Posted by: arcticpackseppalas | August 13, 2019

Navajos Shishaldin of Arcticpack 13/03/04 – 17/06/19

“And I was told
That the streets were paved with gold
And there’d be no time for getting old when we were young”
The Dying of the light – Noel Gallagher


No talk of it. Not even a thought about it.  But a dog lifetime seems to pass so quickly, too quickly.  The excitement and anticipation of a lifetime of new adventures together seems like only yesterday, but suddenly, old age and all its frailties is upon our canine friends.  And then we have to say goodbye.

We said a sad goodbye to our wonderful old friend, Norris nearly two months ago now.  With the help of our vet, he slipped away peacefully in our arms,  the summer sun bathing him in light and warmth.  Norris lived a good, long life surrounded by many canine friends.  He enjoyed a lifetime doing what he loved, got to dig countless holes, spent many hours on the couch, went many different places and enjoyed a lot of off lead time in his elderly years.  He was a best friend to both of us and even though we know that he did indeed live a good and full life, it doesn’t make his passing any easier or any less painful.   I miss his gorgeous face so much.


Norris came to us at 8 weeks old, settled in quickly and grew rapidly.  It was apparent from a very young age he was going to be a big dog.   For a long time, it really did seem like he was all legs.  As he aged, he grew into his large frame and he matured into an incredibly, handsome, well-built dog.  He was a grafter in harness and loved his ‘job’ very much.  He would often run next to his best friend, Mohceh.  They were born about 3 months apart and grew up together.  They became very much like brothers.  All our other dogs loved Norris.  He was such a playful, easy going big lad.  He never started a fight in his life, nor did he look too get involved in any, but he had such a size and presence about him that everyone had a lot of respect for him.  The monkey puppies especially loved him and even as a 6 year old, Neeta would be all over him, ears back, respectful, licking his face and so excited she would be trying to jump all over him each and every time she saw him.   Many of the dogs continued to look in the van for him for days after he was gone.   Gracie was especially sad to watch, as each time she walked past the van, she would look in expectantly, then look at me with her wonderfully expressive face.  If she could talk, she would absolutely have said, ‘where is Norris?’.


baby Norris

Gracie giving some love to a not all that impressed old man, Norris

In harness he was hardworking, powerful and was excellent for teaching unruly youngsters some manners at hook up.  He did shout a lot about running, but when hooked in would stand and not leap about or bite lines or try and shove his running mate around.  We missed him a lot for training when he retired.  He was a good, honest dog.

leading with his best friend, Mo


Norris moved indoors to live permanently with Hexie and Betty when he was about 13.  Several others also slept in at night, but those three lived in.  They became very good friends and Betty took to looking after him whenever he wasn’t feeling so good.  The three of them spent many afternoons in the fields together, just free running around.  Always coming back for those all-important biscuits.  Norris loved his food.  He never missed a meal, not even when girls were in season.  He was also a menace for eating non-food items though and although it wasn’t the reason for his passing, he still had a cycling glove he had eaten in there when he did.   When he was relatively young, we also discovered he had a totally irrational fear about paintbrushes.   Like, absolutely, run out the room terrified of them.  No idea why.  This was clean, new, dry paintbrushes.  For whatever reason, he seemed to think they were the work of the devil.  I was painting some wood yesterday and it made me smile thinking about Norris and his distrust of all things paintbrush.

he three amigos. blind dog, shouty dog and geriatric dog. 🙂




As he entered his elderly years, he was able to be off lead in certain places.  The fields at home as I mentioned above, but also on the beach if it was reasonably quiet.  He loved the beach and quite liked to swim as a younger dog.  Paddling in the waves was just fine for him as an old person though.   He had one of his last walks on the beach and even though his mobility was very poor and his heart was having a hard time with the exertion, his face was so, so happy.   It is incredibly hard to watch their old bodies slowly fail them.   And as it is with losing all old dogs, your routine is changed greatly once they leave.  That is always a constant reminder they aren’t with you anymore.


Thank you, Norris.  You were such a wonderful friend and companion.  I’m sorry we couldn’t do more for you and I hope you know how much you were loved.   We hope you found Mo and the rest of your friends who left before you.  Remember to share the biscuits x

Sleep tight my magnificent old boy.  We will love and miss you forever xxx




Posted by: arcticpackseppalas | January 2, 2019

The first run of the new year.

