Tuesday, 14 September 2004

September 14, 2004 Mud Play

It actually seems a little quiet at the house this morning.

A week ago things were still buzzing around here with our 4th Annual  Fall Warm-Up weekend. This was the best attended and, I think, most enjoyable weekend yet. Everything started up with Kathy and Mike Carmichael and 14 of their Siberians arriving from Utah on Friday afternoon. They were quickly followed by Jackie Wepruk, Rick Austin and about a dozen more Siberians. I was cringing as we were parking trucks in the middle of blueberry patches, but really we had no choice - most of the ground out here is blue right now!

Joining the crowd a little later was Paul Jones with 4 dogs and Lee, Tim and Hunter Vincent in their 'Malamute Motel' with 5 Malamutes.

We were able to get everyone (dogs and humans) fed and well settled before we headed off that evening for a run. The way our trails twist and turn through our land there are lots of 'outs' for people to pick their own run distance, so teams did anywhere from 2 - 4.5 miles that night.

The weather cooperated great for the whole weekend, allowing us nice runs each morning and night. Our ranks were joined throughout the weekend by Scott and Denise Linley; Lorne LeClair; Doug and Sue Gingrich. At the peak, the number of dogs on this chunk of land was well over 100. Lucky we are not close enough to any of our neighbors that that would be a problem! Although I'm sure the area wildlife, including the bear Rick chased off the trail Saturday evening, were put out by the commotion (I'm kind of jealous, I've lived here for something like 6 years and although I see lots and lots of signs - I've never seen a bear here!)

For many of the dogs, including a lot of my puppies and yearlings, this was their first time to pass and be passed by strange teams of dogs. They all did great - although Eeek's eyes almost bulged out of his head when he watched the Vincent's big dogs go by. He didn't know dogs came that big and hairy!!
The weekend was very enjoyable with lots of food - including things like blueberry pancakes, deep fried turkey, Jackie's KILLER Caesar salad, homemade Saskatoon berry wine, and more desserts then you could shake a stick at - much laughter and a lot of dog tales.

Things wound up nicely on Tuesday morning with the Carmichael's and I each taking a team out for a very enjoyable 8 mile run before they packed up to leave. It was a nice conclusion to a hectic, but wonderful weekend. I got lots of emails from folks that attended saying they also had a great time. In fact, Mike and Kathy are even talking about buying land in the area!

Although each year I vow this will be the LAST FWW - I'm now looking forward to the 5th Annual!
The other thing making the house quiet this morning is that all the Moms and pups have now moved out into the dog yard. Since mid July we have had a string of Moms and their kids living in the back room.

First it was Kaylinn and her 'Storm' litter, followed by Olena and her 'Electric' kids and finally Jumpy and her 'Spots'. Watching TV is just that much nicer when you can sneak a puppy out of the back room and snuggle while you do it! Not that the puppies aren't still close by and don't all get their chance to come up and visit, but it is nice when they are all clean and you don't have to put shoes on to get one!
One of my favorite things about having the pups outside is when we are getting ready to run. The puppies pretty much go about their business of playing, paying us hardly any mind while we are hooking up teams. They know that doesn't involve them and they are content to wrestle and romp in their pens. Yet when I call the team up to leave the yard (the main out trail goes right passed the puppy pens), they all rush over and line up at the fence to watch the teams go by. One day, babies!!
I thought I would share a 'Tale of the Trail' that you all should enjoy.

The wet weather around here this year as made for a lot of 'Un-Alberta' like conditions on the trails - namely standing water and mud holes. Normally, I don't have to deal with this kind of stuff till I get to Minnesota in October. In fact, I rarely, if ever wear rubber boots when training at home, yet I live in them in Minnesota (Land of 10,000 Lakes - right! The state is really one big lake with a few high spots.). Anyway, enough of my whining about Minnesota - back to sunny, dry Alberta..

