Monday 27 November 2000

November 27, 2000

It has occurred to me that I only have 2 ½ weeks left before I’m off on my adventures. It is scary to think of all the work still to be done!

Today and tomorrow I have a friend coming up from Red Deer to help with some things with the dogs that I want to get done. We are going to do individual groundwork with each of the 24 ‘A’ team dogs, brushing them all up on holding lines tight and reinforcing what the word ‘HIKE’ means. I’m also hoping that we can find time to get all 8 of the pups (Yahoo, Dot, Meg, Kluane, Nahanni, Terra, Kobuk, and Denali) in harness for the first time. I always enjoy working pups! It is so neat to see their instinct kick in and see them take so quickly to running in harness. 

Well, I guess I kinda' let the cat out of the bag…yes, we are down to a pool of 24 ‘A’ team dogs. Out of this pool, 20 will need to be selected for the trip to Minnesota, and barring any disaster, those 20 will be the ones that go up to Alaska. I’m going to hold off naming the dogs until that final cut is made. So watch for the announcement in the next few weeks! I must admit, there have been and will be some more tough decisions to make. 

This past weekend was another good one of running. We did around 100 miles. Unfortunately, the frozen, snow-less roads are starting to take their toll on the dog’s feet. Nothing too serious, but foot massages and some ointments were definitely called for at the end of the day. 

On Sunday we were heading down our muskeg trail when a couple whitetail deer bounced out in front of Mark’s team. We went from a good, steady pace to warp speed in about 2 seconds. A Porsche would have had a hard time keeping up us!! That bumpy, frozen ground was hard on the ol’ quad drivers – I think it took a full 5 minutes for my eyeballs to stop rattling in my head!!! Sure was fun for the dogs though! It was a weekend full of wildlife, we had sightings of a few more whitetails, a couple coyotes and a beautiful Great Horned Owl – very enjoyable!

Saturday we ventured down south to the community of Tawatinaw.  The trails were really good and except for coming close to running the team down the Tawatinaw Ski Hill the run was nice and uneventful. Coming home along a little road that winds along next to the Tawatinaw River, we were stopped by a few surprised residents that weren’t aware there were dog teams living and training in the area. The dogs always love the opportunity to visit and get some scratches and petting. Rough, tough sled dog – HA- they are a bunch of big lap dogs!!

Well, today is Election Day in Canada, so I’m off to pay my respects to all those who so bravely fought and died to maintain this right for us! I hope my fellow Canadians will do the same and vote – regardless of whether or not we like the choices presented to us! Hopefully, we will fair better then our friends south of the border and will be able to announce a winner tonight!

Wednesday 22 November 2000

November 22, 2000

First off, huge thanks to June Price of Deland, Florida!!! It was looking like I was going to be computer-less this year for the time I was in Minnesota and Alaska. I mentioned it in passing in an email to June and she emailed me back offering the use of laptop for the winter!! I’m just hoping that counting irregularities aren’t too rampant in Florida – maybe she counted that she had two laptops and really only had one! (Sorry, June I just couldn’t resist!)

Actually, I was also offered a laptop by Ann Hernandez, who is the computer whiz that helps me out with this Website.  I am very lucky to have such generous and thoughtful friends! Mark and I are really grateful to all those that are so supportive, in so many different ways!! 

We had another good weekend of training, putting a series of 30 – 40 mile runs on the teams. We did a lot of traveling on the roads and a few of the dogs came up with tender feet, but nothing serious. A little foot ointment and some booties and they were happy and working away again! Mark had fun on Saturday. We had taken different routes home and while he was heading down the road, a young yellow lab puppy started following him. The puppy got far enough from home that Mark was worried it would get lost going back, so he turned his 12 dog team around to take the puppy back. While he was up front doing this the spunky little Lab jumped up on the seat of his 4 wheeler and proceeded to bark instructions to them! The little guy seemed awful happy to accept the free ride home! Mark said it was just the cutest thing!

