More Malamute Adventures (& one that however hard I try, I can’t blame on the dogs)

My beasts never fail to amaze me – often in an embarrassingly bad way, but today they were fab. I met up with a Kent group of mally and sibe owners for a group walk locally. 18740677_10159235103050497_3293180578611957350_nBeing that it was too warm to do much for me and the demons, I thought I’d just pop along to say hello, then meet them at the end (dashing home for coffee in between lol). I had warned everyone that mine could be…..um a tad over-exuberant and hadn’t quite grasped the etiquette of a meet ‘n’ greet situation, but yet again, they let me down! They were brilliant – greeting every dog fairly calmly, and even, dare I say it, even wanting to play (tentatively) with the only other malamute there! Now, I look like a liar lol

UPDATE: We went back to meet everyone after their walk, and found them sitting outside my local, recovering in the shade. And I am pleased to report that the beasts (not breasts, please note – **for new readers, see comments below regarding my breasts – I do not bring them up in conversation without serious cause – I am embarrassed for my filthy minded friends 😉  – and for blog readers, my posts are released on Facebook first) were still in the mood for love, not war. Hamish did decide, however, that the other malamute was a bit scary and needed growling at – my giant wuss then hid his head between my knees – a dog to be proud of lol

****Offensive Content Warning***
Today’s walk is brought to you by the letters ‘Fucking Hell’ and ‘Thought I’d never get home’! Today, I fell down a ditch – not any old ditch, mind, the ditch from hell. Deeper than me, with near vertical sides, half full of rank water, and rocks – which my head said a far too intimate hello to. There were brambles, nettles, probably glass, almost certainly dead things, and skeletons of previous ditch victims. Dizzy, wet, with blood dripping Image result for cliff faceeverywhere (okay, maybe a slight exaggeration), I weighed up my options. I have a team of strong sleddogs here, who pull all the time – this should be easy! I’ll just ‘hike on’ and they can pull me out! However, ‘Hike on, dogs’ apparently means lie down and relax these days. I threw the last biscuit in my pocket in the hope that they would chase after it – nope, they missed that one. Fucking hell, there were no branches to grab onto, the gate post was too far to throw a lead round it and pull myself out. I climbed, and slid down, 7 or 8 times, and had all but given up, awaiting my fate. They would find a sad corpse, with two loyal starving, barely alive malamutes Image result for skeleton lying downwaiting, ever patient, for me to return to them – yeah right! One last ditch attempt (pardon the pun lol) and with much scrambling, sliding, and relief, I made it out! I survived! The dogs, immune to any distress, shook themselves and pulled towards home – fucking bastards, now they sodding ‘hike bloody on’! I have a nasty cut across my knee (which was the dodgy one anyway), countless scratches, thorns, bruises, and lumps, and a severe and long lasting disappointment in my so-called sleddogs ;). Lassie would’ve helped, if Hamish hadn’t eaten him/her/who knows first.

A follow up to yesterday’s apparently hysterical misfortune – still containing potentially offensive language 😉
In order to unplug the laptop, I have to crawl under the table – normally not a problem. However, last night I had to slide off the sofa to the floor, and because I couldn’t bum shuffle as my knee had failed me, I had to wriggle worm like across the floor. The demons thought this was great fun and insisted on joining in – fucking hell, it was much less fun for me! Anyway, eventually I crawled into bed, and got vaguely comfy – I couldn’t turn over, so I sort of lay there, stuck all night. This morning, I, with much ‘steady on’ing, and ‘Fucking stooooop’ing made it round the fields. Fortunately, the buns had taken pity on me and respectfully hopped back to their burrows on sight. As I approached the scene Related imageof yesterday’s horror, I swear I heard an evil chuckle, and when I stared down into it – from a safe distance, plus some, the ditch definitely smirked – fucking bastard! It’s times like this that make me wish I had someone, but I’m home now, housework done, dogs sleeping, coffee made, and I’m quite glad it’s just me lol. At least there’s no one to laugh at me trying to stand up because my bastard, fucking, shitting knee has seized up in protest!

 

A pretty eventful walk this morning; after opening the back door, the dogs, as usual pinged to the end of their leads, but Pagan kept running with no ping! Fortunately, it confused her as much as me, and she ran back when I called. Back inside, a hasty repair was made to her lead eg added another clip and off we went. Both beasts were puzzled by the extra jingling coming from Pagan’s neck, which elicited extra boundy excitement. The walk itself was hot and humid, with the demons sharking through the dew soaked grass in absolute delight. We emerged through the bushes surrounding the cricket pitch, only to come upon Gertie, the Pink Jack Russell!!! We haven’t seen her, or her Grunting Owner for months. This apparently vicious little girlie, who has to be muzzled when around other dogs, immediately jumped on Hamish for licky snogs, and Pagan danced for joy. The demons didn’t last long in the heat and were soon piles of panting fluff on the grass, but Gertie kept leaping on their backs; all three were in doggy heaven. Meanwhile, Grunting Owner grunted, and I tried to keep the potential deadly tangle of leads untangled, not wanting a repeat of the Maypole Incident that is eternally etched on my brain. The beasts are now snoring, and I have coffee!

