Posted by: arcticpackseppalas | November 21, 2020

The end of the year is nearly here.

I’m pretty confident nobody has been a fan of this year so far.   Everyone’s lives have been affected in some way by Covid-19.   If you were lucky, you stayed healthy, perhaps got a couple of paid months off work and got a little fitter.  Others, of course have not been anywhere near as lucky and have lost jobs, their physical and/or mental health has been affected and many have sadly lost loved ones.   It has been a very emotional, upsetting and extremely hard year for a lot of people.

We have been very fortunate, not only health wise but also where we live.  Lockdown for us here, surrounded by fields of barely and so much open space felt like we weren’t actually in any sort of containment.   We are also able to run dogs from our door here, so it meant on cooler mornings we could still get the dogs out for a leg stretch without meeting anyone or travelling anywhere.  It did get very warm during July and August so they did have several weeks off this year which is unusual for us. The dogs spent their days lounging about in the sunshine.  Once the lockdown was eased, we did do a few mornings at the beach and walked everyone there to keep them entertained.   Most of the dogs had gotten a bit fat over the summer so we are very glad to be back out training on a much more regular basis now and their trimmer bodies have reappeared.  Humidity, as it always is at this time of year, is a challenge so we still aren’t out quite as much as we would like.

Odie on the beach

saying hello to the neighbours

Sunbathing

Little Crazy Face is back in the team after she was spayed at the end of August.  She lived indoors for the first 5 weeks after her surgery and had a day and half where she felt sorry for herself, but as most dogs do, bounced back (literally) and expected to run 2 days after her op.  Her wound healed very quickly with no issues at all and she was difficult to keep calm which meant we had to stop her doing laps of the dog pen.  After starting back walks with the old geriatric, Wilson she moved back outside with her crew and is now happily back in harness.  We kept everyone else on very short runs so she could gain fitness quickly and the team can move on to harder runs together without her having to catch up too much.

Gracie out for a walk while recovering from her spay surgery

The dogs are finally finding some sort of new normal as a group after losing so many of their friends earlier this year.  It is always sad it has to happen, but interesting to watch how the dynamics shift after losing their kennel mates, especially if those friends were high ranking in the group.  Spaces and roles have to be filled and new best friends spring out of the sadness.

Covid-19, as it has with so many aspects of life, has played havoc with sled dog training and now races.  Races have all been cancelled until at least the new year and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.   Certain places had training permits suspended too which meant a lot of very bored sled dogs  around the country i’m sure!  Hopefully everyone is now able to train and stick within current regulations.

Old Man Wilson is hanging on in there despite recurring health issues.  He has lost a heap of weight as a lot of old huskies seem to do but he still enjoys his off lead time in the fields.  He likes to try and chase after anything that moves but doesn’t get too far before he realises he has no hope of catching anything and that Mummy and the biscuits are a much better option.  He is getting quite deaf (or perhaps selectively deaf..) so we often have a to use a loud whistle to get his attention.  As his eyesight is not as great as it used to be, you have to do star jumps like a crazy person if he is far away so he can spot you.  He then makes his way back rapidly for some food.   The fields are fenced and he can’t go anywhere, but he can get a bit worried if he thinks he has lost you.   Or maybe he just worries he has lost the steady supply of biscuits.

Old Dog looking for biscuits.

As I mentioned earlier,  October has been warm, and/or humid. It has rained a lot too.   Not the best combination for training.  Hopefully now November is here it will cool down and we will get some nice cold and dry weather.  But somehow I doubt it!

Stay safe and well everyone.  Happy trails!

Posted by: arcticpackseppalas | August 3, 2020

Navajos Little Miss Swann for Arcticpack. 08/05/08 – 04/05/20

The Matriarch.  

