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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Insane walks again!

Starbuck is so trustworthy off-leash that I had forgotten what it was like to walk a younger husky on a leash. But those memories are coming back. I got bigger shoes so as not to damage my toes. My neighbors call out, "Are you walking those dogs, or are they walking you?" (SO CLEVER! I HAVE NEVER HEARD THAT BEFORE!) My arm and leg muscles are sore as they re-acclimate to our new pace. When Autumn and Linden were 12.5 years old, I drew this:


They had quite terrible leash manners! They'd walk around behind me, cross each other's leashes, etc, etc. I learned that if I jogged at a decent clip, they'd jog along in front of me and have better manners. I told people this:


I didn't know DL at the time. I informed him the night before last that I would no longer "walk" Cricket since her bouncing and caterwauling drove me crazy. He looked nonplussed. "You can't just run everywhere!" I laughed and laughed! Oh yes, I could and I would. From now on, if I am going somewhere, I am runnin'!

The one mercy they have (and Cricket is now my fourth of these creatures, so I believe I am now allowed to make blanket statements and start calling their commonalities things that "they" do) is that if I want to stop and take a rest, they will happily sit still with me as long as I like. They don't get impatient or try to drag me off. In this way, they are more patient with people on foot than they are with their sled drivers. When a sled is still, they are rarely so patient. They leap and howl and strain against the break! I'm thankful that they let me stand there and, for example, adjust my scarf or add or remove a layer of clothing without yanking me off my feet! So if I need a break, I stand there. But as soon as I take one... single... step, they are off! I used to call Autumn and Linden "sideways gravity" because they pulled me sideways!

So this is how I walk with Cricket, recycling lessons learned from Autumn and Linden. I put her in a walking harness so that when she pulls, she doesn't choke herself. But it's not as comfy or padded as an actual sled dog or skijor harness, so she can't really throw her whole weight against it. And in this photo she nicely demonstrates how she lets her line go slack when I stand still:


Starbuck sez, "Roo! Roo! Pet ME!"


From the harness, Cricket is connected to a towline, a skijor bungee, and then me, by the skijor belt! This is her happy place, with Starbuck just a bit ahead, but not too far. It looks very calm and peaceful, but back there I am trying not to get dragged off my feet! She is crazy strong!


I can't wait until she is trustworthy off-leash, but until then, I am runnin'!

Oh, as long as I'm grabbing photos and sharing them, here is a cute one of the pup from across the street:

She visits sometimes, unbeknownst to her owners. They are the kind of "bad dog owners" rural people constantly complain about... they let her and their other two dogs run amok unsupervised. I hope they never get hit by a car!

Two boneless huskies, coming right up!


Cricket sure loves to snuggle!


And then she goes boneless:


Roo's snuggling is so much more dignified!


This is not exactly dignified!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Cricket ree-laxing

Apparently these photos are a thing that I do.

Autumn when she first arrived

Linden when she first arrived

Starbuck when she first arrived

"Oooohhhh cooooowwwcccchhhh"


"How can I maximize contact with this cooooowwwwccchhhh??"


"How I looooooove this cooooowcch!"


"I have a friend and a coooooowwwch!"


SCHNOZZ!


I'm not sure Cricket understands how pillows work!


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Welcome, Cricket!

This is Cricket:


When I brought her home, Starbuck came to the door, went outside to pee, then came back in. Then they both assumed the position:


Within a few hours, they settled down into positions of bonelessness, taking the shape of their containers:


Her pointer genes give her shorter hair, a thinner build, and flippety-floppity ears. But she has a classic husky smile:


And she does a perfectly circular huskyball, just like Autumn and Linden:



She looooooves to cuddle, draping herself over you and doing the Boneless Husky thing:


When DL got home, she proceeded to cuddle with him!

"Are you my pawpaw?"


"You're my pawpaw!"


I have never seen two dogs so in love with a couch!


They get along great, even eating side by side:


DL said we should refrain from squeezing her until she has settled in. She seems to be settled in:


I need to reread my Folding Dog manual. I almost got her ready for stowage, but one leg is still sticking out:

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Iditarod Musings, Starbuck Is Cuddly, and Flat Stella

The first Iditarod musher has come into Tanana. This description just captures Alaska, to me:

Nicolas Petit sipped Champagne at a candlelit table here Tuesday evening. In front of him, 3,500 one-dollar bills overflowed from a gold pan and plates of food continued to appear filled with Alaska seafood, smoked duck, lamb loin and more.

