Monday 30 September 2013

Why The Guard Dog Doesn't Live in the House....

(well, besides the fact that you can't GUARD the property if you are snoring on the Cloud!!!!)

We are having some concrete blocks delivered for a (fantastic) project that Mark is working on. Rather then have the guard dog harass the poor delivery guy (I've tried to explain to her that it is only people TAKING things that she need worry about, but she just doesn't seem to get the point) as he unloads and stacks the heavy blocks, I just had Cricket come into the house with me.

It's drizzly and rather cold outside today, so she was happy for the invitation.


She quickly made it clear that every second of attention I paid the 'Polar Bear' had to be shared with her too.

I nearly died under a pile of dog hair.
It's also fairly apparent that Cricket's 110 lbs of dogness doesn't fit well in our 1000 sq ft house.

It's much easier to ignore a begging dog when they are not eyeball to eyeball with you. 
"Is that cheese you are eating?"

And then this happened....

OMG!!! Bet made it perfectly clear that if the guard dog wasn't back outside very soon I was going to die a slow and painful death in my bed tonight.

I think I'll go check how that delivery guy is coming along........

The Tawatinaw River Monster

It was a sad, but beautiful morning at the kennel this morning. Sad because Julia headed back to Connecticut, beautiful because....well beautiful because it is always beautiful here at the kennel!! At least in my opinion!

As it has been every day for the last few weeks, it was cold - cold enough that I had to break out a hat and neckwarmer!!!

As the dogs and I did our first loops and zig zags through our land a big bank of cold, icy fog moved in!

I love the quiet that the fog brings. Yes, our corner of the world is already very quiet, but the fog brings a certain peacefulness, similar to that after a fresh snowfall!! Love it!

We headed down the trail to the river.

The past couple weeks it has become apparent that there is some sort of creature living in the area of the river where we water the team most mornings.

The dogs are always hyper alert, ears up and if allowed will start exploring the banks of the river, obviously on the track of something.

Saturday's team, led by Kelly and See, obviously alert to something!

Julia and I have scoured the banks looking for the resident to know avail. It has actually become a bit creepy to know something (obviously brave - and 'prey' animals don't tend to the 'brave') is around and watching, but not knowing what it is.
Not near creepy enough though to alter our route - or lessen my enjoyment of visiting that spot.

The trail that drops into the river is pretty washed out and my leaders actually hit the water without my being able to see them. I generally call out a 'haw' as they plunge over the bank and 99 percent of the time things go well and we end up where we need to be (yes, they are good dogs!).

This morning was no different. We plunged over the edge, I called out 'haw' and See and Kelly placed the team right where I needed them to be. With the ATV sitting in the water behind them, I stopped to snap a couple pictures of them nicely lined out getting a drink.

All of a sudden RIGHT next to my right foot there was a BIG splash. If I said I didn't jump right out of my skin, my nose might grow.
Although the river is a couple feet deep where I was, it isn't consistently deep and there are no fish of substance to be found!
I scanned the river and could see something large and dark just under the surface. Then two little eyeballs broke the surface and swiveled in my direction. It was a beaver - a very bold beaver. He had swum to within a couple inches of the ATV and my foot before splashing and swimming away a few feet away.

He splashed again and swum just under the surface to the bank. I scrambled for my camera and managed to snap one bad photo before he nonchalantly dove again.

I would have loved to have tried for a better shot, but by now it was starting to occur to the team that there might be something other then just us around. An encounter between 16 strong sled dogs and a beaver was not likely to end well for anyone.

I called them up and headed out.

I'm not sure how that whole encounter went so well. I can't actually picture where that beaver was when the team dropped onto the river that they didn't see/smell him and he was able to get up to me so quickly and quietly. The team actually goes into the water right where the he first surfaced and scared me.

Always grateful for wildlife encounters that end up as a lovely memory rather then a nightmare! They really can go either way at anytime!

Saturday 28 September 2013

It Doesn't Always Go According To Plan...

I've been playing around with new leaders the past week or so - and it may seem like I've become a broken record with claims of 'What a promising new leader' - but make no mistake, that isn't always so!!

Now I do make a point to try to set up young dogs up for success - I make sure they have good miles under their belts (amount depending on individual dogs), are on trails they know, and surrounded by leaders that will 'look after' things for them/me so the run goes well. The point is to put good, positive experiences on them while gradually increasing the stress/pressure that is innate to being a lead dog.

