spend that time being petted by me. I'm not there to pet her all day, so that means I can pet her all night, right? At least this means I don't have to persuade her to go outside to do her business.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November 18th Crazy Days

Christmas is the pup in the bottom of the pic. The white patch on the back of her neck looks like a Christmas tree. She is one of the mid-tempered pups so far. She will allow herself to be held only after being full, but she will sleep in my arms. She can, however, make herself heard when she wants to.
Samantha has begun stepping out of the tub when the pups are asleep to get some much needed rest herself. Her weight is still good, and she is still being fed puppy food when she wants it (open feed), and she gets a wet food mix twice a day. She seems pretty proud of herself and her puppies, almost as proud as I am.

Monday, November 16, 2009

November 16th Growing Fast!

Today 4 puppies will go in to get their dew claws removed. They have already doubled in size from last Wednesday (the pic is from Saturday), and it is about time to get a larger enclosure for mom and pups. I picked up a doggy play pen for when they open their eyes, but I think we may need an intermediate step from the whelping tub.

Friday, November 13, 2009

November 13th Puppy pics

Such a sweet little girl that looks very much like momma. We have been calling her "Miss Adventure" because she is always climbing to the top of the blanket and around the bottom rim of the tub we are using for a whelping box (horse trough which was low enough for Samantha to step in and out of but tall enough not to let the puppies crawl out). They are very active puppies, and I'm hoping they will make some eager sled dogs. :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

November 12th Seven Beautiful Healthy Pups!

Samantha had the last one at 1am. 2 red and white girls, 2 silver girls, 1 silver boy, and 2 black and white girls. Mom and pups are doing fine!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

November 10th And still waiting.

Samantha's temperature went down to 99.5 last night, but still no labor. She is obviously miserable and doesn't eat but a couple mouthfulls of food, but begs for treats constantly. This morning there was no movement, and I'm hoping this is the onset. If she hasn't started labor by Friday, we will need to take her in.

Monday, November 9, 2009

November 9th Anticipation!

Still waiting for puppies. Samantha's temp stayed right at 99.7 all weekend. Going to check her when I get home. Her official due date acording to the vet is Wednesday, but she could whelp at anytime now. I've made sure Jim and James have instructions and have printed out an article on whelping from a respected Vet.

It makes it nice that I contract for the Government, at least I have Wednesday off. Not sure Samantha will wait that long though.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

November 5th More Igloos

My porch now looks like a herd of arctic natives have moved in. Each dog has been sampling each dog igloo, and the consensus is they are the bomb! They now seem to like them so much, they hardly come in the house at all, and spend all day lounging around in their individual igloo condos. I will try to get some pics when I get home from work tonight.

Samantha's puppies were moving around a lot this morning, and I'm thinking she may whelp them this weekend if not sooner. I've given James specific instructions on what to do when she does, IE: separate the other dogs immediately. If she goes in to labor in one of the igloos, put the other dogs inside, or if inside, put the other dogs outside and seal the dog door. She needs to be concerned with whelping the pups and not with the other dogs. I made a puppy-moist food mix for her last night and one this morning to make sure she has enough to eat before labor if she is in labor for an extended period, or refuses to eat for a day or two after whelping which I have seen both in dog birthing in the past. Poor girl, I'll end up taking her temperature again tonight. She is NOT fond of that at all.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November 4th New Straw

Had a great run with the pups Sunday! We went our 2.5 mile route in record time with absolutely no tangles! Even when I asked Freya to "come around", she turned the team right around back towards the house with no tangles!

Up until last week, the dogs have been sleeping in my room (on my blanket when they can) and forsaking the dog houses outside. Since Samantha has been close to whelping, though, she has begun sleeping in the igloo doghouse. Since she started sleeping out there, Yukon has also decided he likes the igloo and they play musical chairs with it. Yesterday Jim picked up a bale of straw, and I put down straw in the igloo for Samantha in case she whelps her puppies in there while I'm either at work or sleeping. Well, now all the dogs LOVE the igloo with straw (except the two old dogs who still want to sleep in my room) and will hardly let Samantha lay down in it. Guess we will have to tighten the belt and pick up 3 more igloos.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

October 29th Momma Dog

Samantha is getting big. I'm worried that this may stress her, so trying to ensure she doesn't over-exert herself, but is exercised enough to keep good circulation and reasonably good health. She gets walks now, instead of running with the team, which doesn't make her overly happy being excluded from the team.

