Thursday, 23 November 2006

November 23, 2006 Matt's Personal Best

The temperature around here has been jumping around like a steelie in a pinball machine. On Monday it was up to 2 C and last night it was down around –29C.

Matt our new handler, who is from the UK (but who has traveled and worked around the world) had never been in anything colder then –10C before his arrival here, so he keeps a close watch on those temperatures, recording new ‘personal bests’ almost daily.

Casey and Finnegan are out in the yard now. Luckily they moved out during our warm spell, so they had a few days to acclimatize before the temperatures began to drop. A lot of straw and their Mommy keep them toasty warm in their doghouse – and they are loving crashing through snow banks during the day.
Matt, Finnegan and Casey - November 2006
Matt, Finnegan and Casey

When I left the yard with a team the other day, Casey came to the door of her house and watched with fascination. Finnegan isn’t as brave as his little sister and settled for Casey’s ‘color commentary’ of the event.

The team is looking really good this year. I’m a little behind my training goals for this season, but ahead of last year’s numbers – and ahead in terms of the drive and attitude of the dogs.
Mark and I made a trip out to Forfar Campground on Sunday and the dogs set a blistering pace over and back. Everyone ate well at the campground and MOST (Vortec and Charge stopped it from being ALL) settled in nicely for a break afterwards.

No chewed harnesses or necklines though! Sweet!

I’m working hard on getting stuff organized for our first race of the season, which will be the Sheep Mountain 150 coming up December 16 and 17th. Looks like border crossings will be a bit easier this year – phew! It’s only Canadian kibble and Canadian beef that they won’t let across the border this year.

Newt is not enjoying his confinement to Fly’s small kennel while his leg is healing and has led most of us on chases around the yard after him. Newt on three legs is still faster then Mark and my two legs.
Chester is doing okay. He has figured out the dog door in the back room and spends a far amount of time hanging out in the outdoor kennel enjoying the snow. He rarely misses the opportunity to mooch leftovers when someone is in the kitchen though. I’ll confess, we are all pretty much suckers for him and he is getting a lot of ‘leftovers’.

I had been hoping to get him out for one more run in harness, but that opportunity may have passed me by already. I know he and I would both love that, but I have to juggle how much of a ‘price’ Chester would pay for such an outing. I wish they weren’t such a stoic breed and would be more ‘honest’ about how they were really feeling.

Have to give a quick ‘Treat’ – the Wildcat update too. She is defiantly getting braver and will hang out in plain sight while we are in the garage. Matt got the brilliant idea to pick her up last week. We should have warned him. “She went bloody MAD” - to put it in Matt’s words. He now claims he is more scared of that little kitten then any of the big, tough sled dogs here. Smart man.

Actually, Mark and Matt actually caught her last night and got some deworming medication down her throat. I wasn’t present but I’m told it was like a scene from Alien. She bit right through the leather glove Mark was wearing, but Matt escaped unscathed.

This morning when we were getting dog food ready in the garage her little black face with glowing yellow eyes glared evilly out from behind bags of dog food.

In closing I want to share a sad story. A week or so back a couple in Thorsby, Alberta that ran a dog sled touring business was killed in a car accident, leaving behind 65 dogs. Rescue groups have stepped up to help care for the dogs until they can be rehomed, but it got Mark and I thinking and talking about what would happen to our dogs should anything happen to the two of us. Of course we know our families understand how much our animals mean to us and would do their best to disperse the kennel as we would have wanted, but really they don’t know the ‘ins and outs’ of the ‘dog game’. It prompted me to speak with a friend that knows us, knows the dogs and the people we deal with well. We asked her if she would be in charge of caring for and placing our companions in the event of Mark and my deaths. She didn’t take the decision lightly and spoke with her husband before agreeing, which was very good. We have since passed along our wishes to our families and provided them with her contact information.

I urge all of you to take a moment to think about what would happen to your pets if you should suddenly pass. Make provisions that they would be cared for and rehomed in a manner that you would want. You owe it to them!

We hope all our American friends had a Happy Thanksgiving!

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