Sunday, December 29, 2013


It's tough to watch our once strong, young dogs age.  Yesterday we ran the team up at Lost Trail on some beautifully groomed trails ( I started with Tensaw and Isis in lead, Flier and Tank in swing and Paluk in wheel.  Tensaw was having a hit or miss day.  He ran the team past a dog on the trail (UNHEARD of for this boy, I was so proud) but kept diving off the trail into deep snow to roll. So unfortunately he lost his spot in lead and Tank joined Isis in lead. It still wasn't great, but at least Tank was keeping us on the trail.

The pace was fast and Paluk was having trouble keeping up.  Unfortunately, I had to slow the team so Paluk could keep going. Paluk has never been a speed demon, more about steady strength than speed, but she has been noticably slower this season. She will be 10 next summer, so it's not overly suprising, but still sad to watch.

This year is a building year so we probably won't do much racing but if we do it'll probably only be the four dog classes in the Darby Dog Derby and/or the Priest Lake Sled Dog Race. The 4-dog team of Tank, Isis, Tensaw and Flier is pretty fast, that would be our best chance of success this season. I dislike racing in the 4-dog class anymore because those races in Western Montana and Idaho are mainly filled with juniors and not considered a serious sprint race category.

Unfortunately on our run yesterday both our cameras decided it was too cold to function, though it wasn't. Sorry, no pictures this post!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Joined by the Little Musher

Today the team and I ran with our little musher (not the littlest musher, he's yet to experience the fun). It was a good run.  There wasn't much snow, but enough to sled on. Good puppas!

Tanks' been quite the leader lately.  He takes a number of corrections during a run to keep focused but other than that he keeps us going and listens to me.  What more could a musher ask for?

(Special feature: conversations with a 3 year old while mushing)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Season Opener

Today we went for our first run on snow of the season. The team is small.  Okie is still weaning her puppies, out of shape and not interested in running with the team.  Blue and Kona are retired and just went for a truck ride.  The boys both did not want to ride in the sled today, so it was just the team and I.  They put in a solid 5-6 mile run and it was enjoyable. Tank did well in lead.

Tank (lead), Tensaw and Paluk (swing), Flier and Isis (wheel), Brandi (musher)

Puppies getting a little running in!

 Go puppies go!
Buzz.  Curious little guy!


Saturday, December 7, 2013


I thought you should officially meet these little ones.  Meet the "Saw Litter"

She is the most active, crazy, playful one of the group.  She's a bieyed sweetheart and loves attention. She's going to be the beauty queen of the group.  Quite a looker. 

This guy is a little more reserved but still affectiate and playful. He is also bieyed.

This big blue eyed boy is the biggest of the group but very shy and takes some time to warm up to you. But when he does, he loves to cuddle and hold on tight.


A blue eyed beauty like her dad (Tensaw).  She is friendly and playful but very polite, with just the right amount of respect for her littermates and humans.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Musher run

We feel its important for the mushers to be in shape too. Hence why I'm out running in 4 degree weather. 

Its important for many reasons: your health, your energy level, your ability to help (run or pedal with) the team when needed, and the better you feel the better you can care for your team. 

Not to mention, if I'm "asking" them to run in this weather, I should be able to do the same. (Note it is really never asking them to, it's letting them)

Love your puppas!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Longer Run

Today we went farther than we've gone ATV training before.  We ran down to Swanson's Orchard.  Somewhere between 5.5-6 miles total.  I know what you're thinking...geez, that's not far. The drivers around here are a bit crazy and fast. There aren't many options around here that don't require at least a few road miles first. This season I'm more comfortable running on the roads. I have trained the team to reliably run on the right side of the road though I'm still not excited about roads. The place I'd really like to run is only 2 miles from our house BUT includes the worst section of road around.  A couple of blind hills driven too fast and reckless by at least half the motorists around here.  I need to be sure my team is 100% dialed to run that (including no deer chasing or dog distractions).
Here we are on the return from the new dog leg we threw in today.
Tank and Paluk in lead.
Nice tight lines!  Good dogs!

Tank is a rather tall boy. I got him a new harness from Howling Dog Alaska. It was great!  The last season I watched as his back legs were forced downward when he ran in the X-back harness. He was unable to fully utilize his stride. I was researching what harness to get him (Seavey, Weight pull, etc) when another musher friend at Sixth Day Sled Dogs suggested Howling Dog Alaska's Ultra Wheel Dog Harness. She got the same for Tank's brother Thor and he'd been doing great in it. Today was our first run with the new harness and it was GREAT to watch his back legs being able to run freely and his backend not forced downward by the pull of the tug line. Thanks Annalisa for the suggestion!

And no post is sufficient these days without the following pictures


Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!! We were the local Thanksgiving parade around the neighborhood this morning. Lots of people out walking and taking pictures as we go by. Even had a van stop to say "That is so awesome!!" It makes me happy to see/hear the local support for mushing!

Team after a good run!

Paluk coming up for air and a photo op.

Jolly boy Flier. He knows how to pose for a picture as well as he knows to pull!

