Saturday 19 August 2006

August 19, 2006 Good Ideas

Sometimes good ideas come from the strangest of places.

The other night Mark and I were watching “America’s Got Talent”. Cheesy, I'll admit but I've been rather sucked in by the finger-snapping stylings of Bobby Bad Fingers, the puzzling Quick Change folks, the entertaining Jugglers, the totally off-the-wall Leonardo and many more of the acts. I will not confess to being glued to the TV for it nor to actually taking the time to vote, but it has been fun, mindless entertainment to enjoy in the evenings before we go feed dogs.

So, the other night was the last performances of the ten finalists. They aired little clips of many of the performers getting the opportunity to meet some of their idols. The finalists raved about what a great opportunity it was to get to meet ‘Rap Master P’ (or whatever his name was) and other such masters of their crafts – and sure enough, the final performances of most of the contestants were the best of the series. Cool, but whatever. . . time to feed dogs.

The next morning I was hooking up a team. On the dog board, where I list what dogs I’m running that day, I had Paxson’s name among the 14 chosen. Now Paxson is a very promising young boy, but of late he has been showing a lot of uncertainly and nervousness at hookup. Most young dogs like this, in my experience, benefit from running next to a dog they know and are comfortable with, and for that reason, I’ve been running Paxson next to his brother, X, or other dogs of equal age that are kennelled near him in the yard. It’s almost a foolproof technique, but for Paxson it just wasn’t doing the trick. As all the other dogs were screaming and pawing at me as I went through the yard, Paxson sat next to his house, hoping I was going to miss his name on the board. I toyed with just not running him that day and some dogs do benefit from some time off, but that just didn’t seem like the answer here. I walked him up to the line, tossing over a number of ideas in my head when suddenly it hit me – Paxson needs to work with a Master! A bit of rearranging on the line and Paxson found himself next to the ‘Master’ in our yard – Grover. Grover about turned himself inside out at the opportunity to help out.

At first, when I put Grover next to Paxson on the ready chain, you could see Paxson grow more nervous: he dropped his head and seemed to be trying to vanish into his own fur. I could just see him thinking ‘it was bad enough when I had my brother next to me, now I have this strange lunatic barking beside me’. Maybe this wasn’t my greatest idea, but I was going to see it through – and sure enough, as I worked my way through the team putting harnesses on everyone, you could see the confidence and assuredness of Grover begin to have some effect on his little ‘grasshopper’ – his head lifted a bit and he started looking around. As I hooked them onto the gangline next to each other, I was so pleased to see Paxson standing up tall next to Grover and even barking to get me moving a time or two. His tail even waved a bit.

I’m far from done working with this boy, but at least I found the trick we needed to get us headed in the right direction – with thanks to the Rappin’ Grannie, Rap Master P and Simon Cowell.


Monday 14 August 2006

August 14, 2006 Dance Steps

Before last year's Iditarod I got hooked on the website has a great database for all sorts of quotes. As I've mentioned previously, they have a 'Quote of the Day' feature that I signed up for; however, my spam blocker must block most of their emails, as it is more like a 'Quote of the Month' or 'Quote of the every 35 days'. It does seem though; that all the ones that get through are ones I love!

Yesterday, I had this quote in my Inbox:

"When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It's to enjoy each step along the way." - Wayne Dyer is given credit.

What a great quote. Certainly brought a smile to my face, as I make my way through the days, which are the 'steps' in the dance of my life.

Anyway, off of philosophical stuff and onto stories!

As always, things are busy out at the kennel. The puppies are growing like weeds -  well, the Firecrackers are growing up; the Soda Pups (II) are growing out! Definitely the chubbiest puppies we have had. Gator is also the happiest puppy I've ever met. She has that little Siberian 'laugh' down to an art form. She really thinks everything in life is amusing - even when her silly sister managed to get her head stuck through the chain link. Please, don't ask me how; I wouldn't have thought it possible until Dew proved it was. With a lot of help from Mark and me, she managed to get her head back out.


After much debating, a lot of watching, and a lot of listening to my gut, the decision was made to hang onto Rocket, Powder, Nate and Comet. Razzle is going to be moving to Montana and Flare to Connecticut. Everyone always asks how we decide which pups to sell. Well, in this case, the decision was not made as to who we wanted to sell, but who we couldn't bring ourselves to part with. They really are all lovely pups.

Flare, Powder and Rocket

Both Gator and Dew will be staying for the time being.

Bait continues to survive - definitely a surprise to me. The other day Kara was lounging in the garage in a crate with an open door while I put in time on the treadmill, while watching reruns of Northern Exposure. Bait poked at Kara through the bars a few times before moving around to the door and then launching himself onto her head. Lucky I was only a step away and pulled him out.


This morning when I let Kara outside, Bait was waiting and pounced, batting at her head and attacking her tail. She stared at me with a look that said, "Please, can't I kill him??".

©Penny Blankenship
More cartoons by Penny

I saw the same look in Mark's eyes last week when Bait was helping him work on his new 'indoor/outdoor' kennel project. Apparently having a cat batting at your tools and attacking you out of the blue slows down projects.

