Northern Blast Sled Dogs

Carol & Alan Pepsick

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Northern Blast Sled Dogs is a small kennel of Siberian Huskies located in Estacada, Oregon. Most of our dogs are training for mid distance races, while the rest run recreationally or are retired.

Our kennel is not a business. This is only a fun hobby for us as well as this website. We will post updates, events, pictures and stories of our times on the trail. Start by checking the blog below. You can add comments to my Blog entries, Photo Gallery, Video's, Calender, and Guest Book. Updates will be listed here. Sign up as a member (located on the sidebar) and receive automatic e-mails whenever the site is updated.




Recent Updates

11/7/15: Blog posting titled: More Of The Same (scroll down)
11/7/15: New video on the Video page: First Training Run, Fall 2015
10/19/15: Blog posting titled: 3 Dog Blog (scroll down)
9/20/15: Blog posting titled: Past Due (scroll down)



view:  full / summary


Posted on February 10, 2013 at 9:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Just 10 months ago I wrote on one of my blog postings that Alan's father had passed away. Now, sadly, so has his mother. Friday morning, Alan's mom, Josephine Pepsick, found peace as she passed away to join Alan's father. I have known her for 30 years and she will be missed. We are thankful for all that she has done for us. And, on a lighter note, I will never forget the way she would yell Alan's name, "Al!", when she needed him for something. Just one of those odd things I'll always be able to hear. ;)

The past 18 months have been trying for us as it seems one thing after another has been thrown in our direction. It is our hope that this last event is the end of this very tough road we have been on and that there is a brighter future ahead for us. We could sure use it.

Northern Blast: Kennel News

Posted on February 2, 2013 at 9:00 AM Comments comments (5)

No major news, just a few catch-up items.


A couple of months ago, just above the blog, I added a small section called Recent Updates. This lists the last 5 changes I have made to the website, a way for viewers to quickly check if there is anything new. I may add to this without doing a blog entry such as the last entry of the latest training videos I posted. So if you missed them, these are two really nice sled runs we did on 1/13/13. CLICK HERE TO VIEW

I have cleaned up the look of the site by removing the sidebar off of all the pages but the Home Page.

I have removed events off of the calendar as we have no up-coming events at this time.

I have removed the list of stories on the sidebar and changed this to only the most recent story titles added.


Once again we will not be doing any racing this year. We just don't have the miles. It wasn't easy tracking the Eagle Cap Extreme race last weekend since we haven't been there 2 years in a row now.  I enjoyed the race but really wanted to be in it. We will continue tracking all the races from the sidelines and hope for better luck next year.


Training still continues at a crawl. Two weeks ago we had sunny days that slicked up the trails in the afternoon. Then the temperatures would drop well below freezing at night and turrn the trails to ice. These conditions went on for several days and I decided to keep the dogs off the icy trails and hoped for new snow. We got our wish as the snow started last weekend keeping us off the trails as it has came down in abundance. Measured in feet, not inches as a blizzard hit the upper ski slopes. Again, we decided to wait for a better trail. Then the snow switched to rain. I was hoping that this wouldn't cause too much damage since so much snow had fallen first but now that we are back to dry sunny days this weekend, I am hearing that the trails are rutted and potentially icy. So we will wait and see what tomorrow brings. The current temperature here at the house is 48 degrees and will reach into the 50's today. This is February, right?

The weather has been so crazy going from one weather pattern to the next, that we have seen some amazing things like in this picture I took two weeks ago.

During those dry days, temps were so cold that we had frost every day such as in this picture. That is not snow on the ground. What's interesting about this pic is the frostline line across the driveway which hung around for days. Winter's southern sun is so low that it doesn't clear our trees and kennels enough to melt all the frost in our driveway creating this frostline that perfectly outlines the kennel roof.

New Additions To The Play Yard

Here Cheyenne modles how a wooden cable wheel can bring more fun to the yard. I would like to get some more of these.

When the snow was coming down on the mountain last week, the rain was coming down here at the kennel, so this showed up in the dog yard. Here the girls are playing near the Siberian Spa. Contributions made by the Siberian Sled Dog Team and Mother Nature.


On Sunday, 1/27/13, Eagle turned 3 years old!

And on Friday, 2/1/13, these sweet babies turned 18months old.

