Rant and Raves - November 2008 thru Current

March 2009:

Dog sledding was featured this month on Boston.com.   One negative comment to the scene of a Canadian team in the CanAm 250, was in regards to a bloody toe nail. Unless you have physically stood on the runners and or observed a team of sled dogs preparing for a run, whether it be training or a race, you can't put into words the enthusiasm these dogs exude.  Back in January, we embarked on a road trip from NH to MN for the 26th running of the Beargrease Sled Dog Races. Rhonda drove the team this year. Her start was captured on film and posted to UTube.

Just watch the determination with which RHONE digs in the snow while waiting for the sled to move, and you will begin to understand how these dogs obtain a bloody toe nail or two.   As the old adage goes:  you can't push a rope!

After a decade of racing Siberian Huskies, ALLAGASH and JELLO are at the age where a change in gait says 15 miles is the limit.  However, don't tell either of them! If JELLO sits out a run, he literally sulks and gives you the cold shoulder. If ALLAGASH is not put on the gangline fast enough during hook up, she will bark her head off and chew her harness in half!

So what will ALLAGASH and JELLO do once the harness is hung up for good you ask..... live life as sofa pets and watch TV with us in the manner they have already been enjoying!

Friends of the Lalla's came up to Stratford in route to the annual SnoDeo. Jim and Marc swapped back and forth between snowmobile and dogteam while Bob led the way around the trail system with a team of our dogs. Marc's son Ryan shared the runners with Rhonda.

We all had a blast! This time of the year after our racing schedule has wrapped up, no agenda or stress, we have such a great time when opportunities like this arise. It truly is a rewarding experience to share this aspect of our life with friends and fellow enthusiasts.

Our blog entry for the month of November started off with a reference to "Change".  Little did we know, it was to be a premonition.   Rhonda's telecommuting financial analyst position with IBM was eliminated as part of a corporate restructure and expense control initiative.  

Like our good friends Mike and Sue Ellis, we too find ourselves at a crossroads.  In addition to lack of employment; various trail access concerns and continued commerical and private development of lands abutting multi-use trail networks across the State, combine to challange our ability to properly condition the team. On top of this, Bob would like nothing more than to prepare for and improve upon our 2008 CanAm finishing time..  plus build a plan for eventually entering a team in the Beargrease Marathon or event of similar distance.  We have some challanges head of us, no doubt.

January/February 2009:

Rhonda and Kathy B helped out the Glen Outdoor Center by giving a series of rides.

Our goal for BG was to finish in the top 2/3rd and if we took away a 10 mile an hour average (our pace back in 2004 with a team of similar age and experience) , that would be a plus. We missed both by a very small margin. In retrospect 20th place was achievable. Throughout the entire event the dogs displayed this same level of enthusiasm. We received numerous complements from fellow competitors, spectators and one of our mentors who just so happened to be in town for the event this year. GRANITE was a superstar and his sister RUBY really stepped up to the plate. With the 250 a month away and big training sessions still in our sights, we conserved a bit. Big Thanks to our hosts, for Chris's assistance getting the sled across the parking lot, and to Julie for gracing us with that smile from start to finish!

While driving home from MN we received a very upsetting phone call. Dave S (Team Surf Dog), who hosted us back in 2005 when we traveled to MI for the Midnight Run, passed away. Sometimes goodbye means a second chance. Peace.

Next up - Greenville. Bob felt the first 1/2 of the race went quite well. Although the dogs were screaming to go after 2 hours, a longer rest would have benefited the team members who had enjoyed vacation time the week we traveled to and from MN, as well as simulate for the young dogs, a full CanAm style checkpoint routine. Feeling as if we did not have 12 dogs of equal ability, Bob came off Greenville and decided to postpone a second running of the CanAm 250 until 2010. By then, TK x DHARMA's puppies will be ready. They are blowing us away with their professionalism and have already accumulated 50 miles of training, with one session setup as a run/rest.

