Where is Tala? Is probably something I say more than anything over the past eight years. She loves to hide. When she was young, that included under the beds but as her girth spread, so did her skills at hiding. For a dog that sleeps most of the day and snores really loudly, you’d think finding her would be easy! No, not so much. And she loves to hide. She smiles and tilts her head coquettishly when she is eventually found.
This morning I searched for a half hour and was getting worried. Where can a 75 pound husky hide? I was beginning to suspect her of changing her hiding place as I searched the downstairs, upstairs, screen room, deck and back yard. No doors or gates were open, so I finally got the husband out of the shower to search.
As he dripped and I explained, we walked into the hall and she bounded through the doggy door grinning… well, played Tala -she must have been moving around behind the doghouse as I searched the yard.
There are days when Tala just never leaves her sanctuary! Today was one of those days but at 10pm tonight she wanted to play, now an hour later she is under my desk asleep on my feet!
Our past year in the Gulag has been a challenge. Nearly a year ago, we lost Mukki our perfectly wonderful alpha. Not a day goes by without missing him and the house was wallowing in grief and loss, mourning him was done by all of us.
In January, I noticed everyone was eating and playing again. The dynamic is different. Quinn sleeps out on the deck and quietly watches the deer approach for corn, no more frenzied prey drive. That doesn’t mean the wildlife is safe, Quinn manages to catch a bird every so often and keeps it with him for weeks (outside!). The girls are more playful and enjoy a nice 1 mile walk with MrTall. He walks all three with a walking belt. Quinn has yet to grasp the fundamentals of walking on a leash and after seven years, we accept his limitations.
Last weekend we were blessed with snow, a pleasant surprise. The forecast was for ice and ice pellets but what we got was just enough for a mush! MrTall decided to take all three, even the girls who usually hate mushing. No, that’s not fair –Tala hates it and Lulu’s poor short legs can’t keep up. MrTall decided to keep his mushing expectations low and be satisfied walking behind the sled. Surprise! They all took off running, even fatty-fat pants Tala! Their return was slow but it was a vast improvement and definitely a sign that the mourning is over. Below I post two videos of real mushing in NC:
One day, as I pulled weeds, I heard a ruckus in the dog’s yard and I saw a huge black snake, he stood four feet high from a coiled ‘foot’ -just like those cartoon cobras! He was surrounded by the four demons from hell, the pack. What happened next was a bit of Animal Planet.
I screamed “No!” and ran towards the scene, I had this crazy idea that if I was fast enough I could grab it just under the head with one hand and scoop him up with the other. They were about five feet from the chain link fence and I was planning to toss him over into the woods.
Yes, I am a bit of a moron. No, I did not run fast enough… never in my life have I ever been able to run fast. As I got close, I saw the hunter’s genetic memory take over my Siberians. The two girls took a step forward, which made the snake turn towards them and in a flash, at lightning speed, Mukki took the snake’s head off.
They all then settled down for a snake picnic, as I dumbly muttered: “But,… but!”
They ate half and Quinn who was only a few months old, carried the remaining bit around for weeks. He slept with it and rolled in it… The dogs camped outside by mutual agreement with me for those weeks, as they do when they catch and kill somebody, although it’s usually a possum or raccoon or rabbit or squirrel or bird or -well, enough of that. A typical day for Siberian huskies, the genetic memory is strong.
Quinn and the remaining four feet of the eight foot black snake.
Today, Quinn went into the Animal Hospital for his other knee repair. His first knee was replaced 12 weeks ago today. The vet called and let us know it all went well and the second knee was far worse off than the first one. He has some arthritis on the second knee but other than that all is well. Now, my dear little monster will recover at the vet’s for a week or so. With two other dogs at home, his care was too much the first week.
I know he’ll be happy. I’ve had to give him pain meds a few times a week when he was whining instead of sleeping at night. Siberians have a strong pain tolerance, so we knew he was in agony.
So for the next week the girls and I are going to rest up.
Studies have shown Siberian huskies require 60% less food than typical dogs. Their unique metabolism has evolved over centuries as hard working sled dogs in Russia. They typically burn glucose and preserve fat stores for as long as possible. I’ve owned several over the years and until recently had four, now we have three after losing our alpha boy this past spring.
Our dogs have been raw fed and currently are fed a grain-free high protein kibble like Blue Buffalo. The boys were hard mushing, hard playing, hard working dogs and yet they only eat a fraction of what most dogs eat and when not playing or mushing reduce their consumption on their own.
The girls are a different story. Lulu is a rescue who was only 25 pounds when we got her and pregnant with Quinn. She came up to a normal weight after she weaned Quinn, but never gained an ounce while pregnant or nursing. Tala began gaining over time and is quite heavy ranging from 75 to a high of 92 pounds! She is on thyroid meds and that helped bring her down to the mid 70’s -still about 20 pounds overweight. She does not eat more than one cup of kibble a day! I suspect it all goes toward building fat reserves -she is also the laziest dog on the planet -we joke she is saving herself for the zombie apocalypse.
I suspect Tala’s switch involves extreme exercise -to get pass that glucose-burning to fat-burning switch. I am currently walking each morning to try to get my stamina up to about 4 miles, so I can walk her 4-5 miles a day. I should be ready by end of August when the mornings are cooler. Right now the southern summer is not healthy for her 95º and 85% humidity… I want her to get in shape, not die of heat.
Good foods for huskies
The Physiological Response of Siberian Husky Dogs to Exercise: Effect of Interval Training
Metabolic responses to exhaustive exercise in racing sled dogs fed diets containing medium, low, or zero carbohydrate.
Lipid metabolite responses to diet and training in sled dogs. (note ‘Alaskan sled dog’ is not synonymous with the ‘Siberian husky’ breed
Trail Work Ahead
He wanted to warn us, to let us know
That Mukki’s eyes might stay open when he’s dead
Good, they should, he has a long way to go
My Mukki needs to see the new trail ahead
We should have put on his harness and racing number
To ready him for that last race, free from the man’s sled
Hike – hike! Run fast when the gate opens –do not slumber
Fly away at the speed of light, flee fast and far from the dead
Mukki will work hard to ready the new trail
Across the Bifröst to run all day and transcend
His pack will join him soon, where he’s wagging his tail
Eyes open, he sees far ahead to the trail’s first bend
christine joan gasser ©2015
After it got quiet, Tala joined the group and they brought her up to date of the status of the bread, which you can see on the boardwalk. Tala looks more like a sheep from the back and someone needs to brush that butt but lately when I try she sits on it, preventing my access… she says it’s cold outside and she needs the padding.