Wednesday 25 June 2008

Things that go BAWWWWW in the night!

I think somebody has something against me sleeping through the night.
Last night I was awoken at 1:30 am by a number of the dogs in the yard giving sharp warning barks. As I mentioned in diary entries before, the dogs have very different barks and noises that usually let me know before my feet hit the floor what kind of situation I'm heading towards.
Last night I was pretty certain it was the 'wild animal in the yard' bark, but when I got onto the deck, I was confused. Rather then being able to quickly pinpoint where the intruder was by what dogs were the most excited and where they were looking, different dogs in different areas where all barking and no one was staring in any particular direction. Odd.
I quickly surveyed the area around me to make sure I wasn't about to walk into whatever it was near the house (I almost walked into a cow moose once in Alaska because I was still mostly asleep and not paying attention). All was clear. I flipped on the big kennel lights, but that didn't help solve the mystery.
As I stood out in the yard the barking kind of died down and I heard a weird noise from a bit beyond the kennel. The dogs all instantly fired up again. I 'ssshhh'd' them and heard the noise again. Now, I know coyote noises - it wasn't that. I know mating calls of moose, elk and deer - but it wasn't that - and besides it is the wrong time of year for a ungulate with romance on it's tiny brain. What it sounded like was a young bear bawling for it's Mom. And whatever it was, it wasn't detracted by all the big lights and barking dogs, it was moving closer. Great.
The dogs were getting more agitated and were now pinpointing a location - in the woods behind Q and Kluane.
Now normally about this time, I would usually go and wake up Mark. Scaring scary woodland critters back into the woods is definitely a 'Mark job' - along with wrestling dead critters away from the dogs and killing spiders. However Mark was working nights, so I was on my own. I phoned him looking for suggestions, but of course, he wasn't near the phone.
By now whatever it was was close enough that a few dogs had spotted it - with my measly human eyeballs I couldn't locate it though. Big fearless Charge was barking and then jumping backwards. Many of the dogs were more nervous then excited, which is not normally the case when wildlife is around. I had no doubt we were dealing with a bear and for whatever reason, it wasn't acting 'normal'. Super.
In all the years we've lived in the country with dogs we've never had a bear come into the yard. Moose, deer,cows, horses, coyotes, muskrats, ducks,squirrels, crazy birds, stupid mice, even stupider frogs....but that is about it.
I tried calling Mark again and managed to catch him this time. Obviously, his distance from the situation allowed him to think clearer then I and he said "Why don't you let your big guard dog take care of it?". Ah yes, CRICKET!! Fly had much earlier sized up the situation and decided to play the 'retirement' card. He had been sticking right close to my heels the whole time. He claimed he was watching my back. Yeah, right.
Cricket spends nights in her pen, as she still has a tendency to roam, so I headed over to let her out. As she was bouncing around and celebrating her freedom (it had been a whole 4 hours that she had been penned up) the yard began to settle down a bit. It looked like Cricket's reputation might have proceeded her. With the yard settling a bit and Cricket on the job, I headed back inside, but sat up and watched a bit of TV just to make sure things were really over with. I figured when Charge went back to bed I would. It took an hour before the Siberian's barking episodes stopped and Cricket quit running along the edges of the dog yard issuing challenges. Charge settled down and finally curled up to sleep. I followed suit.
This morning Cricket was laying at the edge of the yard surveying the woods and her 'flock of Siberians' when I got up. I went out to give her a scratch on the head for her good work last night. My big fearless guard dog flopped onto her back and requested a belly rub. I happy obliged her. I think maybe she is growing up and stepping into her roll in the yard. Maybe I'll get a good night sleep now!!
Go Cricket!


Monday 23 June 2008

The Other 2% Of The Time

When folks to come visit, they are often quite surprised by just how quiet our dog yard is. Sure, at hookups and around feeding time they can kick up a ruckus, but about 98% of the time they are as quiet as church mice. Honest. People come to visit during the day or the meter reader arrives and unless the ferious Cricket or Fly speak up, I often don't know anyone is here until they knock on the door. They are more outspoken if something out of the ordinary happens - like I always know if a car pulls into the yard in the middle of the night - but if it is something they see as 'routine', it isn't worthy of their comments.
And then there is the other 2% of the time....

