Saturday, December 31, 2011
Took a spill into some soft snow but my knee took a beating on the sled runner smarted a bit. Mostly the pride as a group of snowmobilers were right there.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
To my surprise, there was snow, though just out of the drainage next to the highway there was none. I said, I'll take it! And we got the teams ready. Nicki and I both loaned a dog to Annalisa. Tank joined his brother Thor for an adventure. They took off, then I took the other 6 of mine and Nicki not far behind ran 5. I was told to take a left on Granite Creek Road but and quickly shown a map which indicated it would be the first left which I took. About a quarter mile in I was sure it was the wrong turn. I met Nicki on the way out who had also taken the turn. After battling punchy snow we got back out to the main road and continued farther down. Finally discovering the correct turn. It was a nice trail but the early long steep downhill had me nervous for the return trip. So at about 3.5-4 miles out we turned around. It was just right for them. They were tired but not too physically worn out. Tank on the other hand went farther than he should have 11-12 miles and you could tell. That evening he was a sore/cramped pup. He'll get some well needed rest.
It was a great first run, a fun trail, and I can't wait for more! Unfortunately that trail was a little over an hour away. We need something closer that good. But what we need more than that right now is SNOW!
(pictures hopefully to follow shortly)
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
In order to get all the dogs the training they need, some of our most experienced lead dogs would have to rest a day and others would have to step into their shoes. Tuesday I ran a foursome of dogs (Kona, Isis, Shilah, & Tensaw) that was sure to frustrate me by turning the run into a huge debacle. I was mentally prepared for it as I decided to put Kona in lead with Isis. Kona, our best all-around dog (pet and trusty sled dog), has long been running lead next to Okanogan. The other day during a free run I was gee, haw commanding her and she was doing what I asked. So I decided she was up to the task….as long as Isis didn’t go wild. Cobey has told me a few times he thought Isis would be a good leader. I would look at her small stature and feistiness and turn my nose to her. Well, she most definitely proved me absolutely wrong and Cobey absolutely right. She is a born leader. This was only her second time in lead, once before with Okanogan. She stayed focused and both Kona and Isis kept the team at a very lively clip. Shilah did not do too bad herself. The run up the hill the “worst” part. Shilah kept turning around and looking at me and trying to pull the team sides, of which Tensaw did a good job of keeping her straight. But, when we reached the top, it clicked when the team started to really run and she had a blast! They had a lot of distractions on this run too and the only one, which I knew would be Kona’s major down fall, that caused any trouble, was when we attempted to pass by a small child on a bike. Kona is a sucker for little kids so we had a bit of hold up while I commanded her past the kid after a few licks. I gloated over the team’s great run all night; beaming with pride for Kona and Isis.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Two seasons ago we only had the three OGs (original gangsters) and training simply involved taking them for runs, hikes, walks and then out with the sled on the weekends. We never went very far, very fast, or very orderly but it was fun. Last season we acquired the two sled dogs from Absaroka Dogsled Treks but not until early December and quickly learned that Paluk was pregnant. While Okanogan and Paluk were in great shape, the rest of the team was not at their caliber at that point. We did not have a cart and for most the season we didn’t have Paluk. I’m looking forward to realizing the team’s potential now that we can train the team in the fall and we have seven runnable dogs. This season is going to be a blast! Look for us on the trail; hope to see you out there!
Love your puppas!
Friday, October 14, 2011
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Tank got to run with the team for the first time. He was a little nervous at first. He was unsure why all the other dogs were going crazy but as soon as the team started to run he fell right in line and ran. He seemed to have a good time. Isis did not have a good time because she had to be left behind. She really wanted to go but she’s had a bit of a limp lately so she needs time to heal.
We’ve also got a new addition to our kennel. Shila, the puppy formerly called female 3, has returned. She’s just as leggy and energetic as Tank and I think will do very well in our kennel but she’s a bit behind on training, having not been exposed to the harnesses and pulling at her old home. With a little time I’m sure she’ll pick it right up like Tank and Thor.
