Wednesday 26 December 2007

December 26, 2007 'Bad' Dog Snacks!

Dogs have no respect for our silly little people holidays.

Yesterday morning started nicely. We had actually celebrated Christmas - opening presents and feasting on turkey the day before as Mark was working 6 am - 6pm Christmas Day, so I was planning on a nice long run with the dog yesterday.

That plan lasted until about 7 am when Kathryn and I discovered that Jelly Bean aka Mr. Bean aka Beanie Baby was sick - and pretty seriously sick. He had a bad case of bloody-ish diarrhea and was obviously feeling poorly. We messed around with him a bit and then when I took his temperature and it registered at 103.5, the messing was over. I called the vet and, of course, got their emergency answering service. I told them who I was and explained the problem. The normal procedure is that there will be a slight delay while they get a vet on another line and then they will patch me through. But not so this morning, there was a LONG delay and then the operator came on saying she was trying a different number. A minute or so later she came back and said she couldn't find a vet, but would get one to get back to me right away. I felt so bad calling early on Christmas morning - this was not making it any better.

About 15 minutes later one of the horse vets from the Clinic, who wasn't the vet that was supposed to be on call called. He didn't sound pleased. I profusely apologized for bothering him on Christmas morning and then there was an awkward pause where he was supposed to say something reassuring like "That's alright", but didn't. Ouch. I quickly launched into explaining my problem with Beanie. The vet very quickly warmed up to the call when he realized I wasn't bothering him for some 'silly' reason. Luckily I had on hand the antibiotics he wanted Beanie on and some stuff to sooth his tummy. As we were catching whatever he had early, we were able to use this course of treatment rather then us all spending Christmas Day at the vet. Phew!!

Kathryn and I spent the morning coaxing syringes of water down Beanie's throat and keeping a close eye on him. By 1pm he was starting to act much more like the 'real' Mr. Bean, by 2 pm I felt comfortable enough to take the team out for a run.

The run was spectacular. The temperatures were sitting around -9 C and with my 4 wheeler sporting the new HEATED seat cover that Mark got me for Christmas (no kidding, it is so neat!!! I make no apologies for these kinds of luxuries on my quad - it just rolled 8150km in 3 winters worth of use!) I was downright toasty. I sang along with my iPod as my team just booked it down the trail.

A few neighbors stopped to wish me a Merry Christmas as they drove by but mostly we had the road to ourselves. As it got dark Christmas lights began twinkling on the farm houses. I remember many Christmas's with my family driving around the city looking at Christmas lights. Who would have ever thought I'd be looking at them from behind my dog team one day?

As we rounded the last corner to point back towards home, I caught a glow of light from an area that I didn't know there was a house. There was also a glow in the night sky above the light -  my mind turned a bit before I realized it was Mother Nature outdoing all my neighbors with a stunning display of her own. It was the moon - low, large and a beautiful warm orange color, glowing on the horizon. It was so beautiful; it was hard to look away.

The team rolled into the yard around 6:30. Mark arrived home as Kathryn and I were feeding the main string. He pitched in and we got the whole yard fed. I was picking up harnesses when I found one of the extra harnesses that I hadn't used on that run lying next to the trail in ruins. Unfortunately, it was missing most of the neoprene lined neck piece. I was really puzzled over who would have done this; until I consulted the dog board to see who might have been close enough to reach it when the team was parked in the yard waiting for their dinner. Tess's name instantly jumped out.

I've been having big problems this fall and winter with her grabbing and inhaling junk she finds on the trail - and a week or so ago she destroyed, but didn't eat, a harness I left lying too close to her as I was unharnessing and putting away dogs. I looked at Tess and I looked at the size of the chunk of missing harness. Not good.

Now to tell the next part of this story, I need to do a flashback to Saturday night.

On Saturday night, good friends Marty and Colleen Hovind showed up to pick up a couple of dogs they were getting from us - Lingo and one of Olena's candies, Twizzler. Of course, Twizzy quickly worked her way to the house to meet her new folks (Colleen hadn't seen they were about a day old!). Within minutes of being inside, Twizzy somehow swallowed one of the cat toys that was floating around the house. Ironically, it was a toy Colleen had brought out for the cats on a previous visit.

