Wednesday 30 May 2012

An Intruder...

I had just come up to the house this morning after shoveling the yard and was adding water to the coffee maker when the dog yard erupted into full-scale panic mode. Dogs were shrieking at the top of their lungs, Todd's feet were barely touching the ground as he ran excited laps around his stakeout, and Cricket was heading over in full guard-dog mode.

As I was grabbing for shoes I could see that the epicenter of the eruption was down by X and Wolvie. I could see both of them moving through the trees (there are a number of big trees in front of them - great for shade, but they do somewhat obstruct the view of the yard from the house), so I figured the problem was something in the yard that shouldn't be rather than a dog fight or some such thing.

With visions of all the critters we have caught on the game cam in the last few days - and the ones I suspect we haven't yet caught - I went flying down into the yard, ready to protect my family at all costs.

Cricket had, of course, beat me down to the dogs and was now sniffing around with a disgusted look on her face.

"Cricket, what is it??" I asked as she pushed by me on her way back to the house. X, Wolvie, Neo and their neighbours were still yelling.

"X, what is it???"

"RIGHT THERE!!!!", he yelled at me. "ARE YOU BLIND????"

And then I saw it. Indeed a creature the game cam had yet to capture....

....probably because it is so damn small.


I better not have spilled coffee grounds in my rush out the door.....

Monday 28 May 2012

Just As I Suspected

Last night the dog yard were not particularly interested in letting me sleep. I got up at around midnight and 4am, as well as being awake numerous other times due to their fussing.

I figured they were just being 'bratty' (as they shut up every time the outside light went on - and usually if they are trying to 'tell' me something they won't do that) and thought no more of it.

But then this afternoon when I was skidding the poop buckets out I noticed some new tracks in the area. Time to check out the game cam Bet and I figured.

Sure enough this is what it showed...

Isn't he cute??? But where was Mom???

Oh hello!!!

This shows they have been in the area for a few days now. Cricket might have run them away from the kennel for good last night - or the bags under my eyes are just going to get bigger!!!

We also got a few more deer...

 and a bunny rabbit (not a very good shot though).

Lots of activity in the woods these days!!!!!


Even When You Sleep - Bet


Oh!  Whew!  It was just a horrible, horrible dream!!!

The Musher makes fun of me when I sleep like this... but you never know when those evil hummingbirds will sneak into the house and poke out your eyes.

It's better to be safe than sorry with no eyes!

- Bet

Friday 25 May 2012

Tales of the Trail 2012 - Kaltag to Unalakleet

A few years of late Kaltag seems to have gotten in on the 'Paris Hilton', 'pocket dog' trend. Little dogs were running around EVERYWHERE. Most of them were brave to the point of stupid and were challenging the dog teams. I was concerned that this could end badly and mentioned just that to one of the locals. "I doubt the owners would care", he said with a dismissive wave of his hand. Oh......
Thankfully, no small dogs were harmed during my stay in Kaltag.

The dogs didn't actually eat well here. That was bothersome. When I offered food a bit later, they still weren't that interested but I got at least something into everyone. I treated some feet and preventatively wrapped a few wrists and shoulders.

Again I was humming and hawing over how long to stay here. The dogs weren't where I wanted them (mentally), but extra rest didn't seem to be helping and I didn't want to 'give away' time if it wasn't going to have some positive effects on the team.

In the community building that was set up for mushers, a few other mushers and I had a VERY interesting conversation with the local drug dealer. He was very upfront about his occupation. He seemed well regarded in the community and actually was donating money to a few community projects. As I've said, you really can't understand these communities till you have visited them - and really, I don't know that I 'understand' them - but I've learned not to judge.

The wind in town was picking up and the little dogs running around were not particularly conducive to my team resting well, so I decided to just get going.

The dogs actually left as well, if not better, than they have ever left Kaltag. I was very pleased and really enjoyed the winding trail through the trees after all those miles of river running!
Whenever the trail darted out into the open the wind would hit hard. I knew we were coming to a stretch of open hills, so I made sure to stop, snack and get everything 'buttoned up' before that happened. While I was doing that Hank DeBruin caught up with us. We traveled together through the hills and when the wind backed off a bit, he took the lead for awhile. Both teams were traveling very nicely at this point.
We passed by Tripod Flats cabin, where I've taken a few breaks in the past when things weren't going quite to 'plan' on this leg. It's a lovely little cabin tucked in a beautiful spot on the trail.