Sunny Days Of Winter

Posted on January 6, 2013 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (0)

...and yes, we do get a few of them.  Such as last weekend, cool but sunny. So I took advantage of the dry day to snap a few pictures of the dogs enjoying the day in the yard. You can tell by these pics that they are just not in the condition they should be due to our lack of training this year. Also, I must say I really like the vivid colors from this new camera compared to the one I had previously where I often had to edit the color and contrast to bring out the images better. This is more like my first (digital) camera which I miss.

When the sun comes out, the girls like to sunbathe such as Kwyta here.

Joy enjoy's a good chew in the sun, with multiple toy choices.

Something captures Lizzy's attention.

Rosie strikes a pose. Once a dark black girl, now at 7 years old, Rosie has faded to this lighter version of herself. I have actually confused her once or twice at night with her sister Spirit. This is Rosie's new profile picture on the Meet The Racing Dogs page.

I also like this new head shot of Rosie and it can be found on her profile as well.

Wide-eyed Faith.

Grandma Spirit kicking back.

Holly enjoy's the sun on her face in this very relaxed cross-legged position. But don't let this 12-year old great grandma fool you. She still runs around the yard, and loves to play with her great grandchildren. Just yesterday she provoked her (younger) buddy Po into a wrestling match and he was losing! Her energy level and fiestiness are some of the qualities she has passed on to the next generations.

Looker looking good.

I love this back-to-back pose of Spirit (R) and her daughter Kwyta.

Very pretty picture of Drew. She seems to glisten in the sunlight.

Nezi. The youngsters haven't gotten into the whole 'laying around in the sun' thing.

As proven here again with Ana. Another sweet pose from her as well.

And the same for Cheyenne.

Here's a face shot of  Cheyenne and you can just barely make out the tiny blue dot she has in her left eye.

A little more activity over at the boys side as Eagle strikes a pose...

...and this is an amazing shot of Eagle. Anticipation is written all over his face as one of his nephews is about to pounce on him. This is Eagle's new face shot on his profile on the Meet The Racing Dogs page. I can't believe this boy will turn 3 in just a few weeks!

Cree takes some alone time with a chew toy.

A little leftover tall grass that Tundra was enjoying until I sent the kissy sound in his direction. :)

The innocent face of Apache. Although not so innocent as we are deep into the teenage time with the youngsters and Apache has earned himself the nickname of A'brat'che! And having a couple girls in season only intensifies the situation.

Ahh, the gorgeous stance of Orbit. I finally decided to use this picture to update his profile pic on the Meet The Racing Dogs page. Which means I had to swap it out with my all time favorite picture of him. I still like the other picture of course but he was pretty young when I took it so it was time to upgrade him and this one was an excellent choice.

I upgraded his head shot as well to this one. He really needed a new head shot and I like this one so much better.

My handsome Bounder Boy.

You Call This Fun?

Posted on January 1, 2013 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (0)


The Sunday before Christmas we headed to Frog Lake for our first sled runs of the season. Snow had been falling daily for over a week and word was that all trails were adequately covered and plenty of snow to hook down. Our drive up was in the rain until around 3000 feet when it switched to snow and at 4000 feet the snow park was thickly covered in snow with more continuing to fall. I have no pictures of this day because I didn’t want to get my camera wet.

As usual, I first went to the take-off area to check out the trail conditions and they looked pretty good. They hadn’t been groomed yet but there was plenty of snowmobile traffic that had packed the snow down. I got my first team ready which included Drew and Eagle in lead, then Ana and Joy, Spirit and Looker (who was in season), Rosie, and Orbit and Apache. This would be Ana’s and Apache’s very first sled run. The dogs were going crazy as we were hooking them up and Orbit and Apache switched places so many times, I gave up trying to correct them.

With Orbit and Apache on the same side of the gangline we took off well although I immediately realized I left my goggles in the truck and the snow was still pouring down. The trail felt about as good as it looked. Within a minute of departure I spotted another team heading towards us. This is why Drew and Eagle were up front. I felt that they would be my best passers at this point since we have not trained with any other teams this year. The pass wasn’t great but it will do, no tangles! The other team had two mushers riding on the runners together, with the second musher hunched over and holding on. We exchanged a quick greeting as we passed and I gave a quizzical look. Generally, if two people are on the runners together it means something happened, something bad.