 

Although her official name was Natalie, she lived her life answering to ‘Squeaky’.   She was the boss, the Queen bee, the lady in charge.   Everyone loved her.  She was such a classic Siberian.   A pretty social and easy going dog, she only ever got in trouble over food.  She loved her food, and would start a riot over a tiny bit of kibble if she felt she had to.   She was very much like her uncle Norris appetite wise and she never missed a meal in her life.   She was a bright, white star in a sea of ginger here and her larger than life personality along with her stand out colour only continues to make her absence even more pronounced.  

 

 

It’s no secret Squeaky was Cam’s dog.  She adored him and with the help of our vet, she passed peacefully in his arms, me by their side, just the way she would have wanted it.   She always kinda tolerated me but i’m pretty sure only because I provided the food and often looked at me with a ‘what do you want now, peasant?’ sort of look.   Her eyes were always shiny and smiling with love when she looked at Cam.  She was a hilariously regal and superior dog, but also a lot of fun.   A proper character for sure, she kept the other dogs in line without ever needing to get nasty.  They just pretty much did what she said, well apart from Gracie, but then she is a whole other story!

Squeak came to us as an 8 week old puppy and honestly, she was one of the one of the most beautiful things we had ever seen.   Pure, brilliant white with a tiny black button nose, she had such a sweet nature and was very clever. When she was hungry, she would go get her bowl and drop it at your feet and learned ‘high five’ pretty quick, which continued to be her favourite party trick throughout her life.    She was such a happy little girl and it still makes me so sad about the trauma she had to go through at such a young age.    When she arrived, she bonded immediately with Tashya our GSD puppy who was only a few months older than her.   The two of them were inseparable and despite the huge size difference, they played for hours, rumbling about.  Their favourite game was throwing a ball about for each other.  One would pick it up in their mouth, then launch it for the other to chase, then vice versa.   They were very funny to watch.   Sadly, at only 9 months old we lost Tashya very suddenly and unexpectedly.   Squeaky was only 6 months old and like us, was devastated at the loss of her best friend.  Tashya died overnight at the vets and in hindsight, we should have let Squeaky see her to say goodbye.  Instead, unable to understand what had happened to her friend, she spent weeks looking everywhere for her.  She would check the van and all the dog boxes outside daily, her wee face hopeful and expectant that she would find her.   I don’t think she ever got over that loss and she certainly never bonded with another dog again the way she had with Tashya.  Even years later, at our local agricultural show, she would remember being there with Tash and would watch the crowds.  If she caught a glimpse of a GSD she would immediately sit up, watching, all excited only to visibly sadden and lose interest when she realised it wasn’t her.  It was incredibly hard to watch.   Throughout her life, Squeaky continued to play with a ball.  It was her favourite toy.   With the absence of Tashya, we would throw the ball for her and she would play fetch with us for a while.  On occasion, we would find her throwing the ball for herself, they way her and Tash used to play together.  

 

 

Despite her heartbreak early on in life, she established  herself in the group and grew up to be what can only be described as ‘The Queen’.   She was very much an Auntie and every puppy that came after her learned the rules in a firm, but fair manner.   She was wonderful with puppies.  She would play with them for hours and her favourite form of discipline for unruly youngsters was to get them in a headlock with her front legs until they complied with the law.   She was never aggressive with them as she never needed to be.  Everyone just did what she said.  After a bit of a shaky start when Vixen arrived, things smoothed out between the two of them and they did become good friends.   Her only true arch nemesis was Crazy Face Grace.   Gracie was a wild little puppy with no fear, respect or regard for her own safety.  Squeaky was exasperated with her and got so frustrated that no matter what she did discipline wise, Gracie always flipped her the imaginary bird and did whatever the hell she wanted.   They did get in a couple of proper hormone induced brawls as Gracie got older, but DisGracie has gotten in a brawl with everyone at some point, so it was more a reflection on her, rather than Squeaky.  