After we stopped to snack Hank's team seemed to lose their 'groove'. I took the lead back for a bit, but I was really tired and just couldn't stay awake, so I asked Hank if he was willing to go up front again and he did.

Old Woman Cabin is at the base of Old Woman Mountain, a very distinctive mountain. As always, the last 5 miles to the Cabin seemed to take FOREVER.
As we passed the original 'Old Woman Cabin' (known to mushers as 'Old Old Woman Cabin'), which has been GREATLY redone in the last couple years, I made sure to toss a candy bar out onto the side of the trail as an offering to the 'Old Woman'. Legend says you will face bad luck if you don't!!!

Finally, the trail popped out into the clearing at the 'New Old Woman Cabin'. I directed the team into an empty, but well strawed parking spot and set about my chores. There were over a half a dozen teams already there. Some sleeping, some with mushers in various stages of chores.

I LOVE Old Woman Cabin. I honestly can't imagine running this race without some kind of stop here. I know that some of Susan Butcher's ashes were brought out here by her family and I totally get that. It is a special place.

After the dogs were taken care of (and thankfully they ate pretty well here) I started a meal heating up in the pot of hot water on the wood stove and hung clothes to dry.
As I was crawling up the ladder to the sleeping loft Art Church reminded me how hot it got up there. I vowed to be careful. I laid out my alarm and headlamp before stripping down to my long underwear for a nap.
When my alarm went off, not only could I not figure out where I was, it was pitch dark and I couldn't figure out which way was up or down. It's not an entirely unheard sensation for an Iditarod musher, so I knew enough to just lie still until my brain caught back up with my body.
When that happened I groped around for my headlamp and managed to send a bag of gear crashing down onto the bunks on the main level. I peered over the edge of the loft praying that it hadn't hit Hank, who was sleeping there. Thankfully it missed him and the sound of it thumping next to him didn't seem to have even made him stir.
I slid back into my layers of clothing, scurried down the ladder, gathered up my outer layers and got the heck out of the cabin, which was indeed blistering hot!!!!

The dogs and I all left the cabin badly. We all seemed groggy and 'out of it'. I kept dozing off on the sled, which always means slow runs for us. I knocked back some 5-Hour Energy, but it seems that I was working outside its intended application now.

It took about 3 hours for us to all to find our groove. Wasted time I was kicking myself for.
When we dropped onto the Unalakleet River the dogs didn't pick up like I expected, but they were moving pretty steady now. On one of the portages I managed to hit a big hole in the trail and smashed down HARD onto my left hip. Well, if I hadn't been awake by then, that would have certainly snapped me to alert!! Ouch!!!

The dogs were happy to see the village of Unk appear on the horizon and traveled well the last bit into town.


The Cramplings moved outside on Wednesday. Yes, I know I had mentioned on Facebook on Monday that they were moving out, but it rained for a few days and well....I'm a wuss and moved them back into the house.
By Wednesday morning though my backroom looked like a war zone and they had to go!

They are, of course, doing GREAT outside.

They are exploring ....


.... and making new friends....

...all the things you should do when moving to a new neighourhood.

However, they have reached the age where they don't 'play' with visitors to their kennel so much as 'attack' them.
This was the scene when I stopped in for a second while shoveling the yard.


I barely escaped with my life.....

BTW - their Mother agrees with me.....

DO NOT be fooled by their cuteness...

It's a trap...

Oh...and for the record...Boo and the Whos are THRILLED with their new 'digs' in the house...

Tuesday 22 May 2012

They're Coming - Bet

Howdy ho everybodies, it's your Auntie Bet here!

I bet you're all wondering what I'm wearing. No, this isn't one of my new fashionable ensembles, although I do make it rock. This is for protection... MY protection.

No, it's not for the roving scary thingies, or bands of slathering coyotes, it's for something even more sinister and evil... something that is so scary that I dare not mention its name for fear that it will bring swarms of them upon us....

They are...

Hummingbirdus Pokeyoureyeoutus
I hate them!  I really, really hate them!

They're on their way, and the Musher insists on putting food out for them!  It's like she has this crazy wish to have her eyes poked out with their sharp beaks!

If you think she's crazy, check out this guy that developed a one of those evil beady eyed things feeding helmet!!!

Can you imagine having that thing so close to your eyes!  Its just a matter of time before they poke one out, flitting around like that!

