Rob's Blog Archive

December 27, 2015

In His Mother's Footsteps










Just like people in a group, dogs in a pack take on roles.  Quid likes to grumble at everything.  Cameo is sure that she should be the alpha, even if she isn’t.  Gaiya and Kennicott like to get everybody playing---Mitzi used to do that but at thirteen she’s a little more subdued.  And, prior to her passing, Otter loved leading the pack howls. 

Usually, just after Otter sang a couple of notes, everybody would join in, but there were also times when they didn’t.  She’d start singing, nobody would join in, she’d look around for a second, wondering why they weren’t following her cue, then start again.  I’m sure Otter thought it was like herding cats. 

I have two of Otter’s pups, Shoshone and Sybil.  Sybil has always been like her aunt Mink, Otter’s littermate.  Shone, however, has been like nobody else.  He adores me but still hides anytime a stranger is in the yard.  Otter was eccentric---she never did take a treat out of my hand and while she enjoyed being scratched and petted, she hated being hugged----but she liked people.  Sybil is also quite outgoing.  My memory of Quinn, Shoshone’s sire, from when he was living in Seeley Lake was that he liked showing off a pretty extensive collection of rocks---he didn’t do much with them except collect them.  My other dogs run a range between wanting to meet everybody immediately to being more standoffish, but nobody else has hidden like Shoshone has. 

Beyond his shyness, Shone was one of the hardest headed dogs I’ve owned.  I put him in lead during his first year here.  He was just over two.  That year, I ranked him behind Jake, but just barely. At the end of Race to the Sky, I used both in single lead and they didn’t flinch.  The next two years, he and Jake were about even.  By the time 2010 rolled around, Shoshone and Tanner were my main leaders.  Only last winter, 2015, did Shone drop out of my top two dogs.  He was ten years old.

This year, I started him with the A-Team, but he had a lot of difficulty keeping up.  The B-Team was much easier, though he’s now sitting out.  I’m guessing there’s a combination of an injury that will heal and ongoing spinal issues that won’t—well guessing and a set of x-rays. 

I had brought him indoors for several nights figuring he’d heal faster, and he may have.  Unlike some of my other dogs, however, Shone wanted to be back out in the yard.  With Shoshone’s ongoing issues, not to mention the fact that I only had one sawed-off platform and wanted to keep Quid on it, I pulled out my new chain saw and lobbed off the legs of a second platform.  This drops it from more than 15” off the ground to 3.5”, just 2x4’s on their sides, and moved him out onto it.  With all my geriatric dogs, a second platform with easy access made a lot of sense.  This done, I set Shone there. 

With all the uncertainty plus clear indications of spinal issues, I also decided to switch  Shoshone from carprofen to prednisone.  Like everybody except Sima, he’s shown a clear improvement.  His walk is somewhat better and his attitude is much better.    The regular tail wags for food or yard time are part of what tells me he’s doing well back in the yard. 

When I hear my dogs start to howl, I often go to the window that overlooks my yard and watch.  That’s how I knew it was Otter who started many of the sing-songs.  For over a year now, it’s been Shoshone who’s been out leading the howling.  I’m not sure he’s as concerned about who is and isn’t joining in as Otter was, but he does look a lot like her, standing there and singing to the world.  Back out in the yard, Shone is once more enjoying his role as songleader.    

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