Celestial Play

I took these pictures last night when I took dogs out for a walk. Night sky is taking our breath away again. Dog walkers always see the most awesome things :D! Too bad it was cloudy and the battery ran out in minutes.

Nice view for a walk


Kuuhaukun Tähtisumua

It's been some time since our dear and beloved Valo died of cancer. Dogs bring great joy and deep sorrow but I still wasn't ready for this. When Valo got sick we tried everything to find out what was wrong. We took dozens of urine and blood tests and spent two whole days at the vet - everything was normal. Two veterinarians were working on his case and I contacted many more. We took x-rays of him twice - hips, back and intestines were all fine. We sent many different samples to lab (thyroids, Cushing's syndrome, fine-needle aspiration etc.) and never found anything that was wrong. We took ultrasounds and electrocardiography, nothing abnormal was found. Valo was also on a diet if he had problems with liver or kidneys.

All this time Valo was happy and cheery. We took walks in the forest and let him stay free on our yard so he could do what he pleased. Valo was very happy of his new diet and always ate with good appetite. He never showed any pain and never lost weight. For two last weeks I slept on the floor so Valo could sleep next to me and I could always see and hear him if things got worse. I could not stand it if I didn't notice something or if Valo had any pain. He slept sound and was always the happy Valo he had always been. I had contacted specialists and we were going to do more tests in Aisti that week, tests like MRI because the neurological problems were the only thing we hadn't tested yet.

Just few days before I was out with Valo and we saw a meteor that burned red for a while. It reminded me of the old Chukchi tale of the dog team that rides across the sky. Valo passed away at home with his family around him. Just a moment and he was gone. Our veterinarian and nurses helped us with things concerning the autopsy. Sero and Odessa said their goodbyes and I know they had known about Valo's disease for a long time. I didn't feel relieved I just wanted my dear Valo back.

Valo gave us a lot of extra time. He stayed brave and strong and I didn't have to deside over his life. Not until the autopsy we knew what was wrong. He had malignant tumours (not neurological) and lymphoma - there was nothing we could have done to save him. We were said that he was exceptionally strong to live so long and without pain. And I know how brave and sweet he was.

Other dogs have been doing well. I don't know what I would have done if Sero had passed before Valo because Valo loved his "big brother" so much. Odessa has shown some strange behaviour though. When it's starry sky or moon is bright she sits on her chair by the window and looks outside. I woke up one night it was after 5AM. I joined Odessa and looked out the beautiful starry sky. She swept her tail and I saw a shooting star. We will always love and remember our Stardust.

There are so many people who met and loved Valo and I thought I owe to tell about this. This tore my heart but it's only a small part of what Valo was and still is for me. I have a "theme song" for each of my dogs. I don't know why and how they are chosen but this is Valo's song.


This is what I give
A circle is complete
Another circle spins
There’s life within



Here is my new pack member imported straight from Chongqing, China. I'm glad he wasn't too big and fitted well in the airplane :D. His name is Valdemar and he needs his sweater because it's sooo cold here in Finland. Wo xi huan gou! (I hope my Chinese teacher won't see that last comment).


1 week

So I'm having a vacation for a one week before work. Actually I'm still in school for a month and I've got many things to do but I'm staying away from the city for this one week. I'm also doing our Siberian Husky Club's magazine which should be printed soon and I should update our web pages and.... Oh, if you haven't noticed yet the SHCA have completed some illustrations of Lorna and Leonhard! 

We wrote about this project a year ago in our club magazine so this is not new information for anybody! The completed illustrations doesn't look too bad because I was expecting much worse and I knew they would differ from the old illustrations which is a shame. I was hoping they would look at the old photos from the 30's and 40's (or they should not be called Leonhard and Lorna) and make the illustrations based on them. Luckily the illustration of a moving Siberian is not the awful ”show movement” which is seen in the show ring way too often. My main concern is that the male looks too feminine which already is a fault seen often in the show ring.

There are many faults in the ”Leonhard” profile. This dog has the ”hanging chest”, the deepest point of the chest should be level with elbows... Very common fault with show winners. He also has too short and upright upper arm and he is too long in body. It's good that the hindquarters aren't exaggerated but they could be much better so I'm not even starting with that! I know how hard it is to make an illustration even when you know how all different parts should be but when you try to put them together... Well that's why I just used pictures of my own dogs when I was making illustrations for my pages. Link to already completed SHCA illustrations: http://illustratedstandard.com/shcacomp.htm

I've got so many things to write about but not the time for it. So here are few pictures for you!