Those THINGS ruin everything for me!  They ruin my time out on MY deck.  They ruin my FUN.  Not to mention that Tic hasn't been the same since they held him for ransom.

Thankfully the strange winter and the wacky weather has delayed their migration somewhat, otherwise we'd be swarmed by those dangerous flitty pests already.

I'm trying to figure out how I can keep them from invading us next year.  My latest plan is to take the shedded fluff from the Pretty Curly Tails and having Tic and Bait knit together a protective bubble that we'll cover the entire North Wapiti compound in.  I haven't figured out how to keep it from sagging onto us when it rains... and I can't imagine that smell. 

I also had a plan B, where I made Tic drink all of the evil beady eyed thing sugar water.  No sugar water, no dive bombing and missing eyes!  I thought that was a brilliant secondary plan, except for one thing... apparently sugar water packs on the pounds and now Tic can't reach the feeders.

It's so hard to find good help around here.

- Bet

Monday 21 May 2012

The Boo Who Update - Bet

Howdy Ho everybodies!  Since a lot of attention has been paid to the Cramplings, I thought I'd give an update on the elusive Boo Whos.

First of all, I'm getting really tired of call them Number 1, Number 2, etc.  It's almost like I'm in the really oogie tv show where that guy is stuck in some village and keeps looking for Number 1 and gets chased by the really scary huge white ball.  I hate that show!  That ball is REALLY SCARY!!!

Anyhoo, so since there's not even a theme for names, I thought I would take it upon myself to give the Boo Whos some names, so you know who I'm talking about when I'm talking about them.

Coming up with a theme was really hard.  I thought it would be really cool if we could stick with the whole Science Fiction thing, so I tried to think of a good science fiction show that maybe had the word "who" in it, and since we don't know who the daddy is, maybe it could have a lead character that nobody know who he was, and he'd be some sort of doctor of time travel and flew to wondrous and scary places in a phone booth or something and saved the world!

Alas, there's nothing like that, and this is why television just isn't interesting anymore... they really need to get with creating cool things like that.

So, I'm going with names from the great rock band "The Who".  The only problem with that is that "The Who" are all blokes (as Richard would say), and the Boo Whos have 2 girls, so I had to massage the names a bit to get them to fit.

So, temporarily I'm calling the Boo Whos:
Roger and Pete (the boys)
Moon and Entwistle (the girls)

Yes, I'm totally ignoring their replacement drummer, because I'm a purist when it comes to The Who, and I pity poor Entwistle, because that's a really sucky name for a girl, but I'm sure she'll overcome the stigma later in life.

So, here are some pictures of the Boo Whos with mama Boo

Pete, Entwistle, Moon, and Roger

Did you bring me the laptop?  I have a video conference with  my marketing distributor in 10 minutes!

Now little Moon, we'll get you your own line of shampoo all in good time

Get a good picture Musher, I heard Jessica Simpson got zillions for selling her baby pictures

Ok, you do realize that this isn't what I had in mind to sell to the tabloids, right?

A pile of Whos

Roger, why are you so messy, I told you we had a photo shoot today

Ok, Ok, I'll tell you the story of how you can leverage capital to invest long term again

Pete already teasing Entwistle about her name
- Bet

Sunday 20 May 2012

Battle for the Blood 2012

At approximately 6:20 pm this evening - May 20, 2012 - a mosquito drew first blood in the 2012 'Battle for the Blood'.
I struck back hard with some hand to wing combat which resulted in some serious losses to the bugs. Quickly afterwards I followed up with some chemical warfare.

These two tactics seem to have stopped the frontline for now, but I expect more aggressive attacks with large numbers of troops being called up.

Wish me luck. It will be a long and hard fought war.


The Crampling Milestones- Bet

Howdy Ho everybodies! I wanted to give you an update on the oodles of milestones that the Cramplings achieved this week and honestly its been a bit frazzling around here, what with my Auntie duties and all.  I'm still running back and forth between whelping pens trying to make sure the Cramplings aren't escaping and stealing things (an endearing little thing they've inherited from their mom), and putting up with Boo's temper tantrums, and babysitting the Boo Whos for her while she juggles work-life issues.

The Cramplings had a few major milestones this past week (or so... can't keep track).