Some dogs take to being a leader immediately, some require a bit more time, and some require a LOT more time - but in my experience you can get EXCELLENT, quality leaders from all three paths. One of my all time best leaders - Spud - dragged me through forests and fields every time I tried him in lead until he was 5 years old!

With Grover and Spud at the finish line of one of the toughest races I've even done - the '99 Klondike 300

So, I don't ever give up on a leader if their first runs in lead are less then stellar, but it certainly makes me happy when they are great from the start!

The past week Skecher, Neo, Pop, Scud and Ryka all had me smiling after their first turns at lead.
The plan yesterday was to give Squib a shot. However Julia has taken QUITE the shine to Fletch .... I decided to change plans and give goofy Mr. Fletch a go.

You haven't been drinking, have you Fletch???

Q was roped into being Fletch's mentor....
...He seemed doubtful.

But Fletch insisted it didn't look very hard and he was ready!!

Things actually went very well for quite a time.

He required a bit of help at the river crossing, but that's fine - that is a tough spot for a rookie! 

...but eventually the pressure of leadership got to be too much for my happy go lucky young man and he began acting out.
Fletch's method of acting out is to start scraps with anyone he can. No harm was done, but he was removed from his lead dog position.

His day will likely still come ... just not today!!

Young Squib was pressed into action. He did not bad, but honestly, not particularly great either.

He is going to need a bit more time too - but he did get us back into the yard!!! (Not like I didn't have other leaders to take his place, but it is always nice to end on a positive note with a young dog!).

No pressure.....there is lots of time......

Saturday 21 September 2013

Musher Ensemble #2 - Bet

Howdy Ho Everybodies,

As I mentioned before, the Musher is bound and determined to design her very own "look" for the 2014 Iditarod.  She wants this very last Iditarod to be special, and wants to make a hugey huge impression on the world with her mushing ensemble.

While she's great at picking out stuffs and things for the team, and even her own sled bag... I think she just tries too hard at coming up with the ultimate North Wapiti fashion statement for herself.

Her first attempt was a near disaster...

 It's not getting any better. 

I may have to take over soon, I can't take much more of this

- Bet

Thursday 19 September 2013

Moving Day!!!

There has been an opening in Geriatric Park since Odie passed away last month. I was going to rearrange everyone a few weeks back, but then Olena came into season forcing a temporary 'restructuring' of 'G-Park' - Loki moved in with brothers Hector and Herman, while Olena took up residence with Dasher Dog.

That all went well but I wanted to fill that open spot and I felt the dynamics would work better with another shuffle.

Julia and I moved all 5 long term residents over to one side of 'The Park' while we moved out an old dog house and moved in a new one. We then resorted the dogs so Olena and her 'boys', Hector and Herman, were together while Dasher and Loki get reacquainted with each other.

12 1/2 year old Dasher

14 year old Loki

13 year old Olena

12 year old Hector

12 year old Herman

And then it was time to introduce the newest senior to G-Park.....Barq

I asked him to pose for a picture, but he informed me that it was too soon to host 'visitors' to his 'new pad'. He asked me to check back in a week or so .... and he suggested I bring a housewarming gift.


Tuesday 17 September 2013

A 'Jon Van Zyle' - Sneak Peek #3

Here is the third 'sneak peak' of Jon Van Zyle's painting that he is donating to us as a fundraiser for our 2014 Iditarod!!!

This is mostly detail work on the raven, but so cool to see all the details coming together!!!!



Monday 16 September 2013

When It's Too Warm To Run...

The weather here remains warmer then 'normal' but still most mornings for the last week I've been able to get teams out.

The dogs are going very well. Lots of promise and enthusiasm!!!

Just no complaints to be had!!!

And our first handler of the season, Julia, arrived on Friday.

Wonderful to have help hooking up dogs and in the dog yard!!!! Julia is very nice and the dogs think she is super cool.

All is VERY good.

Unfortunately though, this morning it was too warm too run.

Some of us slept in and we had a nice, leisurely morning before heading out to catch up on some chores.
Yesterday we trimmed everyone's nails, so we decided to stay on the theme of 'grooming' today and clean up a few of the shaggier looking PCTs.

