Piper, Kiva, Koidern
Kiva died today as a result of an inflammatory disease that we couldn’t bring under control, and the pain this was causing her. She was a little over seven years old.
We got Kiva from the Fairbanks Animal Shelter in November 2004 when she was only a year and a half old. She’d been abandoned because she “didn’t want to be a sled dog” by the same musher who had previously abandoned Piper. Throughout her life she was a super energetic dog that had a hard time staying still, loved sprint racing, and was the best fetching dog I’ve ever seen. She was great with people, and seemed to be completely in love with the cats (our old cats Ivan and Alexi and the new kittens we got late last year). We sometimes called her “devil dog” for her personality, dark coloration and bright blue eyes. Unfortunately, she didn’t get along with Piper, and started four major fights. The latest fight, two weeks ago, happened in the house, and we think it was because her pain was increasing. We finally decided that it was time to say goodbye.
As much as we love Kiva and all the energy she brought to our household, we struggled with her disease and her fighting. We agonized about euthanizing her for years, and even more over the last couple weeks since her latest fight, and we finally decided that it isn’t fair to her to be living with enough pain that she’s intolerant of the other dogs and can’t go to the bathroom normally, and it’s not fair to the other dogs (or us) to be placed in a situation where they might get injured or killed. I wish there had been something else we could have tried, some treatment or medication that would have made her happy and peaceful.
Some things I remember about her:
- Whenever she was excited she’d run in counter-clockwise circles, over and over again.
- She liked coming with me when I went out to the red cabin to get beer.
- We played fetch with her using chunks of wood when we lived on Whistling Swan and bought a Chuck-It so we could throw it all the way down the dog yard or driveway here on Railroad Drive.
- She loved it when we changed the kitchen garbage.
- She was the only dog that would howl, usually before races.
- She hated water and would go well out of her way to avoid stepping in puddles.
- She went absolutely crazy when there were dogs outside the dog yard.
- She got so excited before races that she’d chew the lines and would slam forward, rock back and slam forward the entire time at the line.
- She was a nervous little dog that scared easily.
We miss her.
Last weekend we had some ATVs on the rapidly melting trail, so I made a pair of signs (PDF, 13Kb) to mark it. I have my doubts as to whether these will have the desired effect, but I don’t really want to block the trail to all users, and this should be sufficient.
The signs read:
They’re just paper stapled to plywood, so eventually we’ll need to get something more weather proof. Maybe black text printed onto acetate, with a florescent file folder stapled underneath? Unfortunately, I have a feeling the most likely form of damage will come from humans, rather than the elements.
ATV trail damage
Went for a walk with the dogs on our property today and discovered some ATV’s ripped up the trail. I don’t think the damage is permanent, since the ground is still frozen, but it still makes me angry. I need to figure out a way to mark, and probably block, the trail for non-motorized uses. If the people who rode up there today are any indication, ATV riders are too fucking stupid to recognized a narrow, non-motorized trail when they see one. The photo doesn’t make it as obvious as it is in person, but their treads are entirely off the trail and in the vegetation along the sides.
It only takes one jackass to turn opinion against all ATV riders; let’s hope the rest of them show some respect.
Flemish style string, bow tip
Since making a bow a few weeks ago, I’ve been working on learning the other skills needed to complete a traditional archery set. First was the string. I had been using regular nylon string from the hardware store, and it’s amazing how much better a real bowstring performs at transferring energy to the arrow. The bowstring is composed of 14 strands of Daycron / B-50 fiber twisted into two bundles which are also twisted together, called a Flemish string. The twist of the full string on the bow is what holds the twistings of each loop together without any knots, glue or other fasteners. I haven’t put the serving on yet (this is a thin string wrapped around the bowstring where the arrow is nocked) because I’m not sure if the string will need to be shortened by twisting the string further, but it shoots great without it.
The photo on the right shows the tip of the bow. The notches were filed into the wood with a chainsaw file and do a surprisingly good job at holding the bowstring. The red oak is about ½" square at the tips and gets progressively thicker and wider toward the center of the bow, which is almost six feet long.
I’ve been borrowing some arrows from a friend at work, but have successfully made a few arrows of my own. I used 11/32" cedar shafting, dipped in spar varnish thinned with turpentine. After the finishing, building an arrow is a fairly straightforward process of tapering the ends for the nock and tip, and affixing the feathers. The nock and feathers are glued with what smells like cyanoacrylate glue and the points are glued on with hot melt glue. Hide glue would be more traditional, but for my early efforts I’ll stick with something simpler.
Cedar shafted arrow
The target shown in the photo is a series of dog food bags, filled with newspapers and taped together (two things we have a lot of are dog food bags and newspaper!). Each bag probably has between eight and ten newspapers in it, and there are at least eight bags taped together. It seems to work well with the steel field points I attached to this arrow. My previous target was a cardboard box filled with packing peanuts, but that was only good enough to slow down the arrows. Even with rubber blunt tips (“bunny busters”), they’d go right through the box and skitter down the driveway.
I still need to experiment with the best shafting, arrow configuration and point weight for my bow. Because the arrow rests to the left of the centerline of the bow, this means that the arrow is actually bent against the bow as it’s released, and if the shafting is too stiff or not stiff enough, the arrow won’t fly true. I haven’t actually noticed this effect, so either I choose the correct “arrow spine” (50-55), or I just haven’t shot enough or from far enough away to see it.
At this point, I can hit the bag about 90% of the time from 25 feet away (beware home invaders!), and can hit an area the size of a DVD about 50% of the time from that distance. But I haven’t shot nearly enough arrows in succession to have a feel for it yet. I have taken my bow out on the trails with rubber-tipped arrows (OK, arrow), but if I came upon a snowshoe hare within my limited range, I’d have to get very lucky to hit it. Even with a .22 rifle, snowshoe hares can be a challenging target. As my friend Igor says, “If it was easy, it’d be Fred Meyer.”
I still need an arm guard, finger tabs and a quiver, but haven’t really settled on what varieties of these accessories to use.
Here’s the bow and an arrow in my target:
Bow and arrow