Sunday 28 September 2008

A Prickly Affair...

Dogs and porcupines go together like gasoline and flames. Almost all my doggy friends have stories about encounters between their dogs and the prickly little rodents, but not I - well, until now.

Last night at about 9:30 a porcupine decided to visit the dog yard - and like gasoline and flames, there was an explosion.

The final result could have been much, much worse - well, for everyone but the porcupine. Young Roscoe ended up with about a dozen quills on the end of his snosh, which were relatively easily removed here at home but poor Moses had to take a late night trip to visit Dr. Jackson.

A quick little nap and a bunch of yanking and pulling by Trevor and the Mo-Man is back home sleeping off he effects of his 'prickly affair'.
The porcupine....well, lets just say that with alittle help from Markus Husch (Mark was, of course, at work) ... he won't be bothering the dogs again.

Saturday 27 September 2008

Swaddled in Polar Fleece...

Flannel sheets went on the bed a few weeks back, but I had been getting by outside with a few layers of clothing when running dogs and a long sleeved sweatshirt during the day. The last few days though haven't gotten much above 10C even during the warmest hours and the evenings and mornings - at least to my body still used to basking in the summer sun - almost cold.
So, last night after the yard was fed and tucked in for the night, I crawled into the basement and pulled out the rubbermaid totes filled with my winter clothing.
I folded up the capris, sleeveless shirts, and shorts with their memories of wine tasting in California, fabulous dinners along the Cabot Trail, and evenings spent sitting around our fire pit - out came the thick, fuzzy sweatshirts with their memories of cool fall mornings, nights in the woods, and snowy days in the dogyard.
Gone are the short socks and here are the tall, Cabelas socks.
The Crocs and flip flops stuck around because they are fast to slip on when I need to quickly run out to the garage or dogyard (Yes, I have been known to run out into the yard in the dead of winter with sandals on) - but right next to them are the lined Merrels.
The mini gloves are once again floating all around - in the house, on tables in the dog yard, in baskets of ATVs and throughout the garage - and warm hats are hanging on hooks in the back room and the porch.
Fall is definitely here - winter is definitely on it's way.

The dogs are noticing the change too - there was even a small skiff of ice on their water buckets earlier in the week. They are running much more frequently and becoming much stronger and more focused. Their coats are thickening up and their eyes are starting to show that special sparkle of a spirit in it's element. Mine too!


PS. Later this week I promise posts about our race plans for the winter and introducing this years 'A' Team!

Thursday 25 September 2008

Kara goes to Town (but wishes she didn't)...

Kara has been in a bit of a funk the last few days. Nothing serious - she still works us all for Denta Stix, jumps on the couch and demand scratches, lopes around like a puppy at feeding time, crashes on her cloud and the likes - but a bit of the Kara spunkiness seems to be lacking. I thought maybe she was feeling a bit neglected, as things have been pretty busy around here lately and she hasn't been involved in much of it, so I thought I'd take her to Athabasca with Helen and I today when we picked up dog food.

Sure enough, when I headed for the door and called her to come with us, she bound out ahead of me. First she went to the van, but I walked by that. She then checked out Helen's shiny white car with the sunroof - that definitely met with her standards, but I walked by that vehicle too. She then focused on the dog truck, bound up the driveway and trotted around it waiting for someone to open the door for her, but we kept walking by that too. When I walked up to the old dog truck you could see the obvious disappointment in her eyes. In it's day the F250 was definitely up to her standards and she enjoyed many trips around Canada and the US in it, but now converted to a flatdeck, rusty and generally pretty beat up, it is definitely not. However, any trip was better then no trip according to Her Highness, so she reluctantly jumped into the back seat (yes, the back seat - also to Kara's dismay Helen got the passenger seat) and off we rumbled.

By the time we got to Colinton, where we stopped to fill up with gas, Kara was sitting pretty in the back seat enjoying the scenery - having all but forgotten the sad condition of her 'royal carriage'.

