Wednesday 28 June 2006

June 28, 2006 Ch. NorthWapiti’s Freya, WD, CGN

July 27th, 1999 - June 26th, 2006  

On Sunday, June 25th, Amber, Louise and I traveled to the Evangeline dog show together in Amber’s car. When we returned to Amber’s we were all very happy that another of Freya’s kids, Chimini’s Shall We Dance, “Jive”, had completed her Canadian Championship with back to back Best of Breed wins. We let all the dogs out into Amber’s yard for a run and we stood for a few minutes watching Freya, Levi and their kids run around playing in the yard. We talked about what an exciting team we were going to have this upcoming year and how proud Free and Levi should be of their kids. I went into Amber’s house and posted the results from the show to Showsibe from Amber’s computer as I was going up to my mom’s cottage for a few days of R&R with the dogs and then heading off to New Hampshire for the long weekend.

Amber then helped me take my three dogs down to my van. Amber had Levi and Free and I had Jive who still just had a show lead on. As I walked toward my van I saw that Amber had Levi already in the van. Amber said “Free will not jump into the crate”. As she was saying this, Freya collapsed. We immediately knew she was in serious trouble. Amber yelled for Jeff and I know they broke all speed records getting her to the Emergency Clinic. Three vets at the clinic worked on Freya for over 4 hours but blood work, x-rays and even surgery gave them no significant findings on diagnostics. They were left baffled and helpless as to how to save Free. Freya died during the surgery sometime after midnight on June 26th.

I’ve had the proud pleasure of owning Free since Nov. 2003. She came directly off Karen Ramstead’s Iditarod team. During the time I’ve had Free she has never been sick, nothing, so her sudden death is a total shock that is extremely difficult to deal with, especially coming so soon after loosing my beloved Siri on May 12th at 13 years of age from cancer. The fact that so far there are no answers as to what happen to Free makes her loss all the more devastating. Like Karen, I thought my little Norse Goddess was immortal.

Freya from the beginning was my constant companion. She was never more than a few feet from my side, always waiting for a pet and giving a wag in response. At night she hit my bed and never moved from it until I convinced her in the morning that it was time to get up. I joked with her that I had turned Karen’s great Iditarod sleddog into a great “Fee Fee” bed dog. Freya wanted nothing more than to please me. She was an extremely significant part of my team that completed their Working Dog certificates during the winter of 2003/2004 and then she gave me some wonderful kids, three of which are now Canadian Champions. Freya also obtained her Canine Good Neighbour title and was a registered St. John’s Ambulance Therapy Dog. It was in this role that I was maybe the most proud of Freya. She brought SO much joy to the seniors at the home she visited.

Freya, Levi & Siri

Freya and I had so much more to share and accomplish together. With Siri gone, Freya was now the queen of the house and enjoying every minute of it. I had been training her in obedience and had hoped to surprise Karen when we entered that ring together. Off course it would have been extremely difficult to top her brother Hugi’s accomplishments, but we were going to give it our best shot. Freya was doing wonderful with her training and had just learned the coolest flip finish.

I do feel blessed and so very thankful to Karen for allowing me to have Freya. I also feel blessed to be left with her incredible offspring, Weaver, Disco, and Ceilidh who are co-owned, and Jive who lives with me. It will now fall to Jive to try to follow in her mother’s shoes, not just on the trail but also in the obedience ring and as a therapy dog. She has huge shoes to try to fill. After loosing Siri just a month ago I couldn’t imagine the house ever feeling emptier … it does now. In just over a month I’ve gone from 4 dogs to just 2. I use to tell people that I had Granny Bear, Papa Bear, Momma Bear and Baby Bear when I took the whole family out anywhere, now I just have Papa and Baby Bear. Levi has loss his mom and his “wife” and little Jivie has loss her Grandmother and her mother. I have loss not just two great dogs, but two incredible friends.

I am devastated and still in total shock and disbelieve over Free’s sudden death and will be for a long time. My vet now has Freya’s body and is sending tissue samples off to the lab. Hopefully we will find some answers as to what happen to Free Free. Freya will be cremated and her ashes will be placed in a red urn as befitting her status as one of Karen Ramstead’s Iditarod dogs.