Naughty Omar in a headlock

 

 

As a young to middle aged dog, Squeaky was dreadful indoors.  She would just trash stuff for fun.    She was never stressed, or bored or left long, she just liked to destroy stuff, even if you were in the next room.   I remember we had a big, old duvet we had folded up for a comfy bed for the indoor dogs.  We got up one morning to Squeaky sitting proudly in the middle of it, shredded into tiny pieces.  Her face just said, ‘well, what you going to do about it?’.   As she aged and got towards double figures, she moved indoors and was mostly trustworthy.    Although we did have to move where we kept the stash of tins and foil packets of dog meat we have for feeding the old dogs.  She would just help herself to a tin or packet and chew them open to eat the contents.  How she never cut her mouth to shreds I don’t know.  She was such a greedy dog!   

As a working dog, she was never quite as enthusiastic about it as the others as she was quite affected by hormones after her season.   She did work in harness in a bigger team and ran at several races, but as she got older much preferred to go for bike runs with Cam and her Uncle Norris.   She was a super working companion for Betty after Bett’s lymphoma diagnosis and subsequent spinal issues.   She knew her turns and quickly learned to help Betty on the trail, keeping her away from the ditches at the side etc and was happy to go at the steady pace Betty needed at that time in her life.   Despite enjoying running with Betts and always keen to go, once she had to retire, Squeaky decided her services were no longer required and also retired herself.   She was content to go for walks with her then retired Uncle Norris and Hexie.  

Running at wheel

 

with her Uncle Norris

 

As a young puppy she was awful off lead and as a result, didn’t get as much free running time as some of our other dogs have had.   I thought she would be the same as an elderly dog, but I was wrong.   Even before she got to an elderly age, she was actually very good at recall and this allowed her some wonderful off lead time in the open fields at home in the last several months of her life.   It was a time for me and her to spend together and I miss that.   I miss her talkative voice and her padding her feet when she was excited for her dinner or for going a walk.   She had such a wonderfully cheery and expressive face that always had a cheeky smile.  A light seemed to shine from her and she was always eager and full of fun.   Her loss seemed to make everything dark.  She was the last of the ‘Aunties’ our puppies had growing up and we have all been left without her guiding light.   As is always the case when a personality like hers is lost, the dogs feel it just as much as us.  Her passing is the fourth friend we have all said goodbye to this year and everyone is adrift.   The younger dogs are having to find their own way and own group dynamics as they move on without their older, respected and more experienced companions.   

High five from the Queen

Up on the bales in the fields.

In the last several months of her life, she started to slow down a bit and seemed to be putting on weight.  Diagnostics confirmed she had a pretty huge mass in her abdomen.  Surgery was not a particularly sensible option for her, so we decided to let her be.  With pain relief, she lived several comfortable and happy months.  Pottering about, sleeping on the couch, eating and going for walks in the fields.   The tumour grew quite quickly though and she started to stop doing as much, slept more and it was clear she was starting to struggle.   She had a last walk off lead on the beach at sunrise, and a few days before her 12th birthday,  we made the incredibly sad and difficult decision to let her be at peace. 

 

Dearest Squeaky, thank you for everything you did for us all here.   We hope you are reunited with the girls and your long lost friend.   Keep those boys in line for us x  

Sleep tight, we will love and miss you forever xxxx

 

 

 

 

Posted by: arcticpackseppalas | June 11, 2020

Langfaulds Hexe of Arcticpack 13/02/07 – 24/03/20

Hexie was a wonderful dog.  As all good German Shepherds are, she was a fabulous companion, protector and friend to us both.  Despite the odds and several emergency vet trips over the years, she reached her 13th birthday and lived a full and happy life.  She was a ridiculously happy, and a little bit crazy dog.  We often called her, Happy Hexie Nut Nut or simply, Nut Nut.  Yes, she certainly became serious in an instant if required and always looked the part when yelling at ‘intruders’, but a few words from us and her demeanour changed back to silly happy and she would bound off around the garden looking for a toy to chew and throw about.   I do miss her roaming about the place. I know Cam does too.  It is the first time in 18 years we haven’t had a GSD and the fact that they are able to be free, not contained behind 6 ft fences, always by your side whatever you are doing in the garden only magnifies their absence.  She loved to play with you and all you had to do was stand still, look at her, pretend to move towards her and she would get all excited and play bow at you.  Her wrinkled lips, shiny eyes and silly bark would quickly be followed by her spinning around and tearing off round the garden, only to come back and play bow again.  She was a proper happy daftie.