At the one mile mark we were approaching our right hand turn, heading towards the quarry. My plan was just to do the 4 mile loop allowing the dogs to get their snow legs. Now if you have ever read what I have written about this turn in the past, you know this can be a real pain. With practice however, as long as the intersection is groomed, I have learned to maneuver a 12-dog team through here without any mishaps. But without the grooming, it didn’t matter that I was only driving a 9-dog team. The trail into the quarry had little snowmobile traffic on it compared to the main trail, just a single snowmobile track. What’s difficult about this corner is the deep ditch on the right side and unfortunately, the snowmobile track hugged the turn, right on the edge of the ditch. I was already bracing for impact. By the time me, the sled, and the wheel dogs caught up to the turn, we were plowing through the ditch which was filled so deeply with snow it stopped us dead like hitting freshly poured cement, and threw the sled on its side. I hate this corner!

I stepped off my drag mat and sunk to my hip in snow and like quicksand, I was stuck. I grabbed my snowhook and threw it in as far as I could get it towards the trail. It sunk about halfway down. It would have to do. With the sled buried on its side and over 70 pounds of weight inside it, I wasn’t too concerned of the dogs taking off. Using a lot of leg strength I was eventually able to get myself out and to the side of the sled and pulled hard to upright it. The dogs still weren’t able to move so they stayed put giving me time to move back to the end of the sled and pull the hook. I pushed and they pulled finally getting out of that corner. During the next mile, heading towards the turn-around point, I could already feel my left triceps aching.

The situation at the 4-dog turn-around was just as terrible. Just a single track on the left that seemed to go straight up about 10 feet to get up the ramp. I gave the haw command several times, but the dogs wouldn’t take it. I had to hook down into too deep of snow, wade through the snow, grab my leaders and walk them over to the track. By the time I waded back to the sled, the leaders had already moved back to where they were. Arg!!! I got back on the sled, pulled the hook, and tried commanding them again. We moved forward a bit and it looked like they were going to take the turn, but didn’t. I hooked back down, waded back over to the leaders, moved them to the ramp again and this time they stayed as I got on the sled. We began to move forward but then they swung back down to the position they preferred.

I tried commanding them again, we moved a little bit then it looked like they were about to turn back into the team. I shouted no, and once again went up and moved them back onto the ramp. When I returned to the sled I realized my leaders were right next to me as they had followed me back and they and the rest of the team proceeded to get into a huge tangle. I spent the next several minutes, in deep snow, trying to unravel the team. When this was complete I moved the leaders back up the ramp but as I looked back I realized that we had inched forward enough each time that we were no longer in line with the track. I would have to plow the weighted sled through the deep snow, up the ramp. There was no way that was going to happen. But a little bit further down, the ramp had more use so the snow was beaten down a bit better but it was coming from the opposite direction. Our option at this point would be to try to get up that but it would be a hard sharp left turn up the ramp but first we would have to move a little further down the trail before we could try this. I walked the leaders back to where they wanted to be and sat down.

I was starting to overheat and was tired from all the trudging around in the deep snow and needed a rest first. I remember taking my hat off at this point but I don’t remember putting it in the sled, although we found it there later. I looked over my team and considered making a leader change. Looker is certainly one of my best leaders except when she is in season so that would be a bad idea. She was next to Spirit, one of my old leaders but if I switched Spirit with Eagle then he would be next to Looker, who’s in season. I looked at Joy and she looked at me like “What are you looking at me for?” She has only been in lead once, briefly, in the last couple of years due to her health condition. She was next to Ana who is far too inexperienced, I wouldn’t do that to her. Rosie, another of my older leaders and who I used recently but I wasn’t sure how she would do with this and I would have to make a second switch so Eagle wouldn’t be right behind Looker. Orbit wouldn’t be any more useful than Eagle and I wouldn’t put Apache up for the same reason as Ana. I decided to leave the team alone and got up to walk back to the sled but stopped at Orbit. Sometime during all of this he shredded his harness. It was hanging off of his right side between him and Apache. I hung my head in defeat. Normally on our long training runs I carry extra harnesses. This was only supposed to be a quick and easy 4 mile run, not the day adventure it was turning out to be. I had no extra harnesses so there was nothing I could do. I got back on the runners, pulled the hook and let the team move forward.

But even with all my weight on the brake, I couldn’t get them to stop soon enough as the brake wasn’t grabbing in the thick soft snow and we went a few feet too far. Now the turn was practically back over my left shoulder. I looked at the turn, then looked forward, looked back at the turn, and looked forward again, weighing my choices. If I could just get them up the ramp, it would only be 2 miles back to the truck. Going forward is the easiest choice and that’s what the dogs want to do but that will add an extra 1.5 miles to the run and we will have to go up a hill that I would rather not with the amount of weight I had in the sled in the conditions we were in as snow continued to fall. I took a deep breath and decided we will never get up the ramp, and since we had just had a rest I allowed them to move forward onto the 6-dog loop.

