Mika - An Alaskan Malamute

Mika - An Alaskan Malamute
Mika watching a squirrel in our backyard. January 10, 2011

Mika is a Moonsong Malamute Rescue Dog

Please read the first two Blog posts (In the Blog Archive on January 21) for details about Mika's amazing "Miracle" rescue.

Note! Mika has been adopted. I will miss her.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

March 18, 2011 Mika investigates badger holes

On our walk in the warehouse/railroad area where there is quite a large undisturbed sagebrush patch, there are lots of badger holes and we have also seen foxes in this area that may also use these larger holes.  Today a couple of these holes looked like it had been freshly disturbed and Mika stuck her head in to investigate.

March 8, 2011 Mika catches and kills a squirrel

All the dogs are interested in the squirrels that come into our yard and climb on the fence, into the trees or scamper along the ground.  Given a chance to get close enough they will chase them, but are hardly ever successful.   Several years ago when we first adopted Shasta she caught a young one and ate it immediately.  She was also good at digging for mice and moles and would sometimes catch one.  With Shasta, it was almost impossible to get something of her mouth if she wanted to keep it.  Mika seems to be the same.

Today I noticed Mika starting to dig into a pile of leaves pretty aggressively and she came out with a struggling full grown squirrel that was still alive.  However, she crunched down on it a few times and it died.  Later we noticed that Mika had a bloody 1/4 inch slice on her chin that must have been caused by the squirrel biting her.

Katy believes these squirrels might have some diseases harmful to the dogs and immediately wanted me to get the squirrel away from Mika.  She trotted around the yard with it and would not let me come close for awhile.   She started to chew on it pretty aggressively but I was finally able to hold her collar up tight and get it out of her mouth.

Several times on dog walks Mika has discovered a road killed squirrel and wants to eat it even if it is pretty old.  It is always a struggle to get these out of her mouth.  Luckily she does not growl or try to bite.  Shasta did growl and show her teeth in similar circumstances, but she never tried to bite either.  We called her "Nasty Shasta" because of her penchant for surprising and scary growling when people touched her with their feet or tried to take something away.  Mika does not have this same behavior.  She just grabs on and holds tight and pulls if I try to take something away and she is very strong.

March 6, 2011 Mika has unusual fur?

Mika has a somewhat different coat of fur than most malamutes.  She has these long slender hairs that stick out on her sides and under her belly.  From a distance they are not very noticeable, but on a walk when the wind blows they blow out like slender feathers.    Below are 2 photo examples of these hairs.

I will also add a couple of updated photos here showing the fur that is regrowing on her right rear surgery leg.

March 6, 2011 Mika would chase balls if we let her

Before her recent surgery Mika would run after balls and rope toys and generally bring them back.  However, she is not very good at giving them up.  She was getting somewhat better at letting us have the ball and she loved to run and chase them down again.   Most malamutes in my experience are not that interested in fetching things, but Mika and Tasha are really good at it.

Since the surgery, now approaching 8 weeks, we have not encouraged this behavior to keep Mika from injuring her leg.  However, once in a while she will find a ball and play with it.  Some of these balls are getting pretty chewed up.

In the photos below, I held a ball above Mika's head and tried to capture her expression looking at it.

March 1, 2011 Mika Digs for squirrels and moles

In the open walking area near the warehouse development and railroad track there are lots of places where moles and ground squirrels leave mounds of dirt.  Mika loves to dig at these places hoping to find something.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

February 13, 2011 Walking Mika in a field near a Railroad.

Today I decided to take Mika to an area nearby that has some gentle hills for her to walk up and down.  This is close to a railroad track and a developing warehouse district we often walk the dogs.  There are fairly big areas of native sagebrush and grass on one side of the Railroad.  On the other side of the warehouses is a big irrigation canal that also has sagebrush along the bank.  A complete circle around this area might be about 2 miles, a good dog walk.

In the past we have used an "Easy Walk Harness" on Mika for walks in the neighborhood.  She immediately goes into a pulling mode with this on and sniffs and smells everything she can get to.  She definitely gives my hands and arms a good workout.

Because she was walking so well with the web harness and retractable leash in the backyard, I decided to try this system on the longer walk in an area she was unfamiliar with.  In general she seemed to be easier to control, maybe because she could range out a little more to the limit of 16 feet.   I also tried to use the easy walk harness with a much shorter range that she could explore and she seemed to pull more.   I felt that the combination of a new place to walk and the retractable leash made it more enjoyable to walk Mika today.

February 12, 2011 Walking Mika in the back yard on leash

We have been walking Mika in the Back yard on an retractable leash attached to her red  RoughWear web harness several times a day for exercise.  She is not supposed to chase squirrels, which she would do if she was free to run.  We also have not been taking her out for longer walks in the neighborhood yet as she tries to pull hard to get to different smells and puts pressure on the recovering leg.  In the back yard she is quite easy to control with this harness/leash system.

In the photos below you can see that the fur on her recovering leg is starting to grow in again.  It looks like sheep wool up close.

February 12, 2011 - Mika and Tasha get along OK.

Mika is a little bossy around Tasha but they seem to get along OK.  But they really don't play together like Tasha will with many other dogs.  Mika acts like she would like to play and will nip at Tasha's ruff, but Tasha just turns her head and acts subservient.  It almost appears that Tasha knows Mika would play too rough and it might turn in to a fight.  However, nothing at all serious has happened and we let them be together in the house and out in the yard together.   We are careful not to feed any of the dogs together.  And we are also careful with with the dog toys being readily available.Mika will grab any toy and carry it away and will give some not very threatening growls if Tasha seems at all interested.  Again we have not had any fights between the two yet.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

January 20, 2011 Mika & Tasha meet & get along

As noted earlier we have been keeping Stony, Tasha and Mika separated at all times to prevent any possible dog fights.  However, we have had either Tasha or Mika in the chain link kennel while the other is loose outside and we have not seen too much aggressive behavior from Mika.

