Wednesday 29 November 2006

November 29, 2006 Canine Cancer Stats

(Posted to the North Wapiti Yahoo Newsgroup by a Member on November 28th):

The statistics we were given from a specialist (Seattle, WA) a couple  weeks ago was that at least 50% of our canine friends will have some form  of cancer during their life - and they believe that figure may be falsely  on the low end. Lymphoma is supposedly the third most common cancer found  in canine cases that do get reported. Usually the most aggressive cancer  but also usually has the highest response rate to treatment. I think MCT  (mast cell tumors) were the number one cancer found in dogs.
The only reason I know this and decided to post today is that one of my  Siberians and I were "invited" to battle Lymphoma exactly two weeks ago.  Same scenario as Karen experienced with Chester (except no visible tumors  on my dog). In the morning my dog looked and acted fine. By 4 PM that  same day he was laying flat out and refusing food. I felt blindsided.  While this is not an Iditarod Siberian, he was running 800 - 1000 miles a  year in harness on a 6 dog team and his most recent exam with blood work  (end of August) reported him in great health. It is very tough to see an  athletic dog (or anyone's fuzzy buddy for that matter) struck down so  quickly. He is responding positively to chemo treatment and will soon be  wearing one of the bright orange collars! Thanks, Karen.

Pet4Pets charity collar
Click on image to enlarge

(Karen's reply):
Janet, What is your boy's name??

We, of course, wish him the best. Sissy, an 2001 Iditarod finisher with me, now owned by Donna Quante went through chemo a few years back and beat her cancer. Unfortunately, it has  recently returned, but Donna and Sissy got a number of happy years due to  the chemo treatment.
I wish you and your boy the same.

Keep us posted.

BTW - Chester is starting to struggle a bit. The steroids he is on have  shrunk his tumours quite a bit, which seems to have made him more  comfortable, but we are having issues with him vomiting. Tanis had us put  him on a antihistamine, but that hasn't seemed to work too well, and makes  him pretty sleepy.

He is still a tail wagging food hound though. Last night he climbed up on my  chair when I got up from the dinner table to see if he could find anymore  roast beef. We are pretty tolerant of his demands and that tactic, which  would normally get a dog reprimanded here, actually scored him some table  scraps.
It is been -30 here for the last week or so (-40 this morning), but Chester  still likes to spend a lot of time outside. I find him curled up in the straw  next to his outside doghouse as often as I find him curled up on the dog bed  inside.


(Followed up by another Group member's in put):
My cancer victim went through 6-months of chemo after her first surgery. She was put on a drug called Leukerin. It was expensive and can damage the liver and reduce white blood cells so she had to have monthly blood work (also expensive) however she acted completely normal and seemed to have no impact on her at all. It produced fewer side effects than I have heard other people experienced with Prednisone (another common treatment for mast cell cancer).

Karen, I'm sorry to hear that Chester is having symptoms. Is it Mast Cell? TJ had similar problems with vomiting (and diarrhea) due to the histamines the tumors produced. And it is disconcerting how the tumors grow and shrink. Seems like one day there is nothing then the next day there is a big lump as the histamines are released.

(Karen's reply):
Yes, it is Mast Cell tumours.

Actually, yesterday was a 'vomit free' day, so maybe the antihistamines are working.

Chester is discovering all sorts of foods to love. Mark had him slurping linguine last night.
It was -40 yesterday and even then the Boy spent a lot of the day outside in his pen, napping on the straw and watching the world go by (although not much moves around at -40).

Sunday 26 November 2006

November 26, 2006 Press Release

Chester is the dog that has spurred me to do this - but I also do it in special honor of Sissy aka The Flying Nun of NorthWapiti and Squeaky aka NorthWapiti's Robert E Lee - one fighting cancer currently and one lost to cancer earlier this year - and in honor of all the other dogs that have passed through my life that were taken away too soon by this awful disease.

For Immediate Release
Contact: Jamie Bishop, (402) 420-0909,
Photos available at:
Iditarod Racing Team To Sport Charity Collars For Cancer

Karen Ramstead, a dog musher and six-time competitor in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska, is joining in the fight to help find cures for pet cancer.
"All the dogs on my Iditarod team this year will be sporting bright orange Pet4Pets charity collars," said Ramstead, a racer and Siberian Husky breeder near Athabasca, Alberta. The collars are sold at pet stores, veterinary offices and at to raise funds for pet cancer research.

