Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Day In The Life... of a dog musher

Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head...

So, I figured that I would make today's blog about what I do on a typical day here at the kennel.  Let's go back to Wednesday.  I got up early in the morning and went out to run the sled dog puppies.  I individually would harness each puppy to a car tire and run a short distance down our road and back.  All the puppies did really, really well!  They think it is so much fun to "go play with the tire."  After all 8 pups had a turn with the tire, which took about 2 hours, I went back in the house to catch my breath and mix up breakfast for the sled dogs and puppies.

Once I was done mixing up the meat soup and kibble for the sled dogs, I fed the house dogs; Thom, Faith, JB, and CheVelle; then immediately went out to feed the sled dogs.  Each dog gets their own helping of meat soup with dry kibble on top.  All the adult dogs wait patiently for their breakfast to be served, and my dogs sit, speak, and shake (or some combination thereof) for their meal.  The puppies on the other hand, are still learning how to be patient and wait for me to put ALL the food in their dish before inhaling it!  After everyone had been served their breakfast, it was time to move on to the dirty work.

As can be expected, with a lot of dogs there comes a lot of poo to pick up.  Picking up poop is not the funnest chore involved with mushing, but it is a necessary task to maintain a healthy environment.  It seems that the times I pick up poop in the dog yard, are the times I do a lot of thinking.  This particular time I was thinking of how when I have my cousins over helping pick up poop, they don't see all the poop always.  Even though I can see the forgotten feces as clear as day, they honestly did not see it.  This discovery led to my conclusion that dog mushers must have some sort of sixth sense, like "poop vision" or something.  From years and years of scanning the ground for camouflaged dog droppings, dog mushers must have developed this "poop vision."  There is also a fascination among dog mushers with our dog's stools.  To the non-dog musher, we would seem totally out of our minds and slightly disturbed, but as it turns out, poop is a very important thing!  A bad stool, or a stool not typical to that particular dog, is a great indicator of the dog's overall health.  We always want our dogs to be as healthy as can be, so us dog mushers are always studying the feces as we clean them up to be sure our dogs' bodies are functioning properly.  Dogs also seem to have "pooping paterns".  Mushers know everything about their dogs, for example, my dogs always have their special place where they do their business, these dogs tend to have a more 'organized' personality.  By knowing this, I'm able to pinpoint exactly where I need to look to clean up the poop.  Some of the dogs aren't as organized and let the poop fall where it may, which reflects on their care-free personalities.  I guess you could say that you can tell a lot about a dog by looking at his poop!

I then came into the house to eat some lunch, my first meal of the day, and do some school work.  I worked on school work until late afternoon when I went out to begin the long process of dumping poop buckets.  When I pick up poop in the dog yard, I transport the feces to buckets at the gate of the yard.  When all the buckets get filled up, I need to take the buckets to the "poop pile" where the contents of the buckets are disposed of to become new soil.  In the summer months I use the 4-wheeler towing a small trailer to transport the buckets, and in the winter I have to carry the buckets by hand.  Fortunately, I was able to use the 4-wheeler this particular time, probably the only positive result of our lack of snow.  It took 5 trips to get all the buckets dumped, 10 buckets each trip.  JB and CheVelle "assisted" with this; however, being herding dogs, all they really did was bark and run circles around the 4-wheeler as I was driving it.  By the time I was done with dumping the buckets, it was already totally dark out and it was time to get to the next task.

The final chore I had to tackle before feeding the sled dogs dinner, was cleaning the trailer.  I had to rake all the old straw out of the crates in the trailer and replenish them with new straw.  It is not a difficult task aside from the 3 crates that I have to squeeze into and pull the straw out by hand, but it is messy.  By the time I'm finished, I'm covered with straw from head to toe.

The last task of the night is feeding the sled dogs dinner.  For dinner, the dogs get what we call a "meal".  A "meal" is meat, water, and kibble all mixed together.  It is like chili for dogs.  Once all the dogs are fed, they go to sleep for the night and I retire to the house.  Another cool thing is that the dogs say "thank you" after breakfast and dinner.  They do this by all howling together after they have finished eating.

Just another day at the kennel!

click HERE to see a video of the puppies' tire pulling!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Rodeo Run Race Results!