Two more weeks until we will need to start taking her temperature every day in anticipation of labor, but I think we may have to start as early as next week. She is spending more and more time out in the dog house on the porch rather than sleeping at the foot of my bed. Not sure if she is going to try to whelp in the house or outside, so keeping an eye on her. When she's not in the mood to nap outside and when I'm home, she is my constant shadow, and I reassure her as much as possible. She's been getting puppy food every day now when she wants it (I keep a bowl of it on the foot of my bed where she likes to lay and the other dogs will not go), but has been more interested in eating as many bones and treats as she can steal first. This has not earned her any favors with the other dogs.

She and Freya had another argument yesterday about a piece of left-over bone that each had stolen from one of the other dogs at one point in time or the other. Again, it was not a real fight, more of a yelling match over which dog stole it first. The boys merely let the girls get away with stealing their treats most of the time. But the two girls hang out together a lot more than they used to. We will have to keep an eye on their behaviors as the time draws closer. She loves the extra belly rubs as not only does she get her usual amount of spoiling rotten, but now she gets extra attention and reassurance that she is doing well. Once in a while she will whine softly for no apparent reason, and I'll pet her and rub her belly some more to be sure she is ok. She's probably uncertain and a little scared, so I try to be her mental support as well as her loving caregiver. We have to be careful not to overreact though, as dogs pick up on your reactions and assume the magnitude of the situation by your reaction. A calm and loving reassurance goes a long way.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

October 27th Making Plans

Sat with the dogs outside for a while last night. The weather was georgeous, around 65 degrees and the fall colors and sounds were all around us. Off in the distance I could hear the call of a lonely whitetail buck and even further off possibly an elk. Birds were making themselves heard, and the squirrels were teasing and scolding my dogs for trying to catch them. It was very peaceful and refreshing after a tense and hectic week.

It is times like these that I let all worries seep from my mind, and contemplate the glory of Mother Nature. I marvel at the crisp fresh air, and how it lifts the wings of the birds to carry them aloft. The bright reds, oranges and yellows of the leaves are the living tapestry of her glory, a last tribute to the earth before the cycle of renewal. I love the smell of newly fallen leaves, the sweet-mapely smell energizes me and reminds me of seasons past. Fall has always been my favorite time of year, a time of harvest, a time of color and sound, a time of bounty and a time for old things to be remembered in order to bring forth the new. A time to honor those who have gone before, learn their wisdom and take a look inside your own soul.

Looking back on the roads traveled, it has been a long and hard journey frought with downfalls and setbacks at nearly every turn, but we've made it so far. Now we have come to the point in our lives where it is starting to get easier, and we have marvelous companions to share it with. I hope it lasts, but even through the worst of times, we have always reveled in the love we share between us (my husband and I), our son, and our fuzzy kids.

Monday, October 26, 2009

October 26th Lots of puppies

<-Sleepy face just woke up.

According to the vet, Samantha is going to have a big litter. She is at around 42 days and the puppy skeletons were just starting to calcify. Samantha is in very good health and has already been receiving double vitamins and puppy food, the vet was happy to hear. Since the skeletons weren't fully developed, she was unable to get a count, but said the size of the uterus indicates she will have a good sized litter. With a large litter, it usually means the individual pups are smaller and we anticipate no issues with her pregnancy or delivery. Our expected due date is between November 11th and 13th, but we will begin taking her temperature around day 58.

After bringing her home (it was raining all day off and on), we went back out and picked up some mud mats for the back porch to hopefully cut down on the amount of mud the dogs tend to track in to the house. We also picked up some rebar posts to further escape-proof the fence as well as keep out coyotes. With pups potentially running around the yard, we can't be too careful! We also picked up a horse trough that is of the right size and has walls the right height that Samantha can use as a whelping box while indoors where she can hop in and out and the pups will be restrained for the first few weeks of their lives. We have been working on preparing the barn, cleaning it out and hopefully will have it sanitized and ready by the time the pups are ready to inhabit it. We have electricity and will have a heater for the really cold nights.