We filled up the tank, paid and hopped back into the truck. Kara was looking down her nose at the local dogs that weren't important enough to be chauffeured around when I turned the key in the ignition and nothing happened. Kara was confident this was just ineptness on my part and didn't even pay attention when I tried again. When nothing happened a second time, she got concerned. After all, this was her image we were now messing with.

Moments later when the hood went up and her drivers started checking connections, she started slouching in the seat.

Mark's advice over the phone sent Kara over the deep end - "That's what the hammer is for. Whack the terminals a few times and it'll start".

Sure enough, a couple smacks with the hammer and the engine turned cleanly over when asked.
We closed the hood and got back underway. I think Kara was hiding under an old blanket when we pulled out of town. This was not the type of vehicle a Queen should be riding in.

Without further incident we retrieved the dog food and made the drive home. Kara hopped out of the truck the second the door was opened. With a small glance over her shoulder and her poofy tail bouncing hautily in the air, she headed for the house and her fluffy cloud.


Sunday 21 September 2008

Till the cows come home....

Sure, the leaves are turning...

the nights are getting colder, the geese are flocking south....
those are all obvious signs of an approaching fall. But here one of the most definite signs happened last week...the cows went home.

Yup, next to our property is 320 acres of land that a neighbour has a grazing lease on. Each summer we have a herd of cows as neighbours. They are really a quiet lot for the most part, no late night parties, or wild drinking, but I do tend to avoid running teams through their pastures if I can help it (not because the dogs won't run by the cows, but I'm too lazy to open gates - and besides, the bull scares the heck out of me).

Last week while I was driving into Westlock I passed the little herd in the ditch alongside the highway, making their way back home (yes, this is cattle and farming country - combines, tractors and cattle are not that rare in the ditches and on the roads).

Adios ladies - see you next summer! Let fall officially begin!!!

The dogs have been running hard and well. There were a few days last week when the morning temperatures were warm, but generally now I am able to run most every morning. The veterans are quickly falling into their previously learned behaviours, taking breaks well, driving hard on hills and happily picking up the speed when asked. Many of the yearlings and two year olds are seamlessly picking up these habits and we are starting to look and feel like a dog team again.

On Friday we took the time to harness break the last of the 'Candies'. Turtle had already been out but his evil little sisters (well, they are Olena kids afterall) had their first run and did fantastic.




Very promising youngsters!!
If any of you are checking the Blog on the website (and you may want to check there occasionally as I am doing the odd picture entry that I'm not posting to the NWN list. No point if it is only one picture and a line of text.) you may have figured out that we are expecting one more litter this year. Yes, Olena is pregnant and due October 2nd! Moses will be the boy handing out cigars this time around!! Can't wait!!!
Helen, our temperory handler, arrived last week. Both Mark and I are very much enjoying her company and loving having her around. I'll see if I can't talk her into a blog entry or two during her six week stay.
I think that is it for this morning.
If any of you are interested, you can find some more fall photos and photos of harness breaking the 'Candies' on the Picasa site -
Happy Fall!!

Wednesday 17 September 2008

Monday 15 September 2008

Handler Update

I am happy to report that it looks like we have found our handlers for the winter! Helen will be arriving here from Vermont later this week and staying till the end of October. Then Chris will be joining us from Australia starting at the beginning of November.

I will make sure to chain them to the computer at some point and have them introduce themselves to the mailing list and blog!

*breathing a sigh of relief*


Sunday 14 September 2008

Mark's 'Happy Place"

Looking for Lillian

A gift of a dozen beautiful roses yesterday reminded me that I had not shared this story - and it is too sweet a story not to share!

The day before Mark and I left for Nova Scotia, Colleen and I headed into the city (Edmonton) to do some running around - a trip to Ikea (for Colleen), a trip to the hairdresser (for me) and the likes. Knowing there was much to be done before Mark and I left in the morning we brought home fried chicken for dinner.

About a quarter mile from our house there is a little clearing where the county road ends and our driveway starts. The snowplow turns around there and in the fall it is a favorite parking spot for berry pickers.

