Friday, December 28, 2012

On the trails again!

We had a very busy day with a total of nineteen visitors.  Handlers today were Tanner and Jimmy, thank you, guys!!
Our first group of drivers drove four hours to get here.  Three of them drove sleds, Linda, Liz and Ben, doing very very well.
Josefina, age five, took her first turn at driving Grandma Julie's dogs, with Eos pulling her very well.  Fina did a great job!
Jennifer Loomis brought a group of skiiers to meet Navy and we hope to schedule them soon to run dogs.
Julia, Nita and Anna capped off the day bringing homemade peanut butter and fantastic cookies.

Thanks to everyone who made this a great day.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


Today we'll groom the trails, very gently, as there is just enough snow for some sled runs, short ones.
There is more than in this photo, but not much.   We have two out of town sled drivers this weekend so we'll do the best we can.  More snow dancing, please.  The dogs are more than ready to run.

Friday, December 21, 2012


While we wouldn't plan a major storm and Christmas preps coinciding, we are happy to have snow cover on the ground.   It was a heavy, wet (high maintenance) snow, but we did manage to get to each pen, fix the gates so we could get in again and the dogs had high spirited free runs, like kids out of school.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

December Rains

Sounds like a song, December rains.   The dogs are singing to run.   Photo is last year at this time.
Today we will have rain all day long and we guess that will do in our base, but looks like snow next week.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Copper's Job

Copper has excellent sled dog blood lines and is a veteran of Iditarod (2006).   He came to us as a retiree from Alaska via Utah.  He has a thyroid problem and is medicated for it.  In his heart he is a lead dog, but also , from his breeding way back possibly, he is a herder.  He has appointed himself the kennel herder/guardian/big boss.  He lives in the house, but prefers the porch where he can survey everything.  At night he sleeps next to my bed.  He knows the schedule and keeps us to it.

Yesterday he proved himself beyond expectations.   Lillen, our 16 year old retired leader, who is
deaf and partially blind, slipped her lead on her morning walk.   She looked back at me as if to say,
wow, I'm free.   She took off, as the gee haw command leader that she is, and did not stop.  The 'trail' took her out the driveway and headed for the highway.  No time for me to grab the ATV.  She may be retired but she's a lead sled dog and she was running to WIN.  I must have been the 'team' she was racing.  16 years old and she was winning the race.

Once I sat down so she wouldn't think I was chasing her (if she could even see me). No matter, she kept on rolling; she was on a trail!  I was so afraid in her semiconfused mind that she'd hit the highway toward which she was headed.  I YELLED " Copper, come!" (he had been on his porch bed through the trees and up the hill, not in view).  Next ,I saw his mighty chest came barreling down the driveway, you could almost see his Superman cape.  He was looking at me like, "What can I do?"  He saw Lillen, poured on the steam (maybe he was in race mode, too?),hurtled toward her and gently (as he has learned every morning) headed her off and turned her around.   It was a miracle. I was so afraid for Lillen and I can't run like a sled dog.  But he did and he saved Lillen's life. 

So I'm giving him the highest praise  doing what he does so well, taking care of all of us.  He can still run on sleds, but his guardian job is so important to us.  Every kennel needs a guardian/herder and he is ours.  Thank you, Copper!  Lillen is none the worse for her adventure, probably very happy to have had such a nice run.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Making Spirits Bright and Dressing Right with Dogs

It seems like EVERYone wants to go dog sledding.   Is it the Christmas spirit or what that is bringing a request a day and more to our door?  We are happy for the interest in our favorite sport, so keep the requests coming.

Your spirit WILL be brightened when you take a fast and fun ride with our dogs.   You'll be most happy if you're dressed right, too.  Temps can range from ten below to thirty above zero when we're running, so it's important to layer.   Wear a wicking layer next to your skin (anything but cotton, no cotton), wear a layer of wool or fleece over your base, and wear an insulated jacket.  My preference is a pullover parka but any type of winter jacket works for short runs.  On your legs, wear a base layer of wicking underwear covered by insulated or shell water resistant pants.  On your feet , just one pair of wool socks will be plenty.  Hands are sometimes the hardest part to keep warm... we prefer layering with thin fleece gloves (for ease of hooking up dogs) and an over layer of warmer gloves or mittens.  On our head, we like balaclavas as a base layer and a warm hat covering it.   On very cold days we wear a beaver hat as the top layer.  Neck warmers are especially nice as you can turn them around if they get frosted.  If you have a parka with a fur or faux fur rim, that works nicely for wind blockage on colder days.   Down jackets are warm but can be almost too warm, so layer according to the temperature and wind chill.  On your feet, over your warm socks, wear a pair of reliable boots .  You'll want to be able to jump off the sled to run part way up the hills and you'll want your boot toes to not be so thick that they stick in the sled brake.  We like traditional Sorels or also Steger mukluks. 
We keep a supply of hand and foot warmers available as well.   Looking forward to our upcoming guests this winter.