Pet4Pets charity collar
Click on image to enlarge

The legendary Iditarod follows a 1000-mile trail through deep snow, two mountain ranges, along the lonely Yukon River, and finally up the coast of the Bering Sea.

The race celebrates the dramatic March 1925 delivery of lifesaving medicine for diphtheria outbreak in Nome, Alaska. A string of dog sled teams made the journey to save human lives.

Today, the orange charity collars highlight one of Ramstead's new racing goals - to raise awareness and funds for pet cancer research. Each charity collar sold earns $2 for the Animal Cancer Foundation.
"Like many dog owners, we have lost a number of dogs to cancer. As I speak, Chester, one of my 10-year-old retired leaders, is living out his last days. It breaks my heart to watch as this once amazing athlete is beaten by cancer," she said.

Ramstead saw the collars at the veterinary hospital. At that moment, with fresh agony at Chester's diagnosis, she saw in the cancer a way to honor her canine companion of thousands of miles.
Chester arrived in her life at a grim time in the winter of 1996/97. She had lost her father to cancer. Her husband, Mark, was out of work. The last thing they needed was another dog. But Chester was special, so he stayed.

Soon Mark got a new job. They relocated to Perryvale, near Athabasca, in Northern Alberta. And Karen, a Toronto transplant, sought her dream to run the Iditarod.

She had run teams in smaller races and qualifiers. But the Iditarod is the big one. She and Chester, with 15 other dogs, gave it their first shot in 2000 but did not finish. The next year she became the first Canadian woman to complete the 1,151 mile dog sled race.

Chester, though young, was one of the leaders in the first team of registered Canadian Kennel Club Huskies to cross the finish line, she said.

Chester (3rd dog visible on left) finishing Iditarod 2001
Click to see the entire image

In 2004, her team, led by Chester and her superstar leader, Grover, set the third-fastest time for a purebred team.

Chester running right lead (with white shawl) and
Grover leading down the finish chute in Nome.
© Sunhusky

As celebrities, she and Chester were touring schools throughout Alberta, Montana and New Hampshire for dog sledding speeches and workshops. Chester loved kids, and they loved him right back.

Chester during a School Visit in 2001
Click to see the entire image

"With his non-stop wagging tail and friendly Siberian grin, he made friends wherever we went," she recalled.

Chester was also a Champion show dog. When he obtained his Canadian Championship he became one of only seven Siberian Huskies that are both Iditarod finishers and Champion show dogs.

Winner of Open class at the 2003 Siberian Husky Club of Canada National Specialty under Merc Cresap
Chester (aka "Ch. Chuchinka's Pathfinder")
Click to see the image larger

In January 2005, Chester retired from racing after a shoulder injury. He spent the winter of 2006 in New Hampshire, then he came home to retire.

Recently Ramstead saw he was having trouble swallowing food. A lump appeared on his head. An X-ray, barium swallow and biopsy confirmed that Chester had advanced cancer and less than a month to live.

"Our once proud, strong sled dog has moved into the house so that we can enjoy every moment we can with him," she said. 

"Chester and I have traveled 20,000 miles together in harness over the years. We have conquered the Alaska Mountain Range, brutal storms, ice, overflow and more - but this is something that he and I can't beat."

As they sprint across the frigid northern wilderness to honor the brave dog teams of 1925, her 2007 team will wear the orange collars to show how to save dogs from a disease that afflicts millions of pets and people - cancer.

Pets get the same kinds of cancer as people, just more of it - dogs get 35 times more skin cancer, four times more breast tumors, eight times more bone cancer, and twice as much leukemia. Scientists studying pet cancer can also shed light on human disease and pets can benefit from new human cancer therapies.

Each orange Pet4Pets charity collar sold provides $2 to the Animal Cancer foundation, which focuses funding on new science that benefits both pets and people.

"If telling Chester's story can help make it so someday another dog owner doesn't have to watch their dog go through this, I'm all for it," she said.

