Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Cleaning the 'Blog' House

I realized there are a bunch of little odds and ends that I have forgotten to mention over the last month or so, so I thought I'd do a bit of a disjointed entry cleaning up alot of those things. To start off though, here are some pictures from my run yesterday.

It was a beautiful, but bitter cold day - and the camera froze up less then 1/2 hour out, so these are all the pictures I was able to get.

Flash and Newt in wheel

Today was warmer, but snowing like crazy, so not good for pictures!

A picture in one of my recent Picasa entries has gotten alot of interest and questions coming my way. "What exactly is that white thing 1/2 way down the line?"

It's a toggle. Toggles were used in the days before metal snaps were around. Usually they were made of ivory, bone, or wood. Once snaps became common toggles basically vanished from the mushing scene, but like bell bottoms and tunic tops, what is old often becomes new again.

I've spoken with a few mushers over the years that use them and most really like them. They are alittle lighter then a snap, cheaper, easier to work with gloves on and don't freeze up like snaps do.

I've been playing with a few of them in my set up (made of UHMV plastic to add that modern touch) to see if I like them - and so far, I do, but I'll be testing them awhile longer before making any decisions about switching everything over.

As for why the toggle is in the middle of the line - all my snaps are in that location. I have a 18" line that is attached to my harness loops and then my tug lines are just 31". Having the snap (or toggle) back away from the dog generally means the snaps don't get dog poop on them as much. A definite bonus, as I'm sure you can all imagine.

I've been running my lines like this for about 4 years. I can't take credit for thinking of setup myself - I stole it from my buddy, Doug Grilliot.

Mentioning Doug gives me a nice segue into my next topic....
As some of you may know, Doug is returning as Race Marshall for the Yukon Quest (the big Quest, not the 300) again this year. A number of months ago he twisted my (rather rubber) arm and talked me into being one of his race judges for the last half of the Quest.

Yup, I'll be finishing the 300 mile race, getting a bit of sleep and then joining up with the Quest in Dawson. Mark and our handlers (Markus Husch, Mark's brother Kelly, and Chris) will bring the team home and then I'll fly home from Alaska at the beginning of March.

I'm actually quite looking forward to this new experience - and think it will be a nice inside look at the event, which I still intend to run one day!

No clever segue this time - but I do have some dog updates that I should share with you all.

First up is Irving. I haven't been mentioning Irving much in my diary entries this season. The reason is that since the spring Irv has been battling a problem with his eye. The vet diagnosed an injury and gave us some ointment that helped but then it seemed each time we worked Irv, the eye would flare back up again. Anyway, after about 6 months of battling flare ups, seeing vets and specialists, in November the decision was made to remove the eye. Irv was actually in the truck with us on way to the vet to get it removed the morning the deer hit us. That stalled his surgery for about a week, but it has been done and although Irv is still looking alittle scary (because they had to shave all around the eye) he seems much more comfortable.

All the mucking around put Irving behind on his training and, much to his disgust, knocked him off the team for the season.

I've run other dogs that only had vision in one eye and it doesn't seem to affect their performance at all so we still think that Irving has a bright future here at the kennel.

Next dog I need to update everyone on is Roary. About a month ago Roary left us to live with Linda and Mike Herdering at Husky Power Dogsledding ( it is a GREAT new home for Roary and we are happy to report that she is settling in well.

A few weeks later young Underdog moved down to Calgary to live with our friend Veronica Devall. Veronica has been a vet on Iditarod many times, which is actually where I first met her. Underdog is actually her second NorthWapiti dog - her other being NorthWapiti DotCom, aka Willow!

Both Willow and Underdog are very lucky dogs!

Well, I think that wraps up most of my odds and ends. In closing I'm sharing a couple Christmas photos that are just plain silly.

Skookum and Colleen discussing who has been naughty and nice this year!

Bait demonstrating the best use for holiday gift bags - places to pounce out of and attack unsuspecting family!
Happy New Year to all!


Anonymous said...

I'd love to see a close up of the toggle. It appears that it's a piece of plastic tied to your tug that you just stuff through the loop at the end of the extension line and it's held in place by pressure (could have the lines reversed but think I have the right idea, kind of like one of those big bullet shaped wooden buttons going through a loop).

Do you have any problem if pressure on the line is released?

Thanks and have a great new year.


Karen Ramstead said...

Hey Doug,

Yup, that's about it. So far I haven't had much trouble with them letting go when pressure on the line is released. The few times it has let go I think it is because the tug loops were too big.
But, we are still playing and determining whether these things will be an issue for us.
I will post more after I've tested them some more.