Yesterday, the team and I conquered a really big milestone… We did a 75 mile run! In fact, we did a 77 mile run. Our scheduled 75 mile run was thwarted by me losing the team. I’ve been taking Wednesdays off from work in order to focus on the dogs, so I knew this was my opportunity to test the team. The first two runs of the Copper Basin are long. One is 83 miles (estimated) and one is 75ish. We’ll take a big break between those two runs, but first steps first… Can the dogs even do such a long run in one go?
Well yesterday and into last night, they proved that they could, with style. The team looked and felt GOOD. They were on fire! In fact, it was pretty hard to hold them back, even to the end of the run. Part of that is the hardened trail conditions we have here in Two Rivers, but a big part of it is a strong young team! I was bursting with pride as we tore into the yard.
The hard trails do have a downside– A couple teammates have some soreness.
- Rogue has a sore tricep. This is no surprise, as she pulled this muscle earlier in the season. She was feeling this JUST as we came into the yard
- Rey has sore back foot. Again, this is from an older soreness and is not unexpected
- Nala has a sore wrist or shoulder. She is being mysterious about which it is! Sometimes it stinks that sled dogs don’t converse more!
I immediately provided some dog anti-inflammatories to the sore kiddos, and then did some massage. We use a lot of massage oil. This year we’ve been lucky to get some Young Living Essential Oils from Shawn’s mom, Julie. THANK YOU so much Julie for giving us some great tools to help out the crew!!!
Already this morning the dogs are looking better, but after the big run, everyone will get a good two day rest. The TR50 on Saturday has a 10 dog maximum and an 8 dog minimum. I will likely only take 8 dogs, to give the 3 sore friends an even longer break, and because…
ANOTHER TRIP TO THE VET! As we checked everyone over after the run, I noticed that Cassidy had some bare, hairless spots. I had seen this earlier this week, but it was definitely spreading. I decided I needed to call the vet first thing.
North Pole Veterinary Hospital was able to get me into to see (the now familiar face of) Dr. Lovely (who took excellent care of Sundance and Furiosa over the last month). Dr. Lovely, as she had done with Sundance and Furiosa, took one look and said, hmm I think I know what’s up. She took a few samples while Cassidy nervously ate treats. Dr. Lovely came back shortly and said some words you never want to hear: Yep it’s mange!
WHAT? A million things ran through my brain. How could Cassidy get mange? How could no one else have it? (After seeing her hairless spots I went through the whole team very thoroughly and nope, everyone else was peachy clean.) Welp, I learned some things!
Apparently young dogs (yearling age) can get a non-contagious form of mange (which is basically just hair loss) caused by mites that live on ALL dogs. Just like we have lovely mites in our eyebrows and stuff! YAY! But (like us and our eyebrows) most dogs are able to manage the little friends in their fur with inherent immunity. When they can’t for some reason– not always clear why– they get a type of hair loss called demodectic mange. This type of mange is different from the itchy, super-contagious kind that you probably think of when you think of mange, called sarcoptic mange. THANK GOD. Here is a quote from one of the papers Dr. Lovely gave me about demodectic mange:
All dogs raised normally by their mothers possess this mite [demodex] as mites are transferred from mother to pup via cuddling during the first few days of life. Most dogs live in harmony with their mites, never suffering any consequences from being parasitized.Demodectic Mange in Dogs, Wendy Brooks, DVM, DABVP Published 2001 Revised 2018
And this is yet another argument against cuddling!
Apparently some dogs may be genetically predisposed or have some other unknown susceptibility to the demodexes. That’s the little miteys! The mites get the upper hand against the dog’s immune system and the dog starts losing hair. Poor Cass has reached this stage. Luckily, treatment is pretty easy. First, Cass is taking a monthly medication that is very successful against the wily demodex. Second, she’s on antibiotics to fight of any potential secondary infections. She has been declared in otherwise great shape, and just needs a little rest time to bounce back. As long as her skin starts to heal up before the race, she should still be able to run the Copper Basin. She will be running with leggings and maybe even a little jacket to keep her non-furred skin protected. She will be on her long-term meds and have regular vet visits until the demodexes have been basically eradicated from her. That’s a big process since these miteys are commensal, a word I just learned from another of the papers Dr. Lovely gave me.
Dr. Lovely is clearly a nerd (which is awesome) and was very excited to show me one of Cass’s little over-active bugs. IT WAS SO COOL!!! I saw it moving around under the microscope, hanging out with one of Cassidy’s hair follicles. I said, “THAT’S SO COOL!” and then turned and apologized to Cassidy.
I am very very glad that this is fairly easily treatable. Whenever any of my buddies is in stress or pain, I go through a million mental hoops wondering if there is something I did wrong, something I missed, etc. In this case, it sounds like it is most likely a genetic issue that we were able to catch in time to treat well and get Cassidy bounced back into good shape.
There is one longer-term downside, and that is that many studies believe that susceptibility to this little buggy is hereditary, and so it is recommended to spay or neuter dogs with this. That’s really too bad, because Cassidy is a great dog, and she definitely might have been in contention to be a momma down the line. But it’s important and responsible to spay / neuter as many of your group as makes sense. This is a big part of keeping a small kennel and breeding with specificity. Cassidy may not be a momma but she will always be an important part of ATAO. I will look at getting her spayed this spring or summer, depending on how she is doing with her treatment.
Like anyone who is part of a big pack, going to the vet is a key and common responsibility. We have had to go a few more times than I would like the last few months, but we have also been very lucky– First of all to have great vet care at North Pole, and second to be dealing with issues that are generally resolvable.
That said, of course these trips aren’t free. I will sell my own organs before I deny my dogs needed care. There’s a lot I can and will do to make those expenses work. And, your continued support has been a huge help at times like these. Thank you so much.
We still have some other expenses for the CB we have been going on about, as I’m sure you’ve seen. I won’t do the whole song and dance– I think you get the picture!!– but if you do want to lend any support that way, you can do so below.
As always, one foot in front of the other. We have a lot of great stuff going on, and we are so so lucky to have the best dogs, the best humans, and all of you crazy folks following us… There’s only one way to go!
The Copper Basin 300 is on January 12, 2019! The race is coming quick. To get the humans and the dogs around the track, we’ll need:
- Diesel for Todd the Truck!
- Food for the amazing Handling Crew
- A few last gear items for the dogs!
If you’d like to help with any of these things, pick an option below!