For more information about Pet4Pets charity collars, visit

Thursday 23 November 2006

November 23, 2006 Matt's Personal Best

The temperature around here has been jumping around like a steelie in a pinball machine. On Monday it was up to 2 C and last night it was down around –29C.

Matt our new handler, who is from the UK (but who has traveled and worked around the world) had never been in anything colder then –10C before his arrival here, so he keeps a close watch on those temperatures, recording new ‘personal bests’ almost daily.

Casey and Finnegan are out in the yard now. Luckily they moved out during our warm spell, so they had a few days to acclimatize before the temperatures began to drop. A lot of straw and their Mommy keep them toasty warm in their doghouse – and they are loving crashing through snow banks during the day.
Matt, Finnegan and Casey - November 2006
Matt, Finnegan and Casey

When I left the yard with a team the other day, Casey came to the door of her house and watched with fascination. Finnegan isn’t as brave as his little sister and settled for Casey’s ‘color commentary’ of the event.

The team is looking really good this year. I’m a little behind my training goals for this season, but ahead of last year’s numbers – and ahead in terms of the drive and attitude of the dogs.
Mark and I made a trip out to Forfar Campground on Sunday and the dogs set a blistering pace over and back. Everyone ate well at the campground and MOST (Vortec and Charge stopped it from being ALL) settled in nicely for a break afterwards.

No chewed harnesses or necklines though! Sweet!

I’m working hard on getting stuff organized for our first race of the season, which will be the Sheep Mountain 150 coming up December 16 and 17th. Looks like border crossings will be a bit easier this year – phew! It’s only Canadian kibble and Canadian beef that they won’t let across the border this year.

Newt is not enjoying his confinement to Fly’s small kennel while his leg is healing and has led most of us on chases around the yard after him. Newt on three legs is still faster then Mark and my two legs.
Chester is doing okay. He has figured out the dog door in the back room and spends a far amount of time hanging out in the outdoor kennel enjoying the snow. He rarely misses the opportunity to mooch leftovers when someone is in the kitchen though. I’ll confess, we are all pretty much suckers for him and he is getting a lot of ‘leftovers’.

I had been hoping to get him out for one more run in harness, but that opportunity may have passed me by already. I know he and I would both love that, but I have to juggle how much of a ‘price’ Chester would pay for such an outing. I wish they weren’t such a stoic breed and would be more ‘honest’ about how they were really feeling.

Have to give a quick ‘Treat’ – the Wildcat update too. She is defiantly getting braver and will hang out in plain sight while we are in the garage. Matt got the brilliant idea to pick her up last week. We should have warned him. “She went bloody MAD” - to put it in Matt’s words. He now claims he is more scared of that little kitten then any of the big, tough sled dogs here. Smart man.

Actually, Mark and Matt actually caught her last night and got some deworming medication down her throat. I wasn’t present but I’m told it was like a scene from Alien. She bit right through the leather glove Mark was wearing, but Matt escaped unscathed.

This morning when we were getting dog food ready in the garage her little black face with glowing yellow eyes glared evilly out from behind bags of dog food.

In closing I want to share a sad story. A week or so back a couple in Thorsby, Alberta that ran a dog sled touring business was killed in a car accident, leaving behind 65 dogs. Rescue groups have stepped up to help care for the dogs until they can be rehomed, but it got Mark and I thinking and talking about what would happen to our dogs should anything happen to the two of us. Of course we know our families understand how much our animals mean to us and would do their best to disperse the kennel as we would have wanted, but really they don’t know the ‘ins and outs’ of the ‘dog game’. It prompted me to speak with a friend that knows us, knows the dogs and the people we deal with well. We asked her if she would be in charge of caring for and placing our companions in the event of Mark and my deaths. She didn’t take the decision lightly and spoke with her husband before agreeing, which was very good. We have since passed along our wishes to our families and provided them with her contact information.

I urge all of you to take a moment to think about what would happen to your pets if you should suddenly pass. Make provisions that they would be cared for and rehomed in a manner that you would want. You owe it to them!

We hope all our American friends had a Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday 22 November 2006

November 22, 2006 Chester

I've had a couple false starts writing this diary entry. Something that only usually happens when I'm sharing bad news.

