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!

Friday, September 25, 2009

September 25th Chaos Takes a Holiday.

Ah, so nice to come home and relax for a change! Freya seems to finally have lost her chaos effect on the household. The boys were able to socialize with us and not be so amped up over pheramones to pay attention only to Freya. We were able to let them all be in the same room after ensuring that the boys were not fixated on her. Whew! What a wild month it has been! Thank goodness things are starting to go back to normal!

As I had hoped, though, some things have changed. G'kar and Samantha now get along well! Yep, the two who couldn't stand each other, now actually play together! Imagine that! G'kar still has his selfish moments, but there's no more posturing and growling at each other for no other reason than G'kar's possession of the food dish.

Even old Valkrys has gotten in the happy spirit and was trying to play with Yukon. Yukon danced around her, but was afraid of hurting the old girl even though she did the whole puppy dance (for an 18 year old dog to do this was quite astounding) in front of him. Ah... home sweet home again. Maybe I'll actually get some sleep this weekend? The rain hasn't let up since last Sunday, so there's not much else to be done. Tommorrow has forecasted more rain. I keep wondering when Noah is going to show up in the news building his arc.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

September 24th Demon the Minuteman.

Fair warning, there is a disturbing yet funny story that happened last night that may not be for young eyes.

Last night when I got home, it seemed that Freya was finally coming out of her teenage hormone phase. So to test this theory, I had her up on the couch with me, and the boys were allowed to come near. Demon immediately jumped up on the couch (we bought several moving blankets to help keep furniture from being scratched during our move last year, and have used those blankets on the couch to keep it from getting messed up.) and immediately tried to wiggle his way behind me inbetween Freya and I. I thought it was funny until Demon did this funny butt wiggle-drag, and next thing I know he's ejaculated on the blanket behind me.... ew! It all happened so fast. Needless to say, we put the boys outside. I put the blanket in the laundry and Jim put a clean blanket on the couch.

So, it will be a few more days before we allow them to interact again. Next Friday, Demon gets neutered then he can be with Freya all he wants.

Last night, the girls slept in my room, and the boys slept in Jim's room. Surprisingly enough, they boys slept peacefully through the night. Me, I slept until G'kar came whining at my door. After letting him in, we managed to sleep until the boys got Jim up at 4am, which of course, woke the girls up. When the boys were back inside and in Jim's room, I let the girls and G'kar out and tried to get some more sleep, but 5am comes very quickly.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

September 23rd Sleepless in Kentucky

Last night when I got home, I fixed up the boys' dinner and spent some time with them on the back porch. I love my boys, but they are wayyy fixated on Freya. But since it was raining I felt sorry for them not wanting to sleep in their dry doghouse or under the dry porch, so I washed them one by one and decided how to segregate them and the girls. Freya is another fussy puppy (G'kar is fussy puppy #1), and will only sleep in certain places and with certain other dogs.

I hoped she would be ok sleeping in Jim's room with Samantha, while I kept the boys in my room. Demon still is shy of Jim or James, and feels much more comfortable with me, so I had hoped all of us would be able to get some sleep. The dogs had other plans.

(A little explanation is in order at this point. Jim and I sleep in separate rooms mostly because I am a very light sleeper and any movement or noise wakes me up. 15 years never accustomed me enough to sleep through the presence and movement of another person, so we finally gave up on that notion after seeing me grumpy for 15 years of mornings. The last 6 years have been much more restful.)

Samantha was happy with this arrangement, as she got to sleep on Jim's cooshy pillow-top, while Freya was unhappy that she was not in my room or with her boys. She whined and kept Jim up, which in turn kept Demon up, who in turn decided that whining was bad and that mom could fix it. He kept jumping up on my bed and licking my face. At 2:00am G'kar decided he wanted in my room with the boys, so whined until he got let in. So much for my brilliant plan.

At 4:30, I decided enough was enough, got up, fed the boys, put them out and Jim came out to grouch at me. Okay, it was my plan, so I admitted my failure and he let the girls out of his room. Half an hour earlier, he had let them outside, so they weren't interested in going out, but made a bee-line for my room where Samantha jumped up on my bed, Freya curled up on the floor by my bed and both girls promptly went to sleep.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

September 22nd Hullabaloo!

So, I get up at 5am, let Samantha, G'kar and Valkrys out the back with the boys, get the leash and my socks and shoes and take Freya for a walk out front. I get maybe 200 feet from the front door when all hell breaks loose on the porch out back!

