I’m not sure how many of you saw it, or if you did, remember it, but back in mid March, we paid a visit to come friends that are sled dog mushers. I posted a shot of Grace hanging out with two of the dogs, Kashi the yellow one and Dune the black one. I did not mention it at the time, but there was more to that visit than just a drop-in.
The story actually starts back in December, when the Copper Dog holds their annual event in Calumet where they have some local dog teams to meet and greet and people can even get rides around the park on a sled pulled by a team of dogs. In that visit, Nora stopped to talk to a friend of her’s Pat. Pat and her husband have a bunch of sled dogs and race in many of the events in the upper Midwest over the winter. While Nora and Pat were talking, Grace got down in the snow and was playing with Kashi. They hit it off immediately and Nora mentioned to Pat that if Kashi were ever to come up for adoption (most retired sled dogs are adopted to live the rest of their lives on “vacation”), to let us know. Pat immideatly responded by saying that they were looking for a good home for Kashi. Gracie heard this and was excited, but Nora said it would be up to me. So I was sent pictures and some video of Grace and Kashi having fun in the snow. Kashi reminded me a lot of Millie and I did not hesitate to say we could adopt her. We had managed three dogs just fine before Millie passed and this was not a puppy, it was an adult dog that was past the crazy puppy stage and also in need of a good home.
So fast forward to this past mid-March. We took a trip down to Pat and Jerry’s home so that I could see Kashi and set some details for the transfer. Pat and Jerry have 17 dogs in their “pack”. Most are still pulling sleds, but some, like Kashi, are retired. They keep all the dogs in 2 dog pens that have dog houses for them to crash out in. Each pen is fenced in and all of the pens are then surrounded by another fence. Kashi and Dune were sharing the same pen, so we got to meet him while hanging out with Kashi. Kashi was happy to see Grace again and said a quick hi to Nora and I, but it was Dune that really poured himself on Nora and I. We both actually thought he might make a better fit for our house and Nora mentioned it to Pat. She said that they were looking for a good home for him too. In further discussions, Pat said that the two had been pen mates for pretty much their entire time with them and that they were best of friends. It was at that point that I pretty much made a declaration that I did not want to break these two best friends up and that we either got both or none. There was not much friction from Nora on the idea and of course Gracie was all for it. So the plans were made for both to come and live out the rest of their lives with the Dee’s.
We need to make preperations for them. The first being to fence in the entire back yard. We were going to do it this spring for Huck and Bleau, but the arrival of Kashi and Dune put the task on the front burner. The problem was, we still had snow on the ground in mid-March and there were 4 large cedar trees that had fallen in the storm just before Thanksgiving and they were laying in a spot the fence was to go. So we waited for the snow to melt and then for things to dry up enough so that we could get to work on things.
April 23rd was the start of the tree cutting. I hauled the small chain saw out and started by trimming the branches. It took a full afternoon and part of another to get that done and then Nora and Grace helped me haul some of the branches into the woods. I then started on the trunks of the trees. I had initially planned to cut them into 10 foot lengths and have a friend with a sawmill cut them into boards, but the ground was still too wet for Big Red to get to them without tearing up the yard and some of the best trees had begun to rot, probably the reason they came down during the storm. So I just cut them into firewood length pieces and Grace worked very hard to pick up the pieces and put them into the back of the garden cart and then haul them over to where we were going to keep the firewood for bonfires.
Bleau and Huck did a lot of supervising of the operations. It took several afternoon’s, including one in which we burned the rest of the branches in a small fire at the very back. It was the very day that the DNR had lifted the burn ban and sure was welcomed over having to haul all the branches into the woods! By early last week, all the clean up of the wind-falls was done and it was time to get onto the fence! Plus we had at least a seasons worth of bonfire wood. I was so proud and impressed with how hard Grace worked. With the exception of some of the bigger pieces, she hauled all of that wood over. We did reward her with paying off the remaining debt on the Swiss Army knife we bought for her and she will be stacking all of that wood neatly to earn some more money. She wants to get a skateboard next!
The fencing actually went in pretty smoothly and quickly. We switched gears from using cedar posts (from the wind-falls) to metal t-posts and steel fencing. The ground here is not very rocky, as apposed to most of the Keweenaw. There were some roots that presented a challenge in spots, but in all, it took me about 2 1/2 afternoons to get the backyard’s approximate 2 acres fenced in.
So this past Saturday, we drove down to pick up Kashi and Dune. We kept Huck and Bleau at home and our plan was and still is, to take things very slow in letting Kashi and Dune settle into their new home. Nora did a lot of research on what is the best way to introduce older dogs to a new home with existing dogs and even introducing retired sled dogs into a home with existing dogs. She is very good at researching things via the internet and for all the internet’s ills, it sure is an amazing things for things such as this.
Anyway, all the research said to take it slow and to let the new dogs meet and greet with the existing ones in small batches until they are comfortable with each other. So when we first got home, we took Kashi and Dune into the back yard on leashes and just walked around with them. After a while, we let them off their leashes. We all then hung out with them for a while, but Huck and Bleau remained in the house.
After lunch, we then took Bleau and Huck out one at a time for their first meet and greet with the new family members. Things went well, there was no aggressive behavior with any of the dogs, but Kashi and Dune were very skittish of both Huck and Bleau. We did several more meet and greets with the dogs, eventually having both Huck and Bleau together and then even on long leads. Dune was and still is the most skittish about Huck and Bleau, but Kashi seemed to be pretty comfortable right out of the box with Huck. Even giving him a doggy hand-shake. By the end of the day, Dune was feeling relaxed enough to lay down and take in his new digs and both Dune and Kashi even took a nap in the shade by later in the afternoon.
Grace and I also worked on the firepit for the backyard on Saturday. I placed the rocks and then Grace did the hard work of digging out some of the dirt to make it a true pit. Kashi has proven to be one that is extremely interested in checking things out and she came over to see what Gracie was doing and then give her some kisses for a good job. The pit turned out great, but our hopes of taking it on it’s maiden voyage were dashed by mother nature and her strong winds. Not to worry, as Nora, Gracie and I all love to have bonfires and it is a pretty regular thing with all of our friends we have down here in Jacobsville, so it will be getting PLENTY of action in the days, weeks, months and years to come!
So one of the other events here the past week was the first bear visit. None of us saw it, so no pictures. Actually Bleau might have seen it, as the night it came, he was doing a very cautious growl in the middle of the night, but none of us got up to see what it was all about. So how did we know a bear had come to pay a visit in the middle of the night Wednesday? Well, the bird feeder had taken a pretty good hit and I am confident it was not squirrles!
I think that just about covers it for this for this one. All of the Dees are still healthy and also have not had any family or friends come down with the virus. I am chuckling at some of the persons talking about how desperately they need a hair cut. I am one of the lucky ones. I do not have enough hair to really screw up giving myself my own cut. I just keep cutting it until it looks even. The same cannot be said for poor Bleau. He really is in desperate need of a cut. We were all hanging out in the living room the other evening and he popped his head up to look at me and I could not help but chuckle and take this shot of him.
For as nice as Friday and Saturday were, sunny, 71 and 68 respectively, yesterday was ugly. Low 40’s a heavy overcast and windy. We had a few sprinkles late in the afternoon, but there were reports of a few flakes of snow in the higher terrain up in Keweenaw County. It was a good day to stay inside and that is exactly what Huck and I did, we even added a fire in the fireplace and a bowl of popcorn to make it just right. Life is crazy, life is good.
Good Night from the Keweenaw..