Saturday 27 February 2010

NorthWapiti Kennels Pre Iditarod Open House

For all those who have been asking 'YOU BET' we are having our Open House this year. The location has changed, but not the fact that there will be 'Pretty Sled Dogs", food, refreshment, GREAT souvenirs, and good times!!

Date: Friday, March 5, 2010
Location: Doug and Krista Grilliot's, Willow, Alaska (please email me privately - - for directions!)
Time: 10 am - 3 pm

We look forward to seeing you all there!!!

Karen Ramstead

Tuesday 23 February 2010

'Handy' Once Again

Typing skills are back up to par - or, at the least, close, so I figured it was time for a blog entry!!!

The hand is healing relatively well. I did have to go back on another antibiotic today. Nothing to panic about, just being cautious as the edges of the wound are a bit redder then they should be and the wound is stilling draining 'serous' fluid.
Once it started to drain the swelling quickly came down and I have been back to almost full use since Monday.
I had hoped stitches would be out soon, but looks like, because it is in a area that gets alot of 'movement' they will have to be in for a while longer.

On Sunday I ran an eight dog team on a 20 mile run. I wore the brace that the doctors gave me but it caused more discomfort then running dogs did. The next day I wrapped my hand/wrist with 2 tensor bandages and that worked really well. I took 10 dogs with Jan's handler, Simone as a passenger and had a really nice run.

Today things were back to 'normal' with Mark and I each taking 10 dogs on a really nice 47 mile run.

Tomorrow we are giving the dogs a day off, which will allow us to work on a bunch of other stuff that must be done before we leave Muzzy's Place on Sunday!!

Here are a few pictures from Monday's run -

One of Simone's pictures from the sled!

This is a bit blurry, but I wanted to share as this is the simple corner that kicked my butt a little over a week ago (but coming the other direction). Right behind the first tree visible on the right is a bunch of broken branches and some blood!!


Pictures from today's run -

Climbing Jenny M hill.

Starting downhill.

Crossing one of 'the ponds' (I don't believe they have names, everyone just refers to them as 'The Ponds")

Happy Trails again!!!!!

Saturday 20 February 2010

Photos from the Dog Yard

We all had a day 'off' today (I know - I've been 'off' since Monday) so I took a few pictures out in the dog lot this morning.

Runner - who is stepping up to be a significant leader in the team

Handsome and hardworking Q

Billie enjoying her 'down time'. She has served notice to the veterans that she doesn't want to stay in Willow while they race to Nome. She well may get her way!


Spidey - we just switched her to one of short harnesses and it really seems to have made her a happier gal!


THE MAN - Crunchie

Wi-o-wi??? Wifi

Beautiful Bingo!

Tess - who is having her best season ever. She never backs off and is stepping up as a leader!! I am so proud of her!

Jinx - she and Dasher really are THE front end around here!!

Runner - don't call him 'Jill' - the house is just a 'loaner'!!

My Version

Okay, you have heard Kara's version of the story, now time for mine.

On Monday morning Mark and I went into Fairbanks to drop off my drop bags (1455lbs - I'll do another blog on that soon). We were back home by noon. Now it was time to focus on running dogs!! I planned out a schedule for the week, wrote up a couple teams, and out the door we went.

I was in front leaving the dog yard and the dogs were traveling well. Not 1/4 mile or so down the trail I just wasn't paying good attention on one of the corners and tipped over. I run that trail almost everyday and have never had even the slightest issue on that curve. The tip was unspectacular and I just hung on waiting for everything to come to a stop so I could yard my sled back onto it's runners. But just before we came to a stop, something happened. I wasn't sure what, but I knew something was wrong. When Mark came up behind me and yelled out "Are you okay?", I replied "No", but honestly didn't know what exactly was wrong. About that time my left hand felt wet and I knew where the issue was.
"Let me see". Mark had put in his snowhooks and come up to help me. I held up my left hand. He pulled off my gloves and without emotion said "You have to go to the hospital. Put some pressure on it." Always calm, that man.
I didn't really look but caught of glimpse of wood as I stuffed my hand into a pile of snow. I choose not to process the information.
Mark wanted me to walk home and get Jan's Dad, Carl to drive me to the hospital, but I had no intention of leaving him with 2 fresh 10 dog teams. I carry my cell phone on training runs, so I called the house, let Carl know I was going to need a ride, and asked him to ask Simone to come out and give us a hand turning teams around.
Simone must have run the whole way out, as she was there in a flash. Mark already had tugs undone, so we turned everyone around and headed back to the house. Poor Simone had to run back, as I was pretty woozy and didn't feel able enough to drive a sled with a passenger back to the house.
We wrapped my hand in a towel and Carl and I headed to town. The last thing Mark said to me before I left was "It's not bad. Don't worry." Liar.
I figure he knew that it was going to involve A LOT of needles and figured running dogs was a much better idea then hanging out with me.

