Monday, September 21, 2009

Updates from the ranch: the circle of life a tough lesson

Big Brown gave birth last Thursday, September 17th, a few days early as I was putting the whelping box together.

I heard a strange bark early that morning, and I should have gone out, but it stopped quickly and I became busy with getting the kids on the bus to school. Later, when I was building the whelping box, I went out to check on her. She had dug a hole in the heat kennel and in it, I found one stillborn pup - a female - who looked just like BB. She was licking it, clearly trying to get it to move, but it was already cold. She had chewed the umbilical cord off like a good mama. I sat in the kennel and cried for the loss. I named it "Blaze" because it had a brown blaze across its shoulder. We were so looking forward to our first Lazy Husky litter.

Big Brown being a good mama to baby Blaze

When she was distracted, I moved the pup away and brought BB into the feed room. I set her up in a crate with a dog bed, food and water, and we had a small doggie funeral back in the area of our property that's becoming a pet cemetery.

Later that night, around 10:30, Chris and I heard the strangest sound outside - like a mix between the braying of a donkey and the crying of a human. It made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. It was eerie and mournful.

You guessed it: it was BB, calling for her pup. Instinct is so powerful, and the circle of life a cruel lesson.

A friend of mine, musher and Gin-Gin champ, Jodi Bailey, said she heard a legend from the elders of Tanana, Alaska that when a dog dies unexpectedly and seemingly for no reason, the spirit of death came and would not leave the village alone, so the dog goes with death to spare the people.

Some creatures, for whatever reason, are just not meant to be. Nature makes no bones about keeping only the strongest strains of species alive, and cares not about our emotional connections to those species. A tough lesson.

Big Brown has been living life on our sofa since I found her crying for her baby Thursday night.

Comfy on the sofa with Chris

Anyone who says dogs don't feel grief - even if it's on an instinctual level - hasn't been around many dogs, in my opinion. Because BB was definitely despondent for several days.

Today, she finally perked up. She's back with her pack now, and tonight, to commemorate the occasion, I snapped several pictures of the girls in action ambushing Yeti, just like always. Check it out: click the video below.

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