We discovered on Monday that Chester is in the advanced stages of cancer. This has caught us totally off guard.


It started with a small cough at feeding time last week. As Chester has always been a voracious eater, the first time it happened Mark and I figured he was just eating too fast and chided him for inhaling his food rather then chewing it, but when we noticed it a few days in a row, I made a vet appointment for him.

On Monday morning when Matt and I were walking out to Geriatric Park to get Ches, there was a large, very obvious lump on his head. Mark and I were gone for all the daylight hours on Sunday with teams, but I know it wasn't there Saturday and Matt doesn't remember seeing it on Sunday when he was visiting with the seniors. In my heart, I instantly knew this was a very bad thing.

X-rays and tests confirmed my fears. Chester is having trouble swallowing because his trachea and other assorted things are being pushed up almost to his spine by a large growth. The lump on his head is a nasty, aggressive mast cell tumour as well.

Treatment is not an option; everything is just too far along.

Tanis figures he has, at best, a month. I honestly would be surprised if it takes that long. In our experience with these dogs, they are stoic and 'hide' their problems until they absolutely cannot any longer - and then generally go downhill very quickly. We hope Chester will be an exception to that, but we are already seeing a few of the 'warning signs' Tanis told us to expect as the cancer advances.
Chester has moved into the house - and we are all doing everything we can to make what time we have left with him comfortable and happy. I feel very blessed that we have this opportunity to spend some special time with this special boy.


PS. Tara Lemieux of Kazlo Siberians bred NorthWapiti's Whinny at Nanook to Chester last year. Two of those kids - Kazlo's Shooter of NorthWapiti and Kazlo's Trigger of NorthWapiti live here. Trigger is a female CLONE of her Daddy - in both temperament and looks.

We are very grateful to have them both here.

Ch. Chuchinka's Pathfinder - Born: December 12th, 1996
(Chuchinka's Austin x Chuchinka's Restless Wind)
Major Races
Iditarod 2001 Finisher
Iditarod 2000
Iditarod 2003
Iditarod 2004 Finisher
Klondike 300
2005 Copper Basin 300
Show Status
Group 4th (Leslie Rogers)

Chester's Photo Gallery
(click to enlarge image - hold mouse over image for description)
Winner of Open class at the 2003 Siberian Husky Club of Canada National Specialty under Merc Cresap Chester curled up in a tire Chester's love (besides running) is kids!

Saturday 18 November 2006

November 18, 2006 Newt

It is not a secret that Mark and Newt are buddies. Newt and I have a rockier relationship, but Newt and Mark seem to especially understand and enjoy each other.

But now it seems Newt has taken his idolizing of Mark a little too far. See, first Mark missed most of last season with a broken leg – and now it seems Newt will be sitting out most of this season for the same reason!! Poor Newt!

Newt’s reason had nothing to do with a slip on the ice though – it is all due to a dogfight.

Matt (new kennel handler) and Newt

Why is it that small dogs often are the scrappiest?? Young Nitro fancies himself a tough guy, despite his rather small stature and young age. In Nitro’s hormone-glazed eyes, the path to status and respect goes straight through big, tough Newt.

Nitro has taken a few ‘shots’ at Newt of late, but Newt, showing commendable restraint, refused to rise to the bait. I figured they were better off remaining living next to each other to ‘sort’ things out. WRONG! In what looks like a fluke situation, Nitro got in a ‘lucky’ bite and managed to break Newt’s foot.

The vets are predicting a full recovery, but the boy is out of action for 8 weeks or so. He is less than impressed with his restricted space – first he was crate ridden for a few days and is now residing in Fly’s small kennel (Fly never uses it anyway).

Newt on 3 legs is still a boisterous and agile creature. Twice last night he managed to escape while Mark was getting into his pen. I imagine the better he feels, the more of a challenge to keep ‘quiet’ he will be.

 And I already thought he was rather obnoxious at the best of times! It will be a long 2 months, for both him and us, I figure.


November 21st (Follow up)

I owe Mark an apology. I've been claiming that it was pitiful that he was outrun by a 3 legged dog the other night - however last night I was sprinting across the yard after the cripple after he escaped on me and I could not catch him either. He's pretty speedy, even on 3 legs!

