Thursday, May 27, 2010

May 27th Some Semblance of Disorder

Freya's leg looked much better last night and even better this morning, but I will still be checking it every day until it is completely healed. It was pretty hot when I got home from work and all the dogs were hiding out in the family room in the AC. Freya was still limping a bit, and not her normal boysterous self. With the heat and her injury I thought it best to wait on walking both dogs together. The puppies, however, were not deterred by the temperature, rather they romped through the house like 5 mid-size tornadoes and one big one (Cat).

Princess, my accident prone little prodigy managed to hurt herself again. This time, she was roughhousing on my bed and slipped off the backside, nearly ripping her right rear toenail off... Never a dull moment around our house, nosirreee... So, after figuring out who was tracking blood around my house, I ended up tending to Princess' toe, putting on antiseptic spray, and trying to keep her still long enough to ensure that was the only injury.

Xena still mystifies me. She is one of the bravest of puppies when it comes to excursions and hunting, but anything else terrifies her. She doesn't like harnesses, leashes or collars and yelps bloody murder when you try to put any on her. She's a snuggle bug, though, and loves to cuddle up next to anyone of the three of us people, but hides if there is anyone else around. She is very social with the other puppies and our dogs, but terrified of strange dogs. I still don't know what to make of her, but know she needs a quiet home where she can be the world to an experienced owner. Unfortunately, we haven't yet found the right home for her but we are still hopeful there is one out there where she can shine as much as she does here or more. She's a beauty though, and I really really really wish she wasn't so shy and could be shown. ah well...

Last night, Freya slept in the kennel at the end of my bed, and Cat curled up next to her by the kennel door, almost as if to protect her from Samantha. Cat is such a sweetheart.

Buck I guess has finally learned not to wake me up in the middle of the night. He burst into my room at 3am, jumped on the bed, but instead of frenzied face licking, he sniffed me once, then curled up at my back to wait until I got up. Heh. what a good boy. Ace on the other hand, was much more demanding, and did start in with the frenzied licking... sigh...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

May 26th Mayhem and Madness

Yesterday morning, Freya romped with the pups a little too boysterously, and a pup yelped. Samantha barrelled in and jumped on her, pinning poor Freya to the ground. She bit her hard on the front right leg before I was able to get to them, and Freya retaliated with a slightly less hard chomp to Samantha's front right. I tried to grab them, but they were wayy too serious this time to pay attention to me. So, I grabbed the lead on Samantha (we've kept her on a lead to keep her from digging out) and yanked her off as I simultaneously grabbed the sprayer and hosed her and Freya down. This immediately cooled their ire and I was able to examine both dogs.

Thankfully the injuries were not serious, but did break skin, so had to put on antiseptic spray and a bandage for Freya who was sore and limping. Samantha's was superficial. With the girl pups close to being in full heat, Samantha is becoming too cranky to trust. Poor Freya's leg was swollen and she only put light weight on it. Looks like the bite bruised a good part of the muscle with two puncture wounds that we will be keeping an eye on. I let our vet know yesterday what happened so she will be aware if we have to bring in Freya. So Jim had to take Samantha with him when he dropped our son off at school so they could be kept apart without fear of Samantha getting out to where Freya would be. (She's a bit of houdini in dogflesh)

When I got home I kept a close eye on both girls and did some anti-aggression conditioning even though there is normally no animosity between them. Samantha has been on edge since the pups began to mature and put out heat pheramones. Freya seems unaffected by them, but is now slightly scared of Samantha who keeps trying to intimidate her. Sigh... each ruff up has to be dealt with immediately, and Samantha is made to either sit or lay down any time she attempts to intimidate Freya.

When it was time to take Princess to classes, I had James separate the girls since Jim had gone to look at buying a used truck to transport the dogs. Princess is finally getting used to traveling, and near the end of the hour long drive, she was snoozing in the passenger seat. When I got to the farm, though, there was no one there even though there was normally a 7pm class ahead of us. The other girl with her puppy showed up too, but no trainer. Guess we weren't notified of the cancel. Meanwhile, Jim's car battery died...So, we were all having a good day...By the time I had gotten home, Freya's bandage was able to be removed and the punctures had scabbed over.

This morning, the swelling had gone down on Freya's wound, and Samantha was much less obnoxious towards her, but at least James does not have classes today and tomorrow. Jim and James will be able to keep an eye on the girls to make sure there are no more altercations and to check on Freya's leg. I've asked Jim to put Iodine on the wounds to ensure there is no infection, and put antiseptic spray for dogs on it to seal it. I've also given him instructions regarding Samantha's behavior, what to watch for and immediately correct and how. I'll check them both when I get home and do some more anti-aggression conditioning to be on the safe side. If Freya is up to it, I'll take them for a walk in the woods for some positive reinforcement.

