Paying the Bills

Hi all, sorry it’s been so long since we made a post. Our only excuse is, we’ve come to the conclusion there is no off season with sled dogs. While the long runs of winter have stopped, the workload has not, it has just changed from conditioning the dogs, to swimming them, playing fetch, and making money to pay all the bills we racked up all winter long.
Fortunately, things have been steady on this latter front. As you can see in the image at the top of this post, we have been working hard on selling prints and canvases of some of the artwork we are able to put together from running and being around sled dogs. This week alone we have sold several images from Nome of other mushers, which they will send out to their own sponsors to say thank-you.
We also have several large canvases that just went up in Rosco’s Pizzeria in Ninilchik. Rosco’s owners, as some of you might remember, are big supporters of Cole and the dogs and they sponsored Cole several pizzas to eat along the trail during this year’s Iditarod. Some of the canvases they are now displaying are VERY nice shots of areas or conditions that would not be possible to view without traveling by dog team. It’s great to think of how many summer tourists will now get a chance to see those images and hopefully understand a little bit of why those of us who lives here year-round chose to make this our homes.
I should point out, if you’ll bear with this shameless self-promotion, that almost any images that we post here on the blog can be made into prints or canvases, so if interested in adding one to your home, business, lodge, etc. just sent us an email at to let me know what image you’d like and we’ll get back to you with a price list.
In other news, an Anchorage-based photographer is also working on a coffee table type book on the Athletes of the Iditarod. It looks like it will be a lot of extremely high quality shots of dogs, and a few of the mushers. It looks like he’ll be coming down around the 16th to shoot some of our guys. We, as always, are very excited to share our dogs with him. The tough part now will be decided who should end up in front of thee lens…beautiful, colorful dogs like the orange coated and blue-eyed Crazy Horse or Cyder. Or perhaps we should go with the dogs that deserve the most credit, such as lead dog Penny. Or perhaps, just the dogs we know will be the biggest clowns in front of the camera, like Metoo and Dunkel. Ultimately, it will likely be up to the photographer, but we’ll keep you all posted.
When not working on selling photos, we have been hard at writing for the book we’re working on that we mentioned a few blog posts ago. We’re trying to put together a book of our adventures and misadventures with all these crazy canines. Progress on this project is going well and we have written several chapters already this summer. We promised we’d share some of the stories here, and since we have disappointed you all by not blogging in so long, perhaps a sample of one chapter will make it up to everyone. This is from the chapter we’re writing on poop, that’s right you read that correctly, poop. I know it sounds gross and weird, but bear with us and take a read at this portion of the much large chapter on this disgusting subject. We only ask that you don’t copy and paste, or share it anywhere as this is a work in progress that we will eventually be trying to sell. Thanks and enjoy.

