Friday 31 July 2009

This Morning

This morning was a lovely (to 'Winter Chicks' anyway) 2C when I got up at 5:30 am. I lured the 'Pit Crew' out of bed with the smell of waffles and coffee (waffles and hot chocolate for the 11 going on 12 year old member of the crew). They, with a bit of assistance from me, left nothing behind but crumbs and coffee grounds before springing into action and out the door.

This team consisted of Runner and Wifi; Barq and Flash; Fritz and Herman; Tie and Hector; Q and Jack (on his first hookup); Fritter and Tess; Kim and Kelly; and Bingo and Dasher in wheel.

Because 'The Great Sledding Gods' had granted me such a wonderful run on Wednesday morning, it was time for my reality check.

The SECOND Jack realized he was hooked in at the neck AND the back of his harness, he threw a hissy fit of EPIC proportions. Now understand, Jack redefined 'epic proportions' the first time we didn't move fast enough with his dinner. This hissy fit was EPIC even compared to his previous epic hissy fits.

Luckily Mark was there and was able to hold Jack still till we could get on the ATV and get moving. Thankfully, forward momentum stopped the fit. Jack settled down and started pretty well for a rookie. In fact, I think this was the first time in about 6 months that Jack was actually quiet. I was grateful.

Things went relatively smoothly for the first mile and a half or so - then we hit the river. Apparently Jack doesn't do water and he dug his toes into the sand on the edge of the water and SCREAMED. Unfortunately for Jack, one young dog in the middle of a 16 dog team can't really choose not to go forward. The team basically catapulted the protesting youngster into the water. Jack decided that physical protesting wasn't too effective, so he gave that up and threw all his energy into a vocal protest. There was no way that we were seeing wildlife this morning - every wild critter in a 5 mile radius was probably heading for the hills by now.
Everyone got a drink and we were underway again.

Kim and Kelly decided that everything was going too smoothly now and figured it was a good time to start playing with each other as they ran. Wifi, who has hit a 'plateau' in his leader training several weeks back, lasted about another mile before he entirely lost his focus and wandered off into the woods creating a huge tangle. Jack screamed, Kim and Kelly played, Wifi was rolling on his back - I was looking for a big tree to bang my head against.

Another 3 or 4 tangles later Corrine and I switched Q into lead with Runner - hoping that that might mean we were going to get home sometime before the temperature got ridiculously hot.

That actually worked, although Kim and Kelly continued to mess around and play as they ran.

When we hit the river on the way home Jack only threw a minor hissy fit; Wifi was back to his normal hardworking self; Kim and Kelly continued to mess around.

The rest of the run passed with only about another 5 or 6 tangles.

Now not that it was a 'BAD' run - it really wasn't, it was just that compared to the fantastic run on Wednesday, this was a let down. I always say that you have to have these runs so you appreciate the good ones - but that doesn't mean I can't whine about the 'less then good' ones! =)

We did actually take a few pictures and a bit of video today. None of Jack though - he didn't stay still long enough - and he is blowing coat and looks alittle like Wiley Coyote right now - but you can see his shedding fur floating downstream in some of the video!

Runner, Q, Flash, and Barq in the river on the way home.

Tie and Hector

Fritz and Herman

Bingo, Dasher, Kim and Kelly

Corrine, Snap, Crackle and Pop

The rest of the photos can be seen at


Wednesday 29 July 2009

Mark's Stupid Cat - aka Bait

Okay the 'embedding video in the blog' thing worked well this morning, so I couldn't resist sharing this video of Mark's Stupid Cat tauting the very agile Grimmy.

It's been a long time since that ridiculous cat had nine lives.


Training This Morning

It was another wonderfully cool, dewy morning this morning.

Corrine and I hooked up 16 dogs - Dasher and Bang in lead, Meg and See in swing, then Xena and Sprite, Dew and Beauty, Skookum (on his first run!) and Charge, Wolvie and Grit, X and Shooter, with Jr and Utin in wheel.

The team was awesome. One of those runs where you can just feel the power coming down the gangline at you.
Gives me goosebumps just to think about it!

Even young Skookum rocked!

I didn't take my camera this run, which was a shame, cause I would have had a lovely shot of a nice doe mule deer in the morning light down by the river and all the spider webs were highlighted by the morning dew clinging to them. But when we got back to the yard I couldn't resist grabbing it and taking some video of See. Apparently 4.5 hard and fast miles weren't enough for her this morning - she wanted more! I really like this young girl.