As Colleen and I passed by, a elderly gentleman standing next to his car flagged us down. He politely introduced himself and explained that his wife, Lillian was overdue from berry picking. Seems he had dropped her off at 9am and was supposed to pick her up at 4pm. Now, alittle past 6pm, he was getting very concerned. One of my neighbors, who was also their cousin, was already on a quad looking for Lillian. Colleen and I whipped up to the house, quickly changed clothes, grabbed the ATVs and headed back out.

We found the other neighbours searching and discussed where they had been and their thoughts on the situation. Other then Mark, myself and one or two other locals, no one really knows the trails we were on well and I was rather concerned that we were going to be looking for more then just Lillian when darkness closed in.

Colleen continued searching on foot, the neighbours on ATVs and I headed back to talk to Lillian's husband. We were all concerned that we only had a few hours, at most, of daylight left, so when I suggested that maybe it was time we notified the police, Lillian's husband readily agreed.

We went up to the house and began the laborious procedure of explaining where we were and what our problem was to a 911 operator. With some passing back and forth of the phone, giving her legal land descriptions and finally just telling her what town our policing is done out of, she told me a constable would call me back in a few moments.

When the constable called, I went through the whole story again and gave directions (oh, and told him how to spell "Lillian" - that seemed to be a pretty big concern for him). He said he had some phone calls and arrangements to make and would be right out.

When I got back out to the clearing, there was still no sign of Lillian, however her bucket full of berries and an empty cigarette pack had been found a short way in along the trail.

Mark drove by on his way home from work. I flagged him down and explained the situation. He went home to drop off his car and headed into the woods on foot.

I was out on the ATV and came around a corner to see a lovely site - Lillian perched on the seat of on of my neighbours ATV. She was fine. Her berry bucket was collected and her little posse of searchers escorted her out of the woods. She insisted that she hadn't been lost, but could not really account for the hours she had been out in the bush.

I was first back to the clearing and Lillian's husband was delighted to hear the news that she was found and was fine. His eyes were literally dancing with relief as he told Colleen and I the plan for when she got back to the clearing, "I'm going to kiss her and then I'm going to kill her".

Sure enough, he didn't even let her get off the ATV before repeating to her what he had told us, "I told them I'm going to kiss you..." he said as he leaned over and kissed her and then gently grabbed her by the shoulders and said, "...and then I'm going to kill you.". She didn't look worried, but was rather appaled by all the attention her lateness had caused.

Lillian's husband profusely thanked us all and we headed back to the house to notify the police to call off the search, as they had still not showed up.

Colleen, Mark and I reheated our chicken dinner and were just polishing off the last of it when a few police cars pulled into the yard. Fly and I went out to chat. I'm pretty sure that the young officers were disappointed that their big search and rescue mission had been aborted. They told me they had already had helicopters on stand by and RCMP tracking dogs on the way up when we called to say Lillian was found. We chatted a bit longer, I gave them a quick tour of the dog yard and finally was able to get back to the house and get started on my packing for our trip.

Yesterday, Lillian's husband dropped by with a dozen beautiful soft yellow, pink edged roses. I told him that it really wasn't neccesary, but he said he was so grateful that his we helped him find his wife. "I just love that woman so much", he said.
I wonder if Lillian realizes just how lucky she is - and not just for being found in the bush.

Oh, and while he was dropping the roses off, he had dropped Lillian off so she could go and pick a few more berries!!!!


Thursday 11 September 2008

I feel so much safer with a guard dog on duty....

Do not protect yourself by a fence, but rather by your friends
Czech proverb

Wednesday 10 September 2008

Short Term Handler

Just a quick post, as I'm running in twenty different directions today!

Looks like we have found a handler (more details on that to come) but he isn't arriving until November 1st.
I could still use help starting ASAP until then, so if thought I'd put the word out and see if anyone is looking for a mini handling experience.

The temperatures are a bit more bearable and we are doing lots of training - although all on ATVs.

