Monday, July 7, 2008

Is She or Ain't She? A Dog Yard Mystery

Lucky is a beautiful female husky owned by Kyle Belleque and currently visiting the Stardancer kennel in hopes of whelping a litter of new little Stardancer and Nushagak Kennel working dogs. Toward that end she has been housed with Torus since late April.

Lucky isn't real obvious about her reproductive cycle. Nonetheless there were signs that she was in season starting about May 20th. By the time I headed back to my place of employment she was "flagging" and backing up to my buddy.

The problem is, I did have to return to my place of employment. Lucky and Torus were taken to my training partner's kennel for boarding, where they had free run of a pen. My training partner noted that there "was a ruckus" in the dog yard several nights in a row, but she wasn't moving around very well so didn't go out to see if they actually tied.

At this point we are assuming that they did, and we have increased Lucky's feed under the assumption that she may be pregnant. Some signs are certainly there, her nipples are still prominent and her vulva still swollen. Her abdomen feels firm and may be expanding, but of course we are feeding her well and she may just be gaining a bit of weight (finally).

Our veterinarian, Jeanne Olson of Raven Veterinary Services said I could take her to Dr. Mark May, who she recommends as "THE reproduction guy" in the area who may or may not be able to determine if she is pregnant, and may or may not have test results available before she whelps. Like my training partner, her advice was basically "well, let's wait and see what happens." So, we are waiting and watching. For the moment her "mommy" status is a mystery, but inevitably the mystery will be solved.

The weather is finally starting to break a bit, but of course I'm preparing to once again return to my place of employment so it doesn't do me a lot of good. The dogs have been mostly inactive during this mini-heat wave, hanging out in the shade and taking advantage of their water tubs to stay hydrated and cool. Meanwhile, I've been busting my butt to tidy things up around here a bit. I converted a large goat shelter into a smaller and more convenient whelping house, which Lucky is currently enjoying in one of the two free-run pens here at the kennel. I've rearranged the house quite a bit, and spent a lot of time just tidying up and maintaining the yard.

I spent way too much time cleaning my vehicles the other day. During winter it's impossible to keep the interior of a rig clean. Anything spilled (i.e. my constant coffee cup) freezes instantly, as does any cleaning solution one might try. Thus the annual car clean up is frequently a major issue. It took me four hours to detail out both my car and truck one afternoon. I'll do my best to keep them neat and tidy through the summer, but inevitably winter will strike and next summer I'll have to repeat the process. Still, it's nice while it lasts.

Yard work is another chore that requires an annual effort. During winter the snow covers the worse of the yard's ills, but during summer just keeping the grass mowed and sorting through all the junk that accumulates requires a lot of work. The place is finally looking reasonably tidy, though.

I'll have a couple of projects for my next R&R that I really would like to accomplish. I need to install some exterior lighting over the dog yard so that I can illuminate the kennel and surroundings when it's time to do my husbandry chores or when wildlife comes calling. I've purchased the materials so it's just a matter of stringing some wire and installing some fixtures. I don't expect that project to require more than three or four hours of work.

I'd also like to construct a pole barn under which I can store straw and maybe park my garden tractor and four-wheeler during winter. Blue tarps thrown over the 'hay stack' is a marginally effective way of preserving the bedding material the dogs need through the course of the winter, and I have plenty of posts for such a simple structure already cut and ready to put into service.

Neither of those will happen today, though. I have to return to my place of employment in the morning, so today will be lost to running necessary errands, doing the final little bit of house cleaning and packing the stuff I'll need or want while protecting the pipeline from the ravages of crime, terrorism and disease.

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