On the way to the hospital the shock began to wear off and the pain set in. I began to worry about nerves and tendons and was very relived to find out I could still move my fingers. I kept having waves of nausea, so didn't even think about looking at my hand, as I thought that would for sure knock me out.

Jan works at Fairbanks Urgent Care so that was where I asked to be taken to. They checked me in, looked at my hand, and took vitals while I waited to see Jan. I thought it might be worse then I imagined when they sent a nurse in to wait with me. Hmmm...

Jan came in and lifted the edge of the drape they had put over my hand. "Oh Karen" she said. "Have you looked?" I shook my head no. "You know you have a stick in your hand?" She put her hand on my wrist and said that that was were the end of the stick was. My stomach lurched and the room swayed.
Jan made it clear that this injury was beyond the scope of the facility. "You're going to the ER".
They wrapped me up and off Carl and I went but not before Jan snapped a photo. "After all is over you will want to see this".
I doubted her.

Thanks to some prodding of the staff from Carl I got into the ER in good time. The triage guy unwrapped my hand and said "Oh my". They hustled me into a room and the parade of spectators to look at the hand began. "Do you mind if I peek?" they all politely asked. I could have cared less, as long as I didn't have to.
"Never seen anything quite like this?" "How did you do this?" "That is very cool"

All the while my wonderful ER nurse Mike worked at finding a vein and getting an IV in me so they could do something about the pain. I was very grateful that I decided to ditch my phobia of needles earlier this year. It would have been a very long and stressful day if I hadn't.
I don't know what the painkiller was, but in minutes my toes were warm and fuzzy and my hand not an issue.

'Very nice to look at' Dr. Mark counted to three and out came the stick. We all agreed I needed to keep it as a souvenir.

Honestly, we laughed and joked our way through freezing and power washing.

It was really nice to be around doctors that might not have understood, but know what mushers are like. The 'Bone Doc' came in and they discussed whether to leave the wound open, close it with a drainage tube, or just close me up. The Bone Doc's thought was that I could get on the sled faster if they just closed me up. That, of course, was the decision I supported.

Nine stitches and a bunch of drugs later I was heading back to Two Rivers.

In looking at the wound now, it appears what happened is that while I was dragging to a stop my left hand that was gripping the driving bow of the sled hit a stick. The stick entered my hand at my knuckle by my middle fingers. It drove straight down to my wrist, thankfully missing major veins, nerves and tendons that are all through out the hand. I was remarkably lucky.

My thanks to the fabulous staff at the Fairbanks ER for taking such good care of me and being so nice - and of course, Carl for dropping everything and spending the day running me around!

Also thanks to Mark for running the team for me this week so I could let things heal well.And to Simone for all the help hooking up and unhooking!!!! While the pain hasn't been too bad, I have had trouble gripping things because of the swelling and fluid build up in my hand. Last night (Friday) the fluid began draining nicely and the swelling is down CONSIDERABLY this morning. The plan is for me to be back on a sled tomorrow and I CAN'T WAIT!!!!


Friday 19 February 2010

From Kathy Carmichael

Since I'm still a little 'out of commission' I thought I'd share with you (with permission) a piece that my dear friend Kathy Carmichael wrote. I hope you all enjoy.
And for the record - barring anything unforeseen, Bang will be heading to Nome with me this year.