Wednesday 15 November 2006

November 15, 2006 Happy 13th Birthday!

Greetings Everyone,

(from Sue and Richard - Willowbend Siberians

Just a quick note to invite everyone to join us in wishing Norman a Happy 13th Birthday today. Norman has lived with us for several years now. He came to live with us and help train our puppies and young dogs. This past Monday some of those puppies turned 3 yrs old  and of the 6, 3 are out in lead these days. I'm sure it's a combination of good genes and a good teacher.

Norman (aka Ch. NorthWapiti's Against All Odds)

Norman has been fully retired now for 2 yrs. Somewhere around 10 something he started to let me know that he preferred the sled bag to his harness. When we would stop to sort out some problem he would  bail from the bag and run down the trail with out us. Always we would find him happily holding down the dog truck waiting for us. Apparently I was very well trained. From then on though he trained puppies in the summer on the skijoring line for walks.

He is mostly blind in one eye due to a cataract and is quite deaf, still wondering if that is just the selective hearing thing coming out. He's had a few minor surgeries this year and trudged along like a good Siberian does. He is a wonderful soulful old gentleman and he  still happily negotiates the kennel and the house with a purpose (especially the couch), although a bit more slowly and cautiously. He dances like a puppy when supper is served and continues to join  in the daily howl fests. He gives the puppies crap when they annoy him and respectfully continues to teach the young men of our kennel.
We wish him all the best today and all his remaining days to come.  Although frail he is happy and we will continue to do our best to make his remaining years happy and healthy.
Thanks Karen and Mark. We have enjoyed his company immensely.

Happy Birthday Norman!!
Sue and Richard
Willowbend Siberians

How well I remember the night Norman was born. It just can't be that that was 13 years ago. Amazing how time slips away.

Norman was a special dog in our lives too - and we also immensely enjoyed our time with him. We are so pleased that we were able to find such a fabulous home for him - where he could have a job and feel important - and one that would take such wonderful care of him in his Twilight Years. He deserved the best - and we know that is what he got.

Happy Birthday Normie.
With love,
Karen and Mark

November 15, 2006 Sinking a Hook

Sinking a hook. Mushers lives seem to revolve around the "sinking of a hook". At this time of year, all our conversations, whether by phone, email or in person quickly come around to the question - "Can you sink a hook yet?"

Of course, we aren't talking about fishing - not many mushers have time to fish at this time of year - but rather sinking a snow hook. Whether or not it is safe to switch from whatever form of fall training you are doing (for us, 4-wheelers) to running with sleds depends on whether there is enough and the right consistency of snow that a snow hook will 'hold' a dog team. The size of team is also dependent on this. You might be able to get a snow hook pounded into the snow enough that it will hold a 4-dog team, but it might not be solid enough to hold an 8-dog team.
┬ęPenny Blankenship for
Now, while I've heard lots of grumbling out of Alaska about snow conditions, we in central/northern Alberta have early and plentiful snow. In fact, it is the earliest that I remember snow in Perryvale - and we definitely have more than we did all last winter!

So, after a bit of insurance snow on Monday (enough that Mark put his car in the ditch trying to get up the driveway Tuesday morning) the answer to the "Can you sink a hook yet?" question at the Ramstead household was a grin and a resounding "YES".

Getting out on a sled for the first time each season is just the most wonderful thing. Honestly, when I pull that snow hook and the dogs head off into the woods with only the sounds of their paws and the runners on snow, it's like I'm instantly taken back to my first experience behind a dog team. My world seems just RIGHT."

This year I had a special treat, because for my first runs I had passengers in my sled, all who were having their first experience dog sledding.

For my very first run, I carefully selected a team that would willingly plough through unbroken snow and put in a nice trail for me. Who better than Snickers for that job? So, she and Hilda had the honour of leading the first sled out of the yard this year. My passenger was our new handler, Matt.
Matt, who is from the UK, started working for us last Sunday. I had been teasing him one night that he didn't use my favourite British expression, "Brilliant". I guess we just hadn't given him the right motivation yet, 'cause when he climbed out of my sled after a 4-mile run, he described the experience as "Brilliant". * VBG *

Once back in the yard, we put away one team and quickly hooked up another. This team's passenger was Jan, a visitor up from the Red Deer area. I'm fairly sure she had as good a time as I, as when she got out of the sled, she gave me a huge hug!

