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Posts Tagged ‘husky’

A few years back my wife and I were crossing the border from Canada to the US, there was a line but it wasn’t too bad.  As we waited we made sure our papers were in order, green card? Check, approved picture ID for my wife? Check, vet records for the dog? Check, receipts for the Canadian beer from the duty free shop? Check.

On a previous trip when Sequoia stuck her head out the window all the customs guard asked was what country she was from.  She is a Siberian Husky so I was tempted to say Siberia, but every once in a while I think before I speak and I answered, ‘United States’ The customs agent told us how beautiful Sequoia is and sent us on our way.

This time was different we finally got to the little booth and were asked the appropriate questions, the whole time however the border guard was eyeing Sequoia, “Is that a husky?” he finally asked.

“Yes , she is a Siberian husky, here are her papers and rabies cer…”

(ignoring the papers we offered) “We had Dobermans growing up, I always wanted a husky, I was told they are a handful”

“Yes, they can be, they are prey driven dogs, they love to run, outside they always need to be on a leash or in a ken…”

“Is it a male or female?”

“Female, her name is Sequoia”

(opening the window further as the customs officer tried to crawl into our back seat)

“Oh Sequoia you are sooo soft!  Are all huskies this soft?”

(looking out the rearview mirror watching the line behind getting longer)

“They are all pretty soft, but Sequoia has a woolly coat while others have….”

“Right now I live in an apartment so I really can’t have one, but once I move into a house I am getting a husky! Welcome back to the States and enjoy the rest of the day”

I keep thinking to myself that I really need to get my expired passport sorted out so I don’t have to worry about it the next time we go back to Canada.  On the other hand it would be easier just to roll down the window and let Sequoia stick her head out as our trackrecord shows that as long as the customes agent gets to see Sequoia our paperwork is not really an issue.

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We decided to go on a picnic at Trough Creek which is about an hour or so from where we live.  As you can see we live in a beautiful part of the county. I didn’t get too many pictures because I spent most of my time holding onto a husky while trying to navigate a ledge not quite wide enough for a person and a dog to walk side by side.  Did I mention my dog doesn’t like other dogs? No? Then I probably didn’t mention there were other people with dogs walking along these ledges that, not only were  not wide enough for a dog and a person, but were really not wide enough for a man with a lunging growling husky. 

 

 The other issue was the suspension bridge.  Okay it wasn’t that high, it was wide enough for two people, there was chain link on both sides, but still it was a suspension bridge.  I have managed to cross the Capilano suspension bridge which is one of the highest in North America so you would think this would be a piece of cake.  But I have crohn’s disease, a piece of cake can inflict some serious pain and much like suspension bridges the sizes or type doesn’t matter.

Sequoia and I made it.

 

 D Makes a run for it.

Unfortunatly we didn’t have too many outings this summer, it was simply too hot.  But fall is on its way and you never know what tomorrow brings.

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Tonight, when I took Sequoia out of her kennel she immediately started to drag me across the driveway to the far side of the garage.  I knew something was up because she always, and I mean always heads to her regular spot to complete her business before doing anything else.  So I indulged her as she tore my shoulder from my socket in an effort to get to where she wanted to go, and there on the other side of the garage was a flock of wild turkeys.  Older birds, younger birds some already headed to the safety of the forest.  Huskies are hunters, Sequoia is no exception.  A technique hunters use while going after their prey is to smell like their prey.  While I stood there gawking at the turkeys like an idiot my wifes dog was rolling in some turkey poop.

For those of you with no experience with turkey poop let me assure you, it really stinks and it is hard to get out of husky hair.

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Saturday night my wife and I made a plan.  We were going to get up early, go into town, make a quick stop at the Wild Life Rehab center to pick up some possums (so we could release them) and then spend the rest of the day doing nothing.  Imagine my surprise when Sunday morning rolled around and we were ready to leave before 10am.  That almost never happens, usually on Sunday morning we are just getting out of bed at 10am.

Whenever I put Sequoia in her kennel I always give her a treat, without fail when I open the kennel door she runs in ahead of me and waits for her treat which I put next to her water bowl on the deck of her dog house.  This day however, she ran immediately to the left side of the kennel, put her nose to the floor and stared intently at an old broken recliner that is sitting just outside her kennel, (which I keep meaning to take to the trash).  No problem, there must have been a chipmunk playing in the recliner.  I put her treat down and left the kennel, as I turned around to lock the kennel door I saw some movement at the base of the recliner.  I got on my hands and knees to make sure it was indeed a chipmunk.  Staring back at me was a little black nose with a white little ‘dash’ running down the critters forehead.  It took but a moment for my brain to catch up.  SKUNK!  I threw open the kennel door, grabbed a very reluctant to go husky who was in full hunting mode, and headed for the house.

