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November 15, 2015

Running the B’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have exactly one goal when I run my second team, that every dog on it should have fun.  These are sled dogs. Pulling is their love.  They are old, but as long as I can keep from retiring any dog, I will.

Quid is the oldest dog on that team.  In less than four weeks, he’ll turn 14.  Even at the speeds we’re moving---we’ve maxed out at 11 mph and average right around 6---he starts out awkwardly.  The good news is, at least to date, he simply warms up out of it.  Not that he turns back into the racing dog he once was, but he moves easily.

Tok usually runs across from Quid.  It was almost two years ago I brought Tok and Sima into the vet because of difficulties they were having moving.  My vet showed me Mitzi’s recent x-ray---she had stopped eating and I was concerned about a blockage.  There was no blockage but she had a fair amount of spinal degradation.  He was surprised that she hadn’t yet shown any issues with her movement.  Anyway, he said that given all the other aspects of how Mitzi’s two littermates were presenting, they had similar problems.  He offered to x-ray them, too, but saw no reason for it.  He did say it looked to him like Tok’s issues were painless---my best guess as well.  However, he started demonstrating to me how Sima had arthritis in every joint he checked.  I would end up euthanizing Sima a month later.  He never lost the strength or coordination to get up and move around.  He would, however, lie still and not get up simply because of the pain he was in.

Fortunately, Tok’s condition hasn’t gotten worse.  His lope and trot are a little weird, and it slows him, but he continues to have no pain.  He doesn’t pull much during runs, but as long as he trots along and is happy, I’m happy.

Mitzi, knock on wood, has yet to show any real loss of movement.  She and Tok will turn thirteen, equivalent to 79, before the end of the month.  Not only will she jump on and off of doghouses, she still happily jumps the gap between them.  Like Tok, gray hair has replaced jet black on her muzzle, and her running actually is a little slower than when she was young, but her gait is still smooth.  That’s in spite of it being her x-ray that my vet pointed to.  Her being strong has been fortunate because, up until I moved Shoshone and Lolo from the A-Team to the B-Team, she and Tempest were my only B-Team leaders.

Temp has always had a personality I loved.  She turned thirteen last June.  Actually, she shares her birthday with Dawn and Tenaya, the two show stock Sibes I moved to Montana with.  Neither of the girls made it to thirteen.  Tenaya was healthy and strong at twelve and a few months and died suddenly.  Dawn had had dementia for several years, and were it not for the joy she took in eating, would have had a miserable life.  Fortunately---Dawn’s motto was if you really believe in it, everything is edible---the pleasure she took in eating gave her an okay life.  Cancer killed Dawn a couple of months before her thirteenth birthday.

Tempest, beyond just living longer than the two girls, has had great health.  What’s interesting is, like Mitzi, Tempest wasn’t near as fast as most of my other dogs---Mitz was my slowest and Temp wasn’t that much faster.  It probably has nothing to do with nothing, but those two have lost the least in speed to date.  And both look, “Mahvolous.”  Temp’s coat is now as pretty as any dog’s I’ve ever owned.  The one change I have seen is Temp is perfectly happy with the three mile ATV run we do.  When young, we’d have fights over whether or not to do longer runs.  Now, three miles is just fine. 

The dog that’s been most challenging is Tempest’s nephew, Murphy.  He just turned 12, is basically in good shape, but clearly has some neurological issues.  These have affected his front left leg more than anything else.  He knows how to compensate for it, but that takes a lot of energy, particularly for a dog whose equivalent age is 74.   I am pushing him a little by keeping him in line rather than putting him in the crate I carry on the ATV, both because he hates being in the crate and because I think pushing a little on a neurological problem will help keep it at bay.  The last run we took, I had slowed the dogs down enough so he could handle the steep beat-up part of my driveway, but he ended up stumbling when he tried to grab a drink from one of the bigger puddles in the level part of the driveway just 200 yards from the yard.  He was wet, but uninjured.  He still wanted to mark everywhere as well as dig a bit and grab some dirt from a spot all of my dogs seem fond of.  Regardless of this and different from some of the other dogs, Murphy is happy to join the team.  There’s no hesitation whatsoever.

The one who has hesitated is Lolo.  Up until recently, both he and Shone were running with the A-Team.  Though there was a lot of time during which he let his line go slack, he actually had an easier time keeping up with the As that Shone did.  I’m guessing, though, that it was hard on him.  Hopefully, after a couple more runs, he’ll realize that we’re just not moving fast enough to bother him, at least given where his health now is. 

And finally, there’s Shoshone.  Only Jake had more miles in lead than Shone.  There is something that’s keeping Shone from breaking into a lope, but with the B’s he doesn’t have to.  He can still easily trot at 11+ mph.  With this, he’s back in lead and enjoying it.  It may make me sad that he’s no longer with the A’s, but he has no issues with it.

Running the B’s is a strange experience.  It’s a ten dog string, which is pretty long.  Still, with a median age of 12 years, there isn’t a whole bunch of power.  All of which is fine.  We’re all having a good time and that’s all that matters.

   
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