Ok, so we ran in the dark on the 1st of January 2019.  That means no pictures.   But it was a nice run all the same.  The 9 dog team was led by 5.5 year old Lester and his 10-year-old mum, Dancer.   It was around 6 degrees, windy and as it is a lot of the time where we train, about a million % humidity.   The weather seems to get worse each year with no consistent winter temperatures.  It was nearly 12 degrees on boxing day.  Depending on the dogs you run and what they can cope with, it does make it more difficult to train with any sort of goal or consistent mileage in mind.  That said, we are pretty lucky in that we can usually train every month of the year here.   Last year was also much drier than usual which meant hardly any training at all in rain and mud.   We even got a few rare snow days!  Coldest run from the pictures was January at -4.   The warmest was July at 12 degrees.

2018 training

At the beginning of December, Little Vixen was quite poorly.   She ended up running a high fever and was pretty miserable and lethargic.  After some bloodwork, she was started on antibiotics and is now back to her old self.  She had some enforced time off from running, but has started back and did a nice, steady couple of miles with her brother early doors on new years day.  Vixen has now made herself a permanent house dog and has taken over Betty’s role in keeping old Norris company.  She certainly isn’t as ‘motherly’ as Betts was, and Norris often finds himself getting bossed about instead of looked after.  Poor Hexie is sometimes not even allowed in the door.  Hexie is our big, shouty GSD and it’s hilarious to see her pause at the steps and be worried about going inside  due to this tiny little Siberian Husky who is standing there with body language that screams ‘you shall not pass!’.  There is no aggression on Vixen’s part at all.  No hackles up, no growling etc, just a bossy look and posture that says ‘Nope.  Not until you pay the toll’.  The toll, of course is one of us telling her to pack it in and let the GSD  inside to her bed.

In contrast to our dark, new years run we had a rare daylight run for our last outing of 2018.  At this time of year almost all of our training runs are in the dark.   It was ridiculously warm for the end of December at 11 degrees and humidity in the high 80’s.   The dogs coped fine, but we did do a short stop so I could clear some branches from the trail and Cam gave the dogs who wanted it a little water.  I’ve posted a few pictures below.    It was a really nice run with 8 dogs and the two of us.  One of those runs worth recording seeing as it was daylight.  Of course, that only works if you actually take the lens cap off the video camera before you set off…..

Happy new year to all our family, friends and followers!  Best wishes to you all for 2019.

Pirate yelling hurry up

Posted by: arcticpackseppalas | December 18, 2018

Articmoons Betty Boo for Arcticpack. 15/02/08 – 13/11/18

It’s now over a month since we lost Betts, and I am still struggling to find the words to write about her.  Her loss is still so raw and my heart feels empty and aches.   I still cry when i think of her, or when i see people who knew and loved her as much as we did.   It is so very hard to lose our friends, and Betty was one of the best.

I first met Betty when she was about 7 weeks old, back in april 2008.  I was on a trip down south and went to visit her breeders.  Cam and I had been hoping to get a couple of pups from this gorgeous litter, but it didn’t work out that way and I knew none were coming to stay with us when i went to visit them.   Fast forward a few years and Betty and her brother Pirate found themselves in need of a new home.  We are still humbled and very grateful to those involved who thought of us and thought that we would be a good enough home for these two dogs.   So, in October 2011 Betty and her brother Pirate came into our lives, just a few months short of their 4th birthday.



Betty came with the advisory that she might not run in harness too well.  We had no issues with that.  If she came and ran, great.  If she didn’t want to run, that was fine too.  We just wanted to give them both a home.  It quickly became apparent that Betty loved people.  She was a dog so willing to please and seemed to put her trust in us pretty quickly considering her move to a new home and kennel.  She was social and friendly with the other dogs and made herself a part of the pack easily.  All the dogs loved her.  As she settled in she became quite the boss and mother of everyone.  Always washing faces and ears, and telling off youngsters who would get too boisterous.   She was always happy, waggy tailed and always had something to say about everything.  She loved her brother and they were often in a dog box together or curled up together outside in the pen.   Betty had such a free spirit and hated being contained.  She didn’t like being in a crate and if she felt she had been in one too long would start to trash it or pull things through the mesh to destroy in protest.  She was rarely in one for this reason, and only ever had to be cooped up when recovering from surgery.