All mushers, if not all dog owners, probably have a story or two about a dog leaving a tightly coiled pile somewhere they shouldn’t, and over the years we’ve had more than our fair share of accidents in the house, truck and many other places. At the time they’re happening, they are never funny, but looking back on the incidents, some of the messiest and most embarrassing bowel blasts are now some of our most hilarious memories with the dogs.
Not everyone can see the humor in a dog pooping at in inappropriate time. We can vouch for this based on an experience when we briefly crossed over into the world of purebred dogdom by attending an American Kennel Club puppy socialization class. Despite that mushers and agility enthusiasts or those who partake in obedience are all dog lovers, there seems to be a large rift separating these groups. It seems to be one of those things like skiing versus snowboarding, being a republican or democrat, being a kid and eating vegetables. You either do one or the other, but people who participate in both are few and far between.
We weren’t aware of this elitism in the animal-lovers world when we signed up for the class. It was right after Butterscotch and Doc had produced the first litter of puppies we had ever had in the kennel. Until then we had been taking in other people’s dogs, puppies and their associated physical and social problems, but we had decided to have a litter to raise them right and help balance the scales.
We had called ahead to be sure it would be O.K. to bring in our puppies, since there were seven of them after all, and even among the high-energy reputation puppies have, husky pups are in a league of their own. The instructor agreed and initially things were going well. Our guys played with the other pups in the class and climbed on the agility equipment, but then Buckwheat – our yellow-eyed husky with a fuzzy, cream-colored coat and reddish muzzle – made sure we and everyone else would never forget that evening.
I should preface this part of the story by saying at the time we had only recently gotten the diagnoses of Buckwheat having a liver shunt. Without getting too scientific here, this is a condition where a blood vessel carries blood around the liver instead of through it, causing toxins to build up in the blood stream. Because many of these toxins come from protein, Buckwheat was on a special diet and taking medications, all of which gave him extremely wet and white-washed looking stools.
We knew going into the class we didn’t want any amorphous deposits, so we hadn’t fed him since breakfast and had walked him before and at several points during the hour-long class. We were almost in the clear. There were only about 15 minutes to go when, as puppies often do, Buckwheat had an accident. We were already juggling our attention between all his siblings which had fanned out across the room, when out of the corner of Colleen’s eye she saw him starting to assume the position.
She made a dash for him, but hadn’t even crossed half the large, rubber-matted floor when he began to release what was nothing short of an anal outpouring. To be honest, I think had any dog pooped in the class it would have been frowned upon, but what really made the folks in the room go from looking down their noses at us to scooping up there puppies and running out in sheer terror was the appearance of Buckwheat’s crappy calling card. It came out completely white, and in a consistency that was more liquid that it was even close to a solid state. Had it not been coming from his behind it would have looked like someone had knocked over an old glass bottle of milk, which was glug, glug, glugging its way to emptiness.
I think parents on a beach where someone has pointed at the water and screamed “shark!” have moved slower than these pet owners did scooping up their puppies and running out of the room. We couldn’t blame them. Without knowing his condition, his stool storm was so unusual in appearance, we likely would have thought he was harboring some horrible virus and in an act of puppy preservation fled, too, had he not been ours.
While Buckwheat blasting in the class was one of our most embarrassing moments, it was far from the most shocking…

15 Responses to “Paying the Bills”

  1. Mary Lowell Says:

    Oh my goodness, can’t help but chuckle at the visual I am getting. Can’t wait for the book!

  2. Sal Says:

    Chuckle is FAR too tame- spewing diet coke all over my keyboard this morning- thank you very much!!!

  3. Kathy Says:

    I don’t think I want to read the excerpts from the book…. Will wait, buy the book and read all your experiences at one time…. Anxious for the book to be completed.
    Supposed to get to 90 degrees tomorrow, here in central Illinois. That is hot enough. Was happy to see a new post. Hope all is well in Kasilof.

  4. Jerseykat/Janet Says:

    Oh the shame LOL poor Buckwheat, when you gotta go you gotta go.

  5. Martha in Juneau Says:

    I love it! You guys don’t know it, but around here I’m known as the poop queen. Yep – I love the word and hey, what else can you do but laugh? I got my major introduction to poop when I helped my neighbor with her yard and team. It was an eye opener for me, and things have never been quite the same since then.

    Prior to that I had my kicks taking my book “How to Shit in the Woods” on guided camping trips and pulling it out just before or after dinner. People arriving from various more civilized places to camp in Alaska are more than a little nervous about their poop and where it goes, and shy about talking about it (as you well know!).

    I’ve been writing Letters to the Editor in my head about dog poop for a couple of years now, but just haven’t quite gotten it squeezed out into the right form yet.

    I love the story about the class! Somehow I knew that about fancy dog breeder types because I often meet them while traveling since I pet everyone’s dog while I’m out of town. They always seem a little taken aback by my marching over and paying attention to their dogs without looking much at the owners. Too funny! Next time I will make a point to bring up poop.

    I’m so glad to see the gorgeous prints – Joseph, you have talent! I will be ordering one – it’s going on my Christmas list right now and I’m telling everyone that’s all I want to chase away the winter blues (only blue when not out with dogs!).

