Archive for July, 2010

Bears Everwhere

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Hey all. This will be a visual blog post, with more photos than words this week. We have had two bear encounters this week. For the first one, we went to Katmai to celebrate Joseph’s birthday. This area is known for bears, but maybe it is because of the incredibly thick smell of dogs that must be on everything we own, the bruins took and extra interest in us. It was amazing to see a bear walk by, catch a wiff, and then make a u-turn to get closer to us to try and figure out why we smelled so different than the usual two-legged traffic through their turf. Then, oddly enough, the night we got home we had a brown bear come through the dog yard. All the house dogs were out at the time and Jeeves, of all dogs, gave the bruin a really tough time. He ran up to it barking and carrying on like he was rabid, and luckily for him the bear turned tail and ran away. No one was hurt, thankfully. Anyhoo, on to the photos. Enjoy.
Cole getting a close up shot. She DID NOT approach this bear, rather it just walked that close to her and she stood still…perfectly still.
May I have this dance?
Two bears catching some dinner: a fresh sockeye salmon.
When it was time to leave, this bear cub even attempted to crank the prop of our plane for us.

Four Sisters

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Ugh…is it ever going to stop raining. It’s been more than aweek of the wet weather, and the dogs and us are ready for the sun to return so we can resume our daily swims. In the meantime, we have just been taking the dogs on several long walks. This is a great way to bond with them. It’s fun for the dogs and it lets them sprint around for exercise and get stimulation by sniffing flowers,grass and where other animals have been. Here’s a few photos from about 10 days ago, the last time we saw the sun. I shot these four pictures from the same vantage to try and show the similarities, yet subtle differences in four related females of the kennel. The above image is Screamer (the tan-colored dog) and her sister Oaky (white). Two cornerstones of the kennel.
This photo above is of Nuk. What’s funny is this face is how she looks in 99 percent of the all the photos ever taken of her. Nuk loves running omre than I think any dog in the kennel and she is by far one of the strongest and most reliable. She is very, very muscular, even in the pff-season. Unlike her sisters she doesn’t run in lead, but we are always hoping the future season will be when she starts. Even if she doesn’t though, she is still a powerhouse in the team or wheel position.
Here’s another image (above) of Oaky. Most people who have seen a picture of the race team have seen Oaky out front. She is one of Cole’s two main race leaders. Oaky has led some leg of every race Cole has ever done. She is also the mother of Kawlijah, Seeker (in the background) and most recently Dunkel. Oaky is another naturally muscular dog. She is almost all white with the odd exception that she has a blackish tail.
The picture above is of Screamer. She was raised by us, then through a series of events outside our hands, she moved from kennel to kennel for a few years. We got her back permanatley two seasons ago, and were happy to have her home. When she left she was an exhuberant dog who loved to lead. Since she returned, she still leads, but not quite with the same confidence and excitment she used to show. We’re hoping with the future season she returns fully to her old ways. Screamer is a little leaner than Nuk or Oaky, but has the shaggiest coat of all the ofur sisters.
This last gal shouldn’t need any introduction. This is Penny, Cole’s main race leader. Penny is by far the smallest of the four sisters, and one of the only ones with a hint of silver to her mostly brownish to cream-colored coat. She is the littlest dog in the kennel, and the tiniest to ever finish the Yukon Quest or Iditarod. Penny’s proof why no dog should ever be judged on size alone. This dog has the heart of champion.
All for this week. Keep you fingers crossed for some fairer weather.

Wet Behind the Ears

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

IN our usual summer pattern of doing our best to keep the dogs happy and fit through cross-training, the temperatures have finally warmed up enough to begin swimming the dogs. We’ve been taking daily excursions to the pond near our house, rotating who goes. The guys who love it and listen the best off-leash get to go the most. Zoom (pictured above) is on that list, along with Goliath, Screamer, Crumb and several others who could love the water enough to give any Labrador a run for their waterdog title. They all relish swimming, at times I think, more than running. They are hilarious now that they know the routine. They’ll start whining and screaming right when we pull in and they see the water, then they charge in with a big splash and go right across. They don’t even wait for us any more. They’re already three laps in by the time we’re starting to wade out.
We also took seven month old Dunkel down for his first swim, and he took to it immediately. He was a little hesitant initially, especially the first time he went so deep his toes couldn’t touch. BUt, he is SO bonded to Metoo, he’ll go anywhere and do anything she does, which is great since she is the wonder dog. Dunkels first time in the water, he was like Metoo’s shadow, if she turned left, he went left, if she went right, he went right, he just mirrored her every move from a few inches behind her, as in the photos above.
NOw that he has been a couple of times, he is starting to do his own thing, and like Metoo, he is a total maniac once he gets in. He just charges into the water like he’s part otter. A few readers have noticed that Metoo is in practically every picture we post. It just boils down to she is an amazing dog, so she goes everywhere. She leads in winter, and can hike and swim and walk around town off-leash in summer, so she is with us practically everyday, all day long.
Dunkel only has one more trick to learn at the pond, and that is Metoo’s spectacular belly-flops. HOwever, I’m sure it won’t be long before he picks up on this one, since Metoo tends to dive in every time she enters the water. I’ll try to get more photos soon, this one is a little grainy beucase I shot if from across the pond.