Just shows you how no matter how much best of friends two dogs can seem, sometimes their worst behaviors can be set off. Much like siblings, it is easy for rivalry, jealousy, and possession to set in and far more on a primal level than sibling rivalry. But with lots of patience, love and know-how, the situations can be diffused. We will still be on our heightened guard though until the girl pups are through their first heat, continually reassessing the situation.

Meanwhile Jim called me today to tell me he witnessed an interesting and funny event. The puppies were apparently playing a game like tag, each taking turn to tag another pup when old G'kar decided to mosey on down to see what the puppies were up to. Princess who was "it" decided he needed to play the game too, and ran up to him, and tagged him on the butt with both paws. G'kar was NOT amused.

Monday, May 24, 2010

May 24th Cat Burgler is a Natural!

Took the team out early sunday morning while it was still 52 degrees. In lead were Yukon and Demon, and I had two of the pups, Cat and Moon. Cat wow'd me! He's a natural! This big boy has great work ethic and natural speed, and at 5 months, he's as big and almost as fast as Yukon. He is one amazing pup! He definitely needs a mushing home, and I might just end up keeping him. So what if he is too large to show? He's an awesome runner, and will more than likely make my dryland team. He's incredibly smart, loving and playfully silly. He also has incredible good looks. This boy is ideal for racing, so I've made the decision to keep him intact to pass on his awesome running genes.

Moon, did ok, but she kept turning to look at me and trying to come back to me for reassurance. I kept the pace slow enough for her to keep up, and once she figured out that I praised her when she looked forward, she stopped looking back. By the end of the ~1 mile run, she had the idea to keep up with her running partner Cat, though she was still unsure about keeping her tug tight. For her first time out, she did ok.

Demon, though, was too used to being in wheel and following instead of leading. He was unsure and hesitated a few times which in a way was ok to keep the pace slow enough for Moon and not overwhelm her. He did try to go off-road once, but got back on quickly enough not to cause too much of a tangle.

Yukon did great. He kept the team moving, and for the most part kept his brother forward oriented. He did great with his commands and not once tried to chase anything until Demon dragged him off the road. He pulled against Demon, but his brother is heavier and had the advantage. He was quick to help me get Demon back on the road though, and did really well up the final hill.

All four got their frozen meat patty snack, and lounged around in the AC as the temps began to climb. I started mowing the lawn, but the heat finally drove me back inside. When I cooled off, Ace and I did some clicker training. She too is a very smart girl! It only took fifteen minutes for her to master sit, down, and stay! Plus, she learned the clicker sound is the signal she is doing great and going to get a reward. Positive reinforcement training works so great with huskies!

Moon, Cat and Ace stuck to me like glue the rest of the day, flustering Princess who normally is at my side.

A note on why we call him Cat Burgler. He has this funny quirk that he never wants to chew on the toys we give him. He will always try to steal someone else's first. He won't chew their toys either, but will set them aside, then go try to steal another toy. He will do this four or five times before he will finally settle down and chew on his original toy. He also has a funny sense of humor. He has an exceptionally long tail, consequently my husband sometimes call him "monkey butt", and Cat loves that name! He'll smile broadly and romp around for three or four minutes whenever he hears it. Silly silly boy!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May 19th Princess' Night Out

Last night, Princess, Moon, James and I packed up in the truck and drove down south of Versailles for our first Conformation class. She was a good girl, and was happy and polite to all the people and dogs in class.

Our first lesson was to teach a command that means we are going to give them a treat. That command was "Back". So we would say "Back" and give the pups a treat.

The next stage was to get the pup to stand arms-length in front of us before treating, but using the command "Back" to let them know they are about to get a treat. So we were to put a foot out in front of us, have the treat in hand, say "Back", and hold the dog away from us for a couple seconds before giving the treat. Princess grasped this concept VERY well and quickly. It only took her two times to realize just what I was asking her to do. We practiced this for a few minutes before going on to the next phase.

The next step was to get our pups to line up with us if we moved. (This was so that they restack facing you no matter where the judge has moved, so you can present a profile to the judge). We held a treat in the thumb and forefinger of both hands, took a huge step right or left and said Back. Again, Princess picked this up fast, and she had it on the first try! What a smart little girl!