with her brother, Pirate

Betty started off her life in harness here a bit unsure about it all and what was expected of her.  But she was so eager to please us and seemed to feed off the enthusiasm of her running mates that it made her very easy to work with and we felt it was worth persevering with her.  We took her right back to basics and with a little thinking outside the box about what it was she was actually worrying about, she steadily gained confidence and fitness.   She started off as a quiet, timid little thing at hook up.  Looking around her, standing still with only a very low tail wag as we spoke to her. While running, she did very little actual pulling and spent a lot of time looking around and behind her, as if worried about something.  We paired her with sensible (well, as sensible as we can get here at Arkham!) dogs who weren’t going to leap about and scare her with running too fast.  Dancer worked incredibly well with her and was happy to slow to her pace.  She was a steady, hardworking companion for Betty and encouraged her to enjoy what she was doing.  Within a few months Betty was transformed into a screaming, excited, line biting crazy person like the rest of our dogs are at hook up and earned herself the name, Betty Bonkers.   She just got better and better and the more running in harness we gave her, the more she wanted and the harder she worked.  She turned out to be a pretty decent sled dog and even helped train the monkey puppies when it was their turn to start working in harness.   Betty became a reliable leader and we were so proud of her when she ran lead on the 6 dog team at a race at Darnaway.   Her absolute favourite dog to lead with was her best friend, Vixen.   The two of them loved being at the front of a 10 dog team.   Back then in those first few months after she arrived, she firmly cemented herself not only in the pack at home and the team when working, but also in our hearts.   She was such a special dog.  A dog with endless trust and an eagerness and enthusiasm for living life to the full.   She certainly needed those qualities when life decided to throw her a curve ball.


her first time leading at a race


In 2015 Betty developed glaucoma.   I still remember the day.  It was a Sunday and the dogs had been a run early morning.  As luck would have it, Betty was one of the dogs who got to come indoors that day so Cam noticed her eye pretty much straight away.  She had one pupil slightly larger than the other.  The usual eye assessment ensued and the pupil was still reacting to light, but sluggish compared to the other. This was her only symptom.   We talked for a bit about whether we remembered her running close to gorse on the trail that morning, or whether she had knocked her head, but really, we both knew this was going to be glaucoma.   We called the out of hours vet and took Betty in.   By this time, her eyeball was slightly enlarged compared to the other, and a tentative diagnosis of glaucoma was made as without a tonometer (it was at another branch) we couldn’t measure pressure and be sure.   She was started on eye drops straight away and we agreed to test her pressure the next day once the elusive tonometer could be delivered to our vets.  Glaucoma for those who don’t know is a horrible disease.  It causes extremely high pressures to build up within the eye which leads to irreversible optic nerve damage and blindness.  It is also incredibly painful.   Her eye pressure on the Monday was 48.   We made an appointment for the Thursday to see the eye specialist.  That week Betty had some pretty horrible pressure spikes where her eye would go cloudy and she would be in obvious pain.  Tramadol and metacam helped a great deal.  Normal eye pressure is between 10-20.  Her eye pressure was only down to 33 by the Thursday after 4 days on an aggressive treatment plan.  We had her eye removed the next day.