Last night at about 12:30, I was woken up by the sound of a single dog barking repetatively. If it is a crisis in the yard, like a loose dog, the whole yard or at least the area that the crisis is in with all be SCREAMING. This was nothing like that, it was just the sound of a single dog barking. I stared at the ceiling a bit hoping the offender would shut up on their own, but after about 10 minutes I dragged myself out of bed. When I slide open the sliding door, I realized that it was one of the girls, but I couldn't quite place the voice. Yes, I can tell alot of them apart by the sound of their voices - or sometimes I can narrow it down enough by the sound or pattern of the bark to figure out the culprit, but not this time. A growly 'SHUT UP' seemed to solve the situation though, so I closed the door and padded back to bed. As I was snuggling back under the covers the mystery dog let out one more bark, just to get the last word in, and then all was quiet in the yard. I drifted back to sleep.
At 2:30, I found myself again listening to the same barking dog. Again, none of the dogs around her were joining in, so it wasn't a 'crisis situation', just barking at poltergeists or to hear herself bark. No more padding around the house - I stomped to the back door and flipped on the back porch light. That is the equivalent to my father's "If I have to get out of this chair..." threat. The offending gal had the decency to go quiet for about 1 minute, just long enough for me to think the problem was solved.
Okay, it was time to figure out exactly who was causing this loss of sleep. I slide into my flip flops and stalked off into the night with Fly on my heels.
We have something like 21 hours of daylight right now, but still at 2:30 am it was pretty dark out. I could still see the dogs moving around though. Of course, the yapping stopped as soon as I stepped outside, but normally whatever dog is worked up will still be up and flying around on their chain when I get out in the yard. I can usually stomp over , stand intimidatingly over them, giving them a growly lecture and that will be the end of it. However, because it was raining all day and the dogs hung out in their houses the whole time, they were full of beans and all zipped out to say 'hi' when I stepped out into the yard, effectively giving cover to the barker. I muttered a few meaningless threats and generally let them all know how unimpressed I was before storming back to the house.
The door to the house had just slide closed when I heard 'Bark, bark, bark'. ARRRRRRRHHHH!!! I made another trip to the again suddenly dead quiet top of the yard and vented at them all for a full 5 minutes. They all stood looking at me with their tails slowly wagging - no one giving up the noisemaker. I could tell they thought I had gone crazy and I suggested to them that if I had, it was their fault.
Still muttering and fuming I closed the door to the house and waited. Nothing. I spent about 10 minutes going to the bathroom and checking email before heading back to bed. I had just stepped back into the bedroom when it started 'Bark, bark, bark'. Mark was still sound asleep, oblivious to my adventures. I stood debating what to do. Oh heck...I crawled back into bed and yanked a pillow over my ears. Eventually drifting back to sleep with muffled barking serenading me. I think even through the pillow I could hear a bit of laughter in that bark.


Sunday 22 June 2008

There is setting the bar...and then there is setting the bar!

Those of you on our NorthWapitiNews yahoo list ( have seen some good natured ribbing and challenging between my friend Jackie Wepruk and myself regarding performance in the obedience ring since the post I wrote about Utin and I starting to do some obedience training. I was full of a lot of (good natured) bluff and bluster!
Well, it seems that the next thing I need to teach Utin is to roll over and play dead!
See Jackie and her latest in a string of amazingly obedient Siberians entered the show ring again this weekend.
Despite blistering heat, Triton and Jackie got a High in Trial with a score of 194 on Saturday. After getting 2 qualifying scores a few weeks ago at the Northern Alberta Canine Association Trials (with one 'High in Class score' and one 'reserve High in Trial' score) that officially got Triton his CD (Companion Dog) title.
So, because Jackie is a patient and dedicated trainer, Triton was actually trained up to the Open level before he made his debut in the Novice ring (most people train for Novice, complete the title, then begin training for the next level - not Jackie though)so today she 'moved him up' and competed in the Open level. Reports are it was raining pretty good today and many dogs weren't keen on working in the inclement weather - not Triton. His first attempt at the Open classes got him a score of 192 and a second High in Trial.
You have to understand, these accomplishments are amazing for ANY breed of dog - most people would say they were simply impossible with a Siberian Husky. Most people don't know Jackie Wepruk. They should.
This is the third obedience Siberian Jackie has taken into competition. Both her two previous dogs were High in Trial winners and each spent several years as the Top Obedience Siberian in Canada. I'm sure Triton is well on his way to the same.
Jackie is simply one of the best Siberian Husky trainers on the planet - plain and simple.
Mark and I are honored that Jackie and her husband Rick Austin have based their breeding program at TuColdturain Siberians ( on our lines. It is a great compliment.
For the record Triton is formerly known as Tucoldturain's Triton CD. He is out of NorthWapiti's Super Grover and NorthWapiti's Skadi.