Our last stage of the evening was learning to walk/run around the ring while showing the dog. She had us placing arms correctly and running around without the dog, then with, and finally correcting how we ran (by springing forward and lengthening strides). We were given these things to practice all this week.

Overall, Princess had a great time and so did I. I love that little girl! Moon then got to meet the instructor who confirmed my prognosis of her being unfit for show. Ah well, Jim still loves her a lot, and she will be joining the sled team, so she still has a racing career ahead of her. Moon was a bit less mannered than Princess, though and was bent on dominating all other dogs she saw, so we had to keep her quite separate from the other dogs. We will need to work on that with her.

At least she didn't have much opportunity to teach bad manners to Princess, as we removed her from the picture as quickly as possible.

After the long drive home, all four of us were tired. I drank a dark to relax, watched the rest of the new "Deadliest Catch" with Jim, then went to bed. Princess opted to accompany me, and hopped up on the bed, curled up by my feet and went to sleep.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May 18th Chicken Wire Smicken Wire.

After spending countless hours laying down chicken wire and sewing it in to the fence, placing heavy bricks and rocks on it, Samantha still managed to take the puppies for another outing... She tore a huge hole in the middle of the chicken wire as if it were nothing but wax paper, and moved the rocks and bricks as if she was born with hands to reveal the hole she dug previously which prompted us to put down the fencing. She made it just a bit bigger and took off with all 6 puppies. ARGH!

You're grounded missy!

She's no longer allowed to run free in the yard, and has to be hooked up to the lead on the 50' run. It took my poor frantic hubby nearly 5 hours to recover all the pups and finally Samantha herself. Thankfully none of them were shot, but it is a constant worry here since we are in the middle of several farms with a variety of livestock. Each time a dog escapes it is heart-stopping and the search is frantic. Someday I hope to move somewhere there are no neighboring farms with livestock.

Monday, May 17, 2010

May 17th Cat's First Time in Harness

Saturday it was 52 degrees out so I thought it might be a good time to introduce Cat to the harness. He was very patient and still as I put on his harness, but after I put the harness on Freya he started to catch on that something exciting was about to happen. Freya started whining and jumping, almost howling to get out and get hooked up. Cat began to get worked up as I put a collar on him and took him out on a leash. Jim followed me with Freya, and held both as I got the second tug line on the bike and the neckline from the shed. Freya whined and howled as I hooked up her tug, and Cat began to whine too, but he was so excited, he kept spinning in circles, tangling both himself and Freya. It took a couple of minutes for him to realize he was holding up the show as we untangled him for the second time. He kept facing forward just long enough for me to hop on and give Freya the "Let's Go!" command and off she leapt, nearly pulling the bike out from under me! Overjoyed, Cat realized we were headed off at a dead run and he was more than happy to stretch his long legs!

I had to lean on the brakes to keep Freya slow enough for Cat to get used to running, which didn't make her very happy at first. She soon realized, though that she was training her son to pull, and she slowed down on her own and kept to his pace. What an amazing dog she is! We went about 1.75 miles total, and on the last .2 miles Cat began to tire somewhat, so we took it easy up the hill, and I pedaled most of the way. Cat is a natural runner, the narrower chest, long legs and long body, and he loved every minute of it, especially the frozen meat patty reward. No sore feet, but he was sleepy most of the rest of the day. Sunday he kept whining at the front door to go running again, even though it was rainy all day. He'd make a great sled dog, but that would be one too many. :( Ah well, I think if I train him up and take him to a couple races in the fall, he'll find a great mushing home.

Also Saturday, I ended up taking in little Buck as his stitches had worked their way to the surface and caused an infection. The vet snipped the offending stitches and gave him a course of anti-biotics, and I took him home. He was feeling a little punky all day Saturday and Sunday, but was perking up Sunday evening. Last night, he woke me up at 12:35am to show me the baby squirrel he caught... um, thanks Buck.

Friday, May 14, 2010

May 14th Party Time!

I don't mind that the puppies and dogs want to party at 4am. But they decide I'm the one they want to party with! So, Buck jumps up on the bed and starts licking my face while Ace and Moon jump up and start wrestling... on my head...
Samantha jumps off the bed in disgust, and goes outside to do her business. This is an open invitation for Cat, Princess and Xena to join the party on the bed! Being trampled, pinned, given a tongue bath, and having my hair combed by puppy teeth, I decided that I would take the hint and get up. So, I turn on the light, shove some puppies off my bed so I can get up, and get dressed. Groggily I go in to the bathroom, then go eat my breakfast. When I get back in to my room, my bed is full of sleeping dogs! Clever little buggers rousted me out so they could sleep in comfort!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

May 13th Princess Evaluation Day

Tuesday I took Princess down to Versailles for a class and evaluation. Unfortunately, I guess my signals were crossed with the trainer, and she thought I wasn't going to make it, so we ended up just watching, but even watching I learned a lot. The trainer was a wonderful lady, and even though she wasn't feeling well, she still gave me a quick evaluation of Princess. My pretty girl may be marked down for such a narrow face, and she might grow too tall, but the trainer thought it was worth the effort to train her up and see what happens. So overall her prospects were pretty good. Next week she will begin show training in earnest! I told her about Moon, and she told me to bring her by and she'd look at her too.

