Monday, February 1, 2016

Not Odd...... but Lester!

Well, you might've guessed it; my planned trip to Norway was cancelled....
The reason? There were several. Of course. The first one is that we, quite unexpectedly, got a new family member! Yes, that's right! I'll tell you more about him later. When I was sick last week, I spent some time online and found what I thought would be a great buddy to Rex and he was the right type of dog too. That was on a tuesday. Esther contacted the owner, since I a) hate to make phonecalls and b) have issues communicating (hearing/understanding/be understood) via that media. Or most likely a because of b.... whatever.. Anyway, she made an appointment for last sunday...
Another reason was that the day after said tuesday, that'd be a wednesday, she came home, waving a jobcontract! Yes, she is now working fulltime as a substitute until july! Woohooh! But combined with the fact that our kids do not have their sports/winter-break in february, as usual, but in march, that would mean nobody at home with the dogs. And that was a no-go for us.
Odd and I talked it over and he figured it would be a good idea to stay away from the mountains anyway, given the longterm weather forecast with predicted temperatures as low as -25C... Acoording to him no fun to be above the treeline in those temperatures. So we picked a new date in the first week of march. By then the dogs will have become used to each other and there will be someone at home with them and Esther could plan a day or 2 off if needs be.
However things turned out very differently. Odd had to call off the entire enterprise, due to circumstances beyond his control. Hopefully we can meet up sometime this summer. The weather is not playing along nicely either. Instead of the forecast coldspell we got a spell of exceptionally mild weather!
Thaw hit us pretty hard and the snow vanished rapidly. Many parts of wooded areas are practically snow free and elsewhere too. However all that water had no place to go, since the ground is still rock hard and as icing on the cake that water refroze during the nights. Conditions on the ground became pretty bad, as I had to experience quite brutally twice so far. No broken bones, only bruises and painful joints and muscles. No conditions in which I would like to drive to Norway.
Enough with the blabbering and complaining.....
We did take a road trip last sunday though; the mrs. and me. Toward Örebro, the 6th largest city in Sweden. We were going to have a look at that buddy for Rex! Our daughters were pretty excited about the prospect of having another dog. Our son was much less enthusiastic.... He's been developing a much less positive view on things and has a more angry and bad tempered attitude as of late. I hope it has to do with him "becoming of age" and that that'll pass. We do notice some behaviour patterns though that we can retrace into his lineage.....
Anyway we left the house to the kids for 5-6 hours. By now they can take care of it, themselves and the animals for so long and we were off. As we reached the city it became obvious that the address was smack in the middle of the city centre; an apartment block and the dog lived on one of the upper floors. Why do people do this? A husky/malamute in such a place???
We met the owners of Lester as they came out with him; a jumpy, joyous bundle of energy. It was obvious that the young man holding the leash was struggling. I asked if I could hold the dog and I felt why; this puppy was strong!!! And full of bundled up energy. The dog felt good. No aggression, no fear, no dominance toward humans. He was in good physical shape and seemed to be in good mental shape too. A glad young dog, living with a loving family, but absolutely in the wrong place. The family had come to realise that too.
We finished out business, they said farewell to Lester and we put him into the car. He was quite calm during the 2,5hr drive home, but we did stop to let him get some fresh air and motion.

The introduction at home to the kids went very well. No signs of domination or other unwanted feats either. Then came the big moment; Rex was to meet Lester. And much to our delight no trouble there either!! No fighting, no biting, no growling. Just a lot of jumping, turning and sniffing. A relief!!
The evening was a hectic one, as was to be expected and we did see some struggles for dominance erupt. So far Rex is the boss, but he makes no big deal of it so far. He asserts his dominance, but with little or no vigor. I think Lester will take over, when he becomes and adult. He already is larger than Rex and much stronger physically. Lester is continually challenging him, trying to get the upper hand in their wrestling and playing, snatching away Rex' bones and toys and peeing frequently (as was to be expected). I told the kids to assert their dominance over Lester and told them to go and take away his bones and toys. They did so without showing hesitation and there was no response from Lester. He sat down and waited obediently until they returned the bone or toy, when they wanted to. He knows his place so far.

The final challenge were the cats. Lester had never lived with cats before..... And once again, no aggression there either. He was too daring once and got smacked in the nose by Eddy, our black cat. He kept his distance after that, checking him out with at least 1 meter in between them. Karel did not budge at all, staring Lester down. All in all the introduction into our little "pack" went much smoother than expected.
The dogs played and wrestled all night until the stresses of the past day became noticeable and even Lester calmed down.

When Esther and I walked the dogs we noticed that Lester was not accustomed to countrylife! He went this way and that, was obviously intrigued by a stream with running water and spooked by spruce twigs brushing along his reflective vest. We have a sneaking suspicion Lester had never been outside the city before! That got confirmed this morning as I had to walk them both myself. Lester pulled his head out of the collar, freeing himself and went ballistic. He ran all over the place, chasing Eddy into a tree and refused to even respond to me calling his name. We noticed before that he does have some obedience issues, so we need to work on that right away. We might even have to rename him, since the response to his name is virtually non-existent. After he had finally calmed down and I had been able to catch him, he was unwilling to follow my lead and I had to physically show him who's in charge. I actually had to push him onto the ground, lay on top of him and even bite him in the ear!!

Elsa took this picture with her phone and enhanced it. Scary how fast kids learn to use these things and how hard it is to get them to put those phones down.

So far we noticed that Rex calls Lester to order frequently, that Rex does show signs of envy (we know that, when it came to the cats, but now it became even more obvious) and that they seem to like each other. After initial dominance was established, they played a lot together. So that goal seems to be reached already.
Lester shows no sign of animosity to either one here; human, dog or cat. He is not only friendly, but gentle and has a much calmer disposition than Rex. Yes, he is skinny. But so was Rex. He, like him, will have to grow up completely, before he will build muscle mass. And because he too is till young, we can acclimatise him first, before we start using his carrying or pulling capacities.
He has a wonderfully soft fur. Not as long or as coarse as Rex, which isn't really coarse either, but stiffer and a lot longer and when we walk the boys, Lester tends to put his flank towards Rex'.
He has one big advantage of Rex and that is that he had a family that cared and that did give him some form of upbringing. But the similarities are equally striking; woefully wrong type of dog in the wrong kind of living conditions, lack of upbringing, lack of accustomisation to the outside world, down to the, to me, absolutely wrong kind of toys. Yes, Lester came with the same set of toys Rex had; plastics, a rubber duck and stuffed animals..... And he does seem to have a small defect in his right eye; it faces outward.

Now how was that for an introduction???
I had time to write this, because they were asleep and I guess they noticed I was about done! They have come alive again!!


  1. Life has a tendency to throw obstacles at us when we least need or expect them. But where there's will. there's way.
    Love the looks of Lester. He looks exactly like how I imagined White Fang looked like when I was a kid.

    1. Jack London's book, right? Got to read his work some day, too.
      We'll be planning for something else....

  2. Oh how neat. Lots of opportunities for you all to learn. I am happy for both of the dogs, sounds like it will be a good environment for them. We visited with Siberian huskies this weekend, there was no snow, but 6 teams were pulling the wheeled wagons. Those dogs are amazing. Now you have a team. :)

    1. Ohh I'm in a learningcurve here, alright. A pretty steep one too! And so are both Rex and Lester....

  3. Now only few more, and you've got a full team for a sled... ;-)

    1. My son would kill me or at least seriously curse me.

  4. OK I'm drawing your dog. He's a beauty. I'll give you this one.