See is the gal in right swing - and yes, that noise is coming from her. Next to her is her little sister Meg.

A good morning!! (and for all that follow me on Facebook - YES - I remembered to have coffee this morning!!)


Monday 27 July 2009

Life in a River Valley

Not only does the river valley give us wonderful sights like those I posted yesterday, it also means that the evenings and mornings can be cool almost year round. So, despite my complaining yesterday about the temperatures this morning when I woke up and glanced at the ceiling (where my wonderful Cabelas outdoor thermometer displays the temperature) I noticed it was 5C - cool enough to run dogs.
I roused the troops with only a minumum of fuss, poured coffee down the throat of one and Fruit Loops into the other and off we went.

The first run of the 2009/2010 sledding season was lead by the dynamic duo of Jinx and Rocket. I adore these two ladies - they are rock solid on their commands and really push the pace of a team. A dream to drive!
They were backed up by Bingo, Casey, Wonder, Trigger, Billie, Smartie, Astro, Snert (on his first run in harness), Q, Turtle, Irving, Rocky, Roscoe and Crunchie!

Aside from Astro and Snert getting tangled every 1/2 mile or so,

it was a wonderful 4 mile run.

When we did the 'go around loop' at the end of the run, Jinx and Rocket led the team out of the yard at a lope! Did I mention how much I like those 2 leaders???? =)

After the team was watered and put away it was still cool enough for Corrine to do a quick 1 mile scooter run with Runner.

(BTW Rob - she loves the new Pawtrekker scooter!)

Finally it was the Rice Krispies chance to get out.

The last morning task was feeding the little monsters -

The rest of the pictures can be seen at

Life in a river valley is good!

Sunday 26 July 2009

A Trip to the River

My niece Corrine (yup, the one that wants to run Jr Iditarod in a few years) is up visiting from Seattle for a couple weeks. She's great kennel help and even better company, so we love having her around.
She wasn't however much interested in watching the NASCAR race with her Uncle Mark this afternoon, so she and I headed down to the Tawatinaw River

to check on the Saskatoon Berries (or at leaast that was the excuse).
Turns out the Saskatoon berries - like the wild raspberries and blueberries here in the valley - are way behind this year and not even close to ripe yet - but we found other fun stuff to look at!

Like wildflowers..


(I'm hoping this is a dog, but not entirely convinced)

(Great Blue Heron tracks)




(remnants of an old bridge)

(old concrete supports for the railway that use to run along the river)

... this handsome fellow..


...and even his little brother!!!

It was alot of fun and the NASCAR race was almost over when we got back!!

There are some more pictures at

It's Too Hot Baby

Northern Alberta is in the grip of a heat wave. Now I'm sure those of you reading in Arizona, Texas and the likes are laughing at us considering temperatures in the 90's (F) of being a 'heat wave', but we don't laugh (okay, we do, but under our breath) when you consider 20 F as 'bitter cold'.

Because of the warm temperatures the activities in the dog yard happen mostly in the early morning and late evening. Most of the day the dogs (and the mushers) are lying prone in the shade dreaming of snow storms.

Yesterday we headed to St. Albert (right on the north edge of Edmonton - anyone coming this way has driven through St. Albert) to take in the Farmer's Market.

The St. Albert market is wonderful and large. They actually close down most of downtown for the event each Saturday!

Of course there is the usually assortment of fresh, local veggies and fruit -

....but they also have some great local crafts..

...flower vendors...

and entertainers...

...and other odds and ends...

(Soaking salts, in case you were wondering)

It was a lovely morning and we came home loaded down with radishes, peas in the shell, peaches, stuffed olives, homemade cookies and more!


Friday 24 July 2009


I love my brother - truly and dearly - but I'll confess that as we were growing up there were times had he been standing on the edge of a cliff....well....

I think Kara feels about the same way about her 'sister'.

Wednesday 22 July 2009

Perryvale to Prince George

I think some of my willingness to stand for hour after hour on the back of a dog sled watching dog butts and gazing at passing scenery goes back to many, many hours spent in the back of a vehicle as a child watching the countryside roll by.

