Saturday, 11 August 2007

August 11, 2007 Training Begins!

As any of you on our NorthWapiti News mailing list have heard, Ronny left the Kennel this past Wednesday to pursue other adventures. 

We certainly wish him well in his travels.
That has, of course, made us shorthanded – and me overworked – so we are again looking for kennel help. Anyone interested or knowing anyone that might be interested and suitable is encouraged to contact me.
Of course, as soon has we became shorthanded, the temperatures plummeted and I’ve been running dogs everyday this week. Lots of work – but great for everyone spirits!
I had started off this season alittle concerned about what I was going to have for lead dogs this year. Not that I don’t have a lot of dogs that lead – I do, but I’m talking about that ‘superstar’ leader that really ‘make’ a dog team. Grover, Snickers and Kara have been that for us the last few years and with Grover and Snickers gone – and Kara on the verge of retirement, I was really concerned about whether I was going to find THE leader to take this very good pool of dogs over the top. After the last two mornings, I am not quite so concerned! 

Yesterday I hooked Q and Charge up in lead. Their performance was simply dazzling! As stubborn and hardheaded as Charge is, he is very keen to please in lead. He seems to take missing a command very personally and keys well off of his co-leader – all while keeping the same drive and power that made him such an asset back in the team last year.

Q has really stepped up his game this year and is turning into a very solid and dependable young leader. He rarely misses a command and is always leaning hard into his harness. At the end of the run, while Charge constantly had to be reminded to keep the line out tight while I was unharnessing and putting away dogs, Q got sick of being pulled around and finally dropped to the ground in the middle of the trail doing his best impression of a rock. It was a very effective way to deal with his young co leader trying to drag him all over and he got heaped with praise for his inventiveness. 

This morning I tossed young Spider up front with Sprite. As Sprite was off last season raising a litter of puppies, I keep forgetting that she is a young lady coming into her prime. The run was simply flawless. They are wonderfully fast and responsive leaders and it was simply a delight to drive them this morning! I’ve added our dreaded ‘Widowmaker’ trail with it’s steep hills back into our run and was pleased as could be to feel the power coming down the line on those climbs!
Very promising!
As the runs are up to 5 miles now, I’m going to have to drag the water trough back out into the woods sometime this week and start stopping for a nice water break before upping the mileage again.
So, if any of you went to look at my Picassa online album after our PA trip – you will see that we took a detour on the way home to visit Cabelas biggest store, which is located in Hamburg, PA. Truly cool! Before I tell you about the cool things we found there, let me tell you a story about going there.
On Friday, as we were driving from Hamilton down to Niagara Falls we drove through Ontario’s wine country. I do love wine and asked Mark if maybe we could spend Monday night on our way home at a B&B in wine country. Despite not being a wine or B&B guy, he graciously agreed. 

Then right before my talk on Sunday, I heard that we were only an hour away from this huge Cabelas store. When Mark asked on Monday morning what our plans for the day were, I replied “Cabelas” without any hesitation. When we were driving back through PA on our way home later that day, Mark was having a good laugh. When I asked what that was about he said he couldn’t believe that his wife chose a couple hours shopping at Cabelas over an evening at a B&B in wine country. What can I say?? I am what I am!!!!
Anyway, both of us had a blast at the Cabelas store. It is simple HUGE and overwhelming, but despite that I found a number of needed treasures, including a couple new knives and nice new leatherman tool (this one will even cut through cable gangline) to replace the ones I left in Grayling on Iditarod last year. I played with some new LED headlamps, but nothing was top end enough for my needs. However, my favorite new toy is simply too cool not to talk about!! 

I know in the past I’ve chatted on about loving my wireless outdoor thermometer that allows me to check the outside temps in the morning to see if it is cool enough to run dogs without getting out of bed, well, I love it so much that I just couldn’t imagine finding one that I loved MORE – but it has happened. 

See this spring, my weather station somehow got it’s brain fried and keep telling me it was –33 out. I know it gets cool here, but not –33 in MAY! I bought a couple new systems but all seemed to be missing something – like the one that didn’t have a light on it, making me turn on my bedside lamp to check temps, so I had just been sort of making do for awhile until I found a good one. Well at Cabelas I found one that actually projects the time and temperature onto my CEILING!!! How SWEET is that!! Now I don’t even have to dig my arm out of the blankets to turn on the weather station light, I can just open my eyes and glance up at the ceiling! I’m in LOVE!
All else around the kennel is pretty much routine. The pups are all growing like crazy. Klu’s kids are evil with See usually leading on that trail. When I got back from my run this morning, the ‘Crees’ had all dug their way into their Mom’s run (which is right next to theirs) – well all except for Utin – he doesn’t like following his sisters. I think he knows they are bad news! Anyway, Kluane was giving them a pretty rough time and they don’t seem in any kind of hurry to dig under again since I’ve moved them back and filled the hole. I guess Klu figures once they have moved out they should stay out!
Sukih is actually moving to Connecticut to live with former NorthWapiti residents Whinny, Magnum and Flare at Kazlo Siberians. Tara is coming up to the kennel later in September for a visit and will take Sukih home with her then.
The Hillbillies are all weaned, but still hanging out with their Mom. Fritter and Roscoe seem to be the most outgoing kids in that group, but still hard to really tell at this age.
Kara’s little daughter, Beauty is proving to be very aptly named – not only is she gorgeous, she has a tremendous personality. All of those ones look pretty similar, so when friends are over and pick up one of those pups they will inevitably ask which one they are holding. I don’t even look anymore – if one puppy is being held – it is Beauty. She seems to make sure she is always in the right spot to be scooped off the ground.
We actually went ahead and bred one more litter for the fall. I usually don’t breed girls this late in the season and it is unusual for us to have 4 litter in a year, but I really wanted this breeding, so I figured I should just do it. Mom is Olena and Dad is Crunchie! Yes, this will be Crunchie’s first litter. She is due around the 20th of September - I can’t wait. I was thinking yesterday that I could feel a bit of a swell in her belly, but it could still be wishful thinking.

Well, I must run – many kennel chores to get to this afternoon!

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