Rant and Raves - March 2006 through August 2006

August 2006:

The month started off horrifically, with the death of mushing icon, Susan Butcher and our beloved first sled dog, Osage. Both, coincidentally, crossed the Rainbow Bridge on the same day.

Hosted friends from ON, Canada. We had a lobster feast and taught the dogs to play wiffle ball! Halley or Ginsing are usually the first to catch and return the ball to you.

Dharma’s agility class wrapped up on a good note. Due to her heat cycle, we were unable to practice much at home between sessions. So, her only exposure to the obstacles and increasingly complicated course layout, was in class. With rig training quickly approaching, I'm not sure we'll be able to register for the next level, but I sure would love to!!!

Emma gave birth to a beautiful pair of puppies, one of each sex. Unfortunately a c-section was required to bring the girl into this world. I can see clearly why girls have come to be referred to as ‘bitches’. That pup was squawking a mile a minute while Mom was being sewed back up. I bet she was saying, ‘What the hell took you so long? You know, I could have died back there! Hurry up will you, I’m hungry!’.

July 2006:

In the news this Spring/Summer...

* Flooding tears up roadways in NH. Conditions resemble the aftermath of an earthquake. This photo, taken by a member of FOMBA, is of the parking area in Auburn where we train Spring and early Fall.
* Big Dig held together with Duct Tape! Thank God we moved out of Mass. when we did!!
* Tornado hits down in Hampton, NH. Truck flipped over and kayak launched up into a tree!

Although there are numerous breed and sled dog clubs here in New England, a few of us felt there was an unfilled need in the North Country. To further promote the sport of mushing, specifically in northern New Hampshire, we got together and formed NCM.

June 2006:

The rain has continued into the month of June. At least it makes brushing the dogs out easier; no flying fur!

For years, like a women denying her age, we would tell friends that Osage and Mischa were only 5 years old. Well we can no longer pretend. Mischa sadly, no longer enjoys walking far from the house. And Osage is suffering from cognitive dysfunction, a doggy version of Alzheimer’s Disease. In addition, he clearly struggles now to walk up stairs and climb into his dog house.

Just this week, we caught Dharma and Rocky engaging in some very flirtatious play! It’s so easy to look into that angelic face and 35lb body and still think of her as a puppy.

Speaking of Dharma, Rhonda brought her along to the YSHC annual meeting. It was a bit distressing to see, a dog that is so bold and confident in the dog yard, act completely opposite with other dogs out in public.

Registered Dharma for a basic agility class.

Two of the dogs we sold our friend Spencer are now parents! Toshi is the proud father of six, and Mobil the devoted mother of a litter of 3.

May 2006:

When our nephew comes to visit, he has been doing a bit of agility training with Dharma. I am sure we are not doing this properly, but it was such a hoot!!!

It has been unusually humid for this time of the year. So overall, our # of Spring training days are down from prior seasons. June 1st is when Rhonda prefers to pack up the gear. That gives us a few months to attend to jobs around the house, and for the team to relax in the sun. Hanging up the harnesses this early is just downright painful. On a positive note, we have been taking advantage of this extra downtime to search for a new house.

Halley is in heat. After messing up the team three months ago, how dare she come into season again so soon! Actually, her cycle at that time, only lasted a week. If Emma does not hurry up and come into season, we might just breed Halley now!!

Attended the NHMushers Association annual meeting. We had a guest speaker from the NHSA. It was quite refreshing to learn, that many of the issues he brought forth, are safety recommendations we have already imposed upon ourselves.

Hung up the shade cloth.

We kicked off the summer by taking Osage and Peggy for a walk down Hampton boulevard. Osage received the usual ½ dozen or so ‘is that a wolf’ comments.

April 2006:

Well it’s that time of the year when we open the windows, pay our taxes and clear the cobwebs out of the attic (literally and figuratively)!

We’ve had a few weeks in which to absorb and reflect on what took place over the last 6 months. IMO, it seems now would be the more logical time to make a New Years resolution, rather than back on January the first!

The NHMA has often talked about conducting an economic impact study among the mushing community. So while collating receipts for our tax return, Rhonda thought it would be amusing to sum up what we spent on the kennel in the last 12 months. Mind you, these numbers represent only those items that we can easily estimate and or had receipts still in our possession.

Projecting these expenses out over the 6 years that we have been managing the kennel, or the ? years to come is quite staggering. For those of you reading this who do not have sled dogs, you are probably shaking your head thinking these guys are nuts.

Would we give up the past 6 years for $60K in the bank, not a chance! Having a hefty bank account is obviously a comfort, but does not necessarily go hand in hand with a happy and healthy lifestyle.

March 2006:

When Rhonda and Mischa used to take walks during lunch, they would often bump into one of the residents of the Fox Den retirement community. This facility is within walking distance of our house. For years, we have talked about bringing a dog or two over for a visit with the other residents. Well, we finally had the opportunity! Rhonda, Raven, Allagash and our handler Chris, spent a Friday morning this month talking with the Fox Den residents about living with and training, a sled dog team.

For years we have been approached by the press to give an interview and on every occasion, we have declined. Sandown celebrated it’s 250th birthday this year. In cooperation with the historical society, we offered to give a series of sled dog rides. The railbed was dry, so we used the Fritz cart. This cart is actually ideal for giving tours since it has a built in seat. 15 people got the opportunity to experience the thrill. We on the other hand, were thrilled with the opportunity to finally share a bit of our lives with the local press & public.

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