Saturday, May 27, 2006

The "lookout" and the "easily entertained"

(fyi - dog speak is bolded in red, human in white - oh lord, I can't believe I have to distinguish between the two...)

"Hey Gracie, is that a car I hear driving up the driveway? Check it out - you're the dog, my protector... make yourself useful!!"

(Yes, she may look utterly unimpressed with my command... and no, she really doesn't do what I ask of her unless SHE wants to)

So, several minutes later, the little princess decided the time was right.

"Hmmm, yes, there is some stranger coming up MY driveway. What the hell? Who do they think they are?"

This was actually a sort of true story. Someone drove up to the gate, and then immediately backed up at a rather high speed. So, either the gate deterred them, or this "vicious" little furball peering out the window like she owned the place did. Or, it might have been the crazy human inside conversing with the dogs. Whichever... but at least we didn't have to get dressed to entertain!

Lucy made a discovery the other day. And to a dog, a *new* discovery (no matter what it is) is VERY EXCITING!! I think this glove appeared after the snow melted. I hadn't seen it for months (I had the other half though...). Yet another gem uncovered after the spring melt. It's like xmas!

"There's not quite enough holes in it. In fact, you can almost put it on your hand like this. Let me take care of that..."


I love this shot! This is when I come over and say "Luuuucy... what are you destroying now???"

"Uhh... glove? What glove? I don't see no glove..." ( so she hasn't perfected her grammar yet)

I fake steal it from her. "Give me that!" "No, you let go! You gave up your right to this glove when you misplaced it last fall and forgot about it allll winter!" "My right?! You're a dog! You have no rights!" "Screw you! It's mine now!"

"Let me settle this you morons"

Then Kuna comes and steals it from both of us. You can see Lucy put up more of a fight than me, so I guess she wanted the glove more. Poor Lucy. She's going to have to look harder for some new toys around the yard. I think I saw a beer can under a pile of leaves a week ago.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The *almost* disastrous trip to the river

See Gabe. Gabe looks happy. Gabe IS happy. Happy to be ALIVE!!

Gabe inadvertently fell through what little ice was left on the river a while ago (trust my dogs to find the weak ice...), and not only gave me a heart attack, but he sure got his own adrenalin pumping.

Let's start at the beginning though!! I was having a SH*TTY day. My truck wouldn't start, and something else happened which I'd rather not get into here... let's just say, 2 crappy things had happened. Stephanie showed up at my door to take dogs for a walk and I told her I was apprehensive as I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop, in terms of disasters. I knew something else would happen...

So I tried to minimize all risks and took three dogs who are *usually* very little trouble, who never run away, rarely fight, etc. That was George (who had been driving me NUTS with her excessive energy lately), Gabe and Octane.

Steph brought her three dogs, Flint, Indigo and Steel. Here is George leading the "dog train" in front of Indigo and Flint. Steel is off in the water over there.

It was a beautiful, somewhat windy day, and the beach is just amazing right now. The Yukon River is barely river - it's so low, many of the sandbars are exposed, making it possible to walk almost all the way across.

This "candle ice" stuff is really cool and fun to play with.

Indigo thought so too! She was a little goofball playing with the ice.

Steph and Flint join in the fun with Indigo.

Who's more intrigued? The dogs or the monkey?

Those pilings, that look so cool in winter, look pretty cool in the summer too.

Steph reconstructing a tent-frame thingy. Yes, it's the simple things that entertain us.

Gabe's new nemesis... the ICE!

Now this was an ok spot. The sandbar was just beneath this ice.

However... this ice. The bottom was not so close. See that white spot way out on the left of the ice? That's Gabe, moments before our "cold water rescue" um, training session.

So what happened next, was, Stephanie calling my name and I look over to see Gabe half in the water, struggling to get up on the thin ice shelf. First in my mind was "Great. Here is lucky #3..."

Then, enter... PANIC! I ran over, yanked off my jacket and flung it to the ground (an aside: this is the first thing I ALWAYS do in moments of crisis... not sure why... I must be related to Superman or something?).

Anyways, free from the cumbersome light fleece jacket, I'm ready to pounce into rescue mode. However, we have no idea how deep that water is. And Gabe was actually doing ok at this point. He looked to be making his way back to us, he was up on the ice, crawling verrrry carefully, and then turned and headed in the opposite direction!! Where we just knew the ice was weaker. His back end fell through again. I think all of our panic, yelling his name, grabbing other dogs that attempted to venture out there, then keeping them back, freaked him out.

