Friday, April 25, 2008

Short Summer?

Well, I THOUGHT that spring was here. As I sit in my chair at work and gaze out the window at the parking lot, I see huge, heavy snowflakes falling. Unbelieveable -- it's April 25 and it is snowing. Looks almost like someone is using one of those foam bubble machines and is blowing the mess everywhere. I'm not kidding you, these flakes are ginormous.



Last night I took File' for a walk. We did almost 2 miles and she was still rearing to go when we finished. In fact, she was virtually dragging me down the road. I think it's time to get her a mini harness and let her pull to her hearts' content...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bye-bye, ovaries

Well, a few weeks ago I half-heartedly convinced myself to get off the fence about what I wanted to do with my kennel.  Seems like there's been a lot going on in my life lately and I figured I needed to get at least one thing straightened out.  Did I want to keep any of my dogs intact for breeding purposes, knowing that Matt has his mind on racing in the next year or two?  Or did I not want to bother with the hassle of monitoring interactions between the sexes.


I decided on the latter.

Clover came into heat about a week ago, and luckily I had already made her spay appointment at the Anchorage SPCA.  It was for today, for the low (really, truly low for AK) price of $80.  Scheduling her spay was a tough phone call for me to make, since I bought Clover in November with the intent of breeding her in the next few years.  She has already whelped two litters of pups that Ed (Iten) is using in his race team.  She's been to Nome twice.  She has a happy-go-lucky attitude, she's built like a tank, and she can go for miles.  But, I decided after witnessing the DeeDee/Zed litter, I'm too busy to raise puppies.  I don't have the space for them or the time.  The old girl would be better off without those female reproductive organs anymore, so she can run loose in the yard and forget all about what heat pens are for.  Next will be File' (in a few months) and Zinger (Clover's half-sister, who doesn't live here yet).  And possibly Zak, her half-brother...but we'll see.  Maybe we can leave those man-parts alone :)

Soooo, yesterday Clover had her first bath EVER in her life (see the photo in the post below) and she handled it like a champ.  No worries, she wasn't nervous.  She was confused but she trusts us.  Bath, nail clipping, spray with gardenia scented body spray (that was mine)...she was ready for her 10-day recovery period in the house with us.  Matt said that the lady at the SPCA this morning commented on her being the cleanest sled dog she'd ever seen.  She said they are usually "scratch and sniff."  EW!  

She's recuperating in the dog room right now.  Poor Clo.  But she'll be happier in the end -- and so will I!

Sunset from Skyline Drive in Eagle River


Cass, the happy dog, soaking up the sun


Clover doesn't mind her first bath ever


Zed smiles during an afternoon jog with me


File' naps in the sun

Monday, April 21, 2008

Spring is Here

So, I'm sure you'll notice that I changed the blog background and layout. I hope it's a pleasant change (if anyone has any objections due to readability, etc. please let me know...) I changed things around because it looks like spring is FINALLY here in Chugiak and the blue and snow background needed to go!! No, all of the snow has not melted, there's still plenty of it everywhere I look, but the Mat-Su Valley is gloriously snow-free! In fact, today at lunch I took a nap in my warm, sunlit car. Gosh, talk about good sleepin'...

Happy Spring!!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Observation

There's nothing quite like climbing all the way into a dogloo in your pajamas (in 22 degree weather) to retrieve a dog bowl to get your morning started out right...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Payback is hell

All this time I have been a real stickler for having clean dogs (at least house dogs, anyway.) Most of my guys gave up resisting long ago and Guy even climbs right into the bathtub when I tell him to. With the addition of File', though, things have been a little bit more difficult. She spends a pretty extensive amount of time in the yard with the sled dogs, but she's been sleeping inside every night and accompanying me to work each day. Sometimes she smells downright raunchy from playing in the dirty melt-water outside so she occasionally gets a bath, much to her chagrin. I tell her to suck it up, that it doesn't hurt, and to deal with it, no matter how many protests she throws my way.

On what would seemingly be an unrelated note (but I think there's a karmic connection) one of my favorite indulgences is to take a long, steaming bath at night before heading to bed. This morning I woke up at the normal time, 6 AM, after very little sleep. I've been having trouble sleeping at night for some unknown reason, but I just haul myself out of bed anyway and go about my business. Today it was especially difficult because I had to work at the office until about 2:30 and then head over to the Mat-Su Home Builders' Home Show at the Wasilla Sports Complex, where we had a booth set up. I was scheduled to man the booth alone from 3 - 8 PM tonight and since I'm not really a "people person", by the time I got home this evening, I was more than exhausted. Dragging is really more in line with the way I felt (and still feel!)

