Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ski Jumps: Austrian wins, 463 feet longest jump

We had a family gathering at the ski jumps today (Pine Mountain, Iron Mountain, MI). The Austrians seemed to be flying high with two jumps of 462 feet... I didn't get to see all as it was time for dog soup, but the conditions were very good.

ADDENDUM: Manuel Fettner, age 24, of Austria won the competition , his longest jump being 463 feet. 10,000 fans were in attendance.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Brrr, but not too bad


It was a minus sixteen wind chill today so while it was cold, it was a 'do-able' day.
Skinny had his run with Sierra (and me)and each dog received extra extra straw, for
the windchills coming tonight. Every dog had a free run. I groomed the trails.

There is, of course, a beautiful full moon, to freeze by. Five dogs are in the house tonight, even Lillen, who flatly refuses most times, ran into the house willingly.

Well, there are nights of minus thirty or forty each winter, so it's not REALLY cold, but the ski jumps are this weekend and the wind does make a difference on whether or not that goes on. And kennel friend, Julia, is skiing the 25 K Noquemanon xc race in Marquette, MI. Betsy and Annica plan to come for the jumps. Tim's family is sidelined this year because of surgery.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Rain Snow Rain

Weather did not cooperate yesterday, measurable rain, then measurable wet snow and then more measurable rain. Trails are very punchy.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Ice Rain and Straw


Houses that needed fresh straw were filled and houses that needed to be cleaned out and receive fresh straw were raked and filled. It takes a bit of time to do this so our friend, Jim, took on that chore while I did the regular chores. Late day yesterday the ice rain started falling. I put a tarp up over Lillen's house (age 13) to keep her a bit dry. She will not go in her house if I put a coat on her, so the tarp helps a bit.

Even with icy trails we did take a short sled run and neighbor, Jeanne, took a xc ski run.

Friday, January 22, 2010

All 31 Dogs Out Running

Today was a perfect day to make sure that every dog here got a great run. We are looking at the prospects of freezing rain/ice/snow in the next two days, so early a.m. tomorrow all dogs will be checked for fresh straw needs, but , today was their day to celebrate and run for fun. The whole kennel cheered as groups of dogs took their turns running laps, running trails, running free. We love to see them so happy.

Photos: Yo, Yo and Sleds, Buddy and Ruthie

Aliy/Allen prep for Denali Doubles, 20 dog team

Be sure to check Aliy/Allen blog above, SPKennel, and ride along with their 20 dog team as they prep for the Denali Doubles Race. This is the link to the race info on Jeff King's site...

The Denali will have a new format, fun to run? definitely fun to follow.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Warm Runs

I was gone for a bit today but came back in time to see some of the teams running in the 40 degree temperature. The dogs were wild to run and happy to have Julia, Anna and Jim with them.

In spite of no new snow, the trails are nearly perfect, one icy spot up in the pines.

Teams run today:

Eos, Zeus, Ruthie, Medio
Buffy, Eos, Kiddo, Quattro
Zeus, Ruthie, Rosie, Matilda
Eos, Buffy, Zoom, Herman
Eos, Buffy, Medio, Matilda

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Map of our training trails (inside the gate)... beginner loop is A to B to C with an unmarked cutover at C on a flat trail and back to F, B and A.

Photo: Skinny on small sled. He does not go out with beginners. He just goes for his own fun/exercise.
Sometimes we have beginners (humans) who have never been on a sled. Each time we have a beginner, our primary concern is safety of the human and safety of the dogs.
(Of course, we feel the same about experienced mushers).

One of the best ways to learn about driving dogs, in my opinion, is to take one experienced dog for a sled 'walk'. We hook up a leader (for instance, Ruthie, Buffy,
Eos, Zeus) to a small, light sled with a brake (possibly with a drag) and we essentially 'walk' the dog and the sled around a half mile loop. In this short experience, the driver learns how to stay on the sled (balance, staying on the runners, touching the brake or the drag on small downhills)and how to not hit the dog with the sled (very important). There is little speed involved in this walk so it's mostly about sled control, balance and getting to know the feel of just being on a sled with a pulling dog. (We accompany this run either on foot, on another sled, or on a machine).

There are a few other things you learn in this short walk, such as, am I in shape to do this? do my boots get stuck in the brake? where exactly do I stand on the sled? what is the brake? do I understand how to give a command to a dog and does s/he listen to me?

Driving dogs is a fitness sport. By the end of walking this short (half mile) loop,
a driver knows (and we know) if they are ready for a longer, hillier trail, which will involve some running uphill (to help the dogs) and some downhill curves (sled control, dragging, staying on the runners,etc). Sometimes this short loop is all someone wants, just the opportunity to be on a sled. Often times they want more dogs for more power. Of course with more power, comes the need to understand how to have more control.