Farewell sweet Free Free, we love you.

Brenda, Levi and Jive
Brenda Potter
Chimini Siberians
Halifax, NS, Canada

Tuesday 27 June 2006

June 27, 2006 The Norse Gods and Goddesses

Anyone that has ever been around me for any length of time knows how much I adore our 'Norse Gods and Goddess' litter. I honestly believe they are one of the most accomplished litters in the history of the breed. Beautiful, talented and intelligent - I believe each and every one of them to be a credit to the breed (and I don't use those words lightly). Mark and I are exceptionally proud to have bred and raised this litter - and very grateful to have them as a part of our lives.

Today is one month short of their 7th birthday, a day that should be one to celebrate them - but unfortunately, any celebration has been clouded by the passing of one of the litter on Sunday.

Ch. NorthWapiti's Freya WD, CGN suddenly, and, as of yet, for unexplained reasons passed away on Sunday night. Her death was very unexpected to all those that knew her, especially since she was playing with her children very shortly before collapsing and being rushed to the vet.

We know that everyone involved did all they could to save Freya, but it just was not to be.

Our deepest condolences go out to Freya's owner for the last 2 1/2 years, Brenda Potter. We completely understand how devastated she is by this loss. We are extremely grateful to Brenda for the fantastic home she gave Freya for the time she had her. She was a lucky and spoiled Siberian - as was fitting for a Goddess.

I think Freya's death especially hits home because I've always thought of this litter as being rather immortal, as are the Gods and Goddess they were named for. Just goes to show that wishing cannot always make something so.


Sunday 25 June 2006

June 25, 2006 Press Release

June 25, 2006
Iditarod Press Release
Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race®
P.O. Box 870800 . Wasilla, Alaska 99687-0800
907.376.5155 (voice) . 907.373.6998 (facsimile) 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE For Further Information Contact: Chas St.George, Director Public Relations 907.232.0503 Wasilla, ALASKA - (June 24, 2006) 59 MUSHERS SIGN UP FOR IDITAROD XXXV Forty-three mushers from the United States and Canada converged on the Iditarod Trail Committee Headquarters in Wasilla Alaska this afternoon to sign up for the IDITAROD XXXV.

Two-time Yukon Quest Champion Lance Mackey was the first to sign up this afternoon. He was followed by a host of Iditarod contenders including three four time Iditarod Champions, Jeff King, Martin Buser and Doug Swingley.
All the mushers who participated in today's sign up at the Iditarod Headquarters had an opportunity to win back their entry fee in a drawing. Iditarod Race veteran Tim Osmar and rookie Sylvia Willis were the winners. An additional 16 mushers sent in their applications via phone, email, or mail bringing the first day sign up total to 59. Entries for the 35th running of Iditarod will be accepted until midnight, December 1st, 2006.

