Sunday, 29 December 2002

December 29, 2002

We hope that everyone had a very Merry Christmas! We did, despite it being kind of weird. Mark and I opened our presents Christmas Eve during commercials of  “It’s a Wonderful Life” – one of my favorite movies. As we had no tree and just a few gifts for each other, it stretched things out nicely.
Christmas day I took out a team and Mark spent the time slicing up meat on the band saw.  In the evening we went over to Mark’s brother’s place and had a great turkey dinner with Kelly, Karen and the kids – all and all, a pretty nice day.

Mark has been off since Christmas Day, so we have been doing a fair amount of running. The dogs are pretty bummed lately. Could be that they all had kennel cough vaccinations last week, were dewormed just the other day, and are darn sick of the tough 4 wheeler training. Who knows, but ups and downs are a part of training and we are just working through it. The one thing they have not lost enthusiasm for is eating – even after hard runs they go SKUNKY when the snacks and meals come out. That is a very promising sign!!

I had all 23 of the ‘A’ team into the vet last week for blood work, kennel cough vaccination, and a checkup. That went pretty well and other then one dog needing a tooth pulled, which was done that day, there were no surprises. We weighed everyone too and I was going to share some of that information with you – but I seem to have misplaced the piece of paper I wrote the weights down on. I’m sure I will find it when we clean out the cab of the dog truck and I will pass it along then.
Draco had his leg checked over at the vet’s too. Nothing was diagnosed for sure. We ended up knocking him out to better allow the vet’s to check out his leg. That resulted in conflicting opinions from two of the vets. One thinks it is a partial tear in his cruciate ligament. If that is the case, it is a career ending injury. We talked about the chance of surgery bringing him back to racing status, and both vets agreed that even if the best specialists in western Canada performed the surgery, the chance of him ever running at an Iditarod level again was highly unlikely.  If there had been a bucket to throw up in while we were discussing this, I would have. Even now, typing about it makes my stomach turn. Draco is maturing into an amazing sled dog. I had well expected him to be one of my main leaders in Iditarod this winter. I am devastated at the thought of his running career being over.
Now, there is a glimmer of hope. Tanis felt that it wasn’t a cruciate injury. Both she and Daryl agreed that the best course for now would be 5 days of anti-inflammatories and crate rest. I was advised that if it were a cruciate, we would not see improvement.

Draco’s 5 days are up – and, I tell you, I’m happy about that! Living in our small house with a 55 lb, eager sled dog is tough.  The day before yesterday, we came home from our run and as I was walking back to the garage with the empty snack bucket, I noticed Draco keenly watching me from the sliding glass doors. Not a big issue – except for the fact that he was locked in a crate when we left. I was terrified to open the door to the house and see what damage he had done. Seems he had decided that he had had enough of that ‘crate rest’ stuff and had pulled open the crate door. He bounced and charged around when I walked in, pretty pleased with himself for figuring out a way out of his crate. Thankfully, damage to the house was non-existent. PHEW!

As for the leg – he is bearing weight on it again – a very promising sign. He’s back out in the kennel and I intent to try him in harness on Tuesday. I will be holding my breath until then.
I’ve had a few emails asking about cuts to the team –when we were making the next batch and if I had any ideas who it would be. The plan was to make the final cut at the end of December, but with Draco’s injury, I’m stalling that decision for a week or so.

January 11th I load the truck and head to Alaska, so it has to be done by then!

Well, I think that is it for today. I’m off to kick Mark out of bed (I let him sleep in until 5:30 this morning). We are planning to run out about 40 miles or so, rest the team for 4 hours and then run home. That should have us home sometime in the wee hours of tomorrow morning.

All for now!

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