Stop! Rewind.

Saturday night, after my wife and I made our plans we went to sleep only to be woken up at some ungodly hour to the horrific smell of skunk.  By woken up I mean my wife woke up to the horrific stink who then woke me up to ask how I could possibly sleep through such a horrific stench,  I, now awake, with tears streaming down my eyes could not possibly return to sleep.  My wife however was asleep two minutes later.

Back to the story.

Now what? obviously we can’t leave the dog in the kennel and we have to get the skunks to move on.  My wife calls our neighbour who not only volunteers for, but also sits on the board of directors for the Wildlife Rehab center.  While waiting for our neighbour to arrive I realize it is not one skunk under the chair, it is two. Wonderful.

Our neighbour comes over and amazingly, puts on a pair of gloves, picks up the skunks and places them in a carrier and heads for the woods.  Okay it is never that easy.  She gets the first one in the carrier without too much fuss the second one wraps its little body around her glove, bites at her thumb and sprays.  The neighbour takes a direct hit on the shoulder,  the stench is horrific but the deed is done and the skunks are in the carrier where my neighbour takes them deep into the woods.  Luckily my wife and I only got ‘residue’ spray.  A quick shower got the smell off, and the clothes, while outside at the moment will find their way into the wash and all will be well.

In the end we had a pretty good day, we had a very enjoyable brunch at Denny’s with our brave neighbour, who only slightly smelled of skunk, (seriously I didn’t smell anything).  We got our errands run, released some possums and still managed to spend some time relaxing. 

You just never know what a day will bring.

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My wife reminded me that Dorian was not the first time Sequoia was wary of a cat.

We went to Cook Forest State Park here in Pennsylvania.  Sequoia and I waited in the car while my wife went into the information station to find out where we could picnic.  My wife was taking a long time to get the information so Sequoia and I decided to wait outside the car.  Even though we were in a parking lot it was very rustic, very beautiful.  Amongst the people, cars and quaint cabins I spotted a cat a bunch of yards away.  The cat was watching us, watching Sequoia.  Sequoia for her part was ignorantly sniffing the ground, I did not particularly like the way the cat was watching us.  People would be walking between us, carrying canoes making all kinds of noises, cars would pass by kicking up dust and all the while the cat just stared. I started looking for my wife, where the heck was she? I’m about to enter a Stephen King story and my wife is taking forever getting directions to a picnic table…or did the cat get her?

Then the cat started to move, it started moving towards us.  It would stop to let a car pass, it would negotiate its way around a family, it would check out something on a stone wall but it was coming closer and while it would pretend to take interest in something else, clearly we were its target.  I was pretty confident it wasn’t going to approach a husky, where the hell was my wife?  While still some yards away Sequoia finally took notice.  She strained at the end of her leash whining as huskies do when being denied chasing pray, and the cat kept coming.  Then the oddest thing happened, Sequoia started backing up.  The cat kept coming and now it wasn’t walking around people, it wasn’t stopping to check out the bird, the cat was coming, and it was coming for us.  I was looking at the information place for my wife.  Sequoia was no longer strained at the end of her leash, she was standing by my side.  When Sequoia broke her stare from the cat and looked at me her expression was priceless and unmistakable, it said, Dad, perhaps we should wait in the car. And that is exactly what we did and it was only when we got back into the car did the cat change direction, still keeping an eye on us, but no longer approaching.  A few moments later much to my relief my wife emerged from the building.  Not knowing what had transpired my wife pointed at the cat so I would not miss seeing it.  To the horror of Sequoia and myself, my wife actually bent down and started calling “here kitty kitty”  Could she not see that this was no ordinary cat?  Could she not see that it was some sort of demon?  Lucky for us the cat (if that is what it was) paid her no heed, it just wandered off probably looking for another dog to terrorize.

My wife had her own tale to tell. While Sequoia and I were being hunted by a demon my wife was dealing with a hummingbird.  Some children had found a wounded hummingbird in the parking lot and brought it to the information station (yes I like saying information station) in hopes that the bird could be fixed.  A wounded hummingbird is not an easy animal to fix.  But you can’t tell children that, they were so hopeful, and the information people didn’t know what to do.  My wife as always, stepped up to the plate.  She told the children that we knew a lady who might be able to help.  They put the bird in a shoebox with a little towel and kept the bird in a warm quiet place inside the office.  My wife made an arrangement with the park people that on our way out we would stop by and pick up the hummingbird and drive it the two hours (with a prey driven tramatized by a demon husky in the car) back to State College where we would take the bird to a wild animal rehabilitator.

