Saturday, December 31, 2011

Long drive but great snow

The 7 dog team and I joined Nicki's team today for a GREAT 8 mile run near Lost Trail Pass! Okie's been kind of in a leader funk lately but she showed her skill today. They all did great. I think snow and a new trail helped them all!




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

Sled went for a ride

The dog boxes are finished and the equipment is ready but the snow is pathetic. Fortunately, a fellow musher suggested a trail that might have decent enough snow to sled. With that inkling of hope, Nicki, Annalisa and I, as well as our teams, headed for Lolo Hot Springs/Fish Ck Rd.

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

Dog cart ride

We had another visitor to our home this weekend and so the dogs and I took Suzy for a spin. We decided to hook up 5 dogs to make the hump up the hill. Okanogan, Paluk, Tensaw, Shilah, and Tank were the chosen ones. The team made the first turns with 5 dogs smoothly, Suzy hopped on after the "treacherous" turns and we were off. Tank and Shilah were not doing well in the wheel position where they started. They were pulling on the right side of the road while Okie was leading on the left which caused Ten and Paluk to lose pulling power. A quick switch of Ten and Luki to wheel and the puppies behind Okie fixed things nicely we had more power as well as Tank and Shilah were learning to follow the lead dog better. I believe Suzy had fun, I sure did and the dogs always do. Thanks for joining us Suzy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Never thought I'd say this...

Don’t get me wrong, I love the snow but this last week I hated the snow (in the valley). We only have a training cart and a pretty gnarly hill we have to climb and descend during training runs. I had been unable to run the dogs for a week because of snow on the ground. As well, we unfortunately live quite a distance (at least 1 hour) from the current sled-able snow and we both work during the week making it difficult to get to snow. But yesterday it finally melted off the roads and we went for a spin! Ah, so great! The dogs and I need that.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Proud as punch

Sunday was a fun day. Annalisa, Nora and Thor came to run with us today. Nora was put in lead with Okanogan and Thor was put in wheel with Paluk. I drove the team out and around the first two (somewhat dangerous) corners where Annalisa then took over driving the team up the hill while I followed behind. At the top of the hill, Annalisa hoped onto the “seat” of the cart and I drove the team out. Nora and Thor did very well for the first time in the traces of the cart. Nora joined us once last winter out on the snow, so it wasn’t her very first time in the traces, nor was it Thor’s first time being harnessed. Far from that, Annalisa has been bikejoring and canicrossing with the two. They transitioned quite smoothly to carting and I think had a great time. Annalisa ran the team home on the flat while I took over the trickier, downhill section at the end. They all (Annalisa included) did great!

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

Training all season

Every morning for about two weeks now there has been crispness in the air, telling the dogs and I it’s time to start training. As Cobey and I both work full time and we have a little almost 21 month-old, it can making training a bit difficult.Usually, I’ll run the dogs with the cart though I can only take four out at a time. I’ve been known to take five at one time, but that is extremely dangerous with the corners we take right “out of the gate.” Cobey and I have been discussing getting an ATV to train the team. As much as we want to resist the ATV, we’ll likely get one. There are reasons many kennels use ATVs for dryland training and we’re beginning to realize them.

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

Here we go again!!!

We've been running!! This season's going to be great! A full team from the beginning of fall and a cart to train dryland. So exciting!!!! Check back soon for more!



Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The season of the sled is coming!

♪♫ It’s starting to look a lot like♪♫….MUSHING! Well, okay, around our place it may not look a lot like mushing season, especially due to all the smoke from the multiple fires burning on the forest but it is beginning to feel like fall in the mornings. SO…on Sunday we busted out the cobwebbed cart and took the dogs on a run! My friends, the Larimer’s, were visiting so the dogs and I took Victoria along for a ride. I believe she enjoyed herself and we hope they come back to visit in the winter when we can show them real dogsledding! Yay!

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


It’s been a while since I posted. Summer usually does that to a sled dog kennel. Especially the hot summer we’ve been having lately. It’s late but it’s here and we are reminded by the smoke that fills the valley from the surrounding seasonal fires. The dogs mostly lay around and pant. In the evening they get a little more active and play. We’ve made some improvement on the dog yard. Thanks to a much better fencing company in the valley we added another dog yard. The first yard fencing was pitiful and in some places had 4-5 inches of space between the bottom of the fence and the ground; even after clearly expressing our intentions for the yard. The fence around the newest yard is flush with the ground. It’s not Siberian proof by any means, but it does the trick so far with the well trained ones. We plan on burying boards around the base and getting a better gate, though.