Congratulations again Jackie and Triton!

I think I'm heading out in the rain to practice some heeling with Utin! :)

Kara's Dynamic Duo

Yesterday Kara presented us with 2 lovely little daughters.
Oh gosh, thankfully that isn't one of her puppies - that is Tic looking for a cosy place to sleep last week. Kara was less then impressed.

She looks much happier with these 2!!

Being that Kara is an older Mom (she will be 9 next month), I didn't expect a huge litter, but I was hoping for 3 or 4 little ones. Oh well, a healthy Mom and pups is really the only thing we really ask for - and that, it looks like we have gotten.

Kara's very first litter, way back in 2001, were 2 lovely little grey and white girls, Dasher and Dancer. So it looks like maybe she decided to end her whelping 'career' the same way she started it.

Of course, the issue of a 'theme' for this litter has already been raised. I will say that our original intent, seeing that they were the 'mo' 'ka' litter, was to use 'coffee' as a theme. I had a huge page of great names, but now that there are just 2 I don't think it will do the theme justice, so we will leave that for another litter.

I snooped around a little on the internet last night for some female duo names that caught my eye - "Thelma and Louise" "Lucy and Ethel" "Laverne and Shirley" "Cagney and Lacey", but nothing really stood out. Right now I'm leaning towards 'Zig' and 'Zag' - or maybe "Summer" and "Solstice" - but we are really open to suggestions!

It was pretty warm yesterday - at least for our part of the world - and didn't really cool off a bit last night. This morning is warm and windy - feeling like something is blowing in. I'm off to start my day so I can hopefully get everything in the yard done before it starts to storm - or gets really hot again.

Oh, forgot to mention - we watched the 2008 Iditarod DVD 'Deja vu' yesterday. Really well done. Nice footage and excellent commentary by Bruce Lee. Even some nice shots of my team and a quick quote from me at Finger Lake. It's available through the Iditarod online store.


Thursday 19 June 2008

...and the Thunder Rolled.

I can't believe that a month ago I was whining for rain. I don't think it has stopped raining since I wrote that entry!

Day before yesterday Mark had run into Athabasca to pick up a 1/2 load of dog food (50 bags). I had some running around to do in town too (just for the record 'town' - as in "going to town" is Athabasca, 'city' is 'Edmonton'). We both got home in time for a late lunch and then a glance out the kitchen window sent us scrambling to get out and start unloading dog food bags.
As I stood on the flatdeck of the old truck - which is back in action again - the sky kept getting darker and darker, lightening flashed over the garage roof and thunder shook the ground. I wasn't sure whether to feel powerful or foolish for being up there! Thankfully, Cricket barked feriously at the claps of thunder making sure none of them came into the yard (Fly was shaking and drooling in the garage).
As the last 40 lb bag was tossed into the garage, the clouds opened and rain began to fall. Moments after we scurried back into the house the skies really opened up and hail began pelting the yard.
I looked out into the kennel to make sure all the dogs had gotten into their houses and just about broke a rib laughing at X. He was standing next to his dog house, not tangled or anything, just standing there not wanting to go in his house. As hail struck him, he would spin around to try and catch a glimpse of where the 'blows' where coming from. After about 3 or 4 spins, he wisely gave up and headed for safety.
No one else stirred from their houses until the hail and thunder had moved on.
I hear St. Albert experienced alot of flooding from that storm. We must have just caught the edge of it, as the news that night showed cars in the city up to their hoods in water. Thankfully, nothing like that here!

Today we once again woke up to rain. Mushrooms are beginning to grow in the yard. I think Cricket is beginning to grow flippers. However, I'm scared to ask for it to stop, as I fear, after how sucessful I was pleading for rain last time, a month from now we might be back in a drought situation! So, I'll just continue to do chores between cloud bursts with a smile on my face!!

