Rob's Blog Archive

July 13, 2014

Old Bitch Vixen










Vixen turned fourteen last January.  With the first two years being equivalent to twenty-four of ours, and each of the remaining years being equivalent to five, that means she’s now approaching 87. 

Sapura, my first Siberian Husky, also celebrated her fourteenth birthday, but clearly had more physical problems than Vix has.  Vix seems to have lost some strength, but gets around well.  I’d guess I’ll put her on some medication at some time, but right now she is drug free and seems to be pain free.  When Sup turned fourteen, she had been on drugs for her back for more than a year.  Sup passed away less than a month later.

I got Vixen with Fondue, Tok, and Sima, ten years ago.  I had moved to Silly Lake, and completed constructing my first dogyard.  The dogyard ready, the four newcomers---they had been taken care of by a friend---came to their new home. With Jake and Jag, I had my first real racing team. 

Fondue had been sold to me as an unfinished leader, but between her recalcitrance and my inexperience---that was the year Fondue earned the name “Little Shit”--- she never led well for me.  In time, I figured out that she simply didn’t like leading.  Jake would go on to do more miles in lead than any dog I’ve owned, but at two and a half, he wasn’t quite there.   That first year, Vixen led.

Aside from doing well in lead, she also had more stamina than anybody else.  Still, upon entering they yard after a run, she’d try to explain to me how exhausted she was.  Happily, dogs are generally poor actors, as was Vixen.  Tired dogs don’t display much at all, they lay down.  Her histrionics had a lot of energy and enthusiasm behind them. 

My second year, Mink led more than anybody else on the team, but Vixen and Jake still led a lot.  My third year with a real racing team, the one during which I ran Race to the Sky, Vixen led during training, but that was the last year I had her in lead.  She was slow compared to most of my other dogs and while I had several slow leaders, notably Mitzi, they were younger and more hard headed.  The year after I did Race to the sky, Vixen turned eight, definitely old for any venue.  That same year, Mitzi turned five, arguably the best age for distance racing.   

With the ten years I’ve had Vixen and all that we’ve done together, not to mention her age, she gets a lot of my attention.  I have an old kennel and Vixen is my oldest dog.  I know that the number of times I’ll be able to scratch her and tell her she’s a good girl is limited. 

She’s also getting special yard time, something she really likes.  She wanders while everybody else is tethered.  No question, she fully understands the ramifications of this---she’s always had a good instinctive understanding of how lines and tethers work and this is simply an example of this.  During her walkabouts, she presents her rear to any males who start showing any interest, then scoots just outside of their reach if they start doing anything she’s not interested in.  And she smiles, then moves to the next male.  Quid, ever showing the intelligence of the Q litter, falls for this every time. 

The one thing Vixen has difficulty with is getting herself under her platform.  It is the refuge all the dogs use on warm days.  The ground underneath the platform stays cooler than the air temperature, the platform provides shade, and the dogs love the fact that it’s a bit cramped.  I’ve seen Vixen under there only once since the snow melted away, during a thunderstorm when the rain was coming down particularly hard. 

Vixen’s difficulty getting under her platform concerned me.  With this, I tried bringing her indoors during the warmest days, just to stay cool.  She quickly discovered that the open crate was quite comfortable and after checking out everything she had access to would lay down inside of it.  The lower level of my house is a finished walk out basement and stays cool, even on the warmest days.  Vixen was okay indoors, but not terribly happy with it. 

When I came back from Alaska and the yard had two feet of snow everywhere, I gave Vixen and Tok the two warmest doghouses, right next to my house.  The yard is south of the house and the wall facing the yard has a southern exposure.  With this, that side of the house gets warm and radiates a lot of heat and the doghouses closest to it are warmer.

By comparison, the houses at the southern end of the yard are shaded by trees just outside the fence.  These houses remain in the shade for most of the day during the summer and all of the day during the winter.  With the beginning of summer, I moved Vixen to the shadiest and coolest house in the yard. 

The full move was a little more complicated than a one for one switch of dogs.  I moved Vixen into the house that Quid had been in for a number of years.  I moved Quid into the house that Murphy was in---Murph gets along with all the other dogs so I’ve moved him a couple of times during the last few years----and I moved Murphy into Vixen’s old house.  These placed Vixen right next to her favorite victim, Quid.  Her new post-dinner routine is to present herself to him, b.t.w. he’ll turn thirteen in November, until he grabs at her.  If she doesn’t get away in time, she’ll yelp and snap and he’ll let go.  At the least, her timing seems to be good enough where she’s not getting injured at all by this. 

My old bitch seems to be thriving in her new location and doing better than when I brought her into my house.  While the days will stay hot for almost a month, the number of hours during which her house actually sees sunshine will drop.  It looks like it’s going to be a good summer for Vixen, after all.  They say that ignorance is bliss.  With this, maybe it will be a good summer for Quid, too. 


 Rob's Blog Archive Index
Rob's Blog | Writing | The Dogs | About Rob | Mushing Terms | Equipment | Sponsors | Instruction| Videos