We decided that we needed to try and get the darn thing out. I was familiar with the theory of using hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting in a dog, but in 18 years of breeding dogs I've never actually had to do this. I consulted the internet and Colleen consulted a vet tech friend and within minutes we had Twizzy doing the 'hoaker, hoaker' routine. Unfortunately, although she puked up some kibble, a bit of straw, and some gross flemmy looking stuff - no 'double whammy' cat toy.

(As a footnote - Twizzy is home in Saskatchewan now and doing fine. Colleen and Marty have been in touch with their vets and are in a 'wait and see' mode now).

So, now back to last night..

Since I was now experienced in the act of inducing vomiting in a dog (how ironic is that - 18 years of working with dogs and never needing to do that - then twice in under a week) I hauled out the peroxide and headed out to make Tess sick. I syringed the solution down her throat and sat back waiting for harness bits to appear. Tess gagged once and then sat and stared at me. After about 10 minutes, I repeated the procedure. Tess blinked at me a few more times, sniffed the ground and flopped into her dog house for a nap. I scurried to the house and consulted the internet about what to do if the treatment for inducing vomiting is unsuccessful. Apparently, it is always successful. Obviously, the internet doesn't know Tess. I debated calling the vet, but figured I would really being pushing my luck there unless I had a dying dog on my hands.

I went out and dosed Tess once more. This HAD to work. Tess was now convinced I had lost my mind and retreated to her dog house, curling up with her back facing me.

Now I started to fret about what all that peroxide in her stomach was going to do to her.

Mark had no brilliant ideas, so I decided to pester Colleen to pester her vet tech friend, but of course, it was Christmas night, Colleen was out.

I fretted for about 45 minutes before Colleen called back. Right away she offered to phone her friend and in 15 minutes I had been advised that the peroxide would not hurt Tess and that it was now too late to get her to puke up the harness anyway (ove4r 2 hours had now passed since she had eaten it).

We now, like Colleen and Twizzy, are on a 'wait and see' protocol. My fingers are crossed that my evil little brat ripped the harness into smaller pieces before swallowing it.

So, that is how we passed our Christmas. How exciting, eh??

This morning Tess appears fine and Beanie is still improving. Of course, we will be watching them closely and I will probably run them into the vet tomorrow, just to be cautious. And beside, if I don't run them into the vet now, they will probably hold off till New Year's Eve and have crisis's then!


December 26, 2007 Kara's New Dog Bed

For Christmas I purchased Kara a lovely new dog bed. Now, Kara already has a reasonably new, lovely dog bed, but she likes thebigger, rattier old one, so both have been hanging out in the house for the last year or so. I thought if I got her a nice new, slightly bigger one, she might let me throw out the old one (it doesn't work with Mark and his ratty t-shirts, but I thought Kara might be a little more biddable).

As my friend Lynda can vouch, I didn't take the new Kara bed purchasing decision lightly. I hummed and hawed for a long time before settling on one. Christmas morning came and I, with great fanfare unveiled the new dog bed. I moved the old one out of the way and replaced it with the new one. With some prompting, Kara lay on it for about 10 minutes before moving back to the old stinky bed.

Yesterday I walked in the door to find Bait sleeping on the new dog bed, Tic snoring on the slightly older bed and Kara on the ratty old thing. *sigh*

This morning I had to drive Kathryn to the airport, as she is picking up her hubby and heading to Jasper for a few days vacation. I decided that I was going to fix this dog bed issue once and for all, so I took Kara with me for a trip to PetSmart on the way home.

 Kara was quite intrigued by PetSmart, but like the perfect Siberian she is, trotted happily next to me with only a passing glance at the rows of dog bones. We got to the back of the store and started looking at dog beds. A clerk came over and offered assistance. I mentioned that we were looking for a new dog bed and he led me to the 'Kara sized' models. "Yeah, I bought her one of those and she gave it to the cat" I said. He commented on how generous she was - little did he know that giving it to the cat was simply the most disdainful thing she could think of to do with the bed to show it was not up to her standards.

After much debate, Kara selected one that she felt would work for her. I overlooked the fact that it had a GREAT DANE on the packaging and toted it up to the counter for her. Oh, with a quick side trip to the aisle with the Denta-stick - Kara adores Denta-sticks and her tail was up and wagging as soon as she heard the rattle of the bag coming off the shelf. 