I had my last root canal on Monday. It was AWFUL compared to the first one. I’m really glad that is all behind me. I took yesterday off running and didn’t do much of anything. I’m reading a neat little old book called Dogsled by Slim Randles.  It the story of Slim’s adventure in Alaska by dogteam for the Anchorage Daily News. This occurred in the ‘pre-Iditarod’ days and it is really interesting to see how views and techniques have changed in 30 years! 

Today I’m going to do a short 20 or so mile run, as I have to be in the city this evening to do a presentation for the Northern Alberta Mushers Association. I quite looking forward to it!!  

Well, all for today – I need to get out the door and get that team hooked up!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday 15 November 2000

November 15, 2000

Well, just like the ground, plans for the winter are starting to firm up!!  I booked my plane ticket to Anchorage for the Iditarod Rookies Meeting. I leave December 7 and will return on the 11th. On the 12th or 13th I’m packing up the 20 dogs and heading to Minnesota. I’ll be staying and training with Jamie Nelson. We are planning for a 260-mile trip the weekend I get there and then I’m running the Grand Portage Passage 300-mile race starting January 21. As soon as I finish that, I’ll be packing up for home. I’m hoping to have been home, repacked, and organized to head to Alaska by January 30, but that may be pushing it somewhat. My Iditarod food drops have to be in by February 14, so I have to be up there well prior to that. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any one able to come out to Minnesota with me, which would have made everything a little easier, but I’ll will just have a manage without!

The dogs are doing just terrific in harness. I had been concerned about a few things during training, but that just seemed to be a phase they had to work through and now they are rockin’! Happy, sassy, and strong – they are a delight to work with lately!  I know the season will hold many more ups and downs for us, so I’m making sure to enjoy this ‘up’ while it lasts!! 

So today I have chosen to introduce readers to Nik, Chuchinka’s Nicholas II. This grey and white boy with one blue eye and one brown eye came to us this summer from Robin and Ed Claussen, where he had been a member of their sprint team. Nik has crossed over to our style of running very well, however he is quite the dog to live with!! He doesn’t bark – he screams…at feeding time, at hookup, when the barbecue is turned on (don’t ask me – I have no clue why!). It drives me NUTS!!!  I think that makes it even more enjoyable for him.  Nik also has this manner of sitting on his house that so much reminds me of Snoopy from the Peanuts comic strip. Specifically, Snoopy when he is pretending to be a vulture. Nik hunches his shoulders ever so slightly and peers down his nose at everything going on around him.  He also has the appetite of a vulture! Just the other day I was walking through the yard wearing a pair of gloves that were missing the tip of one of the fingers. Nik just assumed that the pink tip of my finger was something edible in my hand and made a dive for it. Luckily, I was quicker then him!! 

He ‘attacks’ every meal that is put in front of him! In fact, he lunges so keenly for snacks in harness that he usually missing catching them in the air, like most of the dogs, and it bounces off his nose and out of reach. This results in a bout of screaming and panicking until I can recover the treat and get it to him!
Although he probably sounds like a difficult dog, I just adore him!! I really love a dog with an interesting and unique personality – and Nik certainly fits that description! I really think he will make the team this year. I have great hopes for his future as a leader, but I don’t know if that will happen this season!

Monday 13 November 2000

November 13, 2000

What a weekend! We did a series of runs with the dogs from Friday night to Sunday morning, totally around 100 miles. They were terrific! I’m so pleased. Everyone still had lots of spunk and energy after!
I had Surge and Orion in lead for all but the last 17-mile leg. I decided I didn’t want to stress young Surge too much, so Grover got to go up front with Orion for that last bit.  I need to do some ground work with Orion and work on the “HIKE’ command with him. He really doesn’t seem to understand what it means and waits for everyone else to start moving before he goes. Not a good thing for a leader and something I will work on this week.

Mark had Gus and Smiley in lead for his whole run. Gus actually had his tug line break on the second leg of the weekend and took off into the dark. Luckily, when he realized the rest of the team wasn’t with him, he turned around and came back – what a good guy!!