Our gorgeous girl at nearly 10.

 

Hexie arrived with us at just under two years old.  She came into our lives because her breeders are good-hearted, lovely people who did a selfless and exceptionally kind thing for us.  We are so grateful to them for allowing her to come live here with us all.   At the time we still had Witchy, our older GSD who was also from the same breeder.  She would become a great friend and role model for Hexie, who was very much out her comfort zone when she arrived.  Hexie was a kennel dog at her previous home and lived with a heap of other GSD’s who were all her relatives to varying degree.   The familial living  meant she did socialise and fit in reasonably quickly with the huskies once here.  It was apparent she had no, or little experience of being indoors and for the first few days would think food on our plates was for sharing. Surprisingly, she was pretty much immediately house trained.  She stuck to me like glue for the first few weeks.  Curled up beside me on the couch or following me everywhere if I moved.  She did continue to follow us any time we moved for many years, but did eventually relax a bit about it as she got older.  She was the kind of dog that exploded with love,  excitement and relief when she saw you, even if you had only been out the room for 5 minutes.  I do miss her gently (sometimes not so gently!) mouthing my hands in that reassurance seeking, ‘i love you’ way  some dogs do.

all settled in with her new crew,

 

 

 

Learning to be left with the other dogs and us being absent from the scenario was a challenge for her and us.  She was a bit mental for a while and did eat her way out dog boxes and destroy a van door at one point.  But with consistency, time and patience she realised we were indeed coming back each time we left and there was no need for the dramatics.  She eventually, became a great house dog who could be left while we were at work without remodelling while we were gone.

When she arrived, Hexie immediately befriended Witchy.  Witchy was her safety blanket, her teacher, her constant companion and they became inseparable during the 6 years they got to spend together.   They both loved to free run in the fields behind our house and were often very naughty disappearing after deer or the odd hare.  Neither of them had any hope of ever catching a hare or bambi, and they always came back with giant grins on their faces, happy that they got to chase something other than a ball.   They also loved the beach.  Hexie was never quite as enthusiastic about swimming as Witchy was, but she did happily play in the shallower surf.  She loved going to the forest when we were training Huskies.  For most of her life, she got to run alongside our oldies while Cam took them out on the bike for a mile or two.  It was one of her favourite things to do.  We did try her in harness, but she never really took to it as well as Witchy and was far more content to free run alongside a team or the bike.

 

on the beach with her best friend

 

Excited and shouting about going a run with the huskies

 

 

It always fascinates me how much herding instinct is still in German Shepherds.  Especially those bred from dogs who haven’t been used for that particular job for several generations.  Witchy was superb at rounding up and going after loose huskies.  It was like she seemed to know they shouldn’t be off lead.  Hexie never really did it.  That was, until Witchy got elderly and less mobile and once we lost her, Hexie showed us that she always had the skill to do it, she just let her ‘boss’ do it.  Not that we have had many escapee huskies over the years, but we have had several off lead oldies and Betts was always off lead once she went blind.   Hexie would automatically ‘go get them’ if they were ignoring our calls to come back to us in the fields.  We never taught her to do it.  She would go chase them, run round them and nudge them as if to say, ‘pay attention!’  The old people would obligingly follow her back to us.  Norris, Betty and Hexie spent a few years together, off lead in the fields. My Three Amigos.  I hope they are back together again.   She was fabulous with the puppies when they were young and getting free running in the fields too.  She stayed with them, played chase with them, taught them recall and generally made sure they were always in sight.   It is still pretty sad heading out for walks with our current oldies.  I so very much miss her daft sounding bark she only did when she was excited about going a walk.  She would leap about like a crazy person, half yipping half barking the minute you started to get the ‘going a walk’ routine started.  She would run round and leap about you, tripping you up until you told her she could go.   Like most Shepherds, she liked to bark.  And bark she did.  At pretty much anything she deemed an intruder into her domain.  This included, rabbits, cats, people, cars she didn’t recognise, cyclists on their way past and even the farmer walking through his own fields to see ‘her’  cattle.  Hexie’s domain, as far as she was concerned, was everything as far as she could see in any direction around her. She would usually quiet down once we assured her nobody was stealing anything.   She was very protective of her pack, even though she didn’t love all of them and was very intolerant of strange dogs.  Dogs who were polite, respectful and knew how to read and give off proper dog body language always fared better.  Dogs who were bolshy, rude and thought it ok to come barrelling up to us, did not fare so well.  Often sent on their way after being turfed upside down and given a rollicking by her.   Out on walks on her own, without any of our other dogs, she was far more sociable.