Sunday was gorgeous, woke up to 31 degrees and waited until it was light enough to harness up. This time I leashed the dogs as I harnessed them, and tied down the cart. I led Freya out the front door first, and attached her leash to the back of the truck as I hooked up her tug. Then came Yukon, then Demon. Jim was there just to help keep the dogs from getting too tangled in their excitement. It was our best run yet! The dogs did VERY well, only one incident of distraction, but that didn't last long. Even when I asked Freya to Come Around, she did so without tangle and maneuvered perfectly back around towards home! Only once did I need to tell them Gee or Haw when approaching a turn. Demon pulled the whole way, even when Freya and Yukon wanted to stop for a squirrel, he pulled past them shaming Freya into retaking the lead. Fortunately there was no tangle. I was so very proud of my team! They all got extra meaty vitamin treats, rubbed down and their paws checked.

I guess I didn't wear them out enough, because by 10am they were romping around in the yard like a pack of 4 month old puppies. It was fun to watch them while I worked on leveling more of the path, putting down gravel and sand, then putting on the flat stones. I put down sand on all the paths where the dogs run and have turned to muddy-clay. Hopefully this will also help cut down on the amount of mud.

Friday, October 23, 2009

October 23rd More Rain...

Demon likes to stretch out under my desk while I am on-line. He's such a silly boy. He's completely recovered from his surgery, and if it was possible, he's even more goofy than before. He has been happy and playful, and always wanting a hug and a belly scratch.

We are supposed to get three more days of rain. Sigh. It was pouring down when I got up. It figures that whenever I get some time off it is raining...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

October 20th Lots of Things Going On

This is what happens when one of my fuzzy blankets falls on the floor. I come home to this.

Thursday I ended up catching some bug, and Friday stayed home and worked from home. Saturday I was still under the weather, so didn't get much done that I wanted to and no training run. Sunday, I felt a lot better, and harnessed up the dogs only to have Demon get loose and go for a three hour tour of the countryside. We drove up and down the roads nearby searching for all that time. Poor Yukon and Freya were so disappointed, but Demon finally came home happy as a lark and full of burs. I did learn a valuable lesson in this, though. When I harness up the dogs from now on, and before I hook them up, I'm going to set them out on leads attached to the fence. That way I can bring them through the gate one at a time without worrying about one of them sneaking out.

Monday I ended up having to work as soon as I got home, hopefully today will be different. With fall in the air, the dogs are itching to run. Poor Freya has been whining wistfully at the gate.

I felt movement last night, and Samantha is filling out rather noticeably the last week. Friday she's going to go in for a checkup to make sure all is going well. Looks like sometime close to Thanksgiving for puppies. I have that week off, so hoping she'll wait until then, but duedate is around the 15th of November. We will hopefully get confirmation from the vet on the duedate.

Friday, October 16, 2009

October 16th Play with me!

Yesterday while I was at work, Jim told me Demon was feeling a bit feisty, and decided he wanted some of the other dogs to come outside and play with him. So, he put his nose in the air and very loudly yelled "Come out and play!" only it sounded more like "Roo! Ahwrrr! Rooo roo roo!" to Jim. The other dogs looked at him funny, and went about their business. Not to be deterred, and deciding that a more direct approach was needed, he stuck his face in the dog door and tried again. "Roo! Ahwrrr! Rooo roo roo!" This garnered the response he was looking for.

G'kar yowled "Hey! You aren't supposed to do that!" And ran after him. This was an obvious invitation for the rest of the dogs to join in, and they all raced out the door, ran around the yard, tussled with Demon then came back in. Well this wasn't quite enough to satisfy Demon.

Sticking his head back in through the dog door he yelled: "Roo! Ahwrrr! Rooo roo roo!", to which G'kar again responded "Warf! Rawrg grrruf woof!" and away they all ran again.

Third time is a charm, and so Demon once again made his call: "Roo! Ahwrrr! Rooo roo roo!" "Warf! Rawrg grrruf woof!" and off they go.

Our boy Demon knows how to get what he wants.

On a more serious note, Valkrys had another episode this morning. I let the dogs out at 4am, then 6am and fed them their biscuits. When Valkrys came back inside, I fed them each a chew stick, but when Valkrys went to grab hers, she lost control of her back legs and seemed to have a partial siezure where she couldn't get back up and lost bowel control. Poor old girl. I cleaned her and the floor up, but this is very worrying. She has become increasingly more 'senile' this year, forgetting where she is, not letting anyone touch her but me, snapping at the other dogs when they brush against her. Unfortunately this seems to indicate she is nearing the end of our time together. As many of you probably know, she is 18 years, so she has had a good and long life.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

October 14th Miss Manners

We've started giving Samantha her treats last for the past couple of days and it has made quite a difference. She still tries to intercept, but there has been far less attempts to steal other dogs' treats.