I can't write a Blog entry today without a update on Kara. Today is her first due date. She is showing no signs of being in a hurry to have her puppies. She is currently snoozing on one of the dog beds after just having tore through her morning Denta Bone. She's been doing a bit of nesting, but nothing serious yet. She is quite delighted in the fact that rather then heading to the city with Mark for a day of running around, I have choosen to spend the day hanging out with her. If it weren't for the kicking puppies that can easily be seen moving around inside her now, I'd be suspisious that she was just faking this for all the attention it is getting her. She is in her glory.

Anyway, those are the stories for today. Hopefully the next post will be announcing some new little arrivals to the family!


Saturday 14 June 2008

The Fur Was Flying......

Well, with pretty much every dog in the yard in the midst of a big shed, today was a grooming day!!
First up on the table was the most excellent X...

It didn't take long until we (X and I)were getting swallowed up by all the fur coming out of the boy!!!

About 2 or 3 times this amount of fur eventually came out and in the end he looked like this....

In about a week he will probably need another session on the grooming table, but it won't be near as bad as this time.

X was followed by Fritz, Utin, Beauty and Wonder before I deemed I had swallowed enough dog hair for the day and called it quits!

I'm frequently asked about what grooming tools I prefer. So, here ya go..

  • My number one favorite tool is my Metro Air Force dryer. This one is almost 20 years old and has been pretty abused during that time, so it is looking pretty rough! I do have a newer one that lives in the garage that I take to dog shows. :) It'll get more coat out of a shedding dog then anything else!

  • The blue and white rake is another 'around since we got into this game' tool. A plain and simple rake, but it has survived thousands of groomings!
  • A good comb is invaluable for getting out a shedding coat too.
  • And then nail clippers and a pair of scissors for trimming up those 'out of control' toe hairs!!!

I know many mushers 'poo poo' the whole grooming thing, but I think it is a great way to really give the dog a good 'health check'. I also think that any time you are handling and introducing your dogs to new experiences, you are making it so they are easier to work with in harness and on races! And I know they feel great after they are all groomed up!

I will also say that I think there is a matter of pride involved in keeping your dogs looking their best. I have pride in my team and my kennel and I want people to know that. I remember being at a seminar in Montana once where Hans Gatt was speaking. Amoung many other things, he talked about the importance of taking a clean truck to the starting line of a race. It really stuck with me. I now believe that pride and attention to detail is one of the habits that creates success.

Not to say that you will never find a shedding dog in my yard or dirt on my dog truck - life does have limits - but I try!

Anyway, enough of that!!

I did take some more photos around the yard today, including shots of a very pregnant Kara and Sprite, Bait tormenting the boys, Barq, Meg, wildflowers, flowers in my yard and more dogs.

You can see them all at

Friday 13 June 2008

Happy Birthday .... to me!

Thanks to all for the Birthday wishes and greetings on Wednesday. Yup, for all of you that didn't know Wednesday was my 44th birthday.
Things didn't go quite liked planned - but really, when do they go as planned around here??

Mark came home from work on Monday morning complaining of hurting a muscle in his chest while yarding on a wrench. By Tuesday afternoon he was in the doc's office and is now planted on the couch popping Tylenol 3s every 4 hours. Seems he has torn his pectoral muscle.
So, my special treat for my birthday was scurrying around getting chores done on my own and making sure hubby had everything he needed.
Kara thinks it is great, as it seems he can still give her scratches and now that he doesnt' move off the couch he is around to deliver them all the time. I'm glad she is happy.

Actually, the birthday gift that brought the biggest smile to my face this year was from Kara. Colleen sent a birthday box to me and in it (amoung other lovely gifts) was a nicely wrapped gift from Kara. On the card it spoke of how much Kara loved me and how she had thought long and hard and given me a gift straight from her heart - it was a package of Denta-stiks. Definately a gift from Kara's heart!!
Actually, they are handy to have around, as Kara demands a Denta Stik everytime I bring Utin in the house. It's some kind of 'fee' for allowing the boy into "HER' house. She takes one look at him and runs for the kitchen to stand in front of the fridge, staring up at the Denta Stik package. I'm not sure what would happen if we were out of them. Don't think I want to find out!