Speaking of Thor, we had the pleasure of taking care of him and his “sibling” Nora this past weekend. Thor is SO strong and LOVES to pull. Both are doing great with their commands, Annalisa has the makings of a good little team already and has obviously put in some good work with them! Both dogs seemed to enjoy their time here playing with our dogs.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Our son is positive he’s one of the dogs. He and Isis have a special bond. They love to play fetch. He throws the ball and she gets it, gives it a few bites, drops it and waits for him to throw it again. They follow each other around and it is adorable! He was also determined to have the leash hooked up to him a few days ago. Try as he might he couldn’t get it to stay on his neck (because I do not keep a collar on my child, believe it or not). I tried reasoning with him that it is only for dogs, but I’m learning these days you can’t reason with a 1.5 year old.
I’m getting really excited for the first snow!!! Tank has grown SO tall. He is full of energy and just wants to run. He is going to make a GREAT addition to our team. Isis has lots of heart but I worry that her small stature and unathletic build (compared to the others) will make it difficult for her to keep up with the team. I’ll keep an eye on her this season in the traces as she will probably be more prone to injury if I don’t. I’m sure all the dogs are just excited as I for the snow. Well, at least for them, the cold!
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Now that sledding is behind us (or ahead of us for those optimists) I’ve been doing more canicross. Around these parts it’s simply for exercising myself and the dogs but in some places, especially in Europe, there are races for it. In my research for local canicross races, I found Minnesota to be a hot spot for these races. Disappointingly, I did not find any local races. I have been putting serious thought into trying to organize a local canicross race.
Our blog does not have a huge following; mostly family and friends that peruse the sight, most likely looking for more puppy pictures BUT….If you are a local, eh heck even if you’re not, could you email us or put in the comments if this kind of race/event would interest you.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Saw wants to be a Pretty Sled dog by being a sled dog and a show dog!
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
The neighbors seem to live closer than most to self sustaining capabilities with their horses and I wondered if we couldn’t also be doing so with our dogs. You’d think by having sled dogs we’d be living “green” yet our hobby is causing us to live less so. Instead of burning less gas by running dogs we burn more getting to a place with good enough snow to sled. This causes me great torment and I constantly wonder why we didn’t move to Alaska. In the right place, we could have simply run the dogs from our front door. But since we didn’t move to Alaska we must deal with the cards we dealt ourselves. While we try and find a closer place to sled in the winter so we burn less gas getting there, I’d also like to attempt some other ideas too.
While Cobey has big dreams of running the American Discovery Trail by dog, I have my sights set a little closer to home. I’d like to commute by dog to work and back. It probably wouldn’t become habit, unfortunately for a number of reasons, one of which is that the infrastructure doesn’t exist for this to be done safely daily. To prove a point though, I’d like to at least try it once or twice. There may come a day (the way the gas prices are headed) sooner than later that it will become more practical (and only in the cool months of the year). It would take a little coordinating such as a safe place to kennel the dogs while I’m at work, training for that mileage, and waking up earlier (yikes!) but I think it could be done.
Another dream of mine is to build a “dog wheel” like Martin Buser has in his yard (a short clip can be seen at 3 min 38 sec in this video). His dogs really enjoy it and get to run to their heart’s content in the dog yard. But mine would have a twist to it, it’d take someone with more knowledge on this subject then me, but I’d like to use it to create power as well. I think it is possible. I don’t know how feasible it is.
One last dream I have is to use Siberian fur (that they shed…don’t worry) to spin into yarn and make warm garments out of. We recently moved within ¼ mile of Willows and Wool, a local spinning, weaving and knitting shop that gives classes on all of these skills.
So there you have it. Some dreams. If they all occur, we still won’t “break even” on our carbon footprint, not even close, but we’re working on making that footprint smaller by driving less and finding other ways to power our lives, By Dog!
Love your puppas!