The approach to the trail in the open area was a bit of a mess but once we were back in the trees the trail was much the same as before, a single snowmobile track. As we approached the 6-dog/8-dog split I got a little nervous. Often this time of year, the 8-dog hasn’t been used yet and dogs will automatically take the used 6-dog track. But on this run both trails had a track which made a perfect “Y”. If I can’t get this team to turn left onto the 6-dog, this run will be even longer. I gave the haw command then held my breath as I watched them take the left. Whew! But then we had to begin the winding uphill climb that comes with this loop. About half way back I saw something green lying right in the middle of the trail. With all the trees and branches that had come down during the recent storms I figured it was pine boughs. It was hard to tell as the snow was still coming down and was covering it up. The dogs sniffed at it but on-byed as asked. It wasn’t until I was right next to it that I realized it was something else and by the time we stopped we were about 10 feet past it. I still wasn’t sure what it was, I thought maybe a sled bag although there seemed to be two parts. I hoped there wasn’t a person under it. I had to make another choice. Should I try hooking down and running back to retrieve it? On a normal day I would have no problem with this but after what we had been through I didn’t really want to take that chance. I didn’t know if the snowhooks would hold and I didn’t want to add any more weight to the sled, I just wanted to keep moving and finish this. I considered the other team we had passed and thought maybe one of them lost a team and what I am seeing is what fell out of the sled. This would explain why they rode back together and would mean there was a loose team somewhere. I decided to leave it behind and we moved on.

I kept my eye on Apache. The poor guy! His first sled run, and in the most physically demanding position, wheel, and he was practically doing all the work himself while his father’s harness hung mostly useless next to him. I was impressed with his strength and quite proud of him but I felt bad for him as I knew he would probably be sore the next day. I also felt bad for Ana. What a terrible first run for these two youngsters and I had three more waiting back at the truck along with the others who haven’t gone yet. By this time I was also starting to feel my left bicep, shoulder and quadriceps and had already decided I would not be taking the second team out. I was not about to go through all that again.

We finally reached the main road with the better trail and headed back to the parking lot. When we were almost there a snowmobile approached from behind and then passed us. I didn’t realize it at the time but it was one of the mushers we passed. As we approached the parking lot Alan met us and grabbed the leaders as usual. I hooked down and shook my head while giving him that “you wouldn’t believe what we just went through” look and announced that I wasn’t taking the second team out. I don’t think he quite believed me. When we got all the dogs back to the truck he asked “So you are NOT going back out?” I said no but before I could explain why he said “good, cause look what happened to me.” He showed me his hand wrapped in blood soaked gauze. He said when the other team got in they requested his help to unhook dogs. The second dog Alan grabbed began gnawing at his hand leaving Alan with several serious puncture wounds. It seems that they had their own rough time. They didn’t have a team missing but they were supposed to take out a second team as well and decided not to, after all one of them came back a bit cold and without his snow pants which is what was left out on the 6-dog loop and why he passed me on a snowmobile, to retrieve them. If you come back without your pants then something happened, something bad, but that’s their story. Rubbing my triceps, looking at Alan’s hand and thinking about our run I thought “what are we doing out here?” Frog Lake is usually a simple trail but that day it was eating teams up and spitting them out.

The falling snow never let up and continued to come down as we pulled out of the parking lot. I was surprised to see that it was 12:30. We left the house at 8:15 that morning. How long was I out on that trail trying to do that short run? Alan said he was starting to get concerned and figured at one point that I must have decided to do the 6-dog loop rather than the 4-dog. It felt good driving down the mountain happy to leave the snow behind. But before that happened, a car swerved from the opposite lane just ahead of us, crossed the road and landed in the ditch. We stopped as well as some others to see if they were ok. They were and sent us on our way. As we continued back down in elevation and was back to pavement and a lack of white, several emergency vehicles passed us from the opposite direction to go help at the accident. We just made it out of there. We got home to rest, eat, take care of Alan’s hand and look out over our green yard, when it started snowing. Oh no! We just couldn’t get away from the snow. As far as Frog Lake, I don’t plan to return until it has been groomed, then we CAN actually have some fun.

Time For A New Story

Posted on December 9, 2012 at 5:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Since our training season isn't going so well, I thought this might be a good time to write a new story, as it has been a while since I have added one to the Story Time page.