Mark works...Bait watches

Mark TRIES to work...Bait attacks

Truth be known, Mark and Bait are crazy about each other. It is really rather pitiful. Both Mark and I have always agreed that we don't want a cat living in the house; however, every evening I find the kitten curled up on Mark's chest, purring away while Mark watches TV. So much for the 'No Cats in the House' rule.

Photo by Marlene Daniels
Kara demonstrates an amazing amount of patience...

Kara - a big, tough Iditarod dog...

Lord knows why Kara puts up with this monster...

Further proof that Kara is the PERFECT Siberian!

We've been able to get out running a fair bit. I'm very pleased with how everyone is doing.
This morning I put the first of the 2-year-olds in lead. Tess, out of Surge and Olena, had been overshadowed by the performances of her brothers Charge and Watt as yearlings. She was a nice dog, but no one I was jumping up and down about. The last couple runs I'd had her in swing (right behind the leaders) and she kept 'overrunning' my leaders. Every time they would slack off even a touch, she was getting tangled in the lines because she was driving so hard. So this morning I decided to put her in lead with Snickers and see what she could do. WOW!! Of course, she didn't know her commands, but she drove like a machine - and she had been paying attention on our previous runs - she knew every corner in the trail. I LOVE it when dogs back in the team are paying attention to what is going on around them and not just 'going along for the ride'. To me that is a sign of a very promising leader! I 'caught' her when we turned up the driveway to tackle 'The Hill' for the first time this year, but she scrambled back up with Snickers in a heartbeat.

Tess and Snickers

I was just tickled by the promise I saw in her. Certainly a good way to step out from behind the shadows of her 'big brothers'.

Eeek looking pleased with himself after a training run



Irving and Wolvie
As previously mentioned, Mark's latest summer project is an indoor/outdoor dog run off the mud room of the house. I'll admit I had a fair amount of trepidation when I realized he was about to punch a hole through an exterior wall of our house, but he did a great job. He's laid sidewalk blocks for the outside portion of the kennel, so I can use it for dogs that have been bathed for shows, Moms in the house with babies, dogs recovering from surgery, etc. He's calling it the M*A*S*H kennel - "Mommies And Sick Huskies". We are just now waiting on delivery of the chain link panels he ordered.
Very cool!!

Just waiting on the panels to arrive...
I should also talk about Grover. Over the past few weeks I've had a fair number of inquiries wondering how he was doing. I'll admit for most of the winter and spring, I've been avoiding talking about him, because honestly, I was scared. We just couldn't seem to manage his thyroid condition and I was worried it was more than the vets initially thought. At the beginning of July, he started to shed and I had hopes that this was a good sign - but in reality, it was a horrible one, as he shed down to skin in a few spots. Another battery of tests was done, his medication was changed and dosage tweaked, and I am MORE than happy to report that the change in him in the last month has been nothing short of miraculous.

It seems, for some weird reason, Grover was unable to utilize the thyroid medicine in the one brand name he was given. It turns out it is a rare, but not unheard of thing.
Anyway, his bald spots have already filled in, he has new growth all over his body and the spark is back in him.

And just to make things even sweeter, Dr. Jackson confirmed that testing for certain antibodies in his bloodstream has proven that this is definitely not a genetic thyroid condition - something we were very fearful of with all the Grover kids around!

To say I'm thrilled is an understatement. I promised him I'd let him run with some of our puppy teams in the next few weeks too.

At the end of July I was out in southern British Columbia, working on some of my requirements for my judging license. For three days I worked as a ring steward at the All Breed show and then judged Puppy Sweepstakes for the Sagebrush Working/Herding Specialty. I had some very lovely puppies, but I gave Best in Sweeps to a handsome young Doberman, Kotaba's Holly Roller, from Washington. Runner Up was a lovely, super sound little Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Lillemor Curig Nisse.
Also going on that weekend was the National Specialty Show for Mastiffs. My goodness they are massive dogs! We figured out that there was over 10,000 lbs of Mastiffs at the show on Sunday! The dog that won weighed 240 lbs!! Unbelievable! His owner weighed 209!!
All and all, a really nice weekend. Many, many thanks to Leona and Len for making it all possible for me and being such great hosts!

We've also had a little bit of company up this way. My Mom, along with her hairball, Arnie, were up last week for a visit. Also stopping over for one night was our friend, Marlene from Montana. Nice to have some help with the chores - and to have some great company!

I did manage to talk Mom into coming along with me on a training run. She was VERY hesitant, but it was actually hard to get her off at the end of the run, she had such a good time!!
Well, I've rambled on for pages now. I think that brings everyone pretty much to date on the happenings around here.

Hope you enjoyed!
PS. I should also mention that Mark and I celebrated our 20th Anniversary on August 2nd. We spent a lovely evening at the historical Hotel Selkirk at Ft. Edmonton Park. Very nice.
Hard to believe it has been 20 years. Where does time go?

You know, when Mark and I started dating 23 years ago, one of my friends bet me $100 I'd marry him. I quickly accepted the bet because Mark and I had so little in common, I figured there was no way. I guess what I didn't understand then was that it isn't about having a shared past, but sharing a future. We still like different music, different TV shows, different food, different dogs, etc., etc., but I can't imagine my life without him. Best bet I ever lost!

Love ya', Babe.

Mark & Karen at the Paxson Lodge Checkpoint during the 2005 Copper Basin