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


It’s been a rather cool spring around the Bitterroot valley enough so that some mornings I take the team out with the cart or I get home from work and canicross with 1-2 of the dogs. This is basically the same as skijoring but instead of skiing behind the dog(s) you run. The runner has a belt that connects by a line to the dog in harness.

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

Chickens Take 2

This weekend we were given 4 new egg laying chickens from some fellow Siberian owning friends. These chickens are very different than the ones we had before. Which ended badly, no thanks to Ninja dog, Paluk, and retiree, Blue. We will be much more careful this time around. We checked and double checked the chicken coop and they are secure. Paluk no longer has her puppies and has been returned to her chain. And we're keeping a close eye on Blue (and the rest of the pack for that matter) but after the chicken fatality she caused in the last flock, she understands they're off limits. We sure are enjoying fresh, home grown eggs again though! (Thank you for the chickens fellow Sibe friends!)

Saw wants to be a Pretty Sled dog by being a sled dog and a show dog!

And a smile to seal the deal!

Isn't Tank so cute!


Blue and Isis laying in symmetry.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Powered By Dog

Neighbors here in the Bitterroot have Belgian draft horses and, with the coming of spring, drug out the farm implements, hooked up the horses and began tilling the fields. These same people also use their horses for pulling carriages. I applaud them and others who use their animals for the purposes they were bred for. It’s healthy for the animal and makes them happy. This is partly the reason why we got into dog sledding. Not only are the dogs happier since we’ve started sledding and dry land training regularly but they listen and behave better too.

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

Our Thoughts, Exactly

Brandi found this article. I don't know how, you will have to ask her. Its a great news piece about the merits of running Siberians.

Siberian Stalwarts - Alaska Star


On Monday I took the team out afterwork. I hooked up the 5 (Okanogan, Paluk, Kona, Tensaw and Isis). The first turn out of the driveway is a dicey one with 5 dogs but during the previous five attempts the cart has stayed upright and I’ve managed to stay on. This time was a little different. Paluk decided to go to the left of the mailbox instead of right like the rest of the team and she snapped the mailbox post in half and out of the ground! It scared the bejimmies out of her (the team and I) and she popped out of harness and ran back to the dog yard. In the process, the cart flipped on its side and I hit my chin on the handlebars yet managed to get off still standing on my two feet. (I’m very thankful I wear a helmet…just in case that had been worse). After much work, I got the team turned around (Okie didn’t want to go back…she was ready to run). I was just going to give up for the night since nothing from the start was going too well. But Cobey had already wrangled up Paluk and put her back in the yard and said “well are you going?” So I thought, the dogs are fired up, I might as well. So the 4 and I took off. The run was pretty uneventful from there and all were glad we did so (except for Paluk, because she got left behind and was none too pleased about it).

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

Red Lantern

This weekend was a lot of fun on and off the course. The team and I went down to Stanley Idaho for the 2nd annual Stanley Dogtown Rendezvous. Twenty-nine teams signed up. Four teams were signed up in the 8 mile (4 per day)/4-dog race that I was doing. My other three competitors were juniors. They weighed much less than me and had much faster dogs. Not that I cared, we’re not out there to win, we’re out there to meet other mushers (and dogs, according to Tensaw), enjoy the atmosphere/scenery and watch my beautiful dogs do what they do best, run.

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

Eight Weeks Already?

Tensaw, Kona, Okanogan, Paluk and I (Brandi) will be traveling to Stanley, Idaho this weekend with a few other mushers from the Bitterroot Mushers to race in the second annual Stanley Sled Dog Rendezvous. My team of 4 and I will be competing in the 8 mile race (4 miles Saturday & 4 miles Sunday). This is my second race (of the season and mushing career) and first race away from home. I’m looking forward to it; it should be a fun weekend. Check back next week for results.

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

First Night Run

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

Last few runs

It has been some time since my last post. Sorry. Saturday Feb 19th we ran Nez Perce (again….can you tell this is the best trail to run around these parts?). We went nearly 6 miles and once again, they all did so well. They sure love to get out and run. You should see Tensaw freak out in line waiting to run.