 

The Last Few Weeks – catch up

Pagan is such a hard bitch that she doesn’t even shake the water off after a swim Image result for grrlanymore – she drip dries and doesn’t care! Unlike wussy Hamish who doesn’t do the whole getting wet thing mmmmkay

For the last two weeks, right by the field gate, there have been two young buns; they sit close to each other nibbling on the grass, quite happy in each others company. On seeing us, one runs to his nearby burrow, the other has further to go – down the track for several hundred yards before reaching the safety of home. This happens every morning, and every morning the beasts go wild, as though it’s never happened before. I always wonder if the second bun has no local friends – mates in his ‘hood, if he has ideas above his station, going to see his posh mate in the bigger, better situated burrow, or is just hangin’ with the cool clique? If I look closely, will I see eyeliner, crimped fur, and little Siouxsie and the Banshees tee shirts? Are they the Goth kids? I wonder sometimes if my view is tainted by my own youth – nope, obviously not at all lol

 Not sure if it was Bunny Party Night last night, or just lots of slutty buns just wanting a quick fumble, but this morning there were rabbits everywhere; hopping out of one

Party Bunny by Mythal
by Mythal

burrow, running along in front of us for a few hundred metres, before diving gratefully into another. It was sheer chaos, and with the mud underfoot, there were a few choice words uttered/yelled/screamed lol. But we made it home and now they are snoring away, and I’m knackered – obviously far too knackered to start revising for hours lol

 More revision today – not sure if it’ll make any sense in the end, but it’s jogging my memory on what we’ve studied so far. A damp, humid plod this morning; Pagan keep her flag waving til the end, but Hamish dropped his half way round – it was just too muggy. He’s now collapsed in the kitchen without even a song! Of course, there may also be an element of sulking after I unintentionally flattened his tail when removing his headcollar. That woke him up – whoopsie, I’m a bad mummy lol

 Today, I must study, must make readable, understandable notes, use a highlighter (or several) and maybe even coloured pens too. I have tiny Post It notes (as ever, huge thanks to their inventors, Romy and Michelle) to stick, probably randomly by this stage, throughout my notes. And I must get it through my head that stationery, which I love, Image result for stationerydoes not mean the same as stationary, which, confusingly, I also love – today the two must be separated and one left out in the rain. Talking of which, it was a hot, steamy and wet (not in a good way!) trudge this morning; Pagan just plowed on, sharking through the long, rain soaked grass, while Hamish took great pleasure in brushing past me at every opportunity – sharing the delights of wet legs (again, not in a good way). But now they are snoring away, in contented piles of doggy dreams, and I have coffee, text books, and a reluctant brain lol

 Now is obviously the season of the Thickie Rabbit! Ignorant to the teeth bearing down on them, they hop leisurely along the path, pausing every now and then to sit up and sniff the air. Every day has that lazy, stretchy bank holiday feeling for the Thickie Bun. But not for me – being dragged along by frothy mouthed, wild eyed, barely tamed demons is not the best fun in the world! Bloody bunnies – Beatrix Potter don’t know them too well, do she!
P.S. Just a pondering, but of course it could be that Clever, Sneaky Rabbit is drawing the beasts away from her burrow of kits? Am I doing her a disservice? My shoulders say who cares the outcome is the same – ouchie!

 Well, that’s it – the last assignment for this module has been submitted, so now I can relax? ……Oh no, not at all…EXAM coming up fast. So revision it is……and coffee! The beasts are both so good when I have to work, or have my head in a book, manically making notes; they will play together, with only the minimal input from me. They let me know that they want my attention in subtle, affectionate ways – Pagan will throw a toy at my head with pinpoint accuracy, and Hamish will make a sudden leap onto my shoulders from behind, with less accuracy, and more violence. Fortunately this only happens………all fucking afternoon, the little bastards