True to our word we stopped by the office on our way out of the park(amazingly the bird was still alive) and we brought the bird to Sparrow our local wildlife rehabilitator.  Sparrow tried her best with the hummingbird but its very fragile wing was broken and the bird refused to eat and didn’t survive the night.   I wasn’t surprised, first off it was a hummingbird, delicate to begin with secondly it was probably the victim of the demon cat that haunts Cook Forest State Park.

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Because I am not an American citizen my wife and I get to travel to the City of Brotherly love (Philadelphia) to deal with INS (Immigration & Naturalization Services). The positive side of this is I get to stay in the USA legally and even better we have some pretty interesting stories from these adventures that may end up in these pages.

However this story has little to do with INS and everything to do with travelling with a dog, Sequoia to be exact.

On our last trip to Philly we wound up at the Sofital hotel. The Sofital advertises that you can bring two pets of any size with no additional fee. I wanted to bring an elephant but we don’t have one, more importantly my wife said I couldn’t.

We were greeted by a doorman clad in a top hat and tails which normally would mean we were at the wrong hotel. Inside, the Sofital sported marble floors and countertops, mahogany walls, mood lighting from long chandeliers and really comfortable looking deep cushioned chairs. We were in jeans and T-shirts draggin’ our wheelies behind us with a 55 pound husky pulling at her leash. Talk about feeling out-of-place, I was expecting motel 6.

Just as my senses were taking everything in Sequoia let out one of her famous husky howls. Think Call of the Wild, her haunches went down, shoulders came up, muzzle all stretched forward and her nose high in the air. she was definitely channeling her inner wolf, I’m sure the wolves of Yellowstone heard her call. As expected every eye in the place turned towards us. When Sequoia howls she wants is demanding attention. If people don’t come running over to pet her and tell her how beautiful she is she just keeps on howling, which is exactly what she did, and attention is what she got.

Despite all the people coming over to pay proper homage to Sequoia, asking us questions and making the usual remarks, can I pet her? is she a wolf? oooh look one of the snow dogs, was she in the movie Eight Below? I had a pugh once…we managed to make it to the front desk where Sequoia promptly placed her paws on the marble countertop demanding more attention and perhaps a few treats. While I was dying of embarrassment the desk clerks were giving Sequoia cookies for simply being so cute.

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Vacation

Sequoia the Beautiful

Sequoia at Christmas

My friend Brahm will tell you that he has the best dog.  I’d agree with him, but then we would both be wrong.

The truth of the matter is my wife and I have the best and most beautiful dog in the world we know this because A) Sequoia lives with us, so we know. B) People are always stopping us and telling us how beautiful she is. C) At the Grand Canyon she was a bigger draw then the canyon itself.

I don’t have a fear of heights, I can climb a ladder, I climb several every day at work, but I’m not fond of heights there is something especially nerve-wracking about standing on the edge of a cliff.  I knew I suffered from vertigo but I didn’t realize how badly until we stopped at the Grand Canyon.   I asked my wife to hold Sequoia while I went to take the perfect picture.  Once at the ledge I knew I wasn’t getting a picture, it is really hard to hold the camera when you have a white knuckle grip on the safety railing.  My saving grace was the really big guy beside me that was having the same issue.  Together we were able to nudge people out of the way as we moved slowly along the rail until we were safely off the overhang. 

It was the Grand Canyon and vertigo be damned I was getting my picture. My new plan of attack was to let my wife stand on the overhang with Sequoia and I would take a picture of them with the canyon in the background. When I finally located my wife I realized I just wasn’t going to get a picture.  There was my wife (who is claustrophobic and does not like crowds) standing at the edge of the world-famous Grand Canyon, the throng of people around her was not looking at the Canyon, they were all looking at Sequoia.  My poor wife couldn’t even enjoy the view due to all the people who wanted to ask about Sequoia, pet Sequoia and take pictures of Sequoia.  Even the park ranger who was trying to move people off the edge due to the approaching storm stopped to admire Sequoia.