1. Lance Mackey Kasilof, AK USA
2. GB Jones Whittier, AK USA
3. Perry Solmonson Whittier, AK USA
4. Jessie Royer Fairbanks, AK USA
5. Cim Smyth Big Lake, AK USA
6. Jason Barron Lincoln, MT USA
7. Cliff Wang Lincoln, MT USA
8. Ramy Brooks Healy, AK USA
9. Ed Stielstra McMillan, MI USA
10. Doug Swingley Lincoln, MT USA
11. Sebastian Schnuelle Whitehorse, YT CANADA
12. Randy Cummins Big Lake, AK USA
13. Zack Steer Sheep Mtn, AK USA
14. Hans Gatt Atlin, BC CANADA
15. Martin Buser Big Lake, AK USA
16. Jeff King Denali Park, AK USA
17. Ramey Smyth Big Lake, AK USA
18. Paul Gebhardt Kasilof, AK USA
19. Ed Iten Kotzebue, AK USA
20. Jim Lanier Anchorage, AK USA
21. Ben Stamm Argyle, WI USA
22. Michael Salvisberg Haines Jct., YT CANADA
23. Aliy Zirkle Two Rivers, AK USA
24. Gerry Willomitzer (Rookie) Whitehorse, YT Canada
25. Mitch Seavey Seward, AK USA
26. Jerry Sousa Talkeetna, AK USA
27. Dan Huttunen (Rookie) Wasilla, AK USA
28. Eric Rogers Eagle River, AK USA
29. John Baker Kotzebue, AK USA
30. Dee Dee Jonrowe Willow, AK USA
31. Scott Smith Wasilla, AK USA
32. Michael Suprenant (Rookie) Chugiak, AK USA
33. Ray Redington, Jr Two Rivers, AK USA
34. Jon Korta (Rookie) Galena, AK USA
35. Richard Hum (Rookie) Talkeetna, AK USA
36. William Kleedehn (Rookie) Carcross, YT Canada
37. Ellen Halverson (Rookie) Wasilla, AK USA
38. Bruce Linton (Rookie) Morrisville, VT USA
39. Tim Osmar Kasilof, AK USA
40. Lynda Plettner Big Lake, AK USA
41. Sylvia Willis (Rookie) Deshka River, AK USA
42. Jeremy Keller (Rookie) Glennallen, AK USA
43. David Tresino Talkeetna, AK USA
44. Bill Pinkham Colo. Springs, CO USA
45. Melanie Gould Talkeetna, AK USA
46. Gene L Smith (Rookie) Omak, WA USA
47. Aaron Burmeister Nome/Nenana, AK USA
48. Terry Adkins Sand Coulee, MT USA
49. Hugh Neff Whitehorse, YT CANADA
50. Karen Ramstead Perryvale AB CANADA
51. Ryan Redington Wasilla, AK USA
52. Scott White (Rookie) Woodinville, WA USA
53. Sigrid Ekran (Rookie) Juneau, AK USA
54. Rick Swenson Two Rivers, AK USA
55. Maria Mulvaugh (Rookie) Willow, AK USA
56. Butch Austin Fruita, CO USA
57. Mike Williams Aniak, AK USA
58. Cindy Gallea Seeley, AK USA
59. Zoya DuNure (Rookie) Gakona, AK USA

For more information, please contact Chas St.George at 907.232.0503.

Saturday 24 June 2006

June 24, 2006 Bait

Why Bait isn't allowed in the yard yet...

We have been keeping Bait well away from the dogs. Fly is pretty much the only dog he has met, but I think today he discovered he doesn't live in a one dog family....

Poor Bait.

Friday 23 June 2006

June 23, 2006 Quest or Iditarod?

That is the question! 

Pretty much since I finished Iditarod last year, heck maybe even before, folks have been asking about our plans for '07. Many have speculated that the Quest was 'unfinished' business for us and therefore would be our focus for the upcoming season. 

Well, those of you that thought that might be surprised to learn that my entry for Iditarod is now completed and sitting on race director, Joanne Potts desk (entries open tomorrow!).

Have we lost interest in the Quest, you ask?? Not in the least, we are as committed to running the Quest as we were last year. Here however, is the thinking..

I've been very clear about the fact that we would like to field 1, if not 2 teams in the All Alaska Sweepstakes Race when it goes in '08. That year, Iditarod will start March 2 and I would probably finish around the 14th or 15th. The AAS is scheduled to start on the 26th. In my mind, 10 days is too little to recovery for my main string to be expected to be ready to race a 400-mile race after just having completed an 1100 mile one. Plus, the logistics of getting supplies, extra dogs, etc to Nome would all be left on Mark, as I wouldn't have enough time to go back down to Willow and back up to Nome.
But, if we did Quest that year, the team would have excellent recovery time and we would be able to enter two fresh teams and have ourselves be well organized and prepared to race.

So that is the thinking - Iditarod in '07 and Quest/All Alaska Sweepstakes in '08.

We hope you will all stayed tuned for the tales of our adventures!!!

Thursday 22 June 2006

June 22, 2006 Spring Run

As I’ve mentioned in previous diary entries, this year for the first time in many years, the dogs and I took a break from running. It’s been just about 6 weeks since I last hooked up a team. We’ve all enjoyed the break, but the last week has found me glancing at the thermometer in the mornings and the level of destruction in the dog yard, in the form of destroyed water buckets and giant holes being dug had also stepped up - so the signs were there that we were all getting itchy feet!

