Friday, April 20, 2007

Routine Tasks More Fun with a Friend

A certified animal behaviorist I know frequently reminds me that "ALL dogs are bent on destruction". Whether or not they are bent on destruction, I'm very certain that all dogs are capable of being lost. Whether the dog escapes from it's confinement system, breaks a line while on a run or just wanders off to visit the neighbors in-season poodle, when a dog escapes your immediate control it creates a world of anxiety.

There are several ways to identify a dog to help it make it's way home again. Because most of my dogs came from the Fairbanks North Star Borough animal shelter, they have ear tattoos. It is a permanent way to identify the dog, but they can become obscured over time making them difficult or impossible to read. Everyone I know has some sort of identification tag on their dogs collars, but it really sucks to go out to water in the morning and find that a dog has slipped it's collar and is now running free while it's identification remains at home.

Identification microchips are, in my own opinion, THE most reliable way to identify a dog to help ensure its safe return.

I really wanted to get my new Hedlund husky pups chipped straightaway. Meanwhile, my friend Lynn Orbison has a new foster dog in her yard and Kia also needed a chip. We decided to join forces and take all three dogs to Raven Veterinary Services to have them hard wired. Lynn arranged the appointment as she knew the phone number right off the top of her head, probably a result of her close relationship with Dr. Jean Olson combined with the fact that all dogs are bent on destruction.

Yesterday we loaded the gang into my dog truck and made the trip. It really wasn't anything remarkable, but it was a heck of a lot of fun having good company during this rather routine trip. Her wonderful Bassett hound, Molly came along for the ride. Molly is a beautiful young dog who is all excited about the world at large and is pretty sure that all humans were created for the sole purpose of loving Molly. Molly knows that my favorite coffee kiosk is a great source of treats and attention, and is also pretty sure that if she stretches out the window far enough she can gain free access to both. Fortunately, Molly has a sturdy Bassett tail which doubles as an emergency handle.

My big St. Bernard mix Chinook (the Strong Winter Wind) wanted to come along because after all, he IS the love-muffin, so we took him along for the ride. We took that opportunity to put him on the scale and he's a healthy 72 pound pulling machine.

My new Hedlund pups are also a healthy weight. Nells weighed in at 57 and a half pounds and his sister Rose weighed 55 and a half. Those kids are looking great and coming around very nicely. Kia, the beautiful Malamute mix weighed in at 72.8 pounds. That's in the range of most of my freighting dogs and I suspect she'll be a frequent visitor in the Stardancer team.

On the way back we stopped at my place to drop off my dogs and give Lynn a chance to check out my kennel and home. In past we've always run the dogs out of her yard because it's more convenient (she has lots more dogs than I), and because her trail system is well suited to the needs of both teams. My own trails are great for training distance and touring teams, but not so well suited for training sprint teams. Lynn offered some great suggestions on ways I can improve my kennel set up, which I really appreciate.

Yesterday didn't offer any particular adventure, but we enjoyed beautiful weather, accomplished important tasks and enjoyed the company of good dogs and good friends. You know what? It just doesn't get any better than that.

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