Saturday 31 March 2012

The Trip Home - Bet

Ok everybodies, I need some help here.

As you know, the herdy bunnies flew the coop and now I'm left with absolutely nobody with any sort of math skills in the house. 

I'm trying to figure out how long its going to take the Team North Wapiti to get home!

Here's the map

Its 1,390 miles from Willow to home.

I asked Musher Mark.  He said that with a good pit crew they could make it in about 8 hours if they used the car ahead of them to draft and then slingshot into the straightaway for the finish.

Um... what?

So then I went into the dog yard and asked the Pretty Curly Tails.  They all thought that if the conditions were good, it was very cold, and there was salmon goodies in the snack bags, it should take them a little over three weeks, but that would depend on dropped dogs.


I asked Cricket, but she's not talking to me after the Pyr-joring thing.

Tic is still hanging off the roof, something about the ladder being missing (its not really "missing", its being used as part of the Pretty Curly Tail Ferris Wheel they set up, but hey, whatever).

Bait said that as a cat that has sprawled on many nice cars, the dog truck was not as nice to lay on.

See what I have to work with here?????

I figured that it would take about 39 hours, plus Pretty Curly Tail pitstops, plus Musher and Richard pitstops, multiplied by the amount of coffee shops on the route, divided by the square root of ... wait a minute... roots aren't square!

I have no idea when they'll be home.  I was hoping to plan it so that I could have a nice souffle waiting and be wearing my best collar for their homecoming.

woe is me!

- Bet

Friday 30 March 2012

Housekeeping - Bet


The Musher is coming home and Richard is coming with her!!!!!!!!!!!!

I just got the word that they've packed up and are on the road home!!!!!!!


OH... oops, I have some housekeeping to do before they get home!!!!!

Ok, first things first... I never got around to telling everybodies about booties!!!!  We had so many questions about booties and with all of the excitement... and then all of the pouting while waiting for the drop bags to get returned, I almost completely forgot to do a blog about booties!

Ok, so here goes.

Just to refresh your memories, our resident Bootie Minion Donna makes all of the Pretty Curly Tail racing booties and has been making the booties for 10 years now.
Donna dons her protective teachers gear

This year, Donna made approximately 1,300 booties.  That's a LOT of booties!  She also made all of the bandanas that the Pretty Curly Tails wear, and are given out as gifts to those who sponsor the Pretty Curly Tail Past, Future, and Present stars.

Donna is a teacher, so in between teaching, she makes the booties in batches like a production factory; cutting them all out, then sorting by size, sewing seams, then adding the velcro and stuffs... and things. 

Her husband and friends of Pretty Curly Tails help her turn and mark them, then they all get sorted and packaged by the checkpoint they are going to.  All in all, it can take a few months to make all of those booties.  She always tries to get them done by Thanksgiving and mailed out so they make it to North Wapiti in time for the Musher to take them to Alaska when they go train.

Pile of booties
Here are some different sized booties.  Notice that they are color coded to tell very tired Musher what size they are just by looking at them.

 And here are the Pretty Curly Tails wearing Donna F minions booties at the ceremonial start!

Ok, that's that about booties.  I hope that answered all of your questions.

The other thing I wanted to tell all of you about was the cool thing that happened to the Minions when they were on their way to Alaska!

As you probably know (if not, you should start at the beginning of the blog and read it all before reading any further) is that Musher Mark is a HUGEY HUGE rabid NASCAR fan.  Seriously... RABID fan!

The day we were to leave for the Canadian Challenge last year, one of those drive in circle races was on and ... well there was a lot of kicking and screaming going on.


Ok, so I think I've made it perfectly clear just how addicted Musher Mark is to this racing around in a circle thing. 

Well, the original plan was that Musher Mark was suppose to fly to Alaska for Iditarod race support, but some things fell through, and happened, and stuff and things, and he couldn't go... but if he had gone, he was going to fly to Alaska via Phoenix... yes, Canada to Arizona, to Alaska... I don't make the whole flight plans for planes, so don't look at me, but that's how it was scheduled.

So, the Minions and friends are on the plane thing in Charolotte, North Carolina waiting to take off, and a woman, baby, small child and a Yorkie dog get on board and sit in the bulkhead row, which means no place for the little Yorkie dog under the seat.  Bill and Polly (good friends of North Wapiti) offer to keep the Yorkie company in their seat space.  The woman's husband then boards and they all fly to Phoenix.