First milestone was the first real food stuffs... and things!  The Musher smooshed up some of that tasty Eagle Pack Natural Pet Food (the official sponsor of North Wapiti and tasty treat for yours truly) with some warm water and plopped a big plate of it in the pool.  Needless to say, the Cramplings gave it 4 paws up in tastiness, and it even makes a wonderful poultice on the fur for that shiny healthy Pretty Curly Tail glow.

mmmm, tasty and good for us!
Hey look!  Not only is it tasty but it feels good squishing between my toes!
Of course, the good momma Tramp had to come in and do the dishes after the Cramplings had eaten their fill.  She's a neat freak.  Sometimes it gets annoying because she'll tell me that I have a hair sticking out somewhere and pull it, but IT'S STILL ATTACHED TO ME!

Sigh, a mother's work is never done
The next milestone was the first out of the pool!  The Musher was going to have a contest, but Darth Hellmann's... I mean Vader beat her to it and flung himself out of the pool to go nab a spot on the cloud.

You are unwise to lower your defenses against my cuteness
The final milestone was the Cramplings went on a field trip to the outside pen!  The Musher spent hours sanitizing, cleaning, making it all pretty, then moved the Cam outside so everyone could watch them frolic and play and get to see the outdoors for the very first time.... and they ran straight into the dog house and stayed there because outdoors is very loud and scary.  I would post a picture of it... but all you would see is a dog house and that's not very... fun.

The Cramplings are spending more and more time on the cloud and its up to me to make sure they stay out of trouble.  For example, I caught Trooper trying on some of my fabulous ensembles and modeling them in the mirror.  Um... I don't think so.

Here I am explaining that my ensembles are totally off limits, and so are my snacks that I hide between the couch cushions, and while we're at it, don't be scoping out my waffles.

 I apologize for my horrible manicure.  I just haven't had any time to soak and exfoliate, let alone paint my nails a fabulous color.

- Bet

Friday 18 May 2012

How I Saved the Whole Kennel - Bet

Howdy Ho everybodies, it's Auntie Bet here!

I'm sure you've seen the Musher's blog postings about her game camera, and the icky scary animals it has captured lurking near the house at night.  For this reason I'm not allowed outside at night without a security detail because small dogs like me make for a tasty snack to some of these icky scary animals.  I've told the Musher that I can handle myself, what with my trained Border Collie ninja skills and all, but she insists, so I allow it just to make her feel better.

Wolfius BorderCollieeatus

During the day I take over guard duty for Cricket, who works the night shift.  The icky scary animals usually stay away during the day (probably because of my fierceness) so about the only thing I need to be concerned about are those horrible poke an eye out beady eyed evil hummingbirds.

Does anyone hear that humming sound?
I keep my enemies guessing all the time by switching guard positions once in a while.  If they know where I'm going to be all the time, then they can breach the perimeter and attack.

Go ahead... make my day
I also lull them into a false sense of security by appearing not to be on guard duty so that they'll say "Hey, Bet isn't on guard duty so we can just stroll right in and take some waffles".

While I look relaxed and sleeping, I'm actually a spring loaded ninja warrior

But it's all a ruse to lure them in for what is sure to be an easy victory for me.

So, the other night I was escorting the Musher outside for the nightly Boo walk.  Boo is still bitter about being relegated to the garage with her pups and no Boo Who cam.  I heard her on the phone with her agent complaining about her lack of screen time, and she was telling the Musher her list of demands as they walked, so they didn't notice that some icky wild things had ventured very close to the Kennels!!!!

I immediately leaped into action and ordered my bodyguard (Cricket) to take the forward leading edge of battle while I ran back and warned the Musher and Boo!  The evil Coyote things were brazen enough to come near the dog truck and were working their way into a pincer tactic to surround the Musher and Boo!

While Cricket distracted them, I was able to fight my way through their forward lines, get to the Musher and Boo, then scare them all off with my ferocious growl and mighty raised hackles!

They scattered like scared baa baa sheepie things and ran for the hills.  Who could blame them?  Thirty pounds of pure fury and fur will scare just about anyone away!

um... well... ok, Cricket helped a bit too, and don't believe the Musher if she tries to tell you that I ran away to get back into the house and nearly knocked her off her feet in my rush to escape... it's not true!  I also don't appreciate her description of my fierce growl as being pathetic, it's not cute or funny, it's scary and intimidating but not when she's standing there laughing at me!

Eesh, I get no respect.