By the sound you would think the porch spontaneously exploded in a ball of flame and the dogs were being burned alive! Howls, yelping, shrill barks, the whole nine yards! I sprint to the back gate, my heart pounding a mile a minute to find all five dogs at the edge of the porch wagging their tails! WTF!? They did this on purpose! I know it! I just lost ten years of my life! I still have no idea what the fuss was about, but apparently no one was really injured unless poor Demon bumped his sore nose, but they all thought they'd cry like the dickens to scare mom to death! ALL of them....

So, seeing their smiling faces (I'm sure they were laughing at me, I just know it!), I continued my walk with Freya until she was happy and relieved.

Still suspicious I had missed some sort of catastrophic event, I checked each of the dogs carefully to see if there was a problem. The only thing I found was a dirty smudge on the top of G'kar's normally pristine white paw. All I could come up with was that he had caught his paw on something momentarily and panicked. G'kar is prone to panic, he's just that sort of dog, and all the other dogs heard him yelping and wanted to tell mom that G'kar was hurt, although he wasn't really... The only thing I could find that he might have possibly caught his paw in was the dog door with the cover snugged on it to keep the muddy paws from running in to the house. I'm not sure how he could have caught his paw in there, but that is the only explanation I could find.

One thing that did worry me is that it looked like Demon and Yukon haven't eaten much since the puppy incident and had lost a bit of the fatty muscle between their hips, enough that I could feel the backbone quite clearly. I went inside and mixed up a bowl of food with water and half a can of ground turkey dogfood for Demon since his nose was probably hurting enough to keep him from eating dry dogfood plain, and to be fair, I mixed the other half of the turkey dogfood with dry kibble for Yukon, and supervised their meal. Demon ate all of his, but Yukon ate only 3/4ths of his. Demon was more than happy to polish off the rest of Yukon's food, and I was happy to see him eat so well. I'll be fixing another bowl for them tonight when I get home.

Monday, September 21, 2009

September 21st Teenage Hormones!

Saturday was lovely, so I hooked up the team and took a wild ride down the forest trail! In lead was Freya and Yukon, with Samantha and Demon in wheel. It was our best run yet! Freya made an awesome lead with Yukon! She took direction well, and didn't let the team stop for distractions. She kept them running the whole way! Need to work on "come around" commands with her, but other than that, she was spectacular!

Unfortunately, I think the success and praise went to her head! Freya has been out of heat for almost a week, but after the Saturday run she teased the boys mercilessly and goaded them in to a mating frenzy so badly Yukon and Demon, who are normally very loving towards each other as brothers, fought over her. We managed to catch them before it became too serious, but not before Demon had a cut on his lip, and a watery eye. We had to separate them from each other for a while and take Freya out of the picture. Poor Samantha was beside herself, trying to stop the boys from fighting. When Freya tried to interfere, though, Samantha was wise and pinned Freya to the ground and wouldn't let her get near the boys. What a great pack mom!

A bucket of cold water stopped the boys in their tracks, and I was able to put Demon in the pen, and take Yukon inside.

I brought each of the boys in for a thorough examination and found only bruises on Yukon despite the blood that was on him. It was all on his surface fur, so I cleaned him up and let him out. Demon loves his brother, I guess, and wouldn't really want to hurt him, but Yukon on the other hand was not so kind to Demon. What an odd dichotomy as Yukon is normally the gentler of the two! I guess it is the quiet ones you have to watch out for!

Demon had a cut on his lip that looked like a tooth impact, but did not puncture all the way through, however, his nose was swollen on that side and his eye watery (thankfully not an eye injury!). He had more bruises around his front shoulders and a very slight nick on his chest. His lip was bleeding profusely, so I cleaned him up with warm water, put bactine and neosporin on the wound. Demon was not happy about being held still for so long and away from Freya his playmate, but he suffered through it.

With the boys seen to, I kept Freya in my room with Samantha and G'kar for a while, and Jim kept Demon with him and Yukon outside until they all calmed down. I guess running lead with Freya has given Yukon the idea that she is his and no one else's. When I let them socialize under my careful supervision, Yukon stood over Freya the whole time, blocking her from Demon who growled at Yukon. Sigh...

