Yes, that is the new dog truck and this was its inaugural trip. It has been so long in getting ready - heck, it took us a full year from buying it to getting it 'dog ready' - that I felt like breaking a bottle of champagne on the side of it before we left the yard, but it would have just made a mess - and besides, we are too broke from building it to afford champagne - even Baby Duck!
Now Mark is going to do the real diary entry on details of the truck and it's creation, but I need to tell the story of a special friend that actually is the reason we will be able to travel to Alaska and down the Quest Trail at all this year.
See to begin with Mark had a cabinetmaker that he works with building the dog boxes for us. They had discussed details and even bought some material when he asked Mark if he could put off the truck for a bit to focus on a few other projects he needed to get to. He assured us the boxes would be ready by September 1st though.
As September crept closer we got nervous. Mark talked to the carpenter a few times and he was solid on the fact that it would be done at the beginning of September, so imagine our horror when on September 10th he admitted he hadn't even started the boxes and he was leaving the next day for 3 weeks in Disneyland.
It became apparent very quickly that not only was my October training trip to Minnesota in jeopardy, but so were our winter plans.
We had one hope...back when we first bought the truck, our first choice to build the boxes was our friend, Roger Morey. Many of you may remember that Roger has done a lot of carpentry projects for us over the years - including giving our old dog boxes a makeover for our first Iditarod.
Roger is the mastermind and creator of our, now trademark, often photographed maple leaf cut-outs on the doors of our boxes. However, for reasons Mark and I completely understood, Roger wasn't able to take on the project at that time. Now, turning to him seemed our only hope to salvage our race season.
I talked to Roger, offered to hire helpers for him, whatever we needed to do to get the boxes built. He said he'd talk to his wife, Pauline and think about it. We understood (Roger is the busiest retiree we know!) - but spent 2 days barely breathing, we were so scared he wouldn't feel able to take the project on.
When he called and told me he and Pauline would pick up the truck on Monday, I was so relived I could have peed myself. He also turned down our offer of help - they would do it on their own.
Everything was going along great, and then Pauline called to say Roger had ruptured a disc in his back and was in the hospital. When Mark and I stopped by to visit him there, all he could talk about was getting the truck done on schedule. We assured him we would just rather he worked on healing - whatever happened with the truck happened. It wasn't near as important as his health.
Stubborn old farmer didn't listen to a word we said and in no time was hunched over the new doors, stoned on painkillers, but painting away.
We protested - I appealed to Pauline, who rolled her eyes and said he was better to live with when he had something to do, and besides, "If he wasn't doing the boxes, he be doing something else".
A few weeks later, I stepped out of my office to find the finished truck sitting in our driveway.
And the bill that later followed it was ridiculously small for the work that was done.
There are times when 'Thank you' just doesn't cut it - this is one of those. But we are going to say it anyway.
Thank you Roger.
PS. A picture of the new truck may be found at Sled Dog Central. More (many more, I'm sure) to follow!
Some pictures of our visit to the vet
Vet Techs attempt to draw blood from Sprite
Dr. Tannis Jackson holds Nahanni as vet tech, Nicki draws blood
Tannis listens to Kara's heart
Kara about to get blood drawn
Tannis examines Snickers