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Looks like this weekend’s project will be to dig a new mailbox hole….out of the path of this powerful dog team.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Saturday the 4 dog teams started at 2pm which is much too late in the day for dog sledding in mid-March. It pushed the temperature limits of what my team could run in…especially Kona who has the thickest coat of the group. The course was FUN! Hilly, windy, and beautiful and definitely a technical course. It made me want a drag brake on my sled that much more (my spring project…among many).
Sunday we improved our time by a minute. The dogs were so much stronger Sunday but poor Saw is afraid of snowmobiles and there were many passing us on the trail; causing him to create many tangles. The dogs did GREAT though. I was so very proud of them. Unfortunately, for our team, there was no red lantern award. That isn’t a big deal, I mostly like the humor in that award, but for all intensive purposes, we “won” the Red Lantern!
For those who do not know, the red lantern award is given to the last place musher in each event. Many people confuse the Red Lantern Award with the widow’s lamp. The idea for the red lantern might have easily stemmed from the widow’s lamp but according to the Iditarod website they are not the same. The widow’s lamp is an Iditarod tradition carried over from the days of Alaska dog sled freighting. Lit when a dog team was on the trail, it helped lead the team in as well as inform others that a team was on the trail. The flame was only extinguished when the team(s) returned. The Iditarod lights its widow’s lamp at the beginning of the race and is extinguished after the last musher crosses the finish line. The Red Lantern Award, on the other hand, was first started at the 1953 Fur Rondy race as a joke and has stuck in the mushing world since.
Next year I’d like to run this race again but run the 20 mile/6-dog class. I’ll have to practice mushing on more technical trails before then though.
Love your puppas!
A side note: I would have pictures for you….had I remembered my camera battery. The other mushers I was with took pictures and I will post them when they get them to me.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Cobey and Keegan were planning to join us but we realized someone had to be home this weekend with the puppies. The puppies turned 8 weeks old this week and their new owners will be coming to get them. I sure am going to miss their over abundance of energy and joy every time I go out to see them. I know we will be seeing more of Thor (Male 2) as we have been sledding with his new family this season and plan to more next season. We have decided to keep Guinea Pig (Male 3), to round our team out to 6 next season (Blue is officially retiring). No one claimed Guinea Pig (aka GP) which we predicted because of his lack of “typical” Siberian appearance. He has an intelligent, friendly look in his eyes, is extremely energetic and appears, so far, to have the build of his mother, Paluk. These are all great attributes for a sled dog and think he will do very well in our team.
GP’s name may change. I realized it may not be the best name for a sled dog. We already have trouble with the leaders when we call Tensaw by his nickname, Saw. Okanogan hesitates because she thinks I’m telling her to “haw.” We don’t need further confusion with “gee” by calling out GP’s name. Maybe we’ll start calling him Pig for short but I have a feeling Cobey will not stand for that.
Love your puppas!
Thursday, March 3, 2011
If there is one thing that would keep me from running the 300-1000 mile races, it is the dark (well and the expenses). I like to believe I could handle the lack of sleep and hard toil of the trail/elements. I’ll take a step out on a limb here, though, and admit this on our blog: I am afraid of the dark. So Wednesday evening’s run up Nez Perce with Nicki was a big step for me. After work I took the “mainstring” Tensaw, Kona, Okanogan and Paluk and met Nicki at the trailhead. Since I wanted to give the team, Tensaw in particular, practice with passing we left first. I had to run the team by hers to get to the trail and they did amazingly, especially Tensaw. All four passes (2 from behind, 2 at the trucks) went unbelievably well. Our little sled dog, Tensaw, is all grown up and mature! When all was said and done, Tensaw got lots of love. Mostly verbal, though, because he still stinks of skunk.
But back on the trail…we were maybe 1.5 miles up the trail when Nicki’s team (of 6 Alaskan huskies) caught and passed us. With a team in front of them my four sped up but eventually lost sight of the Alaskans. We (and by ‘we’ I mean the dogs; they did so well!) ran out 2.5 miles. It was very peaceful out and I heard no unnerving animal sounds this time. All I heard was the swoosh of the sled runners, the breathing of the dogs, the crunch of the snow under their paws, and the water in the creek next to the road. We were within a mile of the truck before Nicki’s team passed us again. I was expecting her to pass us earlier and was getting a little worried. It just turns out our team of Siberians were simply running very well. The trail was fast. It was an all around great run!