The folks in line ahead of me commented on what a lovely dog she was. She looked down her nose at them and cast a glance at me condemning them for stating the obvious. A gentleman from the next
line came over and said "What a nice Sibe". She stuck her nose up in the air, but permitted a bit of scratching. She also lowered herself to taking a treat from the cashier before strutting out of the store beside me.

Once home I realized just how big a Great Dane is as I squished her bed into it's spot in front of the bookshelf.

It seems this one FINALLY meets her standards. I need a bigger house though.


December 26, 2007 #1 Rule Of Dog Sledding

Everyone, The Number 1 Rule of Sledding is Never Let Go of the Sled!!!!  I figured that wouldn't be a problem because our number 1 rule at home is to Never Let Go of the Leash.  I even ran down a steep hill with Nokomis last year, fell and rolled down a rocky hill, but I kept hold of the leash and didn't break any bones.  So this should be no problem.  

On Dec. 24th, the Husch family, Gabby, Markus, Anna, Wyatt and a cousin who I don't remember her name, even though I was introduced to her came over to take some dogs out running.  This is the family that comes over in the evening to help with the feeding and Anna and Gabby will be doing the shoveling for me while I'll be in Jasper with Pete enjoying a little vacation.  The first round of people that went out was Gabby by herself with 4 dogs and Anna with her boyfriend riding in the sled bag and 6 dogs.  Their trip was fun and Anna did say that they ran into a tree and broke a large branch off of it. 
The second round of people was Markus and the cousin riding in the sled bag with 6 dogs and me with 4 dogs.  I called my team the All Girl Geriatric Team.  I had Camilla (great leader, race veteran, 11.5 years old), Joey (my favorite, not a leader, 10 years old), in wheel I had Kaylinn (good leader, race veteran, 11.5 years old, oldest) and Jumper (a good leader but never made it on the main string, 11 years old).  Markus had the other 3 male geriatric dogs along with JR (a main string who didn't train that day) and some young dogs.  His team's ages ranged from 2 - 12.  Markus started out first and his team was consistent, but not as fast as he wanted them to be.  I always have trouble leaving the yard and I still at times get confused between haw (left) and gee (right).  To get out of the yard on this particular trail (which I didn't not know where we were going, you have to gee the tree.  My team haw the tree, but did get back on trail.  My team is really running fast.  The fastest I've gone so far, but we kept running up to Markus' sled and Joey and Camilla were splitting Markus' sled, so I had to keep riding the brake, which then makes the sled not be even and the banks were high, so I often had to apologize to the dogs for driving (actually not driving very well) the sled into the side of the trail.  Besides that small issue, everything was fine until Markus yells back to me to let me know that he's stopping because JR is tied up.  I got my team stopped, ran into the bank and I did a nosedive into the snow bank.  I somehow ended up losing the grip on the sled, but since Markus stopped in front of me, my team also stopped.  He got his team back in order and we were all off again.  It was great going except slow.  Markus asked me if I wanted to pass him and I declined because I had no idea what trail we were on.  

The day before Anna and Markus went out with different dogs and kept talking about some hill and if they thought that it would be good enough to go on or not.  Well, apparently they went on it and so did I.  Not knowing what I was in for, finally Markus' team got going so my team could go full sprint out and they were booking it nicely.  All kept a tight tugline and everything.  Right after the downhill, there's a tight right turn.  Needless to say, I don't drive a sled well yet so I ran up the bank heading for a tree, I put on the brake, I don't think I flipped the sled, but I did end up taking another nosedive and losing the grip on the sled once again.  But this time, my team continues to run fast.  I yell for them to Stop, Whoa.  I called for Markus, but nothing.  I ran a little bit, but knew that I wasn't going to catch them.  I didn't realize that we were close to kennel.  Markus arrives and they all ask where Kathryn is and he says right behind me.  Well, my team was, but I wasn't.  He said that he heard me yell, turned around and saw the dogs and figured that I was on the sled.  Wrong assumption.  Apparently, my team ran into the yard great, but Karen was more concerned with how I was.  I was fine.  As I kept telling them, it's hard to break anything when you nosedive into a deep snowbank.  So everything is fine.  The dogs are well, I'm fine with no bruises or ill effects.  Once Pete and I get back from Jasper I'll get back on the trail, but go on an easy one that I know.  


