Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year Everyone!

Ruper has his party toque on!

And he looks soooo impressed...

Are my dogs patient or what?

Note Ripper's look of concern in the background for his buddy, Ivy.

Ivy gazing up at me

"If I didn't like you so much, I would SO bite your fingers off for this one."

I hope you all have a great New Year's and all the best from my gang to yours in 2007! :)

Friday, December 29, 2006

It just keeps getting better and better!

So, first I'm wounded. Then we lose the funnest ball in the world, glow-ball (I'm still scouring the ground for it!). Then, just the other day, I practically destroyed my new little sprinty sled. Since the sled was kind of broken when I got it (hence the great price), it was rather fragile.

Long story short, my lack of skills in the sled-fixing area and my short attention span left me driving a sled just waiting to implode upon impact with anything. All it took was the teeniest wipeout, which was due in part (ok, all in part) to my lack of proper balance with the wonky knee. Yes, I am blaming the knee!! Stoopid knees...

One turn at the end of the driveway and a wipeout into the willows and SNAP! The 6-dog team was still attached, but not the least bit worried about the sled that was quickly becoming kindling behind them. The brake was wonky and the runner popped off at the front. What to do?!? We kept going, 'cause good luck turning around 6 crazy dogs 35 seconds into their run. Surprisingly, the runner stayed semi-attached and wasn't very difficult to drive. We made it back in 1.5 peices, but little sled refused to go out again.

Now, poor little junior sled is now in the capable hands of Steve-the-sled-fixer-upper, who is pretty sure he can do something with it. There was a lot of "hmm.."ing and "what did you do to it?!" and "I hate to say this, but..." when I took it to him to have a look at. Not great news, but he's kept the little monster and thinks he can do something. Basically there are quite a few dodgy pieces on it so he may just end up re-building the thing. I said go for it - I just need it for Jan. 20!! (that's the next CHT race in case you're wondering...)

So! I guess it's back to the drawring board. Or, time to pull out the Beast - the ol' tank of a sled, which I can neither turn, or break. Believe me. I've tried both.

Is it 2007 yet?


Kate & Gabe are in cahoots: "Ha ha! It worked! We sabotaged the sled so she could stay home and keep feeding that wood stove to keep us toasty warm! Hmm... now how 'bout a belly scratch?!? Mwahahaha...."

(ok, so that was all Kate, because it doesn't appear that Gabe is even alive, let alone plotting and scheming - ah, the old guys! Gotta love 'em!)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Ah, it's over...

I hope everyone had a smashingly good Christmas. This is Harris after his turkey dinner, man that dog pigged OUT on cranberry sauce!!

I think he's more leg than body.

Kind of looks like a baby ungulate (moose or deer in particular) who is gangly beyond belief.

And, um, please ignore Jack's x-rated shot in behind. They really have no shame.

Onto Christmas goodies related to dogs:

Oh, sweet sweet new mocassins!!! So comfy.


However, I had to protect the innocent little slippers all night (even when they were on my feet!) from the hounds. Seems that beaver fur or the smoky smell is hard to resist.

Then, a favourite of the dogs:

New dog coat!

Complete with fleecy paw prints - made by Laura. Great job!


So... we had a bit of a fashion show tonight - here is Ripper trying on the latest in doggie coat fashions:

Fits him well. Though the way I put it on, it had a bit of a cape effect. But how cool - dog capes!

Sage is a bit too long for it, but you could tell he really loved it!


Looks thrilled eh?!?

"Get it off me you crazy woman - this dog doesn't do clothes!!"

Kate put on the best show though...

It's little black n' white riding hood!

Kate is so excited by the new coat that she can barely contain her joy, so she promptly falls asleep while modeling.

I like how Loki was sniffing at the coat sneakily in behind. Like he didn't want to admit to really liking it. But I know he does. Now, I'll have to get 13 more!! :)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Introducing...

The amazing GLOW BALL!!

