Sunday 30 June 2002

June 30, 2002

Just a quick note to mention that Iditarod entries opened yesterday. All mushers that enter on the first day are guaranteed a starting position in the first batch (65 mushers entered yesterday - so my bib number will be between 2 - 66. Remember Bib 1 is always a ceremonial musher). You can follow the list of mushers, which will grow until the December 1 cutoff, on the Iditarod site.

The mushers entering yesterday were:

1. G.B. Jones Wasilla, Ak
2. David Straub Willow, AK
3. Ken Anderson Fairbanks, AK
4. Perry Solmonson (rookie) Plain, Wa
5. Frank Sihler (rookie) Wasilla, AK
6. Ray Redington, Jr. Fairbanks, AK
7. Aaron Burmeister Nome, AK
8. Ramy Brooks Healy, AK
9. Ted English Willow, AK
10. Vern Halter Willow, AK
11. Mitch Seavey Sterling, AK
12. Jason Cameron (rookie) Homer, AK
13. Dexter Kancer (rookie) Nenana, AK
14. Mike Williams Akiak, AK
15. Lance Barve Wasilla, AK
16. Judy Merritt- (rookie) Moose Pass, AK
17. Mike Suman (rookie) Big Lake, AK
18. Martin Buser Big Lake
19. Debbie Moderow (rookie) Anchorage, AK
20. Doug Grillot (rookie) Willow, AK
21. Carla Kelly (rookie) Anchorage, AK
22. Lynda Plettner- Willow, AK
23. Ben Stamm (rookie) Argyle, WI
24. Jessie Royer Fairbanks, AK
25. Cim Smyth Big Lake, AK
26. Jeff King Denali, Ak
27. Ellen Halverson (rookie) Wasilla, AK
28. Cali King (rookie) Denali, AK
29. Gerald Sousa - Talkeetna, AK
30. John Baker - Kotzebue, AK
31. Jim Lanier Chugiak, AK
32. Rick Horstmann (rookie) -Willow, AK
33. Ramey Smyth Big Lake, AK
34. Gerald Riley- Nenana, AK
35. Burt Bomhoff Chugiak, AK
36. Tyrell Seavey- (rookie) Seward, AK
37. Michael Goosen Wasilla, AK
38. Tim Osmar Ninilchik AK
39. Hans Gatt Atlin BC CANADA
40. Ed Iten Kotzebue, AK
41. Sonny Lindner Fairbanks, AK
42. Aliy Zirkle Two Rivers, AK
43. Karen Ramstead- Perryvale, AB, CANADA
44. Charlie Boulding Manley, AK
45. Randy Chappel - (rookie) Arlington, TX
46. Blake Matray (rookie) Two Rivers, AK
47. Robert Sørlie Hurdal Norway
48. Cliff Wang (rookie) Isabella, MN
49. Sandy McKee (rookie) Fairbanks, AK
50. Tom Roig (rookie) Shreve, OH
51. Karen Land Sand Coulee, MT
52. Jason Barron Lincoln, MT
53. Bruce Lee Denali Park, AK
54. Jack Berry Salcha, AK
55. Todd Capistrant-- (rookie) Emerald, WI
56. Paul Gebhardt Kasilof, AK
57. John Barron Helmville, MT
58. Linwood Fiedler Willow, AK
59. Rick Swenson Two Rivers, AK
60. Cindy Gallea Seeley Lake, MT
61. DeeDee Jonrowe Willow, AK
62. Rick Minard (rookie) Newberry, MI
63. Dave Monson Fairbanks, AK
64. Peter Bartlett Willow, AK
65. Melanie Gould Talkeetna, AK

*Note - there is no 'rookie' status after my name! That is so COOL!!

Saturday 29 June 2002

June 29, 2002

RAIN!!!! YEAH!!! 

Things have been so dry around here for the last few months - it has been downright scary. We have been on a complete fire ban, no campfires, no burning barrels, no fireworks (a real bummer for the Canada Day weekend) - but, finally, yesterday we got several hours of rain! I certainly don't think it has got us completely out of danger yet, but it is a start. We probably have Mark to thank for the rain - he was working on a small building project and wanted to get it painted when the skies opened up! Ah well… The project Mark was working on is one I'm pretty happy about. He built me a permanent grooming table out in the dog yard. Up to now I've been having to haul my show grooming table, air dryer, brushes, etc out there every time I wanted to groom - I spent more time hauling then grooming. Almost all the dogs are in full shed - it's nuts. If they were more polite, they would take turns shedding, so I could keep up with the grooming easier! Many sled dog kennels just allow their dogs to shed naturally and don't groom the loose hair out. I like the one on one time with the dogs though. I think it is a great opportunity to give them a complete look over and it is really good training for the youngsters on being handled and patient. Here are some 'before' and 'after' pictures of Howl. I picked up a handy new grooming tool on the weekend - a cordless Dremmel tool. Hmmm, carving patterns into my dogs you ask?? No, not quite, but with the sander attachment, it is very cool way to do nails. Most of the dogs really seem have more patience for that then for the clippers. In fact, I got Libby's nails done for the first time in MONTHS! She is a crabby old dog when it comes to be brushed and handled (heck, she is 15 - who can blame her) and usually tries to bite me when she sees the nail clippers. Being that she is mostly deaf and partially senile - she just sat there while I shaped and shortened her nails.