Monday 24 December 2007

December 24, 2007 Christmas Eve Legend

Christmas Eve is not necessarily a time I look forward to. See,  it is legend that on Christmas Eve animals can speak in human voices.

The yard is peaceful and quiet right now - but that is probably because they are all in their dog houses working on their speeches.

Kara is going to have a whole list of demands to dictate to us; 
Bait is going to preach at length about his 'Cat Supremacy' theories; 
Tic will squeak out a list of complaints about how unfair the world is; 
Fly will groan and complain about the woes of getting old; 
Charge will cover about 100 topics in 10 minutes; 
Olena will bitterly complain about not running with the main string; 
Fritter will tell us over and over again how much she hates her evil sister; 
Sprite will complain that Icey is looking at her food dish; 
Nahanni will share all her conspiracy theories; 
Mr Bean will swear that all his littermates are beating him up - even if they are not even close to him; Shooter will be singing the chorus of  'Don't Worry - Be Happy'; 
Tess will be yelling obscenities at any girls within earshot; 
Runner will complain that he is not getting enough kibble; 
Battie will want to host a group meeting so everybody can learn to just get along...the list goes on and on.

Well, except for Crunch - he will believe that he is above any human traits and will simply pass on speaking in human tongue.

My head is already hurting just thinking about it.

Thankfully, it is also believed that at midnight all water turns to wine. So, I'll probably have my head under the tap guzzling away to get me through the night!!!

Wishing you all the very Merriest of Christmases!!!!


Friday 14 December 2007

December 14, 2007 The First Time Driving A Sled

As several of you may know, I have never driven a sled and was only on the scooter once in November with Gus and Camilla.

I have to say that it was really cool and fun.  I now understand why people like to do this.

At first I was apprehensive since I've never done this before.  Karen explained the trail to me and I was quite confused, but luckily I was following her.  First of all, I had a problem getting out of the yard.  Karen already had her team going and I tried to pull the rope to unhook the sled and it got knotted up.  I'm trying and trying to undo it with no success.  I think I ended up pulling the rope over the pole to get going.  Somehow I was still holding on with one hand and off went Nic and Surge in lead with Kluane in wheel.  It was pretty slow going because Olena (on Karen's team) wasn't moving and the boys were interested in Trigger.  Finally after about 1/2 a mile, Karen took Nic and gave me Shooter.  Now Surge was in lead by himself.  Things went fine after that and we went slow enough for me that during the run I made the realization that I understand why people do this and spend so much time outdoors in quiet wilderness with their dogs.

We made it back to the yard and we fed everyone fish.  Karen wanted me to take a different team out by myself so I can become comfortable with the trails while Mark and her are in Alaska and I can take out some of the dogs.  Now, I wasn't so sure of things.  Even though I've been on the trails a few times, I haven't been able to make out landmarks.  Once again Karen explained the trail to me and I wasn't so sure.  I ended up taking Gus and Camilla in lead with Draco in wheel on the Yellow Brick Rd. Trail.  Karen told me that Camilla and Gus know this trail so I went on it in case I couldn't figure it out.  But with the stakes in place I was able to figure out the trail.  There was one place where they wanted to go straight and I had to keep telling them "Gee" to get us back into the yard.  Eventually, they listened to me and we got in the yard.  Since I didn't take them up to Geriatric Park, Karen suggested I take the Green Mile trail and then take them straight up to their pen.  I took the Green Mile trail when I was on the scooter so I was more comfortable with that one.  There was a time when I wasn't sure if we were even on the trail because Gus and Camilla were breaking trail, but we did end up coming to a marker so I was pleased with them.  This team kept the gangline tight and we moved faster than the first time, but it was still relaxing and fun.

I'm looking forward to seeing my husband in a couple weeks and to put him on a sled with some of the old trusted guys.  I also plan on going back out on the sled soon.

Kathryn TrussellWinter 2007/08 Dog Handler @ North Wapiti Kennels

Thursday 13 December 2007

December 13, 2007 Bingo

"There was a musher had a dog and BINGO was her name, oh. B-I-N-G-O B-I-N-G-O - and BINGO was her name, oh"

Bingo is the kind of dog that makes a musher's life easier. She is easy to live with, does her job every time you put her in harness, eats well and is always happy. However, because she is never causing trouble or being loud or obnoxious - she is easy to overlook.

I frequently find myself talking about my outstanding rookies - and then saying "Oh yeah - and Bingo".

