Sunday, April 25, 2010

Scout #2

Amanda watches the laying on of the paws

Munson and I hosted Scout during today’s wet weather. I was originally scheduled to go out to a BBQ but was feeling a bit too creaky. I was very happy to get Amanda’s call for Scout relief while she worked on her thesis.

Best buds 1 Scout smiles

Yes. Scout smiles now.

Best buds 2

Nothing much to report on the move-to-France front just now. I’m gathering all the paperwork necessary for my visa application. I have to buy my return tickets and health insurance before I apply, so my dates aren’t going to be set until I’m confident I have everything ready when I visit the consulate.

I’ve also been gathering quotes for my move, and Munson’s transport. French regulations now require that dogs are imported in plastic crates. Since air-approved plastic crates top out at a few inches less than Munson’s length, I won’t be able to fly him direct to France. A custom wooden crate – Bondi went through several of these – will be necessary.

My two best options are London and Amsterdam. Amsterdam is cheaper from a simple cost comparison as the animal processing fees are about half that of London. London is still my preferred option as I want to say hellos to all my English friends, and the Animal Reception Centre at Heathrow is a known quantity for me.

At this point Amsterdam would just be backup in case there was an issue with Munson’s rabies documentation. Continental Europe only requires a 3 week rabies vaccination history (unlike UK’s 6mth) so if he had to start from scratch, that would be the way to go.

Once landed in Europe, land transport to our final destination is the only practical option as his crate would be too big for the smaller regional carriers to load.

Alaskan Malamutes in Need

There is now an Australian Facebook group to help rehome malamutes whose owners have passed on or found themselves unable to care for their companions.

See Alaskan Malamutes in Need.

More broadly, Winterpaws is dedicated to helping the rescue of Samoyed, Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky, and other northern spitz breeds in Australia.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

There’s something about Munson

Munson @ 2yrs 

Munson is 2 years old today.

Sydney Park 

As I write I happen to be listening to some music featuring a didjeridu* soloist. About a minute in, the drone breaks out into a combination of growls and whoops.  This brings Munson into the room to investigate. He sits next to me, head cocked, and tongue slightly protruding as he does when in contemplation.

He looked to the computer screen first, I think expecting to see some video footage of his friends at the park. Last night he watched a short loop of himself playing through three times, completely entranced.

Now there’s something in the music that he’s responding to. His immediate curiosity has been satisfied and he’s returned to his spot in the corridor, but I can see his ears are still pricked, slowly rotating back and forth like small satellite dishes as other interesting didjeridu passages.

If I replay the first passage again, he comes back to pay closer attention. It’s absolutely fascinating to witness, and one of a million reasons why I find malamutes so amazing to have around.

2 months -> 2 years 

On Friday, Scout and Amanda dropped by again while I upgraded the RAM in her laptop. Munson was very excited by this and made Scout welcome again, gently prodding him into play.

At the park afterwards, Scout was like a new dog. He was properly engaging with other dogs, even taking Munson on for some stick tug o’ war. A number of people were commenting: “Munson is teaching Scout how to play!” Despite Scout being a good year or so older than Munson, the younger dog was taking him under his wing as if he were a pup newly arrived on the scene. Amanda remarked that she could hardly recognise her own dog.

I cannot tell you how proud I was of Munson that day. A little Munson therapy goes a long way.

Flashback to August 08 I'm how old???

* Peter Sculthorpe’s Music for Japan, for orchestra & didjeridu (1970)

Friday, April 09, 2010

The next adventure

Le jour de gloire est arrivé !

While I’ve been spinning my wheels in Sydney, for about six months I’ve been mulling an opportunity to start a new chapter in my life with a move to France. With my friends Brent, Jean and their trois petits uns taking to life in the  Midi-Pyrénées, I can establish a new base for Munson and myself in their immediate vicinity.

2009 was not a great year for me all round: losing Bondi, my cousin Natalya, and my old friend Stuart to short illnesses in a little over six months, each long before their time. A combined half-century and more of friendship passing over into memory.

The month of May will mark not only a year since Bondi’s passing, but five years since the mad man and the wolf embarked on the European adventure described in the busy first years of this blog.

My plan in outline is to head for London in late June, and spend a few weeks saying hi to everyone and introducing Munson to the remote extended family who have seen him grow up at  a distance. At this time I’ll be looking to buy a used utility vehicle (cheaper in UK) to carry us deep into the south-west of France in July.


Vale Malcolm McLaren 1946-2010

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Munson gets a Scout pack

P1000256-257_stitch Scout & Munson

Over the last two days and nights we’ve had a sleepover guest. Scout is one of the regulars at Sydney Park, and while his mum was out of town I volunteered to look after him.

Scout was rescued from the pound, and when he arrived last year showed many signs of abuse and neglect. He avoided dogs and humans alike, being particularly wary of adult men. Over time he’s become more comfortable with the other dogs, but still skirts around the adults with his tail between his legs. I’ve endeavoured to make him feel welcome by lowering myself to a less threatening height when around and offering treats. Slowly he’s become more adventurous and would approach me even without treats on hand.

P1000284 P1000294

This visit has been a great opportunity for him to be in extended close contact with a man and another dog. My philosophy was just to show him that this could be a no-threat environment, and would be characterised by random acts of kindness rather than cruelty.

It’s also been a chance for me to ensure Munson is OK with an extended stay of this nature. In fact Munson was happy to share the house, his toys and bedding. Munson and Scout have not been particularly close buddies at the park, but they played and snoozed together quite happily without any effort on my part. Munson didn’t even blink when Scout decided he was going to spend both nights snuggled up next to me on the bed.

I was especially pleased to return from a dinner with friends to find Scout excited to see me. Seeing that change in his demeanour is its own reward.