Friday, July 25, 2008

Depressing Weather and a blurb about Balu

Ok folks, get ready for some depressing news. This is the coldest summer that Alaska has had in a good, long time. I'm talking, cloudy, overcast days with highs in the 50's. This morning it was 48 when I woke up. Hello? July, anyone??

I knew things were getting bad (and I wasn't imagining it) when the Anchorage Daily News posted this:

Yep, they confirmed what I suspected. 2008 may be the year that summer never arrived. The dogs love it, but I gotta say, it makes for an awfully nasty, messy dog yard. The amount of mud that we have out there is insane. We will be putting gravel down in the yard this fall, and the sooner the better!

Tomorrow I head north to Kuparuk for a tour of the North Slope drilling grounds. I won a ticket and I'm pretty excited! I will be sure to take photos while I am there (and on the way, if it's clear and I can see anything out of the plane. Supposedly we fly right past Denali.)

In the meanwhile, I'll entertain you with a little bit of history on Balu.


Curled up for a nap on anything he can find

Balu doesn't really have red eyes. He has blue eyes, but it's dang near impossible to get a good photograph of him because the flash always gives him red-eye. Oh well, use your imagination :)

Balu came to me from Eric Rogers of R Northbound Dogs. He is the most senior dog in our sled dog menagerie, at the ripe old age of nine. Balu ran the 2006 Iditarod with Eric but was dropped in Ruby due to a lack of drive. Thanks to the quick thinking and superb care of my friend Bonnie (who housed Balu as a dropped dog), Balu made a trip to the vet and was saved. He actually had an undiagnosed stomach ulcer that developed while he was on the trail. Without Bonnie's help, Balu surely would not be with us today. Balu also started the 2007 Iditarod with Eric, but Eric scratched due to several broken bones. After coming home from the race, Balu retired to live with us at Lagniappe Kennel.

Balu has bloodlines that trace back to Gareth Wright's Pluto, to whom he bears much resemblance. He obviously has some sprinty hound in his background, with a lighter build and flop ears, but make no mistake -- Balu is still quite a large dog weighing in at about 65 lb. He can run anywhere in our team but spends most of his time running in lead. He is a trained command leader but is not stubborn enough to impose his will on an unruly leader-in-training. Truthfully, Balu is easily distracted from going the way you tell him to, and if the other dog wants to go a different direction, all bets are off! I am encouraging Balu to think more on his own this year, as I plan to run him without a leader neckline, forcing him to listen and follow the other leader's example (usually Zed's) less.

Balu has one of the nicest personalities of all of our sled dogs. He was an excellent puppy-sitter for File' and had a ton of patience with her. He even allowed her to sleep with him in his dog house. He can be a bit of a tyrant, though, to younger males, as he is the only loose sled dog in our yard, and is not hesitant to give any other dogs a piece of his mind. Albeit, quietly. :) Just a lot of "barking" -- in quotes because Balu is debarked. It's more like a clacking of teeth.

So, farewell until I return from Kuparuk!


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