Friday, 30 April 2010

Fundraising Auction

Thanks to Donna Quante, we have an Ebay fund-raising auction for the kennel underway!! Lots of unique items!!!!

Ebay auction

Thanks in advance for your support!!

A New Visitor To The Planter

I don't suppose anyone is going to be happy when I actually put PLANTS in it in a few weeks!!!

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Sweat Equity

The simple fact is that the number one ingredient in building a good dog team is sweat equity. Sure, time is important and a lot of folks throw a lot of money at their dog teams, but in my opinion, until you throw some plain old SWEAT into the mix, things just aren't going to come together!

Yesterday morning I threw A LOT of sweat into my dog team!

It started off while I was gathering the 16 dogs to be run that morning. There was a loud CRACK and one of the end posts of our 'ready chain' snapped. Now that post has been there for over 10 years and has secured thousands of dog teams for us, so I understand if it has had enough, but it could have picked a better moment then when I had 14 dogs (many of them obnoxious 2 year olds) secured to it and was on my own!!

A few minutes of serious scrambling and everyone got safely moved over to our second 'ready chain'.

(and yes, that is rain/snow falling from the sky!!)

The hookup went not too badly, but leaving the dog yard took 3 tries - and with 8 of the dogs on the team being young and the lack of necklines, each time I stopped pandemonium broke out with dogs visiting dogs in the yard and wrapping themselves around trees - but finally we cleared the yard and for a bit everything went well!

Then everyone started testing my commitment to the 'no neckline' concept. I had tangled dogs, backwards dogs and dogs off in the weeds. I think I was off the ATV more then I was on it for the next 1/2 hour or so.

After the 'half hour of hell' things improved somewhat, with moments of brilliance and scattered amongst the moments of hell - but we pushed on.

Yup, this is the BIG puddle! Not a drop of water there now!

When we got back into the yard dogs were everywhere. I spent over 30 minutes just working on getting dogs to point forward. It was alot of work, but in the end I saw some improvement in the youngsters and the veterans and Grimmy seemed to have it almost completely figured out.

About that time, Pop decided that he wanted to join the party and chewed off his collar (or maybe Rocky helped him out) so he could run up the hill and join us. I rounded up the collarless monster and carried him up the hill where I put him in a pen till I could deal with him later. Then back to the team where it took 10 more minutes to get everyone's brains back to the 'point forward' issue we had been discussing before Pop's interruption.

I wrestled and sweated my way through 30 more minutes of unhooking, with only one harness paying the price of the day and being eaten by Bubba.

The entire FIVE mile run took THREE hours from start to finish. Oiy!

This morning's run was MUCH better though!
The 'ready chain' is back to working order.

And the team, lead by young SUPERstar, Rocky (with a bit of help from Dasher) rocked!!

I was even successful with getting Irving running next to another dog!!! Wahoo!! (That is why Jolt doesn't have a running partner - I left a space in the team in case I had to move the dog running next to Irv!).

In closing I just wanted to show what I think are a few advantages of the 'no neckline' thing.
This picture of a tight cornering was from yesterday. Notice how the gangline is tight into the corner, but the dogs are free to move far to the left. Don't know how this will work with sled steering, but it is sure nicer for the dogs!

And this picture of the team getting water at one of our neighbour's dugouts this morning. MUCH easier for them to get down to the water without necklines!

Yup, the wheel dogs got the short end of the stick again - but I went down and got water for them!!

Flash and Jolt getting a drink!

Have a great day everyone!

Friday, 23 April 2010

B8 and the D6

We have new neighbors building down here in the valley. They seem like super nice folks. They are totally aware of what they are building near (they are about 1/2 mile from us) and have been over a few times to see the kennel and chat with us.

On Friday the first signs of construction showed up.

Bait is thrilled.

Cat meet CAT

"I wonder where they put the keys?"

If he figures it out, we are in BIG trouble!

BIG Trouble!


Many years ago when I was a city dweller I don't remember ever wishing for rain. In fact, all rain ever did was wreck outdoor plans! However for the last 21 years I've been a country dweller - and country dwellers obsess about rain.
Here in the valley we don't worry much about too much rain, but too little rain is a huge concern since it is so wooded.
Since we share our lives with over 70 other living, breathing creatures the threat of fire is something that can literally make me lose sleep.
This spring has been early and VERY dry. Earlier in the week the county issued a complete ban on all outdoor fires. The forecast kept predicting rain, but it just wasn't happening. Nerves around here were as dry as the ground!
Last night the rain FINALLY came. If I had been awake, I might have danced naked in the yard (but likely not!!). When I got up this morning and saw the rain still coming down I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I'm sure I was not the only one in the valley that felt that way.
However, it came to my attention that not everyone felt the same way about the rain though!
This is what I found in the back porch...

I know you won't be happy to hear me say it Cricket but we still need more rain! I guess the weather can never make everybody happy!!