Despite just having had surgery to remove an eye, Betty was visibly happier the day after.  She looked horrendous, with a sutured up, swollen eye socket, but she genuinely seemed to be far less painful that she was with the eye still there.  She rapidly healed and got back to life as normal.   She was neither up nor down about it and just wanted to be back out with everyone, making sure faces and ears were clean.   Sadly, she only got a couple of months before glaucoma struck in her remaining eye.   She was asleep on the couch and when she woke up, it was obvious she was blind.  Her pupil was totally blown and as we had drops here, we called the eye specialist and got drops in straight away.  In the end, as is most often the case with glaucoma, we couldn’t save her sight and she became totally blind in a matter of days and eventually had her remaining eye removed.   We were totally heartbroken for her and those first couple of weeks, watching her trying  to understand and grasp life in the dark were incredibly hard.  For the first week, she gained a lot of confidence just by us taking her everywhere on a lead.  It was a link to us and a security blanket for her.  She didn’t need it long and Betty quickly taught us all about determination and resilience.   She suddenly ceased to be scared or worried and instead became bold and curious about her new world.   Instead of walking beside us on the lead, using our leg as a guide, she was hauling us about the place at the end of the lead, straining to find the source of that smell or sound.   Her senses went into overdrive and absolutely everything had to be investigated.  She drooled like a Newfie for a couple of weeks until she got a handle on her newfound superhero senses that made everything smell, taste and sound that much more exciting than they had been previously.   She would spend ages ‘mapping’ the dog pens.  Going backwards and forwards and in circles with high-stepping motions so she could ‘feel’ her way around.   She determinedly worked out where everything was and was soon trotting around the pen like she could see.  She actually became a bit of a risk to herself as she was so sure of herself and very gung-ho in her approach to finding her way around.  We taught her ‘easy’ as a word she could associate with something she had to be wary of, like a bench or tree or whatever else she was in danger of walking into.   But Betty never wanted to take it easy.  We were in total awe of her ability and willingness to get around and get back to her normal routine.   She continued to be outside in a pen while i was at work.  She continued to leap about and shout for her dinner when getting fed with everyone else.  She jumped on and off dog boxes with no problems and went for walks happily, played with the other dogs and loved going to explore new places.   We had both been so sad for her and Betty taught us not to be.   We found ourselves working with her, coming up with ways to help her adapt more quickly and to make sure she was going to be able to live a full life.   I especially was so worried she wasn’t going to be happy.  But she was.  Her super smiling and surprisingly expressive, eyeless face was all the evidence I needed to know she was indeed, happy.   It was and still is so dreadfully unfair she had to lose her sight, but it quickly became something we didn’t worry about, or feel sad about.   Betty wasn’t sad, so why should we be.



making sure Lester’s face is clean

up on the dog boxes with everyone


We would have been more than ok with her just living her life as a dog going for walks and sleeping on the couch, but Betts had other plans.  She got incredibly frustrated when we were training the other dogs and she didn’t get to run.   So, we spoke to some people we knew had run blind dogs in harness and armed with some advice from them, we got to work on a plan of action to get Betty back in harness as a blind sled dog.   She loved it.  She loved being part of the team again, she loved all the excitement of hook up and most of all, she just loved being able to do what she had been bred to do.   Her fearlessness and enthusiasm to do her job was a joy to watch.  She had to adapt a  little to running blind and our other dogs had to help her a lot in the beginning  with keeping her on track.  Being blind, she had a tendency to veer off to the side sometimes.   Vixen, Joe and Dancer seemed to be tuned into this and knew she needed moving back to where she should be.  Others like Olivia, were happy just to veer off with her on a new adventure into the woods!    Vixen became an incredible running partner for her, so much so that she would actually move Betty out the way from things at the side, or on the trail she may have run into.   This amazing relationship allowed Betty to still lead the 10 dog team with her friend, despite the fact she was blind.   Betts even ran a couple of races blind too.


on my veteran team at a race in feb 2017


Leading with Vixen

yelling about running. she continued to love it, even blind

Within a few short months of going blind, Betty proved to us that losing her sight was never going to be an issue for her.  We certainly ceased to be worried about it, and often we would forget she was blind. She continued to do everything she did before and enjoyed life to the full.  She especially loved the beach and paddling in the waves.  She would listen intently to the roar of the sea and sniff the wind for all the scents it brought her.  The one perk of being a blind Siberian, was that she could be off lead.  She actually had a really reliable recall.    As she was so enthusiastic about running about, we did have to be careful where she got let off.   An empty beach was perfect as were the stubble fields we are surrounded by after harvest time.   You couldn’t help but smile at her when she free ran around the fields.  And she did run.  Proper, free, flat-out running.  She always looked so happy.  And she always, always found something to roll in!