Last night Mark was working a night shift, so there was no need to set an alarm, yet I woke up right at 5 am, the perfect time to head out and run dogs. A quick glance outside (my fancy bedside indoor/outdoor weather station ‘bit the biscuit’ early this week) to see the thermometer reading 1C and I was pulling on sweats and a sweatshirt and heading out the door.

The dog yard wasn’t sure what was up until the garage door opened and I backed the quad out, then they went WILD. The young dogs are funny to watch, ‘cause they really aren’t entirely sure why they are getting so excited – but they follow the lead of the veterans, who were going insane.

My team for the morning was a nice mix of veterans and some of the up and coming 2 year olds.

Originally I had Tess in there instead of Kara, but Kara has been evicted from the house while Jumper is in with her pups and she is not happy about it. She looked so excited at the prospect of a run I just couldn’t disappoint her!

Anyway, I got the quad tied off, the lines strung out and started gathering dogs. I bring the dogs over the to the ‘ready chain’ in the order they are going to run, so first up was Moses. My sensible, serious Moses had transformed into a screaming, leaping lunatic. I struggled to get him to quiet down enough that I could undo his chain. Goodness!

Next was Jr, who shares his daddy Grover’s serious approach to his work in harness. He clawed frantically at me as I stepped into his area and leapt up into my face screaming at the top of his lungs. Maybe 6 weeks off wasn’t such a good idea….

As I brought each dog over I became more and more grateful for the baggy sweats and sweatshirt I had put on – it seemed to be protecting me from actually bleeding, although I was getting covered in scratches and bruises. All the dogs were simply insane.

Normally, once I select the 14 dogs I’m running, everyone settles down. The dogs left in the yard quietly watch me and the lucky ones selected to run smugly wag their tails and strut at the end of their drop chain as I work my way though putting harnesses on. Of course, that was not to be today – everyone keep screaming and barking as I worked. Each dog took about as much work to get a harness on as Barq normally does – and that’s a lot. Even though it was still cool out, sweat was running down my back by the time I got the 14th dog harnessed.

As I moved them onto the gangline, everyone proved that contrary to my belief, they had not earlier been screaming at top volume. I swear they were making as much noise as all 1500 dogs do at the start of Iditarod – and those of you that have hooked up with me before know that is not normal for my team.

As I finally hopped on the quad and pulled the quick release, I wondered if I should have written Mark a ‘good bye note’ before I left. I hoped if I died, which I was thinking was a serious possibility; he’d know that I loved him.

We shot out of the yard like the team was in hot pursuit of something edible. I could hear the protesting howls of the dogs left in the kennel quickly fade into the background before the beautiful quiet of a cool summer morning in the woods swallowed us up.

For all the insanity and chaos at hook-up, the dogs were remarkably well behaved once we got going. Sure they fussed every time I stopped, but they minded their manners and I even managed to hop off and undo a couple tangles without them trying to head down the trail without me. Moses and Jr were almost flawless, despite the fact that they were often plowing through tall grass that no traffic had been on for ages (much like break trail in the winter).

We did 4 ½ miles before pulling back into the yard. All of us were grinning when we got back. The vacation was nice – but I guess we were all ready for it to be over.


Tuesday 20 June 2006

June 20, 2006 2006 Soda Pups

On Monday evening Jumpy decided to ‘jump the gun’ and deliver her litter a few days early (it was due Thursday). 

She had two lovely and outspoken little gray and white girls (of course, since I’m wanting BOYS). 
Mom and pups are doing very well. 

Father is senior citizen – NorthWapiti’s Butch Cassidy SD (12 years old). 

This is a repeat breeding of our 2001 ‘Soda Pup’ litter (Pepsi, Sprite, Fresca, and Barq) and I’m thinking of carrying on that theme for these pups. Right now the front-runners for names are Dew (as in Mountain Dew) and Jolt – although other suggestions are welcome!

Have a great day everyone! 