Monday, 19 April 2010

Spring Is Definitely In The Air..

I'm letting pictures speak for me tonight...

Bet on our walk this evening!

The populars budded out in a big hurry!

An evening sky-scape.

Pasque Flowers are the first color to nudge out of the dead leaves and twigs in spring! They are all along the driveway now.

Cricket waits for the rest of us to quit goofing off and catch up with her!

Garden hoses - a SURE sign of spring!

This blue jay feather has been on the edge of the dog yard for the last week or so. I couldn't resist snapping a picture - and no, the owner of the feather did not meet a unfortunate end in the dog yard!

Happy spring!

We Are Having A Heat Wave....

There will be no running dogs until the weather returns to 'normal'!

"Bummer!", says Wonder

An Email to Crunchie...

Crunchie got this email yesterday from his beautiful daughter, Chiclet who lives in California. I thought you might all enjoy it. Shared with permission.

Hi there Dad

Long time since we "woofed" but I need to vent a little today. I want you to know that everywhere I go there is someone that has heard of "Crunchie" & I'm getting a lttle tired of the expectations of being great in harness like you so today I handled a situation & thought I would share my knowledge just in case you need some creative ideas one day.

Today I set my own standards !! Mom took me all by myself to this event where I got to meet a bunch of new dogs & people. I met Kecia last weekend & liked her until today (we'll discuss that later) and her dog Magnum. You see mom didn't tell me she volunteered me to be part of an urban mushing team demo . OMG these guys are nuts, its hot , on sidewalks... aaarrgg...

Everything was fine until Kecia pulled out the bright pink harness, I thought when I left NW I was NEVER going to have to do THAT again, but they tricked me today. And I should mention all the time time they are talking Crunchie this and Crunchie that what a great dog he is & how I look just like him. Geez I'm charming & BE-A-u-ti-ful in my own right !!

They took pictures & I tolerated that ok, if you look at Kecia's Facebook she has more but then they expected us to run with all these people talking and cheering. I just wanted to go for a nice walk. that's when all H&$% broke loose, Magnum barked at me & told me to "get with it" and speed up that I was lagging. HOW DARE HE !!! We had just met !! But I was good, ran for 30 -50 yards or so, not bad but what was my mom doing to me, She had better have some darn good cookies is all I could think !!

So after that stressful & exerting effort on my part, quit laughing dad it had to be 40 yards long, they expected us to run back. WHAT ???? So I started slow again & darn that Magnum, he YELLED at me again !!!

That did it !!! I was done !! I'll show then you can't make a sled dog princess do anything she doesn't want !! Don't you dare yell at the Princess !!

I stopped & did the dead bug imitation, yep, stop, drop & roll. The team drug me on my back 10-15 feet or so till they stopped just for me !! Luckily Kecia was the musher so she didn't have time to get a picture hehehe & everyone felt sorry for me(but mom, I think she has plans I may not like too well) you see they thought I was this cute puppy that didn't know how to run in harness yet. tee hee. I think it was a very good thing it was a public exhibitiion because Mom couldn't even have words with me in front of the people and since we dogs live "in the moment" I hope she will forget. She sure forgot about giving me cookies after all I went through.

I did get plenty of belly rubs & attention from all the people they do think I'm darn cute & I practiced obedience, focus & touch games with Mom and that all went very well (good dried buffalo for that effort).

You know I think it is just too hard to live up to your reputation Dad but I do miss everyone & hope you are all well.

Your loving puppy,

Friday, 16 April 2010

Which Way To The Poop Pile??

So, make no doubt I've been spoiled for the last 8 months or so. Yup, it's been about 8 months since I shoveled my dog yard. Mark shoveled for me yesterday (while I did water buckets), Richard for the 6 months before that and Mike for 2 months before that. Sure, I shoveled the yard up in Alaska, but that wasn't here.
Now, some mushers will tell you that they love shoveling their dog yards...that they love the quiet time with their dogs. Well, not me - if I want to spend quiet time with my dogs, I just go out and visit with them. I don't need a scoop and bucket in my hands! I'll scoop if need be, but it lost it's charm for me years ago, so I'm happy when I have good handlers here to do it!

But today there was no one here to do it but me!

The buzz started right away...

"Where's Richard?"
I told you he went back home.

"Can't he come back?"
Well, maybe, but not in time to shovel the yard. I'm going to do it.

"Are you sure you know how?"
Yes, I've been shoveling dog yards since before you were all born.
"Hmmm, we don't remember that."
That's because most of you have the attention span of a gnat that's been feeding on Monster Energy Drinks.

"Oh, that's cold. Richard never insulted us when he did chores."

They watched for awhile with obvious skepticism.

"Richard didn't use that shovel and bucket."

Well, it is practically spring and I like the lighter bucket and scoop.

"I think you missed a bit over there. Richard never missed anything."

"Must you make such a racket? Richard didn't wake us up when he shoveled."