The good news is, removing Freya from the picture, and the boys were their amiable selves again, licking eachother's faces in appology, or some doggy equivalent.

In all of that, I managed to get about half of our three acres of grass mowed, and picked up the wood I needed to finish the floor and three walls of the shed. But, when we got back, the sun was dipping low behind the mountains, so I went in and socialized with the boys while Jim and James took the girls for a walk.

Sunday it rained all day, and we had to keep the boys outside. They have dry places to go, doghouses, under the porch, but preferred to run in and out of the rain, getting the porch all slick with mud and wet. Poor boys, but having them in the same place with Freya was out of the question. Ensuring their water was fresh and their foodbowl full, I did some work on the block of wood that will become my new leather tool holder while watching some movies. Every once in a while, though, I went out to be with the boys and check on Demon's lip. It was still swollen, but didn't seem to be bothering him. I cleaned it again, put more bactine on it then some more neosporin.

This morning I checked on Demon's lip before going to work. The swelling had gone down a lot, and he seemed a bit more like his goofy self. But Freya's hormones still have them whipped into a frenzy, and I could not let them be with her or come in the house. Jim spoke to the vet this morning and they will be able to take Demon to be neutered October 2nd, and they can use the new laser surgery technique. It will cost an extra $70 for the laser surgery, but is better for him, so I told them to go ahead and schedule laser surgery. He also talked to her about Freya's behavior and the vet said that this can sometimes happen and will put her back in to heat if she mates.... joy... Never had this happen before with my previous dogs, and Samantha doesn't seem to have this issue, but thought that might be the case.

So, Freya will just have to be without her playmates for at least another week. Guess that means more exercise for James and I to keep her occupied.

Friday, September 18, 2009

September 18

Freya was chillin' on the couch with me while Jim was folding laundry, and he happened to throw down a washrag by Freya. Thinking it was an opportunity for a new chew toy, she immediately grabbed the rag and dropped it between her paws with delight. Seeing his error Jim told her "No Freya!" Freya blinked, whined, and put her chin on the rag. As soon as he looked the other way, though, she put both paws on the rag, and gripped it with her teeth. "No Freya!" With a pouty huff, she put her head on the rag, then sighed deeply, keeping the rag firmly beneath her paws, but not chewing on it, and she began to complain to Jim in her soft low howl. "woooo.... woooo... a... wooo!"

It was sooo funny, we all laughed so hard, and could pretty much imagine her saying "Hey, you threw it down in front of me! It should be mine!"

James and I took the 4-pack and the Red Menace for a hike down to the forest trail and back. We took a garbage bag and picked up half a tall kitchen bag full of trash. Humans sure are messy critters.... But, I learned a couple of valuable lessons. #1, it is impossible to hold the trash bag still with 3 huskies pulling on the lead (James had the other 2). #2 It is impossible to get a good focused camera shot with same 3 huskies pulling on the lead. So, I'll have to take some pics of the forest trail when I have only one or two dogs with me.

Took Samantha and Freya down to the forest trail, but decided not to go down it because I found fresh tracks of a truck and did not want to disturb the hunt. Instead we went around the bend and down to the junction where the mini-railroad people live.

Here are some photos of around where we live:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

September 16th

This morning I heard at least two coyote packs howling in the darkness as I watched the pups romp in the morning dew. I guess they are spreading everywhere these days. This got me to thinking about the cottonmouth I killed in my yard the other day. By all rights, they should not be this far north, but has warming climates expanded their range? If it was the first water moccasin I had seen, I could write it off as an anomally, but this was the second one. One is coincidence, two is a trend. At any rate, I'm now very wary when I walk along the creek with my pups.

There are all kinds of plans running through my head, how I'm going to segregate the yard, how much more land I have to fence in, how I want to build a track to run the dogs. There is a never-ending list of things I want to do. Overall, I have been wondering what my goals should be. Training these four to run and pull as a team is my immediate goal, but what are my long term goals? I still haven't worked that part out yet, but maybe time will tell me.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

September 15th

Managed to get in a bike run with Samantha Saturday before having to go in to work. I put the old cart harness on her, and though she pulled a little more than with the x-back, she still did not seem too enthusiastic. Since she may be in the early stages of pregnancy, I really didn't want to push her, but do want to keep her in shape enough that she doesn't have problems. In two more weeks, she will get her first pre-natal checkup to be sure she is doing fine.