out relaxing in the sunshine with everyone

Towards the end of summer 2017, Betty started to become unwell.  Nothing serious, just a bit ‘not quite right’.   After xrays and various other diagnostics, she was eventually diagnosed with lymphoma.   I cried for weeks.   We decided on steroids only for her, and allowing her to be a dog, doing what she loved without all the treatments, vet visits and everything else that chemo would have entailed.  For a long time, i looked at her each day and wondered how long she would have left.  How sad it was to see her, living on borrowed time completely unaware of the fact next week could be her last.   But she made it to christmas that year.  And to her 10th birthday in feb 18.  Steroids definitely suited her.  Her only side effect was peeing every 5 minutes when she was on the higher doses at the beginning of her treatment and she quickly gained the nickname, ‘pissy-pants’.    Her lymph nodes shrunk a little, but never went down completely.  She ate much better on the steroids, she felt better and started to put on weight.   As the weeks went by, the constant thought of losing her eased.  She got back to working in harness on the scooter with Squeaky as her running partner.  We got her weaned down to 10 mg of preds a day.  Betty was just being Betty.   Happy, excited to go new places and being a menace stealing food off the worktops.   Before she was diagnosed, she moved indoors to live with Norris who is currently our oldest dog.  She washed his face and ears every day and when he wasn’t doing too well, would go and lie beside him to keep him company.  When Joe came in each night to sleep and rumbled about the couch like a mad thing, she would shout at him until he stopped behaving like a nutcase.  She was always first in line for bedtime biscuits, or any biscuits for that matter.  She would shove her way through the hoard of dogs until she was in pole position.  Then she used her nose to sniff out everyone else’s and steal bits off them if they hadn’t finished.  She would shout at me each morning because in her opinion, I wasn’t making the food bowls up quick enough.  If you opened the fridge she was there.  Cheese please!   She would lie curled up beside me on the couch during the day.   She was just always there.  My constant companion.  It’s the absence of all these little things that somehow amplify how quiet it is without them.  How much they are missed from your daily routine.





Betty lasted over a year after her diagnosis.  She went lots of new places in that year and did all her favourite things.  Towards the end, she didn’t want to do as much.  Stayed in her bed longer.  Her mobility declined quickly while her need for pain medication increased.   I honestly thought she would live forever.   In the grand scheme of lymphoma life expectancy, I know we were incredibly lucky.   But i still feel robbed of more time with our beautiful girl and that she was robbed of her time to grow old, here with her friends.  I still can’t even begin to come to terms with her not being here.   I miss her so much.  I know Cam does too.

Dogs can reach a part of your soul that nothing else can.   Those who live and work with them understand.   When they leave, a part of us goes with them.  It doesn’t get easier with each loss, but harder.  Much harder.  Thank you to everyone for your messages, cards and beautiful words about Betty.  And thank you to everyone at the vets who helped us take care of her when we needed you.   She was truly a remarkable dog.  A larger than life character with such fight and spirit.  Knowing she was so loved by so many and that you all knew how special she was too, brings us some comfort.  Friends wrote that she was a bright, shining star.   That is exactly what she was.

Betty I hope you were happy with us and I hope you are now at peace.  Thank you for being the incredible dog you were and for coming into our lives.   I’m so sorry we couldn’t do more for you.
Sleep tight Betty Bonkers.   We will love and miss you forever xxx




Our beautiful girl, painted by the very talented, Lesley Howarth. You can find a link to her website on our blog links.

Posted by: arcticpackseppalas | December 20, 2016

Winter. A thing of the past ?

Well, in north-east Scotland it seems to be.  Over the last few years there has been a definite shift towards one long Autumn followed by spring, rather than any sort of defined winter.  Of course, in writing this blog I am hoping to be  proven wrong and that we get a huge, prolonged dump of snow….