 

my three amigos.

rounding up some puppies

watching over her domain, in the last of the days light

 

smiley face

 

Although Hexie reached a decent age for a Shepherd, she had her fair share of health issues over the years.   She was a pretty resilient and hardy dog and we used to say she had more lives than a cat.   She injured her knee when she was nearly 9 years old.  Recovery required a lot of rest, specific physio exercises and most importantly no jumping and ‘staying calm’.   This was far from an easy task with a dog who thought not seeing you for 5 minutes was equivalent to not seeing you for 2 years and leapt about like a crazy person any chance she got.  With the help of our vets and canine physio/massage therapist, she made a full recovery and avoided any surgery at all.   She suffered from cysts that were sometimes nasty enough to need veterinary treatment and when she was younger managed to rip out a toenail.   She bloated several times, once with torsion that required surgery when she was 12.  I was really on the fence about the surgery but again thanks to our vets,  she proved me wrong and recovered pretty quickly considering her age.   She had a mass in her abdomen, suffered a vestibular attack, started to lose her sight as she aged and then her heart started to give out.  After another out of hours trip to see one of our fab vets and receiving treatment for her heart, she bounced back and for several months after had a really good quality of life, albeit a tad slower chasing the hares.  Sadly, after a couple of days of her seeming a bit quieter than normal, her heart finally gave out and we lost her very quickly one evening in March, just a month after her 13th birthday.

Dogs are all such individual souls.  They are all unique in what they teach us, what they give us, what they mean to us and subsequently, the loss is as individual and unique as they are when they leave us.   Several months later I still miss her and am so sad she is gone.  Despite knowing she lived a long life with us, I can’t make peace with her passing.  She was such a huge part of our lives.   I almost feel, not quite unsafe, but perhaps uneasy without her here.  I relied on her more than I ever realised, from a feeling of safety, to being my own personal antidepressant.   Nothing lifts the spirits more than a dog.  Their enthusiasm, optimism, their near constant state of ‘happy’ and willingness to share their lives with you is immediately comforting.    I would give anything to be able to go for a walk with her in the stubble fields again, just me and her, a camera and her ball.

Sleep tight our beautiful girl.  Say hi to everyone for us.
We will love and miss you forever. xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: arcticpackseppalas | March 8, 2020

Little Vixen – 25/04/07 – 18/01/20

My Little Angel.

all smiles and happy after a run

I still cannot believe she has gone, or even begin to come to terms with her not being here, curled up on the couch with her friends.   Vixen was an incredibly special dog.  For many reasons, and her passing, especially so soon after our beautiful, Dancer, has left me quite numb.  I try not to think about the two of them as I feel like i may just totally lose myself.  Dogs find a way into your soul that no other being can and their loss is an immense sea of grief, that often overwhelms.   It’s a loss only those who have lived with, loved and worked with dogs can understand.