Another thing we have done is I have taken to sitting with Freya and breaking up her biscuit into chunks. She seems much more inclined to eat it right away if it is broken up, so there is nothing for Samantha to try to steal later. This has gone a long way to patching their relationship, and Freya and Samantha were even licking each-other's faces pleasantly this morning. I praised them both for their amiable behavior and petted them.

Yesterday morning we ran out of biscuits, so I gave the dogs chewy treats in the evening and again this morning. This apparently wasn't good enough, and they bugged me all last evening for their biscuits, pushing the empty box around forlornly. Today Jim picked some up on the way home, and little freya whined and whined until they all got fed their biscuits. How much like little children!

Monday, October 12, 2009

October 12th

Saturday was overcast, but a nice 42 degrees out, so I harnessed up the dogs, pumped up the tires (leaky valves) on the cart, pulled out the gangline, and woke my son to help me hook up. Since Samantha is my slowest dog, and since she is pregnant, I wanted her to set the pace so as not to overtax her. So, I put her up front with Yukon. Going out was spectacular. I kept the dogs to an easy lope since Samantha had a bit of trouble keeping up with Yukon, I had to slow him down. The dogs did great! They turned left with only one "Haw" at the junction by the bridge, and turned right with one "Gee" at the junction by the mini-railroad.

By the end of a mile, I could see Samantha was tiring, so I asked the team to "Come Around Gee". Yukon tried to turn around, but Samantha was having none of it. She didn't want to go home even if she was tiring. So, I ended up parking the cart, and gently pulling Yukon and Samantha around to point the other way. As soon as I let go, Samantha pulled the team back down facing the way we were going. This went on for about ten minutes with many tangles until I finally decided to switch her out with Freya. By this time, James had almost caught up with us.

I managed to get the switch done and told Freya "Line Out" and she pulled the team straight heading for home and waited this time. :) She did excellent and took a left at the mini-train when I said "Haw" once and right at the bridge when I said "Gee" once even though Yukon didn't want to go right, Freya shouldered him from the outside. With me pedaling we got 3/4 up the hill and I got out and pushed the cart the rest of the way. Freya and Yukon halted when I said "Whoah" and waited for me to unhook the gangline and then lead the way in to the gate.

It was our best run yet if you discount the turn around. Everything else went perfect, and the dogs were excellent!

We did some work cleaning out the barn, but it was apparent to me that unless we hired some help, it will not be ready in time for Samantha to whelp her pups in there. My job is to convince him that she will need to have them inside, and then we can move them to an outdoor enclosure once they open their eyes and are a bit mobile. Samantha will keep them clean up until that point. It will be doubly important to keep her and the pups away from Freya and the boys for a few days, as there will be fights for no other reason than Samantha defending her pups and we need to be sure none of the dogs or pups get hurt.

By Saturday evening, they had enough rest, and were full of playful energy again, running back and forth across the yard. I chased Demon around, much to his delight, and then we did a little obedience training, sit, lay down, stay, come, and then we did some fun tricks, like up and walk.

Sunday was beautiful, and we took the four-pack and G'kar for a long liesurely walk. It took a bit of convincing for Freya and Samantha to realize this wasn't a training run, but they got it, and started having fun, jumping around, sniffing, and digging, and trying to eat deer poop. Bleh!

Afterwards, I got to work on the shed, re-fitting the backwall and building the other side-wall. I was done before my husband and son returned from getting more leveling bricks, so did a bit of work on the stone walkway in back.

Again the dogs romped and played in the evening cool. Yukon raced from fence to fence, fast as lightning! I love to watch that dog run! It was funny though, that on one such run, Freya ran to play with him, and ended up body-checking him and sending him rolling. He looked annoyed at first, but quickly laughed it off and played with her and Demon.

Samantha has gotten very possessive of all treats, and this morning tried to take Freya's biscuit again. Freya was having none of that, and they got in a heated argument. I broke it up fortunately with nothing more than two wet egos and a lot of bad feelings towards each other. At least it was nothing more than an argument, as there were no serious bites, just a lot of flashy teeth, growling and shoving. Never-the-less, I separated them and checked them over to be sure. I kept them separated for more than an hour, then woke my son to watch them, as I had to head out to work.

