So much to get to, since its been so long since our last post. Let me start at the beginning of my list. First, thank you to everyone who sent kind words after the passing of Bashful. It is always sad to lose a member of the pack, but as we said, it was a good feeling to know he had lived a full life, died a natural death, and was in a home where he was loved.
Secondly, we wanted to thank Susan, our Iditarider from last year’s Iditarod. She has continued to be a friend of the kennel, and most recently sent a care package of dog toys and booties she had sewn herself. I have been meaning to post a picture with the dogs in them and the above shot is Oaky running in some of the fleece booties she made. Oaky had developed a bit of an abscess in one of her paws, which took her out of major competition for much of the season. We have been keeping it clean and medicated. She had some time off, and now is running a few short runs just to stay in shape. The fleece booties continue to offer some cushion and help her heal.
Speaking of Iditarod stuff, the big race begins this weekend, and as most of you know we won’t be in it this year. We have mixed feelings about this. Initially we opted not to run the race this year for financial reasons, but then ironically we have had a phenomal training season and the dogs seem to be the strongest they have ever been, as evident by how well Cole has placed with them all season long.
Our tentative plan was to sit out the big race and run a few more mid-distances races around the state, and I know many of you have been asking “What is next?” Sadly, though, Tatika — our geriatric German shepherd (above) has not been doing well. She had one seizure last month, has been looking a little more sore than usual, and she will go off her food for a couple of days at a time. We brought her to the veterinarian, but they said they couldn’t find anything. This is a dog that has been with Cole since she was a pup, and a family member since Cole and I became a family. She is far more important to us than any dog race ever could be, so wanting to spend as much time with her as possible, in case these are her final days, weeks, or months, we will likely not be racing any more this season.
While this is sad from a competitive stand point, the dogs have been loving the much shorter training runs, and we have been able to focus more on some dogs which may not have gotten such special attention if we were still so hyper-focused on racing. One of those dogs is Coolwhip (above), our wheezer-dog who this summer had the throat surgery to resolve her situation. We have been teaching her to be a sled dog, running in the team, and monitoring her breathing and recovery as we go, since in many ways this is undiscovered country. Most people who have wheezers either put them down, or give them to pet homes.
This will be a real scientific learning experiment to see if Coolwhip can still be a sled dog, and her veterinarian from Anchorage has come down and run with us (see above), taking movies of her running and her post-running breathing patterns to share with other vets. So far, she loves running, but with starting so late in the season and having to build her up slowly, she has only been running 3 to 5 miles. Next season we will start her conditioning with the other dogs and build her up from there. It is exciting to think about what her potential may be.
In other news, we also have been working with our niece and nephew, hoping to inspire them with the same love of dogs and outdoors that we have. Our niece is still a little too small and young to take a team, but she helps harness dogs, feed them and scoop poop. Our nephew (above), while only 10, is GIANT for his size, almost as big as Cole, so he is starting to take teams with Cole. WHile big for his age, he still needs a little more coordination to take the dogs out by himself, but hopefully by next season he could start running 2- to 4-dog teams with us.
As doggy people, we also have other dog-loving friends, and we — or I should say Dunkel — got invited to a doggy birthday party this past week and we tagged along. It was a great time, just a room full of dog lovers with their year-old pups all playing together. There was even a cake for the dogs made of turkey, eggs, potatoes and cheese, which they loved. Dunkel also particularly loved all the toys there were to play with. We get a lot of “Cuz” toys from our friend Susan, but Shagoo tends to be very selfish with them, so Dunkel often has to wait until she is asleep or outside to get a turn.
All for this week.