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

The Beginning of a Dog Sledding Addiction

This weekend the temperatures jumped up into the 50’s and 60’s in the valley and 40’s in the mountains. It was almost too warm to run the dogs but was still cool enough that they could go a few miles. They needed to run, so we packed the dogs up Saturday and went to Nez Perce Road. Isis and Blue got to run a short ways with the team Saturday and they thanked us afterwards with big, tired smiles. Sunday I met up with a wonderful family and longtime Siberian owners to take their daughter, Annalisa, and her Siberian Nora out for a run. Okanogan was in lead, Kona was next to Nora in swing and Paluk and Tensaw were in wheel. Nora was not quite sure about running in a team at first but quickly discovered that it was quite fun. I drove the team up about 1.75 miles and Annalisa rode in the basket. We turned around, switched places, and she drove the team back. We quickly came upon her family skiing up. Nora decided to show them how well she could tangle a team, which is a real shame because she did so well before and after that pass and they didn’t get to see it. She had decided Kona and her needed to play at that moment. Kona did not think it was the best idea hence why I put Nora next to Kona; she won’t play in harness but is tolerant too. After we untangled the team, we continued back to the truck without incident and Annalisa got to feel the thrill of dog sledding. The last stretch home I got off the sled (making a much lighter load) and let Annalisa drive the team the rest of the way to the truck. Everyone did great, especially Nora, who was in the traces for the first time, and Annalisa, who drove a dog team for the first time. I look forward to more outings with Annalisa and her hardworking sidekick, Nora.

Video of Annalisa and the team:

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Many of you may not have heard of this and some may have. A serious affront to sled dogs and humane mushers occurred last year and was brought to light last month.  As I can do no better than what Karen Ramstead of NorthWapiti Kennels posted on Tuesday I will simply refer you to her blog.

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

Six Dog Team

This weekend we finally got out on the snow again. It was great! The trail was beautiful, peaceful and perfect. Saturday, I ran Okanogan, Tensaw and Kona and they did great. I was kicking myself when I got back to the truck, though, because we only brought those three and it would have been a great day to put Isis in the traces for a short jaunt. Sunday we returned to the trail with the same conditions which was perfect because this time we brought along all six dogs. Paluk has been ready to start running again, Isis is old enough for short runs, and Blue can handle short runs so she came too. Cobey took Okie, Saw, Kona and Paluk out first for a few miles and came back with a big smile on his face. No surprise there, running dogs is fun. Then I took all six out. Saw and Blue were in wheel, Isis was next to Kona in swing/team, and Paluk and Okanogan were in lead. Isis did great! She didn’t even chew her harness or lines after I put her in the team. She tried to play with Kona at first but Kona was all about working and ignored her. While the team was running I was all smiles. Isis ran well and seemed to really enjoy it and Blue was doing great. I could really get used to running six (or more) dogs. But I’ll have to calm down a bit. It won’t be until next season that Isis can consistently run more than a few miles, Blue can only do one or two (this season, who knows about next), and it will be a bit before we expand the kennel again.

(Keegan and the team)
(The team returning from Saturday's run)

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.

(Okanogan, Tensaw and Kona after a great run)
(Keegan and his "Nuk" looking at the team)

(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

New Leader

We have a new leader. Her name is Montana. You should see her run. She runs like it is the most important thing to her. She can really motivate a team; when she’s got the fire to run so does the team. When she gee’s, they gee; when she haw’s they haw. It’s beautiful teamwork and it’s exactly what you need in a leader. I think with her we’ll go far…

…until the team catches her, and then we’ll have to find a new leader.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Training Run