I took some video. It was with a regular camera and a headlamp so it isn't the best...but still kind of cool.
Love you puppas!
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
On the way out I heard sounds in the woods but by the time I peeled back the layers around my head I heard nothing but the swoosh of sled runners on snow and I figured we must have hit a squeaky patch of snow. On the way back down, though, I heard an eerie screaming sound in the same area. I later learned that mountain lions can sound like a screaming woman or child. I spoke with another musher who had been up there that morning and she told me she spied lion tracks on the road, not far from where I heard the sounds. I’ll need to start practicing my ninja moves with the snow hook.
Sunday we tried a new trail/road closer to our home, up Sawmill creek. Cobey ran the team this time while the young and the old pulled Keegan and I up the road a half mile. Upon Cobey’s return he was happy to report it was a pretty good road, though I still question its braking capacity due to a thin snow pack. Glad, though, that there is an option not as far away as Nez Perce to train the team on snow.
Then last Saturday (Feb 26th) I took a friend’s son out on the sled at Nez Perce. He had a lot of fun, especially when he got to drive the team. “Now I can say I drove a dog sled!” he exclaimed. He and Tensaw also forged a special bond when the boy slipped next to Saw and the husky immediately took the opportunity to lick his face silly. They were practically inseparable after that. Each took a liking to each other.
Until the next post….I will be working the stench of skunk out of my clothes and skin. All I can say is, owning huskies is an adventure….and it doesn’t always smell like roses.
Love your puppas!
Monday, February 14, 2011
Video of Annalisa and the team:
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
As a side note, Cobey and I both follow the NorthWapiti Kennels blog posts and results throughout the season. Karen’s kennel is what we strive to become (probably not as large though). Her Siberians not only finish big races like the Iditarod but are champions in the show ring, good on and off leash, and most of all are family.
Monday, February 7, 2011
On the way home Cobey and I were talking about Tensaw. I’ve been a rollercoaster ride of feelings about Tensaw as a sled dog but I couldn’t help but agree with Cobey Sunday when he said “Tensaw is a sled dog.” He gets so excited to run when you put his harness on. He’s practically jumping out of his skin in the gangline. Once we get going, if he doesn’t get too distracted, he pulls well. He does not appear to be contributing much but he adds a lot of pulling power to the team. When there is slack in his tug line, you notice it. I still worry about his need to socialize with sled dogs at events, his distractibility, and his feet. The structure of his feet concern me and I’m keeping a close eye out for problems, but, lacking in experience on this matter, I can’t say yet whether his feet would be a problem or not. I applaud his enthusiasm and willingness to work, though. That goes a long way in my book.
(Note: I've been meaning to include more pictures and even video clips in my posts but keep forgetting the small camera. Sunday I forgot all cameras. I'll do better...)
Monday, January 31, 2011
…until the team catches her, and then we’ll have to find a new leader.
Monday, January 24, 2011
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Saturday the trail was getting light rain but still in good condition and I decided to run Blue which, in retrospect, was not the best decision. Halfway she was showing her age and was dragging the team back. I considered throwing her in the sled but, because I’ve never put any of them in the sled before, I decided we’d hobble in; it was not the time to test it out. We dropped Blue the next day and ran only Okanogan, Kona and Tensaw. It was raining when we left home and it was raining even harder when we arrived at the race start. All mushers were soaked through before the races began. The race was still on but, because the trail conditions were poor and extremely slow, the mid-distances races were dropped down in mileage. Since we were the slowest team Saturday, as I expected, we went out first in our class. Tensaw did better in the rain that I thought he would but Kona did not like it one bit and shook off every ten steps.
