After car troubles grounded us to the city for a delay of over a week, Baagii, Trisha, and I finally made our way back to the breeding facilities to do some field work, mainly taking good care of the dogs in our breeding program. First, we measured and weighed the dogs, measuring from their front shoulder down to front paw, collarbone to tail, and head to tail. Some of the dogs are more cooperative than others and stand still willingly, while some of the dogs *cough Wheeler cough Aasar cough* insist on getting out all of their energy before and during being measured. We keep who is in which category to ourselves to avoid any hard feelings from the dogs.
The real fun part is weighing the dogs. We use a hanging scale and a harness to hoist them into the air. It most certainly is not their favorite bit of the process, but at the end of the day I don’t think they mind hanging around with us. But hey, fitting them into the harness and hoisting them off the ground isn’t too easy on us, either, especially when some of the dogs–like Baavgai, Hudur, and Sharaa, three of our biggest males–weigh in at over 100 pounds. When we went in to measure Chad, we found him fiddling around with a rather unhappy Daurian Hedgehog. The hedgehog was burrowing beneath his enclosure and Chad dug him up. I’d never seen one so big before. It was good that we found it and let it go before Chad or the hedgehog got hurt.
De-worming our Bankhar is an essential part of keeping them healthy, especially when they are around livestock so often. We use an oral drench, a liquid medicine that the dogs need to ingest. The dogs don’t enjoy it because it tastes bad, and we don’t enjoy it because we hate to make them uncomfortable. Most of them are good sports about it, and I can assure you that they all received ample treats to chase the taste away afterwords. Trisha and I also spent a lot of time using a wire brush to brush out the dog’s winter shed. I can also assure you that I am still finding dog hairs in my belongings and sometimes in my own hair from their fine winter coats. I swear we could make some pretty unbelievable sweaters or hats out of all that comes off of them.
The light winds allowed time for us to paint some of the doghouses green, that is, until we ran out of paint. Looks like this task will continue to be drawn out. Something as simple as running out of paint is when I really realize I am in a foreign country–where do I buy paint? If only there were a Home Depot around here somewhere. I remember spending hours looking at those color swatches with my parents for our dining room when I was younger…I yearn for those color swatches now. We could have a variety of different doghouse colors. Some might look good in dusk lighting, others when the sun is shining full. Next thing you know Blondie’s house could be featured on MTV’s Cribs. Stay tuned. Anyway, I’m sure Baagii will help me find more paint.
We took a trip to visit a family inside Hustai National Park who have a female Bankhar that Miigaa might be interested in breeding with one of our sires. She is a lively 2 year old with a beautiful coat and personality. We swabbed the inside of her mouth with a DNA collection kit to collect cells. I will take any DNA samples that we collect this summer back to the States to be analyzed by one of our partners in a lab, and we’ll take it from there.
That night, we were subject to some severe thunderstorms and torrential downpour. It is amazing how weatherproof gers are! Baagii and Miigaa were very excited about the rains, explaining that they are a great sign of summer arriving in full bloom and that the steppe will soon be covered in lush green grasses. Right now it is still pretty brown in most areas, but with each passing rain the grasses do look greener and there is certainly less dryness and dust. You can imagine that just about all of our belongings currently smell like wet dog.
Taking care of our dogs is a great way to spend time with them and ensure that they are living healthy, happy lives. Trips like this to the field where we do general maintenance and bring supplies, like dog food and medicine, help set us up for success and prepare us for the rest of the summer. The team is currently gearing up for a week long trip to the South Gobi Desert to meet with some herders and to potentially check in on some placed pups. We will be leaving at the beginning of next week following the Mongolian Presidential Election, so you can expect to hear back from us via another Notes from the Field in about over a week’s time.