Yesterday, right before I was heading out the door to run I was on the phone with Mike Carmichael talking about some stuff for my trip to Montana next month. Of course, I was asking how his training was going and how his NorthWapiti kids were doing. In telling a story about Lexx, Mike mentioned having Bang - Bingo's sister - in lead. That got me thinking about Bingo and why exactly it was I hadn't tried this solid little gal in lead. When I headed out the door a bit later, Bingo's name was at the top of the list of dogs running that day.

Giving her a solid support system, I had Hilda running next to her and Jinx and Holly behind her.

Hook up went pretty well, with Hilda making sure everyone stayed lined out while I tried to explain to Bingo that she needed to stay up front. The first few miles went very smooth, I even took time to arrange my iPod and get some tunes rolling. When we got close to the highway, a big tractor trailer with a giant piece of oilfield equipment roared by, spewing highway junk and wet snow behind it. That made my little rookie leader a bit unsure and she backed off, but recovered well.

As it had been storming the previous day, I knew the field we cut through to avoid our evil nemesis, PorkChop, would be very drifted in but I thought better to try that with the team rather then the annoying farm dog and his little American Eskimo Dog friend, Emma.

Both Hilda and Bingo leapt into the drifted field, even though there was absolutely no sign of our previous trail. The whole team looked like little show jumping horses as they jumped through the snow for a solid ½ mile. Maybe once or twice there was an indentation in the snow to confirm to them they were on the right path, but that was it. And never was the snow cover thin enough that they could plow through it rather then leap. When we hit the far side of the field, I picked my jaw up off the ground and went up front to HEAP praise on my leaders. Little Bingo absolutely wiggled from head to toe at the praise. She adored being the focus of all that positive attention. Of course all the dogs get praise during a run, but being a leader definitely comes with more pressure, and therefore over the top praise when they get things right - especially when they are still learning.

The rest of the run Bingo continued to do well. She had another moment of hesitation crossing a secondary highway at another semi, but recovered and later in the run passed the idling County of Athabasca grader, after we caught up with it. She ignored loose dogs, passed a neighbor on horseback, and continued to simply vibrate at the praise heaped on her.

Thirty seven miles later when we pulled back into the yard -  Bingo was still in lead. She has now officially given up her 'wallflower' status in the kennel.

 ".and BINGO was her name - OH!".


Wednesday 12 December 2007

December 12, 2007 Karen & Kathryn Run The Retired & Young Dogs

It's actually blizzarding today - snow, blowing wind and all that goes with it. Hard to say how much snow we are getting, as it is all on the move!

 I had planned to take a big team out with the 4 wheeler this afternoon, but I knew the roads were going to be miserable, so decided staying closer to the house was in order.

Kathryn hadn't had the opportunity to drive a sled yet, so today seemed great for that. I hooked up 5 dogs - 4 yearlings (Wonder, Trigger, Shooter and Nate) and Olena to lead, while Kathryn took Surge, Nik and Kluane. Things didn't go particularly well leaving the yard, but nothing really disastrous!

Then within the first ½ mile I had a bunch of trouble with Olena and ended up grabbing Nik off Kathryn's team and putting him in lead with Ollie. I gave Kathryn Shooter to run next to Klu and left Surge in single lead on her team. That seemed to straighten the issues out and it was smooth sledding for the rest of the run.

When we got back into the yard, I talked Kathryn into taking Camilla, Gus and Draco out on her own. I want her to get comfortable enough with the dogs and the trails to go out when I'm not around.

She had a really good run and even took them for a second smaller loop before giving them a fish and tucking them back into Geriatric Park.

Learning to sled behind 3 multiple Iditarod finishers is definitely the way to go!!!

You can check out pictures of Kathryn's adventure (and a few dog shots) at

I've been cooking up a storm this afternoon preparing Trail Meals. First it was Flautas with shallots, Portobello mushrooms, feta and ricotta cheese - then penne in vodka cream sauce (Kathryn and I each stole a small serving for our dinner. Mark ate earlier in the afternoon, as he is working nights right now).  Think I'm onto Cajun Shrimp Fettuccine next!

Those are the tales for this evening!


Sunday 9 December 2007

December 9, 2007 Upcoming Race Plans

One of the tasks that takes up a lot of our time and thoughts in the late fall/early winter is planning our winter season. That includes surfing the 'net looking for races that might work with the teams training, checking driving distances, finding handlers if Mark is unable to accompany me, reading race rules and actual entering races.