My last team of the day, led by Olena and Runner, with Jan's friend Lori riding, was definitely the fastest. I was glad driving a sled is a lot like riding a bike and you don't quickly forget (remember, the last time I was on the runners was in Nome last March) as we maneuvered through the trees and around tight corners.

So the day ended with a lot of smiling faces, both Siberian and human - at least in our neck of the woods!

Saturday 11 November 2006

November 11, 2006 Climbing Back In

(Photos coming soon)
As most of you know, we raise our puppies in a 'kiddies pool' in our back room. Easy to clean, I can crawl in it with them, and Moms can't accidentally squish babies against the wall. Works great.
Then, once the babies are big enough that they start climbing out of the pool on a regular basis, it is time for them to move outside, usually between 3 and 4 weeks of age.

Then came Casey and Finnegan.

Their 3-week birthday came and went and, although they were hanging over the top edge of the pool on a regular basis, they showed no interest in getting out. Hmmm…. that was odd. I began to suspect they were up to no good.

Sure enough, seemingly overnight they mastered climbing out of the pool – and at the same time, something no puppies have ever done before – climbing back into it. This allows them to terrorize the house and then be curled up sweetly in the pool when we walk in the door.

Now actually, that is not proving to be an unworkable situation, as we have a door that I can lock them in the back room when we are out or sleeping. And, with our new floors (why exactly did I talk about doing this for 9 years before actually getting it done??) it is so easy to clean up after them that I don’t mind them having run of the house. In fact, we are completely enjoying having them underfoot.
Then the little brats discovered Kara’s dog bed. This instantly become the most coveted spot in the house and when I free them from the backroom each morning – all three of them (Casey, Finnegan and their Mom) beeline for it.

I haven’t told Kara yet. I’m sure she will be appalled.

I can’t talk about the puppies without mentioning the one problem we are having with Sprite living in the house.

As you all may recall, a doggie door joins the MASH unit, which is the back room and the secure kennel outside, so adult dogs can just let themselves out when they need a bathroom break. It is working great and I don’t think Sprite has had a single accident in the house while living inside.
However, she is a bit of a pack rat and insists on squirreling a lot of treasures – mostly doggie toys outside. The last few nights, I’ve had to turn on the back yard lights after feeding and go collect an armful of stuffed toys from the outside house. And the other day while I was working on the computer, she trotted past my office carrying a framed photo of Mark and I, which she had stolen off the bookshelves. As soon as she heard me coming after her, she bolted for the doggie door.
Nice that she wanted to decorate her outside space with a reminder of us , but she is now only allowed supervised time outside of the back room. And that works fine, although that is where we keep our footwear. I wonder why it is I can’t seem to now find my other running shoe??? 

In closing, today is November 11 - Remembrance Day for those of us here in Canada. My father would be appalled if I didn't take time to say 'Thanks' to all those that have so bravely fought for our country in so many conflicts over the years. Please, take a moment at the 11 hour of the 11 day of the 11 month, to stop and remember the sacrifices these folks have made and are making today, so we can continue to enjoy our freedoms and ways of live.  Lest we forget.

Monday 6 November 2006

November 6, 2006 Photo Odds & Ends

With a full moon and snow on the ground it was so bright in the dog yard last night at feeding time, we almost didn’t need the yard lights! Just beautiful. In the summer, when we rarely experience darkness, you forget how beautiful the night and night skies are. I saw a really cool shooting star a week or so ago: it didn’t give me what I wished for, but it was still very neat to see! 

Good thing I like the dark, ‘cause we have already dropped down to only 9 hours of daylight per day – as opposed to the 17 ½ hours of it we have June 21st!

So, I did want to take a moment to thank everyone who has written and called to express their condolences on Grover’s passing. It has been a very difficult time, but the support of friends and family certainly helps. I do intend to answer all your emails (there are 115 messages sitting in the ‘Grover’ file), it is just that I’m not quite ready to do it yet. I hope you all understand. 

I am going to share with you the last pictures taken of Grover – it is him spending some time with his great grandson (well, suspected great grandson) Finnegan. He just adored puppies.