Samantha has the opportunity to open-feed, so I know this is not her issue. It is all about the treats and she tries to steal them as often as she can. Being pregnant has only worsened her drive to take treats. Going to have to think about how I can train her not to do this.

Friday, October 9, 2009

October 9th More flooding

So, now I'm thinking that buying our property might not have been such a good idea. For the second time this year the creek has overrun its bed and flooded the lower parts of our yard. Granted this has been quite an unusual year for rainfall, and the creek flooding is only mountain run-off... Still, today's flood cut off our main road leading out from where we live, and two other side-routes. I ended up driving an hour out of the way to get to work. Needless to say, I was a bit late...
Fortunately again, the water never reached our fence, the additional ten foot incline from the top of the creek banks was unable to be surmounted by the enormous amount of run-off. The good news is that both times this happened, the creek subsided within a matter of hours, the bad news is that it happened twice. Once is a freak of nature, twice is the beginning of a trend....

Thursday, October 8, 2009

October 8th

The sunrise was amazing this morning, purple-red then blazing into yellow-orange like fire in the sky as it progressed. To the west, a series of rainbows told the tale of approaching rain, like ribbons of luminous color against clouds set aflame. Just simply incredible! Too bad my cell-phone camera couldn't capture the majesty, but here is a tiny glimpse of the awesome tapestry of the sky.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

October 7th

Demon seemed to be feeling much better this morning, but since he still seems not to be eating well, I fed him another mixed bowl of food last night and this morning. He ate every drop last night and all but about eight bits of kibble this morning.
Rained last night, so no training. A bit warm today for a training run with Samantha, Yukon and Freya, so will probably take them for a long walk tonight.
We hiked the mountain road up to the land for sale, and hiked up the hill in the woods to see the land, but my son decided he didn't want to continue through the wooded trail because he had worn his shorts and not long pants.... So, we hiked back down the hill, and back along the mountain road down to the old barn before turning back home. The dogs were very happy, and Freya kept trying to take me for a drag. She kept jumping and whining to go faster even though she wasn't in harness, she was all business, trying to run, not stopping to sniff and pee, although she did try to eat some horse and some deer droppings. Yuck!
She finally got the idea this was a fun walk and not a training session about 3/4 the way home. By then, my wrists were red from keeping the leash around them. Man that pup can pull! Demon was happy to be outside the fence, first time since last Wednesday. G'kar had been a real pain in the butt earlier, so we left him home. It was me with Demon and Freya and James with Yukon and Samantha.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

October 6th

Spent most of the evening with Demon on the couch next to me. It was interesting to see him actually watching the TV. He always looks like he's talking too, mouthing words silently. I wish I could hear what he was saying. If ever there was a talking dog picture, they wouldn't have to use graphics for Demon, he 'talks' all the time, but only makes howls when asked, or to get my attention.

Gave him his last pain pill this morning, and hope that he's recovered enough not to need any more. I also spent some time petting Samantha's belly, much to her delight. Her nipples have enlarged slightly, and she's put on a tiny bit of weight, so I would say that either she's convinced herself she's pregnant and isn't (which I've known dogs to do on occasion), or we are having a small litter. A tester is on the list for this weekend.

Always more to buy or pay. It would be so much easier if we sold our house in NC, but the market still isn't there yet, even though it is gaining strength. I'm just grateful that is the only mortgage I have to pay at the moment. If anyone is interested in a small sportsman's getaway in the RTP area, leave me a note (bank appraised at 207k, priced at 170k 3br, 2.5 ba 2.5 acres in wakefield school district). Okay, enough of the shameless advertisement. ;-) The house we bought in KY, we did so with our retirement savings, and though we will have to pay taxes, and pay insurance monthly, at least it isn't another mortgage.

The dogs are getting restless, digging at the fence, which means we need to take another long hike to satisfy the adventuring spirit in them. Been building up a long list of 'multi-use' trails in the state, and hope to check out some of the nearer ones soon. Work has been so busy and the schedule is tight all the way to Christmas though... sigh. You'd think I'm working in retail and not for the government.