Mark spends a good amount of time banking days and sorting out his time off work to maximize the time he can be on the road with us.

Well, weather and all else permitting, this is what we have planned for the 07/08 Racing season -

January 4 - 6 - Flathead Sled Dog Days - Olney, Montana
2 - 50 mile day

January 10 - 13 - Seeley Lake, Montana
200 mile race

January 25 - Don Bowers Memorial Race - Willow, Alaska
200 mile race - 2 teams

March 1 - Iditarod

Will the exception of Iditarod, all these are new races for me. The dogs and I are really looking forward to seeing some new trail this year!! Always fun!!

The team is shaping up really well right now. We did a fast and furious 31 miles yesterday with 2 teams (I ran 16, Mark 14) that barely even winded the dogs. They were screaming for their dinner and bouncing and bucking as we unharnessed them!

If the weather would cooperate a bit, I'd like to up them to 40 mile runs - as mentally and physically they are really ready for that!

Although, compared to the rest of North America, I don't think I have any right to complain about weather! I'll take snowy and -30 over what Alaska, Montana, the Yukon and other areas are reporting.

I spoke with Jamie Nelson in Minnesota the other day and she is the only one I've heard reporting great trail conditions!

Weird weather!

Anyway, we hope many of you will follow our races this season. As always, we will keep you as up to date as we can!

Happy Trails!


Thursday 6 December 2007

December 6, 2007 NorthWapiti Teams Have a Super Day with Super Dog Treats!

Mark, I and 20 of the dogs had really fun day yesterday. We loaded up the truck - good experience for rookies, Bingo, X and Irving who had never been on a truck trip before -and headed over to Sangudo, home of our newest sponsors - the Bambers/Royal Elk/SuperDog Pet Treats. 

Don and Holly have an incredible piece of land overlooking the Pembina River valley. Grazing contently down the hill from the house are 170 or so bull elk that were the start of their Royal Elk business.

Once we got the dogs all dropped and settled around the dog truck, Don took us for a tour of their onsite plants that manufacture their Royal Elk EVA capsules for humans and a separate plant that makes the Super Dog Pet treats.

It is a really interesting process and Don's passion for his business shows through in how well organized and sparkling clean the facilities are!

After our tour and a wonderful lunch of elk hot dogs (yum!), we hooked up 2 teams and headed off to explore some of the multitude of trails on the Bamber's huge ranch. Unfortunately there really wasn't enough snow to be sledding yet - well, enough to sled, just not enough to STOP. Mark had Don and Holly's daughter, Shirley riding along so we had someone to help with the dogs and give directions when we got off the trails we were supposed to be on!!

 About 4 miles into the run we met up at a lovely campground with Don and his brother, Dave. Dave climbed into my sled for the next part of the journey.

Now, I don't think Dave would at all mind if I mention that he, well..let's just say he weighs a bit more then his niece does. Anyway, off we headed on a beautiful trail that ran along the banks of the Pembina. The woods were filled with animal tracks and I even saw a few eagle nests high in the trees. Just gorgeous.

Then we came to a hill that certainly made the dogs earn their kibble in getting us up it. As is usually the case after you climb a big hill - the trail started downwards. Shirley mentioned to Mark that the next hill was 'kinda steep and rocky'. Well, 'kinda steep and rocky' is not a huge problem IF you have a fair base of snow - which you might remember me mentioning - we didn't. Mark made it most of the way down the hill before losing it. When I crested the hill and saw the wreckage at the bottom of the hill, it was too late for me to try and stop my team. We did a semi control free fall down the top part of the hill and I honestly thought Dave and I were going to make it without crashing - up to the second we crashed. We slid to a stop inches from Mark and Shirley. Mark and I quickly determined that all passengers were okay and began the careful job of up righting the sleds without losing teams.

Once underway again, Mark questioned Shirley about what was up head on the trails and we decided that the trails really weren't safe enough until several more inches of snow fell. We turned the two teams around, climbed the 'Rock Hill' (boy, once we had to climb it, it became apparent that it was truly a steep and rocky hill!!!), and headed back to the house.

