Sunday 29 July 2007

July 29, 2007 Scary Moment

I'm being plagued with communication problems of late. First our phone line was down after getting accidentally cut somewhere on the other side of the highway. Took a bit to get that fixed, but right after that happened, our satellite Internet connection went down. That has been up and down for the last 10 days or so, so communication to the 'outside world' has been limited. You would think that could be a good thing, but it is quite a pain actually!

I'm going to start this entry by sharing a scary story that happened last Thursday. Ronny was in the city having wished for a change of 'wild life', and Mark and I were puttering around before leaving to pick up Cricket when a tremendous storm moved in. It last only about 15 minutes, but we got a lot of rain and huge, close cracks of lightning during that time.

Hilda and her pups had been moved up to one of the puppy pens just the day before, so as soon as the worst of the storm passed, I ran out to check and make sure they had all weathered the storm alright. I was about halfway to the pen when I became aware of Hilda frantically pacing her pen. A few steps later I could hear the howling of a puppy in distress. I ran up to the pen to find 3 puppies safe and dry in the doghouse, 1 SOAKING wet puppy running around the pen and 3 missing. The noises from the one pup were coming from under the doghouse and when I got to the back of the house I could see what had happened. Hilda, in the last couple days had dug a depression at the back of the house for her puppies to sleep in. It wasn't a big hole, but at least some of the puppies were sleeping in there when the storm hit. Three of them had crawled up under the house to get out of the rain, but the hole filled up with the intense rainfall, trapping them. I could only hear one puppy crying, so I didn't know whether the others were safely out of the water or what.

I screamed for Mark at the top of my lungs while trying to dig to drain some of the water from under the house. I also got my arm up under the house as best I could to see if I could feel any puppies in the water - I couldn't.

Luckily Mark had heard me and quickly understood it was an emergency, not even pausing to slip shoes on over his socks. I hollered at him to bring a shovel as he ran up to the pen.

Once there he lifted the heavy doghouse and I was able to crawl under and pull three very frightened, very soggy puppies from underneath. Thanks to the pallets that our doghouses sit on, all three were able to find safe spots mostly out of the water - but just.

I toweled the babies dry and tucked them all in the house with their grateful Mom. Mark stood out in his now incredibly muddy, sloppy socks filling holes before heading back to the house.

With our super sandy soil and our sloping dog yard, it just had never occurred to either of us that such a thing could happen!

Very scary!!

Anyway, the pups are all fine. None appear to have suffered any ill effects from their ordeal!

All are adorable and growing far too quickly!

Kluane's children are growing like weeds too - probably because they get lots of water!! They got a pool a few weeks back and just ADORE splashing around in it. Well, all except Utin. The only time I've seen him willing go into the pool was to pee in it! What a BOY!!!

Kara's babies continue to refuse to be weaned. I've put my foot down a few times said I wasn't going to let her in with them anymore, but have ended up caving each time. I'm just hoping she weans them prior to their first Iditarod. I'd hate to explain to race officials that I have to pack Kara in the sled so she can nurse them in every checkpoint!!

Colleen was up for a weeklong visit. She is always a tremendous help around the house and yard - plus she always brings along lots of goodies - and I just plain like having her around - so everyone (dogs and humans alike) looks forward to her visits!

Despite many offers to make room in the house for her (since Ronny has the Guest Cabin), she insisted she wanted to tent for the week, so we set up the Arctic Oven tent just outside the back door. She pronounced it very comfortable and dry, despite a couple nights of rain.

I'm actually very impressed by the tent, how easy it is to set up and how spacious it is inside. It also withstood the onslaught on Bait and Tic very well, who were constantly looking for ways to be in or on the tent.

The visit was a very nice one and Colleen got A LOT of dogs groomed for me, which was very appreciated. In addition, she and I spend an evening hanging pictures and such that were taken off the walls for our renovations last winter - it was about time I got to that.

The weather cooperated and on Wednesday and Thursday, thanks to the help of Colleen and Ronny, I was able to get 2 teams run each morning. Everyone looked great and put in very nice performances!