 How To Tell if You Have a Malamute by Anon

  1. Take your dog to the backyard; have him sit (good luck) about ten yard from you, facing you, of course, and begin to call him by his/her name and every other endearment term you have for him/her. If the dog gets up and goes directly opposite to you: You might have a Malamute.
    2. Start by sitting your dog same way as before. Roll a tennis ball to him/her. If he/she watches the ball go bye with a mildly curious look on his/her face: You might have a Malamute.
    3. Repeat the above sitting exercise. Take a frisbee and gently toss it at him/her. If you hit the dog square between the eyes: You might have a Malamute.
    4. Repeat the above sitting exercise. Produce a bag of chips. If the sound of the bag being open makes him/her come to you to see what you are going to eat: You might have a Malamute.
    5. If he/she consistently destroys toys, bed spreads, furniture, etc. and then looks puzzled when you get on to him/her: You might have a Malamute.
    6. If he/she rushes to the door when the bell rings acting like a savage werewolf, but then does everything he/she can to get the visitor to pet hi/her: You might have a Malamute.
    7. If you are leaving for work in your car and prior to backing out of your drive way you spot him/her looking at you through a window the same way passengers of the Titanic looked at the last life boat being launched: You might have a Malamute.
    8. If you are trying to sit down on a couch and he/she beats you to it: You might have a Malamute.
    9. If the conditions around the food bowl looks like a tornado just hit the area: You might have a Malamute.
    10. If you are feeling sick and he/she stays by your side for hours on end without moving: You might have a Malamute.
    11. If he/she behaves completely different that every book on Malamutes say he/she should: You might have a Malamute.
    12. If he/she continues to be a lap dog even though he/she now weighs well over 100 pounds.
    13. If you let him/her go outside and he/she immediately goes looking for every squirrel he/she can find to run it up a tree: You might have a Malamute.
    14. If a visitor tries to lift your baby or grandbaby off the floor and he/she smiles at him showing every tooth God gave him/her: You might have a Malamute.
    15. If you have a dog hair factory operating inside your home: You might have a Malamute.
    16. If you love him/her despite all of the above and would not trade him/her for any other dog: You might have a Malamute.
    17. If you think you own this dog, but in reality, he/she owns you: You might have a Malamute.
    18. If he/she sleeps in way that contorts his/her body better than a Cirque de Soleil acrobat can: You might have a Malamute
    I hope you find the above list helpful.

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 Beginning to drag myself out of the pit that I’ve been residing in for the last few weeks – the screaming is still there, but it is receding slightly. So today, with a clean-ish house, and a not-so-clean mind, I will study. We had a lovely walk along the river, accompanied by a pair of rather curious swans. We watched the buzzards circling, the plovers running out of the crops where they were nesting, and the occasional plop of a water vole taking a swim. It was quiet, peaceful perfection – the beautiful symmetry of the natural world, the symbiotic lives working in harmony, each having its own role, yet existing in co-dependency. Until we found a fresh pile of horse crap – then it was ruined! lol

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Is Vaping the New Black?

I have smoked on and off for many years, through the time of cool smoking – when we imagine we looked so sophisticated, rebellious smoking – when the bad kids did it on street corners, adult smoking – picking my moments during a meal with friends to nip outside for a quickie (oh, if only) and feeling relieved to discover a dining companion also smoked, and finally shame smoking.

This is that time of guilt when we know full well how bad nicotine is for us, and yet we still light up; we chew gum, use breath freshener and dry shampoo (thank the lords for dry shampoo) to hide our shameful secret. We are horrified when we calculate our monthly ‘up in smoke’ spending, but yet still nip to the corner shop for a pack of twenty on the way to work. Because – well, for me anyway, we enjoy it. We enjoy that hit, that comfort found in embracing a familiar action. It’s relaxing, like coming home on a wet and windy day, closing the door behind you and leaning against a warm radiator – and if anyone mentions breast feeding and oral satisfaction in relation to smoking, may Nick-o-Tine strike you down in flames!

But for many of us, myself include, that pleasure fades, and the guilt gets stronger, building until The Day arrives – the day to Stop Smoking! I chose vaping as my method of quitting (this time) – still with the hit of nicotine, but without the other chemicals, nasty stale smoke aroma, and much cheaper (a major deciding factor).

Thus began the RESEARCH – I never do anything without copious research, Google really is my best friend! I spoke to people, consulted websites, and reviews, and finally came up with two I liked the sound, and more importantly, the look of – I bought both; an Innokin Endura T18, and an Aspire K1.

Both are stylishly sleek and gorgeous – stainless steel and glass affairs, slim and relatively lightweight, the batteries and coils (see, I know my vape tech talk) last long enough for me, and they are easy to top up with liquid (which, BTW, is poisonous to our furry friends).

Using the vape pen in company is a weird experience – you feel smug, and strangely cool! ‘Yes, look at me! I have given up the evil cigs, and now receive my drugs in a sophisticated, and elegant way, unlike you who still smokes the filthy white sticks; I am socially acceptable – you are scum’! It’s a weird feeling – openly inhaling drugs from a shiny little pen.

I look round, and find myself staring at other vape pens – mine looks smarter than yours, oh yours is shinier, I was even eying up a gorgeous brass, copper and polished wood steampunk vape the other day. The guy told me how he had searched high and low for the individual pieces that made up his drug delivering work of art. Apparently, it was frequently admired, and he had plans to create an even more flamboyant and enviable smoking pen.