The Grand Canyon, as I’m sure you know happens to be a large tourist gathering place where lots of different languages are spoken.  However, there is the international language of sign.  For example did you know that if somebody comes up to you and bends slightly at the knees, leans forward, hunches over while stretching out their hands and wiggling their fingers towards the floor means, “May I please pet your dog?”  Also when they bring their hand up to their face and bend their index finger at the knuckle several times while pointing at your dog  with the other hand means, “May I take a picture of your dog please?”  additionally, if when doing this they thrust their child at the dog it means, “May I take a picture of your dog with my child please?” What kills me is that I know these people are then going back to whatever country they came from and showing their friends the picture they took of their kid with Maya the dog from Eight Below.  And no, I have never seen the movie.

In short, because of the impending storm, claustrophobia, vertigo and throngs of people more interested in Sequoia then the canyon my wife and I will have to plan another trip to the Canyon so we can actually take in the views.

I’ve never met Alfred, (Brahm’s dog) but I’m betting he also is one heck of a dog!

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Husky Fun

Husky fun
Husky fun

You know you are in for a trying day when it is 5:30am and the snow in the driveway is up to your huskies belly.  My saving grace is that it is Saturday which means that instead of securing the dog on the porch and dragging out the snow blower and moving snow for two and a half hours, I can turn around, stick the dog in the laundry room and go back to sleep and worry about the snow later.  I’m not a fan of snow, yes its pretty, but pretty is only skin deep and ugly is to the bone.  Watching Sequoia play in the snow does add a whole new element.  I wish I had set the camera to video mode but at 5am I am not thinking that clearly, it is amazing I had the presence of mind to grab the camera.  I seriously had to laugh as she bounded through the snow, tail in the air, mouth open tongue lolling out to one side.  Every now and again she would dunk her face in the snow then pull it back out totally encrusted in snow up to her ears, her blue eyes sparkling. Then she would stretch out her neck, her eyes would narrow to slits as she put her nose high in the air and breath in all the scents the world has to offer her. The next moment she would be bounding through the snow again. If Sequoia has taught me anything it is to take the time to live in the moment.  It is a lesson I forget all to easily, thankfully she is there to remind time and time again.

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It was a difficult week at work, and it doesn’t look like it is going to change in the near future.  But it is Sunday and I’m not worrying about it, just enjoying a lazy day.  I am sitting with my feet up reclining under a blanket on my recliner. We are catching up on some tv watching and I’m wondering what the next post on my blog will be about. A cat is lying down in the crook of my arm, my wife is beside me working on her cross-stitch, dinner is in the crockpot smelling wonderful, dog is lazing on the deck. It is a Norman Rockwell moment.

Suddenly the house explodes in pandemonium.  The dog is on her feet thundering down the deck snarling and growling, hitting the end of the zipline so hard that her paws came out from under her bringing to a sudden stop on her back. Inside the cats are on full alert, hair standing on edge, tails fluffed twice their normal size.  I’m already half way out of my chair untangling myself from my blanket, my wife is on my heels.  Something is going down outside and it’s not pleasant.  I’m expecting to see a full-blown dog fight.  Husky doesn’t like other dogs and its even worse when they are on her territory and very little else causes this kind of reaction.  I step out the door and there is Husky at the end of the porch, while there is no sign of another animal she is clearly agitated and looking down the driveway.

At the end of the porch I grab husky as I look in the direction she is looking, keeping just out of her reach are 3 soaking wet, half-grown english bulldogs.  I grabbed husky and brought her into the house while my wife checked on the three stooges.  With a little food my wife manged to coax the stooges into Husky’s kennel where we could keep them contained and safe. Now, it just so happens that at the end of our street there is a guy who breeds old english bulldogs.

We hop in the car, minus the dogs as there is no way I’m letting three soaking wet muddy dogs into our vehicle, and no, we don’t have his number. It turns out the family had just gotten home from a shopping trip.  He knew the dogs had escaped but he decided the dogs would probably find their own way home and if not he would look for them once he got back. I’m not sure how going shopping would be more important than looking for three of your lost dogs but a lot of things I don’t understand. Luckily, everything worked out in the end, as it usually does.  Eventually the adrenalin stopped pumping (except for Husky who is still agitated)  and we were able to settle down and enjoy the rest of the afternoon. 

This serves as another example of how one moment you are happily relaxing secure in your life enjoying your time when bam, suddenly even if only for a short time your life can be tossed into sudden upheaval.

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Fate Or Circumstance, Part 3

Once at  Sandra’s we found the kennel, made sure Husky had food and water, we promised her that Sandra would be home soon and that we would visit during the week, and with great reluctance we walked away.