My dad wasn't one to take the family to Disneyland or Hawaii, but he sure LOVED driving and once we moved to Alberta in 1975 we spend many weekends exploring the National and Provincial Parks to the west of us. It left me with not only a desire to travel, but a deep love of the Rocky Mountains.

When we lived in Grande Prairie I would often make the journey through Dawson Creek, Chetwynd, and the Pine Pass down to Prince George where my Siberian mentors Bob and Loreen Bridges lived. It was a lovely drive that I always enjoyed (as long as the Pass was open and in good condition). When we moved to Athabasca the trips to Prince George which now went through Edson, Hinton, Jasper, and McBride were less frequent, but the drive was even more lovely.

Helen and I did this drive in March to go out to the Fort St James race but it stormed for a good part of the trip and the roads were mostly covered with snow and ice, so it was not a particularly relaxing and enjoyable drive. Still pretty though!

This past weekend when Tess, Wonder, Q and I did the trip the weather was lovely, the wildlife plentiful (and well off the road), the wildflowers bold and colorful and the mountains clear and rugged. It was a wonderful trip.

Unfortunately I didn't have as much time as I would have completely liked to explore and photograph (and I still need to get my camera in to get cleaned, so I was leery of spending tons of time getting just the right shot) but I still managed to take a few pictures here and there.

Although I saw elk, deer, moose and bighorn sheep on the trip, I refrained from taking animal photos. There is just something remarkably unchallenging about jostling for a spot in a crowd of tourists to get a photo of an elk standing 20 feet away oblivious to the crowd. Though the young bull elk with velvet covered antlers in the Jasper townsite was tempting!

I did inadvertently take a few elk photos when I stopped to give the dogs a chance to stretch their legs.

See them? They are there! Q pointed them out to me!

I was very enchanted with all the wildflowers, especially the red Indian paintbrush. Around us it is all pink!

On the drive home I stopped an hiked a little bit up the trail to the 'Ancient Forest'. I wish I had time to do the whole hike!

I stopped at a little campground outside of McBride, BC (a place I'd move to in a HEARTBEAT) to let the dogs out for a break and got completely enchanted with this rushing little creek that was flanked by tons of wildflowers. I could have spent the whole day there!

It was a wonderful day, but it really just made me want to get that camera cleaned and spend more time in the mountains!

More of my pictures can be seen at

Prince George Dog Show

First off, many thanks to Kara for keeping the blog active in my absence last week.

Much to Kara's disgust I actually packed up Wonder, Tess and Q and headed off to Prince George, BC for a dog show last weekend. Finances have dictated that I cut back significantly on shows this year but this one had alot of things going for it that made it one to not be missed.

First off, I roomed with my very dear friend, Lynda at the show. Lynda and I go way back - many of you may know her as the breeder of Fly. She actually gave me Fly as a birthday gift many years ago.
She is one of those special friends that even though I don't see her on a regular basis anymore (we used to be practically inseparable when I lived in Grande Prairie) everything is just good and comfortable the moment we see each other again. It was a great visit!

My friend and favorite dog show handler, Cynthia Seeling was also going to be at the show, which meant I would have help showing dogs - and finally the judging panel was one that was very favorable for our style of Siberian.

Things worked out pretty much as good as could have been expected. I got lots of visiting in with all sorts of old friends and the judges were indeed inclined to give the nod to 'working Siberians' with Q taking 5 of the 6 Best of Breed wins, a cut in the group on Saturday and a Group 2nd on Sunday! Along the way he finished his Championship and began the 9th Iditarod finisher here at NorthWapiti to finish his Championship. Very thrilling!!!!

Champion NorthWapiti's Q

Wonder and Tess did not have as good a weekend. Wonder was extremely out of coat and Tess, despite enjoying the show she attended last spring, decided that shows are not 'her thing'. She did take one point on the first day of showing but by Sunday morning she had made it so clear that she was not having a good time that I promised to never ask her to do this again.
It has never been a requirement that dogs that live here go into the show ring, so I am quite comfortable making that deal with her.

I'd also like to congratulation Debra Bowles on finishing her gal, Mercy. The other Siberian breeder that was to be there for the weekend, Teri Turner only showed for one show on Saturday. She hit a moose on her way to Prince George on Thursday night. Thankfully Teri and her dogs were just shaken up. The moose and her motor home didn't fare as well.
Scary stuff!