Look at the intense concentration on those faces (squint hard)! They are clearly interested in the new glow ball. This is going to help burn up some extra doggie energy while I'm on the mend. Briefly.

The ball is the kind that starts flashing as it hits the ground for 30 seconds or so. But the way the dogs attack it and throw it around, it's pretty much glowing non-stop. Hope it lasts more than a day!

Streak of ball, so fast it's a blur!


Jack was the most excited about the glowy-ball. But then, he loves the fetch game. Except, for him it's the "Jack game" where no one else exists but him as he flails around, throwing the ball up in the air, totally ignoring the rest of us. He's clearly not impressed when I make him give the ball back.


I think this is Harris? Hm. Maybe it's Jack again. All I care is where that ball is! I have to say the second crew LOST the ball tonight, so the game ended early. Dog eyesight is a weird thing, the damned ball was glowing away while 3 of them were looking less than 2-3 feet away. Then it stopped glowing and I had NO idea where it was. So I guess we go "glow ball hunting" in the daylight tomorrow.

The glowy-ball in the light. Kuna's protecting it here.


And here's a pretty dark video of our game tonight. Look hard and you can see Lucy zooming around the driveway with the ball. I think she set a record for continuous loops around the driveway, beating her personal best of about 15 consecutive trips with the ball in her mouth. Why she was running? I have no idea, no one was chasing her. I love dogs who totally entertain themselves! :)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Still gimpy, but here!

I'm still around (mom & dad!), just busy and also kinda feeling sorry for myself right now! Damned wounded leg. I will post this weekend about a gift I bought for the dogs which we will try out this weekend and I'm sure will be a big hit - with most of them anyways! I'm *supposed* to take it easy, so this little present is going to be an alternative form of entertainment and exercise. Apparently, I'm looking at 6-8 weeks recovery right now - best cased scenario, which totally sucks.

Ha! That's not to say I'm not skiing or sledding for 8 freakin' weeks (2 of which have already gone by...). I just have to "take it easy" - whatever that means. No careening down steep hills behind 5 dogs on skis? Ok, I can not do that. How about 3 dogs on the flats??!! :)

Ah well, I just have to get inventive and think up new things to do with the dogs - new contraptions to use, heck, I'd even go out on the 4-wheeler but one of the wheels decided to not move for the whole last run we did. Whoops!

_______________________


And today, thoughts go out to Tamara, Stuart and their pack as Preacher passed away today. I have many stories from Preacher and his offspring as "that kennel" I worked for is where they lived. Preacher and Franklin, my George and Lucy (before I had them) for some reason which I STILL don't understand to this day, probably never will - were dumped off at the shelter. The boys spent wayyyy too long in the shelter (over a year!), so Tamara took both those boys home knowing they couldn't be separated. Franklin had many problems and was frightened of everything. He has blossomed into a confident, happy dog today (see his latest passing skills on Tamara's blog!). And let's not mince words - Preacher was basically SPOILED from the minute he set foot in their house! :)

But if any dog deserved it, he did. He didn't deserve to be plunked in a shelter after spending the first 7 or 8 years of his life working for the kennel. So he adapted to his new life quite readily and seemed to take over Tamara's house! Boy, they sure adapt fast when they want to. ;)

Anyways, I know Franklin along with the whole Wandering Spirits Kennel (humans included) are going to miss the barky Preacher like crazy. I know I'll miss seeing his mug and hearing about his old-boy antics. Rest well Preacher-man!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Benched!

Ok, so this walking disaster is stuck on the mushing sidelines for awhile here due to a minor hockey injury. Ironic, considering I spent 99.9% of my time getting flung around by dogs, that I'd wipe out playing hockey - a totally dogless sport! The dr. called it a "knee sprain" which I and OttawaJen thought was a lame diagnosis. Monday was difficult to walk, and oh! Trying to climb the ladder to the loft is real fun when you can't BEND your leg! But I am already getting a bit more mobility back. So, while I may miss this weekend's fun (CHT race, more hockey), I'll be there in spirit, cheering from the sidelines.

