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Into Winter We Go!

Our Alaska winter is on and Nellie B. is getting more used to playing in extreme cold (and so are we!).

It was zero degrees today, and I guess that means winter is here in Alaska. As it gets colder, I feel more guilt knowing that we hauled Nellie up here to a place that might as well be on another planet. Remember, this is a doggie from California who has never known anything but mild weather.

Nellie's first "real" snow day.
Nellie’s first “real” snow day.

Nellie had no clue what lay ahead when we arrived in August. And if I have to admit, we were pretty clueless too (and still are!).

But we also know how much she loves the freedom up here. There’s lots more off-leash wandering, and crazy smells she’s never enjoyed before.

Like anything, there’s a price to pay for all this adventure. And right now, it’s the temperatures. Nellie has made it clear that she isn’t a fan of extreme cold or the dark days of winter.

Behind our cabin on Willow Lake, location of the Ididarod re-start in March.
Behind our cabin on Willow Lake, location of the Ididarod re-start in March.

Every morning it takes at least 15 minutes to get us, and her, dressed to go outside. Layer after layer we cover up, and then put on a headlamp because now it’s dark until about 9:30 am, and (then returns about 3:30 pm).

Finally, we make it outside to take her out to potty, and almost every time our walk lasts about 10 minutes at most. Without fail, she wants to come back inside as soon as she’s done.

Visiting the Odaroloc Sled Dogs
Visiting the Odaroloc Sled Dogs

Still, on other days, she has a blast. Especially when she visits the local teams of sled dogs. At the advice of our expert mushing friends, we are trying to let her coat acclimate. The colder it gets, they tell us, the more her coat will thicken and keep her warm. As a double-coated dog, we are supposed to be doing her a favor by letting her go outside naked!

But I can’t do it, at least all the time. So as a compromise, she only wears her Ruffwear Climate Changer fleece sweater when temps dip to about 10-degrees. And when it drops down to sub-zero, she wears her Ruffwear Powder Hound puffer jacket. Our musher friends say that’s totally fine.

"Let me lick that sweat so you don't go hypothermic, mom!"
“Let me lick that sweat so you don’t go hypothermic, mom!”

We suspect that osteoarthritis could be why she isn’t a fan of cold. So we found a great vet nearby and started her on Librela, the prescription monoclonal antibody therapy for OA that just made it to the US. She is also taking a new, interesting joint supplement called Jope. We’ll fill you in on both very soon.

Another crazy thing we’ve learned is how to walk her on ice. WOW that has been an eye opener. I’ll save that for another post, because we have learned a LOT about ice and dog booties. Anyone with a Tripawd, or other special needs or senior dog who lives in icy conditions during winter has my deepest respect and admiration!

8 thoughts on “Into Winter We Go!”

  1. We are getting ready to give Jasmine her 2nd Librela shot in a week or so. She’s done great on it.
    I still can’t believe you made the trek to Alaska in winter. In all the years I gave known you warm weather fans lol.
    Glad Nellie is adjusting to it.

    Have fun

    1. Haha yeah you’ve known us a long time Michelle! We are having a blast though. SO FAR! I’m glad you’ve had good results with Librela for Jasmine, that gives me a lot of hope Nellie will benefit too.

  2. I get cold just looking at the pictures….brrrr….
    Nellie doesn’t care where she is as long as she is with uou two. The freedom to roam more freely is a plus too.
    Getting up in the dark for those cold morning potty breaks and having to spend time layering up….nope, not for me! The scenery has to ve breathtaking though……what little you can see through the light of your head lamp😜
    Enjoying the updates and pictures. Nellie’s looking good😎

    1. Hah Sally you are so right, we see a small tunnel of scenery in the dark through our headlamp. But when the sun is out, hoo boy! It’s incredible! I’ll keep posting to share the fun with you, and will tell Nellie you said she looks good 🙂

  3. I think it is a different planet for you three, not just Nellie;) If you are not already, you and Jim need to take a vitamin D supplement; you guys are not used to this, and less sun. We in the Midwest all need to take vitamin D.

    I say again, Miss Nellie, you look amaaaazzzzinnng. What a beautiful pup she is, and the snow pics are amazing. The first real snow day is my favorite you need to print that (Christmas card)

    That’s okay, Nellie. You continue to say what you like and don’t like. That makes sense on her coat. Thank dog you have their advice on this entire trip. I wouldn’t be able to do NO coat, either. She is not a husky; doesn’t that matter? I know I always had a coat on my Doberman, and that’s another big difference.

    Yes, you will have the advice to share for all the tripawds on the ice I hope you dug up that old post.
    I hope the Librela is a massive relief. Thank dog for all the new options.
    Stay warm and safe, you three

    1. Hey Holly. Ohhh yeah we’ve got the Vitamin D in our routine now. Nellie gets it in her food so she’s good.

      I’m so happy you see Nellie as looking good! She’s come a long way. As for her coat. No she doesn’t have the Husky coat and she’s not an arctic breed, but German Shepherds do have a double coat for cold climates. Glad she doesn’t have the Dobie coat, I would be really worried about her up her if I did. You don’t see too many smooth or short coated breeds here, other than hunting dogs.

      As for the ice, oy we are learning! I’ll get a new post up as soon as I can. It’s not an easy thing to walk on, especially while walking dogs. A neighbor told me she puts microspikes on her dog boots. I may try that. Will keep you posted!

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