Saturday 17 June 2006

June 17, 2006 Bait

All right already – somebody shut off the faucet up there!! It has been raining pretty much non-stop for the last week. And it rained pretty much all the week prior to that, and the week prior to that was pretty damp too. Mark has a little rain gauge sitting on our deck, but it has been registering the same amount for the last week or so. I think the sensor has drowned.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’d way rather it was too wet then too dry – the fires around here three or four years ago drove that lesson home hard, but I’d also like to get out and get some yard work done.
Our lawn, or the batch of weeds that we usually keep trim and call a ‘lawn’, usually only needs to get mowed two or three times a year – one of the pluses of living in a heavily treed pine forest, but we have already mowed it twice this year and it is way over due for another mowing.

The weather forecaster (one I trust, not young Josh who tried to kill us a few years back) said today was going to be sunny and dry. I was excited and I had all sort of projects planned for outside today. It is completely overcast and raining hard right now. Oh well, not much I can do about it – and eventually it should stop. After all, even during the Great Flood it only rained for 40 days and 40 nights…

So, we had a new addition to the melee on Thursday. All of us were sick of listening to Gristle screeching and wailing over the loss of her buddy, Take Out. We all sympathize, and are mourning him too, but she was really taking it to a whole ‘nother level. Every time anyone looked at her she would start wailing.

So on Thursday Anna brought us out a new kitten. He is an adorable little black and white thing. No bigger then a bug right now but filled with attitude. He doesn’t seem to like dogs, in fact when Anna went to hand him to me Fly was right there. The kitten took one look at Fly and turned into a hissing, spitting ball. He leapt out of Anna’s arms and landed in front of Fly fuzzed up to a ferocious 6 inches tall. We are doing nothing to change his opinion on dogs and are not letting him meet Kara, as we don’t want him to make his impressions of Siberians based on her.

We have named him Bait. Gristle hates him and spends a great deal of time spitting and snarling at him (he’s oblivious and bounces around the garage paying no attention to her attitude) I’m sure she will grow to love him in time – and it gives her something else to worry about rather then Take Out in the meantime.

I brought Bait to the house today to try and get a picture of him for the website. Basically, I was unsuccessful. I tried to wait until he tired himself out - but I got tired of him, before he got tired of me. So back to the garage he went! 

Everything else is going pretty well here right now. The Firecrackers are the cutest things on earth at the moment. They are spunky and adventurous. Their kennel is a time warp – it’s easy to walk in there and just lose an hour or so. I think Rocket has got to be my favorite right now. First off, she looks EXACTLY like her Daddy did at that age and she is very, very outgoing. Mark seems to be very fond of Comet, but he hasn’t really said yet whether or not he actually has a favorite.

Hilda is an excellent Mother, but I know she is ready for it to be over soon. Without fuss or stress, she has gotten the whole bunch weaned. It is really amazing how different Moms deal with that. Breezy (Kara’s Mom) was rotten at weaning and was still allowing her babies to nurse at about 8 weeks of age. Libby (our first Siberian) was like Hilda and would have the whole bunch whipped into shape, weaned and well mannered well before 6 weeks of age. I’ve not seen much difference in the manners of the adults depending on the way their Moms weaned them, but we always leave the Moms with the pups until they are about 7 or 8 weeks, regardless of when they stop nursing.

I took the month of May off of running dogs. It was actually the first month I had not hooked up a team in over 2 years. The dogs and I are pretty keen to get back at it now, but the overcast, humid mornings have not been conducive to running for the last few weeks. Soon though, I’m sure.

It seems EVERYONE in the yard is shedding right now. If the weather would smarten up, I’d like to get caught up on the grooming. The pen that Bingo and Bongo are in looks like a rabbit exploded in it.
Well, I think that is about it for news this morning. Entries for the big races start opening soon and Mark and I are already making plans for the winter, so I’m sure there will be news on that front soon!

Hope everyone is having a great summer!

Wednesday 14 June 2006

June 14, 2006 Take Out

 "The Perryvale Puma" 

We have shared our life with a number of really neat cats over the years, yet I have never been inspired to write memorials for them. For as though we loved them and mourned their loss, they were never family quite like the dogs. Take Out is a whole ‘nother story though. 