So he fell through a couple more times and was now coming back towards us. He actually kept very strong throughout it all, and fought his way back towards us with a "I'm not giving up yet, dammit!" vengence. We were now much quieter, encouraging him, but trying not to freak him out. But then again, he seemed to panic and when he got within arms reach from me, he turned around... again! I thought "forget it - you're getting out of there, now!) and lunged out (already in this cold freezing water for wayyyy too long in shorts) and just grabbed a handful of fur, and had him. I threw him towards Steph as I tried to get out of that freezing river as fast as humanly possible.

And that's when I realized that a dog that has seen his life pass before his eyes, is on an adrenalin rush and a surge of energy like I've never seen before. Gabe ran 100 miles an hour non-stop for about 10 minutes.

This is him after he's slowed down a bit. But look again at the very first picture. Notice how Gabe is standing "near" the water? He understandably HATES even touching water now. It was a bit of a struggle to get him back across the river, but he was able to do it without touching a drop of water, by jumping and finding pockets of land to get across. Poor guy!

And Octane "what's all the fuss about eh? I'm having a hell of a time!!"

And that was the first day down at the river this season. I'm not sure I want to do it again. Although Steph does assure me the ice is all gone now, I'm pretty sure we can find some other trouble to get into!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Note to self: a spare cabin key would be useful...

Life in the dogyard can get you into trouble - as many of you may have noticed this seems to be a common theme around my place.

I awoke the other morning at about 5am to a dog fight outside my window. When there's a fight in progress that doesn't stop with my yelling from inside, I hightail it out there as fast as I can. The other day, I realized I don't really think in this kind of situtation - I just run out the door... in whatever *state* I'm in.

Before I knew it, I was outside. Barefoot and *ahem* not entirely fully dressed. The dog fight had broken up with my flailing outside, but that could be because the dogs probably took one look at me and went from fighting to laughing. I found myself standing there scantily clad at 5am and realized I had better get inside quick. I normally don't get a lot of visitors at 5am, but the Jehovah's Witnesses have been known to stop by before. And I really didn't want to be the cause of the whole religion unfolding before my very eyes.

So I run back to the cabin door, dancing around trying to find positions that reveal the least. At the porch, I attempt to twist the doorknob to let myself in.... and the knob did not twist. Hm. No panic yet. Twist knob again, it's early, I'm half-asleep. Twist unsucessful. Door is LOCKED!!! There were dogs inside and I had a moment of panic like I've never felt before. I immediately thought of a story I'd heard about a woman who locked herself out of her cabin half-naked in the WINTER and had to run to her neighbours in -30 weather. I wasn't in that bad a shape, as it's now warm out, but my mind was racing thinking about how I can get back inside without running through the bush and embarassing myself further by appearing at a neighbor's door at this ungodly hour. Oh yeah, and half-naked.

(btw - the dogs inside the cabin did NOTHING to help me out)

Breaking a window was what first came to mind. I didn't care about replacement, cost or anything at that moment. I was going to do whatever it took to gain entry! I thought of my tiny loft window that an anorexic 6-year old couldn't even fit through and realized that wouldn't work. I then wondered how hard it is to break down a door? It seemed crazy enough to work! That was my only option. So, with Chuck Norris as my inspiration, my barefeet and I started pounding and kicking the door. My desperate attempts to get inside worked on only about the third kick... I was in! And hey! Breaking down doors is pretty easy when you're naked. Must have been all those karate classes two decades ago.

Well, the door wasn't even really damaged, as it had been not shutting properly recently. I think I was able to kick it in so easily because of that. At least I hope so. So I fixed it and it seems to work better than ever. Hmm... funny how these things work out eh? Takes breaking down the door to fix it... welcome to the Home of Backward Logic!

Anyways, screw safety and warmth - I'm getting swinging doors.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Gah, summer...

Ah, 'tis the season for tourists!! The museum is up and running and what a shock to the system that is. To have to interact with people, be someplace on time, and be somewhat coherent after a winter of, well... none of that. Wow!

I have some great photos from a walk down at the river the other day, complete with a ridiculous and scary story, but I'll share that later. Right now I'm too wiped to write much. Once I get back into the swing of summer things and catch up, I'll share that story. As usual, the dogs are loving the swimming. Well, most of them.

Summer is exhausting up here. There is so much to do in addition to working as much as possible (I now have 3 job-type things on the go!). When you have a seasonal job, making as much $ as possible is necessary over the short summer season.