As it came time to start landing... it turns out that the husband is:

 Casey Mears, NASCAR Driver #13 (Geico)
Yep!  So being nice minions, they have something for Musher Mark that they gave to the Musher to bring home for him:

I bet it goes under his pillow.

Anyhooo, that's about it for the whole housekeeping thing.  I can't think of any other housekeeping things I need to take care of.  Now its just a matter of time for the Musher, Richard, and Pretty Curly Tails to come home, get settled in, massage my crampy toes, unpack, and get back into the routine of things.  Once that happens, the Musher will start her always amazing blog posts of the race, so stay tuned for all of that...

Yep, I'm pretty sure there isn't anything I've forgotten to take care of, but let me know if I can clear up any questions or stuffs... and things.  I'll be just hanging out on the cloud waiting.

- Bet

Thursday 29 March 2012

Adventure Dog - Bet

Its been 21 months (in dog years) since they left, and this whole waiting for the drop bag things is irritating.  According to the Musher, they should have all of their stuffs and things and plan to leave tomorrow before noon.  I can't wait. 

After moping around the house all this time waiting for the Musher, Richard, and the Pretty Curly Tail team to arrive home, I realized that being alone while Musher Mark was at work was actually the perfect opportunity for me to go have some adventures.

After all, the Musher and Richard and Team Pretty Curly Tails were all having fun adventures in Alaska and all, why couldn't I make the best of it and find my own adventures here?

From past experience, I knew that Pyr-joring wasn't going to be very exciting.

MUSH!!!  MUSH!!!!

I didn't have the proper ensemble to go skiing, I can't ride a bicycle (bloated wheels or not), and Musher Mark took the only vehicle... well, other than that 4-wheeled off road monstrosity thingie.

I happened to catch a show on one of the tv channels that showed people leaping off cliffs and bridges tethered to flexible cords and I thought... HEY!  I can do that.  We have plenty of bungee cordy thingies, and the roof is plenty tall, I can bungee jump off the roof and have Bait take a picture to post it on the Facebooks to show the Musher and Richard that I'm also doing fun things while they are gone.  I don't want them to worry that I'm fretting myself into a frazzle, and I really have to do something about the rut I've created by running around the dog yard, although during the spring thaw it'll make an excellent moat.

So I gathered all of the bungee thingies I could find in the house and stationed Bait at the perfect camera angle to capture the whole adventure for the Facebooks and went for broke...

Its a good thing I tested it on Tic before I tried it.  Apparently I didn't exactly measure the bungee cord stuffs long enough and everything.  I thought it was going to stretch a lot more.

That's ok, Musher Mark will be home from work in a few hours and get Tic down.  I'm pretty sure he's not going to be happy about all of the scratch marks on the siding, but hey, that's not my problem.

- Bet

Wednesday 28 March 2012

Fat Biking Fun - Bet

Yes, there is such a thing as a Fat Bike and the Musher and Richard got to try them out on the snow covered trails recently.

In case you don't know what Fat Bikes are (and you really should get out of the house more), they are off-road bicycles with really big tires (or as Richard pronounces it: tyres).  These bikes with glandular problems are all the rage in Anchorage and the craze is spreading to that country with a bunch of states below Canada.

A "Fat bike"
One of the reasons the Musher wanted to try these out is because that's how she got into shape for the Iditarod: Wii Gold's Gym Active and bike riding.  The problem is that the sandy trails around Perryvale make it really hard to ride a bike.  Frankly I'm fine with the sandy trails.  I love how comforting it is when the sand squishes between my little delicate toes like a warm cushion as I run beside her on the bike.  Ok, frankly I'd prefer to ride in a little basket in the front like that dog Toto in the Wizard of Oz (or as Richard pronounces it: Wyzard of Oz).

Having a bike with big fat tires allows it to glide over squishy surfaces like sand and snow.

There's more information about these bloated wheeled contraptions in this article, including pictures of people using them to go down the Happy River Steps (yeah, good luck with that one)

So, the Musher and Richard found some to borrow and hit the trails recently.

Here is the Musher effortlessly gliding over the snowy snow stuffs... and things on her Fat Bike.

They tried some tougher very snowy trails as well, just to see how easy it was with the bigger wheels.

Here is Richard posing on top of a hill.

The Musher claims that the bikes would be perfect for those icky sandy trails that she was biking on, and they both had a good time testing it out in the wilds of Alaska...

Until they were attacked by crazed ninjas.

