Saturday, March 6, 2010

Kennel Chores

The temperature remained warm throughout yesterday and into last night.  When I awakened this morning the thermometer read 36 degrees, which does not bode well for running dogs.  The forecast claims that cooling temperatures and a wee bit of snowfall is likely later today.  That may hold true as the temperature has already dropped about 3 degrees so far this morning.  I sure hope so as I have 6 more dogs who haven't yet run this R&R.  I have firm plans to run dogs with friends tomorrow regardless of whether I get a team out today or not.  Tomorrow's run will include a surprise that I'll share later.  I will probably try to run both teams again on Wednesday, as I have meetings scheduled for both Monday and Tuesday afternoons that will preclude running on those days. 

Yesterday was spent doing "little stuff".  Little things that add up to a pretty full day of activities.  None of them amount to any big adventure, but they are things that need to be done from time to time.

Yesterday was pay-day, so after reading Emails and the local news on-line I balanced my check book and then paid some bills.  Finances have been tight all winter long so I have to keep a close eye on how much money is spent.  The fact that our local electrical utility, GVEA, keeps raising their fuel surcharge isn't helping much.  It's to a point where the damned fuel surcharge is higher than the actual price of the electricity I use.  I used considerably less power this February than the same month last year, yet the bill was around 30% higher.  It's becoming more and more of an issue in this area, but of course the response from the "suits" is simply "It is what it is.  Pay it or do without." 

With the bills paid (sigh), the next task was to feed the dogs their breakfast and scoop the kennel.  In my kennel "breakfast" is just a little bit of food in a lot of water.  In mid-winter I give my dogs about 1/3rd of their daily ration with their morning water.  As the weather warms I reduce the morning feed to about 1/4th.  Mostly the food is used to entice them to drink the water before it can freeze.  When I am supplementing their ration with meat, fish or fat I usually give them their 'treats' for breakfast, and of course as a special snack after running.

Scooping is an ongoing task, but isn't so distasteful as some would imagine so long as one does the chore regularly.  Although the Mush with P.R.I.D.E. Sled Dog Care Guidelines call for at least daily scooping, on most days I scoop twice.  Once after morning feeding and again after feeding the team their larger meal in the evening.  A clean kennel is a healthy kennel, and scooping gives me an excuse to spend a little bit of time with each individual dog. 

I always care for my dogs before my own meals.  Mostly it's part of that old-school attitude of caring for your animals before yourself, but it's become such a habit that if I try to change it around it creates dissonance in my brain.  The routine of feeding, scooping and "lovin' up" doesn't take a particularly long time, usually 45 minutes to an hour. 

So, after kennel chores I ate my own breakfast, tidied up my living room and even ran the vacuum sweeper before updating my Blog. After washing my dishes I loaded up the garbage for a trip 'out'.  My first stop was the dumpster station to drop off the refuse, nearly all of which consists of packaging.  You know, the paper, plastic and cardboard stuff that manufacturers and retailers seem to think is necessary to convince us to buy their stuff.  I will never understand why stuff has to be contained in SO much packaging material.  It's a waste of resources, a waste of landfill space and more often than not a waste of effort. 

Then I made the 6 mile drive to the post office to check the mail, and brought home a couple more bills to pay.  Our post office is a contract station attached to Pleasant Valley Store, where I filled the tank of my little "daily driver" car and visited with friend Mike Green for a bit. 

Back at the house it was time to start the process of deworming the dogs while feeding. 

Veterinarians in my area recommend deworming quarterly, and though I've experimented with deworming only twice each year, that proved to be inadequate.  Having the dogs on a quarterly schedule seems to do the trick well enough.  I alternate between two different de-wormers, pyrantel pamolate and fenbendazole.  This quarter they are getting fenbendazole in a 10% suspension, and must receive 1 dose each for three consecutive days. 

Feeding is usually straight-forward, just fill the buckets with kibble, supplements and water and then deliver a scoop or more to each dog in turn.  When deworming it becomes more complicated.  There is just enough size difference between my dogs that each must receive a precisely measured dose of wormer with their meals.  Giving a dog too little wormer won't kill all of the parasites they may be carrying, but overdosing a dog can poison him (or her).  Just, the smallest dog in the kennel, needs a dose of only 10 ml while Sheenjek, the largest, needs 15 ml. 

The dewormer is simply mixed in with their feed, but the process requires me to collect their bowls and mix each dog's food and medication individually and then delivering it.  It isn't really rocket science, but with 14 dogs and taking a high degree of care, it is rather time consuming.  Yesterday evening it required about an hour and 1/2.

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