Sometimes, You Need to Treat Others Gently or –They Won’t Play with You Anymore!

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Another hot muggy morning in North Carolina, where we wake to carnage… Quinn keeps coming inside to bark at me. He wants me to fix his new friend who won’t play with him anymore… sigh… If you are considering a Siberian Husky as a pet, can I point out they are ‘Prey Driven’ beasts -like a cat with a mouse, they have a natural instinct that is not protecting your home or defending your virtues. Get used to it or choose another breed. Poor baby o’possum.

And now I know why the little monster picks up mouthfuls of kibble and dribbles it on the boardwalk!

Not everyone in the house is as disappointed as me… well, actually, I’m the only one disappointed. Others say:
“Quinn is a really cool Siberian Cossack Special Forces Assassin!”
“Yeah! Thunderbird is revenge by the mighty Quinn!”
(Thunderbird was my cousin’s favorite chicken, who was eaten by a opossum… circle of life… circle of life.)

Or a “cold blooded murderer of cute adolescent o’possums” –my quote😦

And let’s not forget Quinn’s very first prey friend, the bottom half of an 8 foot rat snake. We should have name him Genghis Khan!100_3357

I raised him better:

Two Months and the Tears Keep Coming

IMG_2851I have put off writing this post for a long time, well for two months. Tala passed away on April 28th, 2016. I thought losing Mukki last year was hard, losing Tala damaged my soul. We fought like hell to find out what was wrong but she failed fast. The vet decided to do some aggressive testing which came up negative, then she called to tell me that we needed to put her down, she was suffering.

It was noon and we were told to come and sit with her for as long as we needed –we could stay for the afternoon. I was panicking, it made no sense. Within a few weeks, she’d lost over thirty pounds and was just fading away. I rushed to the vet’s with my husband and we sat with Tala, she was so sweet. Just calm and happy. She put her head in our laps and then she seemed to snarl. The technician thought she might be in pain, so went to get the vet for pain meds. I took a final picture of her as she snuggled against my hand.

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After the vet tech left, I leaned down to Tala, got real close and said loud and firm: “Tala! –go find Mukki, Hike Hike!” I don’t know why I said it, but it felt right. She looked at me, sighed and was gone. Just like that. Off to get Mukki. Off to run on the Bïfrost and feel no more pain. It was so sudden, I almost laughed when I realized that was the first time Tala ever did what I asked. She was so stubborn and independent. We both held her and cried. When the vet came, she was shocked –she didn’t think Tala was so near the end. I still felt Tala there, so I spent a good half hour telling the vet about Tala, how perfect she was, how precious to me. I was actually telling Tala not the vet, but the vet listened. We hugged her one last time.

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Oh, Tala, how I miss you! I could fill an ocean with my tears.

Then Tala and Mukki got to say good-bye to us from the Bifrost. On the way home, a sudden hail storm hit and when we got home Quinn was barking at a huge mound of hail on the deck, right where Tala had been staying, ‘her spot’. We collected a bag of the hail and put it in the freezer and then scooped up two glasses and added Midleton’s Irish whisky -our Irish sendoff for my BFF, my wonderful wacky Tala. I can’t tell you how rare it is for a sudden hail storm to pop up out of a clear blue sky in North Carolina at the end of April -it may have been the perfect storm, a total coincidence but I’ll never believe it. I’d like to believe my Grandfather is mushing Tala and Mukki around the top of Mount Washington and they sent us a playful farewell.

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I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one.
I’d like to leave an afterglow of smiles when life is done.
I’d like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways,
Of happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days.
I’d like the tears of those who grieve, to dry before the sun;
Of happy memories that I leave when life is done.

Where Does a Sibe Hide?

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.

Rare North Carolina Mush in Snow

100_2679Our 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.

IMG_1728In 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.

IMG_2293Last 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:

 

Quinn and the Black Rat Snake.

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.100_3357

Quinn has his Second Knee Replaced

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.

Fat Siberians -Faulty Switch?

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