Once safely back to the truck, we extracted Dave from my sled and had a good laugh about the crashes. Dave and Shirley were great sports about the whole thing. Mark and I were just grateful that everyone was okay!

We put Mark's team away and turned my crew around so I could give Holly a short ride. Thankfully, that one was 'incident free'.

 The dogs were unharnessed, staked out on the truck and fed before we headed up to the house for hot chocolate and coffee before a wonderful dinner.

 Mark and I pulled back into our yard about 9 pm. Kathryn had the rest of the yard taken care of (Sweeet)  and pitched in unloading and feeding the group that we had taken with us, so we everyone settled and filled with dinner in short time.

It was a long day for sure, but a fun one - and I'm very excited to head back again and see those trails with just a bit more snow on them.

Photos of the day can be found at -


 Many thanks to Don, Holly, Dave, and Shirley for a terrific day. We are really thrilled to be associated with folks like the Bambers and we look forward to a long and successful relationship between NorthWapiti and Super Dog!!!!


Sunday 2 December 2007

December 2, 2007 4 Wheeler Lesson By Hilda

Well, temperatures continue to toy with -30 and lower. I think the outdoor thermometer touched on -40 overnight last night, but 'nature boy' Mark went out this morning and declared that no way it was -40. I was too chicken to open the door and really look, but with a flashlight it sure looked to me like it was reading -40.

Things have warmed up to about -29 now, but still too cold to run a team with a 4 wheeler.

Speaking of the 4 wheeler, I was reminded of an important lesson yesterday -

Wheels up..handlebars down - oh, opps, it's wheels DOWN..handlebars up. Yeah, that's it.

Yes, for the first time in many years I managed to roll my 4 wheeler on a run yesterday (no fear Mom, I'm totally fine). I'm blaming the whole thing on Hilda, although she is completely unapologetic about it - she might have actually been laughing about the whole incident right after it happened.

Not much of a 'story' to tell with it, I'm afraid. Hilda just caught me off guard (my mistake) and headed down my neighbors' driveway after one of their dogs. This is the same dog she had decided to run after a week or so ago, so I should have been prepared (for the record we have passed Casey on more runs then I can count over the last 5 or 6 years and Hilda has never wanted to chase her or any other dog before).

Anyway, I set the brakes best I could and went up to pull the team off the driveway and back onto the road. They got the 4 wheeler moving and I leapt for it. It became quickly obvious that we weren't going to make it by the culvert and ditch in between the road and their gates, so I bailed off as the machine rolled down into the ditch.

Everyone was fine and the flipped machine held the dogs while I got them back where they belonged.

It took some grunting and groaning for me to get the machine upright, then I enlisted some canine power to drag it back up onto the road. My back is feeling it today, but much better then the embarrassment of waiting for and flagging down a passing car to help. Pride can be a painful thing.

The rest of the run was uneventful, but cold. I came home through the muskeg and the snow on all the trees was gorgeous! Sadly too cold for my camera!

All else is going pretty well here. Kathryn is settled in nicely and is pretty much just part of the family now. It is such a treat to have her help around the yard - I feel completely spoiled. The dogs all like her, especially little Mr. Bean, who has her wrapped around his little paw.

Kathryn has also discovered, much to her surprise that she likes cats - well, our cats anyway - especially Tic. I think I've seen those little brat cats sticking their tongues out at me as they enlist more and more people into the 'TIC AND BAIT FAN CLUB'. I'm not a charter member, as I seem to be the one they wake up, the one that has to clean up the cat puke and the one that has issue with Bait sitting on our kitchen counter. Kara sees through those pointy eared, whiskered little fuzzballs too. That's my girl!

Oh, forgot to mention that I did make a few more cuts to the team. These ones were made mostly because I wanted to get my numbers down a bit. They were dogs I figured weren't going to make the trip to Alaska this year, just too young, but that were still having good runs. Anyway, it was Flash and Isis. I'm not at all disappointed in them, in fact, I'm very proud of how they have done up to now in training and expect big things from them next year.

That leaves 30 in the 'Super Dogs' group. I'll probably hang onto that number for another month or so, as it is a good number to work with and everyone is looking very solid. There are still 4 two year olds in that gang - Wolvie, X, Irving and Bingo. All 4 are outstanding, as are race rookies, Runner, Togo, Newt, and Roary. So 22 veterans and 8 rookies - sweet!

That's it from chilly Alberta for today!