Monday it was 70 degrees and rainy at 5am, so I simply read a book until it was time to give Bandit his medicin.
I had to hold him back so as not to discourage Moony, and he loped as the incredibly fast powerhouse he is. Nearly solo he pulled me, mostly because Moony was having trouble keeping up, and he was going so fast I could hardly have helped pedaling. Going to have to choose a different partner for him next time. Bandit almost seemed his old self, sure of what he wanted and where he needed to go. The thought of being able to put him back on the team made me smile. The real test would be if he made it through 48 hours without a seizure afterwards. Trying not to get my hopes up, I waited through the day.
During the night, both Yukon and Bucky curled up on the bed by me, as if they knew it was their turn to run. Wednesday it was 55, so I hooked up Bucky and Yukon. Overall they made a good team though Bucky worked more than Yukon, at least I could hold them back ok. Yukon stayed pretty much tight on his tug until we turned around at the 1.5 mile mark. Then he slacked up a bit, but after I had to stop and let a truck go by us, he leaned into his tug again. Overall he seems to be getting his stamina back.
Bucky had a bit of wear on his nails, but not endangering the quick. Yukon had little wear, and both felt good. They got two pieces of fish each and a rubdown. Bucky is getting the leadership commands down pretty good, except he still thinks it is social hour when we get back by the neighbor's house and his dogs try to keep up with mine. We'll see how he progresses, but in a pinch I think he will do good as a leader.
Thursday was Princess and Freya's turn. What can I say, but these two girls are awesome! Princess was frantic and jumping to go, but Freya held her back when I told her to wait. What an awesome leader she turned in to, and every day, I'm glad that we were able to get her out of that stall and take her home. Her strength is incredible, and her muscular back end has earned her the nickname "Arnie Butt". Princess is even faster than Freya, not quite as strong, but getting there. She is beautiful and a joy to see in full stride. She pours her heart and soul in to everything she does, and her intelligence is pretty much unmatched. What a fantastic little girl! Our bond is very close, and we understand each other like you can only imagine. She knows what I'm thinking and I know what she is thinking. We are connected, mind and soul. The only other dog I've shared such a rapport with was Susie.
The other dogs are still very close to me, and we share in the pack mind. Sometimes I can feel them run as much as watch, and it is these times that we seem one being, wild and free, running for the joy of it and for the reward of good fresh meat. During the time we aren't running, I share my life with them, and they with me. I walk with them, and they play around me, occasionally involving me in their games. They lay around me at rest, and look to me for reassurance before eating. Sometimes they won't take bones from me out of difference, and wait until I place them on the ground and walk away. It is these times I know how much they respect and love me and I let them feel how much I love and respect them as I care for their needs, watch over them, and help them when they are sick or injured. It is a reciprocating love and life, and I feel at peace in their midst.
Freya and Princess made record time for the three miles. I really need to time these runs, but I'm pretty sure that with the exception of when I had Princess and Bucky out, that we were faster than the Bucky-Yukon team, and probably faster than the Bandit-Freya team of last year. Bandit, my heart still aches for the old Bandit. I look in to his eyes and I don't see the depth of soul there used to be, even though his intelligence seems to be fairly close to what it was. The gentle old soul that used to be in his eyes is gone. If I could have one wish in life, it would to have that spark, that sense of the old Bandit back.
After I gave fish to Freya and Princess, checked their paws and joints, rubbed them down and hung up harnesses and leashes, I gave bones to the rest of the dogs. I gave Bandit his pills and was getting ready to make his breakfast so I could administer his Kbr in his food. Someone dropped a bone in the middle of the dining room, and Bucky went for it after finishing his. Moony took acception to this and they got in to an argument over whose bone it was. My yell of "Hey Quit!" had no effect, and the "No!" didn't seem to phase them either, nor did getting smacked over the head with the food scooper. Dropping both the scoop and the bowl I waited for the right opening and snatched both collars and yanked them apart while still yelling "No! Down!" Immediately Moony rolled on her back in submission, and Bucky sat.
The commotion woke Jim and I handed a still growling Moony to him and he shut her in his room. I checked Bucky over very carefully, but fortunately there were no punctures. After fixing Bandit's breakfast and feeding him, I checked Moony over, and though she had saliva on her, she too had no punctures. I didn't think they were that serious, but it could have easily escalated if I hadn't stopped them. Those two had been butting heads over treats for some time, but they usually listen to me when I yell and immediately separate. This time I had to physically intervene, and Moony was still growly after 20 minutes stand down. They are normally good pals and play together a lot, but this time it took a bit more time for them to make up. I cautioned Jim about leaving them together when he takes James to school.