"Can you scratch my ears?? Richard always scratched our ears when he shoveled."

And then I began to think they were pulling my leg....

"Richard scratched our ears for 15 minutes each."

"Richard brought us treats when he shoveled."
Yeah, I'm thinking not.
"Richard let us off our chains while he cleaned."
Okay, now I know you are all lying.

I tuned out the clatter and finished my chores.

When I was done Crunchie gave me a big hug and told me I had done a good job.
Thanks Crunch. I knew I could count on you !

"Now are you sure you know how to find the poop pile?"
CRUNCH!!! Of course I do...

...and besides, Bet was waiting to make sure I did.

As we were puttering out into the woods she said, "BTW, Richard always let me ride up front."

Muskrat On Toast Anyone??

I was woken at 4am to a dog yard firing off. I stuffed my head into the pillow a little harder hoping the noise would stop on it's own, but of course, it didn't. When I got up the cats were both banging at the door to be let in. I figured maybe they had been running around on the lawn (or the brown collection of trimmed weeds that passes as our lawn) so gave it a minute or so after they came in to settle down. Nope.
I grabbed the sorry...that is the British influence still kicking in...flashlight and headed out to see what was up.
The biggest commotion was coming from down with Newt and the pack of young men (Jack, Snert, Skookum, Astro, Turtle, Bolt, Rocky and Pop) that live around him.

As I was halfway down to them, Cricket passed me by in a slow ambling sort of way. I shone the flashlight at her and realized I could head back to the house - in her mouth was a good sized - and very dead - muskrat.

I've not figured muskrats out. We have pulled more dead muskrats out of the dog yard over the years then any other creatures. Apparently, at this time of year their parents will kick them out and they will go off seeking a piece of stream or swamp to call their own. Our dog yard is on a sandy hill, they had to walk up a very steep bank AWAY from the water and trudge through the woods to get here. Then they approach large, obviously unfriendly canines. What's with that??? One actually climbed into a pen - with 6 ft chainlink walls - that Cricket was in (when we first got Cricket, she had to be penned at night - and yes, this is her second 'muskrat kill').
My thought is that they are suicidal because of being rejected by their mothers and this is the way they choose to end it all. Either that or they are just dumb - really dumb.

Anyway, Cricket eyed me sideways to see if I was going to be brave enough to try and take her prize away from her. I'm smarter then your average muskrat (Cricket weighs over 100 lbs and has never been keen about giving up dead critters), so I just headed back to the house and let her settle down to breakfast.

By now it was 4:25, which was when Mark gets up when he is working days. "Since your up, you may as well make me breakfast", he said as he staggered towards the bathroom. It was pretty warm out, likely too warm to run dogs, and I had actually been thinking of going back to bed. I suggested he share Cricket's muskrat with her. He shot me a look much like Cricket had just shot me.

I sighed and dragged out the frying pan to cook eggs.


Extreme Measures (by Richard)

As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, Karen and I have had a great time this winter, and developed a really good friendship over the months.
We both knew that one day in April we would have to go our separate ways and both of us were trying not to think about it too much. Even on the morning of my departure I think it's fair to say we were both 'struggling' to contain certain emotions.

However I was quite surprised at the extreme measures Karen was prepared to take to prevent me from leaving !

I think that setting off a Volcano in Iceland and causing the entire UK airspace to shut down whilst I was mid Atlantic was just one step too far !

So whilst also not bribing the pilot enough (he pulled a pretty neat manoeuvre to avoid the ash cloud) we eventually managed to touch down at Heathrow with about a minute to spare - we landed at 11.59, they shut the airport at 12.00 !!

Nice try Mrs Ramstead - I know you've got a load of followers and fans but didn't realise Mother Nature was on your list too !



Thursday, 15 April 2010

"Someone Was Here"

I've been a big fan of Inukshuks for years. I think they are a wonderful and cool symbol of the north.
The traditional meaning of the Inukshuk is "Someone was here"

Today we discovered this surprise in the dogyard -

We are so glad you were here Richard - and we can't wait till you come back!!!

Love, thanks and hugs,
Karen, Mark, Bet, Cricket, Kara, X, Nahanni, Mannie, Nik, Loki, Camilla, Gus, Draco, Joey, Jumper, Kaylinn, Crunchie, Rocky, Bolt, Pop, Snert, Jack, Newt, Skookum, Astro, Turtle, Tie, TopDog, Fritz, Bubba, Grit, Flash, Utin, Q, Moses, Hector, Herman, Wolvie, Irving, Wonder, Billie, Bingo, Roscoe, Charge, Shooter, Jr, Runner, Barq, Dasher, Rocket, See, Crackle, Snap, Spider, Jinx, Wifi, Dew, Trigger, Smartie, Jolt, Meg, Kim, Kelly, Isis, Sprite, Grimmy, Tramp, Sobe, Boo, Fritter, Casey, Olena, Beauty, Xena, Tess, Bang, Bait and Tic.