Vapes are rapidly becoming The Accessory to have; people who have never smoked cigarettes are wielding them, wanting to share in the more stylish end of the vape market , hardened vapers share their experiences and preferences, and we all stare at each others, judging our own nicotine delivery system against others. Small cottage business are being started to supply the growing demand for unique, one-off vapes, with prices to match, and shops sell the liquids on brightly coloured little stands set next to their tills.

Are vapes becoming the new black? Yes, I feel they are, however, if they help me give up smoking, I don’t really care!

Opinions should be engraved onto a polished wood and copper vape pen and sent to me, or just comment here, please………………

 

Little things

Crikey, this morning was energetic! Being dragged along the lane, whilst everything else had that bank holiday lethargy – that relaxed sigh, that unknown to dog owners turn-over-and-go- back-to-sleep deliciousness, when suddenly a sharing platter for two scampered out of the brambles! Bébé lapin for breakfast, anyone? Poor thing screamed Image result for baby bunnyits head off as the beasts descended; it ran in panicked circles as they tried to catch it. Eventually, I had them under tight control-ish, and the relieved bunny could stagger home to impress his peer group with his tales of demons swooping from above (bet he misses out the ‘screaming like a girl’ bit lol). Luckily the dogs, for all their determination, didn’t manage to even touch him – phew! Anyway, after a recovery break, we continued on into the fields – which have now been harrowed to a fine till, although the wide verges are full of wildlife and interesting sniffs. Our next hazard, spotted across the flat, bare fields, were bloody pheasants – a whole herd of them (which apparently is a bouquet – seriously WTF? Whoever decides these collective nouns should be sacked). Well, this bouqu………nope, can’t do it! This herd of pheasants strutted en masse towards us, proud and stupidly aloof; the dogs went crazy – bouncing along on hind legs, darting towards the herd, which finally got the message, and took, screeching, to the sky! Can we go home now? I staggered along behind their fluffy butts for the rest of the walk, broken and swearing! I now haz coffee and tired dogs!

 

Well, that was alarming! Just had my grocery delivery, accompanied by two rather less than burly delivery men. Naturally, I asked why my small order of three bags necessitated the, IMO, overload of staff. One giggled girlishly, pointed at his team mate and said ‘not allowed to lift anything, so he’s driving’. Oh, a bad back, thought I, and just smiled in a polite and sympathetic-but-not-really kind of way. The ‘bad back’ chap handed me the thingy to sign, and as I took it, said ‘Yes, not allowed to lift, see, as I have a mild groin infection’. Jeez, mild, or not, take back your signy thing – I need to disinfect, like now! #feelingatadbleuch

 

Must Keep Up!

Image result for coffee and philosophy

Incense smouldering, dogs crunching breakfast, 1 contract finished last night, another one to start over the weekend, Plato to read, hot water to wash up in, coffee brewing and Marilyn Manson on full volume – does it get better? Well, I always said I was eclectic lol.

 Image result for coffee and philosophy

It is interesting to note what advertisers leave out of their persuasive telly ads. For example, kitchen roll adverts; never have I heard them mention the fact that their paper Image result for kitchen roll imagetowels are so strong and tough that they can survive, in one piece, the stomach acid and intestinal peristalsis (yes, I did biology A level at some point in the murk of my past) of a malamute who’s eaten an all-you-can-eat-as-long-as-it’s-kitchen-roll-buffet! Who knew? This, I feel, is a missed marketing opportunity! I wonder if it’s reusable afterwards?

 Damn, thought I’d got away with it, but using a different brand of toothpaste involves a full body inspection, according to Malamute Protocol

 

Image result for kc good citizenEver since Hamish’s accident with the electric fence, he’s been funny about having his nails trimmed – I can touch his feet, play with his toes and tap them with the clippers, but the moment I hold his nail ready to trim, he gets nervous and grumbly. So, yesterday I took him to the Wussy Pooches Poofy Pamper Parlour (names have been changed to humiliate Hamish) for a nail clipping. He was brilliant – not a murmur out of him, despite my dire warnings to the groomer. It was a fabulous place, and runs play sessions, day care, and training, etc. Both him and Pagan (well, I couldn’t leave her out, could I?) had aImage result for extremely fluffy dog drawing lovely session in the toy room afterwards – complete with complimentary wees from both of them – whoopsie. I’m definitely going to take them again, and am considering doing the KC Good (in a malamute kinda way) Citizen Scheme thingy with them – eeekkkk! It’ll give them something to keep their far-too-active brains (or whatever Hamish has) busy, and, as I am used to being shamed completely by them on a daily basis, will complete my own humiliation – I consider it good training for my ego 😉 . What do you think? Fancy coming on a journey of fun, frolics and embarrassment in a malamute stylie with us? This is where we went: Little Dale Dogs in Hawkhurst, Kent.