I'll be back out there soon enough - being able to bend your leg is over-rated anyways! (just kidding mom!)

So - here's some pre-injury pictures!

Have I mentioned how much I love this new sled?!?! It is THE best. I fixed it up a bit so it's not totally wonky and I'm not sure if I fixed it correctly or if it is supposed to feel slightly out of control at times...

Either way, I don't care. It's freakishly FUN to drive.

Here are the dogs going uphill wondering why they are able to move faster than a crawl this year. Yes, it's because they aren't lugging 100lbs of wood! More like a mere 18lbs of kindling.

Jack and Harris led the team up, with Ivy and Sage sandwiched in the middle, and Loki and Ripper in wheel. Ripper is looking back, because as some of you may know, he's totally unable to NOT look back or turn around when we are stopped.


We are almost at the top...

Just a bit further. This is a fun hill to go up, as I cannot just stand on the back of the sled and ride the runners. Even with this light sled, it's pretty steep so I'm running up at my super-slow-human-pace. Therefore, a few breaks along the way are needed. It was our first time up here on this 10-mile loop this year. So I had NO idea what the trail was like. Luckily someone was up on a snowmobile and some enthusiastic people were up there skiing the same loop. That's a good ski up that steep hill! I'd be sliding down backwards accidentally I think.

Note that I have SIX dogs here?

And a few moments later - 4 dogs!?!

Hmmm.... Ivy and Sage decided to lead. Jack and Harris disappeared...

Actually, it was due to this mess:

Jack is not particularly fond of ice or slush, so he tried to skirt around it all and saw a nice little opening in the bushes. Too bad the rest of us and the sled wouldn't fit through it! And his good natured brother Harris, was up for anything and even seemed to attemp to try it till he noticed Jack making a move for the trees - and thought "Hey! Good idea!" I was outnumbered by the furry beasts.

So once we were good n' tangled, I let those two loose and they rapidly took off down the trail bouncing around and not caring that we were still stuck in the trees. Hmph. Some team spirit guys! But Ivy and Sage did well and had no problem running over the slushy ice.


Ripper took over lead from Jack near the end and here we are back at the homestead.

Oh yeah, this big beast came along as well. He started to drop back a bit on the last couple miles home. But not bad for him, he sure hates to be left home! And will remind me allll night that I didn't take him out.


Loki was screechy and excited as usual during the run.


The post-run love fest. Only Loner-Loki is missing here. Although you can't really see, Ivy is very nonchalantly stepping over top of Harris' head, um *encouraging* him to give her a sniff or two. Or twelve.


There she goes again - poor Harris is defenseless against this sexy little female. He's merely trying to catch his breath, but she has OTHER things on her mind...


Fishy soup! Mmmmm....


Crew #2 (non-race crew)

Ha! I like Octane's expression in behind here. You can almost hear him woo-ing! There's Rupert and Kate in lead. This was just a quick 3-mile sprint around the neighbourhood. Notice the 3 monsters in the back on the dropline? See how they are totally in each other's face, barking like mad? Yeah, they really love each other...

The Kate-ster came out for this quick little run and led the pooches.


Happy Rupert! Look at that smile!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Today I learned...

To open the freakin' gate ALL THE WAY before getting dragged out of it on skis!


The offending gate. This is us coming back, so no problem. But leaving, I was not only on an angle to the small gate opening, but the dogs were also going 110mile/hr. I crashed into it and then through the gate, but I didn't see it happen. It was like one of those slow motion moments where you are terrified so you don't want to see what's coming, because there's not a darn thing you can do about it anyways. Sort of like taking a steep descent on a rollercoaster, or a car crash - all I knew is when I opened my eyes, I was on my side and my thumb hurt from getting squashed into the gate. Ouch.