- Bet

Thursday 17 May 2012

Tales of the Trail 2012 - Nulato to Kaltag

The folks in Nulato have turned this checkpoint into a little oasis in the last few years. Located in the very nice school mushers have showers, flushing toilets, cots, a drying room, and great food available!! Sweet!!

The dogs were keen to sleep, I know they sensed my frustration in the last 11 miles of our run and I think we were all keen to put it behind us. Thankfully, they ate really well before snuggling down into their straw and drifting off.

I was very amused by the fact that on the door to the furnace room, which is where we were to hang our clothes to dry, was a sign that said "Warning: Possible Asbestos Risk" and not one of us even hesitated about going in. There are dangers and then there are dangers ....freezing to death by going out in the cold with damp clothes was the most imminent danger!

I was really enjoying the company of a lot of mushers I was traveling with on this race and had a very comfortable and enjoyable time as we  'sniff tested' the 'potluck' meals left out for the mushers, leftovers from other mushers and sorted through our own food.

A tiny bit of sleep, that I could have easily stretched into HOURS and HOURS of rest on that cot, another meal for the pups and it was time to hit the trail again.

The dogs didn't leave well and this time didn't really pick up at all. It was FREEZING, FREEZING cold to begin with, but as the morning wore on the sun was beating down on us and I was stripping off layers of clothing. The dogs seemed to be wishing they could do the same.
By this point river traveling is getting pretty darn old. There just isn't much of interest at all to 'distract' dogs or human. There was one giant flock of ptarmigan perched in the trees on the river bank at one point, but that was about the extent of 'excitement' for this leg.

Finally a few miles from Kaltag the trail goes through a narrow passage between the river bank and an island. That perked the team up, which pleased me. They climbed up the steep bank and through Kaltag to the Fire Station that acts as the checkpoint.

Tuesday 15 May 2012

A Trip Down Memory Lane.....

When I got down to X and Neo's area today while shoveling, I found bits and pieces of a  disemboweled stuffie. I don't allow soft stuffie toys in the dog yard for just such a reason, so there was a moment of puzzlement, which was quickly followed by a sweet flow of memories....

I have to go back a ways to explain....

Many, many years ago we had a dog named Breezy.

Breezy - who many of you may better know as Kara's (and the rest of the Norse God/Goddess litter) Mom.

Breezy, who was more formally known as Multi BIS Ch. Chuchinka's Dance In The Wind SDX, was a pretty big winning dog in the show ring. She was addicted to stuffed toys and used to actually steal them out of booths and from other dogs while we were at dog shows. I spent a fair amount of time returning toys and buying some that she wouldn't give up. When we arrived home from shows her crate would often have 3 or 4 stuffed toys riding in there with her.
Our yard dog at the time was a wonderful Australian Shepherd named Fly.

 Fly loved balls, stuffed toys and the likes, but he was careless with his toys (I know, shocking for a dog) and therefore was not allowed stuffed toys in the dog yard. Because he was clever though he quickly sorted out that Breezy often had great stuff in her crate upon arriving home from shows and, if I left the door open while I was putting her away, would raid it.

One day he pulled a red stuffed octopus out of the crate. After tossing it in the air and playing with it for a bit he proceeded to parade through the dog yard with the toy in his mouth taunting all the Siberians. They were going crazy trying to steal it from him, so after a bit I headed over to put an end to the ruckus. He was having none of it and happily evaded me with red legs flinging out of his mouth and Siberians lunging at him.
Finally, I employed the trick that always worked with Fly. "Fly - where's the cat?" He lost interest in the toy in a heartbeat and went off hunting our then yard cat "TakeOut". Mission accomplished - except when he dropped it he dropped the toy in the run of one of my male dogs Striker.

Iditarod finisher and father to Kara and the Norse God/Goddess litter - Striker

 Striker had had just enough of that octopus being waved in his face. He snatched it off the ground, promptly dug a hole and stuffed the toy in it. I was laughing so hard that couldn't get to it before it was buried. Striker was now sitting on top of the hole, proud as punch of himself.  I figured I'd let him have his 'victory' and go back the next day to dig it up.
Problem was I couldn't find it the next day. In fact, I never found it..... until this morning when it showed up in a zillion pieces in X and NEO's area (yes, X now lives where Striker did all those years ago).

Breezy has been gone since 2003, Striker since 2006 and Fly since 2009. None of them ever really 'leave' here at all, but for a brief, sweet moment this morning, they were all right back here in the yard with me.

Thanks X and NEO for a great trip down Memory Lane.