Going out with a Bang
I can still smell the liniment we would rub on the dogs as they would rest after a hard run. I can close my eyes and hear the crunch of snow under heavy arctic boots, the clink of snaps on collars and gang lines, the thud of the snow hook as it is stomped into the ice bringing the sled to a stop in the early morning hours of crisp winter darkness. I can feel the exhilaration of watching my team come in for a well deserved break after many miles of running. Then, a quiet moment as all other sounds are replaced with the soft and reassuring rhythms of dogs breathing. Heavy pants of exhaustion laced with a sheer joy that poetically join us all together, dogs and humans, in this timeless tradition of dog mushing.
It’s been almost a year since I’ve even been to a dogsled race, and almost two years since I supported my own team from the sidelines as a handler, enduring the endless months of days and nights training before and during racing season. And now, after spending the better part of my entire adult life involved in the sport of mushing and never making it up to Alaska to experience Iditarod, I find myself preparing for the trip of a lifetime at a time when this chapter of my life is closing to make room for the next. It is a pivotal trip filled with so many emotions, triumph, sorrow, pride, and hope. And, at the center of it all is this amazing dog, Bang.
I remember bringing Bang home from her breeders, Mark & Karen Ramstead, in Alberta Canada. It was never easy to pry any puppy from their yard, but as always, a little begging and shameless groveling eventually opened up a few options. She, like all her littermates, was perfectly white all over with cute little patches of light gray on her ears and back, perfect little black button nose and a dusting of buff color all over her ears and face to make her extra squeezably cute. Bang grew up to be more than just a great snuggle partner. Terribly affectionate, always the good girl, quiet and obedient, and endlessly happy, she changed everything about how I would look at a sleddog in the kennel. At a very young age, she was placed in lead and she simply knew exactly what to do, never a single doubt in her mind. Her first really challenging race, when the rest of the team was clearly suffering from the difficult conditions of trail and weather, she showed no signs of weakness – whatsoever! I remember the moment very clearly when it all made sense to me. This dog, from head to toe, brains to brawn, was the sum total of multiple decades, generations and generations of dogs who do this one thing to complete perfection.
But, Bang was not my dog, and I was not her driver. It was not me who spent the time on the trail with the team and it was not me who placed all my trust in this little powerhouse of a puff ball. It was my husband who put that time and effort into making Bang the dog she is today, on her way to the starting line at Iditarod. And yet, much to my sorrow, he will not be joining me on this trip.
Like most couples involved in mushing, we adopted the lifestyle of mushing. It is an expensive lifestyle full of sacrifice, stress, tremendous highs, and even more tumultuous lows. But, when you learn how to do it RIGHT, you become spoiled for anything less than the full spectrum of the lifestyle. When you spend years figuring how the yard should be built, what kind of equipment works best, who to go to for the best dogs, which foods to feed, which races are the most enjoyable, and which ATV’s can be rigged with a hot switch, it’s like surrounding yourself with the best musicians at the best soundstage in the world, just waiting for you to tell them when to start playing beautiful music!
And then, there are the dogs. They will inspire awe in even the most hardened of hearts, and you’ll meet a few of those hearts at a race! The many years spent watching and growing with these dogs leave you with the utmost respect of what they were put on this earth to do. And, if you’re paying attention, you will discover that they deserve nothing less than doing it RIGHT, all or nothing.
Lifestyles and dogs are easy. Relationships are complicated. And, life has a funny way of reminding you of what is important. Having witnessed breakups of mushing couples over the years, I was no stranger to the inevitable heartbreak of the canine children who don’t get child support or visitation rights. If you can imagine the iconic Hollywood version of the divorced couple’s argument ‘Who Gets the Dog?’ –now multiply that by 30, 40, or 50 dogs. The logistics are exhausting, the decisions are impossible, and the emotions are indescribable. But there for both of us, always happy, and always perfect in every way was Bang.
There is something so peaceful about peering into the eyes of a dog. Before I parted with her last year, I spent many hours with Bang in that familiar position, holding her head in my hands and looking for answers. I don’t think that either my husband or I really knew this at the time, but bottled up in that little puff ball were all of our sacrifices and years of dedication, time, respect, and joy for this sport. And now, as she has made the journey to the starting line at Iditarod, both of us can delight in a dream coming true, even if it wasn’t exactly as we had planned.
It is a strange feeling to be so far removed and yet so connected to something so big as Iditarod. For me, my husband, and Bang, this is the crossroads of a long journey, one destination Nome, and the other unknown. So, with quiet tragedy and silent triumph, I will be at the starting line for both my husband and I, sending Bang and our past life’s pursuits down that famous trail, so that we may all begin new pursuits of a different kind. Once a musher, always a musher. My thanks to Bang for reminding me.