Last weekend, we had our first race of the season in West Yellowstone, MT! We ran the 8-dog 22mile course and received 6th place out of 16 very competitive teams! I had Bella and Alice in lead, followed by Otter, Super Cub, Emmett, Jasper, Kaycee and Ra.  We completed the trail in about and hour and a half both days, but the team was faster the second day even though we had to pass twice as many teams!  The dogs did really super!  It was also Bella's and Alice's first race running lead together! It was a very successful weekend and it was fun to see all of my mushing friends again. Dad ran the 10 mile trail after the race on Friday just for fun with Khufu and Cessena in lead, followed by Chewy, Stitch, Eastwood, Bronson, Tut and Newman.
Another exciting part of the weekend was that I found out that I was selected to be sponsored by Manmat Dog Mushing Equipment, so the doggies will be getting some new harnesses, collars, and other goodies!

Here are some pictures from the weekend:

Dad's team

Dad's team

At the start, many teams were towed to the start line by snow-machines since the dogs were pulling so hard

the front 6 dogs of my team, Alice is the one jumping in the air

Bella and Alice watching me at the start

Bella and Alice watching me at the start

Coming into the finish

Just after crossing the finish line

After the run thanking my awesome leaders

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

First Race of the Year!!!

The first race of the 2011-12 season is coming up this weekend, the 15th through the 17th, in West Yellowstone, MT.  This race, the Rodeo Run, is 20 miles with 8 dogs on Friday and Saturday.  Thursday night are the pre-race festivities and drawing for start position.  Friday and Saturday the first team will head out at 9:00 am.  In 2009, I ran in the 6-dog 7 mile class at this race with my dad's older distance team and got 2nd place.  In 2010 with my team, we received 7th place in the 8-dog 20 mile event.  Last year, we received 6th place in the 8-dog class.  As of right now, there are 11 other mushers signed up for he 8-dog class, but entries do not close till Thursday evening so more could come.  The 8 dogs I will be running in the race are:
Bella ~ Alice              
Otter ~ Super Cub     
Emmett ~ Jasper           
Kaycee ~ Ra                

We'll be training today and tomorrow, and then head down to West late Thursday morning.  Wish us luck!
On the trail during the 2010 race

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fall Training Videos

Here are a couple videos of our fall training this year with the team!
click here to see the videos on our Facebook page!

Also, follow the team and I on our Facebook page!

Fall training is over for this year because we are now able to train on snow with sleds!  Here are some pictures from our first sled runs:

Bella and Alice

flying down the trail!

After the run

Absaroka Mountains viewed from Paradise Valley
 Click HERE to see more photos from our first sled runs!

Monday, November 28, 2011

The "No Moose" Button is Back!

Second to motorized vehicles, the moose is the most dangerous thing to a sled dog team and their musher.  The "No Moose" button serves as 'insurance' of safe passage for a musher and their team.  The "No Moose" button protected the teams in the 2000 Iditarod, and they are now back!  My dear friend Lori created these buttons and is selling them for $6.  The money from the sale of these buttons will go to helping me and my team to the Jr. Race to the Sky, Jr. John Beargrease, and Jr. Iditarod this winter!  Please click HERE to purchase a "No Moose" button!

Thanks to my friend Lori for doing this!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Begining of Training for the 2011-12 Season

Here is an update of the past weeks:

Currently I am training a racing team of 12 dogs, with Alice and Bella as my main leaders, and Emmett, Jasper, Otter, Super Cub, Khufu, Newman, Ra, Tut, Kaycee, and Cessena.  Although we are behind in training (because we had such a hot fall, and it is currently 45ºF today), the dogs are doing really great.  We had to find a new training trail that we could use the  ATV on, because are usual trail has too much gravel.  Fortunately, the new trail is really awesome.  Our old trail was very flat and straight, whereas this trail is very twisty and goes up and down with some real steep climbs.  My dogs love hills and turns so they enjoy this trail much better than the 'boring' flat old trail.  Even with all the steep hills to climb, the dogs are really fast this year.  Also, something I am very excited about this year is that the team has a 12 mph trot, whereas in past years they were only able to trot at a max of 10 mph before having to break into a lope.  With how well the dogs are doing with pulling the 500 pound ATV and me for 14 miles on steep hills, I am super excited to see how they will do with pulling the light sled on the snow!  We are hoping to soon have enough snow on our snow training trails to start running with sleds, but this year we have A LOT less snow than we did this time last year.

