Monday, 1 May 2006

May 1, 2006 Dog Yard Changes

I was shocked when I realized today that it has been over a month since we got back from Alaska. For the amount I’ve accomplished, you would think it has only been a couple weeks. Motivation and enthusiasm has been alittle slow coming back this spring! Oh well, slowly, but surely I’m getting there.
I know of greatest interest to most are the dog changes that have been occurring in the yard. This is always a time of re-evaluation and reconsideration of all the dogs in the yard – this year especially so, as I reported when we first got home, the kennel was bursting at the seams.

The first to leave will be a surprise to many – and definitely was the hardest parting for me - Skor went to New Hampshire to live with Kim and Kelly Berg. In order to make room for exciting new young dogs in the yard, it happens that we occasionally have to place some good, experienced dogs. Skor fit the bill, as although he has been a solid leader for me, finished a number of mid-distance races, and started 2 Iditarods with me, I felt he had a few physical limitations that made the kind of racing Kim and Kelly are doing a better fit for him.

I’m always asked how we are able to part with puppies, as they are all so cute and cuddly, but I’ve got to say, parting with dogs that have been part of our lives for a long time – and that I have numerous shared adventures with – is, by far, the hardest for me. Many tears were shed as I loaded Skor into his crate and turned him over to Air Canada.

Also making the trip down to the Bergs was Rainy. Rainy has turned into a gorgeous girl, but the tip of her left ear just refused to stand up. After a good amount of thought and discussions with Mark, I decided that the criticisms and accusations I was likely to incur running a dog with a flopped ear were not something I wanted. A tough decision, but one that I think is the right one for our team and kennel.
Both Skor and Rainy are settling in well at Kelim Siberians, as we knew they would.

Fill in Handler Extraordinaire – Colleen Hovind made a trip up to the kennel to pick up her and hubby, Marty’s 4th NorthWapiti kid. Well, that was the plan, but it ended up being their 4th and 5th addition – as Colleen left with littermates Doc (the planned addition) and Calypso (the unplanned addition) from Tolsona’s surprise winter litter.

Colleen reports all is going well with the kids, although the ‘evil gene’ does make occasional appearances.

Next to leave was another of Tolsona’s ‘Villians’. Although the biggest in the litter at birth Cassandra Nova (aka Nova) went on a hunger strike at a young age. Despite a clean bill of health from our vet, she just kept wasting away until Anna Husch took over and began hand feeding her. Luckily, Nova again started eating on her own and hasn’t looked back since, but the episode left her considerably smaller then her littermates – and firmly earned her a spot in Anna’s heart. So, it was only right that Nova has moved across the highway and into the Husch household.

We haven’t seen Anna since she picked up Nova, but her brother Marcus stopped by to visit on the weekend before heading into the bush for his summer job (he just finished his first year of the Forestry Program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology) and reported that Nova is one very spoiled pup. We expected no less – and I kind of think this was Nova’s plan all along.

This past week saw two more dogs leaving – but kennel numbers only dropping by one, as Donna Finner accompanied Chester back from his 6 month vacation in New Hampshire. Donna stayed for a nice 5-day visit at the kennel before heading home with her and husband, Doug’s newest addition, Koyuk. She also took home for us Kluane, who will be visiting the Twin’s (Kim and Kelly) kennel for the next year or so.

My stress level is lowering as the numbers work their way back down to our ‘normal’, but watch for a few more of the kids to be leaving in the next month or so.

Looks like there will be some new additions soon too. As some may remember, Hilda was bred to Draco while I was on Iditarod this year. Although she is not due for another 11 days – she has a HUGE belly. It will be interesting to find out how many she is hiding in there!

Mark, myself, Snickers, Kara, Nova (before she left), Lexx, and Mystie went into St. Albert a week or so ago to do a presentation to Mrs. Surmon’s class (and a few other classes) at Muriel Martin School. We – and particularly the puppies – had a blast. The kids were obviously excited, asked thoughtful questions – and rocked when answering questions (for dog booties) at the end of the presentation.
I got a terrific and fun thank you card from them in the mail on Friday, so I think they had a good time too!

Despite everything that has been going on, I have managed to get a number of runs in with the dogs. The Iditarod crew loves the short 3 – 5 mile trips with the puppies – and the puppies are doing really well. I’ve not worked my way through all yet, but I imagine all last year’s pups will get a chance to test their ‘sledding legs’ in the next few weeks.

We have a number of fantastic ‘2 year olds’ (I consider all dogs that will be turning 2 this year to be ‘2 year olds’) coming up into the main string that I’m very excited about. Watch for stories of Watt, Runner, Charge, Boom, Lingo, Tess, Piper, Spider, and Pacer soon.

Next weekend Kara and I are going to be hitting the show ring in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Although most of the kennel is starting to blow their winter coats, Kara is being nice and hanging onto hers alittle longer – so maybe we stand a chance of having a decent weekend.

I finally got sick of spending a bunch of bucks on photofinishing, broke down and bought myself a nice digital camera – so watch for some updated pictures of the dogs on the website soon!
Well, I think that brings everyone pretty much up to date on happenings in the yard. I promise it won’t be a month before I up date you all again!


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