Monday, May 7, 2018

NWSDA 2018 Spring Fling - Canicross

The last weekend in April was our first IFSS sanctioned race in our bid to qualify for the 2019 World Dryland Championships in canicross.

To sum it up: it was amazing! 

I have heard Pacific Northwest mushers rave about Camp Koinonia (Camp K) as a magical place. I always thought it was a bit of an over exaggeration....until I visited myself. It IS magical. The trail system was beautiful. The camping area was great. It is dedicated to dog sports most the year. There aren't many places like it.

We originally were slated to run in the 4-dog sprint as well as the canicross. We ended up only racing in the canicross division. After work on Thursday we departed for my friend Vic's house in Spokane, to split up the long drive. In the morning two dogs (Buck and Jig) from my 4-dog sprint team had the runs but seemed fine. Luckily Sonya, also from the Bitterroot Valley, Montana, was coming through Spokane that morning. So Flier and I caught a ride. Cobey, the boys and the remaining 8 dogs went home. We were afraid they had a contagious illness that could spread to the other teams at the race. Eventually, no other dogs in our kennel were ever affected (including Buck and Jig's littermates who are housed with them). We suspect now that the rapid rise in temperature the day before travel combined with the stress of travel produced the symptoms. Either way, I think it was the best decision for the dogs. Thank you to my husband and boys who often get the worst end of the deal involving dog racing. (Thankfully, Cobey took the boys out camping after returning home, to soften the blow of a "blown weekend" for the boys).

At the race, Flier was absolutely amazing. Usually canicross races have a mass start but they had interval starts at this race. We started in 5th position of 6. Flier pulled hard the whole time and pulled even harder when we came upon other canicross teams. Flier is a competitive guy and does not like seeing any other dogs in front of him.

We finished the 1.5 mile (hilly) course in 8 min 20 seconds; the fastest of the 6 competitors. I was very proud of Flier. He worked hard and had beautiful passes. Also, he's really come out of his shell. He used to have severe stranger danger fear but he now allows anyone to pet him. That was great!

On day two we started first because we were in first place. That meant we had no one to chase. I thought we would be much slower because of that. But Flier and I must have pushed hard (it sure felt like it) because we finished in 8 min 24 sec!!! Only 4 sec off Saturday's pace!

Great shot taken by Mikki Douglass!!
She knows where to go to get the great ones! Not at the finish where we're spent....but at the start!

I was very pleased with our performance! Hard work does pay off!!!

Sonya and Sepp (13 yrs old) finishing the Senior race

I am very blessed to have extremely wonderful and supportive friends and family who all traveled several hours to come watch us race (for less than 10 minutes): Vic, Allie, my mom, dad, sister, Alece, and her two children.

My niece was very excited by canicross and loved Flier.

My niece also drew this wonderful picture of Flier and I racing!!!!

Old high school and/or college friends, Allie (left) and Vic (right).

Kaya, Sepp, and Flier had a lot of fun playing at our campsite

My hand took quite a beating....and here I thought just handling one dog would be easier on my hands
 A wonderful weekend that only could have been made better by my whole healthy team and family being able to attend. Thank you to everyone who is making this possible for us! One step closer to our goal: IFSS Dryland World Championships 2019!!!!!

Monday, April 30, 2018


ByDog's Blue

Adopted 2006 - April 20, 2018

This is going to be a long one.

Blue was one of those once in a lifetime dogs. When I joined the pack in 2008, Cobey had the
"Original Gangsters:" Kona, Blue and Tensaw. I was instantly drawn to Blue. She was regal,
independent, wild, and beautiful. She didn't need anyone but she choose to grace us with her

Cobey got Blue because she was a runaway. A very typical Siberian husky behavior. People are
not usually prepared for the heartache and stress they can cause. At the time, Cobey lived in
Missoula with Kona. He often took her to Dog Logic Doggy Daycare but on this particular day he
had not. He received a call from Dog Logic informing him they found Kona wandering outside. When
he got to the daycare he was surprised to find an amazing look-a-like. He told them he would find
her owners and he took her home. Eventually he found them and they asked if he wanted her, they
couldn't handle all her wandering ways. And she was with us ever since.

She got the name Blue because of hte Blue collar she was wearing when Cobey rescued her. It started
as "dog with the blue collar" and then "Blue" stuck. In the "early days" we often refered to her as "two."
Kona was "one" (the first dog), Blue was "two" (the second dog) and Tensaw was "ten" (for obvious
reasons). "One two and ten!" was what we'd say.

