Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend

Thursday was cold and rainy, so we stayed indoors and tried to keep the mud from being tracked through the house. We ate at the buffet instead of fixing an elaborate dinner at home. Less cleanup and more variety, win-win in my book.

The pups all got a hot dog treat when we got back, and lots of loving.

Saturday we had a dusting of snow! It was great to see water flowing in the creek again! So, I dragged out the gangline for the ATV and bootied up Bandit's back feet, he wasn't too happy about it at first, but he was so eager to run he ignored the booties. Bucky was his usual screaming whining, neckline biting and yanking self. I really need to get him a chain neck line to break him of that, especially since he yanked so hard, he pulled Yukon's collar off! Good thing he was still hooked up via his harness and was more interested in pulling than running off.

The ATV hadn't been started in 3 weeks, so it did not fire up on the downhill. This slowed the team enough to have trouble getting up the next incline, so I had to jump off and push until they got going with enough momentum. At the next slight downhill I tried again, and it fit started and coughed, and I finally nursed the engine to life alternating between choke and gassing it. We went to the ~1mile mark, and turned around since the dogs had been pulling hard the majority of the way. It was good strength training for them, I suppose. That ATV never truly come fully out of gear when you pull in the clutch all the way. The way the rigged the cable prevents it. I stalled on the turn around, but was easily able to re-start on the downhill and give an assist on the two remaining inclines.

The running dogs all got their frozen meat patty treat, and passed a full checkup including feet. Bandit still had his booties on, and no damage to his rear claws this time. I think he forgot about them because he gave me this really odd look when I took them off. With happy smiles they found their favorite places to nap for a couple of hours.

Sunday I got Princess and Ace harnessed up and got out with the bike, but Ace was having none of it. We went the .25 miles to the bridge, but she just did not want to pull, so despite Princess' protests, we turned around and went back to the house. I switched out Ace for Xena who seemed eager at first, but once past the bridge she began to pull back. Princess was furious that she had to return to the house again, but I didn't want to force either Xena or Ace. She forgot her irritation and frustration when she got her frozen meat patty though, and forgave me for cutting her run short. One good thing is that Princess did pretty well, ignoring the neighbor dog when I said 'Leave it', executing a good Haw, even though she did get confused when I asked her to turn around and go back to the house. A few more team runs with her and I think she will make a great leader. She sure does love to run!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Trailbreakers' Dryland Challenge

It was a long trip up to Kirtland Ohio, but well worth it! My friend Kathy and I had an absolute blast! We met some awesome folks and thank all those who helped put on this event! I know at least I will be back next year.

I participated in the novice 2-dog bikejor with Bandit and Freya as my pullers. They were frightened of all the people at first, so I sat with them and calmed them down. With a little more confidence we headed in to the chute after the first two drivers. Bandit and Freya took off like a shot, all uncertainty gone in the joy of running. Of course it helped they were running away from the crowd.

The course wound around a scenic park with a pond, then in to the woods on a moderate incline. At the top of the hill there was a switch gate. The man immediately in front of me was there at the top with a large great pyranese, and the first driver was coming back through the gate at the same time. The pyr lunged at the lead team, and though it didn't reach them, there was a bit of a tangle. Freya saw this and was quite reluctant to approach the junction. When the lead team straightened and passed us, she decided to follow them, which I ended up pitching in to the dirt which pushed the pipe I was using to keep the gangline from wrapping around the wheel into the back tire, and I had to try to pull it back enough to keep going. Of course this left me with the rope hanging dangerously close to the tire. This caused me to tangle, and I had to straighten it up before continuing on, and convince Freya to pass the great pyr.