About ½ way through a great training run the other day I decided to head down the highway ditch for the first time this year. My leaders, Kara and young Snickers eagerly took the turn, looking forward to some new trail. Their eagerness quickly became horror when they realized that there was a huge mud puddle covering the trail. Kara, being the little prim Dona she is, spotted a trail that cut off to the left and into a field. Despite me walking up front a number of time to talk to her, she refused to see the point of plunging into the mud and water when there was a perfectly good (at least in her mind) trail to the left. Partway through this process I gained a spectator. It was Barb, the wonderful woman that looks after our dogs and place whenever we are away. I stopped to chat with her for a moment and she asked what exactly I was trying to do.

I gave her my little speech about "mud puddles building character and teaching teamwork'. If I had glanced over my shoulder I'm sure I would have seen the team rolling their eyes and mimicking "Blah, blah, blah." - they just don't see the same value in going through mud that I do. I asked Barb is she would help out and she agreed. I had her block the trail the dogs kept trying to take. "Flap your arms and look mean if they head towards you" were my instructions.

The dogs, of course, didn't buy it and scooted around her. By now we had gained enough ground that things were getting pretty ugly - I wasn't able to put the leaders where I wanted unless I was willing to wade knee deep into ice cold, muddy water - and I was not wearing rubber boots! I decided drastic times require drastic measures and swapped Camilla for Kara in lead. Camilla, who just days ago was rolling in big, sloppy cow pies, decided there was no way she was getting dirty today, and darted to the edge of the mud hole and under a barb wire fence. With Barb pushing from one side and me pulling from the other (while balancing on a clump of grass so I didn't soak my feet), we got everyone extracted from the fence. When I got back to the 4-wheeler I had to leap across water to reach it.
Of course, as I jumped, my supporting foot slipped and I landed flat on my back in the water. I splashed and struggled to my feet with the background soundtrack of Barb's muffled laughter. I squished over and climbed on the 4-wheeler. The dogs swung out into the middle of the puddle and leaned into their harnesses. I'm thinking one of 2 things convinced them do what I had been asking all along. Either A - they wanted me to get wet before they were going to or B -they (and rightly so) figured I was not going to be in a good mood after my swim and it wasn't a good time to push my buttons further.

Anyway, they powered through the mud hole in fine form. I stopped on the other side, squished my way to the front of the team, taking my time to praise everyone and tell them what geniuses they were. I'm sure they were giggling.

The dogs and I would like to take a moment to send congratulations to Siv, the Norwegian Buhund (owned by our dear friend and main sponsor, Dawne Deeley) on being awarded her first Best in Show last weekend. She is now officially known as BIS Ch. Kyon's Freidige Siv. On her summer holidays this year, Siv stopped by the kennel and tried her paw at being a sled dog. Okay, after having a harness put on and poising for a few pictures with Grover, she decided work was not her thing and is now simply offering her services as a coach and motivator.

Congratulations Siv and Dawne - we love you both and are so pleased for you!

All for now!

Thursday, 9 September 2004

October 9, 2004 Minnesota Lineup

Gosh, I hate computers.

This summer has been a string of computer problems for me. I’ve been bouncing from my laptop to my desktop, losing emails and information with every bounce. Finally, a couple weeks ago I broke down and bought a new computer. Nothing fancy, just something that I hoped would be reliable for emails and a few databases. Of course, I got it home, pulled it out of the box and it wouldn’t work. It was a week before I could get back to the city and get it looked at. The dealer declared the hard drive dead and gave me a new machine. *phew* Of course, all my databases, emails, training logs, etc are trapped on my old machine, which is dead – but the tech assures me I will have most of the information waiting me when I get back home from Minnesota.