It's his lavish bounty for being the first Iditarod musher to reach the Yukon River.

The community here also had a bag of gifts for Petit. The mayor, Donna Folger, and the president of the Tanana Dog Mushing Association, Patrick Moore, presented the Girdwood musher with a beaded Athabascan chief necklace, a mug and a sweatshirt.

"Thank you. That's fantastic. I appreciate it," Petit told them inside of the crowded community hall, decorated with colorful lights strung across the walls. "I need a new hoodie because this one is starting to smell bad."


Outside Alaska, sports stars brag about their cars, mansions, and sexual exploits. In Alaska, they happily accept a traditional Athabascan beaded necklace, a mug, and a hoodie and say, "I need a new hoodie because this one is starting to smell bad." :)

The article goes on:

While Petit piled straw on his dogs outside before sitting down for his five-course meal, he said he didn't expect to be in the lead. He passed [Martin] Buser on the trail, while Buser was giving snacks to his dogs, but he said he still expected at least one other team to be ahead of him. It wasn't until he asked a snowmachiner outside of Tanana about the lineup that he learned of his lead... Inside the checkpoint Tuesday, Petit asked a resident to eat with him, and the community chose village elder Blanche Edwin...

How gracious on both sides! Honestly, I'm such a piggie that when presented with a pile of food, it would probably not occur to me to ask someone to dine with me. I'd just kind of fall down stuffing my face. It continues to be true that we have something to learn from everyone.

I had never had anyone to root for in the Iditarod before. Now I've got my eye on Jodi, Cricket's first human! But I still can't bring myself to care that much about race standings or who wins or places where. I just hope all humans and dogs come home safe!

In other news, here are photos of Starbuck being snuggly:


Look at all of those paws!


"Talk do da paw!"


Here is one of her looking uncharacteristically dignified:


A Roo selfie with our Flat Stella, who is here from Connecticut!


Flat Stella saw a moose! I think she's going to return to Connecticut with officially the coolest report in the kid's class!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Allow me to introduce...

Cricket!

(Photo by Erin Trochim, who has also introduced us to Jodi of Dew Claw Kennel. Erin has three of her retirees, including Cricket's brother, Roach.)

Starbuck, DL, and I met her yesterday, and will bring her home in two weeks! She is smaller and less fuzzy than I had in mind, but she's done the Iditarod twice, so I'm sure she's as tough as any traditional husky! (She's part pointer.) She and Starbuck had a nice walk together, and they both love to cuddle!

I did some googling around (a side benefit of getting a dog from a famous musher is that she comes with a googlable history!), and found that she has met our friend RS! Alaska is such a small state that not only might your human friends know each other, so might your dog friends!

We met Cricket, along with Carrot and Petey, the three candidates that Jodi had in mind for us. They were so similar in personality that it was difficult to choose. And with three of them jumping up and down for attention, along with Starbuck jumping up and down alongside them, we just chose Cricket since she seemed the most snuggly and had been sleeping indoors at night with their handler. So they put Carrot and Petey back, and we took Cricket for a short walk with Starbuck. They got along fine, but her leash manners are definitely classic husky... my arms will get very strong again until we can trust her off-leash! :)

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A few interesting headlines

1) Editorial on the perceived cruelty in long-distance dog mushing.

2) Last week, 4 meth dealers were banished from Allakaket, a village of 100 people on the Koyukuk River. It's accessible by plane, river, or, in winter, a trail from Tanana, a relatively bustling metropolis of 300 people at the confluence of the Tanana and Yukon rivers. Banishment is an ancient punishment that often meant death in premodern times. Nowadays, it's still used in communities that have no police force, nor even a Village Public Safety Officer. Today, this editorial appeared from a community member. I think it speaks well of the community and its self-policing.

3) Anchorage is asking for residents' help with a moose census.

4) A memorial for Buzzwinkle

5) Here is a Starbuckeroo squeezie selfie. Just because.