This weekend we were unable to get out to the snow (which is probably still in poor condition anyways), so we did some cart training from the house. Since we recently moved into the neighborhood, we are still scouting the best places to train. Saturday we went out along Summerdale Road to get to Soft Rock Road. It is a stressful run because of the blind hills, cars on the main road, and many horse/dog/llama distractions along the way. Once there, though, soft Rock Road is a fairly good, dirt road run with few cars but the slight incline makes it a bit challenging with only 3 dogs. Let’s just say there is a lot of running behind the cart to help keep them moving. Sunday we ran up Peppergrass to the canal road (going south). It is quite a haul to get up Peppergrass, and all (musher included) were extremely fatigued at the top. Once we got on the canal, though, was a great run! The south canal road is flat and dirt; much better for their paws than chip seal and gravel roads. There are minimal or very distant distractions, no cars to worry about, and it is so peaceful. I loved it and will be running there more often. The only down side to the south canal run, though, is that about three quarters a mile down the way the road is broken where the canal meets a small draw. I was hoping to take it all the way to Soft Rock for many more run options (running farther along the canal, running Soft Rock Road, and running on the state land recreational use trails/roads). There may be an option to run down a rudimentary road to the bottom of the draw and back up but I need to speak with the landowner first. The north canal run is an option but it will be a bit more eventful as there is a pasture of 10-15 llamas. For some reason, the dogs are more fired up about these Dog Killing Llamas than any other animal in the world. Until next time!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Drying Out from the Darby Dog Derby

Now that the lines, harnesses, bags, boots, clothes, dogs and musher are drying, it is time to write about our exciting and soggy weekend. This weekend we competed in the Darby Dog Derby. The event included 8 dog/26-mile, 6 dog/14-mile, 6 dog/7-mile (no participants), and 4 dog/4-mile races as well as a 4-mile skijor. Fourteen mushers and three skijorers showed up and showcased their talent. Our team competed in the 4 dog/4-mile race. It was our first race and it couldn’t have been any more fun. We met many mushers including Trent Herbst an extremely friendly and inspirational Iditarod veteran and his daughter Lila, also racing for the first time.
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


Scratch that...8 puppies (so far).  So apparently I was a bit premature in posting yesterday.  Paluk is taking her sweet time whelping her puppies.  I want to say she's done now and resting but she's proven me wrong before.  They are the cutest little things I've ever seen.  I've included yet more pictures because pictures are the best part.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Puppies have arrived

Paluk, such a brave, tough little mommy, had her puppies last night.  Four healthy, squeaky little bundles.  They had more fur and color than I thought they'd originally have.  She stayed up all night licking each and everyone numerous times over.  I've included some pictures but they aren't the best.  Paluk was a tad nervous when I'd pick them up.  I do understand her though and only picked each up for a short time to check them over (and take these pictures).  Keep checking back for more pictures.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I was cruising about checking out the North Wapiti Siberians today (like I do many days). I was reading about their dog, Barq. On his profile it says "he is one of those dogs that you can just put into a team and forget about. He just goes about his job without question or complaint." This comment made me think of Kona. I had to double check and make sure it wasn’t Kona’s profile I was reading. She is a wonderful dog and too often I take this for granted.

When I first met Kona she quickly became my least favorite of Cobey’s three Siberians because she did my biggest doggie pet peeve (pun intended), she jumped on me. But after a few years of constantly having my attention drawn towards the idiosyncrasies, quirks, and bad habits of the other dogs, I came to realize (long awaited for by Cobey) that he was right, Kona is the best dog. Kona is extremely smart, exceptionally friendly (hence the jumping, she wants to be your friend that bad), the best listener, and the hardest worker.


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

More Puppies!

In a few weeks our team will be running in the Darby Dog Derby. It is a local race in the Bitterroot National Forest put on by the Bitterroot Mushers. I entered the team into the 4-dog, 4-mile race. Last week I took our two newest dogs to the vet to get their vaccinations and as I sat with Paluk (see pictures above & below) in the waiting room I began to think the barrel shape I thought was a part of her confirmation might actually be a pregnant belly (especially since it appeared bigger). Minutes later my suspicions were confirmed and I was getting a crash course in pregnant dog care and whelping. Since that day Paluk’s pregnancy has become glaringly obvious and she is no longer training with the team. After contacting Mark, we learned of the date of conception and determined she is due the weekend of the Darby Dog Derby. We prepared a whelping box last weekend and have been feeding Paluk more in preparation for her puppies. Winter is not the ideal time for a litter of pups, especially since it’s been especially cold the last few weeks. I’d love to keep the puppies, or at least 3 (so Cobey and I could each have a 4 dog team next season) or at least one. The more I say that the more raised eyebrows I get from Cobey. And I know my comments are wishful thinking because we are not yet set up and prepared for 9 dogs. Hopefully we can find good homes for the puppies. If you’d be interested in one of the puppies please contact us at

Monday, January 3, 2011

Building the Dream

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.