Friday, June 17, 2011

My Old Man

15 years young. Vet says he's in great health, so we have some time to continue enjoying his company. G'kar has been with us since he was about ten weeks old. He's been at my side every day I'm home, and still follows me where ever I go so he can lay by my feet. Every evening I come home he greets me with his "Haaaloooowww rrroo roooo!", and can't wait for me to pet him. He's the first husky to try to really talk to me, but certainly not the last.

When I sit to watch TV, he gently insists I get out the squeaky ball and play fetch with him, a game we've shared since he was a puppy. I think he still remembers the days when we would play fetch for hours, and each time he'd bring back his toy he would be loved on and played with. The sparkle is still in his old eyes that can barely see the movement of the ball any more, and will lose its location if he didn't watch where the movement stopped. He races after the squeaky ball just as he did when his legs were awkward with growth instead of arthritis. He loves this game more than any others, but a close second was pulling my son on the toboggan with the help of his lifelong companion, Valkrys. 2010 was a rough year for him, adjusting to a new life in Kentucky the year before only to lose his one and only mate in January due to her great age. I feared that he would soon follow her in his grief, but not G'kar.

Another adjustment in his life was the pack, the four huskies we acquired/saved in the early spring of 2009. He and Samantha were at odds from the first second they laid eyes on each other. At thirteen years, he was no match for healthy three year old Samantha. Since he learned that he could ignore Valkrys' snarling and still eat from the bowl she was guarding with impunity, he had been the pack second in command after me (at least in his mind).

Samantha had been the pack mom and protector of 'her boys', Yukon and Demon through a horrendous part of their lives. It was she that kept the pack together, and ensured their survival. The pup Freya was immediately added to her pack as the daughter of Demon and the four of them arrived at our house together. They were kept together in the same room, were allowed to roam around the 20x10 pen together, and taken on walks together until I could get the yard fenced, the dog door installed, and start them on mushing again.

Any time G'Kar and Samantha looked at each other, it was tantamount to a fight, and the first few months were hard. After time, they tolerated one another, and eventually became grudging friends. Their relationship was a rocky one until the day Valkrys passed on. G'kar knew the moment she was gone, and a deep depression settled on him. During that time, Samantha would lay next to him quietly, and Yukon would join her on the far side to keep the old man company in his darkest hours. Since those days, they have become good friends. Yukon and Samantha treat G'kar like an honored ancestor, and sometimes help clear the way for him, and Yukon even plays with him, allowing the old man to chase him. On days when G'kar is stiff from cold and arthritis, both Samantha and Yukon will lie down touching him, to help warm his joints, and you can see he is grateful even though he doesn't want to let on he is weakening.

It is so touching to see how the younger dogs treat him. None of them will take his treats unless he wanders off and away from them. You know it is out of respect when they blatently try to steal from each other all the time, especially Yukon. They try not to jostle him, and attempt to greet him with the respect they show to Yukon and I as the pack leaders. G'kar still isn't sure how to take being incessantly licked on his jaw and being goaded in to play by youngsters, but I can tell he enjoys the respect they give him.

The pack has helped him through the difficult times, and their loving support has made a huge difference in his life. You can see his smile as he wanders amongst the pack. He is still mentally sharp, and the spring in his step shows his happiness. We love you old man, and wish you many more happy healthy years with us.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Puppy Match

Saturday I took Velvet down to the Lexington Kennel Club Puppy Match to see if I could get her an evaluation. The journey down consisted of her trying to crawl beind me or into my lap while driving. She whined for a bit, then caught scent of the wind in the window. The rest of the trip she spent trying to get her head out of the window from behind my back, or across my lap even though I had the passenger side window open too. We made it safely to the park (a miracle in itself with a strong eager puppy trying to climb and claw her way across me), and I found a nice spot under a large pine with plenty of shade to park in.

Velvet was very good not having been on a show lead before and very limited leash exposure. She only fussed at the lead once, and I quickly backed off the pressure and called to her. She was more than eager to follow along, and was soon at a perfect heel without even being trained. I think maybe she was born to show. I had no intention of entering her in the match, but got talked in to it, so signed her up and took her to the hot dog stand to get her a snack and some bait food since I hadn't brought any. She was timid at first, but soon found the attention from people and other dogs to her liking. She acted like a pro. Every time we stood still, Velvet naturally stacked, impressing quite a few other people. Which is kind of funny since I only passingly taught her to stack and never really worked dilligently with her. Twelve weeks old and already she's a diva.

There were quite a few cute pups and some very nice looking adults of all breeds there, and I enjoyed making the rounds and seeing the other dogs while biding my time for the match. Siberians ended up being the last puppy group, and little Velvet stood very nicely for the judge, even let her do a bite check before squirming. She was pretty good overall though for never having set foot in any ring training or show before. Her gait was marvelous, and her spunk had smiles on the faces of all.

She was awarded best puppy in breed, then set against the pups in the working group. Here is where she shone! Having had a taste of what was expected, she was VERY good in the group match. She gaited at heel incredibly well, and her stack was excellent! She was awarded Best Puppy in Group. We only had about two minutes to rest though before going in for Best in Show, and poor little Velvet only got a big drink of cold water and no potty break. I could tell she was crossing her legs the whole time, poor pup, and couldn't stay still. There was a very well groomed Basenji pup that performed perfectly and beautifully that deservedly won Best in Show. Well done!

Overall, though I was incredibly pleased with Velvet's performance and conformation. I see good things for this little girl, and her lucky owner once we find her a good home.

Velvet is very willful, but also very eager to please, and we would like to match her up to an experienced owner who would preferrably show and/or train her to pull a sled/cart. She has good conformation, is very intelligent, very expressive verbally and physically, and as with most Siberians, an extraordinary escape artist. If you are interested in Velvet, please feel free to contact me at: atravis at blackbox dot com.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Happy Life Little Kona

I'll miss this little cutie pie. She was a joy to have around. Despite her younger apparent air-headedness, she grew into a very responsive and intelligent pup. She picked up on house training and the beginnings of show training very quickly. One thing about her I loved was that she had a soft mouth, no finger snapping. When you have a baker's dozen of dogs running around, soft mouth puppies are a relief. She was always an eager cuddler, and loved being touched and held.

Kona's new home is with my friend and fellow musher at Mountain Forest Siberians, so I know she will have a good life of running and perhaps showing.

We met up with our friend at the Red Crow Council Pow Wow. Although we missed the dancing, we did see the council cerimony and munched out on some buffalo burgers. I picked up two very cool shirts from my favorite t-shirt company (The Mountain), and Jim got an eagle ring. I'm kind of glad we missed the heat of the day, and the reason we missed the dancing was that two dancers had heat exhaustion. 95 degrees and somewhere around 80% humidity was wretched.

Since Jim is 1/8 Cherokee of the Tusquahanna tribe, we were invited to attend the Pow Wow next year. It sounds exciting, and I certainly hope we are able to make it.