 

I feel dreadful – trimming Pagan’s claws, and caught the quick! Poor lovie is really upset at me, and I don’t blame her. I is a bad, bad owner and am now in the doghouse – ironic really as I live in the doghouse lol Maybe I should be in the personhouse as that would be punishing?

 

Apparently using a cosmetic face mask alters your identity so much that it confuses dogs – well, my dogs anyway, well, just Hamish actually. He’s following me round everywhere, asking for reassurance – or biscuits; maybe it’s biscuits, actually I think it is biscuits. Nope, he’s still confused, even after biscuits. Silly boy!

 

Once one has scoffed all the dandelion flowers, one may substitute with daisies, Related imageaccording to Pagan – who knew?

 

Woohoo result finally back from my last assignment – highest result for philosophy so far! Does that mean it’s going in – like fuck it does! That stoopid bun from yesterday did exactly the same thing this morning – hopped out right in front of us, had a snack, a small wash and leisurely hopped away. Beasts were as confused by this as Related imageyesterday. Seriously, rabbits have no respect whatsoever these days, the whole world is going to hell in a hand cart (sort of loving that image – creaky, wooden, rickety woodwormed cart, held together with iron strapping, hand made nails and faded dreams – although it does also bring the idea of leprosy in some strange way – who knew? lol ). Anyways, I now have coffee and snoring dogs – perfect!

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Luckily I had the beasts close to me when stoopid bun hopped out right in front of us. He just sat there, looked around, and had a nibble on some grass that was so tasty that it overrode any inherent dog fear! The beasts looked up at me, looked at each other, looked at the bun, and then back at me. It’s fair to say, we were all a bit confused. Finally, Mr Bun, happily replete, hopped leisurely away from us, no rush, no fear, no brains, and we continued with our walk. Hey ho, life on the edge!

Fucking rabbit, fucking dogs, fucking painful arm!

After working hard all morning, I now have a tiny bit of breathing space, before I open the study books. The beasts are fully engaging with this whole spring thing! Pagan went deep river diving this morning, surfacing with a very fetching waterlily leaf mop cap, looking for all the world like a pink nosed Mrs Tiggy Winkle. I think Hamish would have been more delighted to wear it than she was, and it would’ve suited him better! She has then gone on to frolic through the garden, snaffling all the newly awakened golden dandelion flowers, whilst Hamish, after peeing on the daffodils,  lay and surveyed his kingdom (queendom lol) singing quietly to himself. I’m still sniggering at Mrs Tiggy Winkle!

Image result for mrs tiggy winkle

*Must keep up-to-date!

Yesterday, I knew what was coming and fought my nerves to keep the appointment; feeling cold and sick in my stomach, I braved the dentist’s waiting room. A double Image result for extracted teethextraction, blood, shaky and nearly passing out on his ‘workbench’ later, I emerged – still alive. With the taste of iron in my mouth I drove home, sore and bruised.

Despite still feeling rubbish, we went for a lovely walk along the river, although I wish I’d taken my camera. Swans, in elegant pairs, were promenading along the water’s still surface, serenely watching us, then dipping gracefully curved necks under the surface. Barn owls, heading home after a nights hunting, flew silently and ghostlike through the fog, existing solely in their own reality, completely immune to the intrusion of two bouncy mallies and a weeble. Pagan, as usual, ruined the swan’s serenity by diving into the river, went completely under, and surfaced near them, causing them to swim off pretty quickly! So, she swam down the river until the bank was low enough for her to clamber out, looking like a furry potato with matchstick legs. Home, coffee and painkillers now

 You may have woken at 6.30 this morning, with a feeling of anxious trepidation; you may have wondered, with a sleep addled mind, just why you woke. The morning song of the Image result for startled catbirds may have fallen instantly silent, the crows in the trees ruffling their midnight black feathers, and the finches halted in their search for seeds. The mouse in the attic may have stopped nibbling, sitting back on his haunches with twitching whiskers, while the cat, Image result for thorn in paw dogfollowing his movements from below, has also stopped, paused with one velvet paw raised and a tail curved into a question mark. You may have wondered about rising; sleep calls you back to softness, but that anxiety remains, that vague, can’t-quite-grasp-it feeling that something is amiss, something is askew. Well, I can tell you what it was! It was ickle Hamishy Waimishy screaming the place down because he’d trodden on a thorn – a teeny tiny thorn that wasn’t even really stuck into his pad. He’s now sleeping off the shock and pain – as are we all!