Scruffy Rocket

Julia and Rocket 'discussing' what she wants for her 'new look'.

Spiffy Rocket

Many dogs and much fur passed over the table...

....until there were no more shaggy critters......

......well except one...

Oh dear....I think I'm in hot water now!!!!!

Sunday 15 September 2013

Breaking In the Handler - Bet

Howdy Ho Everybodies!

On top of all of the other duties I perform here at North Wapiti, I am also the Handler Trainer.  This task proves to be the most difficult as peoples are harder to herd than Pretty Curly Tails.  They are even harder to herd than cats... yes. they. are.

Our new handler is the wonderful Julia!  Say hi to Julia everybodies!

Julia is really cool.  She has a nose ring.  I wonder if I would look good with a nose ring... mmmm probably not, anyhooooo.

While the Musher went off to get groceries (and probably stop at Starbucks, and probably get a tasty pastry thing without me), I had to stay home and train Julia on the art of poop dumping.  It's a glamorous life, don't hate me.

She excelled in loading the poo onto the quad trailer thingie, and I jumped on the back seat, and she seems to be a much better driver than Briffany as we didn't hit anything or turn over along the way... it's just that she couldn't find the poop dump pile.

Um... seriously?  How can you not smell that?  You know you're getting close... hard to miss that...

The biggest problem was... she never asked me.  Nope, I think she wanted to do it on her own... sigh... they all do that.  Oh no, don't ask the Border Collie for directions, just drive around.  Honestly it was a nice ride.  Cool breeze through my furs and ears flapping in the wind, so I didn't mind and patiently waited to be asked for advice. 

Nope, back to the house we went and she asked Musher Mark to show her.  Since there wasn't room on the quad for me, I simply ran ahead and pointed the way to Mount Pooapolis.

I'm pretty sure next time she'll ask me first.

Eeesh, new handlers.

- Bet

Friday 13 September 2013

It's Getting Serious Now - Bet

Howdy Ho Everybodies!  It's your Roving Border Collie Reporter, Bet, here!

Yep, it's starting to get serious now that the weather is getting cooler.  Much like peoples know it's fall when the leaves on the trees start turning colors, and it gets dark earlier, and lighter later, and waffles taste better in colder weather.

The Pretty Curly Tails don't put in too many miles during the warmer months because... it's warm.  Since they don't put in a lot of miles, they don't need to be watered on the trail.

But when they start putting on the miles, that's when they need water, and sometimes water just doesn't appear where it needs to be (and if you are in Colorado, it appears where you really don't want it, and our hearts go out to those affected by those nasty waters), so we have to bring the water to the Pretty Curly Tails.

Now some of you are saying to yourself: "um, so do you carry a LOT of water with you?"

Oh heck no!  That would be too much water to carry, and we're not Gunga Din.

The water gets there after the Musher makes her official proclamation: "Time to drag the water trough".  That's when the fun begins!

We get out the trusty John Deere.  Usually I have to back it out of the garage because frankly, the Musher is excellent with going forward, but backwards... let's just say everyone hides.

Hehehe, it's fun to watch Bait and Tic flee into the house

Once it's out of the garage, we drag the empty trough onto its sled (also known as the big heavy piece of plastic), then fill it with water.

Ok Musher, hook it up so I can do some wheelies

Then we sloooowly drag it to the place in the trails where the Pretty Curly Tails will stop for their water during training.

I am NOT sloshing all of it out, I can't help that the accelerator pedal is touchy
Then, when we get to the spot, we unhook it and our work here is done!  Water all ready for the thirsty Pretty Curly Tails.

Um... you did clean that out before you put the water in, right?
Then I let her drive on the way back.

Whew, I think we deserve some waffles, don't you?
I'm sure there are some of you asking: "Um... that's a pretty big trough... how do the Pretty Curly Tails drink from that?".

Good question.  They don't!  We spare no expense with the Pretty Curly Tails, and have purchased each of them these state of the art, very expensive... um... cut up milk jug water thingies.

Smartie and Bang having a drink
Of course, some dogs don't like to wait for their special water bowls

Billie claiming the trough as her own personal water jug

So, the trough is out there waiting for the Pretty Curly Tails, and for all of my hard work and expert driving without spilling one drop...

- Bet