A year in the life of an Irish Sled Dog Kennel – treadmills and thermometers

Since my last update, we have come along with treadmill training, with most of the working dogs up to 10 minute sessions of varying speeds. The treadmill has been greeted in different ways by different dogs. Rooney, a rescue dog, who was so unsocialised when he came to me, that it took 3 months just to get a lead on him, seemed happy enough standing on the treadmill getting treats. He was also happy with treats standing next to the treadmill when it was switched on. However, the horror of being on the treadmill and suddenly finding the floor moving under his feet terrified him so much that he soiled himself (and the treadmill and a side panel). Rooney is now back to gingerly taking treats off the unmoving equipment, he may never get to walk or run on it, we will continue with the gentle desensitization but, as the exercise and work is meant to be fun for the dogs as well as myself, if he continues to be terrified, he won’t be made to endure it. Then we have Bear, who showed me exactly what he thought of this kind of exercise by running down the hallway to the room the treadmill is in, and peeing on it. I am now keeping a supply of poo bags, kitchen towel and disinfectant wipes next to the treadmill. Most of the dogs are happy to get onto it and do their work out, this probably has something to do with them knowing they will get some homemade beef jerky as a big treat when they finish.

The real star of the new exercise regime is Clancy – his full name in this house is Clancy the Clown. Clancy came to me from A Dogs Life, a great rescue that, at the time, were taking dogs from Dunboyne pound. Clancy was a stray that ended up in there, he was taken out to a foster home and then I picked him up. A tall, gangly red dog, he loves everybody, and expects everbody to love him. He has no concept of personal space, even though he is far from lapdog size, he feels it is his right to curl up on top of me, even if another dog is already there. If there is somewhere that he wants to lie, and another dog is fast asleep in that place, he just lies on top of them until they get fed up and move away – works everytime. When Clancy runs in the exercise field, his gangliness comes to the fore, for those of a certain age, think Phoebe in a particular episode of Friends, when she and Rachel went running in the park, Clancy is Phoebe in husky clothing, all legs and just sheer joy shining through in his body language. When he first came into me, he would get very stressed in certain situations, his way of dealing with the stress was to pick something up and have it in his mouth, unfortunately, this was usually another dog. He then moved on to a dog toy, which was much more preferable. He has now evolved into taking himself into his crate when he is stressed or over-excited. Due to the marks on his back legs, we think he was used as a bait dog before ending up in the pound, so he is doing incredibly well to be so friendly to other dogs, and be such a happy soul.clancysmiling

He loves cuddles and rubs, and will roll onto his back for anybody if he thinks they will rub his tummy or give him a treat. He had his booster at the vet last week, he jumped out of the van, bounced into the vets and greeted the receptionist with his front paws up on the desk and a kiss. Going into the treatment room was the best thing in the whole wide world, the vet was given a big play bow, he jumped onto the scales, and threw himself straight into a sit, looking delighted with himself, but unfortunately, with his back leaning against the wall, so 4 attempts later, we had his whole body on the scales and got an accurate weight. He is a skinny boy, he gets more food than most of the other dogs, but never puts weight on, I’m not sure if its the extra energy that he uses living in such an exciting world. He was taken by surprise by the thermometer up the bum, but merely gave the vet a look of mild reproach, and then a big lick when she checked his eyes and ears. The stethoscope was a toy that he was delighted to share with the vet, and the kennel cough up his nose was another interesting experience that he took in his stride. He was fascinated by the fridge where the vaccinations are kept, probably because he isn’t allowed to put his nose into the fridge at home, this place is obviously different, and when the door was opened, he was straight in there to investigate. His vet experience was rounded off by choosing his own pigs ear from the basket and carrying it proudly out to the van. He did have me worried earlier in the week, when I thought he had two ticks on his face – they turned out to be drops of tea that had fallen onto his head when it was stuck in the bottom of the dishwasher cleaning the plates while I was loading the top basket.

Clancy earned his Working Trek Dog Silver award in March at an Alaskan Malamute Working Association trek in Wales, working in a team, pulling the 3 wheeled rig and me for 27 miles over 2 days. He would have earned this title in December, but for my stupidity and his love of sausages. He got injured when I put my rucksack containing the sausages down on the ground and he and Rooney had a ‘discussion’ over who should have them. He had worked really hard on the first day of the trek, mushing for 20 miles in very tough conditions, through thick mud in places, and with a punctured tyre for the last 5 miles – after I had given my spare wheel to someone else earlier in the trek. Clancy the clown is a one off, a dog with a huge personality and zest for life, and who loves to learn new things. I am very grateful that he ended up in my life, with him in the family, things are never boring.

Thanks to Fay Frost Photography.


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