All the puppies are doing well too.  The Werewolf litter; Quil, Embry, Paul, Leah, and Seth; are now a little over 4 months old, and the NCIS litter; McGee, DiNozzo, and Ziva; are now a little over 3 months old.  They are getting bigger every day and will soon be able to go on training runs just to watch.  We are planning on taking the pups to at least one race this year to see all the excitement.  Quil, Embry, and Leah have proven to be little escape artists as well.  The other day they went through 3 fences, TWICE! But we know have the little stinkers contained. :)

This season, we are going to run three long distance races:
Jr. John Beargrease- 100mi- 8 dog- Duluth, MN- Jan. 28-29
Jr. Race to the Sky- 100mi- 8 dog- Lincoln, MT- Feb. 10-15
Jr. Iditarod- 150mi- 10 dog- Knik, AK- Feb. 25-26

We will also run a couple of the 2-day stage distance races:
Rodeo Run- 40mi- 8 dog- West Yellowstone, MT- Dec. 16-17
Flathead Sled Dog Days- 50mi- 8 dog- Whitefish, MT- Jan. 7-8
and maybe a couple more, depending on scheduling

On another side note, CheVelle is learning to be a truck dog and coming on training runs with us.  She will also come to races as long as she keeps behaving herself, which I'm sure she will continue to do.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Late Summer/ Fall Dog Shows

Other than the sled dogs, I also have a Belgian Tervuren showdog named JB.  August 26th-27th, my mom, Maga (grandma), Erika (my cousin), Sarah (4-H friend), and I went to Seattle for a dog show.  Mom judged Junior Showmanship at the Evergreen Belgian Tervuren Club's specialty on Friday, and Sweepstakes at the Terv specialty on Saturday.  Erika and her puppy Belgian Tervuren, Betsy, showed in Sweepstakes and Breed Conformation on Friday and Junior Showmanship on Saturday.  Betsy and Erika on Saturday went Best of Winners to get Betsy 4 more points towards here championship.  I showed JB in Junior Showmanship at the All Breed show on Sunday.  Out of a class of 16, I unfortunately didn't place, but Erika showed JB in her class and got third place!  This was the first time JB has ever been showed by someone other than me, and he was very good for Erika. Friday afternoon there was a fun match that I entered JB in and he got Best of Breed and a Group 4 placing, which is really exciting because I can't show him in normal conformation because he is too small for a male Terv.

The following weekend, the 2nd-4th, all of my female cousins, my aunt, my mom, and Maga went to another dog show in Cheyenne.  All 10 of us including 4 dogs had a great time.  Friday night there was a fun match where I showed JB in conformation (receiving Best of Breed and a Group 2) and Juniors (1st in my class), my cousin Sydney showed Faith in Juniors and got 2nd in her class, Bethany showed her Border Terrier, Terra, in Juniors and got 3rd in her class, and Erika showed Betsy in breed and got a 2nd in the Puppy Herding Group.  Saturday, I didn't place in my juniors class with JB, Erika placed 4th in her juniors class with Faith, and Bethany placed 3rd in her juniors class with Terra.  On Sunday, Bethany and Terra got 3rd in juniors again, and Erika and I won our classes with Faith and JB.  Then, Erika, who is in the youngest class of juniors, beat me for Best Junior Handler!  And I am in the highest age class.  Even though I loosed to my little cousin, I felt pretty good about it because it meant I was a good teacher. 

First Day of Fall Training!

Today was the first run of the fall with my team.  Yesterday, we ran the older team made up of dad's dogs and Piper and Bronson.  Both runs went very well, but all the dogs were pretty fat and out of shape.  I guess they have had too much sun bathing this summer!  With both teams we just 1 mile down our road, turned around, and came back for a total of 2 miles.  Tuesday we ran the older team:
Piper ~ Annie
Leggs ~ Chewy
Stitch ~ Newman
Bronson ~ Lilly
Eastwood ~ Maddie
Today, we ran my team, except for Otter who isn't going to run for a while because she has puppies:
Bella ~ Khufu
Super Cub ~ Alice
Emmett ~ Jasper
Cessena ~ Tut
Kaycee ~ Ra
Here are some pictures:
The Older Team

My Team
Check out some more pictures of our first runs here:
also, check out pictures of the Werewolf Litter (Quil, Embry, Paul, Leah, and Seth) and my Belgian Sheepdog puppy (CheVelle) here:

Puppies, Puppies, and MORE Puppies! Part 3: Otter

As you may have read in my last post, Otter was supposed to have her 3 puppies that Thursday-Sunday; however, Otter had other plans.  By Tuesday morning she STILL had not shown any signs of having her puppies and we and our vet decided to do a C-section that afternoon.  All puppies made it through the C-section and now, at a little over 2 weeks old, Otter and the NCIS Litter are all doing very well.  She had 2 boys: DiNozzo and McGee, and one girl: Ziva.  They are HUGE puppies and seem more like 3 week old puppies now rather than 2 week old puppies.  Now, the father of this litter is Leggs, who is dad's 11 year old Belgian Husky leader.  Leggs' mother was an Alaskan Husky, and his father is a Belgian Sheepdog (Thom, who is 13 years old and still with us).  So DiNozzo, McGee, and Ziva are 25% Belgian Sheepdog.  Here are some pictures:


DiNozzo, McGee, and Ziva

Otter and her babies

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Even MORE Puppies!!!

Otter, my main leader, is going to have puppies sometime this Thursday-Saturday.  The father of the litter is my dad's old lead dog, Leggs.  Leggs is 1/2 Belgian Sheepdog and 1/2 Alaskan Husky, so these new pups will be what we call "Quarter Pounders" because they are 1/4 Belgian.  We took an x-ray of Otter yesterday to see how many puppies she had in her, and she has 3 BIG puppies. 

Pudgey's puppies turned 4 weeks old today and are doing well.  It is hard to tell for sure yet, but we are pretty sure at least two of her puppies will have blue eyes. 

Faith's puppies will turn 8 weeks old this Sunday.  The only boy, Squach, is now being called Bugaboo because that is what his future owner wants him to be named.  Joy it looks like will be going to a good home in Arizona, and Angel we have a possible home for but it is not a definite thing yet.  The puppy I am keeping is Tzarina, who's new name is CheVelle, after my favorite band.  We had to change her name because dad had a belgain long ago named Zarr, so the name Tzarina reminded him too much of Zarr.










Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Puppies, Puppies, and MORE Puppies! Part 2: Pudgey

On July 20th, Pudgey had 5 healthy puppies.  Pudgey is a sled dog of friend Randy Camper.  We bred Super Cub to Pudgey and the puppies will be at Randy's house till they are 10 weeks old, when they will then come home with me.  In this litter of future sled dogs, there are 3 boys (Quil, Seth, and Paul) and 2 girls (Leah and Embry).  All named after the werewolves in the Twilight books. They will be 1/2 siblings to Jasper, Emmett, Bella, and Alice (named for the vampires in the Twilight books).  They are all black and white except Paul, who is the color Super Cub was as a puppy only maybe Paul will be a little darker than his father. 

Pudgey with her puppies

All the puppies in my lap






Super Cub

Puppies, Puppies, and MORE Puppies! Part 1: Faith

Faith, mom's Belgian Sheepdog, had 4 healthy puppies on June 26th.  Three girls: Angel, Joy and Tzarina
and one boy: Squach (short for Sasquach)
The father's name is Teddy, who lives in California.  One of the girls will be my dog, and the other 3 will go to good homes.  Currently, it is between Angel and Tzarina for who will be my puppy, but they are still growing and developing their personalities.


I believe this is Angel and Tzarina, Tzarina is on top beating up her sis (that's where she got her name)

Squach, Angel, and Joy. Tzarina is off exploring like usual

All the puppies in their pen in the house

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

June Report

Now that the racing season is over, all the sled dogs are just lounging around soaking up the sun.  JB received his first leg towards his AKC FAST Agility title at an agility trial in Bozeman.  Looking forward and starting to make plans for next winter...
Here are some pictures from June:

Cessena, Alice, and Otter


Bella (and Cessena)

Cessena, Bella, Alice, and Otter

Little fawn we saw near our house

Wolf at Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in W. Yellowstone

Griz & Wolf Discovery Center

Teton Mountains from Ashton, ID, on our way to visit my Aunt Carrie

Cool statue/fountain in Idaho Falls

View of Gallatin Valley from the entrance of the Lewis & Clark Caverns (Madison River)

Griz & Wolf Discovery Center

Griz & Wof Discovery Center