Meanwhile I was given the following homework: 1) Take Princess everywhere I can to get her more and more socialized. This will be a little difficult as I don't tend to go very many places other than work, but I will try to get her down to the park maybe this weekend, or out to the tractor supply. 2) Get her to leave her paws where they are placed in preparation to learn to 'stack' properly and stay in position. This will be much easier for me to work with, and I've let Jim know to try it with Moon.

Yesterday, the pups and Samantha found a section of fence I had not yet put down chickenwire on, and they decided to dig out and go for a hike. Fortunately they went across the creek to the vacant land, and didn't go near the neighbor's chicken yard. Freya and the boys stayed in the fence. I love those dogs! Princess, Ace and Buck stayed relatively close to the house, and came back rather quickly. Cat took a bit more time, but came back on his own. Samantha and Xena took a bloody holiday, and I had to come home from work to find them. Xena came to me when I called, and I picked her up and carried her 45lb bear-cub butt back to the dog yard. Did I mention she was heavy? Samantha came to me but ran off before I could get a hold of her.

Once I got Xena back in the yard, I went looking for Samantha again. I tried every trick in the book, laying down, jogging away, but nothing seemed to interest her more than exploring down the road. She was much faster than I, so I turned back to the house and asked Jim to get his car. He brought the treat jar with some chew bones in it, and we drove down the road slowly in the direction we had last seen her, calling her name and shaking the jar. Eventually the sound of the treat jar was too much for her and she came running after the car. We were able to pick her up and take her home.

So, last night I was laying down more chicken wire. A kennel owner's work is never done.

Monday, May 10, 2010

May 10th Back to Work?

With the hubby out of town, a hike was just not feasible, so I took Yukon for a 2.5 mi bikejor which he enjoyed, but it was obvious our training is slacking off. He went for a couple of squirrels, a chipmunk and even thought about chasing some cows that were at the fence. I really need to move someplace with no people. If he gets loose, I have to worry about him getting shot. Fortunately he is perfectly happy to stay in our yard when left to his own devices. He still amazes me with his speed and power.
Still testing out this new bike before adding a second dog to the madness. So far, so good. The disc brakes are far superior than the rusting v-brake on the old bike for sure. The shocks are taking a bit of getting used to, and the nobby tires always make me worry. The gearing is awesome, and allows me to swiftly change gears to match Yukon's speed. Overall a great chance to evaluate our purchase.
Princess has been doing better, and has been pretty good about not getting in too rough and tumble. She's a smart one, and looks to be recovering nicely.
Afterwards, I was able to get a good start on re-landscaping the front garden. I got the Azaleas in, and a couple of the ground cover plants, the landscape paper laid down and the gravel formed in. Got about six feet done and ran out of gravel! It is going to take me literally a ton of gravel to do the whole thing! Ah well, no one said I had to have it all done tomorrow. With that project on hold, I turned my eye to the house, and picked up all the cardboard the puppies spread around the house, then vacuumed the livingroom and helped my son steamvac.
Was going to do the diningroom, but ran low on daylight. Rather than work on it Sunday, I did laundry, and went out to eat with James.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

May 5th My Sweet Princess

Poor little girl sprained her shoulder Monday. We don't know exactly what happened, but heard her cries of pain out on the porch. I rushed out to see her cringing under a shelf yelping in agony. Poor Freya rushed outside to see if Princess was ok, but Samantha thought that Freya had hurt her puppy and jumped her as soon as she got through the door. She pinned Freya and bit Freya's ear which Freya took great exception to, and the fight was on. This did not help out poor little Princess' distress, and hindered my helping her as I had to stop and grab each of them by the collar until they calmed enough to realize how stupid they were being. I'm so glad these two don't really hate each other, but like sisters they quarrel on occasion. Usually its just a growling, barking argument, however, this was a serious quarrel and might have turned into something worse had I not been there to intervene. Freya has long picked on Samantha's pups, pinning them until they cry. I can't blame her much, Demon played with her much the same way and I had to chastise him a few times for being too rough with her when Freya was young. So Freya thinks that is the way to play with puppies. Samantha, though, has been itching to beat that notion out of Freya for some time. This seemed to her like the perfect opportunity to do so.

