As it has been a very busy month, I'm going to quickly cover some of the happenings in the kennel of late and then, at a bit later date, share some of the stories in more detail (I got a new laptop for Christmas and I'm going to work on some stories on our drive to Alaska).
Speaking of our drive north. Mark and I leave for Alaska on Wednesday. Caravanning up with Jamie and Ken Nelson, as was originally planned, didn't work out, so Mark is driving up with me and flying home. Lucky for us his shift schedule allows that, as he is on a 6 day off stretch. The house is a disaster of food drops supplies, suitcases, winter clothing and such. I've carved out a small pathway to allow us to find the bathroom and light switch in the morning, but straying off the path will reward you with stubbed toes and bruised shins. Things are bound to get better as the small U Haul trailer (Mark figures the trailer, with it's Texas license plates is actually a Y'Haul ), we rented is sitting out in the driveway waiting to get packed and sooner or later the mess will move from inside to there.
This is actually the first time we have attempted to haul all our gear, dogs and supplies up in one vehicle, but finances and other circumstances dictate we do this this year. We have our fingers crossed that our heavily miled, aging dog truck is up to the task.
A few things have been happening dog wise around here. First off was the arrival of the adorable Spider, or Spidey dog, as she is most often called, from Oregon. Spidey (aka Tumnatki's Ms Muffet of Nwapiti) is from Karen Yeargain's kennel. Her Mom is former NorthWapiti resident KitKat and her Dad is Karen Y's Comet, so she is a Grover grandchild - the first actually! (Hmmm, no wonder I adore her so much).
Spider hasn't been enjoying the bitter cold temperatures in her new Alberta home, but we gave her fuzzy Roary to act has her personal heater and that is working very well. We were worried at first that the older and bigger Roary would push Spider around and not allow her to eat, but the opposite has been true - little Spidey more then sticks up for herself!
Yesterday we dropped Zackery (Kimlan's Xzackeryit of Nwapiti) off at the airport for his flight to Vancouver to visit Cynthia and Kerry Seeley. Zack will be dancing around the show ring with Cyn and Kerry for the time we are in Alaska. He is looking wonderful and we have high hopes for him! (Think Best Puppy in Show, Zack!!).
We are busy making arrangements to get Pirate (Ch. Innisfree Pirate's Treasure) back to the Kanzlers in New York. As many of you remember, Pirate came to us in September of 2002 to try his paw at being a sled dog. He outdid all our expectations, traveled to Alaska with us last winter, and participated in the Knik 200 and ceremonial start of Iditarod. Although he has now been cut from the Race Pool, I think this boy has more then proved his worth as a sled dog. I will miss him dearly.
What else..?? Hmmm.
Christmas was good. Mark worked most of it, but we still managed to have a turkey and exchange a few gifts. No tree though. I do miss that every year, but things are so hectic for us at this time, it just doesn't make sense. Santa was very nice to me (I must have been very good this year) and I got a new laptop. Good for all of you that read my diaries, as the 's' key on the old one wasn't working anymore (among other problems) and I waz going to have to ztart uzing 'z's' inztead of 's'. Would have made for hard reading, I'm zure.
I also got a rearview mirror for my 4-wheeler (I'm just loving this - don't know how I ever got by without it), an electric boot dryer (way, way cool) and a bottle of my favorite liqueur - a blend of Rye Whiskey and maple syrup (how Canadian, eh??)
We had an interesting run happen right after Christmas. We were looking after Mark's brother's dogs while they were in Calgary for the holidays. They live 13 miles away by the roads, so one evening we just ran the dogs over, fed their labs, borrowed the bathroom and ran home. The next day we planned a longer trip - running a 37 mile route to Kelly's, planning on resting 4 hours in their house and running 25 miles or so home. It was dark at 6 pm when we pulled into the yard. We fed dogs and got them settled out behind the house where we could keep an eye on them, then headed inside.
It was a cold evening and we shed most of the layers we had piled on to stay warm. As we walked upstairs I commented to Mark how cold it was in the house. Imagine our surprise when we discovered it was 5C (42F) in the house. BRRRR. Turns out the furnace had quit. Luckily, hubby put on his Electrician cap and had it humming again after an hour or so. Just about the time it was getting warm in the house, it was time to head home! So much for a warm napping spot on our trip - but lucky we went in and took off most of our winter clothing or we might not have noticed how cold it really was!
Running now has slowed down a bit (in frequency and miles) as we sort out and organize things for our trip. But the dogs are still in tremendous condition, full of beans, and just where we want them to be in their training.
The main string went into the vet for their pre Alaska checkup and blood work on Wednesday. Luckily for me, dog show friend Teri (after a little whining and bribery from me) agreed to help out and we got a nice 'production' line of dogs going through the clinic being weighed, having hearts listened to, temps taken, general checkup and blood work.
Every one checked out very well. Orion had one 'bobble' in his blood work and we are going in tomorrow for a recheck on that. Hopefully it is nothing.
Thought I would share some stats with you all on the team. First off, the pool is down to 24 dogs - Grover, Smiley, Nik, Surge, Hector, Squeaky, Orion, Moses, Chester, Loki, Odie, Herman, Gus, Kobuk, Draco, Denali, Crunchie, Kara, Kaylinn, Olena, Nahanni, Sprite, Camilla and Hilda. One more cut will have to be made to get it down to 20 before Wednesday.
a.. Average weight - 47 lbs.
b.. Heaviest dog - Draco and Kobuk 58 lbs
c.. Lightest dog - Sprite 36 lbs.
d.. Oldest dog - Kaylinn born May 27, 1996
e.. Youngest dog - Herman, Hector and Hilda born August 28, 2001
f.. Average age - 5 years
g.. Number of veterans - 17
h.. Number of rookies - 7
As I believe I've mentioned here before - I couldn't be happier with this group of dogs. They are the best team I've ever brought to Alaska. They are mature, capable, strong, healthy, and well on the path to be ready for Iditarod. I smile whenever I speak of them!
Anyway, I need to get back to packing. I will try and get one more diary entry out before we leave, but if I don't - I will speak to you all from Alaska.