There are some basic things we tell all drivers who come here. These dogs are racing dogs, even though most are retired. They can and will go fast. It is up to the driver, once leaving the takeoff, to be in control of the sled. Sometimes I'll also say , 'best to leave your ego at the gate'... when you're out there, one quickly learns that the dogs are doing it and they are graciously taking you along for the experience. It is the driver's job to keep them safe. And, of course, we also note that you don't have to shout at dogs, they can hear so much better than we can. The exhilaration of going out on a team of dogs is huge, so along the way, just hang on (or let go if unsafe) and enjoy the ride.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Rest of the Story

On the SP Kennel dog log, Allen tells how his race in the CB300 was 'interrupted' by a semi in a parking lot that he was passing by to re-enter the race trail. Just as he was passing the airbrake screamed, sending the frightened dogs into a ball in a ditch. He estimates a loss of ten minutes for untangling (with no place to set a hook).

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Under the Stars; Macgellan's video of caribou

No photography awards for these photos, but we did enjoy it.

We took a run under the spectacular stars last night. Skinny can't pull with other dogs anymore because of his eye and leg, but we use a light sled with no heavy parts as a 'leash' of sorts so he can go for his well loved runs.

Tried to get the stars, but not on right settings. Buddy and Sierra went along as great scouts.

Macgellan has posted some great video of his January highway travel, spotting some resting caribou.... (don't know why this isn't clickable, so have to cut/paste for now)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Nice Morning Runs

Julia ran two teams before the camera activated... Ruthie and Zeus, Medio and Herman;
then: Zeus and Eos, Kiddo and Buffy.

Rob came along at just the right time and got his first run out here, five dogs:
Zeus and Eos, Buffy and Medio and Kiddo.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Humanitarian Award, CB300, to SP Kennel

It is a huge honor and reflection of the best in dog mushing to receive the Humanitarian Award in a race. In 2005 Aliy won the Iditarod Humanitarian Award and yesterday the whole kennel, all the mushers and handlers, won the CB300 Humanitarian Award. It is awarded by the consensus of the race veterinarians on the mushers who took best care of their dogs. Well deserved congratulations to SP Kennel, the whole crew of you!! And , in addition, you give us great regular reports on how you do it!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Happy Dogs Trotting Along

Ever vigilant Medio eyes Jeff in the bushes taking his photo. Medio is our doorbell for unusual things happening out and about the kennel. If he's barking, something is strange to him. Here he lets his tugline slack to check out Jeff. He makes it on most teams that go out because he never runs out of steam. If we leave him, he screams to go.

Allen finishes second in Copper Basin, by only 7 minutes

Allen picked up 22 minutes following Jeff King , but finished 7 minutes behind Jeff for 2nd place in the Copper Basin. He ran a really great race, wow.
Temps in Glenallen were minus 39 as he rolled through there enroute to the last 24 miles. Think about that on a rolling dog sled. They're amazing dog drivers, both of them.

Copper Basin finish will be exciting

Jeff King left Glenallen 2 minutes before Allen Moore. Jeff had traveled with ten dogs at. 5mph slower than Allen, but reached Glenallen first. Allen made up 22 minutes on that run.. Jeff went out with 10 dogs, Allen went out with 12 dogs just 2 minutes after Jeff. Temp in Glenallen is minus 39 degrees right now. They are enroute 24 miles to Tolsona finish.

Race Watching

Just a note about watching the Copper Basin ... check the rest hours column each time you check the position of the racers. Sometimes you have to scroll back to see how much rest a musher has, since they can't post it as fast as they post who is into a checkpoint. Go Allen,Aliy, Bridgett in the CB300. Sorry to see that Karen scratched.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Running the Grade

The grade was nicely groomed this morning, early, so in spite of our 'never run grade on a weekend', we took Ashley's 6 dog race team to Florence and back. (6 miles). Only minor hitch was coming out the gate, when a snowmo touring family stopped, interested in the dogs, as a car was coming and we were trying to get off the road onto the grade. Ashley handled that well and the rest of the run was easy. Where were those dire windchills you all told me about?

Photo Reviews

We like to review photos of runs to see how the dogs are paired, the gaits, who is pulling or not, etc. We don't get photos of all runs, but here are a few more from yesterday. We didn't get the 8 dog yesterday, it was Yeti's first run of the year in wheel, it would have been fun to have video of that. He does need some more running.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Busy Day Here and Watching Aliy, Allen and Bridgett

Whew, we started at about 8 AM and just finished now. Ashley, Dr. Pauline, our veterinarian and I put together different combos of teams so Ashley could try some dogs she hadn't tried . She also tried some new trail and taking some different turns. The dogs respond to her so well. All dogs got great attention.

In the end we also got all the pens cleaned, thanks Pauline, the gate repaired, thanks Pauline and gates chopped... wow, what a great day. It takes a village to run a dog team.
Ashley ran all four teams (8, 6, 6 and 5) and most of the handling. All coming together here.

Dogs run: Buffy, Eos, Zeus, Frita, Yepa, Yuki, Swix, Herman, Medio, Rosie, Kiddo,
Zoom, Sherpa, Copper, Quattro, Matilda, Yeti and Ruthie. Per Ashley, today's A Team is: Buffy, Eos, Medio, Matilda, Kiddo and Tsunami (not run today, resting). Yes, Zeus is not on it, he's been stressing Medio... we're working on it.