Once I separated the two, I took Freya inside and handed her to Jim as he came to the door, and went back out to see to Princess. She was still screaming bloody murder and not putting any weight on her front right leg. Having dealt with injuries before and having human first aid and cpr certs, I examined her carefully, but every time I touched her right paw she howled. There was a tiny bit of swelling around the lower wrist, but not enough to indicate a broken bone or sprain. But her distress continued even twenty minutes after administering a K-9 Asprin (acetecyllic acid 300mg). I put a splint on her leg (a rolled up thick magazine), and we took her down to the emergency clinic in Lexington since it was after hours for our local vet. Biggest mistake ever.

We waited until close to 1am before she was seen, which I can understand with other emergencies, what I don't understand is how an emergency vet can mistake a growth plate for a fracture and tell me that Siberian Huskies have a hereditary problem with their elbows (totally false) and that my little girl needed surgery. We decided to talk to our vet first thing when she opened in the morning (mostly because at that point I didn't believe a word of what was said). Unfortunately, though our vet was busy most of the day, but was able to take about 10 minutes out to take a look at the file we brought with us, the x-rays, and examine Princess.

To our relief, she confirmed my suspicions that Princess was a... well ... wimp, er... Princess, and merely had a sprained shoulder (a far cry from the broken elbow scenario) and did not have a problem with her elbow, nor had she ever heard that Siberians had this tendancy (nor several of the other breeders I've spoken to over the 20 years I've owned huskies...). I'm still deciding if I should lodge a complaint with the KYBVE (Kentucky Board of Veterinary Examiners) regarding that emergency clinic. It was an expensive lesson, but I'm very glad I learned not to go there before we had a life-threatening emergency... Hopefully there won't be a next time, but if there is, I will be going to the clinic in Cincinnatti.

Of course all this excitement took its toll on me. My husband and my son had both had a cold which I had managed to avoid until my resistance was pwned by this all-nighter. Needless to say this nasty virus attacked me. All those years of self defense did not help. So I found myself going more hoarse as the day wore on. Bleh to being ill. Fortunately it seems to be milder for me than it was for my husband, poor guy, or was he being a er... Princess?

Ah well the life and times of owning, mushing and breeding huskies. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Monday, May 3, 2010

May 3rd The Weekend Gone Awry

So, as this picture indicates, it was a bit of a 'wash' for the weekend. It started raining Saturday at 5am and continued until afternoon Sunday. I don't mean a panzy little dribble of a rain, I'm talking Noah should have been building his ark in my sideyard sort of rain. So no hikes, no bikejor, but I did give Princess her bath and grooming... It lasted maybe one hour?

She did not like standing in the tub for about 30 minutes while I shampooed, rinsed and shampooed, dabbed her face, rubbed her paws, deep rinse and rinse again, but she got to eat a few treats while under duress, so she endured the abuse. One thing she thought was awesome was the rub-down. Oh but she loves towels! She got all excited, spun around and around trying to catch my hands in the towel, trying to chew the towel, trying to play peek a boo with the towel. It was a great game for her! For me... well one wiggly wet puppy managed to get me thoroughly soaked from head to toe. At least after her shampoo I smelled like oat enriched puppy shampoo rather than wet dog.

Then was the grooming, the time spent meticulously brushing, de-shedding, brushing, petting, de-shedding, and brushing ensured she was a beautiful pristine white and gray with black guard hairs, and soft heartmelting brown eyes. She was gorgeous and she knew it! She pranced around the house, making sure every puppy and adult dog sniffed noses with her. Unfortunately it was wet out, and wet means mud in these parts. You can see Moondancer modeling her latest fashion in mud facials, only she thought if it worked on her face, why not the whole body?

Xena too thought it was a great idea. Ah well, back to bathing Princess again once I got her away from the influence of those two.

Meanwhile the waters continued to rise, and alarmed I ended up confining the dogs to the back porch and those we washed, to the house. I stood vigil all day Saturday on the fence and more than half the day Sunday until the waters began to recede. It was a close call, but even my orchard I planted last month survived intact. I'm glad we decided to put the fence up the burm instead of down along the river bank as we originally had planned. Hopefully the crud in the runoff won't kill my trees after-the-fact, but they lived being submerged under 5+ feet of water for more than 24 hours, quite respectable.