Tuesday 31 December 2013

Happy New Year - Bet

From all of us at North Wapiti:

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas Everybodies - Bet

With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore

 Yes, I misspelled porcupine... I'm just a Border Collie

From all of us, to all of you, Merry Christmas

Sunday 22 December 2013

Handlers - Bet

Some peoples were all like: "Harumpf!  Why wasn't Helen (smells like cookies) Handler listed as a Musher Minion???!!!????

That's because Helen (smells of cookies) Handler is a HANDLER!

Minions do the boring administrivia things of the day to day Pretty Curly Tails business, but Handlers actually get to handle the Pretty Curly Tails.

Sure,  Minions can become a Handler, and a Handler can also go on to do Minion work (like Kathryn), but typically Minions minion, and Handlers handle and that's that.

So, here are all of the Handlers throughout North Wapiti Kennels time, but only toons of the first 8 (because that's when the Cartoonist crawled from the depths of Nyquil and started officially tooning), and in no real order whatsoever.

Also a Minion



And anyone else I've forgotten... sorry!

Friday 20 December 2013

Just So You Know

The Musher had minions waaaay before those other ones became famous... just sayin

Fan Questions - Bet

Hey Everybodies!  It's time I toss on my stylish Roving Border Collie Reporter hat on and do some reporting!

Since we have waaaaay oodles more fans than ever, I'm sure there are some new peoples that have some questions about mushing in general, and about the Iditarod, so we asked on the Facebooks (and if you aren't a fan, you should get over there jiffy quick and like our page and stuff (and things) right now) to ask us some questions.

Here's the first round of questions

From Joli J:  What are you most looking forward to? and is Todd going

Todd is indeed in the main string! A very hardworking and key dog, actually!
I'm most looking forward to just being out on the trail again. I love the Iditarod Trail itself - especially when it is filled with amazing, friendly volunteers! 

From Shirley Y: When are you going to Alaska?

Musher:  Leaving NorthWapiti around the 16th of January and it is a 3-day drive to Alaska. 

From Monica F: What are you looking forward to the most? And what are you dreading the most?

Musher: See above - as for 'dreading', don't know that I'm 'dreading' any aspect of it. 

From Mary H: Can Rocky still go to the Iditarod and ride in the basket?

Musher:  No, Rocky will be staying at home.  

From Todd and Sandra G: Do the kids seem to know that race day is getting closer? Mine definitely know when special events are coming.

Musher: Right now they all just have their heads down and are working hard.

From Kristin B: People keep asking me why all the dogs are always chained and not allowed to mingle when at the kennel. Can you give me the correct answer?

Bet:  Hey Kristin B, here's why mushers chain their dogs instead of letting them mingle when at the kennel:

Fences don't do a lot of good if there's a lot of snow...

Even without snow, there's this:

By the way, that's a 6 foot fence...

Much like people, dogs have different personalities and don't always get along in a group.  When dogs are in big groups, sometimes certain dogs get picked on, and inevitably, someone gets a wedgie

Feeding time would be a bit problematic

Also, hooking them up for a run would be a bit challenging...

From Janice T: Do you think Mother Nature will give the race good weather? Or -50 with strong winds. Hoping for the first not the second.  

Musher Well, normally when I'm racing, the weather has some events in store!!! Good is a matter of perspective, I imagine, with almost all mushers wishing for something that favours their particular team.  Our weather at home as been CRAZY this winter - going from -35 to 0C in a heartbeat. We've seen snow, ice, rain....you name it. Hopefully that will have the team ready for whatever Mother Nature has up her sleeve.

From Yvonne C: How do you keep your face from peeling in the cold?

Musher:  A good fur ruff and Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Protectant cream!

From Patricia P: How do you choose your dogs for the race? Don't have to answer, my question is pretty dumb! But maybe you do have a magic formula?

Musher: Not dumb at all. The decisions are strictly performance rated - which is NOT easy. Sometimes my head and heart get into some brutal wrestling matches over cuts/selections.
Most of the time, my head wins.

From Denise M: How many training miles will you put on the team while in Alaska before the start of the Iditarod? Does the trip to Alaska hinder the training schedule for the dogs and do they take very long to recover their stamina?

Musher: As many as we can.  Not really. They will only be laid off for 4 or 5 days - and I try to put some solid runs on them before we leave.  No, the lay off doesn't affect stamina at all. If I do 'it' right, they will come out of the truck and back onto the trail stronger!

From Helen J: Where are you staying in Alaska, and when are you heading up there? 

Musher: NorthWapiti North this winter will be back with my dear, dear friends Jamie West and Harry Banks in Willow. Very much looking forward to that!  

Sunday 15 December 2013

Let It Snow - Bet

Oh, the weather outside is frightful (and so are my laser eyes)

I'd rather be sitting next to a fire, that would be delightful

And since we have no plans to go to Starbucks™ and get a nice warm latte or something

Could someone dip my snow beard in some hot maple syrup or something?

No, seriously, this is ridiculous!

- Bet

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Two Fish and a Whiskey

Retiring dogs is never easy for me. It is one of the decisions that I struggle with the most.

Yeah, of course, it is not like making that 'final' decision for them but it is still admitting that they are mortal and it is the closing of a significant, cherished chapter in our relationship.

Yes, there will likely be many more years together, more mushing and more making memories but it won't be quite the same.

The last two days have seen the retirement of two VERY special dogs in the kennel. I've known retirement was coming for both but have been struggling with the decision ... talking myself in and out of it over and over.

