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!

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