Contact me at if you are interested!


Tuesday 9 September 2008

HIKE for a good cause!!

September 20, 2008 the team and I will will be 'hiking' to support Tales of the Tundra Siberian Husky Rescue Inc. (

Of course, we won't be doing it in person in Pennsylvania, as fun as that would be, instead we have signed up to be 'remote hikers'. And of course, we won't be hiking, we will be running - cause that is what we do - but we are looking to raise pledges for our run that day that will be donated to Tales of the Tundra.

Tales of the Tundra is one of many wonderful Siberian Husky rescue groups that we strive to support in ways we can. Taken from their website -

"Tails of the Tundra Siberian Husky Rescue is a nonprofit (501c3) volunteer organization, formed to help Siberian Huskies and Siberian Husky Mixes that have been abused, neglected, abandoned, or surrendered by their owners. Our goals are to place these dogs in loving homes and to educate people about the characteristics of this wonderful, yet often misunderstood, breed. To accomplish these goals and our overall mission, our network of volunteers throughout PA, NY, NJ, MD, DE, and WV are involved in raising funds, transporting and fostering dogs, developing and maintaining our web site, and representing the group at events."

Folks can either register to hike themselves (in person or as a remote hiker) at - or you can pledge towards the NorthWapiti Team's run for the Hike at

This is a great group and a great cause - we'd appreciate your support!


Saturday 6 September 2008

:) :) :)

Every day after my run I log into my computer and add the run into my fancy, father in law created, Access Database. It allows me to thoroughly track the mileage logged by each of the dogs, the position they ran, and much more. Then, as a precaution because I don't completely trust computers, I log the run in shorthand on the calendar in the kitchen. The only notations I put on the calendar are smiley and frowny faces on the occasion that the run was really great (most runs are great - but I'm talking about really great!) or really bad. On really rare occasions a double smiley face will appear next to the run - and then there are the really, really rare moments like this morning - a THREE smiley face run.
What makes it really remarkable is that not only was it a three smiley face run but five of the dogs on the team were yearlings (See, Meg, Beauty, Tie, and TopDog) and one (Turtle) was out for his very first run!! Now I had padded the rest of the team to counter the fact that I had so many youngsters in the group and put in real powerhouses Spider, Dasher, Charge, Watt, Wolvie, X, and Crunchie. Rounding out the 16 was Wonder, Comet and Roary.
Hookup took alittle longer then normal, as I was working alone and getting 6 rookies pointing forward on your own can sometimes take some doing. With alot of noise driven by the high level of excitement of the young dogs we launched out of the yard. We got maybe a hundred yards before Meg managed to get her leg hung up in See harness. She was sure she was dying, but Mom came running to the rescue and 'saved her life'. We were off again. Turtle did fabulous for about the first 3/4 of a mile and then he got thinking too much. I dropped the team down into 2nd gear and rode the brakes to allow him time to work through his worries. It worked wonderfully, he got back into his harness and back to work in a short amount of time. I kept the quad in 2nd gear to make sure we weren't going to stress him again though. About 2 miles into the run things started to seriously 'click'. Everyone's head was down and they were hard into their harnesses. So very nice to see with young dogs!!! I took numerous breaks and everytime within a minute or two the dogs were leaping and screaming to get going again.
It was especially rewarding to see See pounding her harness to get moving, as on her first run, she was doing an exceptional imitation of a possum when we started.

The dogs came back into the yard at a speed equal to the one they initially left the yard at. They had driven hard up every hill, pulled like demons on the flat and loped hard on the short stretches I asked them to. Spider and Dasher hit every corner with nothing more then one quiet command.
Tails wagged and tongues lolled as I petted and praised them all up. I unhooked Turtle and made a big fuss over him while taking off his harness and putting him away.
After everyone had a good drink and had caught their breath, I hopped back on the ATV and asked them to leave the yard for their 'go around loop'. They shot out like rockets and the engine on the machine whined as it tried to hold them back. As we rounded the last corner towards home, I relented and gave them an extra gear. They grabbed the gift and kicked it into overdrive. You could just feel the power vibrating in the gangline with each stride. Sweet.