 Woohoo two contracts going on; one for my Irish magazine woman – PR for two gigs (one in a pub called Mick the Pie – I love him already), and one about changes in the construction industry – yeah right lol. Loving the variety! I actually got head hunted for the construction one – my reputation for spouting bullshit obviously proceeds me lol. But for now, coffee and the news reports, whilst doggies snore away peacefully.

Well, it looks like my worst nightmare is happening (maybe not worst, but ykwim); the local farmer is fencing his arable fields ready for grazing cattle on!!! Those of you who know me, know my feelings towards cows; for those that don’t, see my previous articles – ‘Bullocks, There’s a Cow in That Field’, ‘Killer Cows – Fact or …….? Fact!’, ‘Mummy, Why Is Clover Killing Daddy?’, and ‘Bovinephobia – My Beef with Cows, & No, I’m Not Milking It!’. Yes, cows scare me! I worked with horses, so I’m used to large, unpredictable, herd animals; it’s the fact that nothing seems to scare them – they come up, all sniffy, en masse, to say hello, but with horses, you can ‘shoosh’ them away if necessary. Cows don’t seem to respond to anything like that – they just crowd closer. I know some of you love the Image result for killer cowsfloofy bovines, just not me! It might be irrational, but going by my collection of news reports of killer cows (yes, I am that fanatical), it’s not! Hey ho, new walking grounds for us soon! http://www.sickchirpse.com/killer-cows/  – this just backs me up!

A drizzly start encouraged me to load up the beasts and go for a stroll by the river – if we were going to get rained on, it might as well be on a more exciting walk for them. The polite buns were out in force, hopping, nibbling the fresh, vivid green grass shoots, and running from the demons – normal bunny activities. Slutbitch found a heron to play with – he obligingly flew up river a few metres, she would dive in to get him, and off he would languorously flap, landing not far ahead, and in she would dive again. Foofhound, meanwhile, trotted along, sniffing and peeing on every grassy tussock (I do like that word – ‘tussock’ – I must use it more). Now, home with coffee, contented dogs and study to do. Feeling a tad languorous myself, tbh – tussock, tussock, tussock – there, that’s better!

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Keeping the Tussocks under control!

 Is it so wrong that with dramatic, operatic arms flung wide, and the cry ‘Sing, my Puppies of Power, Sing’, they launch joyfully into song? Is it also wrong that I put dramatic next to operatic in a sentence? Hmmmmm

 Two demons – siblings, one boy, one girl. The girl – solid, determined, and stoical, the boy – huge, strong and powerful. Both were fantastic workers in harness, both are fantastic friends and my best pals. On hearing the sheep being herded nearby, with two well trained collies rounding them down off the hill, two different reactions. The girl – interested, keen and wanting to definitely join in the fun; the boy – wooohooooo what the fuck’s that? Sheep? They make that much noise? Who knew? Dog barking? Is that what it is? Never, ever heard that before! OMG, can I go inside now? This outside stuff is worrying! Think I’ll just sit as close to you as I can. Actually, can we go inside, please? I blame the breeder

 

Malamute Myths

This is shamelessly stolen from my malamute hero (one of them anyway) – Joe Henderson.

This man and his Alaskan Malamutes are an inspiration!

Joe Henderson has worked with Alaskan Malamutes for over 25 years, and although he doesn’t admit it, his malamutes have him well trained. Each year Joe offers clients remote dog sledding expeditions throughout Alaska. For more information, please visit Joe’s website at www.alaskanarcticexpedition.com
‘Alaskan Malamutes have been on this planet for a long time and recent DNA testing shows they are one of the world’s most ancient breeds. Throughout history we have called upon the malamute for the toughest jobs—dragging sleds to the North and South Poles, hauling U.S. mail across Alaska, and packing ammunition for our soldiers in WWII. But why are there so many myths about Alaskan malamutes?

In order to bust some of the myths, first we need to explore their history and origin. The Mahlemuit people or Inuit, whom they are named after, used the Alaskan malamute breed over 10,000 years ago and possibly earlier. The malamutes crossed the Bering Straits with the Inuit from the arctic regions of Siberia. They were used as pack dogs, hunting dogs, and sled dogs and protected the Inuit families from bears. It must have been a rugged life back then and the dogs had to conform to their environment or else they wouldn’t survive. They had to be stout and have stamina to carry a pack or pull a sledge. Their coats had to be lush with just the right length and thickness to hold their body heat and repel whipping snow during blizzards. And malamutes had to be intelligent, trusting, and loyal since they lived with people who valued them as part of their family.

It’s also believed the dogs ate when the family ate which meant during famines they had to develop a digestive system that allowed them to absorb every micronutrient from their meager rations of food. I have seen dogs half the sizes of malamutes eat twice the amount of food as them—malamutes are just great keepers. These guys also had to develop hefty paws that would endure traveling on dry snow and sharp ice. Basically, it can be said the Alaskan malamute is the perfect breed for a brutal and imperfect environment.