Yesterday we drove into St Albert and took in the wonderful farmer's market that happens there every Saturday throughout the summer before we headed back to Perryvale and Colleen back to Craven!

After we got back, I headed off in search of Mark, who had left a note on the table that said "Down at the River". Typical Mark stuff - no explanation, no real location, no time.. I made my best bet as to location and headed off. I eventually ran into him along the old railway allowance on the east side of our property.

For the last number of years the Tawatinaw River has been so high that it was impossible to get a dog team across it. However this year it is again low and you could actually walk across, if you wished. So it was Mark's idea to work on a few of the trails and our camping spot on the east side of the river and start using them again this fall.

We scouted out a few new spots and some of our old ones before heading back home. Later in the day Mark and Ronny went over and cleaned up the camping spot a bit.

I'm looking forward to crossing the river and using that camping spot again!

Today is a quiet day around the kennel. It was far too warm to run this morning and the heat is up above 30 C this afternoon, so the dogs are laying low. Mark is watching a NASCAR race and I'm trying to catch up on odds and ends before I head off to Pennsylvania next weekend.

That's the news for today!


Friday 27 July 2007

July 27, 2007 Goodbye Arnie

I know many of you have met or heard stories about my Mom's dog, Arnie over the years.

Arnie Oct 18 1995 - July 24 2007

I think this is the easiest way for me to let all of you know about my Arnie. When I tried to call a few of you I cry so hard while dialling there is just no point.

We got Arnie as a Christmas present to Don from Karen and Jim in 1995. When Don passed away in /96, he left Arnie to me and he certainly became my dog. As Karen said " I'm sure there were days after dad passed that you wouldn't have gotten out of bed if it wasn't for Arnie" That is so true. He was my companion and faithful friend for all these years.

As you know he was sick and getting progressively worse so with Karen and Jim's blessings and Jim by my side , yesterday I gave him back to Don. He better be happy cause it's pretty sad here.

I can't imagine what it will be like when Jim and Melissa come to visit and no Arnie at the door to greet them. Sometimes it would take 15 minutes before they were allowed to come and say 'hi" to me.

My heart is totally broken and I will miss him forever.


Friday 20 July 2007

July 20, 2007 Fly & Cricket

Day before yesterday, we took Fly in for his yearly shampoo and haircut. He happily bound into the van with Mark, sure that something fun and exciting was in the works.

He bound out of the groomers feeling spiffy and bouncy, but the second he got into the dog yard, all that changed. See, despite dogs supposedly having such a great sense of smell and recognizing each other primarily via that, our dog lot is definitely fooled by a simple haircut!

Fly is still, 2 days later, being defined as 'fresh meat' around here! He's spending most of his time hiding behind our deck, feeling sorry for himself. Every time he steps out from behind there, the dog yard goes nuts screaming and yelling at him.

I've tried taking him out for a few of the dogs to sniff, but they refuse to believe it is really Fly. Fly is beginning to get quite pissed off at them all trying to take shots at him. I'm sure they will all figure it out and settle down in time - or maybe they are all just laughing at him, in which case, it could go on for awhile!

So, still sort of on the Fly subject, I've think I've mentioned in the past that Fly was beginning to slow down with his advancing age. Many years ago he got run over by a 4 wheeler, it has bothered him on and off over the years - and now it seems he has some arthritis settling in his one front leg. We've tried a few different meds on him, but nothing is completely solving the problem.

The winter was rather hard on him and while he is still the same active, happy go lucky guy he has always been, he is more reluctant to bounce out of bed in the middle of the night to ward off the coyotes or other woodland critters.

Both Mark and I adore Fly and he has more then earned his retirement here - but we need one more favor from him first - and that is to 'Fly-ise' a replacement. So, I've been searching for a new yard dog.

I've looked at numerous breeds and talked to many breeders, but in the end, I decided we needed to put our 'money where our mouths were' and support a rescue group!

So, after filling out an application (accompanied by a letter explaining our special circumstances) and speaking with a few folks from the local 'Second Chance Animal Rescue' (SCARS, for short), Mark and I headed out last night to check out their dogs looking for a new home.

