Sunday, April 29, 2007

Winding Down

Today is Sunday, and I have to return to my place of employment on Tuesday for a two-week tour of duty. I sometimes joke that I have to go to work to rest up from R&R, but this time around it isn't all that much of a joke. I've been keeping myself plenty busy just thinning the doghair spruce behind the house. I'm making good progress on that project and by the end of today I should have the worst of it finished and brushed out.

Sometime today I'm expecting my friend Terry Snow (owner of Cootbear Enterprises). Terry is going bring over his small bulldozer to cut a trail between my dog yard and the power-line right of way I frequently use to train my sled dogs.

The entryway to my house is going to look much different when I come home from work. I've contracted with Mike Green's daughter and her business partner to replace the carpet with laminate hardwood flooring and to pain the walls. It's been 10 years or more since the entryway has received any significant attention, and the combination of human and canine feet along with all the mud, muck, snow, straw, and other stuff we track in has taken a hard toll on the carpet. I think the laminate flooring will be much easier to keep clean than carpet and I'm looking forward to having some color on the walls, rather than generic white. Arlee and her partner have been doing well with their business, building a reputation for quality work, and I'm pleased I can help them along during their slow time of year.

Since they will be working while I'm away, I need to clear them some space in the garage to store materials and move stuff out of their way. That will be a fairly major project in its own right. My "garage" has probably never stored an automobile. Instead, it serves as my work shop and general storage area and like many other structures of similar name, it is terribly cluttered.

This is really the most difficult time of year to accomplish anything around my place. Although the ground is still frozen just beneath the surface, the topsoil is saturated with melt water and in many places is extremely boggy and muddy. This is especially true on the trails we use to train our sled dogs during the "off season", and as a consequence the dogs have been having a lazy time, just hanging out at the house. That doesn't mean they aren't being trained, but their training is oriented more toward mental work (like obedience training) than physical.

The two new pups, Rose and Nells, are both doing GREAT!. They seem to be much more comfortable with themselves and the yard, both walk on a leash though calling it a “loose” leash might be a bit of a stretch. They are figuring it out though, and they love to go exploring around the place on lead. One of their favorite behaviors, from my perspective, is they both jump up on their houses to be handled. Nells will jump up as I’m approaching his circle and Rose circles around a time or two in excitement before she does, but is nonetheless prompt about it.

They both really enjoy having their coats brushed out, which is a really good thing because they are just now starting to blow their undercoat and they have such thick coats that when they go into full-blown shed I think they’ll need to be brushed out at least a couple of times each day.

They both act like they are far more confident in their surroundings, and Rose was spending a lot of time trying to figure out the door between my attached garage and her free-run pen. She probably figured out that is where the food comes from. I decided to let her satisfy her curiosity so I let her into the house for a visit last night. She was SO cool about it. She confidently explored the entire lower floor, found the full length mirror rather fascinating for a bit. Wee Seamus (the Anatolian / husky mix) demonstrated how to bound up the stairs to the kitchen and living room and she negotiated the stairs very nicely for a first timer. Going back down was a bit more difficult, and she stopped at the landing and managed to slip her collar. She was very nice about letting me put it back on, even helping like experienced dogs help us put on harnesses. On her second attempt, after watching Seamus run up and down a time or two (or three or four, he’s exuberant) she negotiated the down stairs just fine.

I made sure she found the neat things like the toy box and treat can, which led to some comedy. Wee Seamus had snuck in a knuckle bone when I let them into the house. He’s a seriously motivated treat slut, so I opened the tin can where I keep the good stuff he was right there wanting his share. The problem, from his perspective, is that he already had the bone in his mouth, and he really didn’t want to drop his bone with Rose dancing right beside him. He tried taking his treat, but with his bone already in his mouth he couldn’t close it, so he spilled his yummy chummy salmon treats onto the floor. Of course Rose seized the opportunity . Poor Seamus had the most startled look on his face. Even funnier, he repeated the exercise two more times before he figured out he really did have to drop his bone to get the fish bits. Rose ignored the bone because probably because I already had another treat waving around in front of her nose.

Tonight will be Nell’s turn to visit the house, along with Sheenjek and Chinook (one or two at a time). I don’t like having Sheenjek and Chinook loose together as both can be rather mouthy toward the other, and both are huge, strong beasts that would be exceedingly difficult to manage if they decided to have a go at each other.

Even as I wind down the project of this R&R, I'm looking ahead to the next. During my next time off from work I hope to be able to build, or at least get a good start on building, a fence to surround my entire dog yard. I want to give the dogs a secure area in which they can run free and play with each other and especially want to keep other critters out of the yard. I also need to take the dog box off of my truck so I can make some modifications to it, and paint the new flatbed to match the cab. I may be a low budget musher, but my rig doesn't have to look the part. I'll have to move right along to get everything done, though. I also have three days of work related training that I have to accomplish during my next time "off" work.

My friend Mike Green likes to joke that "Work is the curse of the leisure class." I have to respond with a question. "What the heck is leisure?"


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