Utin's house visits are going to have to come to an end soon though, as Kara is due to have puppies next week. She is the size of a small hippo!!! She is also even more demanding and fussy then usual right now. I caught her outside digging a den under our deck the other day, but I'm pretty sure she has no real intention of having her babies outside. I'm betting money that 'the cloud' will be her place of choice. As is usual with Kara, I'll probably let her have her first one there and then move her to a whelping pool once she and the baby settle down. With Dasher and Dancer's litter she had the first one in a chair in the back room and on one of her other litters she had the first one in our bedroom. All the rest of our Moms are happy to use the whelping pool in the back room, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Kara demands special treatment.

Well, I need to get on with my day. I'll be hustling around pretty good for the next 4 or 5 days, but then will be mostly at home on 'puppy watch', so should be able to get some more posting and catching up on emails done during that time!

An older - but really no wiser,

Tuesday 10 June 2008

Are you ready??? Let's go...

Utin and I have a secret!!! On Monday evenings he and I have been sneaking out to obedience classes!!!

Many may not know it, but it was the sport of obedience that brought me into the world of purebred dogs. I know, it seems amazing that it was obedience that got me in and I ended up with one of the most notorious difficult breeds to train - but that's my story.

See my first dog was an amazing Sheltie type cross named Skeeter. Skeeter was a bonafided puppy mill dog, but really his only desire in life was to occupy the same piece of the planet as I was.

I don't think in the 17 + years that we spent together that I ever said "Where's Skeeter?", cause the fact was, wherever I was, that was where Skeeter was.

I took him through obedience classes while we were living in Calgary and he was so easy to train it was almost embarassing. I was devasted to find out that I couldn't compete in shows with him because he wasn't a purebred and vowed my next dog would be a purebred.

Of course, if my sole focus had been on obedience, I probably wouldn't have choosen Siberians, but the obedience still interested both Mark and I and over the years we put titles on a number of our early Siberians.

Still, it has been well over 10 years since I set foot in an obedience ring.

Then last summer Lisa Wright, a neighbour across the valley who used to be a dog trainer, got back into teaching obedience and agility classes - .

Having Lisa so close made it harder to come up with excuses for not doing a bit of obedience again - and a budding friendship between us made the excuses sound even lamer.

Late last summer, Lisa took the time to come over and 'evalute' all my puppies to picked out the dog that she felt would be the best obedience prospect for me. The winner was handsome, young Utin.
Of course, fall came along and training the team took priority and Utin's obedience 'career' was sidelined before it even began.

This spring I slowly began puttering with some clicker training, guided patiently by Lisa. Progress was inconsistent, mostly because my training was too, but in the last few weeks, in no small part due to gentle prodding and egging on by Lisa, my dedication increased and it has begun to look like I might really have an obedience prospect on the end of my leash.

Now, of course, Utes has a different take on this. I caught him telling the yard that now that he has trained Mom not to step on him, to pay attention to what hand she's treating him with, to practice more, and how to walk in a straight line I'm showing some good potential.

You guys can decide which of us to believe. And Lisa, if you are reading this, you are not allowed any input on the subject, 'cause I know who you will side with.

Utin now drags me to the van and sits happily looking out the window with a huge grin on his face as we drive over to Lisa's . Last night, he was so happy at class, his fur could bearly contain him. Yet his brain stayed engaged throughout the whole time - not an easy task for a super happy, young Siberian.

Don't know whether we will even make it to the obedience ring, but I will say that that is the goal. I doubt we will be competing with Jackie and her amazing Siberians for High in Trials - but do know that Utin and I are having a BLAST together - and who knows where that will take us!

Karen (and Utin)

Monday 2 June 2008

I'm a Blogger....

I've been called alot of things in my life...but never a 'blogger' - but times, they are a'changing! Welcome to the NorthWapiti News Blog!

Seeing that I'm kind of 'flying solo' on these entries, in other words - no grammar corrections and such - you are all about to find out what an awful speller I really am. And as Mark, Ann, Heather and others can tell you, I cannot tell the difference between the words 'spend' and 'spent' - so expect them to be used pretty much interchangably from this point forward. And no need to email me to explain the difference, many have tried, and it all makes sense at the time...but in about a week it is all out the window.

Regardless of it exposing one or two of my personal weaknesses, I think it will be an improvement to the site, allowing my entries to make it online faster and taking some pressure off of my hardworking webmasters, Kim and Kelly.

Plus now you can make comments on the blog - although, I will not hesistate to delete inappropriate or rude comments!

Anyway, we are going to give this a whirl for now. If any of you have concerns or problems with this new system, drop me an email and we will see what we can do!!