Kathy Carmichael

Tuesday 16 February 2010

Musher Update (by Kara)

So there I was, lounging on my cloud (after X got up to get a drink of water... cloud hog), and Richard was out feeding the yard dogs when the phone rang. I mean, seriously, do I have to do everything around here?

It was the musher. She wanted me to post a blog entry (see, I really have to do everything) to let everyone know that she had a bit of an "incident" on the training trail today and wouldn't be able to post for a bit.

So I was like "well, what kind of incident and will it hinder the distribution of my dentastix".

From what she says, here's what happens (but I'm pretty sure she was all goofed up on pain pills, so this probably isn't what happened really):

Apparently while they were out on the training trail, a vicious, and possibly rabid stick jumped out in front of the team. The musher, being a good musher, proceeded to throw herself on the stick to save the team, and suffered a hand injury.

Riiiight, so I asked for some proof, because I'm thinking she's all making it up so she can sit around and eat Oskri bars and snack on snack bag stuff until Iditarod time... I'm sorry I asked.

Normally I'd just plop the picture right in the blog for all to see, but its just so nasty that it even put me off my dentastix snack, so I'm going to post a link to it for all of you ghoulish people that think you want to see it, but will squeal in disgust and probably lose whatever meal you last had and get all mad at me for warning you, but not warning you enough, so here's the warning:

WARNING, if you click on this link you will most likely urp up your lunch and have horrible nightmares for weeks and weeks and most likely do some cursing or at the very least say to yourself "um musher, you better take off that ring before your entire hand swells to the size of the Hindenburg". This picture is not for the faint of heart, small children, or just about anyone in general and I have it on good authority that the cartoonist dweeb actually dry heaved upon viewing it, and she's seen some nasty things before.

Ok, so you've been warned, so go ahead and click here to see it, but I don't want to hear any complaining!


P.S. the musher is keeping the stick for posterity and I'm trying to get it bronzed, autographed and sold on e-bay.

Thursday 11 February 2010

The Worst 3 Minutes of Iditarod.

The dogs claim that this morning they had to endure the worst 3 minutes of the Iditarod.

"Ridiculous", said Crunchie
"Horrific", declared Charge
"We told the rookies is was awful", said Dasher

"You must be kidding", Roscoe said with wide eyes
"Do you think I can dance my way out of this?" wondered Rocket

What was this dreadful ordeal you ask?? Well - laying still on their sides for three whole minutes while they got Iditarod EKGs done today.


Charge (notice he has turned his bottom ear almost inside out!!)

Apparently even getting blood work and microchipping done -

Billie being amazingly good for the blood draw! Yeah Billie!!


-wasn't near as horrendous as actually having to BE STILL for THREE WHOLE MINUTES.


"Even Bull Riders only have to last for 8 seconds" quipped Barq

Don't worry guys, the hard part is behind you now!!!

Many thanks to the amazing Jan Bullock and her equally wonderful crew for being so terrific with the dogs! You guys are the BEST!!!

And thanks to my most excellent handler for the day, Simone (on load from Muzzy's Place)!!! Couldn't have done it without you!!


Wednesday 10 February 2010

Of Sled Dogs and Ravens

By now my affection for ravens must be known to all. I think they are truly clever creatures with a fabulous sense of fun.
We don't have many at home, maybe hanging out around the Westlock McDonalds, but nothing like Alaska. Here ravens are very common place - and BIG, bold ravens. They hang out around cities and towns, fly over dog trails, and make themselves completely at home in dog yards.
We appear to have 5 or so 'resident ravens' here at NorthWapiti North. In the morning when I head out to the water room to start preparing breakfast, the team takes that as a sign and starts to bark and carry on. That is the 'dinner bell' for the ravens. In no time they will be impatiently hanging out in trees croaking and squawking at me to hurry it up. As soon as food is being dished out and the commotion in the dog yard dies down the big 'whop, whop' of their wings sounds overhead and they drop into the yard. As I work around the yard finishing the feeding and then shoveling I get to watch an amazing bunch of interactions. I'd take pictures, but the one thing the ravens aren't tolerant of is me reaching into my pocket and pulling out a camera. Hacking away at frozen poo with a shovel and dragging a noisy 'poop sled' around the yard are fine, but the camera is a complete 'no-no'. So you are going to have to make do with my descriptions of the dog yard dances with the ravens!