The weather has been cool, which is nice for the dogs, but we had to get a lot of our winter clothing out of storage! The moon was full and Saturday night on the trail was spectacular. Both of us came into the yard at 1am with our headlights off, as it was so bright the dogs were throwing shadows on the snow! I love running at night when it is like that.  

My root canal on Thursday went pretty well. One down, one to go. I’m in to town this Thursday and again the following Monday for the rest of the work. Teach me to stall off on those dentist appointments for years and years!  

Well, I need to run. Mark’s car was in for an oil change on the weekend and I need to drive him into town to pick it up.

Wednesday 8 November 2000

November 8, 2000

I'm giving the dogs 3 days off, so I’m trying to catch up on all my email, website stuff, phone calls, etc. 

I’m happy to let everyone know that our 2001 t-shirts, sweatshirts, ballcaps, prints, and other fundraising items are now available to order. I’m so excited about the little Maple Foot the stuffed husky! Bonnie and Dave Lundberg donated these stuffed cuties. Bonnie put some of her many talents to work and customized this little guy so it was obvious he is a NorthWapiti kennels mascot! Many thanks to Donna Lutz for all her help with this project too! 

Well, the weather has taken a turn for the ‘better’. An inch or so of snow fell last weekend. It is just amazing - on Friday we ran the dogs 35 miles and we had to stop 4 times to water them. On Sunday, with just that inch of snow on the ground, we stopped once and they all declined the drink!! They were in great spirits on Sunday and just SMOKED through their run. I had Surge and Orion in lead – what a GREAT combination that was. I was leery as I was hooking them up, because they are both young, inexperienced leaders, but they did super. Even taking Gee/Haw commands like old pros!!  This weekend we are going to try to get in 2 nice, long, back-to-back runs. I’m getting a root canal done on Thursday (tomorrow – YIKES!), so hopefully I will be feeling up to it!  

Iditarod supplies are starting to stack up around the house. I got some neat new shoulder coats from Mountain Ridge Supplies the other day. They are designed so you can slip one of those chemical hand warmers in them, to help with any aches or pains in a dog's shoulders! Very neat! As minor shoulder injuries were the reason for dropping Gus, Spud, and Smiley last year, I expect these to be a big help on the trail.  

I’m trying to remember to buy Ziploc bags every time I’m in town. It is unbelievable the number of Ziplocs you go through on the Race.  I should buy shares!! I’ve also got a few boxes of Cinnamon and brown sugar Pop Tarts that have been mailed to me. Seems you can’t get this flavor in Canada and I fell in love with them on Iditarod last year, so some internet friends have been kind enough to ship some up!!  

Well, as promised, I’m introducing some of the new team members. This time I’m going to pick on Rosie. Rosie, aka Willo’s Wildrose at N’Wapiti, may be familiar to some of you, as I have been discussing her show ring adventures throughout the summer. She is just under 2 years old and a little dynamo in harness. No wonder, her Daddy is Wayne and Chris Curtis’s Ch. Stormwatch’s Montana SDO – the only Champion show dog to ever finish the Iditarod, which he has done 2x (and finished the Yukon Quest once). Although Rosie is a few points short of her Championship this year, we expect her to one day join her Dad in the Siberian Husky history books! Lois and Bill Leonard of Wisconsin bred Rosie, who is named for her light red color.  

I have a cool story about Lois. Although I had purchased Rosie from her, we had never met in person. At the Iditarod Pre Race Banquet last year, I was going through the line that forms to catch mushers coming off the stage to sign posters and such. I spoke briefly to a lady and the woman next to her smiled and said to her “She doesn’t know who you are!” I raised my eyebrows at her and she introduced herself as Lois! What a neat surprise! This year I believe Lois is coming up for the Race again – I’m sure Rosie won’t have any trouble recognizing her!

All for today – I’m off to make dinner!!