This is a short story that goes back nearly 9 years, right after we picked up our second dog, Po. This story, or event rather, is a very strong memory that has always stuck with me. And of course, there were plenty of lessons to be learned, all at my expence!

So sit back, relax, and I hope you enjoy my new story titled: Getting To Know Po.

Hard Times, Part 2

Posted on November 23, 2012 at 11:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Every week this fall I have done the same thing: hoped that this is the week where we can finally get our training into full swing and so far this just hasn't happened for us. A month ago I briefly wrote in my blog about the "hard times" we were going through and I hoped that was the end of it but unfortunately it has continued to plague us and we just can't seem to get going consistently. For every step forward we tend to take two steps back.

We still haven't had consistently good weather to work with. Seems all the good days are days we can't get out and all the bad days are ones we had scheduled to train on. Health issues have continued both for canine and human taking precedence over training. The holiday season has plagued Alan with far more overtime than normal, interfering with our training time (and energy levels). And finally other personal issues turned into larger and longer projects than expected adding to the chaos and stress.

We do continue to try to train, however, at this point, I am not really sure where that will lead us. I am guessing that the first two races I wanted to do, one in January and one in February, are probably out of reach for us. The third race I was looking at wasn't until March so it still looked hopeful until I recently learned that they decided to cancel it! Perhaps I will get the youngsters in a short race, it's hard to tell at this point.

On a good note I finally got the new camera I was looking for and I really like how my pictures and videos have improved although I may already be having problems with it. Will have to play with it more to see. Can't seem to catch a break this year. :(

Anyhow, there are 3 new video's up on the Video page showing the youngsters in lead. FOLLOW THIS LINK.

Also, here are some pictures taken over the past month, some in the yard, others out on the few  training runs we got in:

Cheyenne (R) in lead with Drew. (This really isn't a B&W picture.)

Cheyenne looking pretty proud of herself after the run.

Nezi (R) in lead with Looker. Behind them are Ana (R) and Lizzy, and in wheel is Kwyta (R) and Rosie.


In lead, Bounder (L) and Eagle.

Tundra (L) and Cree, and behind them is Apache (L) and Orbit.

Resting after the run, here are Cree's thoughts: “OMG! I can’t believe what I just did! First we zoomed super fast down this long hill”…(I didn’t let you go any faster than 11-12mph sweetie)…”then we went across 2 scary bridges and through some large puddles, then we went over some strange mounds that I don’t think we were supposed to go over”…(I won’t tell ;)) …”which led to a narrow wooded trail with deep ruts, lots of mud and more puddles, then we had to cross the scary bridges again and then I worked my tail off climbing back up that looong hill”…(you did do that)…”What an adventure! We must have run 100 miles! I just need to lay here and contemplate all this. Wait until I tell mom about this!" (Um, sweetie, she ran the same {4} miles as you did, just in another group but I’ll bet she is proud of you, I know I am!) In fact, I really like how this boy moves down the trail, and how he makes me laugh back at the truck.

Kwyta in the center with daughters Ana on the left and Nezi on the right. All three keeping their eye on the big orange cat.

Orbit, always easy to get a good picture of.


Spirit (L) and Rosie relaxing on their dog house.

I finally moved back into training two teams instead of the 3 smaller ones with pretty good success:

Apache (L) in his first lead with his mother Kwyta.

Ana (R) in her first lead with Drew. These two made a great pair together and Ana seemed to have a great time.

After the large amounts of rain we have had, it finally stopped on Thanksgiving Day so we could get in some morning runs. Notice the water run-off on the side of the road.

The sky cleared enough to get this picture of Mount St. Helens from our parking area.

Ana, Nezi, and Apache.

Cute picture of Apache after the run.

Hard Times

Posted on October 13, 2012 at 10:50 AM Comments comments (0)

It has been a real roller coaster ride here at Northern Blast. After Joy's latest seizure and returning her back to her medications (see previous blog postings), the next event hit the team's musher. Yep, that would be me. I will not go into detail, but I will say that I had a health concern that became a very stressful and scary two week ride. Every step of the way, with every possible outcome, I kept finding myself on the bad side, the wrong percentile, the one that kept pointing to the real possibility that I might have something really wrong. I was terrified and I had every reason to believe that this wasn't going to work out for me. But everything, unbelievably, changed on that last phone call! When the word "negative" was spoken, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I was in disbelief and beyond elated and for a moment I felt 20 years younger. That wonderful feeling lasted about 24 hours, then we got hit by the next event...