The dogs are surprisingly tolerant of them - well, except for Wonder. She has no fondness for the beady eyed birds that are almost the same size as her and puts the run on them every time they enter her circle. Irving isn't keen of them either and sticks his big ears out the side of his head when they hop through his area, refusing to look at them. Jr and one big raven practically bumped butts the other day. They both apologised snad headed in different directions.

But the funniest interactions lately have been between Bingo, See and the birds. Bingo hasn't been eating too great lately, nothing wrong with her, she has always been a bit of a picky eater if I'm not careful. The ravens have figured this out and a group of them will congregate at the bottom of the dog lot near her. One or two will try to distract her while the rest dive into her dish. She protects the dish rather keenly, until I come and take it away - much to the dismay of all!

See lives right next door to Bingo and doesn't appreciate all the commotion and company at feeding time. Yesterday morning in a huff See picked up her bowl (without spilling it), carried it to her house, carefully placed it inside and then shoved her head into the house to eat. Very clever - cut out all the commotion and very effectively protected her meal from the ravenous ravens!

I am continuously amazed by the creativeness of these dogs!! Fasinating creatures all!!

As I said, the ravens ae not keen on pictures, but here a few I snuck in earlier this morning

Wolvie, Charge, Barq and friends

Jr and friend

See and foe!!!

Monday 8 February 2010

Yukon Quest Start

Saturday I took a break from training and drop bag preparations to be a fan at the start of the Yukon Quest.

Here are a few of my pictures of the teams starting -

The Incredible Lance Mackey

Mike Ellis - of course this is the team we here at NorthWapiti cheer the loudest for! Go Team Tsuga!!!!

Mike Ellis

Pierre Antoine-Heritier's Siberian Huskies

Peter Fleck

Zack Steer. I think this is a team to watch on both the Quest AND Iditarod. Zack is the 'real deal' and a true credit to the sport!

Kelley Griffin. Kelley and I were race judges on Quest last year and I think she is one of the coolest woman. The boys better watch over their shoulder for her.

Katie Davis's team

I'll be watching closely and wish all the teams safe and happy trails!!!


More images can be seen at

Sunday 7 February 2010

Don Bowers 200 - The Rest of the Stories

Over the years I've been racing I have done many races that tested my body, my spirit and my soul - and then there are other races that feed and fill the aforementioned! Warm temperatures, an incredible full moon, breathtaking views of Denali, wonderful trails, a solid dog team, a bunch of wonderful competitors....the Don Bowers 200 was a 'feeder'.

A blow by blow account of the race would be boring, as just not that much happened over the course of 200 miles. So, I'll just tell a few tales!

Puppy Training

First off, I am sending a bill to Martin Buser to cover training of his hooligan puppy team, barely managed by Sue Allen. About 4 hours into the race Sue's team came pounding down the trail behind me. I stopped to let the 'baby freight train' pass. All was well until one of the hooligans decided to 'think outside the box' and go right around me rather then left like the rest of the team. The tug line hit me HARD in the back of my calves. So hard that it even shook up the offending dog!!! Sue was quick with her apologies but later when I threatened law suits she suggested I would have to take it up with the team owner - Martin.
Just a few miles from the finish line, Sue again came thundering up behind me. I held my breath as they stormed by, but all the dogs kept their heads down and passed flawlessly. Chatting with Sue at the finish line she said that the dog that clocked me early in the race never strayed again. Hmmm, sounds like I did a fabulous job training him!! Expect your bill in the mail Martin!!!
(Just so there is no mistake, I really like Sue (and Martin) and all the above is in complete light heartedness. Dogs do goofy things, even veteran ones, and I would never harbor bad feelings over an incident like this on the trail!! Situations like this are fun to laugh and joke over - nothing more!)

Warm Temperatures

The weather down in Willow for the race was certainly warm, especially for my dogs and I who have been training in some pretty cold temperatures this winter. The warm punchy trail was not what we have been training on either! I stopped to rest the dogs just passed Shulan Lake on the first leg. I hadn't bothered to carry straw and was glad I hadn't as the dogs were more then happy to stretch out in the snow to cool down. I fed them all a meal and then tossed some dog jackets on the snow and lay down for a brief nap myself. My SkookumBrand anorak is warm, but it not often that I can just lay down on a few dog jackets and be completely comfortable. I pulled my arms out of my sleeves and got some nice shut eye!