Most of this entry is actually going to be pictures. I’m kind of cheating and letting pictures do most of the speaking for me today.

First up are some more pictures of Casey, Finnegan and their Mom. Sprite is doing a wonderful job as a Mom. She is tolerant, patient, attentive and yet very playful with them. Last night the three of them were watching TV with us and Sprite was entertaining us by playing ‘keep off the blanket’ with the kids. They are very spunky and opinionated, so they just kept coming back for more!

You will notice they have a lot of toys in their ‘pool’. Sprite keeps raiding the toy box in the living room and packing them all back to her children! Casey was imitating her the other day and we caught her dragging a stuffed octopus that was MUCH bigger than her across the floor and to the whelping room. Too cute!

They also do something I have never heard 3-week-old puppies do – they join in on group howls. The first time it happened, I was sure it was a coincidence, but yesterday their Mom was out in the dog run joining in on a howl and the pups actually joined in too. They are going to be outspoken dogs, for sure. 

Next up are some pictures of the yard after our first snowfall. We lost most of that snow, but then got another batch, so we have pretty much had snow for the last few weeks. Not enough to sled on yet but getting close.

Crunchie passes up on his doghouse and opts to enjoy some of the first ‘flakes of the season.

BTW, those of you sharp-eyed readers may notice that Crunchie is on Grover’s old stake out. I thought I was going to leave it open for a while, but staring at that empty spot every morning turned out to be too much. I felt it appropriate that his first-born son inherit the coveted spot.

The next images are ones from our run yesterday.

We kind of cheated today. Hilda and Roary are in season and are driving the boys mad, so I decided to hook up 10 girls on my team and give Mark an all boy team. It actually worked very well.
Mark’s team was:

Moses / Junior / Odie / Loki / Q / Batdog / Barq
Runner / Newt / Boom / Vortec / Watt / Lingo / Draco

Taking an early break, notice how many heads are turned waiting for the call to go.

Break time for the team led by Jr & Moses, brothers Odin & Loki still listening for the call up,
 while Q eats some snow - behind them the faces of Runner, Barq, Lingo and Watt are visible.

Once power seems more reliable...this is the SAME cat that was stuck in the muskeg last year!

JR & Moses in lead, Odin (behind JR), Q is two dogs behind Moses...

Batdog & Q, Runner & Barq look pleased with their run, while Boom sniffs the snowy air...

Q looks at something interesting


Q - a good looking young dog
My team (aka The Battling Bitches) was:
Hilda / Olena / Roary / Holly / Kara / Dasher / Jinx
Tess / Nahanni / Snicks / Eeek / Charge / Crunch / Hector

Getting ready to run two teams

My 4 boys, like all good men around that much swirling estrogen, wisely kept their heads down and just quietly did their jobs! Well, except that Eeek and Charge aren’t big on stopping and kicked up a fuss EVERY TIME we stopped for even 5 seconds!

Eeek & Charge sing out

It was a great 20-½ mile run and everyone was tired, but content, at the end of it. A day like that can make me smile, no matter what!!

A team working well together...notice the taut tug lines...

Pausing to share the road

Down the road we never knows exactly who we'll see on the way.

On our way...the four dogs closest to the milk crate are Eeek (red piebald on left) & Charge, followed by Hector & Crunchie.

Team traveling down the snowy trail

A different type of passing practice...passing unusual objects...

Hector rests next to Crunchie

I’m going to close with a few notes from the kennel –
Treat, the new wildcat, is doing well. She has decided to allow herself to be seen, but touching is still off limits.  Nokken left to return to Al and Ann Stead in Minnesota. We miss him, but the kennel is much quieter in his absence!

We have a handler arriving today or tomorrow. Matthew is from the UK, but has been over in Canada for much of the last 10 years. The folks at his last job gave him a glowing reference, so we are looking very forward to his arrival!  Little Rocket is doing wonderful on a chain. She seems to be contained now – and seems happy with her new living arrangements too!

Perhaps Rocket is contemplating the futility of further escape attempts...
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©Penny Blankenship
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I think that brings everyone pretty much up to speed! 
All for now,

I carved this myself!