Spirit, a 7.5 year old from our first litter, mother to our second litter (Joy's mother) and grandmother to our third litter, had a seizure. I had a few girls out in the yard together and I watched as several of them were running the fence line back and forth with the neighbors dog. This got Ana, who was still in her kennel, all excited and she started screaming as she usually does. I turned to quite her and when I turned back to look at the free dogs, one was lying on the ground and ... was she scratching her back? No. ...was she rolling on something dead? No. It was a grey dog having a seizure and I immediately thought of Joy, then remembered Joy was not one of the dogs out. I couldn't believe I was seeing another dog having a seizure. I took off running for her and as I got closer I  was surprised to see it was Spirit struggling against the uncontrolled take-over of her body. It was just as bad as any seizure I have seen Joy have. I was completely confused over this.

Of course you immediately think there has to be a connection between Spirit and Joy and these seizures since they are mother and daughter. Why else would I have 2 dogs having seizures now? But I also remembered the vet telling me that after the age of 5 for a first seizure it is usually not considered epilepsy but some other source like a brain tumor. I called the vet and she did verify that the textbook's say there is no genetic link between the two dogs.


Spirit went in the next day for an exam and blood work. She appeared fine on exam and her blood work came back normal, leaving no other sources for the seizure. The vet called a neurologist to get his opinion and he confirmed that there would be no genetic link between Joy's and Spirit's condition. The only good that comes from knowing this is that we shouldn't have to worry about Spirit's other 5 kids or her 5 grandkids. The neurologist also felt that Spirit is still on the young side for it to be a brain rumor, not that it couldn't be but it was unlikely, and for $1500 we could get her an MRI to find out. So "what other reason does that leave us with?" I asked. “Unknown etiology” was the answer. Very frustrating.


So we decided to wait and watch, see what happens, and hope this was a one-time deal for her. Unfortunately, exactly one week later, just this past Thursday, Spirit had another seizure. Worse than the first it went on for several minutes and for a moment I thought she might not come out of it. I was relieved when she finally did and then called to inform the vet. We agreed to start her on the same medication Joy is taking and see how she does on it. I stayed home from work Friday to monitor her and she was ok.


So now that puts another dog off my 12-dog team. Of course between the weather and all the health issues delaying our training, it doesn't matter anymore for this year. Training continues to be sporadic as we have not trained since my last blog posting. The temperatures finally made it into some consistent lows in the 40's, but strong winds for many days straight dried everything out and left the roads too dusty to train on until this past Friday when the rain finally returned. There is no dust now but the temperatures have gone back up giving a humid feeling outside. Those are tough conditions to train in for dogs with double coats. We were hoping that today might be cool enough to get a run in but still not quite there and still very humid. We need to get cooler wet weather NOW and it needs to continue from this point forward or else we will not be going to the races that I had planned.


So I will end the disappointing tone of this posting with some nice pics of the dogs, taken over the last few weeks.

Spirit, before her seizures, has her eye on the neighbors dog.

Sisters Cheyenne, Ana, and Nezi.

Orbit (L) with his sons Cree and Apache (R).

Half brothers Eagle (L) and Bounder. It's funny, I took many of these pictures on this bright sunny day, and in all the ones with Bounder and his white face, he is squinting, while the dark faced boys usually were not.

NO BOYS ALLOWED! Adding to the chaos of the kennel, 6 girls came into season at the same time and the boys were having difficulty dealing with it. Here I placed an extra security gate (an old gate on its side) to keep the boys further back from the actual gate separating them from the girls during play time. It didn't take long before Orbit, who is already testing it in this picture, was up and over the blockade.


Nezi and Ana playing around.

Ana and Nezi.

Mirrored image of Faith and Spirit (mother) with Joy and Rosie in the background.

It's not easy to get a picture of Drew. Don't know why. This is about as good as it gets.


Like this pic of Orbit.

Bounder. No sun, no squinty face.

Eagle, with Tundra just behind him.

Cute pic of Orbit with a Kong ball and Apache.

I think Apache, who is on his back, just threw a left cross to his brother Cree. In the background Orbit and Bounder are having their own battle.


We had a load of wood delivered a week ago which came in large rounds instead of split wood. We rolled one round into the boys yard to give them something else to...well...pee on I guess. We wondered who would be the first to jump on top of it. It doesn't surprise me that it was Tundra. Of course he was inspired by his pestering great nephew Apache. ;)

Not a bad view he has (the camera didn't pick up the beautiful view of the mountains beyond the trees).