And, just checking in the Copper Basin 300: Allen was in 2nd into and out of Tolsona, Aliy not too far behind and Bridgett right up there, too. (I'm not looking at or would have it a bit more precise. ) Allen was traveling at 12.4mph, I do know that.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Amy and Ken, Where are you?

If you're out there, Ken and Amy, send your email to my new computer, please, or here to the blog. Watching the CB300 , hopefully along with you!

Hauling, a big part of kennel life


Once again we were hauling supplies yesterday. We picked up Eagle Power Pack dog food (forty pound bags), bales of straw and 50's of corn at Ray's Feed (30 miles?), then supplies at the grocery store. Once home it requires that we load each of those items on the sled and haul each to storage places (in winter we don't park near the house in order to save our trails). After that we hauled pails of soup to each of the dogs.

Then again, we hauled straw to houses for more protection from the windchills cranking down last night.

We also haul dog waste each day to our pit. And always we haul some feed to the deer and birds. And we haul gasoline for the machines.

Hauling is a big part of life out here. The neat part of it is that is mostly outside and always the dogs join in with cheers as we go about the routines.
Groups of them come out to go along on the various hauls. Right now our hauling trails are packed tight from grooming and hauling, making it much easier.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Mexico Dog Sledding Pal, Eunice

Eunice from New Mexico and I took a camping trip in frigid temps with Aliy and sister, Kaz, just as I had turned sixty and Eunice 65. We've remained good friends since then. She surprised me with a call yesterday. She's off to a bow hunting adventure, but we discussed Aliy's kennel's race and which dogs we sponsor, etc.
So from distant places, Aliy, Allen, Bridgett, we're watching! Go Bullet! (Love, Frita) And Nutmeg, and Moonpie, and all SPK dogs.
(See profile photo below for photo for the Frigid Four post camping trip).

Copper Basin 300 this weekend

Aliy Zirkle's kennel, Skunk's Place, will have three teams in the Copper Basin 300 this weekend. Allen will run the main team and is a three time champion of this very challenging race. See above for Aliy/Allen blog for updates on the race.
Aliy will run a team of young ones to give them race training/readiness for future Iditarod. Bridgett will run with our favorite Bullet in lead and a great team of veterans. Even with 3 wins, this race will be challenging for Allen, especially because this year they are running it backward. He comments that his sprint training/racing is a factor in his success in this complex and fast race. for uptodate coverage on this weekend's race. We'll be following it online all weekend.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Veterinarian Visit

It's always nice to have our kennel veterinarian, Dr. Pauline Schroeder, pay us a visit. Today we vaccinated all the racing dogs and their alternates, with their regular vaccine boosters and their bordetella. Exception: Tsunami was sidelined for vaccination because of his somewhat elevated temp and some digestive problems. He's on Flagyl , hoping to calm his digestive tract.

Dogs vaccinated were : Eos, Zeus, Buffy, Medio, Herman (alternate), Matilda (alternate), Kiddo, Quattro (alternate), Ruthie (alternate).

Buddy will go in for an office visit for his swollen wrist and Lillen will go with him for some blood work. Skinny's eye is progressing nicely, looks good, per Dr. Pauline. King and Balto will be started on a form of prednisone for their allergy problems.

Tim groomed our trails exceptionally well, including the trail out the gate to hit the grade either into Florence (6 mile round trip) or into Michigan (8 mile round trip). Not sure when we'll get out the gate... lots of snowmachine traffic out there.


New Race

Added to our blog listing is the site for the new Copper Dog 150 (and 30) to be held in March in the Copper Country. Beginning in Calumet, MI (just north of Houghton) this race will cover great terrain and hopefully their great lake effect snow will be plentiful for a successful race. Probably some good hill climbs up around Copper Harbor. We don't know all the details yet, but the promo suggests that varied types of teams... speed, distance, stage , with their varying strategies will have a chance to be successful in it. More later as we learn about it. Signups have started and the list of interested mushers shows good promise.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Quiet Day

We had a quiet work day , all the dogs resting after their active week of running.
We cleaned pens, chopped gates, fed some extra fluids, let most dogs free run, hauled straw, and mostly just had an ordinary day.
Today we'll pick up our repaired Skandic and hopefully groom some trails. We can use some more snow now, as pens are icy.
Our veterinarian comes tomorrow for updates on bordetella for potential racers and some other vaccine updates and quick check on some of the dogs (Skinny, Buddy, King, Lillen, Balto)with some health issues.

Photo: 13 year old Sierra catching a nap . She keeps us all on schedule.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Celebrating with Dogs

Ashley ran her 8 and her 6 today and then Julia and Anna came to visit. The dogs loved every bit of it all. It wasn't quite as cold today, but Lillen was a house dog over night last night, maybe again tonight. We'll really miss Ashley now as it's back to school tomorrow. Will do our best to keep the dogs' spirits up and their bellies full. No new photos today because I was too busy chasing those FAST teams!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Team Ashley at Ten Below

Eight a.m. and Ashley was out in minus ten hooking up eight and taking off. This young gal has the spirit for this sport.
Team photo courtesy of Ashley's dad as he waited in cold to catch a glimpse of the flying team. Other photo is her Dad helping her to hook up .


Friday, January 1, 2010