Vixen was a tiny little dog.  A dog of polar opposites and a complicated little soul at times.  A beautiful girl, but incredibly difficult to photograph.   As a result, I have very few pictures of her at home.   The minute she saw a camera, even a phone camera,  she would immediately shrink into herself, ears all low and wide and generally behave like she was suspicious and feral.  The trick was to catch her off guard, so she didn’t realise you were looking at her through a lens.  She never liked being what she considered ‘under scrutiny’ and that is the main reason she never saw a show ring in her life.  She hated strangers even looking at her, let along touching her without her permission and would have equally hated the show ring.  The flip side of this seemingly anti-social part of her personality, was that if she liked you, she would come over for a fuss, on her terms of course, and just totally melt into you.  She was incredibly affectionate and you could lift her, cradle her like a baby and she would just put so much trust in you.   If she liked you.   Most people she met, she wasn’t too bothered about getting to know, but was tolerant of them being around her. Some people she loved and a handful of people she met, she just did not like.  At all.  If they came to visit, she would be on edge, uneasy and often bark at them from across the room if they moved or spoke in a certain tone.   These people always turned out to be, well, not the best people they could have been.  She was a very smart dog.

 

Vixen came to us in 2010, just short of her 3rd birthday.   She came with her wonderful Mum, and up until that point they had never been separated.  As a result they were incredibly bonded.  When she arrived she was screaming, manic and in need of an outlet for her pent up frustrations.  It took a lot of time to get Vixen more confident on her own, without her Mum beside all the time, but once in a good routine with plenty or regular exercise, she calmed down and became a different dog.   Our dogs were fantastic and welcomed both girls.  Sadly, her Mum had to leave us and go back to where she came from.   Vixen never really got over that.  Neither did we.
Early life experiences meant she was a dog who relied on other dogs.  She needed to be around other dogs, close, but usually not touching.  We often joked and called her ‘Little Miss Mardy’ as if other dogs lay down next to her and touched her, she would grump at them, often getting up to go lie somewhere else.  In contrast, other times she would curl up next to someone and use them as a pillow.    And with young puppies she was a dream.  She loved them.  They could crawl all over her, chew her tail and ears.   She genuinely seemed happy and relaxed around puppies.  It’s a real shame she never had any of her own.

 

She was playful with the others, but only in smaller groups.  If everyone was tearing about the pen, she would usually hang back a bit.  One to one she would chase, leap about and generally behave like a puppy.   She loved a ball and would roll it about so she could pounce on it.  When outdoors she would get really annoyed at wood pigeons and pheasants sitting in trees above her.  She would bark and shout at them, stamping her feet so frustrated she couldn’t reach them.   She had the same, annoyed, angry bark for the shooters when they were in the fields shooting birds. She could be a proper disciplinarian when she needed to be and not many youngsters tried it on with Auntie Vixen without getting put firmly, but fairly in their place.   Even wee Crazy Face Grace who answers to no one, had some semblance of respect for Vixen.

As easy to live with at home as she was, harness work was where she really came alive.   She loved and needed to work.  It was almost like a drug to her and it was when you got to see this tiny dog’s immense and indomitable spirit. And hear her voice.  She would scream and shout until the snub was released, with a disproportionately loud amount of noise considering how little there was of her.    Vixen was never happier than when she was running and would be airborne, screaming with excitement until the team was allowed to go.  She continued to shout and jump about after a run too.  A few minutes and a quick drink was all she needed before she was antsy to go again, often riling everyone else up.   Despite her tiny size, in her younger years she would easily shove and haul dogs twice her size around turns on the trail if they were getting it wrong.   Her harness gave her a confidence you would never of thought she had if you only ever met her at home.   And it’s where she forgot about a camera.  I have hundreds of pictures of her in harness, happy and not caring at all about being looked at through a lens.  She was a lead dog.  That is where she liked to be.  Up front.  Taking us where we needed to go, seeing what was around the next bend.  If you put her anywhere else in a team for more than a couple of runs, she would be a total menace about it.  Biting lines, deliberately getting herself under the lines, stepping over lines and generally reminding you that she didn’t run here.  She ran up front.   She spent many years leading our bigger teams in training with her brother and was equally happy running single lead.  Wee Joe loved to lead with her, and the two of them would caper about at hook up together.    When her friend Betty lost her sight to glaucoma, Vixen stepped up and helped her continue to lead teams in harness.  She would move Betty about the trail if she was veering off course and would also move her out the way of bushes etc at the side of the trail.  She was quite an amazing little dog and a very good friend to Betts when she needed her.