I stumbled into the bathroom and turned on the faucets, adjusting them to give me the perfect almost-scalding-hot temperature that I crave for my evening baths. As I glanced up at the nearby shelf, I realized that I had an unused container of Burt's Bees bath salts just calling my name. "Put me in the water!! I smell good!!" it called, and what could I do but oblige? I popped open the lid and poured in a heaping helping of bath salts that smelled faintly medicinal but definitely all-natural. Mmm, I couldn't wait to settle into the tub, I thought as I gingerly tested the water with my big toe. It was the perfect temperature and I'd definitely be able to relax and read for quite a while. Or so I thought.

As I reclined into the delectable warmth that was my salted bath water, I noticed a slight tingling sensation at the backs of my legs. Ooh, invigorating! I thought. But then the tingling started to migrate to the front of my legs...and turn into a burning sensation. Hmmm...burning? I'm not too sure I'm into that. Then suddenly....OH. MY. GOD. I am on fire!!! What is going on?? It felt like swarms of bees were attacking me all over, but how could there possibly be bees in my bath water? No, there were no bees, I was definitely having an allergic reaction to my delicious bath salts. In a matter of seconds I had leapt from the water and was cursing like an (Irish!) sailor as I yanked the drain from the tub and turned the faucets on full blast yet again. Where was the soap???? I had to get this stuff off of me, and pronto! Thank goodness the body wash was in within easy reach and within seconds I had mostly scrubbed away the offending organic skin treatment.

So, after I emerged from the shower disappointed and decidedly out of hot water (no more bath for me tonight!) I got to wondering -- was karma paying me back for all of the bathing that I do to the dogs? Did File' have something to do with this? And more importantly, does anyone want a free container of Burts Bees Bath Salts?????

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

If I had 1,000,000 Dollars (the Musher's Version)

Due to the recent acquisition of a particular CD (yes, I know, I'm long overdue for buying BNL) I've finally gotten to listen to one of my favorite cute and silly songs of all-time -- "If I had 1,000,000 Dollars". Because I'm a musher, and perhaps also because I don't have a whole lot going on at work right now, I rewrote the lyrics to become the "If I had 1,000,000 Dollars (the Musher's Version)". Strange, I know, but entertaining to me at least, even if nobody else likes it :)

So, here goes!

If I had $1000000 (if I had $1000000)
I’d buy you a house (I would buy you a house)
If I had $1000000 (if I had $1000000)
I'd buy you furniture for your house
(maybe a nice couch for the dogs)
If I had $1000000 (if I had $1000000)
I'd buy you a dog truck (a nice reliant automobile)
If I had $1000000 Id buy your love.

If I had $1000000 Id build a dog lot in our yard.
If I had $1000000 you could help, it wouldn’t be that hard.
If I had $1000000 maybe we could put a storage shed in there.
[wouldn’t that be fabulous]

If I had $1000000 (if I had $1000000)
I'd buy you a fur ruff (but not a real fur ruff that’s cruel)
If I had $1000000 (if I had $1000000)
I'd buy you an exotic pet (like a wolf or a wolverine)
If I had $1000000 (if I had $1000000)
Id buy you Sam McGee’s remains (all them crazy burnt-up bones)
If I had $1000000 Id buy your love

If I had $1000000 we wouldn’t have to walk to the store
If I had $1000000 we’d take the dog truck ‘cause it costs more
If I had $1000000 we wouldn’t have to eat moose for dinner.
(but we would!)(Of course we would, we'd just eat more of it.)

If I had $1000000 (if I had $1000000)
Id buy you a green parka (but not a real green parka, that’s cruel)
If I had $1000000 (if I had $1000000)
Id buy you some art (a van Zyle or a Garfunkel)
If I had $1000000 (if I had $1000000)
Id buy you a jackelope (haven’t you always wanted a jackelope? !)
If I had $1000000 Id buy your love

If I had $1000000, if I had $1000000
If I had $1000000, if I had $1000000
I still wouldn't be rich ('cause I'm a musher!)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

So Stoked


Well, the plans have been laid and we'll see what pans out. I am very, very excited to say that I will be going to Tennessee at the beginning of May!!! Not only do I get to visit my GORGEOUS sister-in-law at her newest locale, but I also get to spend some time with one of my best friends ever, Katrina. Matt is flying south for a training class in Orlando, but we'll be flying into Johnson City, TN first to spend a little time with Rachel. Matt will head out for his class and I'll stick around for a day or so, then head west to Nashvegas. Later in the week we'll meet up again near Kingsport and spend a little more time together. I'm sure we'll hike, bike, and do karaoke at the local hotspot (haha!)