In the uk the lack of snow is not an issue as we are well used to it and all the running in the wet and mud that goes along with ‘dryland’.  The dogs never really seem to mind but it is certainly a far more pleasant experience for all concerned when we are running on the white stuff in temps below zero.   The vastly fluctuating temperatures can pose a bit of a problem with getting any sort of mileage on the dogs and also for those holding races, as one day it can be -4 and 48 hours later can be as high as 16 C as happened fairly recently.  One of the good things about the uk is that we can usually run dogs all year round. (well, depending on which part of the uk you live)  During the summer months, a few people on facebook get their knickers in a huge twist about what others are doing with their dogs, leading to lots of bickering and arguments about people ‘risking their dogs lives’ etc etc because they are giving their  dogs a leg stretch in July.  As September rolls around and the temps start to drop a little,  everyone and their granny makes a mad rush for the forest and people forget about getting involved in what was really none of their business in the first place.  Temperatures in the uk can be hugely different on the same day from one end of the country to the other.  There is often a clear 10 degree difference between temps we get here and what our friends experience further south.  And it does make me chuckle when people vocal about running in the summer,  start training Aug/Sept time in pretty much the same temperatures as those who are out at first light in the summer. We don’t have a lot of space for the dogs to free run around in, so we much prefer to get them out for a run during the summer if the temperatures allow, which they often do. It helps keep their little brains occupied. (Sometimes it is just too warm though.  It’s not we like run them in 20 C or anything like that!) We run a lot less frequently in the warmer months as the temperatures are usually only ok around first light.  With work, we can only manage this on the weekends.  This year, was a bit exceptional in that we did manage a few summer runs in the late evening.   Others of course,  may feel differently and that their dogs and they themselves need a summer break or that their dogs cannot run in temperatures above 10 degrees etc.  That is ok too.  That is the point.  Just because someone is doing things a little differently from you, doesn’t mean they are wrong or indeed, endangering their dogs.  Different dogs need and can cope with different things. Different people run dogs for different reasons and have different goals.   Just know your own dogs, do what you and they are comfortable with and stop worrying so much about what others are doing.  Life is a whole lot less complicated that way.

This years facebook rants got me thinking about the temperatures over the last 12 months.  I took a random, dated picture for each month and looked back through the training log to see what we had recorded the temperature as for each run that corresponded with the picture.  The coldest run was February at -2  degrees C.   The warmest was June at 14 degrees C.  We haven’t ran on snow at all this year.  Perhaps January and February may bring some.   Maybe.

Not a drop of snow in sight.

Not a drop of snow in sight.



Posted by: arcticpackseppalas | August 6, 2016

No eyes, no problem. Leaky lymph duct, bit more of a problem.

Cam said I had to write a happy blog, as the last couple have been pretty sad.  Most of the time, life with dogs is very much fun and happy, but sometimes it is sad, stressful or overwhelming.  Especially when they have to leave us or when they are ill.  Dogs have a way of making the best of any situation and always seeing the positives.  I often wish i could be more like them in my outlook.  Anyway, under the instruction of husband, I will try my best to put a positive spin on this one!

It is now a little over a year since Betty Blind Dog lost her vision for good.  I was looking back through those cursed facebook memories a week or so ago and got to thinking about her journey and how we got to here.  If there is ever an example of ‘well, shit happens but lets just get on with it’, then Betty is it.   She is an absolute superstar in my opinion and I know people are possibly sick of hearing about her, but tough.  She is amazing and I will continue to shout it from the rooftops.   In the space of a year she has lost both eyes to glaucoma.  She has coped with two enucleation surgeries and having to adjust and adapt to life in the dark.  That in itself is often a huge undertaking for many dogs.  Not content with that, Betty has also gotten back into her routine including living outside during the day with a smaller group of other dogs.  Eating as normal with 12 other dogs, all fed together.  Playing, jumping on and off dog boxes, learning to free run off lead AND recall!  She has learned how to ‘map’ out new areas and she had re-integrated herself back into the pack even with those who are less than sympathetic to her blindness. (i’m looking at you monkey puppies!) The icing on the cake is that she still runs in harness.  She has ran a race blind, she has led a 10 dog team with her pal Vixen and she seems genuinely happy to be doing it.  The key word there is HAPPY.  She IS happy.  For a while last year I was quite sad about her losing her vision and wondered what life would become for her.   But Betty never seemed to be sad.  Yes, she was a little disorientated at first and a little wary, but each day she grew in confidence and had such a determination and desire to get back to ‘normal’ that we had little choice but to let her.  So you know, I look back at that facebook memory and at how well Betty is doing now and feel almost a sense of relief. Relief that she is actually ok without her sight and relief that we were finally rid of glaucoma for her and all the drops and meds and pain that went along with it. Although it took us a while to pluck up the courage to do it, we knew that night she went blind that she would lose that second eye and we would have it removed. Neither of us regret it. There is a sense of relief about that too. That we feel we did the right thing.  I still wish she didn’t have to lose her sight or her eyes, but the memory brought home just how little I worry or stress or feel upset about it now. We just don’t. It has long ceased to be something to worry or feel sad about.  I now feel there are far worse things could have happened to her. Something that would have cost her her life, not just her sight.  It has also been a very positive and interesting experience watching our other dogs adapt to having a blind dog around.  Some really do seem to realise she is different and have adjusted their behaviour accordingly.  Others either don’t notice or just don’t care, not sure which it is.  Mostly the older dogs have become more sensible around her, more tolerant.  The youngsters, not so much.  They still bounce off her and give her grief like they used to.  No empathy at all!  She sure is one happy, optimistic girl!