Vixen slept indoors overnight for many years.   For no reason other than she was Vixen.  She moved indoors full time in the last few years and was generally trustworthy.  Unless a phone was ringing.  For some reason, she hated phones ringing.   If you left your mobile indoors with her while you were out and it rang, there was a high percentage chance she would eat it.   She couldn’t reach the landline to eat it, so other things got trashed instead.   And sponges for the dishes.  She ate them too if she could reach them.  My perfect little weirdo.

Throughout her life Vixen suffered from an autoimmune condition that affected her lungs.   It was quite debilitating for her until we got it under control with medication and in all honesty, she lived a longer life that I thought she ever would.   It was still not and could never have been, long enough.    At her core she was a loving, kind soul with a good and generous heart.  I miss her.

 

She had to retire late last year and her last runs in November.   I think that was the beginning of the end for her.  There was a sadness about her, coupled with her watching her best friend Dancer decline steadily I think her being unable to run allowed her tiny body to be overcome by her illness.   When Dancer left us, Vixen went downhill very quickly and despite medications, it seemed her spirit was broken and her heart just wasn’t in getting better.  All her fight had left her and two short weeks after saying goodbye to Dancer, we let her be with her friend she missed so much.

Thank you for coming into our lives, Vixen.  I’m sorry we couldn’t do more for you, but I hope you know how much you were loved x
Sleep tight My Little Angel.   We will love and miss you forever xx

 

 

Posted by: arcticpackseppalas | February 24, 2020

Snopeak’s Paranoidz for Arcticpack 06/12/2008- 03/01/2020

Dancer.

Dancer Prancer, Dancing Dancer, Little Pretty, Little Pudding.  Just some of the names for our wonderful girl we lost on the 3rd January.   Not only did we lose a very special dog, we also lost another of our best friends.

 

Dancer was one of those easy dogs.  Easy going, easy to live with, easy to work with, easy to love and one you never had to worry about in a team or in the pack.   She was accepting, adaptable, trusting and kept herself out of trouble.  She loved me, but adored Cam and was very much, his girl.  She was a beautiful soul, inside and out.

An absolutely gorgeous little puppy, she came to live with us along with her brother, Arko when they were 8 weeks old, from two of our longest and dearest friends in the breed.   They were teeny tiny little people and I remember there was snow on the ground when we arrived home.   Both of them slept on my lap the whole 4 hour drive back from Livingston.  We knew her mother, Kinny from a puppy and Dancer and Arko were hoped for even before their litter was properly planned.  They were both very much worth the wait.   Dancer had just the right amount of shy, inquisitiveness we like in puppies.  Not too bold, overpowering or bolshy, but quiet and thoughtful.   Once exposed to a situation she quickly gained confidence about it.  She became a very outgoing girl and a great dog for relying on to relax and teach others who were unsure about working in harness.

 

8 weeks old

9 years old

 

Dancer had a fascination with bugs and on more than one occasion I would find her in a dog box with a collection of earth worms.  Unharmed, all in a little pile.   She loved to chase moths in the dark and would leap about, catching them.  She had so many little quirks that I miss a lot.  The thing I have found I miss the most is her voice.  She always had something to say with her distinctive woo- woooo  and made a very specific little yipping noise when she was waiting to run in harness.   I didn’t realise how much i missed hearing her until I watched a training run video from my facebook memories the other day.  Dancer wasn’t even visible in the video until the very last part of it, but the minute I heard her off-screen in the background,  I just started to cry.

