Anyway, I was lying in bed around 4 am, actually already awake when the dog yard fired up. Now the yard has many different ways of barking, indicting many different things. During the night they will usually have 1 or 2 singing bouts, these are very low key and relaxed songs and I usually don't even wake up for them. When wildlife accidentally stumbles into the yard, it is a very different bark, usually followed by Fly's deep barks as he runs to take care of business. That, I wake up for, but usually don't get out of bed unless the noise continues for several minutes. Then there is the 'Loose Dog' bark - which is the sound of 60 dogs screaming, "MOM - someone who shouldn't be loose is off their chain". They are horrible tattletales and that noise has me out of bed before I'm even awake. (As for Mark, he never wakes up to kennel noise, that is unless I'm away and then he will - interesting display of the sub conscious ability to make decisions!)
Anyway, they have a few more barks, but these are the ones relevant to this story!
The bark I was woken up to this morning was somewhere between a 'strange thing in the yard' bark and a 'loose dog' bark. I listened for a minute or two before deciding to get up.
Jaye Foucher of Sibersong kennels is here visiting and she has one of her dogs sleeping in the cabin with her. I figured our dogs were barking because she had gotten up to walk McKinley, but a glance up to the cabin showed no lights on. Hmmm..
Fly was up around Geriatric Park running around making some noise, but not really trying to scare anything away. I walked outside and saw Fly and a smaller black and white dog running loose up by the seniors. Hmmm.. usually when we have a loose dog (they are always our own loose dogs - we live miles from the nearest neighbor and we have never had a stray dog in the yard here) they are blasting around through the yard and this one wasn't acting that wild. As I was walking out towards the dog, I realized it was Joey. Now that makes sense EXCEPT for the fact that just over a week ago Joey moved in with our kennel sitter.
Barb Veenstra has looked after the kennel for years. When we want to go anywhere overnight, or for a race, or extend our time in Alaska because 'Mark broke his leg and now making an attempt on the Quest is illogical and another Iditarod run is a better plan', our first call is to Barb. She never says no to us. We would be entirely lost without her help. Did I mention that she also flatly refuses to charge us for dog sitting?? She is one special lady.
Barb has always been most in love with Joey, so this spring, we offered to give her Joey. Actually, we have been offering her Joey for a few years, but it was only this spring that Barb's situation allowed for Joey to move in. Last weekend we bought Barb a kennel (that was the one Bait helped Mark assemble) and trucked Joey and the new kennel to Barb's place, which is about 5 miles away.
Joey dug out of her kennel the first night and was knocking at Barb's door when Barb got up in the morning, so Barb put her on a chain. This is more like what Joey has been used to for most of her life, and she seemed to settle in nicely - getting about 3 walks per day, a herd of cows to keep watch over and a cat to plot against - retirement heaven for a Siberian.
So imagine my shock when the loose dog in my yard this morning turned out to be JOEY! As I mentioned, Barb lives about 5 miles away - on the other side of the highway, not on any trail Joey has ever run with us. I have no clue how she managed to find her way home. Sure I've read The Incredible Journey and similar stories, but I've always taken them with a small grain of salt - or figured that those were extraordinary dogs. Those who have met Joey have probably figured out that Joey is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. She's a sweet little thing, but I've always suspected that not all cylinders in that pretty little head were firing at the same time - and she has never had the ability to focus on anything for any real length of time. So the fact that it was Joey running around the dog yard amazed me.
Joey is fine, she had a couple links of a broken chain attached to her collar, was soaking wet, and tired but her tail was wagging like crazy and she was very happy to be put back in the pen with Butchie and Camilla.
I haven't phoned Barb yet. I'll call at 6 to let her know Joey is fine. And as for Joey's retirement - she has made her decision - she will live it out here.