My laptop was feeling a little unloved with the new desktop getting all my time and such, so it decided to cause a scene just before I packed it up last night. The little flashing balloon asked if I wanted to install a WindowsXP Service Pack update – well, of course I did. Because I am an idiot when it comes to computers, I decided not to do the suggested back up before pushing the ‘install’ button. After all, I was in a hurry to get out in the dog yard. I’m sure you can all see where this story is going – straight to the Computer shop in Athabasca this morning. ‘Luckily’ I’m a good customer and if I beg really hard, he might be able to get the modem working before I leave for Minnesota.

Yes, as I’ve alluded to in the previous paragraph, I am leaving from my annual Minnesota training trip pretty soon. This is always a time of conflict for me, as I love visiting with Jamie, the runs we get in, the camping and watching the baby steps of this group of dogs beginning to gel into a team. However, I hate leaving my husband, my other dogs, and my home. This year is going to be made even harder by the fact that a number of key, key dogs are not traveling with me. Not going to Minnesota this time are Grover, Gus, Camilla, Smiley, Kaylinn, and Olena. It’s not that I don’t expect some of these dogs to make the main string this year – I FULLY expect many of them to make the trip to Nome again (remember Gus and Kara – key dogs in my 2004 team didn’t go to Minnesota last fall) – but experience in Minnesota will be much more valuable to the younger dogs like Jr, Spot, Dasher, Holly and Batdog. It’s also good for me to be forced into working with developing leaders rather then always falling back on the standbys. But it will be very hard to drive out of the yard without them – especially Grover, who I don’t know if I’ve been away from for more then a week in the last 6 years or so.
Mark’s the lucky one in this deal, as he gets some great dogs to run while I’m gone - and NO, he will not be running Grover in lead. Grover is MY leader – right Mark???

Anyway, the 24 dogs heading to Minnesota this year are (in the order they are fed at night!):


I am actually thrilled with the depth of this team and that I can leave so many keys dogs at home for Mark to train and still have 24 strong and capable dogs to take with me. I think it bodes well for our 2005 racing season.

As for racing seasons further down the road…the puppies are doing wonderful. The ‘Storm’ puppies are pretty big and obnoxious. Most of them really remind me of their Daddy, Moses – and that is a good thing in my books. One of the boys will be moving to Saskatchewan next week – honestly, I’m not even sure which one, either Flash or Thunder. Heck, I have till next week to decide!

The ‘Power’ puppies are beyond terrific. I was thinking of selling one or two of the four boys, but I love them all so much, I’m now thinking that may have been a bad idea! Time will tell for sure. There is no doubt in the mind of anyone who has met the litter this summer who my favorite one in that group is though. Sparky (aka “The Cutest Puppy on the Planet”) is one of those really special ones in my book.


When he comes over to say ‘Hi’, he runs at full speed and launches himself through the air when he is a foot or so away. He leaps food dishes, littermates… whatever is in the way with absolute fearlessness and abandon. He then sits in my arms and growls at any of his littermates that try to divert my attention from him. I’ll obviously have to put an end to that all long before he becomes a 55lb racing machine, but right now I’m enchanted by it. Sparky is definitely not leaving!!

‘The Spots’ do have the market on CUTE in the dog yard right now though. Magnum has got to be the most adorable and BADDEST puppy I’ve ever met. He has inherited the evil little eye twinkle that his Daddy, Smiley gives when he’s up to trouble – and both are up to trouble lots. I was sitting with the ‘Power’ puppies the other day when Magnum’s two sisters, Magpie and Piper, finally had had enough of their brother. Next thing he knew he was on the ground with Magpie pulling his tail and Piper working on his ears. I doubt he learned anything from it, but I’m sure the girls will keep after him. Even his Mom got in the game the other night and was chasing him around the kennel and rolling him over onto his fuzzy back to put him in line. It’s pretty hard to stay mad at the goof though.

Little Magpie has caught up with her littermates size wise. She is such a doll. I had her in the house the other night while I was cooking dinner. She was perched on the arm of the couch when Mark got home from work and he mistook her for a stuffed husky for a moment.

I think that is it for this time - I must run into town to get that laptop looked at. Wish me luck!