Sunday, July 31, 2005

Friday, July 29, 2005

Harness comparison

The harnesses below were all created for a specific job. Although there are other types of harnesses, I'll focus on the ones I choose to use personally. Always make sure you have a well fitting harness. The proper size will allow your dog to work most efficiently and reduce risk of injury.

Standard walking harness



The standard walking harness can be found in any local pet store unlike the other harnesses which have to be ordered through specialty shops. It's a light weight harness that is not meant for heavy pulling. The nylon is thin and there is no padding. Both the neck and the chest straps are adjustable so it can be used for multiple dogs.

Purpose:
- Biking with a bike attachment (no pulling)
- Walking
- Light tracking
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The Guard Harness, also known as the Urban Trails or the Distance harness



If you compare the Guard harness with your standard walking harness, you'll notice the nylon is thicker and it's padded through the shoulders. The chest strap is adjustable, but the neck is not, therefore a custom fit is required. The neck must fit properly for the dog's safety. (Consult your dealer for proper sizing instructions.) This harness is prefered over the X-back by some bikejorers, skijorers and scooterers. They feel that with the higher angle of the tug line, the Guard harness cannot lift off the dogs back as an X-back would, making it more efficient and comfortable for the dog.

Purpose:
- Bikejoring
- Scootering
- Skijoring
- Sledding
- Tracking
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The X-back harness



The X-back harness is the harness most often seen on sled dogs. The large "X" evenly distributes pulling weight. The neck is padded with a thick front strap extending between the front legs, designed for hard, comfortable pulling over long distances. The "X" should extend to the base of the tail. Consult your dealer for proper fit.

Purpose:
- Sledding
- Bikejoring
- Scootering
- Skijoring
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The Weight pull, or Freight harness



The Freight harness is designed for heavy weight pulling. It's similar to the X-back harness with the padded neck and the "X" design on the back, but the side straps are much longer, extending along the dogs body to beyond the back legs. You'll notice a spreader bar a few inches behind the dogs body. This keeps the pressure off the dogs spine and rear legs, letting the dog dig in and pull with it's chest comfortably and safely. A competition harness has thicker nylon straps designed to pull even more weight (hundreds of pounds or more). Unless you have competition plans the harness below is suitable for most dogs.
This harness can also be used for carting with the addition of shaft holders. The spreader bar takes the place of the tree, but because it's always attached to the harness it rest on the dogs legs when not in use, making it uncomfortable for long time wear.

Purpose:
- Weight pulling
- Carting
- Wheel dog
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The Siwash harness



The Siwash harness is designed mainly for carting. It has an adjustable chest strap with loops for holding the shafts up in place. The two traces attach from the o-rings on the harness to the tree on the cart, keeping the pulling weight off the dogs back legs in the same way the spreader bar does in the Freight harness. It's possible to purchase traces with a spreader bar designed for weight pulling, making this a versatile harness. It's got the same padded neck design that you see in the Freight , the X-back and the Guard harness. This design keeps pressure off the dogs shoulders, letting them lean in and pull with full force and freedom of movement.

Purpose:
- Carting
- Weight pulling

Friday, July 22, 2005

Cyder learns the escalator

The escalator isn't so hard!




I attract lots of people with my good looks.


What shall we order at Tim Horton's today? Timbits please!


It's a hard life.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Dog foot care

Some foot care tips & hints I've collected that are useful:




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Keep the hair in longer coated breeds trimmed around the pads. (unlike the medium length you see in the photo above :) This will allow the pads to develop calluses and discourage softening from moisture being held in the hair.

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Zinc does make a difference in pad strength. It has to be absorbed into the system and given time to work, but it DOES work. It's economical as well.
Nutrazinc from Howling Dog Alaska
It strengthens the nails so you may have to trim more often.

* I haven't tried it yet to make my own opinion, but I've ordered some and I'll let you know.

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The combination of genetics, gait and size play a role in foot problems. Terrain and distance play a role as well. Start over dirt on short runs and build them up to gravel. It's best to get in the habit of doing a foot inspection after each run. Running on dirt & grass is always better than pavement. Try and keep this to a minimum. Not only is it like sandpaper to the paws, it's harder on the dogs body.

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Pads can be toughened up over time, but you have to monitor carefully and boot the dog before the pads are damaged. You'll notice the pads getting thinner, and when they are really worn you'll notice "pinpricks" of moisture. Boot AS SOON as you see this, or you'll have a limping dog if you don't.



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Fleece boots hold heat but supply padding, cordura boots wear better, etc. Find a boot that suits your climate, dog and terrain. Start with the boots very tight and loosen the velcro if you rest or finish your run. Dogs loose heat through their paws so when you rest take the boots off the dog and reapply once you are ready to run again.

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When a dog tears it's pad, rinse it off and get home. It's a good idea to carry a spare boot in your kit for emergency situations like this.

Once home, if the pad injury is shallow or 'slipped', leave it open to the air in a dry area. Once it dries the dog will generally leave it alone and let it heal. If it's a deeper cut, close it with medical glue and put a boot on it loosely when you are around to supervise. In the photograph above, the injury is more of a 'slipped' paw, a layer of skin that has come off. This is uncomfortable for the dog and it will usually limp for a while, but it isn't something to be concerned about. Don't run the dog until the pad has healed completely.

If your dog has a medical condition or if you think the injury is serious it's always best to visit your vet.

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Here is the homemade remedy from the Collins book:

3 pounds Vaseline, 50 to 70 cc Betadine, 1 pound lanolin, and 1⁄2 pound glycerin (to prevent freezing). To this basic formula, 40cc of 90 percent medical grade DMSO (or 40 cc of 4 mg/ml dexamethasone, available by prescription) can be added if desired. Vitamins A and E may also be beneficial. Melt slowly, stirring constantly, and pour into containers.

The one thing the book mentions is that the vets are divided on using medications containing DMSO, steroids, or other anti-inflammatory drugs because they can slow healing, mask symptoms and possibly leave a dog more susceptible to infection by suppressing the immune system.

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In conclusion, condition the paws, proactively apply boots, glue when needed and supplement zink.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Sheep herding for the first time

Baa ram ewe, baa ram ewe,
to your breed, your fleece, your clan be true,
sheep be true, baa ram ewe.



Ceilidh on sheep for the first time:





Rudy:





Tawny:



Torque:



Giddy-up!

Swimming on Canada Day 2005