Wolf Moon

The tell me January's full moon is called a 'Wolf Moon'. According to Farmer's Almanac that is because "Full Wolf Moon - January Amid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages. Thus, the name for January's full Moon."
I heard no wolf packs howling (although did hear a bunch of coyotes kicking it up by the Big Su) and the bright moon was a wonderful traveling companion for the 2 nights we were out on the trail. The dogs seemed very fascinated with it too and as it was rising I caught a number of them glancing over at it!
I like to be able to carefully watch my individual dogs as we travel, so rarely travel without a headlamp, but I loved being able to see the scenery around us by the light of the moon!


Leaving Joe May's lovely place on Saturday morning all the mushers were treated to a fantastic view of Denali (Mt McKinley to some of you). We traveled in the shadow of the giant mountain throughout the day and then were treated to a wonderful sunset reflecting off it.
A trapper out on his snowmachine stopped to take some pictures of my team with a very pink Denali in the background. I wish I knew who he was, because I imagine the pictures to be lovely!

Overall Impressions of the Team

It's nice to do a race 2 years in a row like that. It gives me a good tool to judge the progress of my team in training. Last year I was very pleased with the way my team 'came together' on the race, traveling faster for each leg of the race then the previous one.
I didn't feel this team 'came together' quite as well, but yet we were a number of hours faster then our previous year's time.
I think that bodes well for us for Iditarod, as it means the team is still a ways away from 'peaking' by still laying down solid runs.
My superstars were Jinx, Dasher, Crunchie and Charge. Jinx and Dasher led almost the whole race, except for about 50 miles where Rocket was up front. Rocket is coming along wonderful as a leader and she is such a character that she makes me smile whenever I'm around her!!
Crunchie and Charge were the quintessential wheel dogs. The last 20 miles or so to Joe and Sandra May's place has a few 'sporty' spots and having a couple hard driving, solid dogs in wheel just makes a run like that all fun!! Those 2 never back off. Great dogs!!

The Rock and The Tree

The trail for this event was wonderful. Enough dipping and diving to keep one interested, but nothing that was even vaguely threatening - well except for maybe The Rock and The Tree. About 90 miles into the race the trail crosses under the Parks Highway on the Big Su. It then climbs up a short, steep bank and off over to a power line. On the inside of the sharp corner at the top of the bank lies a rock. As we were coming by it on the way to the halfway point I remember thinking that that might be tricky on the trip back. Sure enough, it was. The problem was that the rock had a partner in crime - THE TREE. The Tree was directly opposite the rock and if you clipped the rock, as I believe just about everyone did, it threw you right into The Tree. I had as big a crash there as I remembering having on a race in a long time!! No permanent damage though, just a ripped anorak, a slightly stretched arm and a face full of snow!

Sorry Runner!

At the last second the night before I left for Willow I put See on the team instead of Runner. See is one of my most promising rookies and I wanted her to get a bit more race experience.
Unfortunately, a minor wrist injury flared up on our layover. If she had been an older dog I would have worked on the wrist and probably been able to run her back to Willow, but I didn't want to risk anything with such a promising, young dog, so she rode back with Donna and Keith.
Runner gave me a disgusted "I told you so" look when I arrived home on Monday!

All Kinds of Thanks!

Well run races like the Bowers never come off without alot of volunteers. I'd hate to name names and overlook anyone so I'll just say HUGE THANKS to everyone associated with the event. From the trail, to the checkpoints, to the start to the finish line, the attention to detail and terrific attitude shone through brighter then that full moon. You done darn good guys! Thank you!!

Also thanks to Donna Quante and Keith Blaha for all their help and hospitality over the weekend. And to my kick butt handling team for the start - Donna, Keith, Mike Dillingham, Skeeter, Skipper, Ruth Ann, and Mirranda. You guys rocked!!!

What a great weekend!!!

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Wi oh Wi

I will have a full account of our 8th place finish in the Don Bowers 200 last week soon, but first wanted to share a story about Wifi!!