We 'officially' start our new training season on July 1st. Effective that day on all training miles get logged into our 2002/2003 journals. I also start to be serious about running again. The last month I've been able to come up with some pretty creative excuses as to why I shouldn't have to get up on cool mornings and run dogs - no more excuses now. Mornings that are under 10C will find me out on the trail! Iditarod here we come!!!

A little bit of show news to report - first off, I took Rosie and Smiley to Edmonton at the beginning of June. Smiley seemed to be a little confused and every time we were in the ring with another dog believed the goal was to be the fastest in the ring. Needless to say - he didn't do much winning and I got quite the workout! What a NERD! Rosie was much better behaved; in fact on the second day of the show, she really seemed to 'figure out' this whole game. On Sunday, she was practically PERFECTLY behaved in the ring - a true delight to show and took the Breed! Yeah!

Next off, it was to Grande Prairie. I had Smiley, Kara, and Dasher. Smiley and I had a bit of a 'chat' about the purpose of the show ring and he was actually a lot of fun to show. I am so proud of him (being one of my Iditarod finishers and all) and, win or lose, love being at the end of his leash. He actually picked up a 3-point win - which puts him only 3 points away from his Championship. I REALLY want to finish him prior to this Iditarod!

Kara picked up a couple more points and Dasher just had a fun time - which was all she was there to do.

Next off is the Prince George show in mid - July (just Smiley and I are going) and then the Westerly Show in Edmonton at the end of July. Rosie and Smiley are entered for that!

Before I sign off, I'll introduce a few more of this year's training pool. This time I'm introducing some of the 2 year olds!

NorthWapiti's Kobuk - Can you say 'TALL' or how about 'LANKY'? This big boy is all legs and build for speed! Both his Mom and Dad are from Earl and Natalie Norris' kennel, so it comes by it all honestly! Although some have described him as 'HOMELY' - I've always liked his look and he one of my favorite pups from our Keesa litter.

NorthWapiti's Denali - When naming the 'National Park' litter - we didn't give this name out lightly. Denali means 'the great one' and that he is. Like his brother, Kobuk, Denali is a big boy, but he is absolutely AMAZING in harness. Although I have toyed with the idea of selling him a time or two because of his size - his attitude and enthusiasm in harness are keeping him here. I wouldn't be surprised to see him leading teams this winter.

NorthWapiti's Nahanni - A prettier, more feminine version of her brothers (Kobuk and Denali). Nahanni is one of those dogs you put in the team and forget she is there. She just puts her head down and does her job. She is growing up to be a very dependable, solid sled dog!

NorthWapiti's Kluane - 'Klu' or 'Klu-less' as I've sometimes been caught calling her, has a wonderful build and a terrific gait. She does have one habit that she will have to get over if she wants to make the 'big' team this year - she is a very picky eater. A strong, solid girl though!

Alaskan's Olena of Anadyr - This is the 2 - year old that I think shows the most potential of making the main string. She is one of the most amazing youngsters I've ever driven. I cannot say enough nice things about Olena. She does need to be run next to another strong-minded dog, as she gets so worked up and excited in harness she can put off a more timid dog - lucky I don't have too many of those!

All for now!

Monday 17 June 2002

June 17, 2002

It is with no regrets, but a lot of sorrow ("Grief without regret", as a dear friend said), that we announce the passing of one of our family. Meomar's Blunder left us this afternoon (June 17, 2002) at 13 1/2 years of age.

Blunder (one of 5 'oops' pups - Calamity, Faux Pas, Opps a Daisy, Mishap, and Blunder) didn't come to live with us until he was 2 years old - but we had history together. It was on the same run at Jackie and Chris Marshall's place many years ago that I first stepped onto the runner of a sled and that he was harness broke. He was always a favorite of mine and when Marshall's decided to stop sledding and offered me first pick of their yard - it didn't even take a second to decide on Blunder.

Blunder never raced with us, but he turned our first 4 dogs into a real team. He was serious, driven in harness, and a real love in the kennel. He taught us so much.