Monday, October 5, 2009

October 5th Sigh of Relief

Demon has recovered nicely so far from his surgery. He is now not so much a he. He clung to me since we brought him home Friday, so though I took Freya and Yukon out on the bike individually, I pretty much stayed where I could watch and be with him. This morning he seemed a lot better, but was a bit groggy after giving him his painpill. One more for tomorrow then he's done. I was a bit worried as the area was quite red and a bit puffy when we brought him home. The swelling had gone down by this morning though, but I'll check him again carefully this evening. I'm not taking any chances with my cuddly bear. He's such a loveable boy, I couldn't stand to lose him.

Now he will be able to stay in the house no matter if the girls are in heat or not. Since Yukon is by far more controllable when they are in heat, we should have a much easier time of it when that time comes again.

Samantha is showing some minor signs, but not much at this time. I'm definitely going to have to invest in a pregnancy test for her to be 100% sure and to get her prenatal care if she is.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October 1st Frost!

Last night I was so sore, tired and in pain, I did little but doze on the couch and visit with the pups. This morning, it almost feels like I was never bruised. I removed the bandage over my right knee that was completely black and blue two days ago, and only saw a few red spots and a scab. Now I know I heal fast, but this even amazed me.

This morning there was also frost on the ground! Yay! Temp is supposed to get up to 70 today but be in the low 60's the rest of the week. At least I'll be able to get in a few more runs!

But of course, it is raining...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

September 30th OW!

The inevitable happened last night. When I got home it was 56 degrees and a cold wind blowing. Perfect for a training run, so I had my son help me by inflating the tires on the cart and holding the dogs in place while I brought them out one by one to hook up.

James was finished with the tires by the time I had all four in harnesses, and I dragged out the gangline, shock absorbers and rope connector to the cart.

First out was Samantha, and as I grabbed her collar and attempted to get her solo through the gate, she slipped out of it, and took off running. Fortunately Samantha is a very smart and very good obedient dog. She quickly realized she wasn't being followed and no other dogs were forthcoming, and came right back and let us hook her up. What a great dog!

Next was Yukon, and I managed to get him hooked up without an incident. Demon was next as Freya was playing hard to get and not coming to the gate. She went in to mega-play mode and thought it was some great game to avoid me even though she whined and yowled at the gate to get out. When I came near her, she ran off in to the back yard. Tired of chasing her around, I left her inside the fence while I started down the road with the three dogs. Samantha was eagerly whining to get going, and they all seemed pumped and excited. Unfortunately their excitement caused them to tangle. So, I ended up stopping once before the bridge and once after the bridge to untangle them. By the time I finished untangling them the second time, James caught up with Freya in tow.

So I took a few moments to re-attach the tug line for Freya, but James had forgotten to grab the neckline. Since we were already over a quarter mile from the house, I decided to run without it, and hooked in Freya. As soon as I hooked her in and before I managed to sit in the cart, Freya took off like a shot and without my weight, the breaks on the cart were woefully inadequate. The other three were hot on her heels, though Yukon looked as if he was trying to stop, as he knew I was not in the cart yet. I grabbed for the cart and managed to my woe to catch the steering wheel. This was a complete miscalculation on my part. 4 dogs > me

Shouts of Whoa fell on deaf puppy ears, so eager was Freya to run! I was never a very fast runner, even though I could run quite a distance, my speed was never the greatest. Needless to say, the dogs were much faster even with the brakes on the cart. My feet could not keep up, and I was pulled off them, and sent rolling in to the ditch after a close and intimate introduction to a few misplaced rocks. Good thing I had thought to put on my helmet and gloves!

About fifty yards up the road was a curve and the cart flipped without anyone to guide the steering, and the brakes still leaving rubber skid marks down the road. Somewhere around 300 more yards and the dogs finally grew tired of pulling the upsidedown cart and stopped. Limping, I managed to retrieve the seat that had come out of its mooring, and catch up to the dogs. Fortunately, there were no injuries to the dogs, just a very bruised and scraped me.

Putting the seat back on the cart, turning it and the dogs around for home, they pulled me back to the house without further incident. I managed to un-harness them, check their paws and give them a rub-down checkup before my knee finally gave out on me. It swelled up to about the size of a softball, and had really ugly purple marks from the top of my kneecap to the top of my shin, with about a quarter sized area where the skin had come off. Hop-limping to the couch, I asked my son to bring me the first aid kit and some warm soapy water with a cloth. Cleaning the scrapes was painful but necessary. A bit of bactine, neosporin, and some bandages covered the scrapes, and a re-useable icepack got the swelling under control.