3 Team Training

Posted on September 30, 2012 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (0)

This year is shaping up to be one of the worst training season's we have ever had, based completely on the weather. I know I am not the only musher in the area feeling it. Since our first run at the beginning of september, we have made it out only two other times, one of those times was today as the temps this morning finally dropped to 45 dgrees. I allotted us 8 training days in August and at least 12 training days in September and we have made it to 3! Not off to a good start. We used one day in September to get 10 dogs their rabie injections. Thankfully that went a little better than expected.

Because we continued to have chaos on our second run I decided to split the teams up into 3 groups today. I have never done that before. Adding to the difficulties we have 6 girls in season so we ran 2 girl teams and 1 boy team just to make it easy. Running teams of 5 or 6 sure helped the hook-up process so it went a little smoother although I prefer running larger teams, at least 8 dogs. Each team had an experienced leader paired with one of the yearlings and there were lots of people out and about, camping or driving trucks or quads, which made for good distraction practice. I really commend my experienced leaders, Drew, Looker, and Bounder, for leading so well as well as teaching the youngsters. Nezi performed her 3rd lead and she did so well that at one point I forgot it was her and thought she was her mother Kwyta. Also, Cheyenne and Cree got to try lead for the first time and neither thought twice about being out in front. They kept their lines tight and moved forward. I noticed that both Nezi and Cheyenne are making decisions already. Nezi pulled the team around a deep pothole that they were headed straight for, and Cheyenne pulled the whole team over on a two-track to the side she preferred. In both cases, the older leaders, Drew and Looker allowed this. Nice job to all.

Team 1: Nezi in lead on the left with partner Drew. This was a great pairing as they worked so well together. Ana is by herself in swing, and a solid Faith (L) and Joy are in wheel. Despite me retiring her from racing, Joy has continued to train with the team and is doing great!

Team 2: Cheyenne Looking good on the left in her first lead with partner Looker who was an excellent teacher for her. A strong veteran team behind with Rosie (L) and Lizzy in swing, and Kwyta (L) and Spirit in wheel. I would like to mention that Spirit did great, especially in such a physically demanding position. Light on her feet and moving well - not bad for a grandma!

Team 3, The Boys: I was taking both videos and pictures today and ran out of memory during the boys run which is a shame since it was Bounder's first lead of the season (L) and Cree's first lead ever. These two made another great pair. Bounder was just awesome with commands and Cree was a good student. This image is produced when taking video so it is the only one I have to show. It's not a great shot and I edited it the best I could. In swing is Apache (L) and Orbit - 2 pea's in a pod, they kept sharing each others side although they have it worked out correctly in this pic, and Eagle (L) and Tundra in wheel, both solid. The temperatures were starting to warm by the time this team hit the trail but they did great anyhow.

Hopefully the temperatures will continue to stay low but even more so, we really need some rain.

A Sad Change In Plans

Posted on September 8, 2012 at 11:25 PM Comments comments (2)

Since our run last Sunday we've run into another week of warm temps, so we are back on hold. During this time, life, once again, jumped in our path and changed the game on us, making a permanent decision for us.

Thursday morning, my snooze alarm went off at 5:10am, and I knew I had 5 more minutes before the next, at which time I had to get up. I had to go into work a little early for a meeting as I often do on Thursday's, but before that 5:15 alarm could go off I was sharply awakened out of my drowsiness by some barking. It wasn't just any barking, and it only took me a second or two to realize it was the odd warning bark given off by Looker. She only makes this unique sound during a certain time - when her sister Joy is having a seizure.

Thinking, "No, No, No!" to myself as I quickly threw on a jacket, Teva's and a headlamp and ran out the door. When I approached the main gate I could hear thrashing going on and I knew exactly what to expect to see when I rounded the corner of the shop. I rushed to Joy's kennel who was deep in the middle of a bad seizure. All I could do was support her and try to keep her safe. I watched as she moved through all the familar stages, sad to now know the truth. Joy IS an epileptic. She had been seizure free for 21 months, the last 6 of those were completly off of her meds. Alan and I had really hoped that the few previous seizures she had were brought on by some unknown factor that was no longer a threat to her. We now know that isn't the case.