free running in the fields

free running in the fields

back from a in in lead with Vixen

back from a run in lead with Vixen


So, we move onto Ginger Joseph.  Since march this year, Joe has been accumulating fluid in his chest cavity.  Always the left side.  The first time he needed ‘draining’ the vet took off THREE litres of fluid.  Unbelievable.  Again, how stoic are these dogs? A day or so before he started breathing weird and we took him to the out of hours vet (why is it always out of hours?!) he had been off his food a little, otherwise he seemed normal.  We had bitches in season and they were right on the money so we put it down to that.  How wrong were we?  So, fast forward to August and after several xrays, fluid being drained (this has a big fancy name but I can never spell it) , CT scans, ultrasounds, blood work and shit load of money we are no further forward with regards to a cause or reason.  He has been diagnosed with a condition called chylothorax.  Basically, this is where lymph fluid or ‘chyle’ as it’s called leaks from the thoracic duct. The thoracic duct carries lymph fluid back into the chest where it is supposed to be circulated as normal and the good stuff reabsorbed back into the body.  This leaking is rather a major problem.  The fluid has nowhere to go and accumulates and presses on the lung, making it hard and painful for him to breathe.  The fluid itself is also irritating to the surface of the lungs, the walls of the chest and pretty much everything else in there. You may be thinking where is she going with a positive spin on this one, but there is one! Honest!  Due to all the diagnostics carried out by our own vets and the superb Aberdeen Veterinary Referrals, we have managed to rule out any really scary causes like cancer. Or a heart problem.   Of course there are no absolutes, but everything looks normal in there with regards to organs etc.  Infuriatingly, the vast majority of cases are idiopathic.  That means a cause is never found.  It can happen as a result of trauma to the chest and I am tending to think this is perhaps what happened while we were at work. Perhaps he slammed into one of his brothers a little too hard, at just the right angle tearing about the pen.  Anyway, whatever the cause it does just seem like some real bad, shitty luck.   There is a surgical option to try and fix the problem but it has pretty crappy odds of success.  But, given his age we are considering it.  It will take us a while to come up with the cash to go ahead with the surgery, so that will give us some time to see how Joe copes, how quickly he refills and how often he will need drained.  The surgery is pretty major and will involve him staying in hospital for a few nights afterwards.  I have to say I am really not comfortable with that! I hate leaving them at the vets during the day for surgeries never mind overnight,  but if we feel the surgery is in his best interests, then of course we will do it.  We could put him through the surgery though and it not work.  He would still need draining on a regular basis in that case anyway.  So it will be a hard decision to make.   For the time being we are trying to find him some level of exercise to keep him mentally happy but that he is able to cope with physically.  He has started back in harness for very, very short runs and we will just assess how he is breathing.  We are now armed with a stethoscope so can keep a better track of fluid build up and when to get him drained.  As is usually the case with Siberians, he is neither up nor down about it.  He actually trotted into the vets the night he had three litres removed.  These dogs are pretty remarkable with what they can and will cope with without giving many outward signs.   Of course the best possible outcome, but definitely the most unrealistic is that it just resolves itself.  Everyone keep all fingers and paws crossed and maybe, just maybe some magic might happen.


Joe with some of his brazillian bits.

Joe with some of his brazillian bits.

back in lead for a short run

back in lead for a short run

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