Saturday, December 10, 2011

To Our Seniors And Specials, With Love

Most of my blog posts are about training of the main string or about the puppies, the future stars of our kennel. So I´ve decided to write a post today, dedicated lovingly to our CSC´s (aka Canine Senior Citizens) and the dogs retired from mushing career for one reason or another.

Music retired from his sled dog life at age 5 due to laryngeal paralysis. He now enjoys his daily walks and hikes and playing in the yard with the oldies and puppies.

I´ve always been a firm believer of taking the best possible care of one´s dogs. But that does not mean just providing top notch dog food and pampering the canine athletes at their prime, or spending hours of socializing, cuddling, snuggling and playing with the puppies. 

Granite on a hike with Martyna to the top of Vedjeöberget. He is a solid leader of the yearling/puppy team, super obedient dog and the next in line adept for becoming our house dog :)

There is one more stage in the life of sled dogs, often not given much attention. The getting old. The losing of ability to keep up with the ever-improving racing team. Health issues and difficulties that forbid the huskies, once in their prime, to do what they were bred to and love to do. Some dogs get to spend their sled dog retirement with their humans. Some are found a great, loving home with a sofa and adequate activity level. Unfortunately, not all are respected and loved this much and very often I come across the information, that these dogs are put to sleep. 

14,5 years old Buck - the patriarch of the kennel, aka "The Daddy", on the Vedjeö island. Buck is Granite´s daddy.

With the growing dog population in our kennel, we have many generations here. And the group of geriatrics and dogs retired from the main team got larger as well. In fact, it got to the point, where we felt we are not going to be able to provide them what we have committed ourselves to provide - besides love and special food, supplements and medication for their individual needs, also plenty of attention and activity, especially during the training and racing season. 

13 years old Delia on a walk to the island.

Besides finding great homes for a couple of these guys (such as the family of our former handler Adela, who spoil rotten one of our retired best leaders Bliss aka the "professor of leading", or my parents who lovingly and tirelessly open their home and hearts to couple of the Oldies all the time), we knew we needed to find a permanent solution for our geriatric residents and "specials".

Cooper the Mal, aka the team mascot. Known also as "the Uncle", being always the first adult dog our puppies are introduced to.

The answer came in form of some really dedicated dog handlers, who took the responsibility to feed, medically treat, let out to play and take for walks all our CSCs:
Misa gave special attention to details such as washing their dishes twice a day and distributing all the special supplements and meds properly. Adela would let them out to play in the yard in summer every day. Kristyna showed us tirelessly the importance of stimulating their brains by introducing the clicker training. By the way, it is amazing, how the 14 year olds react to the clicker! She got Babeli and Delia (both 13 at the time) into better condition just within a few weeks. Sandra took over and would walk and hike with the dogs on daily basis, playing with the clicker and using her veterinary technician skills for the medical care.

Maya - too slow for the main team, she often finds herself in the role of harness breaking team member. And she loves hiking, playing in the yard and sleeping on the sofa. We´ve actually promised her to find her the perfect home, as our house is full with three house dogs and three cats.

The solution is obvious. It takes one or two extra handlers in the kennel, who love dogs and love spending time with dogs. Going for a nice walk every day, keeping fit, taking pictures and spending time in the beautiful nature as your job. It takes of course more than that. There is the following of multiple and detailed feeding and medical treatment instructions. The special care such as checking and changing their straw beds more often, supplying fresh water every day, regardless the weather. Simply everything it takes to give them all they deserve for the years of their loyalty. For the hard work in the team, unconditional and uncomplicated love, inspiration and enthusiasm they give us. This is the least we can do.

Thanks Martyna for all the great pictures of some of the "specials"! :)

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