Needless to say, I'm very sore today, limping around, and have both my knees bandaged up. Try explaining that to the boss!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

September 29th Wind!

Freya is being a little cutie pie Jim tells me. She noticed he was out of bed, ran inside low howling, jumped in his lap and began showering him with puppy kisses. She's been hanging with him since he got up, low howling anytime she thinks he's not paying enough attention to her. She's such a silly little sweet girl!

She has come so very far from the skittish pup that wouldn't let anyone touch her six months ago! It is really a great thing to see her adjusted and loving on Jim and James. It makes all the effort to teach and train her so worthwhile!

Unfortunately I didn't get to run the dogs last night. Wind had blown down the back wall of my shed in the works, and there were many things to do and discuss. Plus me being tired from work didn't help much. But the weather has taken a cold turn and the dogs are excited!

I definitely want to take them out tonight when I get home, and judging by Freya's antics, she's more than eager to get out there!

Monday, September 28, 2009

September 28th Cool Weather and Good Times!

Samantha is such a lovely and happy dog! The more I get to know her, the more I love her. As you can tell, she has quickly become the family favorite and it is easy to see why. Not the best puller, but easily the best all-around attitude. She watches out for the other dogs and for her people. Plus, she has such a pretty smile!

She is friendly towards other people and other dogs, which makes her a great companion. I'll say it again, I am so glad we picked up these dogs! I know I'm setting a bad example for her being on the couch and sleeping at the foot of my bed, but I've also taught her that being moved for people is acceptable. She may not like it, but endures it without complaint (even though she sulks afterwards).

Saturday it rained all day, but I did get some work done on my tool block. Leatherworking has always been a secondary hobby of mine since high school. The years I spent in the Army and since then, I made many things from wristbands to leather SCA armor, chair covers, moccasins, etc. I have an extensive collection of stamping, molding and custom shaping tools, some made from old dental shaping tools (some of my best carving and shaping tools are from the dental variety), and it will be great to finally have them all in convenient holders by my hobby workbench.

Sunday, it finally stopped raining and the temperature was in the fifties! YAY! Since the humidity was still above 50%, I did some solo work with Yukon, Samantha and Freya on the bike. Yukon was rearing to go, and took off like a shot! He is so amazingly fast and strong! We went about 1.5 miles before he spotted a whitetail crossing the road! I was so proud of him for passing the spot with the "Leave it!" command! He was so happy to go that far down the mountain road that though he wanted to chase the deer, he was more than happy to keep running. He did exceptionally well with commands this trip. I suppose the cooler weather has put him more in running mode. We went about three miles total.

Samantha trotted, but she kept the tug taught and pulled, albeit not very hard. She was getting the idea by the end though, that I did indeed want her to pull when she was harnessed to the bike. She is a great dog and will be good in a distance team, but a sprinter, she is not, and probably will never be. Which is good in some respects, as I can rely on her to keep a pace if we ever decide to distance mush. She too, was great with commands, and didn't fail to follow them until almost near the end when she stopped to pee. Ah well. We went about 1.75 miles total.

Freya is an amazing pup! 11 months and she is easily our most eager runner and puller. Not quite as fast or strong as Yukon, but she is a step above in attitude and heart. She too was flawless in her commands, even passing by her favorite turn off when told "Haw" instead of "Gee". This was the first time she did not attempt to go down that road when told otherwise! She was so eager to run, I had to hold her back a bit in the beginning, which made her whine a bit, but near the end of 2.3 miles she was tiring on the last uphill, so I jumped off the bike and ran beside for the last .2 miles and she trotted on home. When we went to put the bike away, she headed for the front door, but a quick "Haw" and she headed for the back gate. What a great pup! She will be an amazing leader!

I worked on "Gee" and "Haw" with all three, but also worked on "Stand" and "Line-out", which have been a bit tough for them. It must be the cold weather, but all three dogs did great, and were semi-tired out enough to group around me the rest of the day. In the afternoon, Freya got her second wind, and was chasing through the yard again after the elusive squirrels.

Jim and I went and picked up the bricks I need to put under the beginnings of our shed, and I put together the back wall and mounted it on the floor platform. It is starting to look like a building!