Oh. My. Gosh. I am so excited!!!! This is my first time back to Nashville (my old stomping grounds) since the summer of 2006. Going to Katrina's is like going to summer camp, only better. It's like summer camp for adults!!! We can stay up late, watch movies, drink cocktails, sleep in, ride horses all day long, go to the river and wade and play with dogs, cook breakfast with freshly-laid eggs from her laying hens, make organic coffee with CHICORY (boy do I miss that), rough-house with her two boys, and get some manual labor in here and there, just for good measure and to be helpful. Do I even need to say that I love it in Eagleville??? There are so many new dogs that I have yet to meet, horses that I have to ride, and I need to get cozy in MY bed in MY room again.

I can't wait!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Who Let the Dog Drive???

Yesterday the weather was still cool and snowy, so I thought to myself that I'd better get back out to the trails for what might likely be my last run of the season. It turns out that everyone else had the same idea -- when I pulled into the parking lot, there must have been a dozen dog trucks there. Granted, that's not as crowded as it is on race day, but it's definitely more people than I like to share the trails with. When I picked my parking spot, I noticed that Bonnie and Jim were out with their dogs as well, and I parked beside them.

Hooking up quickly, I put Zed in single lead, Calvin and Balu in team and Indi and Clover in wheel. Irritatingly, Clover is now in full-fledged heat again. I noticed that she was bleeding while we were running. I thought I'd be able to dodge the bullet this time, since I have her scheduled to be spayed on April 22, but it looks as if she beat me to the punch and is going to get one last cycle in.

We decided to do the four mile trail since I imagined there'd be a good amount of traffic on the main trail sections. Amazingly, I didn't see anyone while I was out on the trail. That's really saying something, because we were going pretty slowly! I laughingly say that at any given moment in my dog team of five dogs, I probably have three dogs or maybe three and one-half dogs pulling. It's a given that Indi doesn't pull (he just runs and keeps up most of the time) and Calvin is pretty hit-or-miss because I think he's not in good physical condition. That means that Clover, Balu and Zed are doing more than their fair-share of work and we creep along at a crawl. Add to the mix that yesterday, Zed was visibly distracted by the fact that Clover is in season. He never tries to come back to visit her in team, but he stops to sniff everywhere and lifts his leg on any available vertical surface, including trees and branches while we are trying to move down the trail! I was a little annoyed at this but ended up just hopping off of the sled and running up the hills behind my team. Suffice it to say that I really cannot wait until next season, when I'll have three more adult dogs and File' to add to the mix. That should give a more pleasing amount of dog power.

As we finished our run and headed back to the parking lot, I tried to direct Zed to the truck when we emerged into the clearing. "Haw. Zed, HAW!" He wasn't having any of it. He headed straight for Rex Jones' truck and trailer and could not be dissuaded from going that direction. Oh my gosh, how embarrassing to have this multi-Quest, multi-Iditarod leader suddenly go deaf on me in front of twenty people!! Damn, dogs are so much like kids. I had to yell at Jim to please call Zed to come over towards my truck, and even then, he still didn't want to go that direction.

Everyone got some Yummy Chummies for post-run snacks and I stuck around for a little while to wait for Jim, who had taken four dogs on the two-mile, to get back in. While Bonnie and I were waiting, I noticed that my dogs in the car seemed to be making themselves pretty darn comfortable. In fact, Zed had settled in the passenger seat (which is his new favorite spot) and Calvin had assumed the driver's position. In fact, at one point, one of them even honked the horn! Bonnie snapped some photos of them with her camera (thanks, Bonnie!). The dogs are a little difficult to make out, since they had fogged all of the truck windows up. But it's still a pretty funny sight. Calvin is definitely smiling for the camera. Silly dog!

Well, I still don't know if that was the last run of the season or not. We seem to have gotten a little snow overnight, so who can tell. If we get another run in, you'll be the first to know.

Happy spring! :)




Sunday, April 13, 2008

One of the Perks of Living in Alaska

Gorgeous sunsets....as seen from my deck

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Night at the Track

I snuck a really pleasant, solitary run with the dogs in at the track tonight. There was absolutely nobody in the parking lot either when I arrived or when I finished up and left. I love these types of days when I have the trails all to myself! I don't have to worry about being passed (because I never am fast enough to actually pass anyone) or about dealing with anyone else's potentially ill-mannered dogs. I can take my time and stop when I please, take photos, and talk to the dogs. It's always a relaxing experience.

We started the run at a lope, since that's the pace we've been going at on our runs with Bryan, but after a mile or so, the dogs had clearly settled into a lower gear. They trotted the rest of the trail pretty slowly -- there was a lot of crust on the snow and it was pretty punchy. I can't say I blame them too much for dropping their speed back. I don't think I'd want to slog through that either!