Here is the team after a run. There were 10 dogs pulling the truck (oh, and the trailer for 12 dogs) and YES they can pull it without help and it's not animal cruelty, these dogs are working sled dogs under strict supervision. I guess we had 14 different dogs but BABY Sepe was way too young for pulling ;)

Almost 11 years old Sero wasn't the oldest one in the team. Here running in the wheel with his daughter Odessa and winking at the girls: How You Doin? This was first time for them both to run in front of a truck (and not seeing me :') ) and they did just awesome.

Lovely boy, I didn't even think of stealing him... This BABY HUSKY was supervising the team inside the truck... And being all cute.

I love this photo. Here is Joiku in his kennel and Henna outside roaming on her own. Henna is Joiku's 16 years old grandmother, both from Troika kennels.


Drinks at Kerubi

4.5.2012 Kerubi, Joensuu

Last week we went to test how the new law operates. Since January 1. Finnish restaurants have been allowed to let animals indoors. It's great that you can take your dog with you when you go out. Especially during summer when we often travel with a dog or when I have Odessa in the city with me and I can't leave her alone with our bunnies.

I'm not planning to take dogs in busy restaurants but it's great that I can take a dog on a terrace with me and my friends. In Joensuu there's been one place where dogs were allowed before this new law and it's a nice and cool place by water. It's important to have a chance to get the dog under a shade and that the place is windy enough. So we went to test if they let us in the Kerubi restaurant terrance. Place is nice and I often walk my dogs in Ilosaari. Water is close and the area is quite calm. I just hope that dog owners know how to behave and take only calm dogs with them. I think it's great to allow dogs on terrances but I wouldn't like to eat indoors next to a dog (unless it's a Siberian, they don't smell like dogs :D))

Odessa behaved very well and we felt cozy with our Siberian. After drinks we went to friend's place watch the hockey game and Odessa just relaxed and slept on the floor despite all the yelling guys.  

Valo and I continue to visit nursing homes and last week we visited a new place. There were two floors so we had to take an elevator to get to visit people who couldn't come downstairs. Valo is not a huge fan of elevators but we all just squeezed in one (3 people and 3 big dogs that Valo hadn't met before). He did great and he's such a sweet boy!

Sero didn't get extra attention last week so I harnessed him in front of my mountain bike and he really loved the run. We stopped by the lake to check if there's still ice covering the lake. And yes there was but it's too fragile to walk on. Sero also found a common lizard and we watched him sunbathing on a deck. I would have photographed it but two dogs running free interrupted us.

Thanks for this pic: anline.kuvat.fi
And here is Valo in the dog show celebrating the first of May. Valo has been like this since he was 8 weeks old, he just doesn't care what's going on around him! Japanese tourists came to photograph him and his blue eyes, I don't even know how many times Valo has posed for tourists because I feel we meet them almost every time we get out of the door. But we don't mind and Valo always want's to share his Siberian love around him!


Where's our trail?

We still have some snow here and there but I have to admit that summer is here. Valo brought me a lovely gift this morning, just to celebrate that summer is here. There was a tick walking on his face! Well they may look small and cute like spider babies - but they sure aren't! They can spread Lyme disease so I'll have to protect the dogs from ticks. Stuff we use is very toxic for all small creatures and it's been very effective. I guess we just have to use that drug on the dogs again.

Here is sad Odessa wondering where is our trail!? The river is flooding and the trail we used during the winter has melted and the route is under water. Maybe I should make a floating sled?

 I guess we won't be using this trail in a while!


Last weeks of winter

It's been raining for couple days so it really seems spring is coming and snow is vanishing rapidly. We still have enough snow for sledding but it's getting too soft to move forward fast enough. But the dogs are enjoying the last snow! All my dogs have black back or black stripe on their backs so the sun warms them very fast. But they have white bellies so they can also cool off quickly. They're like penguins!


Under great Northern Lights

Team by a river.
This winter has been just great. We've had enough snow and cold weather to do longer trips and the team "oldies" have been in great shape (it's true like Dr. Cooper says: "my mother had me tested".) It's not that I'm paranoid (I am) but if I have to take one dog to the vet I'll take them all and make sure they double-check our team "veterans". Poor Odessa just gave kisses for nurses when they tried to find her vein for a blood test and didn't understand she was being stung with a needle. By the way, taking blood work for each dog of a team in the beginning of the sledding season is a great idea and you can be sure to train strong and healthy animals.

We've been sledding a lot. With new trails in new places and with no trails at all. This time of year it's getting way too warm but it also has it's advantages. When the snow freezes over after having melt in the sun it's durable enough to carry the dogs and the sled (sometimes you can walk on the snow without snowshoes). This means we can go anywhere we want and the best routes are found by the rivers and frozen marshes. But you need to go out early enough or you will find yourself in the middle of the forest standing in waist deep snow because the sun melts the snow back into slush.