Cloud Nine

Monday, July 12th, 2010

We got out for another hike last weekend, and this was one a tough, but rewarding endeavor. A friend told us about a trail called Cecil Roads Peak that we had never heard about, and having done just about every other known trail over the years, we decided to give it a try. We quickly figured out the hike was someone’s mountain goat hunting trail. It went straight up the entire way, and the lower elevations were a lot of bushwhacking, while the upper reaches moved into apline meadow and eventually scree and snow left over from the last season. It ended up begin a great workout for the dogs that went, and while we never saw any mountain goat, we saw a lot of their shaggy white hair left behind, which the dogs relished in sniffing. The goats must still be blowing their winter coats like a few of our dogs. Here are a few photos of the trip. The one at the top is of Metoo looking down at the Kenai River and the town of Cooper Landing. We were only about half way to the top ot this point.
In the photo above, you can see Buckwheat is actually walking above the clouds behind him.
Here is one of us being silly with Metoo. You blinked Metoo!
This shot cracks me up. Metoo likes taking in the views more than we do, I think. Here she is taking in the valley.

Red Rover, Red Rover

Friday, July 9th, 2010

This week we thought it might be fun to share some of the more unusual looking dogs in our kennel, and while we have several variations of color and pattern, we find none more beautiful than our red dogs. Not everyone likes red dogs though. Red dogs can be extremely tough, as evident by nearly all of ours having finished at least one 1,000-mile race, but these dogs can also be tough-headed too. And, like no two people seem to agree on the merits of a red dog’s performace, red seems to be somewhat of a subjective term too. Butterscotch (pictured above) is a perfect example. We consider this six year old Quest and Iditarod finisher red, but some people call her orange or tangerine, and still a few others just consider her a funky shade of brown. It’s hard to say who is right, especially since we call so many of our dogs “red,” despite that they have subtle variations to their color. Here are a few examples (and only our dogs that are primarily red, we have several, like Hildy, Hank and Zoom, who are partially red). How would you describe them?
The little lady pictured above is Butterscotch’s daughter, Brick. She has a totaly different type of red than her mom. Brick’s color pattern is somewhat reminiscent of a red doberman, or possibly even a red-phase Australian shepherd. Unlike BUtterscotch who is an amazing swing dog, but who won’t take a step in lead, four year old Brick loves lead more than any other position. In fact, if we run her further back in the team, she will pull as far as she can to the outside and actually try to pass the dog in front of her to get to the front. Brick was Joseph’s leader for his 3rd place finish in the 2009 Tustumena 100. She ran out front the whole way.
O.K. this picture above doesn’t do him justice. Cyder is actually much more reddish than this rainy day picture would reveal. Unlike the girls, Cyder has a bit of white mixed in to his oragne and rusty red. Like Brick, Cyder loves to lead and ran out front for several legs in both the 2009 Quest and 2010 Iditarod. Cyder is nine years old, so he is just starting to slow down, but only slightly. We hope this powerhouse can hang in for a few more seasons becuase he is a valued member of any team he is on.
This 13 year old man above still has a lot of fight in him. This is Crazy Horse. We took him in as a retiree four years ago and he’s still going strong. He didn’t race last year, but he trained with the team almost every day, and if we had been in a pinch, I think this guy may have been able to step in despite his advanced age. His only health flaw is he has a bad nose, as evident from this picture. he came this way when we got him, and we never got the full story of if this was from a severe frostbite or severe sunburn (the red dogs can be sun sensative). We took him to the veterinarian on multiple occassions, but despite drugs and salves, his nose has remained the same. Unlike BUtter who has yellow eyes, and Brick who’s eyes seem to change from yellow to green depending on how the light hits them, Crazy Horse is red with Blue eyes, just like Cyder who is a distant nephew. However, in terms of running, Crazy HOrse is more like BUtterscotch in that he loves to run swing, but refuses to lead. Crazy Horse has completed multiple Iditarods, which is why we bred him to Oaky several years ago, the results of which produced this next guy.
Anyone who has ever visited this blog should know this handsome devil. This is (was) Kawlijah, our beautiful boy who died accidentally this past spring. He was a powerhouse who occasionally led, but typically lent his strength to the wheel position where he could help COle muscle the sled around trees and other obstacles. He lacked the contrasting blue eyes of his father, Crazy HOrse, but he had a stunning quality that was all his own. It’s hard not seeing his silly red self jumping and shouting in the yard anymore. He is still deeply missed.
This is another washed-out photo that doesn’t show the true magnificant color of this 14 year old. Bashful is actually quite good looking despite his age related bumps and wrinkles. Unlike some of the other old timers, Bashful has started to really slow down, and sadly, he may not be long for this world. Like his now deceased brother, Doc, Bashful was all power in his heyday and was on Cole’s team in her first 1st place finish in the 2004 Tustumena 100. When he finally passes away we’ll be sad to see him go, and even sadder to hear him go. This guy has a very houndy look and howl, and he often instigates dog-yard chorus sessions while hooking up a team or after a big meal has been fed.