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September 23, 2012

You Can Bring a Gaiya to Water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first thing I do after finishing a run is step off of the ATV and close the gate to the yard---always a good idea with Siberian Huskies.  I then get the bucket of water I’ve laid out in my mudroom, bring it into the hook-up yard, and lay out water in four bowls and one or two buckets.  Then I unharness the dogs, letting them run free, and coil the lines with the harnesses still attached.  Finally, I call each dog back to his or her house and hook them up to their tethers.  If, after the snap on the tether is closed there is not a treat on the way, all hell does break lose.

With this, I don’t have to worry about moving any bowls around to water the team in line and/or filling their bowls with water in the kennel, probably several times for some dogs.  It saves about ten minutes for each run and I know it works.  You can always spot a distance musher in a crowd---as soon as any dog shows a sign that he or she is going to urinate, the musher will be trying to catch a glimpse of the color.  After runs, all of my dogs are urinating clear for the rest of the day. 

Happily, watering this way required essentially no work on my part to train the dogs.  As much as any other animal, dogs live in the moment.  So when they came back thirsty from a run, it didn’t cross anybody’s mind not to drink freely from what was in front of them.  Even Kennicott, the dog who considers sheep to be intellectual giants, figured this out immediately. 

And then Gaiya joined the Silly Lake Pack.  In her heart and soul, she believes that she should get her water either in line---that’s what Bob, her breeder, did after runs---or on her platform.  Moreover, it seems that the little kiss ass, staccato kisses remain de rigueur, has a bit of a stubborn streak. 

The first times I ran her, she dashed right by everybody who was still drinking and directly to her platform and house.  I’d bring her to one of the bowls and nudge her head toward it.  More often than not she’d take a sip, then run back to her house.  She had a point to make. 

I did too.  After a couple of hours, I again brought her to the water bowls we use after each run and gave her another chance to drink.  Once more she made clear to me that this was inappropriate and ran back to her house.  Eventually, I did give her water, but I always waited for at least six hours after her run was completed.  That was more or less what happened for all the spring runs as well as the first ten of the season proper, 20 hook-ups or so. 

Then we had a minor break through.  Like after most runs, I brought her to the same water bowls she had access to after the run and nudged her toward it.  Rather than turning her nose on it, she actually started drinking a significant amount.  But it got better.  Last Monday, while giving Ghost his eye medicine, she started lecturing me (Gayia likes a good conversation).  I think it was something along the lines of “Curse you Red Barron, curse your method of watering, and curse all the dogs who use it----now let me free so I can drink.”  Loud too.  So, for the first time, I didn’t even have to direct her to the bowls, just unfasten her, open the gate, and she was there.  Emptied a bowl and a half too.  Happily, I still got the staccato kisses when I sat next to her after she was back at her platform.

To date, she hasn’t broken down and drunk the water right after we get back from a run, but I figure it’s only a matter of time.  Between her realizing that that’s a lot less uncomfortable and my raising distances to 9.4 miles in the near future, I have to believe I have a winning hand. 

As for my new little bitch, it seems that I have a small three year old who is as athletic as any dog I own, hard headed, affectionate, and bright.  She now has eight hook-ups and 34 miles in lead.  And still, the staccato kisses keep coming.  I’m pretty happy with this addition to the pack. 

   
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