But his biggest contribution to our kennel was his offspring. Grover, Gus, Smiley, and Camilla -the core of my leaders group and all Iditarod finishers - are all Blunder kids. All of his boys, especially Grover inherited the much loved 'Blunder circle tail wag' and the habit of 'waving' their front leg at you to try and coax you over to visit. They all will ensure his memory lives on in our kennel - as if we could ever forget.

Godspeed, my friend. Know you were much loved.


Monday 10 June 2002

June 10, 2002

For dog mushers the summer months are supposedly ‘down time’ – HA! I seem as busy now as I am in the winter! But that is okay, I like to get as many ‘other’ things done now, so it frees up more time to focus on running dogs when things are cooler!

We have had a number of cool mornings over the last month that has allowed us to get the odd team out. Of course, these miles are not regular enough to offer the dogs any conditioning, but they are great for getting some experience on the puppies and allow me to work on some new leaders. Nik is really beginning to show some real potential up front. Freya, Loki, Mannie, Kobuk, Denali, and Draco are all dogs that I think are showing some real promise too! Cassie and I are continuing in our power struggles. She has even taken to challenging my ‘authority’ in the dog yard – little things like I ask her to jump up on her house and she turns her back on me. Life is a constant struggle with that determined little dog – but I know that if she and I can sort this out, she will be an amazing leader. Taking her to Nome would be exceptionally rewarding!

We do have a few additions to the kennel! In May, Hilda, Hector, and Herman came to live with us. These 10 month old, black and white kids are from Bob Chlupach and Rick Outing in Wasilla, Alaska. (Some of you may remember Bob ran Earl and Natalie Norris’ Siberian team in the 2001 Iditarod). I wasn’t in the market for any more dogs, but these bloodlines are ones I know and love. I also greatly respect Bob as a ‘dog man’, so when he suggested that he thought I would like the dogs, I was hooked. The fact that Jamie Nelson was heading home from Alaska the next week and would be able to transport the dogs at no charge sealed the deal. As I suspected, I do really like all three dogs and they are showing some solid promise in harness! We are also planning on two litters this summer. Grover and Joey are expecting a litter July 10th and Orion and Jumper August 8th. We are very excited with the potential of both litters!

Kaylinn’s puppies are doing very well. They are a noisy and opinionated bunch, for sure! One of the pups, Lincoln has moved on to New Hampshire with Kim and Kelly Berg. You can see lots of pictures of him on their website . You may also want to follow their webpage for announcements of their upcoming litter, sired by Grover. We will be!!

My trip to New York for the Seneca Siberian Specialty was wonderful. I had a Club record 41 pups in the Sweeps class – and some very nice ones, at that. My thanks to all the exhibitors that brought these lovely pups out. I also got to put some faces to names I only have previously known through books and/or the Internet. My special thanks to Pat Kingsley, the Kanzler family for their warm hospitality and also to the Redeye’s for the tour of their well kept kennel, lunch and a ride out to the airport. One of the real perks of my trip was the chance to meet up with a few NorthWapiti ‘kids’ that I haven’t seen in years – Lyra and Thor. Both look wonderful and are obviously happy with their ‘new’ families!

As promised, I’m going to continue my ‘introductions’ to this year’s training pool. Last entry I introduced everyone to the 14 returning veterans from the 2001 Iditarod, today I’m going to introduce you to a group of dogs that are veterans of training seasons but not made the racing team.

NorthWapiti’s Cassiopeia – ‘Cassie’ is quite possibly the most frustrating dog in our yard. When she is good, she’s great – but when she is bad, she’s horrid. Cassie went up to Alaska with us in 2001, but just fell short of making the race team. Last season she came even closer, but failed again to play with the ‘big’ dogs. I am confident that one day she will jut get bored of making my life hell and become a main string leader! No one will be happier to see that day come then I!

Northome’s Visa – ‘Visa’ the Velcro Dog, as she is usually called. Visa is the most reliable off leash Siberian Husky I have ever met. She is a delight to own and be around. In lead she will stand up front, holding her line out but with her head cranked to be able to watch my face. A true sweetheart that wants nothing more then to please!

Alaskan’s Jumper of Anadyr – Despite taking some time off to raise a litter ‘Jumpie’ has made some amazing breakthroughs in the last year. I really feel this may be ‘her season’.

Alaskan’s Georgio of Anadyr – ‘Joey’ or ‘Jo-Jo’ as she is often called, is a little small for our main string, but her desire and ‘nothing bothers me, ever’ attitude always make her a contender! She is the only black and white, blue-eyed dog in our yard – and to think some people believe all Siberians are those colors.

NorthWapiti’s Robert E. Lee – ‘Squeaky’ earned his nickname due to the raspy, funny noise he makes because he was debarked by his previous owners. A littermate to Surge, this leggy red and white boy very much reminds me of his grandfather, Spud. I really think Squeak shows all the potential to make the main string this winter!

All for now!