Husky screamed!  She didn’t bark, growl or howl, she screamed.  Never had I heard such a noise, it sounded like somebody had taken an old rusty spoon and used it to carve out her heart.  We couldn’t take her with us and we couldn’t wait all night.  Husky was safe, she had water and Sandra would soon be there to take her inside.  Being the cruel heartless people we are we walked away with heavy hearts and tears in our eyes and the most horrific sound echoing in our heads.  The neighbour promised us he would check in on Husky once Husky had settled down.   As we drove home with that god awful noise still reverberating in our heads we started thinking up ways we could keep her with us until we found a suitable home.  Logically we knew husky was fine, emotionally we were drained.  Some would argue that this was when we decided to keep Husky, and again they would be wrong. 

We made a vet appointment with Lee (the best vet ever) who gave us a lecture on dog ownership and given our situation and the temperment of our cats, how owning a dog was probably not the smartest idea.   Lee also forced us to see the obvious, if Husky did  kill one of the cats, how would that make us feel? then what would become of Husky?   Lee did admit that this husky was not a typical husky.   Husky took all her shots, gave blood and submitted to the exam without all the usual husky drama.  For the most part she lay on her back paws in the air waiting for somebody to rub her belly.  Lee who is not only the best vet, is also a friend who cares about her patients and despite her lecture informed us that she would support our decision and help us any way she could both as a friend and a vet.  Did our vet just open the door a tiny crack?  There were a lot of issues and the potential for deadly disaster, I was still focused on finding Husky a suitable home but maybe there was a way to share the household, maybe we could find a way to separate the cats from the dog when we were all in the house at the same time, maybe…just maybe…

During this time we took Husky everywhere getting her as much exposure as possible figuring the more people who saw her the better the chance we had at finding her a good home.   My wife was busy being a detective and with only Husky’s rabies tags she managed to uncover  a lot of  information.  The previous owner owed the vets money, making them reluctant to give us any information, but with a little explaining on our part each vet we talked to agreed to release Husky’s records our vet.  We found out that Husky was a mom but the dog law officer realized this guy was unable or unwilling to look after Husky never mind husky puppies and forced him to have Husky fixed.  He did comply but once again never paid the vet.  From there my wife was able to track down the breeder.  Husky was a purebred and we got all the information we needed to get her papers from the American Kennel Club.  We had no interest in getting her papers but it was a good ‘selling’ point to tempt a possible owner. 

Finding Husky an owner was a difficult task,  we were not about to ‘dump’ her on just anybody, how would that help her?  how would that put her in a better situation?  Most people want a dog that they can throw out the door on a cold day and then give a whistle and the dog will come running back, unfortunately with most huskies you can’t do that, once they are outside and unrestrained, they are gone.  Training a  husky is not as easy as training a lab.  Before a husky will do anything they ask themselves “whats in it for me?” and there better be something as they are certainly not out to please you.  Huskies are not always good with children or other dogs and other dogs don’t always like huskies.  In our studies we learned that huskies have their own language which other dogs don’t understand.  A husky owner in northern Canada who has working huskies warned us that huskies play a lot harder than most dogs and the difference between husky play and a husky fight is the amount of blood spilled.  To make matters worse our husky is very dominant and doesn’t play well with others.  If another dog doesn’t respond the way Husky wants them too she goes on the attack. 

One Sunday we went to Sandra’s to drop Husky off, (thankfully we could now do this without the screaming)  there was a pen set up in the yard with all the husky puppies playing inside.  We brought Husky into the pen and she immediately went into mothering mode.  She played with them, let them crawl all over her but when they crossed the line (as huskies are prone to do) she would roll them on their backs and hold them there until they calmed down.  We stayed for a while, playing with the puppies (we really liked zag and Sandra actually tried to get us to adopt zag) and really enjoyed watching Husky play with the pups.  Once again that dreaded time came when we had to leave we said goodbye to Sandra and the woman helping her, said goodbye to Husky who was only paying attention to the puppies but just before I got into the car I happened to look back and noticed Husky had stopped paying attention to the puppies, all her attention was on us. Later when my wife mentioned that particular behaviour to Sandra she told us that Husky always watched us leave and looked for us once we were gone and on Saturdays she would wait by the door for us to pick her up.  I though back to when we first met Husky, she didn’t look at her previous owner, she never looked back.  Some would say it was at that point we decided adopt Husky the truth of the matter is Husky had already adopted us.

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