Friday, July 10, 2009
Actually, I had my veterinarian spay two of them, Cassiopeia and Capella. Orion and Abner went along for the ride, and all of one-year-olds received identification microchips and their rabies vaccinations. I will give them their core vaccines before I leave for my place of employment next rotation, so all will be on the same schedule and up-to-date.
A trip to vet may be no big deal for the pet owner with just one or two dogs, but for a mushing kennel a visit to the vet can become quite a major undertaking. First, one has to make the appointment. Our vet, Jeanne Olson of Raven Veterinary Service in North Pole, is a holistic veterinarian, and has a VERY busy practice. Clearly there are a lot of people looking for a holistic approach to veterinary health, and Jeanne has a great reputation for providing excellent care. The "pro's" outweigh the "cons", the pros being that Jeanne does a great job, she truly cares for the animals, and is the primary volunteer for the Spay and Neuter Interior Pets (SNIP) program and leader in animal welfare issues in the area. Her fees are always reasonable and you can count on having 100% of her best effort any time she is needed. The "con" is that she is so busy it is sometimes difficult to see her for routine matters (emergencies always take precedence). We made our spay appointment several months ago, to insure we could get a "slot" in today's surgery schedule.
Usually when a dog musher needs to visit a vet, it's to address issues with more than one dog, so logistics play a role in the process. Transporting four dogs in my little Toyota RAV4 is not at all practical, so the dog truck needs to be filled with fuel and prepped for the trip. Crates need to be set up in the house so the invalids can recover from their surgery. Supplies that may be needed are laid in and ready to put into service if needed.
Health records for each of the dogs is printed out so we can share their history, and a notebook needs to go along so we can keep track of information pertinent to each individual.
Finally, the appointed hour arrives. The dogs are loaded into the truck for the trip to North Pole, usually about a 45 minute drive from the house. Once at our destination all of the dogs are "dropped", removed from their boxes and tethered to the truck with short "drop chains", so they can relieve themselves. Then the dogs are ushered inside one at time for their procedures.
Both Capella and Cassiopeia needed a higher than expected dose of anesthetic to get through their surgeries. Dr. Olson says this is something she sees "from time to time" with dogs that have a lot of 'village dog' in their lines. Another friend who has worked with wolves noted that wild canines also require more anesthetic than do domestic dogs, and she thinks that more primitive "Indian dog" types are more closely related to their wild ancestors, which may explain why they tend to be resistant to anesthesia.
Regardless of why, it does seem to be consistent in this litter, so I made a note in their health records to remind future veterinarians that these dogs require more medication than expected for their weight.
Speaking of weight, at just a couple of weeks under 1 year of age Orion weighs in at 60 lb. Capella is 52# and Cassie (Cassiopeia) is 54. They will continue to grow for another 6 to 12 months before reaching their adult size, so I think they will top out in the neighborhood of 60# for the girls, and Orion might even make 70 or 75.
Abner, a rescued 1 year old on our team, weighed in at 50#. He is a very 'leggy' and 'rangy' boy originally from Tammi and Manny Rego's kennel. He seems to be a good "fit" with the other young dogs in the Stardancer kennel, and I'm really looking forward to running him with the other yearlings.
Although we aren't terribly worried about the girls pulling their sutures, it is something we want to guard against, so we want them to avoid running and jumping and rough housing for a few days. That's no easy task with active young dogs. They will be the house dogs for a few days, living in crates and going out on individually on a lead. My weekend will be spent basically nursing the pups.
That's kind of a shame, as the Midnight Sun Intertribal Powwow is this weekend. I really hate to miss it, as it's one of my favorite traditional events. Nonetheless, the dogs' welfare is a higher priority than the human's desires, and this weekend belongs to the dogs. If you happen to be in town and have an interest in American Native and Native Alaskan cultures, you should check out the powwow. I'm sure you'll be welcomed, and delighted.