As I put them away, they stood and complained that the run was too short - especially See!

This might be the most exciting group of yearlings I've ever had! :) :) :)


Bitten by the Bingo bug...

People seem to think that working with as many dogs as I do that I must get bitten alot, but the reality is that I don't (which is a good thing, because I HATE being bitten). In fact, in the close to 20 years I've been living with multiple dogs I've been bitten 3 times....well...including yesterday............4 times.

Probably most of you are assuming by now that Bingo was the biter, but the fact is that while I hold her responsible for the incident, it was not her teeth that munched me - it was young Dew.

Let me back up a bit and tell the whole story. Yesterday morning I hooked 16 dogs up and had a wonderful 5 mile run. The team consisted of main string dogs, with the exception of the amazing Utin, who is performing well beyond my expectations of a yearling.
I started out of the yard with Xena and Jinx in lead. I really believe that Jinxy is going to be the next superstar leader out of this yard but right now she is just helping me with some of the young and upcoming leaders, like Xena. Xena did great for about 2 miles and then her experience started coming through. I worked with her for about another mile before deciding she just wasn't ready to really work on leading yet. I swapped her out with Bingo and we finished the run without incident.
When I took Dew's harness off and started to walk her past the other dogs on the way to her stakeout, Bingo took a cheap shot at her tail as it went by. It wasn't anything serious, just a cheap nip to try and be a bully, but rightfully Dew took exception to it and whipped around to defend herself. My arm managed to get in front of her teeth.
The bite isn't bad at all - she barely broke skin, but there is a fair amount of bruising, a bit of broken skin and it definitely stings.
Dew didn't get in trouble at all, but I did have a few words with Bingo. I really hate it when they take cheap shots at each other. A couple dogs later I was putting away Sprite when Bingo struck again. Unfortunately for Bingo, I can turn Sprite loose without a problem, so I immediately let go of Sprite and had a few more words with Bingo. She looked very contrite and politely minded her own business as I put away the remaining dogs.
All was forgiven by the time I started to put the leaders away and I was telling Bingo what a good job she was doing as I took off Jinx's harness. As I stepped away from the gangline with Jinx, there was a quick tug and I spun around to see if Bingo was foolish enough to take ANOTHER cheap shot. There stood Bingo - she was perfectly still with her big brown eyes just oozing innocence. I would have bought the picture, if not for the huge chunk of Jinx fur hanging out of her mouth. The illusion was blown, but all I could manage was a few stern words for discipline as Bingo tried to spit out the fur and maintain her innocence at the same time, I was just giggling too hard!
Obviously, this is something we are going to have to work on some more. I'll try to keep my arms out of the way and my laughter in check!


Monday 1 September 2008

I'm in L.O.V.E.

Greetings from Cheticamp, N.S.
We have been traveling through Cape Breton along the Cabot Trail today - and I think I've discovered where I want to retire!! INCREDIBLE scenery - the ocean, mountains, forests, beaches - quaint towns, fantastic food....
If it weren't for how far it is from any dog sled race - and how difficult it would be to move the dogs out here - I could happily stay.

Neil's Habour

Yes, I'm continuing to put lobsters out of their misery.

Pleasant Bay

We did see 4 moose today - all within about a 10 mile stretch of highway. I passed on taking any pictures of them - seemed alittle too 'common' for my world - but they were still fun to see.
Tonight we are staying in the neat town of Cheticamp. I think keeping your place clean and your lawn cut must be a law around here. I have never seen anywhere so tidy. There are also no fences at all between houses, making it seem open and inviting! Really quaint!!

I am going to try and post a few more pictures on the Picasa site before crashing into bed, so check it out if you are interested.

BTW -still no outgoing mail - and now no cell phone coverage (and no phone in the room), so we are still cut off from the world - except for the blog!!!