On yesterday's long run 9 1/2 year old Charge had had a loose tug line for much of it. He's not hurt or tired, he's just being outpaced by the younger dogs. I saw a bit of this with him last year and many times this season - but.....well....I made excuses for him. Yesterday I gave myself a mental slap and flatly told myself he needed to retire - but I confess, I took no 'action' on the decision.

Today on a shorter, faster run Q did an amazing job keeping his tug line tight, but I could tell he was struggling to do so. It was just his remarkable work ethic that kept that tug tight. Asking him to put out that huge effort every day at 10 1/2 years of age wasn't fair treatment for any dog, let alone one that has done so much for me for so many years.

As the team was eating their 'end of run' meal I shuffled the A string around, moving Scud into his father's run and Fletch into Q's. It makes feeding and hookups easier for us, having all the main string dogs in one area, and it seems to put less stress on the 'B' string dogs when you aren't walking by them time and time again while feeding/getting dogs for hookups.

I think it makes for a quieter, happier yard.

Most of my dogs move around through the kennel over the years. I like them seeing new scenery and having new neighbours every now and again. They seem to enjoy it too, but Charge and Q had been in the same spots for YEARS. Not really sure why - likely 'cause they were prominent dogs in the kennel and their locations were prominent locations in the dog yard.

Leading them down to their new stakeouts hurt my heart. They bounced and played with their new neighbours and set to the busy task of peeing ALL over any upright surface in their new digs, thankfully not understanding the significance of their move - but I couldn't escape it. 

Tonight when they were not included in the 'A' string nightly feeding it might have sunk home for them some. They looked quizzically at me and I had a bit of trouble meeting their eyes. 'This is the right and proper decision for them', I chided myself.
I reached into the kibble bucket and squirreled out a fish for each that I had slipped in earlier. It's not a gold watch, but I knew they'd appreciate it and it would help ease them into their new reality.

When I came back to the house I poured myself a small whiskey, stepped out on the deck and raised in it salute to my 2 amazing men.

To the trails we've traveled .... some happy, some triumphant, some scary, some heartbreaking....regardless, your company was cherished and appreciated...  two more 'honest' dogs it would be hard to find....and to the shorter trails we still will venture down. May they be many.

Thank you Boys. 

Sunday 8 December 2013

It's Snack Bag Time - Bet

Howdy Ho Everybodies!

Want to thank everyone that bidded on the Musher Banquet Table stuffs and things!  We hope you have a great time at the banquet, and eat lots of tasty things (and stuffs).

If you didn't win a seat at one of the two tables the Musher reserved, just go to the Iditarod site and buy a ticket to attend... don't worry, the eating part is only a part of it, you can mingle and walk around and meet the Musher, she's very personable, just let her chew.

Go here if you want to go to the banquet and buy from the Iditarod official sitey site.

Now we're announcing the Snack Bag time... I wanted to dress up and asked the Musher to take some pictures of me in my new ensemble... but she made me go outside because "the light was better"... um... the freezing is also freezier out there.

Take the picture Musher... hurry

For some reason she couldn't quite get the focus right...

Seriously... take the mittens off and focus then!
Lens cap.... LENS CAP
Oh great, my po-po is frozen to the ground


For those of you who don't know, all of the Mushers fill up these big bags called "Drop Bags" with stuffs and things they'll need at their checkpoints.

Here is an example of the drop bag process

All of the stuffs and things are placed in rows in the order of the checkpoints and all of the stuffs and things are crammed into the bags.

Every bag is labeled so the Musher knows which one is hers and the name of the checkpoint.

Then all of those bags are loaded up and sent to Iditarod, where they keep them safe until the Iditarod, then each bag goes to its assigned checkpoint.

Then the bags are sent to each checkpoint where they are carefully... um... thrown in a pile in the snow and left there until each musher gets to that checkpoint

The bags contain everything from Pretty Curly Tail foods, Musher goodies, extra this, and that, and the other things... stuffs they can't carry with them on the trail because the sled would weigh a ton and no amount of Pretty Curly Tail power would get it to Nome.

One of the most important things those drop bags contain are SNACK BAGS!  These are little 1 Gallon ziplock baggies of tasty nom noms that the Musher looks forward to and motivates her to get to the next checkpoint (other than peeing in a normal bathroom).

As we did for the 2012 Iditarod, we'd like for you to have a piece of Iditarod fun by packing the Musher's snack bags!  YOU get to pick out the treats, and things in the snack bag.  You can also send a little message to her to cheer her on, or make her laugh.

There are three ways for you to help this year:

1.) Pack a snack bag
2.) Buy some of the VERY, VERY, VERY important goodies that will also go into drop bags
3.) Sponsor a checkpoint of your very own

Just go to the tabbie tab at the top of the bloggity blog (or click here) to find out what you have to do.  We have a very strict deadline of 15 January 2014 for this bit because the bags have to be shipped to Alaska at a very specific time.  Your contact for this mission will be the ever wonderful Kathryn Minion, the snack bag queen.

Here she is in 2012 going to the post office with the snack bags and other necessities

So, get over there and check it out.  If you don't have a lot of money, but want to help out, you can buy some of the odds and ends that may not seem like a lot... but believe me, sponsoring some prilosec tablets for the Pretty Sled Dogs IS a matter of life or death (read about why they are very important here), and the Musher can't do what she needs to do without hand warmers or batteries for her head lamp.

So help us get these much needed items to help the Musher and Pretty Curly Tails one more step closer to the Burled Arch in Nome, and thank you for your continuing generosity, we are all verklempt.

- Bet