Tuesday 27 July 2010

The World According To Bet

Many of you that know Bet know that she came to us from Jenny and Scott Glen of Alta Pete Stock Dogs via my friend Lisa who lives on the 'other' side of the valley.
Lisa, Jenny and their friend Louanne were traveling together to a stock dog trial last weekend, so when they found themselves at Lisa's on Monday morning they (as they already had a standing invitation) decided to come over and play with us for a bit.

Bet heard Jenny, her former Mom, was coming to visit and was convinced she was coming to take her back to Alta Pete.
She strategised long into the night on Sunday trying to come up with a way to convince Jenny that she simply couldn't go back.

"Just remind her what a pathetic flunk out you were as a stock dog", I suggested.
She was convinced that would never work.

Finally she settled on showing Jenny that NorthWapiti simply could not function without her.

So while we hooked up and ran a 16 dog team, Bet worked 'herding' the pens (She seriously believes that our pens need to be herded and runs speedy circles around them whenever the yard is excited). Same as we hooked up scooter teams for Jenny, Louanne, Jenny and Corrine.

Pictures courtesy of Jenny Glen (I didn't have my camera around !)

Louanne with Isis and Rocket

Jenny with Wonder and Dasher

Then she demonstrated her techniques as a 'Puppy Lure' when we free ran the Brits.

And finally showed her skill as a 'Nanny' to the Explosions.

When Jenny finally got in the truck and drove away, Bet breathed a huge sigh of relief. It was obvious in her little border collie brain that she had convinced Jenny that she was invaluable here.

Truth be known Bet, you are an irreplaceable spirit here and nothing would be the same without you. This is always where you were meant to be and where you will be staying.
Love you, you little Freak!


Sunday 25 July 2010

2011 Mushing Alaska Calendars Are Available! - Kara

Kara here!

While the musher is out playing with the cute puppies, I'm left in the house, slaving away at the computer letting all of her fans know that the 2011 Mushing Alaska calendars are now available!

You'll never guess who made the cover this year!  Come on guess!!  GUESS!!!!

No, it wasn't me, and for that I'm a bit miffed, but it is the Dancing Rocket!
Yes, Rocket showed off her awesome steps for a photographer when she was taking a break from the Iditarod race at Nikolai and now she gets to show her stuff to gazillions of adoring fans in the official Mushing Alaska calendar.  I'm waiting by the phone for the scouts at "Dancing With The Stars" to call and offer her a cushy gig in Hollywood.

The Mushing Alaska calendar is chock full of images from this year's Iditarod and Yukon Quest.  Photographs by Jeff Schultz and other top mushing photographers.  Now, before you get all in a fluff, I just wanted to warn you that the Rocket pic is the ONLY North Wapiti dog pic, but its still the official calendar of the North Wapiti crew and hangs in our kitchen.

This year, signed (yes, you heard me right, these calendars are SIGNED... by the musher... Rocket is too busy and unavailable for signing) are available for the low, low, extremely low, need to talk to the musher about her sales skills low price of only $17 US, and that includes shipping and fluff... I mean handling.  All proceeds go to getting us all back to the Iditarod (or Yukon Quest... I'm not telling) and to resupply my dwindling Denta-stix supply.

To make it easy on everyone, there's a button over to the right, at the top where you can order.  If you want 1-3 calendars, just tell us that by selecting the amount, and clicking "add to cart".  If you want more than that then contact Heather and let her know how many and she'll handle it.

You can also place an order by sending the musher a check at:

Karen Ramstead
Box 9
Perryvale, Alberta
Canada T0G 1T0

Please note that Canada Post is REAAAAALLLLY slow, so orders placed with the musher may take a bit longer than by paypal, so just be patient.

The musher and I thank you in advance for your support.


Saturday 24 July 2010

Moving On Up

I was taking pictures of the Brits the other night to show how good their ears were looking after their tattoos a week or so ago and it occurred to me that I had not mentioned their recent move and the reasons behind it.

Todd, Fletch, Sherwood and Hambone had been living in one of our recently revamped puppy pens. The pens have lots of fresh sand, hills, rocks, tires and a brand new dog house. They were as happy as little clams!

The pen which is made up of 6 foot high chain link fence panels buried 2 feet in the ground to prevent dig outs, is located next to our main 'out trail' and generations of NorthWapiti puppies have raced teams along the fenceline as they left the yard on training runs!
The Brits are no different and have run the fenceline and then lined up to watch the team vanish over the hill and into the woods.
Well....until last week...

On one of our runs last weekend, Corrine and I were about a 1/4 mile out of the yard with a team when something came roaring by us on the right. It was Hambone. I don't think he even called 'TRAIL".
Major panic instantly ensued. Small, furry things darting around excited sled dogs is an unqualified disaster waiting to happen. Sled dogs generally don't check ID before grabbing at small critters. They have a firm 'grab first, ask questions later' approach to life.

Thankfully Barq was in wheel and he politely (seriously!) entertained Hambone until we could get stopped and up to the puppy.

I headed off with the team, Corrine grabbed Hambone and headed back to the yard where she found Todd roaming around checking out the ladies.
The gate wasn't open, they had climbed over the fence to freedom.
I arrived back in the yard moments later having looped around to come back in and make sure everything was okay. Hambone was hanging over the fence as I gave Corrine instructions to move the Brits to one of the open pens with 6 foot walls.

So move they did.