Thursday night around midnight, I woke to the neighbor dogs throwing a fit very close to my house. I would have gotten up to investigate, but I could hear Jim and James still up. Their turn to deal with it, but long before they even decided to check things out, our dogs joined in the ruckus, and Yukon came tearing in to my room (like he does in his extremely playful moods), jumped on the bed and cuddled up to me. One whiff of him told me what the ruckus was all about. Someone got skunked and Yukon must have been pretty close to them. My entire room smelled like the ass end of a polecat. Thanks Yukon!
So I ended up grabbing the air freshener and spritzing the room, and shooing Yukon out. After lying back down and letting the adrenaline slowly fade from my system, I just began to dream when a loud banging and thumping came from the bathroom. Awake like a shot, I could only imagine it was Bandit going in to a grand-mal seizure again. Heart racing I leaped into the bathroom somehow grabbing my robe on the way. When my hand hit the light switch, Bandit blinked up at me from where he was lying on his back with his four feet in the air. His puzzled expression told me he was not the source of the noise. Further in, Freya was frantically trying to get behind the toilet to get a mouse. By the time I was able to sleep again, it was 4 am. Of course the dogs decided it was time for me to get up at 5. They have no pity as a constant stream of cold noses, wet tongues and butting heads convinced me that sleeptime was over.
By the time I dragged myself out of bed, it was raining slightly, and I just really wasn't up to doing another run before work.
Saturday morning it was 37 degrees, way too good to waste the opportunity to run the race team. I dressed quickly and got the cart out of the shed. Securing it to the truck, I stretched out the gangline and went inside to harness Freya, Princess, Yukon and Bucky. As soon as the harnesses went on, the excited howling began as Princess, Bucky and Freya kept jumping around while Yukon tried to keep his front paws on my shoulders. their antics always make me smile and they love it as much or even more so than I.
Jim and James dressed quickly and Jim went out to help hold the cart when I brought out the pairs. I brought out Yukon and Bucky for wheel and James followed shortly after with Freya and Princess. Once they were hooked in, off we flew! This team is really gelling together as a powerhouse team of incredibly fast dogs! We went out two miles, much to Freya and Princess' delight. Flawlessly Freya executed the come-around when asked and we were off back towards home.
We went so fast, it was hard to keep the cart from flipping around the sharp turn towards home, and my back wheels slid as I leaned hard into the curve. Without slowing we charged up the hill towards the house, and when they slowed a bit, "Time for Fish!" got them leaning back in to their tugs as hard as they could.
This morning (Sunday) it was 28 degrees when I got up, and the first frost of the year glittered across the ground. The sun was rising, casting a gold fiery hue to each blade of grass. I decided to let Jim and James sleep in a bit since it was going to be pretty cool out for a long time. So I waited until about 7:30 before going out and getting the cart ready. Ace stuck to me like glue, and was ecstatic when I put a harness on her. Samantha kept howling at me, but though she claims she wants to run with the team, I know better. She just wants to run around where SHE wants to go. Once I put the harness on Bandit, he began to jump and whine, and Moony was howling for joy. It only remained to corral Demon and get him in to harness. Once he's harnessed, he's more than eager to go running, but getting him to stay still long enough to get a harness on is an experience...
I tried Ace up front with Moony, and she decided it would be more fun to run through the neighbor's yard and play with their dogs. She kept pulling back when I got her back on the road, so I quickly switched her out for Bandit in lead and her at her customary spot by Demon. This seemed to work out better all around. Ace just wasn't cut out for lead.
The team did pretty well, but I had to assist most of the way (good exercise for me). We went up to the 1 mile mark and I had to get off and gently lead Moony and Bandit in a come-around gee, but there were no tangles, which made me happy. We were off again towards the house. Demon did excellent as usual, he is a hard working dog even if he isn't fast and is the most shy dog I've ever had no matter how much socializing I try to give him or how much I work him in harness. He just seems to enjoy being out of contact with all humans save me, and almost makes a game of being shy. He's too smart and opinoinated to train him out of his shy game though I've done my best and had strangers feed him at every occasion... ah well.
Bandit is again becoming a swift powerhouse dog, and I may take him to run single dog bikejor at the race at the end of the month. (We've decided to hit Sinnemahoning since it is the same weekend as the cancelled EMW, and it is closer, so will be better all around. It is a crying shame that EMW lost sponsorship. I don't know what happened, but I'm sad they had to cancel the race.) Bandit knows the route and executed it with a will, and I had to ride the brake a lot to allow Ace to put in some muscle on her tug.
Moony did great again. She has a lot of heart and will, and if she didn't have that herniation on her stomach, I would work her harder and put her on the race team. But when she was being whelped, Samantha drug her across the blankets by her umbilical until I manged to snatch the cord and pup from her. I was able to keep her from being seriously impacted, but the umbilical was herniated. It hasn't caused her any problems in her live so far, but being scar tissue, it isn't as strong as the surrounding, so I'm careful about making her work too hard.
Tired dogs are happy dogs and I see four happy dogs.