Monday, 27 February 2006

February 27, 2006 Rookie Handler (Round II)

With less than a week to go before the start of Iditarod 2006, it's all business as we get ready for the start of the big event. I thought I'd take the opportunity to do a diary entry and fill you in on life with the NorthWapiti kids.

Last week the temperatures were above zero and with little snow, the ground was pretty much a skating rink, particularly the dog yard. While the Olympics were on, Karen and I joked that the dogs had taken up a new Olympic sport - dog dish curling. The ice in the dog yard left it hard to find a safe place to securely land a metal feeding dish. The feeding routine involves Karen dropping dishes of kibble and me coming along behind and filling the dishes with "soup" which is a mixture of meat (beef or chicken), supplements and water. Karen and I feed the Ramstead woofs twice a day - Karen drops the dishes with kibble while I follow behind and pour soup over the kibble. With the ice, the filled dishes often take off sailing down a bump while the dogs watch on in disbelief . Some of the little darlings like to spill their soup-filled bowls onto the ground then lick up the mixture out of the snow. Snickers and Jinx (yes girls, I'm naming names), are the most skilled at this and despite efforts to keep an eye on them, they always manage to find a split second when we aren't looking and the dish is upside down with a sea of soup spilled into the snow. They look very innocent when we inquire as to how the dish landed upside down.

A couple of hours after feeding, Karen and I head out and hook up a team. Once they are on their way, I "shovel the yard" (transition scoop poop), spend some time with the dogs and do various chores.

Everyone in the yard gets a massage and hugs as I make my way around the yard with my trusty scooper shovel in hand. Junior gets my vote as the best hugger, although Karen assures me Draco is the King in that department. Draco and Surge are the "veterans" in the yard and have been reserved about the amount of attention they pay to the "rookie". It is my mission before I leave on March 6 to convince them that I am worthy of their approval. I have a lot of work ahead of me!!!

Junior and Q have been renamed Heath and Jake, the characters in the Broke Back Mountain movie. They are neighbors and spend hours playing together - I'll leave the rest to your imagination.
Q has been renamed Q-tip. While I was visiting with him one day he proceeded to remove my hat and clean my ears. It occurred to me that I wouldn't need to use a Q-tip, and then I thought hey maybe that is what inspired Karen to name him Q.

I could go on and on about each dog, but there aren't enough hours in the day. Each one has their own unique personality and his their little quirks that make them who they are. It is clear that a lot of time and attention has gone into making these dogs happy, well adjusted members of the Ramstead family. They are always happy to see humans and more than willing to take any attention you give them.

I am having a blast and can't believe we have less than a week before the start of Iditarod. This morning we are off to Wasilla for vet checks, so it will be a busy morning. I have been keeping my own little diary so I will be able to remember all of the details when I get back to Saskatchewan. I'll be sure to send more bits as time allows.

Colleen Hovind (aka "the rookie")

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