They are enjoying their new pen. In fact they think it has some definite improvements over the last one. At the top of the list is the fact that they now have neighbours - Beauty and Xena live in the pen next door to them and they spend HOURS running the fenceline with them.
Bet also does her neurotic Border Collie dash around that pen, so if the girls bore of the puppy games, they can usually run with Bet for a bit.
They also love the fact that because their new pen is actually two pens with the door between them open, they can have steeplechase games over the 'puppy guard' on the door -

and they have 2 dog houses, so they don't have to bunk together anymore!

So we are all happy again - the pups are loving their new digs and I'm happy that they are again safely secured - for now at least!

And as for their ears -



Fletch is a ladies man and wouldn't pose without his 'girlfriend' Bet in the picture. 

Looking good!!

Wednesday 21 July 2010

Everything A Musher Needs...And One Thing They Don't.

Mark and Mike (our handler last fall) built me this GREAT harness rack

I just love it!!! It is so handy for storing all kinds of things mushers like to have 'at hand'...
...like harnesses....

Necklines....(although the supply is low right now)...safety vests...

...helmets for scootering...
...and these two cute little guys (a gift from Colleen) that serve no purpose but to make me smile...

...but most nights it contains one thing NO musher needs.

Look closely at the left side of the harness rack ....

...here let me move closer....

A white footed cat.

Yup, it's Bait aka the bane of my existence.

 This is his new 'favorite hangout' ..

I suppose that he likes it because it is close to the dog yard - and he really loves to think he is part of the dog yard - but still relatively safe. At least in his furry little mind. 

Why can't we just have a 'normal' cat???



PS. I'd like it to go on record that I put myself in serious jeopardy in order to get the pictures to accompany this blog.

Ah, the lengths I will go to for my blog!!!! I hope you all appreciate it! =)

One Of 'Those' Mornings....

So nothing horrible went wrong this morning, but it was one of those very frustrating, make you want to bang your head on a tree, kind of runs.

Well, maybe this tree disagrees with me that 'nothing horrible went wrong this morning'.

It got ripped out by it's roots after Xena wrapped her tug line around it a couple times.

I've long said that these runs are an important part of training for a number of reasons. First off, they make you appreciate the good runs when they happen, but probably more importantly, there is more training going on in one run like this morning then all the good runs added together for the season. And lastly, it is important for dogs and mushers alike to learn to work through stress. If the only time you ever end up in stressful situations is on a race (and there is usually stressful situations lurking in every race you run!) you will not deal with them well.
Create controlled but stressful situations throughout your training (and see them successfully through every time) and nothing will throw you off your game on race day!

A big part of the issue this morning was my doing in the selection of the team -

Runner is a fantastic leader, but he's not good at training young dogs, so paring him with Turtle was bound to create 'training situations'.
I also had a fair number of inexperienced dogs in the team.

The run had more then it's fair share of tangles, backwards dogs, and such but it didn't really go south until I attempted to go right through the dog yard at the end of the run.
Actually, going past the water buckets on the dog houses is proving to be one of the hardest things with my 'no neckline' experiment, so any time we come into the yard it is a bit of a zoo lately.
A lot of sweat, some nasty vocabulary (hope I didn't teach Corrine any new words), and a fair amount of 'dog tossing' (untangling and unceremoniously putting them back where they need to be) got us going again but the Explosions blew that in a hurry when they all scrambled to the fence to watch the team go by.
Another bout of sweat, swearing and 'dog tossing' (as well as pulling the afore - pictured tree out of the gangline) - and doing up some necklines got the circus underway again.

I was very glad to see the last of them put back onto their chains! PHEW!! I was filthy, stinky, and had a killer headache by the time that happened though.

Corrine restored her 'inner peace' with a good scooter run with Sprite and Isis...

And I restored mine with a good puppy run...

....and a great cup of coffee!!

Tuesday 20 July 2010

Beat Down On The Sofa

I didn't hear it, but Pyro says that the Little Blue Dog insulted his Mommy. NO ONE insults Pyro's Mommy!!

The ring (aka - our couch) was defined, the combatants took their positions and the contest was on.

It was very one sided....

Pyro held the advantage in both weight and reach...

...and was using all the weapons at his disposal (sharp, pointy puppy teeth) to further his advantage..

For a brief moment Bluie thought the worst was over... but it wasn't...

In a Pyrotechnic flash the end was at hand.

RIP Little Bluie!!

Could It Be....

Could it be that behind this face....

beats the heart of a sled dog??

Bet has been doing a great job free running with the Brits. Things are much more civilized and orderly with her in the picture. She doesn't herd the pups (she honestly has ZERO herding instinct) but they happily follow her everywhere and since she responds well to my commands, I have some control over the puppies. Works just like I hoped it would when I got Bet last year! Actually better........
See, this morning I decided that the pups were ready to go a bit further on our run, so when we got to the first turn we normally take I called at Bet to stop her from heading down that trail. On a whim I called out "Bet, on by", not really expecting anything, more out of habit - but she corrected herself and went straight by the corner. I looked at Corrine and we both shrugged. Must have been a coincidence.
When we got to the new corner I wanted to take I called out 'Bet Haw' and she did. Without hesitation even. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

She also got the next corner we hit, but the last one was kind of a five way intersection that would have confused alot of my less experienced Siberian leaders and she had some trouble there - but she was working with me and trying to figure out what I wanted. She actually seems to know her commands!

Maybe .....

...yeah...no....just forget it!!!


Saturday 17 July 2010

Thank You Weather Gods!!!

After a few weeks of warm weather, the skies cleared last night and the Weather Gods (at least the ones that like dog mushers!) smiled on the kennel. It was 5 C this morning!

So we did what every sane dog musher does on a cool morning - ran dogs!

Not long now till that will be the norm, not the exception!!