Blue and Kona were quite the pair. They had a close bond. For some time they thought their name
was Konaandblue. They often were found laying mirror image to each other.

When Kona passed in 2016, it was hard on Blue. She was quite visibly affected by it. But she made
it through and became best friends with the barn cat Priscilla. It was an unlikely friendship for a husky.
Every morning, Priscilla would wait for Blue to come outside. Together they would walk around the
yard, making it down to the end of the drive each morning to see the boys on to the school bus.

Blue has lived in many places around Montana (Troy, Missoula, Hamilton, Corvallis) and even in
Tok, Alaska for a stint. She almost did not join Kona, Tensaw and Cobey on that adventure. Cobey
offered for Blue to stay with me in Hamilton when he moved. I couldn't separate her from the pack.
She had a grand time in Alaska, even getting the chance to chase a whole herd of caribou.

There were many times we lost Blue to the allure of 4-legged, sweet smelling, running animals.
The original gangsters went on many leash-free hikes. While 90% of the time we were able to keep
them with us, sometimes the drive of the Siberian was just too overwhelming.

When we moved to Hamilton we started to get into dog sledding. Cobey already had half harnesses
for the original gangsters and had them trained to pull him on his longboard. The first season we went
sledding, it was just the three dogs and Blue was the lead dog. She was a strong, capable, athletic dog.
The next season she retired herself, at the top of her game ;) While she was never a part of our main
racing team, she will always be known as our first lead dog.

Blue was very special to me. So much so, she got a coveted spot in our wedding. She pulled the

ring-bearer down the isle.

You will be missed and always remembered. You're my lead dog, Blue!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

2nd Grade Snow Day

Today was the conclusion of Keegan's 2nd grade class lesson on Alaska. The kids were bused to Lost Trail Powder Mountain Ski hill for downhill sledding fun. His teacher asked if I'd be willing to bring the team up and give a demo. We were thrilled teach the kids about mushing, Siberian huskies and the history of the sport and breed.

Tensaw, Isis and Buck getting ready for demos

There was a nice freshly groomed loop for me to run a small team on. Five classes of about 20 kids came over for a quick lesson on mushing. Nicki from the Bitterroot Mushers introduced me to a nice way to teach kids about mushing: dress the sled, dress the dog, dress the musher.

Talking to the first class

I started by introducing the breed, its background and my dogs. Then I explain about dressing the dog (harnesses, booties, coats), dressing the sled (snow hooks, gangline, sled bag, etc) and finally I told the story of the Great Race of Mercy. I love to tell the Serum run story because it is a combo of two of my biggest interests; dog sledding and infectious diseases. After I tell the story, sans a few details, I ask a few questions. Can anyone name the lead dog who ran the most miles of the Serum run (Togo), what town needed help (Nome) and what disease were they sick with (Diphtheria). If they can't get any of those I ask a question from early on to see if anyone was listening. The child with the correct answer is selected for "dress the musher." Where I dress the kids in adult sized heavy-duty winter gear (they love this).

Dress the musher!

At the very end, they pet the dogs and then I ran a loop of the pond so they could see the dogs in action.

I choose Whip, Tensaw, Buck and Isis as the demo dogs. Whip does not like being pet by strangers but I needed a good lead dog for this demo so she was my gal. I just had to unhook her from the team when the kids came up in pairs to pet the dogs. I started with Whip and Tensaw in lead. Whip was a rockstar leading the team around the trail they'd never run before. Tensaw, well he's a goof.

I talked a lot....

The trail took us down to a loop which was below the class. On the first time on the loop, Tensaw (who LOVES attention from kids) thought he would try and pull the whole team up the steep snow bank 40 feet above us back to the kids.

First run through the loop. Tensaw thought he'd bee-line it to the kids

Otherwise, Tensaw did wonderfully. Buck got a shot in lead with Whip as well and he did well. 

When the demos and sledding was over, I signed out Keegan (instead of him riding the bus back to school just to catch the bus home) and we went over to the Gibbons pass road to let the dogs run a little more (especially those who did get the chance to run at the demo (Flier and Jig specifically are too scared to do demos in front of large crowds).

We only went 5 miles but it was hard work because there was a substantial amount of fresh snow and Whip, Buck, Isis and Tensaw were already tired from the morning of demos. It was beautiful and fun and I was glad to spend the time with the dogs and Keegan.

My running buddy for the afternoon
Whip always enjoys a good roll in snow