I shot a video toward the beginning of our run. This one actually has sound :) It's nothing special, but if you've never been on (or in) a dog sled before, you'll be able to see what things look like from the tail end of things. Literally.

TGIF!!

The order of the dogs is: Zed (right) and Balu (left) in lead, Calvin in team, and Clover (right) and Indi (left) in wheel. Keep your eye on Clover -- she's my hard workin' girl!!
video

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Fila, Drunk Uncle, and File'


The insanity here continues. As I look outside at this particular minute, snow is falling like crazy and doesn't show and signs of letting up. I'm not sure how many inches we've accumulated so far, but it sure has made the dog trails nice to run! I weaseled my way into yet another run with Bryan and the Steer/Bundtzen dogs yesterday and had a blast! It's always fun to go out with company and with great dogs.

This afternoon I snapped a quick shot that I had been wanting to grab for a while -- my Fila and File'. Dixie (AKA The Drunk Uncle for the exact reason that she is in this shot -- she ends up in the background of every shot whether she's wanted or not) happened to be in this photo, too. Go figure.

The quality is not too good, but I think it's cute nonetheless!

Yes, there is a hole in the blanket on the couch. That's what happens when you have dogs...you put blankets on things so they get destroyed and the things don't. :)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Late Season Snow

Wouldn't you know it, even though we have had scanty snow most of the year, we just got a late season snow dump. Bryan kindly asked if I'd like to run my guys with some of the puppies. Of course I took him up on the offer -- I'm always game to watch other people and try to learn from them! I also got to drive (well I was FORCED to drive, actually!) the second 9-dog team with Curry in lead. Man, do I feel important!

Anyway, I didn't have the camera with me for our run, but I did take pictures of the dogs and the dog yard after I got back. Indi seemed to be tired even though he didn't go (???) Matt said he ran around the yard with Cass and File' and wore himself out.



OH MY GOD, THEY KILLED INDI! Those bastards!!!



Notice the difference in the yard since the last set of pictures.



Balu says "I was so good today, will you let me inside? Pretty please? With sugar on top?"

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Photos I Promised

Kids soaking up sun in the yard...
(back to front -- Clover, Calvin, Zed)


File pauses, mid-play
(Dollar in background) 


And then flops.  See how much she's grown?



My gorgeous drive to work.  Dirty window, though.

Head toward the Light!

The days are finally getting noticeably longer.  I nabbed the following information from our US Naval Observatory page.

 

Wednesday
2 April 2008          Alaska Daylight Time
 
SUN
Begin civil twilight       6:32 a.m.
Sunrise                    7:17 a.m.
Sun transit                2:03 p.m.
Sunset                     8:50 p.m.
End civil twilight         9:35 p.m.

 

Thank heavens we're finally getting some sunlight around here!  I think that's got to be the most difficult part of living in Alaska – at least for me.  Last year, the winter bummed me out and the summer kept me awake for all hours of the day and night.  As you can probably guess, I've had to do some adjusting up here. 

 

I can tell that the dogs are feeling the coming spring, as well, since they are spending more time on the tops of their houses.  Zed, in particular, has been snoozing on the flat plywood top of his bachelor pad.  (Pictures of that to come this evening, when I catch him at it once again).  Actually, last night I woke up at 3:00 AM to take File' out to go potty and there Zed was, still snoozing on the top of his box.  I suppose that with such an insulated coat, 30 degrees must feel pretty tropical!

 

On the puppy front, I'm sure you've noticed that I haven't posted anything especially derogatory about our poor puppy lately.  File' has finally settled in at our place, becoming more of a puppy and less of a flat-out hellion.  Don't get me wrong – she still gets into things and she drives some of out adult dogs batty, but she's acting more like a dog and less like a demon.  She absolutely loves to play with Clover, and I think that the feeling is probably mutual.  Last night I saw Clover actually shift gears into protective mommy-mode, even though she's not File's biological mom.  Calvin, it seems, got a little too close to File' and attempted to take a nibble of her.  Clover quickly lay down the law and after some gnashing of teeth (Clover's!), Calvin exited stage left and left File' and her new friend alone.  In as many ways as Clover drives me crazy sometimes (she's happy about everything from feeding to playtime and is usually quite vocal in expressing her pleasure), she also really impresses me.  I really scored a nice dog when I bought her (thanks, Ed and Ruth!!)  I'm especially excited that I have more dogs from essentially the same breeding headed my way in the coming weeks.  It's going to be a great 2008/2009 sledding season!

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