- Bet

Tuesday 27 March 2012

Richard's Brilliant Race Take 2 - Bet

Howdy ho everybodies...

Apparently the Musher thinks that I may have exaggerated a tad bit when I told all of you the tale of Richard's Brilliant Nome Sign 40 race yesterday.


Ok, I admit I may have added a few extra flourishes to the story, just to make it a teensy bit more interesting.

Here's what really happened during the race.

Here is the team that ran:
Rocky and

It was a beautiful day, nice and cold, blah blah blah.

They made it to the Nome sign

Then they turned around and came back through the pretty scenic snowy nice cold day snow trail

And that's when the bear came out of nowhere and Richard killed it with a bottle opener and Irving got revenge

I hope that clears everything up finally.

- Bet

Monday 26 March 2012

Richard's Brilliant Nome Sign 40 Race - Bet

Howdy ho everybodies!

Its so good to say that, as that means I have something to report!

Since Richard is helping the Musher pack up and get ready to leave Willow for HOME!!!!  He told me the story of his race, so I present to you, without commercial interruption:

Richard's Brilliant Nome Sign 40 Race!!!!

Ok, so the Nome Sign 40 race is 40 miles long.  That would be about all I know about the race.

The Musher was his handler, and she had co-handler Crunchie along who was responsible for driving the truck.
I told you to go before we left
Anyhoo, here is Richard posing for his pre-race "here I go" picture.

His team consisted of:


So, then it was time to start,  Richard gave all of the Pretty Curly Tails a pep talk.

Remember, no snack bags on this trip!

And then they were off!!!

And... they ran....

And it was a pretty day, and nice and cold....

Did I mention it was pretty out, and cold?

Um, they ran really fast.... and... then....


Yeah, a moose, it was a big moose, and it was cranky... and... the only thing Richard had was a rusty can opener to defend himself and the Pretty Curly Tails from the big angry stompy moose!

But... but... he wasn't afraid and he took on that big ugly stompy moose and took care of it and saved the Pretty Curly Tails from certain stomping... and stuff... and things....

... and then he let Irving get his revenge.

... and then they ran the whole 40 miles in 4 hours, which is really fast and good.

Yeah, that's exactly what happened... or something.

- Bet

Saturday 24 March 2012


Whenever folks meet the dogs, one of the first questions asked is 'Who is your leader?'. The truth is that almost all of the dogs lead .... under certain circumstances, that is. One of my jobs, as the 'thinking' member of the team, is to know what those circumstances are for which dogs and when to put them up front.

For example, Jinx is my number 1 storm leader. Put me in a storm, especially one where the wind has blown the trail in and you will almost always find her in front of the team. I don't have to steer her, I just put her up front and hang on. She definitely understands the trail markers we are following and she has an uncanny ability to find a trail, with or without the markers.
She does, however, hate training and is not at all a good leader then - or during what she considers 'everyday, boring' racing.

Now Q, her brother, is another story. Q likes to set his own pace, which is normally a bit below the speed I want to travel - and totally shuts me out when I look to speed him up.
He is great and dependable though later in races when the speed has dropped down a bit.

Smartie is a great up and coming leader. Her biggest strength right now is that she is FEARLESS. Snowmachines, crowds.......nothing worries her.

Bang is a good leader that definitely pushes the pace, but she is not much of a 'Gee/Haw' leader. Put her on a trail where she can just go along without having to make decisions and you are laughing. Try and use her to park in a checkpoint and everyone around you is laughing!!!!

Tess has been a good, steady but not inspiring leader for the last few seasons. Starting on the Don Bowers 200 this year, she seemed to be telling me that she was up for more responsibility.
She HATES crowds though and especially screaming children

See is a terrific leader. Crack on commands and sets a great pace. One of my best. She is prone to injury though and gets stressed if there is 'too much' pressure put on her.

 Wifi is another good, solid leader. Not the most reliable on commands, but good enough to get us by.


Of course, there are always circumstances which arise that shift the whole playing field, like when you start Iditarod with 7 of your girls in 'season'.

For this race that meant that the boys were relegated to the back of the team (if they were up front, they all kept looking over their shoulder to make sure the girls were still with us) and the girls alone bore the burden of leadership.

I started the Iditarod with See and Jinx in lead, but Jinx said 'Been there, done that, have the t-shirt' to that and was quickly out for Bang. That combination worked well.