By 6:30am she was coherent enough to start her back on her meds. I saved a week's worth in case this happened. The vet has to special order her medication and that can take many days. However, the trauma to her continued on with such things as panting, pacing, and finally crying. It all came to a halt around 10:30 when I felt comfortable enough to get ready for work and went in just for the afternoon, knowing Alan would be home just a few hours after I left.

As I have mentioned in previous postings, generally Joy's medication is not allowed on the race trail of most mid-distance races. And now, after this event, I would opt not to take her even if it was allowed. It took more than 5 hours to get her back to a normal state and the rest of the kennel was also affected. Some were concerned while others were confused, it was a huge emotional impact on everyone. None of this would be good out on the race trail so I will officially say, that at the young age of 4, Joy is retired from racing. I will still allow her to run as long as she wants to though I haven't figured out yet how she will fit in.

Yesterday morning Joy had a visit with the vet and she is really quite fine. She adapted much quicker this time to the medications and seems to be back to normal. Vitals are all good and her liver and kidney's are also fine. So now we have to come up with a new game plan. I thought I was going to have a 12-dog team this year and was considering the longer races if our training went well enough. Now we'll have to wait and see how this works out.

Beautiful Joy:

Back To Training, Fall 2012

Posted on September 2, 2012 at 1:45 PM Comments comments (0)

August was a tough month for us as we did not get to train at all! The middle couple of weeks warmed to over 90 degrees during the day and 60's at night. Life at the kennel became about water. Swimming pools filled, sprinklers going, hosing down the metal roofs, hosing down the kennels and surrounding area's, and plenty of fresh drinking water.

The warm weather also brought out some wildlife. I was thinking one day that we hadn't seen any bats this year, so the next evening one showed up just as I got the dogs out and circled one part of the yard over and over. I kept the dogs out of that area and called it a short night. We didn't see him again after that but instead a new and unexpected visitor showed up the next night. In a cedar tree growing just outside the large yard fencing, the dogs found this little guy about 4 feet up.

A young opposum showed up to torment the dogs. Have never come across an opposum in our yard before and just inches from the fence, the dogs were going nuts. It was a silly place for this youngster to park for the night, he's lucky there was a fence.

Later we were visited by this golden eagle. I always enjoy watching the eagles and hawks soar above the house.

The later part of August had more reasonable temperatures and even a few evenings that dipped into the low 50's and upper 40's, which is what we are looking for, but those days always fell on work days, while our days off were a little bit warmer, just enough to have to keep the dogs at home.

Finally this morning it all came together. 46 degrees at 5:00am, so we headed off for our first training runs of the fall season. The first runs can always be a little more disorganized as you realize all the things you forgot to bring and all the things that you brought that you didn't need, although we didn't do too bad with this as we organized oursleves a month ago and have just been waiting. Another factor that can add to chaos is new dogs, now that got us! I ran two teams, each a mixture of old and young dogs and we only ran 1.5 miles each, still contending with some dust, we really need some rain. The runs actually went pretty well, it was organizing the dogs at the truck as well as on the gangline that was the issue! The young dogs were unsure about being hooked up again and what all this fuss is suppose to be, and the old dogs were crazy with excitement. We had line tangles, chewing, and dogs spun the wrong way before we even left. Once on the trail we only passed one set of campers whom Miss Nezi, performing her first lead, felt strongly that we should go over and say "Good Morning". It took all of Kwyta's strength to steer her back down the trail, but she did fine passing them on the way back. The loop turn-around was a bit overgrown as we did not get to trim that back this year. Dark and cave-like this made Nezi stop a little unsure. But when I asked them to continue on she moved ahead. Her and Kwyta look great together! Almost identical in size, color and movement.

Team 1: Kwyta, Nezi, Ana, Lizzy, Rosie, Bounder, Apache, Faith, and Joy.

Team 2: Looker, Drew, Cheyenne, Spirit, Cree, Orbit, Eagle, and Tundra.

Looker and Drew did well leading the 2nd team with Drew being the final decision-maker. Good to see from her as she was coming on strong in 2011, then we took the year off, so she is off to a great start.

Feels good to finally get that first run in. Wish we could have done more with the young ones in the Spring, it may have gone a little smoother today so it is going to take a few weeks until they are feeling a little more comfortable. Hoping the cooler weather continues with no early fall warm-ups. I just want to keep the momentum going now.

Here are a couple of video's from today's run. There are some bleached out area's at times, due to the sun and the poor quality of my camera. Hoping to get a new one soon!

Team 1 Video

Team 2 Video