But... there's also FUN things to do - like this: Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay. I'm back on the bike, commuting to work mostly, but also in training for my first attempt at this race. For those who don't know, the race goes from Haines Junction, Yukon to Haines, Alaska. It's a huge event with a gazillion riders, in teams of 2, 4, 8, even some crazy solo riders. The race is about 238km (148 miles) in total. I've been sucked into a team of mushers! Ha!! I hope we can figure out how to make those things go without dog power...

The race is broken up into 8 legs. I'm on a 4 person team so we're each doing 2 legs. I'm pretty happy with mine, leg 7 and 8. I get to ride across the border (without stopping - woohoo! Screw you border guards!!), and into the finish in Haines. Umm, yeah, if I make it. My 2 legs, combined are just under 70km (40-ish miles?). I think it's easily doable. I'm finding the indoor bike trainer this year totally helped with my conditioning. I was surprised, considering the fact that I once found myself on the indoor bike trainer, leaning over the handlebars, totally stopped and intensely engrossed in the movie E.T. (yeah, I train in front of the tv, so what!?!?). I had no idea how long I'd been like that, but suffice it to say, it was a less-than-stellar training session. But the movie was great to see again! So I was thinking that I might be kidding myself with my "training" inside. But my first 2 rides say otherwise. Thank goodness tv is usually crap!

So here's why I'm happy with these legs I'm stuck with in the race. I've always wanted to do this one, after volunteering one year and seeing the beauty of it!

Oh, and the dowhills tempted me.

I was never wild about doing this leg after hearing about the nasty headwinds it's prone to. Thank goodness for the support vehicle though. I'll just catch a ride with them to the end.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Welcome to the outta control off-season!

Ivy came up with a new trick!

Smart isn't she?

After the initial shock of seeing one of my dogs ON MY TRUCK - I did boot her off. But the next day, when she did it again, I had to pull out the camera.

Then she started exploring and checked out the canopy.

Ah, why even bother at this point?!?

And at 6am this morning, she tried to outdo herself. I woke up to this monkey barking and howling - but she was nowhere in sight (from my teeny 5-inch-square window in the loft anyways). I headed outside and found her outside of my thousands of feet of fencing, trying desperately to make her way back in. She was separated from her pack and was a distressed little dog. She was fairly upset as she and Sage (her buddy for life) looked longingly at each other through the fencing, both whining and howling at the horrible situation! Neither was happy with this separation. They are so attached it's quite weird actually.

I was so proud of her when I opened the gate and she came zooming over and just about knocked me over getting back inside our little compound. She didn't even attempt to run off. I have no idea how she got out as I checked and double checked the fencing. Not one hole or spot to sneak out of. I think she took her new truck leaping abilities to a new level and launched herself over the fence. Hey, it's only 8-10 feet high!

Now this guy is much less of a handful. Unlike some of the others, Loki makes my life easy. By not going anywhere. He's often too scared to venture too far.

Unlike Loki, Kate's new habit is to try to trip me as much as freakin' possible!!! She sneakily always ends up under my left foot. Today she was successful, tripping me and then tripping herself over the half full bucket of food, dumping it all over the place. It was quite the plan as I had just fed her pen, and she managed to dump the food meant for the rest of the crew in the other pen!! So guess who got to *clean up* the leftovers?!? That's right, I think Kate & Crew worked on that plan for days! Either that or we're all a bunch of flippin' klutzes.

A rare moment when Ripper slows down long enough to sort of get a photo of him. He's usually too busy getting into recycling, opening up shed doors and pulling out things he thinks may make a good toy. I caught him DRAGGING a wood box along the ground about 5 ft with his TEETH yesterday! Although Ripper does some pretty weird things, this was a new one to me. A wood box? A heavy, huge, awkward wood box? So I went over, and saw that inside the box and there was a plastic remnant of an old stuffed toy that he was trying to get at. I'm not sure how dragging it across the driveway would help him attain that goal, but I've learned to give Ripper the benefit of the doubt. He is one freakishly observant little shmuck!!

Why can't he put his super powers to good use? Like, oh, I don't know, learning COMMANDS on the trail?!?!?

The rare shot of the elusive Rupert creature looking directly into the camera lens!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Ah, back with the dogs...

Well, I'm back at home. Things are back to um, normal I guess. The dogs are happy and I don't feel like I'm missing my right arm anymore. Although it's nice to have a break from the normal routine, I feel so lost without them!

Gabe after a quick run.