Friday, December 7, 2012


Four to six inches of snow coming on Sunday!  We need it. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sad, but moving along. A new race, The Iron Line.

Missing Apache's great heart, but moving along here with winter activity. 

Uh, I thought this was winter, but it's in the high 40's and foggy and raining... almost all snow has gone, except a few patches.  So we have to start over with a base.

There is a new race coming in January, a two day in Iron River, MI... The Iron Line.   10 dogs, 20 miles, 2 days, pro class;   sport class, 6 dogs, 10 miles, 2 days.   I did ask them if they'd consider a sport class one day.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Apache, 2000 -2012.
A truer, more loyal friend could not be found.   We enjoyed being Grandma to him all of his years.
He entertained us, protected us, played ball with us, accompanied us on walks in all kinds of weather.
He guarded our granddaughter and her family and took his role very seriously.  Never did a dog
do everything as fully as did Apache.
We loved him very much and miss him so much.   On by, Apache, Godspeed!  We love you!

Fog, Rain, Meltdown but we ran

Team One:  Leaders, Buffy, Ruthie;  Swing, Eos, Navy, Wheel, Kiddo.

Team Two:   Leaders, Buffy, Ruthie; Swing,  Rosie, Yuki: Wheel, Herman, Matilda.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Summer Place Dogs

Our dogs are very special to us.  Our current kennel listing is as follows:

Matilda, age 9, runs lead and team

Rosie, age 9, fastest dog in the kennel, runs lead and team

Lillen, matriarch, retired, age 16, fantastic gee haw leader.

Yuki, team, sweetest and shy, age 9, a deep snow, pull you out of anything dog.

Swix, a classic looking sled dog, age 9, runs strong wheel.

Herman, tough and strong, and sweet, wheel or team, age 9.

Buffy, gee haw command leader, age 9, fast.

Tsunami, age 9, a sleeper, very strong, happy wheel dog.

Yeti, age 9, very strong wheel dog, a bit shy.

Kiddo, says she's retiring, but she gets pretty excited when we hook her up, so team or wheel, age 9.

Zoom, an unlikely looking sled dog, but runs fast and happy, team, age 9.

Sherpa, age seven, has really become a great team dog, steady, honest, strong.  Can run lead.

Ruthie, gee haw command leader, fast, head down , let's DO it, leader, age 11.

Buddy, age 14 1/2, retiree from Alaskan racing and UP 200.

Ruby, fast and footloose, happy happy dog, age 11.

Yo, doesn't want to be a sled dog, but a sweet and happy BIG boy! age 9.

Navy, wow, what a grand gee haw leader, new to our kennel from Alaska and loving him, STRONG.  Age 10.5

Eos, superb gee haw command leader, committed, has been to Nome, age 13.

Copper, veteran Iditarod 06, strong, burly, can run any position, age 9, a bit headstrong, happy house dog, thyroid issues so he only runs if he wants to.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Summer Place Kennel Dogs invite you to January race onsite.

We have an interesting lineup this year . Of course, we are an aging kennel, but these 'retirees' are going strong and will be eager participants in our January month long kennel races.

We are printing out the rules for the race.  The basics are:   Racers choose four or six dogs;
we select the pool of available dogs and each team must have one leader, one lesser experienced dog and two team dogs, placed in whatever positions the musher chooses.  Four dog teams race four dogs, six race six.  We will not adjust for weight, but the race marshall (Julie) determines who can run and which size team each musher will drive.
The course is spelled out and will be 'signed', but for insiders who know our trails, takeoff (timer starts) is at the picket line, heading out into the bar trail, up into the loop and  back down around ,going haw at the lilacs and heading for home. (timer stops)

Each team is allowed two attempts, if desired, different days, different dogs are fine.

Mandatory gear includes helmet, hook, sled bag and safe snow. Safety first, for people, for dogs.

Each musher should bring an extra working handler with them .  Each musher will unharness and
soup his/her great dogs.

Entry fee is $20 cash or two hours kennel work (harnessing, unharnessing, scooping, souping,
cleaning up gear, etc.)  We will have an awards ceremony in late January with prizes.

Friday, November 23, 2012


From 57 degrees on Thanksgiving Day to a windy, snow all day day, today.   The accumulation has not been
heavy but we do have snow.  We were fortunate to have Jimmy helping today, home from Madison for the holiday.   He filled holes, hauled straw to each house and gave every dog warm soup in the afternoon.
He also hauled dog food and deer feed.
My family is visiting so we've had a busy few days! 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Summer Place , new Handy "Man" , Katie

Katie is a professional photographer who will be relocating in the Spring. For now we are fortunate
to have her nearby , not only with her photographic eye and skills, but with her knowledge and abilities with handling sled dogs.   Recently we asked her if she would be our new handy 'man' .   All rolled into one,  Katie is as skilled as anyone on a sled, in the various tasks involved in handling these great dogs, and, first and foremost, as a sports photographer.  She is a racer , at heart, and if the chance arises this winter, watch for Katie ! Wow, Katie, thanks for joining us!

