Rant and Raves - October 2007 thru December 2007

December 2007:

With training two teams and no handler to come along for the ride to assist at road crossings and by the loose farm dogs, this was the first year we did not run with the ATV out on the Rockingham Rail Trail. Feels weird given that it's practically in our backyard.

Mother Nature has been very good to us! Last year we did not get on the runners of a dog sled until 3 days before the Eagle Lake race. This season we took our first ride with the sleds on December 8th.

We are working with our respective employers to design schedules which allow the flexibility needed to make long and daily back to back runs without having to share the trails with snowmobiles during peak hours of the day. With snow and our schedules in order, we'll obviously be devoting the next 60 days to building the team up for Can-Am.

Plans are coming together for another visit to New York. This trip we will be bringing home a puppy or two! To make room in the dog truck for our new additions, COTE is soon going back to Loranne but KOBE will be staying on awhile longer. It was fun having COTE here in our kennel. His sweet personality is exactly what we needed to soothe the wound left by STEEL's death.

November 2007:

Attended the Nighthawks snowmobile club meeting and discussed the upcoming sled dog race.

The last few weeks have been a mixture of highs and lows.

After finally deciding we were ready to make the financial commitment and purchase a camp, the one weíve had our eye on, went under agreement. :(

Without warning,STEEL, our main training leader, died of a heart attack. It took over two years to finally come to grips with sending his sister NIKKI to the Rainbow Bridge. We canít bring ourselves to talk publicly about losing STEEL so have actually found life easier to cope, by simply shutting down emotionally. Training must go on and although itís been difficult, GRANITEís amazing and unexpected performance in lead has been a pleasant ray of sunshine. He now has over a 100 miles in the position and ALLIE and RAVEN have been doing a great job as co-chair. I canít believe we ever considered selling those two girls!

JELLO is showing no indication that he was intended for the retirement bench this season. Ahh... if he could only run this way for 150+ miles!

Snow came early in the North Country this year. We had a family emergency so opted to stay closer to home rather than be out of cell service range. Itís a good thing. After wrapping up a run at Hill Village, a local hot spot in the Central part of the State, SAINT looked green around the edges. He was trying to vomit and nothing was coming up while at the same time, his body was oddly contorted and his stomach unusually large. Weíve never seen a case of bloat before and started to panic. SAINTís condition remained stable until we were able to get him to the Eclinic and continued to remain stable for a number of hours thereafter. If he was suffering from bloat, a $2000 emergency surgery would have been required. SAINT made it through the evening without concern and a second set of x-rays showed a clear chest cavity. Whatever gas he had 12 hours prior, worked itself out, THANK GOD. Our concern now, is that he may be predisposed to gastric dilatation.

Having an original pool in September of only 19 dogs (including 4 yearlings), selling PEGGY, being down another due to the untimely loss of STEEL and now not being able to predict SAINTís future as a sled dog, makes the goal of running the Can-AM 250 this season an even greater challenge. Without having completed a race of that distance we can not expect to enter it with a goal to Ďraceí. Some folks can not understand the concept of entering an event just to run, instead of racing. It is a race after all is it not? Weíve proven our dogs as one of the fastest Siberian Husky teams in the East, by finishing mid to top of the class in the majority of races weíve attended over the course of the past 8 years. But to achieve the same at the Can-Am 250, takes years of proper preparation. All we wish to achieve this season is a successful finish with a team of healthy and happy dogs.

For the next few months, we will have two new faces in the kennel while our friends the Carey-Blockís readjust to life with Richard on crunches. He busted up his leg during a rig race back in October and the recovery is taking longer than expected. We are ecstatic about our winter guests, especially one boy named COTE who we tried to talk Mike Santos into selling us a few years ago. Many thanks to Loranne and Richie for trusting us with your dogs.

COSMO, HALLEY, TK and RHONE were due for rabies shots this month. While at the vet, we requested heartworm/lyme tests. A new comprehensive 4-way snap test is now being used. We were overjoyed when the results read negative. Finally, the lyme protection protocol we are following appears to be working!

Spent Thanksgiving up north at the Dawg House and enjoyed dinner with long time friends; Jim and Betty Lalla. Thanks to Jim loaning us one of their ATV's, we were able to log a few ATV runs before the trails iced up. Halley presented us with a gift for Thanksgiving; she came into season. Better now than in March!!

October 2007:

Graded the dog yard and removed the shade cloth. While working in the yard, a flock of birds flew overhead heading south. A clear sign that fall/winter is upon us. Thank goodness! Due to warm temps and no handler assistance (itís only be cool enough between the hours of 5-8am), weíve had a slower than historical start to the training season.

RUBY graduated to sleeping out in the main dog yard on a tether. Good puppy!

PEGGY moved in with a friend from Vermont as a promising addition to his racing and touring team. Now you might wonder why in the world would we sell a dog at this point in the season, especially one that is mid-distance proven. Well, Ken needed another dog and we have to make room in our kennel for a stud fee puppy or two. Back in August, Rhonda took a few vacation days and met up with a friend in NY. Itís been an agonizing two months as we waited for news as to how many pups Emma would produce this time around. On behalf of Cathy and Dante DeMars, we are pleased to introduce ROCKYís second litter....

Our first 12 dog team hookup went well. The dogs are already stronger than we were expecting them to be this early in the season (snapping snub lines, dragging the Fritz cart, etc). TK and RHONE are looking very promising. Of the four youngest pups, ASPEN is currently standing out. Need to remind ourselves that she's only a puppy. AERO may likely be a sprint dog. He's very light in bone as compared to his siblings, a fluid mover and digs in like a bastard on the home run stretch.

Spent a few afternoons after running the dogs, stacking 2 cords of wood up at the Dawg House.

Partook of the first, Second Breakfast of the season.

Mailed in our entry for the Greenville 100.

Picked up our new Husky Creek sled. Windwalker did an amazing, custom job on the sled bag. We also ordered a second, matching sled bag, to fit the older Husky Creek that we bought from Keith Ali.

Received confirmation that our entry to the Eagle Lake 100 was accepted. When the actual event rolls around in January, it may be Rhonda driving the team instead of Bob; time will tell.

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