We managed to make it past, and went into a pleasant loop through the woods with a minor downhill and some left over halloween decor that was rather amusing. Back around to the switch gate and Freya seemed a bit flustered that I wanted her to take a right turn out of the woods instead of go around the loop again, but she got it after I pulled her lightly and repeated the Gee command. She ran past the pond, but when she saw the person taking pics she shied again, and the slack rope tangled around the tire again, so I had to stop and straighten it and fix the pipe as best I could and continue on. We reached the bottom of the final hill, and started up it ok, but as soon as Freya saw all the people at the chute, she started pulling back. Bandit pulled her forward though, and I encouraged her to keep going, and we finally made it to the finish line with a time almost four minutes behind the leader. As slow as that was though, that put us in second.

We hung around to watch the rest of the heats, meet more people and just generally enjoy the day. Princess was a little star, loving all the attention and being the perfect Siberian Ambassador. Freya was acting cold, and Bandit too seemed to be uncomfortable in the cool weather, so we put them in the truck after watering and feeding them. We came back every once in a while to walk them, but for the most part they seemed content to curl up on the seats and sleep. I swear Freya thinks she's a tropical husky. One of the only black colored dogs I've ever owned that loves to sunbathe in the heat of summer. After the heats, we packed up and went back to the hotel where I worked on fixing up the pipe on the bike. We ate chinese take out, and drank a couple of beers as we reflected on the events of the day. Both of us tired and happy.

Sunday after we got up, Princess started howling, and didn't stop until she was put in the middle of all the people at the site. Silly little girl! She always has to be in the middle of everything!

Sunday's heat went much smoother, and Freya seemed less afraid of the people, though she was still a bit shy. She was all business though when we got to the start line. As fast as the takeoff Saturday it was nothing like the rocket launch Sunday! Both dogs leapt into the harness, loving the chance to run again! Knowing the track made a huge difference, and we zoomed around the arc, through the gate, and around the loop amazingly fast! Coming back out of the woods, we met the pyr in a head on pass, which was a little hairy since Freya is a left hand dog she tried to stay to the left of the trail where the pyr was, so came a bit too close to the huge dog that lunged at her. This scared her and rattled her confidence. Though she was eager enough to put the pyr behind her, she began to lose faith when she again saw the crowd at the finish line. This time though, Bandit was confident enough to pull her through it, and with encouragement from the crowd and me, she trotted across the finish line almost four minutes faster than Saturday. I praised and hugged her when we got back to the trailer, happy that she was able to overcome her fear. She has come so far from the feral puppy she used to be! The meat patties went down quickly, and after both dogs were watered and rested, Freya again begged to be back in the truck. So I put her in, and sat with Bandit for a while, proud of my handsome strong prodigy!

The weather started to warm up, and disappointingly, this caused the rest of the afternoon heats to be cancelled after the one dog pro bikejor. But it turned out good for us as we were able to attend the final ceremonies and hit the long road home at a reasonable time. All together, it was a fabulous weekend and I had the time of my life! I'm really looking forward to the race in Kentucky next month!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Playing Catch-Up

It's been hectic both at work and at home, training and hunting are pretty much mutually exclusive, but I've been trying to do both. We had the 11th and 12th off, so I got in some bike runs since I will be running the novice class 2 dog bikejore at Kirtland this coming weekend. My two racers will be Freya and Bandit, and I'll probably take Princess as a sub in case one of them is injured or gets worn paws.

Freya and Bandit went out on a 5 miler with me Thursday and man can those dogs pull! It was very difficult for me to get started as they kept pulling the bike out from under me before I could get on it. But finally I was able to get them to stand still long enough to throw my leg over the bar and stand on a pedal. I'm sure I don't need to rave again about how great they are, but I so truly love those two as a team! Only once did Freya get a wild look in her eye as her ears perked and her head came up to sniff the wind. A quick "Leave it" was enough to keep her from chasing whatever it was she detected. We flew past the mile and then the two mile, and almost to the top of the mountain before I asked Freya to turn around. She executed a neat come around, and it was racing down the mountain, back around by the mini-railroad, past the hunting trail and to the house. They only slowed as we approached the driveway. Bandit had run so fast and pulled so hard, he had worn one of his rear nails down to the quick. It had barely had a couple of drops of blood, but I fussed over him as he ate his frozen meat patty.