After the Greenville weekend, NH and MA school vacation weeks start. This is a period when our training requires being out on the trails twice a day or for long sessions. Knowing full well that the snowmobile traffic would be heavy, Rhonda was slightly relieved a 250 was no longer on the docket, since Bob is typically up to the Dawg House alone, while she spends her days down in Lancaster, NH at the Sally Pratt Real Estate office. Next season during holiday and school vacation weeks, we will either plan to run on non-motorized trails, train with a group (safety in numbers) or use a snowmobile escort.     Halley and Granite in lead

HALLEY was amazing this year! Lead on numerous occassions in training and was a starting leader three times (Will Cowie, Sandwich and Can-Am). We do not split our dogs up into his/hers. However,HALLEY does in fact seem to run better for Rhonda vs Bob. COSMO (HALLEY's brother) is simply a joy to be standing on the runners behind. Quiet in the yard unless he discovers a girl in season; this boy gives 200% as soon as you show him a harness. He has his off days like anyone else, but not many. TK and RHONE were equally beautiful in harness. Thrive on attention and like COSMO, give 200% back. Rather than go through the entire list, suffice it to say, we were very impressed with the team this season!!

Five months of (mostly dry land) training lead up to a North East race schedule packed into 6-7 weeks. It's crazy when you think about it! Up in Alaska, they start racing on SNOW in December and run until April.

November/December 2008:

The month of November kicked off with an historical political event here in the United States.  'Change' is in the air!!!   And no, there is not a hidden meaning in that reference, despite what some may think, we are not switching to Alaskans :-?    

ENZO was used at stud with a bitch co-bred by Francois Hamel and Mike Santos.   While together planning this breeding, one of DHARMA's daughters went home with Cathy DeMars.

We were invited as guest speakers by the Lancaster, NH Rotary Club.  In attempting to build the slide show, the MP3 Elvis tune we applied as the background would not work properly; so at the last minute we changed the program to use something else.  When it came time during the meeting to start the slide show, wouldn't you know, the Elvis tune began to play!   We looked at each other in anticipation.... surprisingly, the tune played straight through and in the end, we were presented with a gift.  The last slide when the song came to a close was of our sweet MISCHA!  Guess someone was looking after us!  

Bob's been running 14 and 16 dog strings on the ATV.   To capture a photograph, you have to stand back 100 feet and or change the lens to panorama!    All 16 dogs are doing well, even ALLAGASH who we expected to top out at 12 miles.   Yes, only 16 adults right now.   RAVEN moved in with our friend Dwight.   While visiting it was casually mentioned that he would like to add another dog to his small team.  RAVEN's quiet personality, compatible size, leader abilities and interest in living inside made her a perfect candidate.   This blog derived it's name from RAVEN so as one of our first born, she will always hold a special place in our hearts.  Although no longer living with us, we know she is being Spoiled and given tons of Love, and that made the decision a bit easier. 

This summer, Rhonda was encouraged by Kathy Lesinski to take up running. It lead to participating in a series of road races, achieving a personal best 10K time and setting a future goal of completing a 1/2 marathon in early summer of 2009.   While running as a Reach the Beach team member; a 200 mile stage road race; the format reminded Rhonda so much of the Beargrease 150 that she mailed in an entry. 5 down on the wait list, she was elated when the call came in from Headquaters that we made the cut.  New England weather is notorious for being unpredicatable, so for now, we will retain our Eagle Lake entry as a backup plan.  

Speaking of weather patterns, Southern New Hampshire was plagued by a major ice storm.   KONA surprisingly did not freak out to the degree we expected.  To be safe, we housed the dogs overnight in the truck until the eye of the storm had passed.   With no electric, phone, internet or water for two days and a TBD date of reinstatement, we headed up to the Dawg House.   For the second winter in a row, we are keeping eye on Mike and Sue's camp while they are up in Alaska/Yukon.  At the first of November, we stacked two cord of wood in the barn.   Thank Goodness for old fashioned off the grid living! 

If it wasn't for access to this camp, not only would we have lost out on two weeks of training, we would have had an extremely difficult time caring for the dogs.    

While taking in what we hope will be our last ATV ride of the season, the leaders hesitated at something in the trail; an 8 pointed moose antler

Dec 22nd:  took in our first run on sleds.   Yee Haw!!

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