Fluffy Tenny. He struggled today in lead, the people were a tough distraction for him but his biggest trouble were the tiny dogs that came out to harass the team. Still great compared to a couple years ago. He's come such a long way. 


Slobbery boy Tank. Always makes for a nice frosty look. 

Isis does not appreciate photos after a hard run I guess. 

Puppies!! Jig and Whip poking their heads out to say hi. 

Buck wants to say hi too!

So adorable. Buzz was being a bit standoffish. We are 

So Thankful for our family which most definitely includes the 12 furry puppas! Happy Thanksgiving. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Just as Karen said....

We follow the NorthWapiti Kennel blog quite often around our house.  Recently Karen Ramstead posted about one of her dogs she always thought would be a good leader who took some time but finally has shown her leader abilities.  It just takes some dogs a little longer to mature.  I always thought Tensaw would be a good leader and now with nearly 6 years of maturing, he has. And he did so in pure Tenny fashion, with flare!  He impressed me again this morning on our run.  I asked the team to go 'gee.' Paluk tugged the team hard 'haw' toward the usual route but TENSAW pulled HER gee!  What a stud!!
Tank showing off his frosty tipped coat! It's all the rage now!

The team getting snacks after the run!
Handsome boys!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Puppies are Getting Fat

I was gone for 5 days to Washington D.C. for the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene conference. I am rare breed.  Not often do you find an infectious disease researcher mushing dogs.  The locales that usually accompany both these activities are polar opposite.  Infectious disease research is often in the city and mushing in the mountains. Luckily, Hamilton, Montana has a well established laboratory for infectious disease research. As I stood at my poster at the conference, I figured I was the only one of the 3500 researchers there with a dog team at home.

When I returned, the puppies had already grown much bigger, fatter, fluffier and their eyes had opened!! They are so cute! They've also gotten much more vocal. And I love it!

Unfortuately my long absence meant the team hadn't run for 5 days and they were getting very antsy.  So as soon as I could, I took them out and they were much happier.  I sure love watching them work!  It's so natural and beautiful and they love it!

Rohn loves his puppies!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Blog moved

We have moved our blog. It is now hosted by blogger. It can be found at

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Surprise Leader and Litter

When we returned from our anniversary trip to Hawaii we discovered that Okanogan would be having a litter. We believed we'd kept Flier and Tensaw from her but apparently not. This is fine as we wanted to breed her during the last cycle but did not want to leave her during her pregnancy.  While it wasn't ideal, it worked out.  This weekend we got puppies!  Like with Paluk's litter, it took her a while to whelp but she never seemed stressed and was looking/acting fine. She had 5 puppies!  3 males, 2 females all just as squeaky as the next.

We suspect given their colors (but suspected before the whelp given the proximity Tensaw to Okie in the yard) that Tensaw is the sire, though we'll have testing to find out. Two of the pups are black and white, two are silver/dark grey and white and one is red/copper and white.

...Since we're on the subject of Tensaw! Okanogan has been out for our runs early this season as well as Tank (until recently) because of and injury.  This made it difficult figuring out my team combinations.  Isis and Paluk have to have a "layer" of dogs between them so I had to run 4 dogs in a 6 dog formation. Either Paluk could run lead and Isis wheel or the other way around.  I decided I needed a reliable leader, which would put Paluk in lead (Isis will run lead but I can't trust her to not get distracted or keep the team lined).  So that put Isis in wheel.  I want to set Flier up for success for his first runs in lead, so he wasn't going in lead (and probably won't until I get Okanogan back in the team). So I put him in team. So that left Tensaw to run lead with Paluk.  Paluk is a good lead dog but she's more comfortable with another dog, even if they are a complete screw up. They give her the confidence she needs as well as pushing the speed a bit. 

The last time I ran Tensaw in lead was 2 years ago and there's a reason it was that long ago. Back when I still trained with a 3 wheeled cart, I had him running lead with Kona, a sweet dog but kind of a pushover.  We were running along the ditch road and a couple was walking their dog in the empty ditch to stay out of our way.  Tensaw decided he HAD to go visit that dog and pulled the entire team down in the ditch...I just BARELY kept the cart up top, it was a mess to straighten the team out.  I swore never to let him run lead again.  But here I was trusting him, at least this time with a leader who's a good leader trainer.  In fact, Okie and Paluk both seem to need a "project dog" to run with.  By themselves they turn the team around randomly or lack confidence; running with another dog that's trying to pull them after deer, dogs, or smells, they keep the team lined out.

BUT Tensaw hardly even acted like a "project dog." He totally impressed me.  I thought it was an anomoly but I've run him 3 times now in lead and it's all the same.  He's focused, has good speed and drive, and with Paluk keeps the team in line.  AND!!!  He even runs by other (fenced) dogs without hardly batting an eye at them!  SO proud of my Tenny Bear (and his pups!).

We're thinking about theming the litter names after saws.  Such as Buck, Hack, Rip, Whip and Jig.  Appropriate too as they sound like Halloween type names....which was the day before they were whelped!



Tensaw is happy!
Now he's really happy!

Okie with her puppies