The place we visited was without a doubt the nicest set up for a Rescue place I've ever seen. Big, clean, covered runs in a neat and orderly yard - these are very lucky rescue dogs indeed and a group I felt completely comfortable dealing with.

The dog we were most interested in, Pearl, a great Pyrenees cross, trotted out to greet our van as we pulled in. Sylvia took time to introduce us to all 20+ dogs on the property and a few caught our eye, but in the end, it was indeed Pearl that came home with us.

Someone loved Pearl at sometime, as she was spayed and is very friendly, but when SCARS got a hold of her, she was so matted and neglected that they had no choice but to shave her coat. She has a few scars on her face, but is sweet and lovable despite it all. They guess her age to be between 1 and 2. She is a big girl, at least in our yard, weighing about 80 lbs or so. She towers over Fly and everyone else around here.

Fly isn't sure what to think of his new trainee, but he has figured out that, with her size, she is a good one to call 'friend'.

Oh, and we are changing her name - it will be either Cricket or Bug - still debating that one!

You can see pictures of her - and some of coiffed Fly at


Tuesday 17 July 2007

July 17, 2007 Visitors & Puppy News

All kinds of stuff happening around the kennel right now, even if we are in the midst of a heat wave and not doing too much at all with the dogs!!

First off, we just finished a very nice visit with Jackie and Chris Marshall. In case I haven't mentioned Marshall's of late in my diary entries, let me take a moment to tell you a bit about them and why they are so important to me.

It was about 18 years ago that I showed up in Jackie and Chris's yard out in Invermere, BC. Jackie was the boss of one of my best friends and my friend had thought that it would be cool to go see their kennel while I was out visiting for a week. No one knew at the time that I had decided I wanted to buy a Siberian Husky, it was simply a coincidence that we ended up in their yard that day.

Before we left, I had made arrangements to purchase 2 year old Meomar's Miss Liberty from them, although we didn't pick her up until a number of months later, when we were settled in our house in Wembley, Alberta.

Meomar Dogs From Marshalls




Over the next few years, I made a lot of trips out to Invermere to hang out at Marshall's. Their door was always open and they were always willing to answer my rookie questions.

It was the first winter I knew them that they took me out on my first sled ride.

Many more rookie questions followed and it was with their guidance that we bred our first litter, hooked up our first dog team, entered our first race, etc, etc.

They were patient and gracious teachers and we were able to advance quickly in our 'mushing career' with no small thanks to them.

Over the years their lives and ours have been hectic enough that we haven't actually seen each other in over 12 years.

Marshall's have just recently sold their place in Invermere and are living in a 5th wheel for the time being, so what better time to visit.

I must say, their 5th wheel is the most gorgeous trailer I've ever been in - with all 4 sliders out it features over 400 square feet of living space - unreal!!

Anyway, we had a nice couple days catching up, looking at photos old and new, and gossiping before they hit the road yesterday morning.

All the babies are doing very well. With the soaring temperatures, I bought the 'Cree' litter a pool the other day and was shocked at how fast they took to it. It was still filling up when all three girls baled in and started splashing about. Utin thinks his sisters are nuts and only goes in if we put him in, but the girls are water babies!

Kara and her kids are out in a puppy pen. The pups are having a grand time - Kara is pissed. She actually scaled the 4-foot puppy fence and came up to the house to visit the first day she was out there. Now she has decided that that is too much work and just deeks Ronny out whenever he goes into that pen. Yesterday she came barreling up to the house, figured out she could squeeze through the cat door Mark build into our screen door and came in to help me with my yoga - very helpful.

I've started giving her a bit of house time, as her babies don't want to start eating kibble, so with her up in the house a few hours before meals, we know they will be hungry when dinner is served.

Hilda's puppies have been named. Because they are a pretty inbred litter (and no we are not worried about that - the odd inbreeding in a solid, healthy pedigree is not worrisome and can even be very good) we went with a 'Hillbilly' theme. The girls are - Daisy, Fritter, Billy (Hillbilly) and Banjo. The boys are - Bubba, Roscoe, and Cooter.