Photo:   Center, Katie, right, Kelsey, background, Julie, readying dogs for a run.

Friday, November 16, 2012

8 Dog Team photos

Karen Klenke, photographer, visited us with Bobbi Samme, Florence Mining News and we ran an 8 dog team for them to view.

These are some of Karen's great photos.  Thank you, Karen!

Photos courtesy Karen Klenke,  top to bottom:

Navy, awaiting his turn.
Jim and Katie harnessing Herman.
Eight dog takeoff:  Ruthie, Buffy, Navy, Eos, Rosie, Kiddo, Herman, Sherpa
Eight dogs returning.
Katie, Rosie, Kiddo, Julie, Jim

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Races coming

The Alaska Dispatch,  has an article on the upcoming Alaskan races to watch.   Aliy Zirkle
and Allen Moore will begin their exciting to watch race season on December 15th.

The Wisconsin Trailblazers sprint organization has published their sprint schedule on their site. The Land O Lakes race is the weekend of February 11-12.

The UP 200/Midnight Run/Jackpine 30 are the weekend of February 14th.  See:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Why Orange?

It is the orange time of the year.... rifle deer hunting season.  The dogs wear orange ribbons, *see their collars*...  the trees wear NO HUNTING signs, and the dogs get restless from shortened exercises.   We don't let them run free when the risk of hunters is around.   Some of them are a bit shy of guns , so it is a long week for them.   Michigan's season opens tomorrow (one mile away) and Wisconsin opens on Saturday.

Photo:  Ruthie, Herman, Buffy, Sherpa, Navy, (white Yeti in background) and Katie await three more dogs for an 8 dog run.   Missing from photo:  Rosie, Kiddo and Eos.

More Frita

In the top photo Frita is in lead with Skinny, both from Aliy's kennel and such topnotch leaders.
Julia was driving this team and I believe was the year they placed third out of 30? not sure.  

Second photo shows them about to receive their soup after the 30 mile run, Frita, Skinny and Quattro.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Frita, sweetest of all, Frita, rest in peace.

Beautiful, tough headed, gentle, smartest lead dog, sweetest dog, Frita,  has been a joy to know for
the years she has been with us.  Everyone who has run with her in lead wanted her again. She raced and won/placed in several short races here.  She injured a leg along the way and retired from running, but she was the matriarch and firm guide/teacher of her pups.
As tough as they come, to look at her you wouldn't know it.  She had a gorgeous coat and a sweet smile, literally beaming, when she was happy.
Thank you to Aliy Zirkle for sharing this beautiful dog with us in her retirement from Alaska.  Frita's daughter, Bullet, has been a mainstay leader for Aliy for numerous years, she , herself, now retired
at Aliy's.
Our hearts are heavy as we say Rest in Peace to dearest Frita.   She had multiple health issues and had begun having seizures.  She emphatically did not want to be cared for in the house.   To the end she wanted to be with her pups (who are now nine).  She taught us so much.  It's hard to say enough to pay tribute to such a wonderful dog, but 'thank you' is the main tribute.  Thank you, dearest Frita.

Her pups are:  Yo, Yuki, Swix, Yeti, Tsunami and Zoom .  Two pups,Yuri and Yepa predeceased her.   Martin, another great dog from Aliy, was their father.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Visitors today. The Florence Mining News, Bobbie Samme and Karen Klenke.   The dogs were excited to run and did well , although it was a bit warm.

Photos:  Most by photographer, Katie Richard, with kennel camera.  Thanks, Katie!

Top:  Bobbie and Zoom 
2.   Jim and Katie harnessing dogs.
3.  The team runs ahead while Bobbie and Julie talk dogs.
4.  Fantastic eight dog team...  see the photo of the lineup chart.
5.  Navy, Buffy and Jim
6.  Lineup chart for today.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Navy is a great dog!   It's sometimes touchy when we introduce a new one to the kennel, but he was such a treat, wagging his tail, happy to see each dog he met.  Copper and Buddy, both males, met him outside this morning and just took him in stride, all three of them going on a trail walk together as if they had done it every day.   Maybe a bit of a sidelong glance  but not much more.

To give him a look at the trails we hooked up two leaders, Buffy and Ruthie, with him and took a short run.
We like to show new dogs that we do know how to do the things they're used to doing, e.g. running in teams, etc.  He had a ball on the trail, seemed to like the new exploring around each curve.

Right now he's sharing a pen with his Auntie Eos and she is teaching him the rules.   He may stay there or may not, we'll see how it goes for him.   On Thursday we'll hook up a bigger team and take a stroll further out on the trails (slow and easy for those who haven't run yet).