Friday, October 31, 2008


Well, here we are, back at Allatoona Animal Hospital. Stacker has been putting his foot down more frequently so the pain and swelling seem to be going away. We're back to see Denise and Dr. Hiland to see if we can get some better x-rays.

Stacker seems ready for it.

Dr. Hiland still was not able to get a good picture and came back to let me know they were going to give him a mild sedative so they could position him to get a better picture. Bring on the Propofol!

As with any sedative, the results are obvious.

This time the x-ray definitely ruled out a fracture.

Pending a consult with the orthopedist, it's possible that Stacker damaged a ligament (maybe the dorsal elastic ligament) in his toe. The joint between P2 and P3 looks a little abnormal in comparison with the surrounding joints. A fractured toe would be much easier to deal with. The bone could be allowed to calcify and heal and he'd probably be fine. Soft tissue injuries are always suspect. Amputation is an option. I don't like the fact that the injury is on a load-bearing toes, but I've talked to friends who have had a load-bearing toe removed and the dog has been fine afterward.

So now we're in a new splint and will wait to hear back from Dr. Hiland after she has talked to the orthopedist.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hazel Creek - Part 2

After a good night's sleep, Smith and I set off for day two's destination, the confluence of Forney and Jonas Creek on the opposite side of Welch Ridge.

We were fortunate on day one and part of day two that the trail is also used by horses, so it is wide and clear. Horses are allowed on the first 8 miles or so of Hazel Creek. For the entirety of the trip we did not see one other backpacker. Everyone we came across had come in on horseback.

The climb to Welch Ridge from Hazel Creek was tough. Lots of switch backs and a lot of elevation gained. Up to this point every step we had taken was uphill. We reached the Welch Ridge Trail a lot later than we had anticipated.

We started down the Jonas Creek Trail which would take us down to the confluence with Forney Creek and our campsite for the night.

We reached the bottom of the ridge and it was getting darker on us. It didn't help the fact that we were on the East side of the ridge either.

Shortly after this picture, I saw bear number three. About 200 feet ahead of me on the trail it raced across and out of sight. One thing I've been noticing about these bruins is they are deceptively quiet, even when they're running. Very disturbing. I waited for Smith to catch up before I went ahead. He's been suffering from blisters and wasn't moving as fast as I was.

We hiked the last hour in the dark, crossing Jonas Creek at least three times. We came across a clearing and decided we were staying there whether it was the campsite or not. Well, to our good fortune, it was the campsite. We set up camp and got some much needed rest.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

P's Stacker FCh

I was going to wait until a later time to introduce the "B" team to you. However, recent events compelled me to post about one of them now. The "B" team are my three Greyhounds, Stacker, Allie and Julie. If you have ever seen my wife's Greyhounds you already understand why mine are not on any "A" team in our house.

Stacker is my 9 year old former racer, former lure courser, former phantom crapper (ever found "something" and wonder who did it and when?). I've had him for almost 6 years now. I adopted him on a Thanksgiving weekend from GPA Birmingham. Stacker ran over 100 races at Gulf Greyhound Park in Texas and the track in Birmingham. He was originally adopted out to a person who lived in Cullman, AL. I don't know the full story, but I believe they had more animals than they could deal with and brought him to their vet to have him put down. When the vet asked why, they said that the track was going to do it anyway if they sent him back so they wanted it done on their terms. Well, first, the adoption kennel at the track would not have put him down, period. Secondly, these people didn't stay long enough to see the vet, instead of euthanizing him, sending him BACK to GPA Birmingham. He hung around for a couple months until I showed up and brought him home.

Stacker had a relatively successful (and safe) ASFA lure coursing career for about two years. He achieved the title of Field Champion and was the top Greyhound at the Region 7 Invitational in 2004. This was also the same year that he won my club's trophy which is awarded to the highest scoring Greyhound in his/her rookie coursing season.

This past weekend, my club, Southeastern Greyhound Club, hosted the 3rd running of the ASFA Greyhound National Specialty in conjunction with our all-breed Fullerton Cup coursing trial at Bear Creek Farm in Moreland, GA.