Friday I took out Yukon and Buck, but Jim got up to help control the dogs long enough for me to get on. I only took them four miles as I did not want to see a repeat of the ground down nails. Buck and Yukon though enthusiastic runners are not real good at "leave it", so we ended up stopping a couple of times due to squirrels and a deer. Even so, our time was incredibly fast, and I'm very proud of my dogs!

Saturday was the first day of modern gun deer season, so I took the morning off to try to get us some venison. However, I was up a little late, and watched the small herd take off before I had even loaded. Didn't see another deer all day. Sunday I was up early enough, but the dogs kept whining, and fidgeting, and the wind kept changing directions. by around 11 it was plenty clear there would be no deer, so I came in gathered up the hubby and went on our weekly grocery excursion.

Princess is a very well behaved show dog, but she can run like the wind, so she is ideal to take as she will sit quietly and calmly on the sidelines as well as be more than capable in the harness. She loves people and attention, and is a perfect ambassador for the Siberian breed. So tonight the packing begins.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Those who follow the blog know I have a 15 year old boy G'kar. He's a cranky old man that pretty much doesn't like other dogs touching him, guards the food bowl, and generally makes a nuisance of himself around the other dogs. But he's a wonderful old companion to me, my shadow and loyal support. The first Siberian I've raised from a pup that I taught to pull (others previous were pets), he and I have been through a lot together, and I love my crotchety old man.

Lately though, he's been showing his age, and arthritis has been hard on his hips. He still likes to play fetch (his favorite game), but not for as long as he used to. It has been hard to watch age catch up to him, but good to know he has been healthy and happy enough to make it this long.

Enter the youthful, large philosopher Yukon. He's now going on his 4th year, is 65 pounds, and a giant among Siberians. He has always been a gentle dog, and a very great disposition, a thinker, but from the moment he met G'kar, he was content to let him be dominant. Yukon tries daily to get G'kar to play with him, though G'kar scorns his efforts most of the time, lately he has actually enjoyed running back and forth through the yard with Yukon. They sleep near each other and have become pals even if G'kar doesn't like admitting to it.

Remember I said G'kar normally doesn't like to have other dogs touching him? This morning I found Yukon with his head gently propped over G'kar's arthritic hips, as if to keep them warm for him so he wouldn't be so stiff. G'kar was smiling, and it seemed pretty obvious Yukon was trying to help him be comfortable. I smiled to think that Yukon too knows that G'kar is nearing his twilight years and needs all the help and love he can get, even so small a thing as to help keep his hips warm on these cold mornings.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Deer xing

Saturday bright and early, I was cooking breakfast, Princess got out, she had not had any discharge for 3 days, and appeared to be out of heat, but I was intending to keep her away from the boys for another 5 days. Well, she found Bandit and teased him into a tie... There was no discharge after the tie, oddly enough, and I'm hoping this mating won't take. Even though her birthday is Thursday, I did not want to breed her for another year and did not really intend for Bandit to be her partner even though he is the perfect sled dog and excellent disposition and enough difference in bloodlines to be ok. I had rather hoped for a show mating, but we shall see.

This accents the need to have two separate yards and not just a do-se-do with the boys and the girls with internal gates. I've been saving up money to buy a rig with, but I'm probably going to end up buying another fence and putting it up myself. This I'm thinking would probably be best to have out front and into the side where the forest is for plenty of shade and running room. It will also help to keep the boys and girls separated during heats, and allow for elbow room between Samantha, Freya and G'kar.

After breakfast digested some, I took Princess and Freya out for a five mile bikejore. Saturday night I went in to work for a power outage only to find out I was not needed. So I went home. Sunday early I was called in after the power up, but the problem was external to my system, so I went home again. On my way back, I decided to check out the road that I was thinking of using to get in a 5-7 mile run, turns out it was 7 miles, very windy and twisty with a lot of houses. Though I didn't see any loose dogs, there were enough houses on that route to convince me it might not be such a good idea. By the time I got back to the house, there were deer in the sideyard grazing away. I marked the time and as I pulled in the drive in preparation for next weekend's hunt.

