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...