Sunday I had a nasty headache most of the day, and spent some time resting and sleeping, getting nothing done that I wanted to over the weekend... ah well...

Once the evening temps die back down below 70, I'll get in a lot more training with them.

I had thought I could get in a run in the mornings before having to leave, but there just isn't enough light to run before I have to get ready for work. Been seriously thinking about creating a path to run on my land that will allow me to exercise the dogs a lot more without the danger of traffic. A couple of laps and cross-overs will give me enough to help train commands as well as exercise. It will be a bit tough as the majority of my land is on the side of a mountain, and none too level, which is one reason why that side of my property is wooded. It would make a very pretty run though, so it would be worth the effort. It will be a huge undertaking though, and I'll definitely have to fence out the neighbors and the nasty tempered dogs. So the investment will be huge and take some time to accomplish. Need to check on the zoning laws to see how close to the road I can take the fence (step 1).

Still need to finish the 8x8 shed for the lawn equipment, bike and cart. So much to do, so little time.

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11th

Training has pretty much been confined to walks with commands with both girls in heat. The boys obviously have other things than running on their minds, so I've been having to walk the girls separate from the boys. Samantha is in the last couple days of her heat, and Freya is in standing heat now, and has boys on her mind. Sometimes having only four pulling dogs has serious disadvantages.

Freya has picked up Gee and Haw so well, that I'll probably put her in lead next run with Yukon, and have Samantha and Demon at wheel. We'll see how that goes. Mornings have been pretty cool, but too dark to run, and evenings have been too warm and humid this past week. Hopefully I will have some time Saturday to run the whole team in the morning.

I think it would be really cool to make the fun run in NC in December, but seriously wondering if I will have the time. Damascus looks like a better bet, but it all depends on my work and whether or not Samantha's mating took. Will be testing her in the next few days to find out.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

September 9th

Chaos has reigned in the house for the last few days. Not only was Freya in false heat, but after the mating, Samantha went in to full pre-heat, then estrus heat. Well, guess we are having puppies. To top it off, this morning Freya went in to full pre-heat. Sigh...

Both Jim and James have been schooled on keeping Freya completely apart from the boys, no exceptions. She is still far too young!

She is a sweety though, and starting to settle in to a real cuddle bug like her father. She constantly wants my attention, now that she has been separated from Demon, her playmate. So I spend time petting her, reassuring her, and playing with her when I'm home. She loves the playtime most of all, and she's such a silly, loveable, energetic little girl!

I took both girls for a walk this morning, something three months ago would have been impossible. Freya had the long 25 foot lead and Samantha had the six foot lead. Happy little Freya kept jumping and dancing in front of Samantha who simply wagged her tail and watched the antics of the pup. They have come so far! Three months ago, Samantha would have lashed out at Freya, but now she sometimes even plays back.

One good thing about this episode is that now Samantha is also viewing G'kar as a potential mate and vice versa. Even though he's fixed, he and she have started to get along a lot better, even to the point of playing ever so slightly. Five months ago, they couldn't be in the same room. So amidst the chaos, there is an eddy of peacefulness moving in.

Freya has become a rising star for our team. She has incredibly mastered "Gee and Haw" at ten months, and puts Yukon and Samantha to shame in pulling and listening to directions. Saturday I took her out with the bike, along the forest trail up to the gate (we got permission to run the dogs on the trail from the owner last weekend) and back. She was so happy to be allowed to run that trail! It was all I could do to keep her at a reasonable speed to keep from bending rims on the bumpy gravel.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

September 3rd

So much happening the last few days, haven't had much time to update. Freya has gone in to heat and has the whole house in turmoil. Poor puppy. Affected by the puppy pheramones, Samantha thinks she is in heat as well, enough to tease Demon into mounting. Sigh. Jim was home, had all the dogs outside, and heard her yelping, and was able to calm her down so that they didn't get hurt. Freya thankfully has been kept separate from the boys, but since Samantha is due for her heat in a few weeks, we have marked the calendar in case the mating survived.

Poor girl... and I have to work late and can't be home... I guess a bit more education of what heat can do to a community of dogs is in order, as I'm pretty sure Jim didn't think Samantha would mate. Poor Jim. I think this is the first time he has been so close to a dog who has mated. Samantha was a bit distraught afterwords, and this made Jim a bit distraught.

Hopefully I can help settle the household a bit when I get home... No rest for the weary.