But, did that stop Ripper, Loki and Sage from surging forward? Nooooo... they drug me down the driveway for a few hundred yards.

When we finally got to the river, things were good. We did our 10-mile loop (which ended up being about 11-12 miles, due to me following the wrong skidoo tracks in the trees - whupps!), and I barely had to ski at all. These three were super energetic for the whole run. Darn, and I wanted a good workout today!


Here, Sage and I are taking a break, but Ripper and Loki have other plans as they drag both of us down the trail.


The trail was a bit narrow and not to easy for 3 dogs alongside each other to run in:

Sage kept getting pushed off the trail by the other two. Not that there's much of a trail here anyways...


Trail in the woods. Where we got, not *lost* per say, just um, briefly disoriented. Yeah, yeah, that's it.

So because I wanted a bit of a workout, I took out the slacker-group of sisters, and this is the kind of professional sled dog behaviour they exhibit:

"Doh! I'm stuck!"


Yep, that's Gracie stuck as she wound herself around a twig. George and Lucy are ready to go, but wait! We have a problem to work out here!

Turns out even these guys were speeding down the trail for the most part. I swear, and I've said it before, god knows I'll say it again - but they DO share a brain when running. The Brain, I've realized, has to be turned to "on" for us to really cover any ground. When The Brain is distracted or shut off, we plod along with no one really pulling, but then! All of a sudden, The Brain turns on like a lightbulb and suddenly we are speeding down the trail, the owners of The Brain fully excited and happy, the owner of the owners of The Brain excited and happy...

Hm. Upon reading that last paragraph, the owner of the owners of The Brain is just realizing she really doesn't need another beer tonight. :)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Who has time to blog when there's SNOW!?!?

Right now we're enjoying all these warm temps and LOTS of snow! Had a great river skijor yesterday (the earliest ever!), but had no camera because, as usual, I had only planned on just checking out the river. Before I knew it we were well into our 10-mile loop, and there was no looking back.

I took Jack/Harris/Ivy on the loop, most of which had NO trail on it at all. That was a bit of an adventure. They were totally amazing as they flailed through this knee-shoulder deep POW, dragging me as I attempted to ski through it behind them. What a team. It was a great afternoon of learning for Ivy and she did well. She's such a tiny little thing, and those two guys kind of dwarfed her. That did not matter to her at all, as she is totally in love with both of them. You could see the happiness on her little cow-dog face all afternoon. Often, the trail was so narrow she got pushed off of it - so she had this sneaky little move where she jutted in between the two boys, making a nice little Ivy sandwich. They barely moved over (or even noticed her) so it was a funny sight indeed.

Later I took the 3 speed-demon monsters (speed for 3 miles, tops!) out in the dark without a headlamp. That makes it hard to see gravel on the road (doh!), so I took a pretty spectacular header(if I do say so myself) on the way home, as we were all truckin' down the road at a fairly good speed. My first fall of the season, not bad. The funniest part was each of the dogs came around to check me out to see what was up. I guess the crashing, banging and yelping behind them followed by complete silence had them somewhat concerned. They care, they really do care.

Going over old posts that hadn't made the cut yet - forgot to mention this little thing I found on the side of the road one day:

Is that not the cutest, sweet little face ever? Ok, after my 14 of course.

Bailey ran off from her owner one day and Laura and I came upon her on the side of the road on a cold day. We were heading out to friend's for dinner, so Bailey came along to Haines Junction and entertained all the guests and made herself at home in the cabin! Then I got stuck (or not) taking her home till we got ahold of her owner. I wondered what my crew would think - and true to form, they wanted to eat her... or at the very least just "play" with her a bit...

But I kept her separate from them so she got the coveted loft all to herself. And made herself quite at home on my bed.

Her owner came by the next day and picked her up. She got into the car and went home very nonchalantly, like this was an every day occurence!

Yeah, it's never dull around here.