When traders, trappers and gold miners explored the frozen lands of Alaska they were introduced to the Inuit’s most important family member: the malamute. Eventually the dogs became quite a valuable commodity amongst the newcomers, which ironically nearly destroyed the breed. The increased demand for dogs decreased the numbers and caused people to start breeding the malamutes with other breeds. Luckily, the line was saved and was registered in 1935 with the American Kennel Club (AKC). There are several strains of Alaskan malamutes, and a variety of color phases and sizes.

Although the AKC has their standards for the show ring, I prefer the heavier guys with big feet and larger bones. They hold up better for freighting in the arctic, and that’s what the breed was designed for originally. Nonetheless, the smaller strain makes great leaders and swing dogs since they are lighter and more athletic than the larger brutes.

Myth 1:

Malamutes have an aggressive nature towards people

Sometimes called aggressive, or half-breed wolves, the malamutes’ character has been dragged over the coals. It’s completely understandable why a person would be intimidated by a 100+lb. malamute. I certainly was when my first malamute looked me in the eyes like he was seeing dinner. Then he knocked me off my feet, pinned me down with his burly paws then smacked me on my lip and nose with a big drooling kiss. Malamutes love people, it’s just amazing. From the time they are pups waddling around in the yard until they pass on to malamute heaven they starve for attention from people. This desire to please is the foundation of the Alaskan malamute character, their driving force. It’s what makes these guys tick.
Because of this strong instinct to please, malamutes have to be handled with kid gloves, psychologically speaking. These guys are so emotionally sensitive that it’s easier to deal with children, but children eventually grow up and malamutes don’t. One of the things that really get me is their pouting. Now, many of you have kids and have experienced this ancient art of persuasion or maybe some of you remember practicing this tactic of getting what you want yourselves. But, when malamutes pout, it seems to pierce your inner soul and there’s no way you can resist, just no way! You end up throwing the white flag of surrender and give them what they want and a bit more for good measure. Pouting is typical behavior from malamutes and not exactly aggressive or wolfish in any way whatsoever.

Myth #2:

“Alpha Role” method is an effective way to train malamutes

I have been told that malamutes have to be trained with the alpha role method, a tactic that became popularized in the mid-seventies. With this method, basically you flip the dog onto his back and hold him in that position, sometimes by the throat. The theory is that this teaches the dog that you are the pack leader. The alpha technique may work for other people and other breeds, but I don’t think our malamutes attach themselves to me because they think I am an alpha dog. Nope, No way, I don’t buy it. I am not one of them, I don’t act like them and I don’t dig holes, roll in dirt or howl all night. Those malamutes look at me with respect and love and not as their equal or competitor and I see them in the same way.

Besides, most malamutes are naturally submissive toward people, and they don’t need to be terrified into submission. I have found that even my toughest, macho, hormone raging, dominant dog in the kennel will turn into an innocent, tail wagging ball of fur that acts like a baby when I walk up to him. Take Hero for example, he’s the tough guy, the junkyard dog. He intimidates the other dogs just by his powerhouse physique, and polar bear sized paws. Hero takes no flack from anyone, and lets the other dogs know that he’s king. He reminds me of a bull dozer, nothing can stop him. But the moment Hero sees me; he whines like a puppy, completely letting down his macho image and forgets his dominant role in the kennel. He turns from a lion to a kitten; actually I am embarrassed for him acting like that in front of his girlfriends!

Myth 3:

Malamutes are lazy and have no stamina

There are a few myths about malamutes that I have heard which surprise me. Alaskan malamutes were not designed for speed; they are the draft horses of the sled dog world. Malamutes love to work hard. That’s their nature. I have never seen sled dogs that yearn to pull heavy loads with such passion and enthusiasm. But my malamutes do not care for (nor are they interested) in sprinting for long distances. Sure, once in a while they enjoy a good run for a few miles but after that, their tails start to droop down which usually means that they aren’t enjoying life. Droopy tails for pure bred malamutes just isn’t natural for them and can sometimes signal stress or injury.

Malamutes love the challenge of dragging heavy sleds in rough conditions and they get bored when they’re on smooth, groomed trails, especially the larger brutes. Those guys eat up tough pulls, the tougher the better. Sometimes they growl when they lay into their harness on an uphill pull as if they’re proving themselves to their mates. I have one guy named Mitch. His brown and white coat and sharp mask makes him one of the handsomest dogs in the team. Every time we hit a tough pull he lets out weird growl/bark that intimidates the dog beside him. Now, if Mitch could speak I bet he would be barking orders like a drill sergeant, “Follow me! Lean into it you punks.” Those guys can pull with high intensity for hours and hours without tiring. They’re just unbelievable!