Our first fall here in Perryvale we were out on a training run. Mark’s team was ahead of mine when he heard a noise in the bush. It was a very little grey and white kitten, miles from any houses, SCREAMING his head off. Mark was determined to rescue the little thing and ended up juggling 2 lbs of hissing, spitting fur. They finally sorted things out and the kitten rode home in Mark’s coat, occasionally meowing and causing every dog on Mark’s team to snap their head around looking for the source of the noise. “If he makes it home, he can stay”, pronounced Mark. He did and stay he did. 
The cute little kitten, now named Take Out (all our cats are named after food – don’t ask, you don’t want to know – so Take Out seemed appropriate considering they way he came into our lives) grew … and grew … and grew. As an adult he weighed in at over 20 lbs. In fact, he grew so big that we had to replace the ‘cat door’ in our garage with a ‘small dog door’ last year. 

People often ask what kind of cat lives in a dog yard as big as ours – the answer is a slightly neurotic or slightly crazy one – Take Out was crazy. He always put more faith in the strength of our stake out chains then I was comfortable with and was often seen grooming himself just out of reach of the dogs on the edge of the dog yard. I once caught him walking along the top bar of one of the kennels. The young dogs in the pen were trying their darnest to bounce him off and into the pen. 

He figured every dog that we brought to the house was ‘cat friendly’ and had to make a lot of rushed trips under the deck when his assumptions turned out wrong. 

Everyone that ever came here to visit has met Take Out – and probably left with his kitty paw prints all over their vehicles. He loved jumping up on cars and was a master at climbing the ladder of the dog truck so he could get up on the top of it and survey his kingdom. He was in truck boxes and any open vehicle door at ever opportunity. A few years back Mark was looking out the kitchen window while drinking his coffee and noticed the cat sitting on the hood of our Suburban. He looked again and realized it wasn’t the hood – it was the dashboard he was sitting on. Take Out had been trapped in it overnight. 

Take Out's Life Quest was to find the perfect sleeping place – and to that end, he tested everything we ever put in the garage. From blankets, to boxes, to dogsleds, to 4 wheelers to dog crates to…I was continuously amazed by the weird sleeping spots he would pop out of when I went out to the garage in the morning. 

Over the years, Take Out stories have piled up. He was always a character and always in trouble. Although we were often annoyed and exasperated with him, he had firmly wedged himself into our hearts. 

Last week Mark and I were away. As we were making final preparations to leave, Take Out was very much in the middle of everything. 

When we got home on Sunday, it wasn’t a huge surprise to not find him at home. He was often away for hours at a time on hunting missions (even though he was a lousy hunter – I once saw him get beat up by a squirrel. Honest!), but by late afternoon Mark commented on his absence. The next morning I phoned Barb to see if she had seen him over the week when she had been by feeding and looking after the dogs. She said she hadn’t seen him at all and actually thought something must have happened to him before we left that I had forgot to mention to her. 

I talked to Anna, who was shoveling the dog yard and she reported him supervising her as she picked up our empty bottles for recycling on Saturday, but not seeing him after that. 

It has now been over 10 days since anyone last remembers seeing him and it looks like he will not be coming home. Gristle, his lifelong partner and constant companion, is beside herself. Every time she sees me, she begins wailing at the top of her lungs. I’ve explained to her that I have no clue where her buddy could be. Mark and I have checked out all the sheds, outbuildings, the cabin, vehicles, etc, etc that we though he could have wormed his way into, but with no luck. Most likely one of his hunting missions turned bad and we will never know what really happened. 

I used to joke that a bear could have walked through the middle of our yard and the dogs would have said nothing, but they insisted on reporting each of Take Out's departures and arrivals to the yard. It will be a long time before I quit hopefully glancing at his favorite path through the rock garden when the dog yard fires up. 

We will miss the big goof – and we hope wherever he may be, he has finally found the perfect sleeping spot and is resting well.

My lovebird cats, Gristle and Take Out
I think the last in this series is my favorite photo of Gristle and Take Out.