Going over Rainy Pass this year I had Tess in lead with Smartie but as the weather deteriorated, I put Jinx up front with Smartie and that was a great combination. Jinx's reliability, combined with Smart's fearlessness was perfect for the challenging terrain of the Dalzel Gorge!!

For the challenging trail out of Rohn though, I opted for my most experienced and reliable front end girls - Tess and Jinx.

It was mostly those two all the way to Cripple and partway to Ruby where I put Tess up front on her own. She LOVED that and did a super job on that trail.

For most of the rest of the race it was either Jinx and Tess or Tess in single lead in front of the team. Jinx did most of the work across Norton Sound, with Tess obviously being a good student on the ins and outs of storm leading, as she lead us through the infamous 'BlowHole' on her own.

Coming into Nome mushers, including myself, like to give the honor of leading the team under the burled arch to the dogs that were the most significant leaders over the entire journey. I so wanted to give that honor to Tess in single lead, she really earned that, but the fact is she doesn't like crowds, so I knew she wasn't going to take us down front street in Nome. I put Jinx up front with her and hoped for the best but even that wasn't to be.

As we started up the ramp off the sea ice behind the Subway a couple kids on the sidelines started to squeal and clap. Tess stopped dead in her tracks and refused to take the team forward. I was so disappointed.

Smartie was quickly pressed into duty and didn't even blink at the cars and crowds coming into town. She's going to be quite the lead dog down the road!!!

Friday 23 March 2012

Meanwhile Back In Perryvale - Bet

Sigh, Howdy Ho everybodies.

Its your still waiting for the Musher and Richard to return home stuck at the house not reporting on much of anything non-roving Border Collie, Bet here.

I gotta admit, I'm a bit in the doldrums because all of the excitement is over, there's nothing really to report, or do, except look forward to the Musher coming back home and get some much needed crampy toe massage from the master of all things crampy and massagy, the one and only Richard.

Right now Musher Mark is at work, the remaining Pretty Curly Tails are playing food bowl soccer (Rocket is refereeing, and X is all mad because they are using his house as the goal while he's trying to sleep in it and doesn't appreciate getting smacked on the head with a food bowl while everyone cheers).  Cricket is out on patrol... as usual, Bait and Tic are hunting for small woodland creatures, and I'm all alone.

Yes, ALONE! 

You're probably asking yourself: but what about the herdy bunnies? 

Yeah, about that... well, don't be mad at me, but they seemed to get very agitated when the big Iditarod race was over and had nothing to do.  Fights started breaking out, they got into the wine collection, some of them broke into the post office/store and an Easter display was vandalized...

"Someone" left out a print out of the American Herding Breed Association calendar of events, and the next thing I know they're gone.  I'm pretty sure all 67 of them forged their entries into the competition.  I just wanted to give Ms. Jenny a head's up in case she ran into them at one of the competitions... watch out... they cheat and can't hold their liquor.

The good news is that my box arrived from Alaska.  My personal shopper, Heather Minion, took some time after the Iditarod started and got me some pretty things for my ensemble collection.  Don't worry, I also had Heather Minion pick up some gifts for the others as well.

For Cricket I got this cool bed

Since the Musher planted flowers in the flower pot (I know, how silly), Cricket could use a new bed, so there's nothing that says serious guard dog on duty than a huge dog sleeping in a giant croc shoe bed!

For the Musher, I got this:

I know, the picture is a bit out of focus, but its Moosetard!  Get it!  When I first say it, I thought the word after "moose" was something else, and I wondered "who would bottle that?"  But I get jokes too.

For Musher Mark, I got these sleepy pants

That's all I'm gonna say about that.

For me, Heather Minion (who has an excellent eye for fashion) found this very charming ensemble

Not only is it a coat with a hood, but its got the matching little pants with it!!!  To bring the whole ensemble together, she found this amazingly cool pile of booties to mix and match with it.

They look very fleecy and warm for my poor crampy toes.  I'm not quite sure about the sign... it says $11.95 for a 5 pack... 5 pack?  Is a nose warmer included, because last time I counted, I only had 4 feets.

Anyhoo she also sent me a picture of Wolvie

hehehehe, get it... Wolverine... Wolverine

Oh geez, get a sense of humor Wolvie, I was joking... eesh, finish the Iditarod and now all of a sudden you're all sports star standoffish.

Did I mention that I'm bored?  Guess I'll go run around the dog yard another 500 times until Musher Mark gets home.

- Bet