A decent enough leader for us, she loved to work in harness. She often ran single lead and was always, always at her best just before and during her season.  Once she had pups, and especially after she was spayed around 8 years old, she lost a bit of drive and much preferred to let the youngsters do all the grafting. (sensible!)  Even though she  did slow down a bit, she still missed working when she had to retire due to her illness.   When Pirate and Betty came to stay, she was instrumental in helping Betty become confident, happy and to actually enjoy being in harness.   She was a steady, sensible, cheery companion for Betts to learn from and taught her to enjoy what we were asking her to do.   I still remember those early runs with me, Dancer and Betty.   Betty would trot along, not pulling much at all, looking behind her and worried about the whole situation.  Dancer would slow down to her pace and just work away, pulling me on her own, steady and calm.  Sometimes she would lean over and kinda gently poke Betty in the face as if to say, ‘come on!  this is fun!’  With Dancers help Betty went from an insecure, unsure dog to a screaming, excited working sled dog who came to love her harness and everything it meant.

 

teaching Betty the ropes

 

leading the team with her brother Arko

 

Whether Dancer was indoors or out, she almost always slept curled up in that classic husky pose.  Even in summer.  She had a favourite spot out in the pen, in a little hollow between two tree roots. I often look at it and think of her.  Nobody else lies in her spot. When she wasn’t curled up, she would be lying with her legs crossed, looking ever so elegant.    In contrast to her chilled out persona at home,  when out and about, she was hard work to walk.  Usually always on two legs, dancing about or diving into bushes after some small furry thing that could be lunch.  She always loved going to the beach.   Vixen was her best friend and the pair of them lived together, indoors and out,  most of their lives.  She was a very playful dog, and her favourite game was a game of chase around one of the trees in the dog pen.  She especially loved doing this with her brother and they were always fun to watch as they chased each other and played with no boundaries the way only littermates do.

 

In her favourite spot

 

out for a walk

 

In 2013 she had a litter of 7 puppies.  Before they were born, Cam jokingly asked her how many pups she was having.  He started counting, and she just kept looking at him, tilting her head side to side.  He got to 7 and she woo’d at him.   He went past 7  and she went quiet again.  We did laugh when she actually had 7 puppies.  She was a lovely Mum and did everything she needed to do while they were tiny.  She was so sweet and she really didn’t want to discipline them much at all, so once they got bigger and got teeth, she was quite content for the Riot Police Aunties, Squeaky, Betty and Vixen to take over on that front.  When the pups were about 4 weeks old and meeting the other dogs, we would let her decide who she was happy with meeting them.  It makes me laugh thinking about it as the only dog she wouldn’t let near them for weeks was her brother, Arko.  She did love him lots, and they often spent a lot of time together, but she also knew he wasn’t called Asbo Arko for nothing. He got the ‘back off’ lifted lips teeth treatment for a while until she decided her puppies were big enough to cope with him.

 

with her gorgeous puppies

 

She remained very bonded with her 5 pups we kept, still washing faces and ears and sleeping with her daughters all together in a dog box.   It’s so sad to see Neeta and Olivia tucked up together without their Mum.  When she became poorly and moved indoors, even her loutish sons would barrel into the dog pen, chasing each other about, but when their mum came out to see them, they always had a gentle ‘hi mum’ lick of her muzzle for her, before going back to charging about being louts.

tucked up with her daughters

 

the tree game

 

In spring of 2019 she started to become unwell.  Pancreatitis was the likely culprit.  Lots of tests, meds etc and several months later, she had declined so much and was a shell of herself. Given her family history, I strongly suspect cancer was involved somewhere.   She weighed just over 13kgs and although she seemed happy enough to potter about and just be with her friends, she quit eating anything at all and what we were asking of her became unfair.  It was very obvious she wasn’t going to get better and we had to make the call to let her go.  It was one of the hardest, most difficult decisions we have ever had to make about the dogs.   We all miss her so much.

Thank you Dancer, for everything you gave us.  I’m sorry we couldn’t make you better.
Sleep tight my Little Pretty and say hi to everyone for us x    We will love and miss you forever xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Older Posts »

Categories