Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sunday Afternoon Jaunt

On Sunday afternoon our friend Jana and her dog Sawyer came over and we all went on a short and fun 12 mile adventure. I ran a team of 9 dogs, Robert ran a team of 8, we switched teams about 8 miles into the run so Robert could see how the pups that were running in my team are coming along. Puppy training has primarily been my project this year. Jana skijored behind with her dog Sawyer and our dog Molly. We swapped Sawyer out With Pip a few miles from the house to give Jana some extra pulling power to get up the hills closer to the kennel.
It was a beautiful sunny March day, and the puppies got to experience  different trail conditions and obstacles such as glare ice, skiers, and loose dogs, they handled every challenge with ease like they'd been doing this kind of thing their whole life. The glare ice didn't even faze them. Matrix one of the 9.5 month old pups even got to try her paw at lead for a few miles towards the end of the run. I put her upfront next to her Mother Adidas in the chase (or second) team. She did really well, so well in fact that I forgot she was upfront at one point. I am looking forward to watching her mature and grow into the fantastic sled dog I know she is going to be.

Team #2
Chupa Adidas
Matrix Jana
Swamper Drummer
Pip Summit 
Team #1
Rapid BP
Tramp Charley
Drift Chaos
Gus Rogue
Jana Skijoring with Molly and her dog Sawyer.

Two Rivers 100 & 200

I ended up handling for a friend of mine, Sarah Love for the Two Rivers 100 instead of running it this year like I had previously planned. I was a little bummed not to be running the race my self, but I had a lot of fun and learned a lot about check point routines by watching the racers at two of the three check points in the 200 mile race and at the only checkpoint in the 100 mile race. I look forward to next years race and feel confident I can take what I learned and be more competitive next year than I could have this year.
Below are a few pictures I took of Sarah's team and also a picture taken by photographer Jana DeNapoli who takes really nice pictures.

Some of Sarah's dogs waiting for their booties
before the race start. 
Sarah's team checking into the check point at the
50 mile half way point, where they took a 4 hour mandatory
rest before completing the last 50 miles of the race.
Sarah snacking her team before bedding
them down during their 4 hour mandatory
layover at the halfway checkpoint.
Sarah's team not long after starting the race with Duke and Velma in lead.
Photo Credit: Jan DeNapoli
Sarah ran this years race with a group of yearlings to give them some race experience, she had 4 veteran racers on her team and 8 yearlings. Her team did amazing for being so young and inexperienced. They finished the race in second place a mere 6 minutes behind first place slamming their harnesses and barking to go. I think  given a little more experience and time to mature this team has the potential to go far in the racing world.

Sarah and her husband Clint Warnke own and operate Ridge Line Kennel out side of Fairbanks, Ak. Clint is a 5 time Iditarod finisher and he and Sarah both have competed in multiple Mid distance races. You'd be hard pressed to find nicer people who take better care of their dogs.

You may have noticed that the harnesses on Sarah's dogs look different than the regular X-Back Harnesses you most commonly see and that is because they are. They are Known as  G-Cel Harness and were designed by Mike Santos to allow the dogs to move more freely while running like they do when free running with no harness on at all. Also the tug lines attach to these harness on the side eliminating down ward pressure on the dogs hips and back. You can learn more about these harnesses and Mike Santos and his kennel by visiting his website at www.wolfsdenkennel.com
It is my hope that in the near future I will be able to out fit my team with this style of harness.

Below are the race results for the 2012 Two Rivers 200 & 100;

1. Judy Currier
2. Heidi Sutter
3. Sue Ellis
4. Greg Stoddard
5. Cody Strathe
6. Leila Javadi-Babreh
7. Jimmy Lebling
Scratched-Tony Angelo

1. Jason Weitzel
2. Sarah Love
3. Joel Switzer
4. Jody Potts
5. Ilana Kingsley

For more information on the Two Rivers 200 & 100 please visit www.trdma.org

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dog Yard Visitors

Bull and Cow moose in the clearing below the dogs on a late
summers day.
   Last night I heard one of the young dogs sound the "alarm bark" so I grabbed a bright light and headed outside to see what was up. I found it a little odd that only two or three dogs were actually barking and the rest were either hiding in their houses or quietly watching. A quick glance around the dog yard with the light quickly revealed this young dogs cause for concern, a young bull moose was munching on some willows barely 15 feet away.
   Pirate the young dog quickly quitted down, my presence was all that was needed to calm down this nervous young dog who had never seen one of these giant animals up close before. The young moose didn't seem at all bothered by my presence or the dogs, he was standing a mere five feet from two dog houses who's occupants were hiding quietly inside. Not  liking this young moose being so close to my dogs I went inside to get my husband for back up, I wanted to run this moose off.
  We yelled and he trotted about 50 yards away through the clearing below the dog yard and stopped, we went back inside hoping he would just move on. Shortly after we went back in we heard Pirate and a few other dogs resound the alarm. The moose had come back, but not quite as close this time, he was in the willows and wooded area below the dog yard about 25 yards from the closest dog. The moose seemed to just be browsing and making his way away from the dogs so we let him be, quieted the dogs  and went back inside.
  We really didn't hear to much more from the dogs until about 8 hours later, I got out of bed to see what was happening, the moose was on the other side of the dog yard now and standing in our driveway. I watched him for a moment while he looked around and then headed down the road and away from the house.
   I wasn't able to get pictures of him due to poor lighting so I am adding some pictures of some other moose and a few cranes who have visited or yard. From time to time we get some wild life visitors usually moose who we alway keep an eye on and if they get too close we'll encourage them to move on   as they can be dangerous to the dogs and us if we aren't careful. We did have a close call last winter when a cow moose got angry after her calf wandered to close to a barking dog and she charged the dog who quickly ran in her house and hid. After the moose moved on I had to pry the poor scared dog out of her house to check on her, that dog has never barked at another visiting moose. Usually moose visits go about like last night, the moose come they eat, they leave. Other wild life visitors such as fox, rabbits, cranes, and other birds don't pose a big threat to the dogs and are fun to watch.

Two cranes below the dog yard last spring,
Chupa and a Cow moose who visited last August.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Focussing On The Puppies

Lead: Rapid & BP
Swing: Pirate & Matrix
Wheel: Tramp & Charley

I have decided not to do any more big races this season in order to spend some extra time with the puppies, they are the future of our kennel after all. I have been getting the puppies out on frequent 4-6 mile runs in the team, usually consisting of 4 pups and 2 adult lead dogs. I have also been free running small groups of 2-3 puppies 4-14 miles behind the snowmachine, they seem to really enjoy this. The puppies are excelling in their training and are maturing into an awesome team of driven athletes.

We also recently added a new dog to the kennel, her name is Sparta. She comes from the Jake Berkowitz's Apex kennel in Big Lake, Alaska. Her name was Sparky when she lived with Jake, we changed her name to Sparta because we have a good friend nicknamed "sparky" and it was causing some confusion. Sparta is an Adidas X Panther puppy and will be three in early may. Adidas is the mother to our current pups, and Panther is currently leading Trent Herbst's team in the Iditarod. I'll post pictures of her soon.
Drummer and Jana  playing in the deep snow during a break
at mile 8 of a 14 mile free run.
Drummer, Jana, and Tramp taking a quick break during a free run.