“Where are your retired dogs?”
They ask after seeing the puppies, they ask dropping the tone of their voice, they ask because they care about dogs. I get it.
Lately we have had a series of guests to the kennel, the puppies are a big draw. And we always enjoy the chance to share a bit about our lifestyle with visitors. So when the first one asked, with a nervous look, “where are the retired dogs?” I did not let myself get offended. But the question kept coming, and it is dawning on me that people are concerned, and it is a valid question. So lets just set the record straight.
If you are born at Dew Claw you always have a home here.
End of discussion.
Well not really (but when have I ever been cursed with brevity?) We feel that we have a responsibility to the dogs we bring into the world. But not every dog will grow into or want to be a Dew Claw race dog. That does not make them bad or worthless dogs, they are just not ideally suited to what we are asking them to do. So we strive to find situations for those dogs that are better suited to them. This takes some effort, but is ultimately worth it.
Example: you may remember an earlier post highlighting some Dew Claw dogs we hoped to re-home, “Looking for a few Good Homes“. Lets follow up and see where those kids are now.
Devil and Parka spent last winter with a wonderful woman, Mary, who had always had a few dogs. But she was getting ready to leave the state and really wanted a bigger team for one final winter of adventure. So we arranged to have her foster Devil, Parka, and X-tra (an older Quest finisher who we felt was ready for a slightly easier life) This gave them the opportunity to have a fun active winter. While on an adventure with Mary they met a young man (about 5 years old) who’s mom was wanting to slowly get into dogs. Well he just fell in LOVE with X-tra, like madly completely head over heels. So instead of returning to Dew Claw it was decided that these 3 would go join this young man and his mom as they got started mushing. I get updates, and they are all happy in their new home. The photo mom sent of X-tra and her boy curled up together reading a bed time story was too cute for words.
Panda took a bit longer. But with the help of friends Matt & Erin we found her a perfect human. Matt & Erin have a Dew Claw dog already, and sometimes come and borrow other dogs to add power when they are going on winter ski-jor adventures. They had been taking Panda to let her get out and have some fun while she learned more about being a ski-jor dog. Through them she met her new human, Bobby. Panda now has a cabin with a couch, and a human with an active lifestyle who doesn’t mind dog hair on the couch. His career has him doing brief periods of field work in the summer. (But that’s cool, because Dew Claw has long term baby-sitting. This summer we have 3 Dew Claw dogs back visiting us.) When he returned the other day to pick Panda up after being gone the scene was adorable. She saw him and went nuts, tail wagging, jumping in his arms NUTS! Yeah safe to say Panda is happy in her new home.
Retired dog may also be rehomed, if the perfect home can be found. But until then, they have a safe home with us. There are still many Dew Claw dogs that live with us long past their race days. They will run with puppies or on short juants as long as they are able. Mostly they live in the main dog yard where they can get the same care & attention as the race dogs. (with a lower calorie version of the race dog diet) Dogs who are too old to jump out get to spend time in the puppy pen, when it is puppy free. And then as the need arises we have our heated garage set up with kennels. Our oldest Zazoom will move back into the garage again this winter as his old bones do not do as well in the cold. There will come a day when his suffering will outweigh his comfort, and at that time we will be faced with one of the most difficult and painful responsibility a musher faces. But till that day we will continue to make sure we do everything we can for him.
These dogs are the living history of Dew Claw. They were Dan’s first race team long before I ever even had the dream of racing. They are the elders and have certainly earned their place here.
Polar, Zazoom, Cactus, (born 1999) Ears, (2000) Cactus, Diesel, Lestat (2002) and Hummer (oldest of the bunch 1997)