Sunday, March 24, 2013

Beautiful Buddy

Buddy, a beautiful, dignified, strong minded, tough, gentle, quiet dog crossed the rainbow bridge yesterday at age 16.
He had been failing in health for quite some time, but up until yesterday he was out and about with us each day, guiding us in our daily chores.
Buddy came to us as a rescue in 2004.  He had come from Alaska with a UP 200 musher and had been placed in a U.P. home, hopefully to run as a retiree.   But it didn't work out and we were asked to take him, which we gladly did.
Buddy was bred by Raymie Redington and his pedigree is very nice.  He goes back to a line that we also had in Liller and is now in our youngest, Sherpa.  At times he would look, to me, as if he had some Great Dane in him... the prominent ears, the set of his jaw, the quiet but strong/gentle personality, perhaps some
Harlequin markings. It is hard to capture his brilliant blue eyes in a photo, but they were striking.
He did run in teams with us and was SO proud when we hooked him up in his early years with us.  But his aging bones/structure caused us to retire him from running.   His main job was to live with and be a companion to Ruthie.  He took it seriously and every morning presents himself to herd her when she free runs.  Ruthie will miss him very much.  I will miss him very much.
Buddy is a great example of why it is so rewarding to take a dog needing rescue.  Although he came to us with mange and infected teeth, the excellent medical care he received from IMAH put him on the road to an
active life for another 9 years!  Wow, yea, Buddy!   Godspeed, dearest friend.

Photos:    Buddy
               Buddy with Copper, waiting to assist with morning feeding.
               Buddy awaiting Ruthie's free run.
               Buddy in his pretty red coat.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Kind of fun!

Images of Riverboat Discovery Tours - Attraction Pictures
This photo of Riverboat Discovery Tours is courtesy of TripAdvisor

I don't know if this photo will post but will try.  We love to find photos of our retired dogs in their former lives.   Here is one with Navy in it, can you find him?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Kennel Race Complete, All Winners

We had a great time in February and March, choosing teams, hooking up dogs, teaching beginners to drive sleds and some of the beginners participating in the kennel race.   BTW, we got the idea for a kennel race while reading Aliy Zirkle's blog... they had a full out race with their handlers and mushers.  We're a bit more limited here, but with 17 dogs and 9 participants we had a nice little race, giving good experience to everyone.   Our main goal was to keep it fun and safe and to give the dogs more running time.  The dogs were very enthusiastic and happy to be doing it.  The winning dogs were:  Navy, Ruthie, Rosie, Eos,
Buffy, Kiddo, Yuki, Herman and Sherpa.  Yea, good dogs!


Best overall time for 4 and 6 dogs teams:  Tie :  Tanner Johnson and David Loomis, 6:41

6 dog times:
Tanner Johnson:  7:35; do over, 6:41
Katie Richard, 9:00

4 dog times:
David Loomis, 6:41
Shanna Cade, 6:55
Mary Lee Riddle,  7:17
Adam Loomis (3 dogs), 8:22

1 dog, child under six
Josefina Cade (!)

2 dog, youth over six
Cole Sweig,  3:59
Ethan Sweig, 4:57

Congratulations to all participants.  Thanks for joining our kennel race.  Thanks to Tim Cade for grooming
and regrooming the trails so they'd be race ready.  Prizes will be distributed soon.  Every participant receives a bandanna as shown below.  Copper, Iditarod, 2006, models the race bandanna with Tanner Johnson.  Tanner and David Loomis tied for best time overall, 4 and 6 dogs.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Cheers to Aliy Zirkle and Allen Moore, Iditarod 2013

What a tremendous race was run by Aliy Zirkle and her red team of SPKennel dogs, and Allen Moore's black team, with the younger SPK Dogs.   It is a pleasure and privilege to be able to follow their kennel's success.   We are in awe of their dedication, professionalism, especially their great dog care and their continued energy to make SPKennel the premier sled dog kennel in the dog world today.  Cheers from our kennel in Wisconsin.

We took this photo in McGrath in 2001, Iditarod.   Ray Redington, Jr.'s team is in front,
his white leader , Tommy, sleeping .  Behind is Aliy's team, that at the time had a bad
case of kennel cough.   Doug, her father, is standing behind the team.  Our small travel group
somewhat adopted these two teams as we watched the Iditarod unfold.  Adopt in the sense that
while we couldn't help we could observe and care about these dogs.   I can see Martin in this photo, who Aliy later brought to us to live out his life.   He even raced in the Jackpine 30 with Julia one year and took us so competently on many safe runs; strong, muscular, so competent Martin.  Martin
then fathered pups with Aliy's dog, Frita, who also came to retire here.  Their pups that are still with us are:  Yo, Yuki, Swix, Yeti and Zoom, all sweet, tough, smart dogs.  We appreciate so much this

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Avidly Following Iditarod

While the temperature is in the thirties with bright sun, blue sky, here in Wisconsin, and our dogs are sunbathing, wishing for sunglasses, we can't help but wonder how the seriously working Iditarod sled dogs are doing today in Alaska.  They are expecting up to 50 degrees on some parts of the trail today.  And I don't know how the predicted high winds have factored in the race, but we'll find out soon enough.

Aliy is looking very good in what I see to be the top three going into Iditarod checkpoint.   The first four in have had very long journeys... 13, 14, even 16 hours, so that can mean they camped or the snow is so punchy from heat that they trudged, or probably combos of various things in the inclement race weather.  There are two in that mix who haven't finished their 24's as she has, so I think she is seated at 2 or 3 right now.

It's a race and it still has 700 miles or so, so we'll settle in and obsess a bit about it.

Photo from a camping trip with Aliy, sister, Kaz, Julie and Eunice.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The dogs are the teachers

Yesterday we had the opportunity to again watch our dogs in action, teaching beginners about sled driving.

We go over the basics of sled control, safety routines,  various bits of informational info about driving a sled and being with sled dogs.   The trails are groomed ahead of time.  The dogs are selected for their ability to require minimal handling by inexperienced drivers.  We very seldom start beginners with more than 4 dogs,
usually 3 or 4, infrequently 5.

The chosen teachers yesterday were Ruthie, age 11, lead;  Buffy, age 11, lead/wheel;  Herman, age 9, wheel;
Zoom, age 9, team/wheel;  Kiddo, age 11, wheel; Navy, age 10.5, lead; Sherpa, age 9, lead/wheel; Yuki, age 9, wheel.  With our kennel of aging dogs our depth of field is shorter now.  Some of the dogs ran with 4 teams yesterday.  Only two of those dogs have not had race experience , either with us or elsewhere.  In their hearts they ARE racing, so sled control is important.

With beginners we also don't do much with commands, although we do tell them Gee./Haw/On By/ No and
Whoa!   It is our experience that the pace is so quick at takeoff that the most important thing is sled control and we focus on how to do that.  The dogs know our trails so well that they'll be pretty much 'push button' to go the usual route. The driver's job is to keep the sled under control for their own safety and desired speed.  We ask them to not let them run full out.  Yesterday we wanted to take a fresh trail so I led the teams on the Skandic, giving the commands and they took the turns as the pros they are.   I can stay far enough ahead to stay out of their way, but I can also slow down to keep the dogs slower.

The beginners also learn the basics of handling dogs:  bringing them to the picket line, harnessing enthusiastic dogs who are wild to run (watch your teeth and eyes);  leading them to the gangline and hooking them up;
releasing the quick release;  jumping on a machine to follow and be ready to assist a team with a problem.

Photos later.