Sunday I took Princess and Bandit for a 3 miler to see how she would do with the extra miles after thoroughly checking her feet, plus, I've heard that if they exercise a lot after a tie, she's much less likely to have any fertilized eggs settle in the uterus. She was so excited and screaming to run Sunday, heh, she's one enthusiastic runner! She kept up with Bandit the whole way, and loved every minute of it. Bandit is simply a powerhouse. I barely had to pedal at all, even up hill, they were going too fast for me to give the two of them any benefit. What great dogs!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bikejore and ATV run

Friday evening it was 52 degrees out, and I decided it would be a good time to get Samantha out under no team pressure. She and Demon needed some exercise so I harnessed them both up and hooked them up to the bike. We took a liesurely pace that both dogs felt ok with. When we got a little fast for Samantha, she pulled back, and I stopped us for a second until she felt comfortable going again, and we picked up the steady fast trot. Demon seemed minorly frustrated with the stop, but it did Samantha a world of good to know we were not going to outpace her. She became much more confident and pulled the rest of the way. We went about 1.25 miles before turning around and coming back. Both dogs were happily smiling the rest of the evening, especially after eating their frozen meat treat. Checking both their paws, they did not show any significant wear, so with some relief, I gave them each a rub down after they had finished their snack. Both dogs love their rub down, and it is one of the things they look forward to when they get back. As soon as they had both finished their snacks, they came to me, leaning on me and waiting their turn.

Having had a lot of experience with pressure points and massage (no formal massage training, but a significant amount of martial arts as both student and assistant instructor), rubbed down a lot of horses and lots and lots of time petting dogs, I've learned what helps a dog relax and loosen up its muscles after a run, and I employ this rub down after every run no matter how insignificant. It helps in bonding with them as I check for any injuries, worn paws, etc, and the dogs love it even though they don't always like me messing with their paws.

Saturday I was a bit under the weather, so didn't run the dogs, much to their disappointment, however, Sunday I felt pretty good and harnessed up the race team (Yukon and Buck in wheel, Freya and Bandit in lead) to the ATV. We went about 2 miles, turned around and came back for a total of 4 miles. The whole run was very fast, and ready to start timing them. The team had no significant wear on their paws, were happy and still rearing to go, so next run will be longer. Later on in the afternoon Bandit got to hang out with James and I as I stoked up the grill for marinated pork chops (we have a 30 foot training lead). We did some recall training with him, and he was very reliable when I called him, but not so much for James. ah well. He's such a good dog.

G'kar is beginning to worry me. He has started limping noticeably on his left hip. Because of his arthritis, I've been giving him an asprin and a glucosamine biscuit every day. Last night he had significant indigestion and this morning he didn't even want his biscuit. So I had some bones that help with digestion, and gave him one. At least he ate that, but I'm worried now that he may not be able to handle the asprin any longer. I will have to watch him today and see if it is just a fleeting thing. I may have to change him off from the food I feed the rest of the dogs and get him something with less protein and fat content. He's over 15 now, and we know he is on borrowed time. He still loves to play, but he has days where we see his age and pain. His eyes are definitely cloudy, but he still sees movement and contrast well enough to catch a tossed treat, or find his dark squeaky ball against our off-white carpet, but sometimes he loses things like his biscuit on the carpet, or other similarly colored objects. His hearing is slowly fading and when he used to hear the whisper of his name from across the yard, now we have to yell loudly to get his attention in the same room. He still adores me and follows me around like a second shadow, but every now and then he doesn't get up when I do, but waits until he knows I'm leaving the area before rising. How old is too old? I keep asking myself, and trying to find the fine line between quality of life and my selfish need to know he's there. Losing his lifemate and pal Valkrys has aged him rapidly, and even though he likes Freya and Princess, and tolerates Samantha because I tell him he has to, he just hasn't been the same. I know he misses her even though she was getting cranky in her old age, but I think he understands now why.