Since this is on the other side of Atlanta from us, we usually bring all the dogs down and take advantage of our good friends' property, SummerWind Farm. There's a nice 12-14 acre fenced pasture at the back of the farm just for the dogs. On Sunday my wife, Jen, took all six to SummerWind while I went to work at the trial. She let them explore the pasture one more time before packing up and heading home.

That would be his new little sister, Riley, and my sister-in-law's Greyhound, Peanut, teaching my boy the painful lesson of standing in front of a head-strong, determined woman (or two).

He got up fine and continued on for the remainder of the walk. Afterwards he appeared a little lame and Jen noticed some swelling on his back left foot. When I came home that evening from the trial, his foot was swollen and he was not bearing any weight on it. By Monday afternoon, his foot was completely swollen. We decided to get x-rays to see if he had a fractured or dislocated toe. Here are the results:

This image is looking down on his back left foot. The toe in question is second from right, or third from left depending on how your brain works. Due to the swelling, the toe is contracted so you cannot get a clear image of the P2 bone. Dr. Hiland at Allatoona Animal Hospital is going to try again on Friday after the swelling has subsided. So, for now, Stacker gets to three-leg it around the house.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Hazel Creek - Part 1

By Spring of this year I had read my third or fourth article about Hazel Creek and the solitude and remoteness it offered. It looked like a great place to me. Being that it is in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it is relatively close by. I started to loosely pull a trip together, wondering if I'd ever go on it. I have a bad habit of coming up with great trips or projects and never following through with it.

In July my wife and I let go of one of the greatest Greyhounds I've ever known. One of the things I learned from this experience is that life can and will pass you by if you let it. From that point on I've made a more determined effort to see my ideas develop into reality. The trip was on!

I contacted a close friend of mine (Smith) to see if he was interested in going. Absolutely was his response. We finalized the trip. We estimated the trip would take between three to four days. The following covers the first two days of the trip.

Sunday, September 28th, Smith and I met at Fontana Village Lodge to get our gear situated and to make sure we had everything we needed.

Monday morning, we drove down to the marina which would be our launch point for the first part of the trip.

This is Smith with our boats and gear. Notice the partially submerged police boat. It was recovered from the bottom of Fontana Lake two days earlier.

We paddled out of the marina cove and went east across Fontana Lake to Hazel Creek and then up Hazel Creek to a point where the park service had placed a barricade across the creek preventing further upstream travel.

I had read that this particular part of GSMNP had higher concentrations of black bears than in other areas of the park. I had seen one drinking at the lakeshore as we paddled up Hazel Creek. When we got out of our boats on Hazel Creek, we saw this:

Guess they were right! Within an hour of that picture we encountered our second black bear as he came onto the trail from the creek. He was about 30-40 feet in front of us. With the sound of the creek and us being down wind, he never knew we were there until he made it on the trail. Sorry, but I thought safety before photo-op and yelled "Hey Bear!". He promptly sprinted up the hill and out of sight. The rest of the day was scenic, but not as eventful.

Here are some buildings from what used to be a community (I believe it was Proctor)

We continually gained elevation as we headed for a the last campsite on Hazel Creek. We covered almost 9 miles that day, arriving to camp a couple hours before dark.

The Man Behind the Keyboard

First off, a little about myself. I'm a 31 year-old living just outside Atlanta, GA. I work (that should be the last time I mention it because I didn't create this blog to talk about work). So, what does that pay for? Well, my wife and I own six greyhounds. She competes in AKC agility and obedience trials and does very well. I'll post in greater depth on my hounds, but I've done some lure coursing several years ago and recently have been working on tracking. My other pursuits are hiking and boating (kayaking, rafting). I was recently able to combine these two into a rather interesting trip with a great friend of mine. I'm putting the trip report together this week and will post it soon.

Get Up and Go!

This has been a long time coming. I knew eventually I'd have to do it. The urge was too strong. After seeing how easy it is to go to my wife's blog and read about things I have long since forgotten, I decided it's time to start my own. Too late? Maybe, but the sooner I start the less I'll forget.