Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas, Dog Sledding and Poo

It snowed again here, and the ground has been covered in a nice white blanket that hides where the dogs have done their business. It was with some relief however, that I managed to watch Zena long enough to see that she had poo'd and not been stopped up from whatever she swallowed. I doubt we will know for sure what it was, as there was no evidence to be had. This kind of leads me to believe that she didn't swallow a wad of cloth, but maybe a hoof or chewy. So she's a happy puppy once again, free to run and play with the other dogs in the snow.

Thursday, I took out Freya, Bandit, Yukon and Bucky on the pedal cart for a 4.5 mile run up past the donkey farm and almost to the chicken farm and back. All four dogs were still looking great as I got them inside, unhooked and fed their snacks. I love these dogs! They are not only great runners, but great friends and companions, each with their own unique personality and style.

Freya is shy of strangers, but once she decides you're ok, then she loves to be petted and cuddled. She has an oddly baritone voice, and loves to woo-woo. She's a funny girl though, when all the puppies and dogs have come in to rest and she thinks they need to go outside and play with her, she will come in and whine at me. What she wants is for me to come outside, so all the dogs will go outside too and she'll have someone, or lots of ones to play with. Freya loves to run first and foremost of all, but her second love is playing. She will forgo food in order to run or to play. Thank goodness there is enough downtime with the other dogs that she finds time to eat well.

Bandit is the loveable big goofy guy dog, but he's also a thinker and a great lead dog in training. He has gee, haw and leave it down pat, and is working on Line Out and Come Around. He loves to run and to lead, he was born for it, and it shows. He's big, fast, strong and has wonderful endurance, but tends to grind his toenails when he pulls, as he does so with every ounce of his being, so I have to bootie him up on his back paws. He has a wonderful bass voice, and I love to hear his incredibly deep howl. It sounds like you would imagine the earth would howl if it could, so hugely deep and powerful. But he also has his plaintive little howl when he wants attention that sounds so much like his father, Yukon's "Oh!" You would hardly believe both sounds come from the same throat. He loves to be cuddled and has the most wonderful smile.

Yukon is still the philosopher, but has lately become confident in his place as alpha male. He is almost lovingly worshipful of G'kar and backs down to him and treats him like a living ancestor god though. Which is surprising considering he has taken to bullying the younger dogs to steal their treats or toys. We chastize him when we catch him doing it, and his attempts have become far less frequent, at least when I'm around. To me this says he has at last become comfortable living with us and with his new home, enough so that he has begun to make this his domain. Since he is almost as large as Bandit, yet much older and wiser, he is beginning to assert his dominance in the pack. This is really a good thing for him, and it shows us that his confidence and comfort level is high. I still remind him I'm leader though, and ensure he lets me pet him and/or take his treat without complaint. (I periodically do this with every dog to be sure there is no aggression towards people for any reason. If they are good about it, they get petted, praised and their treat/toy/chewy back, if not, they are chastised, and they get their treat/toy/chewy taken again until they allow it without protest, then they are praised and left to enjoy it in peace.) Yukon loves to hug, coming up to you with his little "Oh!" and leaning on you with his head resting on your arm, leg or shoulder in a doggy hug. He adores it when you hug him back and love on him. He's a very loving dog and is becoming another shadow following me around when I'm home.

Bucky is a wild child in harness! Once he knows he's going on a run, he gets so excited, he grabs a hold of the neck or gangline with his mouth and starts trying to pull on it so we get going. Sometimes this gets out of hand, and he has to be chastised with a strong NO! and forced to sit down. Then he gets Line Out training until we can get the rest of the team hooked up. When he's out of harness, he is the most cuddly TV puppy you could ever want. He loves to curl up next to you on the couch, put his left paw and head in your lap and smile as you pet him. He'll stay there all day, or until Freya calls him out to play in the yard.

Friday we went and picked up the Ham, mashed potatoes, cranberries, pumpkin pie, ice cream and whipped topping for Christmas dinner that we had ordered from the grocery deli. But in order to figure out how long to warm the ham, we had to know how much it weighed, and Jim had thrown out the receipt. So, I volunteered to stand on the scale, get my exact weight, then do it again with the ham. Thus we figured out the weight of the ham. I'm not sure what is so fascinating to men about Poo stories, but here's mine that he had to tell to his parents. Since this has already been made public, what the hell?

After getting the weight of the ham, it turns out I had the sudden urge, and rushed to the bathroom for a while. When I returned, I was curious as to how much my weight changed after taking a poo, so stood on the scale. I told Jim I lost 4 pounds. He didn't believe me, so I proved it to him, as he was witness to my first and second attempts to stand on the scale. Incredulous he thought this was funny and worthy enough to share with his parents on Christmas. And thus I learned never to share my scientific curiosity with a man.

Sunday I got Samantha, and Moon in lead with Demon and Princess in wheel. Samantha talks the talk and acts like she really really really wants to run on the team, but as soon as you tell her to Hike Up, she acts like she has no idea what you want, and starts sniffing around like she's out for a stroll. Princess was screaming in frustrated rage to get moving. Samantha knows the commands and can follow them well, but she has problems getting started/motivated. James got out in front and ran a few paces, and dutifully she started after him. Once she started running though, she easily picked up the pace and after tangling a few times got the show on the road. I took them past the railroad turn off, but the place I intended to turn them around for a short run, someone had thrown out what looked like a rancid deer hide (sans internal so not a carcass but just a failed tanning project?) and of course Samantha wanted badly to roll in it. Moon, Princess and Demon wanted to keep going though, and pulled her away from the sweet smelling prize. I let them run another two tenths of a mile so we would be running before reaching that wonderful distraction on the way back. Turning around was almost as much fun as starting, and I finally got the dogs untangled, facing the right way, and trying vainly to get Samantha to start running towards home again. I ended up having to run with her a few paces again, snatch the gangline to keep their pace down so I had time to quickly hop in the seat of the cart before they left me behind.

True to my fears, Samantha again veered for the hide, but Moon was on that side and pushed her back when I said Leave It. What a good little girl Moony is! Pouting, Samantha pulled the rest of the way home. If she didn't need the exercise, I'd stop putting her in harness, but she tends to bulk up when she's not running. Next time though, she won't be in lead, I'll try Princess and Moon in lead.

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