    Also, when you left up Colleen’s post about Tika I re-read it several times. Each time I cried, but was filled with joy, too. My forever dog was reading over my shoulder and he reminded me that they never really leave…

  6. Martha in Juneau Says:

    In case my much earlier comment got buried, I wanted to make sure you both know how much I loved my “thank you” gifts from the team. They absolutely made my day! The stinky dog booty was as close to a poop souvenir one can get without shellacking it. It had run through many piles of race poo…I treasure it.

  7. Martha in Juneau Says:

    I could always write a poop poem if you need one for the book…HA!

  8. Amy Gregg Says:

    (Martha, you are too funny! I can just see the look on the face of the unknowning stranger when you ignore them, pet their dog and talk about poop! I wish I could be a fly on the wall and see the look on their face! Try to work in the white, creamy liquid part, too! It’ll be like the icing on the cake. Literally! ;-) )


    Thank you for the update. It was like a letter from a long lost friend when I found it today. (I’ve been away from the computer with a tummy bug and some poop of my own lately…) It was very good to hear from you.

    I love that you are selling some of your photos. You are really talented. I hope that will be a profitable venue to help offset your expenses. If there is anything I can do from my end, please let me know. I am always glad to help anyway I can.

    I don’t think I have properly thank you for my “thank you gift” either. I love it! It will be treasured always. I hope to find a way to include it in my “Alaska” wall in my living room. I have Cole’s Iditarod poster from 2010, a nice piece of Balleen, and probably the only 2 sets of (authentic) snowshoes in Texas. Now, I need to figure out which print I want… :-)

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the thoughful gift. It really meant (and means) a lot to me.

    Thanks also for the update. Now, I have a FB page to update….

  9. Poppy Says:

    You mentioned that Husky puppies are high energy. (To be fair, there are other high energy breeds.) Huskys do just like to run. If you unhooked them from the sled and said “OK, do whatever you want,” they would run. We took Blizzard to Agility class. He’s the only dog the trainer had ever invited to not return. Whenever it was his turn to perform, he would look at the other dogs, sitting patiently, as if to say “Why did they put all these stupid obsticles in the way. Let’s just run around and play!”

    I hope you have a chapter on stuff we did with visitors from outside (or whatever the term is for the lower 48). Like the time you let Uncle Jeff drive and he had to walk back. He never did let go of the sled. Or hiking over the “little” waterfall. Actually, Denali was pretty good, other than the contest of who could stay submerged longest in the snow melt driven, 10 inch deep, 38 degree stream.

    Then there was the alligator. But I guess that was before Alaska.


  10. Martha in Juneau Says:

    The only immediate relief from a certain type of bad situation is looking at each other (or mumbling to yourself) “This WILL be funny later. Some day. Maybe. Yeah, it will be!”

  11. Amy Gregg Says:

    Penny has been entered in the GNC Live Well pet contest. Please follow the link and add your vote to our cause of helping her win a photo shoot and $5000 and (…and wheels turning….possibly a hefty sponsorship???) We need everyone’s vote so please help get the word out and campaign for her. Thanks for your help!!/GNCLiveWell/app_112813808737465?app_data=%2Fentry%2F282902%3F%3Df2ymjd&=f2ymjd

  12. Martha in Juneau Says:

    Amy, that’s great! Also, the book Joseph mentioned is talked about at the Alaska Dispatch:

    There is a Facebook page for “Born to Run”, too!

    “Albert Lewis is posting “sneak peeks” of each kennel visit at the Facebook page for Born to Run/Athletes of the Iditarod. Sign in and ‘like’ the page, and help support Albert’s efforts to bring awareness to the sport and the athletes who race 1,000 miles every March.”

    It’s time to open my FB account. Anyone who can, go for it!

  13. Martha in Juneau Says:

    I forgot the link to the “Born to Run” FB page:

  14. Amy Gregg Says:

    Thank you Marth! I think he supposed to shoot the Robertia Rogues this weekend. I can hardly wait to see the pics.

  15. Martha in Juneau Says:

    Hey Amy – I wonder if poop will be involved? Ha!

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