Wifi is a VERY high energy, enthusiastic 3 year old. Last year he raced a bit with Mark, but this year he has been finding himself mostly in my group. Despite his smaller size and not great confirmation, he is a hard driving and solid addition to my team.

He did a great job on the first leg of the Don Bowers 200, but a few hours into our return trip it became obvious he wasn't 100%. I stopped and checked all the things that might be a 'quick fix' (harness issues, snowballs, needing booties, etc). It appeared to be a mild shoulder injury. I scratched his ears and asked if he wanted a ride. He pointed his nose down the trail and banged his harness a few times. "Okay", I said, "Let me know if you change your mind".
Wifi kept his tug tight, continued to snack well and bang his harness every time we stopped for 'too long' (according to him), but I could still see a slight limp.
With about 30 miles to go Wifi's tug line started to get slack. He was still happy on our stops but I figured I was going to have to load him in the sled bag soon. Sure enough a few miles later he started to 'neckline' alittle and I stopped the team.
I swapped around a few pieces of gear in my sled to make a more comfortable spot for him and then tucked him in. He was tired and surprisingly got settled into the sled with little fuss.
When I called the team up and we started to move Wi's eyes got big. I steadied him by the collar while he got used to the movement of the ride. Pretty quickly he relaxed and tucked his head onto the sled bag for a nap. Little dips and a few big hills on the trail would briefly wake him up, but in no time he would relax and his eyes would drift shut.
After about an hour or so, he decided he wasn't very tired anymore and my trouble began.
Wifi began to pay attention to the landscape around him. He watched the ground roll by under us, he watched the dogs, he stared at the moon (actually many of the dogs were fascinated by the big full moon on that trip).
Then he started staring off into the woods, lifting his nose into the air and then snapping his head around to stare fixedly off into the dark.
"Okay Wi, you are beginning to freak me out. Stop it". He replied by sniffing and twisting around to try and see the trail behind us. A couple times he got excited enough that he started to try to get out of the sled bag. I reassured myself that there were not hundreds of moose hanging out in these woods and that he was making up a bunch of his 'sightings' - if not all of them.
After about an hour or so he must have decided he had milked that trick for all it was worth and began looking for something else to do. "Maybe I'll just get out", he said. I disagreed. We began to argue. Soon I had to snap a second neckline to his collar to secure him better in the bag. He was frustrated by that and decided that whining and howling might be a good past time. Each time he start to whine the team would all slow and start looking over their shoulders.
"Find another hobby", I suggested sternly - but nope, he was liking this one. Finally I stopped and let him out of the bag for a break. He trotted around a bit and had a good long pee while the team rolled in the snow.
I went to tuck him in the bag and he said "Oh no, it's no fun in there". We wrestled a bit but I finally managed to get all his feet grouped together and stuff him back in the bag. I snapped in his necklines and off we went.
"Let me OUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUT", sang Wifi. "It's for your own good",I countered.
And so we proceeded till the trail dropped back onto the Big Su river. There Wifi decided to take a stand and threw himself out of the sled bag. I struggled to keep control of the sled and get a hold of my errant sled dog. Once we were back under control I stomped in the snow hook and said "ENOUGH".
I shuffled gear around a bit more to make a 'deeper' seat for Wifi in the sled, stuffed him in and zippered the bag closed. "Deal with that". Not a sound or movement came from the bag.
Five minutes or so later I peeked in the bag "You there Wifi?" I asked. He turned his head away and stared at the bottom of the sled bag. Apparently he was no longer speaking to me. Good.
A few miles later I peaked in the bag again, then reached in and scratched his ear. He continued to stare at the bottom of the bag. In fact for the next 10 miles he stared sullenly at the bottom on the sled bag. It wasn't until we started to pass a few houses near Willow Lake when his nose tentatively poked out of the bag.
When we rolled up to the finish line, I unzipped the top of the bag so the checkers could account for all 13 of my dogs. Like a Jack in the Box Wifi came shooting out. I grabbed his collar and wrestled to keep him under control while the checkers tried to look at my mandatory gear.
Wifi spied his dog truck and double his effort to escape. Finally Donna came over to grab him from me and take him to the dog truck, but Wifi hadn't gotten the final word in yet. As we helped him out of my sled bag, he let go and PEED all over the inside of my bag.

I guess that means he didn't appreciate the ride!! What a brat!!!