Inadvertently, two times in the past few days Mika's door got opened and she was able to visit Tasha unrestrained.  She made some low yowling (not really growling) noises and kept her legs straight and head up while she looked at Tasha, but did not try to fight.  Tasha knows how to keep her eyes diverted and her head down to avoid confrontation so this helped too.

Today, after this happened again we decided to let them both loose in the back yard in the hope they could get along together without being separated.  It seemed to work great and we hope it will continue in the future.  Mika seems to want to play with Tasha, but quite obviously wants to be the dominant player. Our old malamute Shasta who passed away a year ago also had this same "I'm the dominant one" attitude and this did not make her popular with all dogs.  Tasha, who loves to play with most dogs just can't seem to get comfortable with this new big dog and just averts her eyes and head and stays still.  Mika will even grab Tasha's neck fur on top to try to get a reaction, but Tasha won't respond.   At least we are pleased that they can be together without fighting.

January 19, 2011 Mika's first day at home after surgery (Continued)

Here are a few more photos after Mika's surgery.

Gary taking Mika to the back yard.

Mika and her new "Whale" toy.

Gary and Mika relaxing.

January 19, 2011 Mika's first day at home after surgery.

Amazingly, Mika is already putting her right rear foot down on the ground, but not putting much weight on it yet.  However, when she walks she tries to use it.  The suggested recovery therapy is to take her for short controlled walks in the yard for the first few weeks.  We have a "Ruffwear" harness on her with a leash attachment on the top center.  She seems quite controlled with this system and does not try to pull hard at all.  Dr. Acker recommended that she not try to chase squirrels, which she would probably do if we let her loose and she saw one.  There are also some barky dogs in a neighboring yard behind a fence that she has been known to fence fight with.  We are keeping her from getting to that area of the fence when those dogs are present.
Mika putting weight on the foot already.

Mika resting and smiling

Close up of Mika's knee and surgery scars.

We put a big Roughwear bed outside of Mika's wire crate.
She is a big dog and really seems to enjoy the extra space.

January 18, 2011 Mika gets her new knee operation

Early this morning we drove Mika to the Sun Valley Animal Center near Ketchum, Idaho where well respected Dr. Randy Acker will perform the knee operation she needs.  This procedure is a TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy).  Here is a link to a web page that describes TPLO.

I will report that Mika moves around a lot in the back of the car, even when we have her constrained by a harness and anchor point.  She also made quite a bit of noise as we started out.  Eventually she settled down and slept for the last part of the trip.  When we arrived at the Animal Center it was icy and slick in the parking area.  Plus there were lots of dog smells Mika wanted to investigate.  We had a little tug-of-war for a few minutes getting her to pay attention to where we wanted to go.  As I mentioned before she is a really strong puller, especially when she smells something beyond the end of the leash she wants to get to.  Sometimes it is almost impossible to stop her even on dry ground let alone an icy parking lot.  She might make a great "Freight Puller" if you could get the right incentive in front of her.  And this is with a bad right rear leg!

We took her into the Animal Center about 9:30 AM and waited until about 4: PM for Mika to be ready to go home again.  We had drove around the Sun Valley area for awhile, had lunch at a restaurant in Ketchum, and visited an outdoor and pet supply shop before we went back to pick her up.  At the pet shop we bought her a new very tough felt "Whale shaped" toy to enjoy on the way back home.

Dr. Acker showed us x-rays and explained the operation and her recovery process.  As she walked out of the recovery room she was still pulling as always.  The photo below demonstrates this.  She also wanted to smell the dog smells in the parking lot again, but we controlled her activity and got her into the back of the Subaru station wagon.  She was generally more quiet on the way home.  Part of this is probably due to the various drugs, etc., she was given during surgery.

Inside the Animal Center

Mika "rushing" out of Holding Room after operation

Ready to go home

Mika's surgery scar

Mika with her new toy going home.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

January 9, 2011 Mika is athletic and chases squirrels

Both Tasha and Mika will chase squirrels when they see them in the yard or on the fence.  A few times we have seen Mika jump up on a table by the utility shed.  On this day I found her jumping up on a small bench and watching a squirrel taunt her from the tree.  For the most part she does not appear to favor her hurt leg (right rear in these photos) when she is active like this.  However, sometimes we can see her limp on her right rear leg, a little bit.  By feeling it we can tell the muscle is somewhat atrophied compared to the other leg.

Good news! Moonsong Malamute Rescue has received a donation from a "Guardian Angel" that will cover Mika's new knee surgery  (Thanks Christine!)    The operation will be performed at the Sun Valley Animal Center near Ketchum, Idaho on Tuesday,January 18, 2010.

January 9, 2011 Mika & Tasha Meet separated by Kennel fence.

Because Mika seems very excited when she sees another dog we have kept her separated from Tasha and Stony.   We know from experience that Stony is unpredictable with foster dogs and even will sometimes attack Tasha for no apparent reason.  Consequently we are keeping him separated all the time now.

Tasha, on the other hand, seems to get along with almost all dogs and will initiate play behavior whenever she can.  This day we decided to see what would happen if Mika and Tasha were separated by the Kennel fence, but could see, smell and touch noses.   Mika was pretty excited and yowled somewhat at first like she always does when she sees or hears another dog.  But, she walked right up to the Kennel and did not try to initiate any fence fighting.  Neither did Tasha.  As you can see in these photos, Tasha would avert her eyes and look away whenever Mika looked at her.  We decided to switch places and repeat the experiment in subsequent days and found that Tasha would lay down just outside the gate even though Mika was interested in getting out. (I don't have photos of this reversal of roles.)