A freight team will put their heart into pulling all day. But there isn’t an animal on earth that can work at such high intensity for long; otherwise they would give in to exhaustion and crash. To protect themselves from crashing, malamutes have developed a strategy that sets them apart from other breeds, a strategy that has evolved over thousands of years of hard work. When I first observed a freight team employ this pulling method, I thought the dogs were lazy. But after watching them closely I realized that the malamutes were performing a calculated and ingenious energy conserving tactic.

The best way to exemplify this tactic is just visualize that you are standing on the runners with me. Holy smokes, what a white knuckle experience! The whiplash we’ll get when 2,000 lbs of malamutes hit their harnesses. After the team runs about a mile and settles to a trot, you’ll be able to relax your hands to allow the blood flow back in them. Directing your eyes up the gangline, you will notice that some tug lines are slack and the dogs are pulling sporadically. Actually, these dogs are testing the load. Like a computer gathering data, those ancient canine creatures are testing the weight in the sleds and friction of the snow.

Depending on these conditions, the dogs will set a comfortable pace for themselves that enables them to conserve energy like a marathon runner. Even after the team finds a good pace, they stretch the energy saving tactic even further and each dog hits their harness for a few minutes then relaxes and hits their harness again. This tactic lets them recover their energy, regain their strength, and then jump back in the game. Often the pace will surge in speed every few minutes when the team employs this method in sync with each other. Conclusion: malamutes aren’t lazy…just wise.

Myth #4:

Malamutes are stupid animals

Now, how many times have you heard this: “Malamutes are dumb as a rock.” But my favorite is: “Malamutes are dumber than 100 dead chickens.” That’s great! And it’s damn hard for me to keep a straight face when I hear this. These guys have a way of making you think that they are dumb. I believe they have a hell of a sense of humor. I swear if you let them, a team of malamutes would have you pull your own sled across the frozen white tundra while they relax on the runners sipping hot chicken soup and smoking cigars. After all they couldn’t have survived thousands of years being dumber than 100 dumb chickens.

Malamutes are great people trainers. They know how to get folks to do the most ridiculous things. I remember a while back when we were filming the Walt Disney feature film, White Fang. We had spent most of the winter prior to the movie in the arctic busting through drifts in -70 Fahrenheit temperatures. Suddenly my team of tough freight hauling brutes was introduced to Hollywood. Instantly, they had fallen victim to the soft celebrity lifestyle. Wow, those guys just melted with all the attention. Everyone on the film crew smothered them in pets, kisses, belly rubs and ear massages. By the time they were done with them they had become a bunch of flower-sniffing cream puffs and I feared they would find a smelly harness a disgusting insult to their new sophisticated life!

Getting the team adapted to a film set wasn’t easy. My freighters pull and stop on verbal command only, which is an extremely important aspect in hauling freight. They don’t stop on resistance from the brake or a hard pull, and when they do feel resistance they dig deeper and pull stronger. So the command to go is “OK”, and those malamutes live to hear that command. The first day of filming was a blast for my new team of cream puff malamutes. I had them lined up in front of the sled with the actor waiting patiently for the scene to begin.
“Action” rang out on the director’s megaphone. Just like clockwork the actors carried out their lines gracefully and professionally. Then it was the malamutes turn to perform. On cue from the director I said “OK” and the team took off with the actor standing on the runners. It was the perfect scene and a perfectly executed performance. I must say that the director was quite impressed.

Take two. I’ll never know why Hollywood directors have to retake every scene. As the words “action” rolled out of the director’s megaphone again, the malamutes were on it. Instantly they sprinted toward the set…without the actor! The leader then recognized his favorite ear scratching buddy, the camera man, and dashed toward him. The team figured out the command to go followed “Action.” So it was only reasonable for them, they thought, to enter the scene when they heard the director yell “action.” After all, the malamutes decided they were the stars of the show and the sooner they put on an Academy Award winning performance the better. What a scene—a team of malamutes nearly plowing over an expensive movie camera in pursuit of their best ear scratching buddy. Nope, these guys didn’t win an Oscar, but they proved they could be a gut busting comedy team.

Of course the dogs received so much attention for their lively Hollywood performance that they were anxious to do it again. But knowing these guys and how quick they learn, I suggested to the director that he should start the scenes with a different word rather than “action.” And also he should change his tone of voice periodically also. The director seemed awfully put out using ridiculous code words like “start” or “begin please,” rather than the traditional “Action!” I couldn’t believe it, here was a major motion picture being filmed and a team of malamutes running the show!

Alaskan malamutes have been clouded in myths and misunderstandings, but they have risen above it all and have made excellent contributions to our society. They have certainly served above the call of duty and have brought many smiles to young and old. And God willing the legacy and spirit of the Alaskan malamute will live for at least another 10,000 years’.