Friday, January 1, 2010

Colder Weather

The first day of the New Year is a cold one up here in Two Rivers.  I awoke to a thermometer reading of -22, and it's only dropped since then.

14 year-old darling Daisy doesn't seem to be handling the colder weather particularly well, so is being the house dog today, and will probably remain in the house until temperatures warm a bit.  The biggest thing I noticed is that she has already dropped weight, which indicates she is using a LOT of calories just to produce heat, even with a nice bed of straw in an appropriate dog house. 

Normally Daisy doesn't particularly enjoy being inside the house.  She is well behaved inside, but usually asks to go back outside to her team after 30 minutes to an hour of inside exploration.  That's not the case today, though.  She's now been inside for about 4 hours, and is currently napping at my feet.

14 years is geriatric by anyone's definition, yet Daisy is in surprisingly good general health for such an elderly girl.  She is very hard of hearing, nearly deaf.   As the photo below demonstrates, her sense of smell is still plenty acute.  I'm not sure how well she sees, but it's well enough to get around easily and interact appropriately with the other dogs.  She doesn't take much foolishness from the younger dogs, either.  She's still willing to assert her rights as Queen of the Stardancer Yard. 

Meanwhile, the "outside dogs" are spending most of their time inside their houses, curled up on nice, thick beds of straw and conserving energy so they can convert calories to body heat.  I am doing much the same today, catching up on some book work, washing some clothing, and enjoying Daisy's company. 

MWP Sled Dog Care Guidelines Updated

I seems somehow appropriate that my good old girl could be inside to watch as I finished up a major project I've been working on since late 2006.  The third edition of the Mush with P.R.I.D.E. Sled Dog Care Guidelines was officially released this morning.  MWP members can download a copy from their Yahoo group.  The new guidelines will replace older versions on our website as soon as our webmaster can find the time to do so, and will be available in print form in the very near future. 

The Guidelines Update Project started as just a suggestion to the Board of Directors in office at the time to make a few changes to reflect recent scientific discoveries.  In the process I served as a general membership representative on the Guidelines Committee.  After my election to the PRIDE Board I was named committee chair.  This project has been the work of two different boards of directors, and two different guidelines committees.  Many of our general members also have a hand in it, submitting ideas and feedback that was invaluable.  

Most mushers won't immediately spot the changes that we made.  We tried to keep the style, language, and format similar to previous editions.  The major changes in the Guidelines are listed below:

-  Addition of information and recommendations on housing sled dogs  in pens or runs .

- Citation of scientific documentation to support post and swivel type tethering systems and to support recommendations regarding housing 2 or more dogs in each pen.

- Recommendations and information on ensuring adequate mental stimulation in the kennel

- Clarified the wording in the feeding and watering chapter to make the information easier to read and comprehend.

- Added a small section on “education” versus training in the Training and Conditioning chapter and deleted references to physically punishing dogs.

- Emphasizes the importance of spaying / neutering dogs not intended for breeding and recommending additional options for re-homing dogs one can’t keep.

- Added a chapter on Geriatric and End of Life issues as requested by one of our members.

- Updated the "Additional Resources" list to delete publications that are out of print and to include some on-line resources.

It was truly a great pleasure to release the 3rd Edition of the Mush with P.R.I.D.E. Sled Dog Care Guidelines to the dog-mushing world.  The process was much more difficult than I originally envisioned, as mushers with highly diverse perspectives debated many points, some that I found rather surprising. 

I think the 3rd Edition of the Guidelines now is now based on the best available scientific and experiential evidence available, and I'm very pleased to see it released. 


  1. G'day, Swanny - I'll be thinking about Daisy through your cold weather. Regards, AussieAlaskan

  2. Swanny.... Thanks for summarizing the changes for us before we go read it... not to mention working hard on it all for so long. You're the best. Linda, Husky Power Dogsledding in MD