Greetings from Nova Scotia

It is our fourth morning in Halifax and I must say we are having a great time. While I've been able to download and read emails at the hotel, I have been unable to send any messages, so don't fret if you aren't hearing from me!!!

Anyway, we spent Friday poking around downtown Halifax.

They have a lovely boardwalk with all kinds of cool shops, restaurants and such. We had lunch at a nice little seafood place and Mark got chatting with the guy receiving their daily shipment of lobsters. It was very interesting - and one of the things we learned was that the season for lobsters ended about a month ago, so the lobsters they were getting each day now were coming from a holding tank. Turns out lobsters can live in a holding tank - with no food - for up to a year and a half. I figure it must be a miserable existence, so I'm trying very hard to put as many lobsters as I can out of their misery while we are out here. I'm such a humanitarian!!

We then walked up (and up and up) to the Halifax Citadel National Historical site. The Citadel used to be the fort that defended the country during the early days of settlement in Canada - and all the way up until WWII. Fascinating place and we really enjoyed walking around and learning all about it. The history in this area is very rich and interesting.

That evening I did my 'Tails of the Trail" presentation, which was well attended and seemed to be well received.

Saturday was the Nationals and I had a great time judging the unofficial and Sweeps classes.

Awarding Best in Sled Dog Sweeps

There were some lovely dogs shown to me and I had some hard decisions in some of the classes.

If you haven't heard by now, the Specialty itself was very exciting for us. Judged by Vince Buoniello it went to Tucoldturain's Duramax owned and bred by Jackie Wepruk and Rick Austin. What makes that so exciting for Mark and I is that Duramax is out of NorthWapiti's Super Grover and NorthWapiti's Skadi (littermate to Kara) - well, that and that Jackie and Rick are good friends and we are THRILLED for them!!! I think my cheer from ringside when Mr. Buoniello pointed at Jackie and Duramax bordered on a shriek!!!

Several of the other dogs doing well at the Specialty went back to a number of our dogs too - many through Brenda Potter's Freya (another sister to Kara) - so it really was special day in the show ring for us, even though we weren't actually showing!

I think my only really disappointment for the day was that former NW resident Eeek was at the show, but was whisked back home before I got a chance to give him a hug. It was at least nice to see him though.

When I called home Saturday, my heart skipped a beat when Colleen told me Kara had had to be taken to the vet that morning (She thoughtfully hadn't phoned earlier, as everything was under control and she didn't want to worry me before my judging). Luckily, she couldn't have been in better hands then Colleen's and all is now well. She had something like an abscess from a wound that looked suspiciously like a bite from one of her children - but to begin with, it came up so fast that there was concern it was a reaction to a bee sting or some such thing.

Colleen tells me she was even shaving bits off of a Denta stix and sprinkling them on Kara's food to get her to eat it for awhile, but all is pretty much settled down now. Phew!! (BTW - the folks here gave me a spectacular portrait of Kara as a 'thank you gift' for judging, so she is staring at me in the hotel room as I type. It is just lovely - although large and we aren't sure how we are going to get it home!!)

Yesterday we headed up to Peggy's Cove and Mahone Bay for the day. Beautiful!!!

For lunch I set aside my humanitarian campaign for lobsters (no fear, I took that up again for dinner) and dined on Salt Cod Hash with baked beans and green tomato chow. Very interesting and quite good. Mark couldn't be convinced though.

Peggy's Cove. Very enchanting - reminded me alot of Nome.

THE lighthouse at Peggy's Cove

Mahone Bay

Mahone Bay - Very quaint!
Today we are heading up to Cape Breton. Not sure where we will end up, so don't know if you will be hearing from me until I get home again, but rest assured - we are having a great time!

As usual, they are more pictures of our adventures on our Picasa site -

I am having a bit of issue with my big camera and it needs to go in for a professional cleaning when we get home (even with years of experience doing this for others when I worked at the camera shop I'm unable to deal with this issue) so until then, you might see a few spots and dots floating around in skies and such!

Anyway, all for this morning!