Unfortunately we rarely have our camera with us so I don't have too many photos. I can only describe how awesome it is to sled with the dogs at night under a starry sky when it is bright enough to travel without a headlamp. Only a quiet sound of the runners and occasional crack from frozen trees in the complete silence. Dogs running to a smooth rhythm and shadows of the forest moving slowly. And then. Mists like green shadows in the sky - the northern lights. This is it.

Beautiful forest.

The fan hitch in use when crossing over the lake Loitimo.


Sir Eats-a-lot

We got first snow in october but unfortunately it didn't last long. We had to wait our first sledding trip until 28.11! Dogs were running so fast that I had tears in my eyes - not because I was so touched of their harmonic gallop but because of the wind in my eyes. Valo was leading when we passed some kids sliding down the hill with their sleds and all I heard was kids yelling how cooool our team was! I've been hitching the dogs alone so it's always exciting to wait if the sled will stay put and does the knot hold! We hope MORE SNOW so the snow anchor wouldn't be as useless as it is now.

Valo is also starting his shedding and usually it means we are getting colder weather. He's been off treats because he is too heavy! Keeping fit has always been a little problem for him because castrated dogs tend to gain more weight. And he loves to eat! Sero and Odessa have their regular fastings but Valo is always where the food is. So it's interesting to see how he looks without his undercoat. Here is a picture from last year and there is only about 10 days between those two photos. It is incredible how much the dog can change but it also shows how thick true arctic coat is. And he even has a little bit too short guard hair.

In the first photo you can see Valo has already shed about 1/4 of his fur but he looks still very "typy". People who don't know how much the fur changes the dog might see Valo too heavy in bone. In next photo Valo has shed all his undercoat and is actually grown some new fur. Without his undercoat you can still see that he is moderate in bone! It is a common fault that Siberians are too light in bone. Just look at all the old photos and you'll see! You can also notice a trivial thing in his coat color. Gray and wolf gray Siberians have yellow or brownish cast on their undercoat and that is why you can see more of that "rusty" color when he has his undercoat on.

Regular exercise is very important to castrated dogs and we always have to watch that he won't eat others meals. Valo sure would eat a lot but he isn't as omnivorous as Odessa! She eats everything: oranges, potatoes (raw, boiled, smashed, you name it), carrots, all berries, cucumber, popcorn etc. etc. The difference is that normal Siberian Huskies (that aren't castrated) knows how to regulate their food. They only eat as much as they need and then hide the rest. It's funny how Siberians try to hide their food inside the house, they just lift imaginary dirt on their bowl or try to hide it somewhere. That's how they keep fit and save food for the rainy day, which is very important for arctic animals. They usually eat all their food if they have a correct nutrition and they get enough exercise. Obviously Valo hides his food inside his tummy! Valo knows his fat will keep him warm in the icy blizzards of Siberia.

Eating habits are just one part of a working dog. I'd like to write a little something about working dogs that actually work. So I call them "working working dogs". Breeder of our dogs is always happy to hear all the shenanigans Siberians bred by her have done. When they tear down the tapestry, destroy whole interior of a sauna (when dog is closed inside a prison like that) or make holes in parquet. It takes a certain state of working dog mind to figure out something to do when people are away and they are left alone! Siberian Huskies are very intelligent and therefore "humanlike". True Siberians don't only have the stamina and guts in pulling the sled but it is also in their character. They are determined, gutsy, devoted and will find their way through all obstacles. That is the Siberian sleddog that the early breeders knew. That was famous Togo who even jumped through a window to get what he wanted! One Kuuhaukun Siberian Husky was seen by a famous Finnish dog trainer who said he is a true working dog and there is a dog like that only 1 in 500 working dogs. And that is much to say.

Of course it's important that working dogs have a good nervous system and they don't "jump on walls" if they don't get to work every day They also need to have strong nerves and know when and how to calm down.

It's sad to see how people are breeding Siberian Huskies for pets and show dogs. People living in city-apartments sure don't want a Siberian that is a true working dog! They want a small and easy pet that is easy to train and is happy with only little exercise and other activity. That dog is not a Siberian Husky. It's sad that people take a working dog and can't provide him the conditions he needs. Siberian Husky is a primitive dog but his tractability makes him an agreeable companion. Working working dogs need to be strong and have enough temperament. Siberian Husky can be all that and still be friendly and gentle - never shy and looking oppressed.