I moved them out into the MASH pen off the house, as the babies were escaping the pool and poor little Roscoe fell out the doggie door the other day - and that's a big drop!! I decided that it was safer for them outside. We will move them out to a puppy pen soon, but for now it is nicer to have them close to the house.

Make sure to visit Ronny's web album - - , as there are pictures of all the puppies there - as well as some great shots of Bait stalking a deer that was up behind our outhouse the other day. Yes, he dreams rather big! I thought I was going to fall over I was laughing so hard. The deer noticed him when he got within 6 feet or so from it and seemed rather amused too. She certainly wasn't fearful of our little black panther!

I also have a few photos of the HillBillies up on my site -

Well, time to go throw some dinner on. We are eating early tonight, as I have to make a late night run out to the airport to drop Rainy off for her trip back to New Hampshire. Many of you might remember Rainy as one of Moses and Kaylinn's children. We sold her to Kim and Kelly Berg a year or so ago and they send her back up last month to be bred to Q. It should be a very nice litter.
I'm also going to drop Ronny off in the city for a few days of 'civilization'. Don't want to sour the boy too badly before the real work starts! J

All for today!


Wednesday 11 July 2007

July 11, 2007 2008 Iditarod Pool 'Starting Lineup'

As those of you that have followed these entries for a while may know, July 1 is the date each year I roll back the dog’s mileage to zero and ‘officially’ begin the new training season.  Well, yesterday morning was cool and clear – perfect to kick things off!
Because I brought a nasty viral infection of my mastoiditis bone (somewhere in the inner ear) home from Alaska and am on a heavy course of antibiotics and painkillers, I rounded up not only Ronny, but also Mark to assist.
In no time flat we had 14 ecstatic fuzzballs slamming into their harnesses and eager to go. Zipping through the damp and chilly woods it was hard not to dream about the months ahead and this seasons races.  There is no way to tell whether this will be the year of our dreams or not, but I choose to think positive. We have the dogs, the motivation and the desire for it to be a great year – so let’s get it started!
I’ll start the diary entries for this season as I always do – with introductions to the ‘pool’.
As usual – let’s begin with the veterans.
With 42 dogs in this year’s training pool, my most senior veterans are going to have to work hard to maintain their spots. I think a number of them are up to it though!
They are:




Honestly, I think if any of these guys make the team this year, it will be Loks and Odes, but I’ve been surprised many times before.
Next up is the group I expect the bulk of the main string to be made up of. A solid 19 strong dogs –




















I think any of those 18 are capable of going to Nome. Watch for Charge, Q, Boom, Watt and Jr to become serious forces in the kennel!
Spider, Jinx, Tess, and Holly are all on the verge of being considered top-notch leaders

The next group is a small one – but 3 individuals. They are my experienced rookies - dogs that have multiple seasons of good training, but haven’t made my main string.




Togo should be almost a shoe in for the main string – very talented dog (who raced some with Kim and Kelly Berg last season). Who knows what Newt is going to do!
Then there is the unbound less energy of the 16 rookies –

















I believe I have all sorts of stars in the wings in this rookie group. Dogs that jump to mind are Runner, who I have no doubt will be not only a fabulous, hard driving team dog this year, but I’m certain will be doing a lot of leading.
X and Bongo have got to be two of my favorite 2 year olds; although I’d be hard pressed to rate them as higher then dogs like Wolvie and Irving!
Nitro is a dog that I’m not tremendously fond of in the dog lot, but he continues to challenge me to really dislike him by putting remarkable performances in in harness. He may grow on me yet!
Joining the fray for the first couple months of the season will be the yearlings –











Not much to say about the ‘kids’ yet. I try not to judge yearlings, just let ‘em run and have fun. No youngster is ever considered for a spot on my main string until they are a solid 2 years of age.
Well, that is it – the main string for 07/08. I think they are a tremendous bunch of athletes and I’m proud of them already – but I can’t wait to see them all develop and turn into a team. Makes me smile to think about it!