About 200 meters after the turnaround, I came upon three other teams in my class and had near tangles with each of them, no thanks to Tensaw, so I decided to pull the team aside and let them pass, which they most certainly were going to be doing in short order. It was a nice idea in theory except that once I started the team up after the other three passed (two of which were fellow Siberian teams) my dogs found new motivation and stuck right with them. I had to continue to brake the dogs until we made nomad’s land. At this point it was a mess of passing and re-passing, for each time a team would take the lead they would find no more dogs in front of them and they’d slow down prompting another team to pass and run into the same issue. The finish for the three Siberian teams was a photo finish with Deb’s team crossing first. I had an immense amount of fun with Deb and her daughter Sierra who made the trip all the way from Utah, and another young musher and his mom from Potomac, MT. I hope to see them in the future and wish them all the best on their season. Our team, as was predicted by me from the start, won the Red Lantern award (the last team). Despite the weather the Darby Dog Derby was a success. I hope the other mushers felt the same, spread the word and return next year.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Thursday, January 6, 2011
From the moment we put her in harness ‘til the moment we take it off, Kona gives 110%, consistently. When a run is not going smoothly, Kona’s name is rarely called (except when followed by a "good dog"). Sadly, she is often forgotten because, like is said of Barq, you can just put her into the team and forget about her. Usually I’m too busy wondering what Tensaw is distracted by or trying to get Okanogan to ‘gee’ instead of ‘haw.’ Unfortunately, I shouldn’t forget about her, and should instead focus on her, praise her more and let her teach our dogs good behavior in and out of harness. This is what I intend to do. Kona deserves more recognition and this is why I wrote a special post just about her, so everyone could know what an exceptional dog she is.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Monday, January 3, 2011
In mid-December we packed up the truck and headed to Pray, MT to pick up our new dogs, Okanogan and Paluk. The roads were clear and we pounded out the drive, arriving at the Chico Hot Springs Resort, headquarters of the Absaroka Dogsled Treks, by late afternoon. There we met Mark Nardin and he led us to his home and kennel. Mark and Sharon have a well run outfitting business with some very talented dogs (mostly Siberian husky). He led us over to Okanogan and Paluk. Paluk is full Anadyr Siberian husky, 6 years old, noisy and very friendly. Okanogan is an Omar/Ramro Siberian husky, 5 years old, and extremely timid but Mark claimed she is a different dog in harness (and boy was he right). After some introductions, questions and discussions we definitively decided to purchase the dogs and were soon headed back down the road. That night we stayed at a hotel in Bozeman. Letting the dogs out to do their business was a loud endeavor that, I’m sure, caused many eyes to peer out windows; though I avoided checking this notion because ‘if I can’t see it, it isn’t there’.
We are now home forcing this chorus upon our new neighbors. We try to keep them quiet the best we can but sometimes you just can’t stop an eager dog from talking/howling when it’s feeding time. Nor can you stop them when you’re not at home. Though like the old saying (rephrased), “If a husky howls in the kennel and you’re not around, does it make a sound?”
For the inaugural run we went to our old familiar trail, the Nez Perce Road up the West Fork of the Bitterroot NF. In that way, at least the trail was familiar for Tensaw, Kona and I, hopefully making it the easiest place for the new dogs to adjust. The run went really well. We only went 3 miles, too short for the new girls but we did not want to overrun Kona and Saw, who are not in as good of shape. Okanogan turned our team of 4 around with 2 simple commands. “Okanogan Haw” followed by “Come Haw.” I was so impressed I decided then and there my future team will consist of nothing but Okanogan offspring! Paluk on the other hand, while she pulled well, showed no leader qualities on this run. She may need more time to adjust to her new home/team, or she just may not lead for us; only time will tell. Tensaw didn’t have much motivation that day but, like always, Kona pulled hard the entire way.
Since that run Okanogan has struggled to adjust to her new home. She is still nervous and doesn’t have much of an appetite. On runs she will “haw” but not “gee.” I am surprised the more we go out the trail how similar Okanogan and Kona are, which at first I would not have guessed. Okanogan and Kona have similar gaits (same with Tensaw and Paluk) and both are very eager to pull. I look forward to many more runs with these two and the rest of the gang.