Anyways, all was *mostly* well when I arrived home. Except for the part where I walked in my cabin to see a dog on the dog pillow, which was splattered with blood. The dog was Octane, who was also lethargic and not particularly interested that I was now home. It turns out that he somehow got tangled with Loki while the housesitters were out. When they arrived, Octane was loose. Loki was fine, but Octane had a nice gouge in his chin. The dogs had *almost* made it 12 days without incident! But they had to go and mess with that record a mere 3 hours before I arrived back home.

But, if it had to happen, it was good timing. I was able to care for Octane and monitor his temperatures that night and the next day, when he rebounded and is now back on the mend.

So, first thing I did the first full day I was home - got these crazy maniacs out on a run!! And they were definitely ready for it.

Ripper gnawing at the only bit of snow on the trail, with Kate beside him:

Rupert and Loki, happy to be out once again. It's been over a month since I've gotten these guys out.

The twins! Sage and Ivy.

Ivy was funny with the male housesitter. She wouldn't go near him!! She ran around loose in the pen for 2 days, till the housesitter got his girlfriend to come catch this little female, who is very wary of men for some reason. She just doesn't trust them and is very suspicious... hmmm, they always say to trust your dog's instincts...

I tried to capture the steepness of this hill, as we flew down it, practically without me braking. The reason for that, is that I had the camera in the hand that should have been on the one GOOD brake. Instead, my free hand grasped at the crappy brake as we flew down the hill and careeened into the river.

But it was a nice day for a swim! If a wee bit cold...

I've never seen them get out of the river so quick!

There were a few tangles as you can see, and untangling them as they had ice cold water dripping off of them was real fun!

I had to cut the next group's run short due to a flat front tire. I forgot the camera anyways, but caught these guys after the run as they all gathered around the plain water dish. They were funny, I spent all this time (ok, 30 seconds) preparing a nice, fishy drink with some tasty kibble in it for after the run. Well, I had Jack and Harris in lead, who both totally turned their noses up at this drink (which they do drink most times) when we got back. I thought they needed a few minutes to catch their breath so I let them loose. They both bolted over to the big dish of plain water that I normally leave out and started lapping it up at a rate faster than I could pour it!!

The rest of the crew drank most of their fish water, but then all seemed to gather at the plain water dish. Now, in the summers, I'm not even going to bother with the fishy concoction!

Gracie and her sisters love to put their dirty paws in the water bowl for some weird reason. No other dogs do it, just those three goofballs. I think they're secretly hoping the others will stay away from the mud-water and they'll have it all to themselves. Self-centered canines!!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Zoo Day!

A few scattered pics from the zoo visit the other day:

The stars of the show for me were the wild dogs. These guys showed a freakish sense of curiosity with this jug in the tree.

They reminded me of my dogs in many ways. One, is that the more "astute" dogs of mine will notice anything that is even slightly out of place or different than usual. Ripper is the big one in noticing stuff like this, and has an uncanny ability to find toys or balls that I think I've hidden well enough. This is next on my list of things to do to screw with the dogs - place random weird things in trees!!

And the bones!! There were 5-6 dogs, and 8-9 bones given out. They ran back and forth, stealing others, switching bones, some hoarding them, and there wasn't ONE fight!! Amazing. My dogs could learn to not be so uptight and selfish sometimes.

Sharing? Or is it, "Hey, look over there, a wild antelope!!" as one dog steals from the other.

The white wolf:

Gotta love the bears. I love how the one sat totally immersed in the water, munching away on branches.

The meer cat.

He means business with that gaze.

Another one of my favourites, the gibbon.

This was freaky. I stood and watched this fella through this tiny glass window for quite a while. Then all of a sudden he/she spotted me and sent this stare my way that sent shivers down my spine. It was this really intense gaze that lasted longer than I felt comfortable with. Yay, the big ape intimidated me!!

The troll-doll-like tamarins!

These spider monkeys were totally entertaining. This little goofball was the instigator in getting others to play and tumble down the hill.

I especially love the goofy little ready-to-pounce-stance!

This was interesting. Near the "North American" area, there was a coyote running loose. He came from the highway and I have my suspicions that he was eyeing up the wild turkey cage! But we must have foiled his plans coming upon him when we did. Drat!

What's a zoo without some giraffes?

The flamingos brightened up the sunny day.

The always cool ring-tailed lemur!

Unfortunately the hippos were total slugs, but then again, at 10 tons you don't really expect to see them doing synchronized cartwheels through their yard. So here's the fish from the hippo tank!

The Zoo: always damned entertaining.