Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The United Nations of DAWGS

Juho and Karl on 4-wheeler


Been one of the more memorable autumns so far this year. Last year I was still trapped in Juneau with the pooches surviving tours during the awful daily rains- that'll be the last time we'll ever give away our freedom by signing a contract with folks who have lil' integrity when it comes to our pooches' well-being. It's been heaven around here lately, not only the cool, crisp weather but our newfound friends as well. Karl is from Sweden, Juho from Finland- both are experienced mushers who have previously been a part of mushing outfits back in Scandinavia. It's been nice to have these two twentysomething men around to help train, care for and play with the pooches. And last night we enjoyed the autumnal equinox by going on our 1st camping trip.

Our destination was less than twenty miles away but with most of our teams consisting of yearlings this was more of a mental excercise than an ultra training event. The boys would be on the 4-wheeler; 14 canines would be in charge of them. I would have a bit more control with our 'Schnuelle-mobile' and thus decided to hook up 18 for my squad. Tamra helped to ensure that we safely made it out of the yard at half past four in the afternoon. The temps. were in the lower 40's so numerous stops would be made in order to keep the pooches from overheating. Three miles from the kennel we crossed over the Wheaton river bridge and on to an old mining road. I stopped once again to see how the other team was faring as well as caution Karl, the other driver, about the possibility of traffic being on the road up ahead.

Dog team next to Wheaton River

Less than a minute later all of our heads, including the dogs, swung around as a blur of brown fur flew out of the bushes just up the hill from us. To be honest my 1st thoughts were, "You gotta be kidding me- don't I have enough on my mind already?" Fortunately the bruin was in a mad rush to get away from this alarmingly bizarre situation as quickly as possible. My main leaders, Nathan and Simba ,thankfully continued on down the road and not into the bushes. Behind us Juho and Karl looked exhuberent, as if this was just another everyday occurrence in the wilds. They actually live further north on the globe; situations such as this are just another day at the office.

Obviously trail conditions without snow can be a bit more stressful on the pooches bodies so a nice, even, steady pace is much more beneficial than trying to set any speed records. A positive experience is our #1 prerequisite; the evening's 2nd goal would be to see how well these younger dogs could rest for a few hours. In the back of the truck we carried a bale of straw to bed them down with as well as water, broth, kibble and meat. It was time for a puppy party! Once we had secured the teams and let them cool down food and h20 were offered. This being there 1st campout most of them were whining to keep moving. The word 'rest' never has been a favorite of the average toddler I suppose. "Hmm, how am I gonna get these hyper lil' furballs to mellow out? I've got an idea."

Plugging our small dvd player into the truck's lighter outlet the younger pooches suddenly quieted down, staring in amazement as the screen came to life. It was an old tv series cassette I had purchased from a record store last year in Juneau. It was a musical variety show featuring one of my heroes from Tennessee- "Hi, I'm Johnny Cash..." For some inexplicable reason Nemo, Capone, Griffin and the pups kept still- they were probably wondering if the tv could move or not. We decided to call our new resting spot the 'Living Room" which was appropriate considering all of the energy we had. The music was nice to have around to ward off any unforeseen animal encounters as well. Our return trip would be interesting- for many of these children would soon finally become true "Children of the Night".

Puppy play with Nemo and Griffin

I actually left many of their tuglines off the 1st few miles knowing their overall exhuberence level would be off the meter. Reaching a steep hill we stopped to make sure every one was in their proper place. Juho and Karl were worried about the ganglines that the pooches were clipped on to. The tugline's color was blue and white which happens to be Finland's national colors. The necklines were made from nylon consisting of blue and yellow hues- Sweden's national colors. Get the picture yet? "None of these tuglines can be messed with, do you dogs understand?", Juho remarked with his thick Finnish accent. Suddenly I felt as if we were running in a Euro-league soccer match.

(Chasing after team that decided to leave without us. Emergency brake was on and the truck in gear as it slowly skidded down the road-learned our lesson, amazing power these animal have.)

We arrived home just after 11 that evening, Tamra's headlamp could be seen waiting for us in the yard. I'm sure the rest of the pooches had already warned her of our imminent arrival. Once back in their houses, fed and watered the Dawgs reminded all of us how much they enjoyed the show. Nothing compares with their daily canine chorus signalling their appreciation of a well lived day. For some of us their energy is a major reason why we enjoy this world so dearly; hopefully humans can one day learn from their sense of community on a global scale.

Enjoy the view, Hugh

http://www.laughingeyeskennel.com/ Chicagoland school presentations october 22-27th, for more info.: laughingeyeskennel@hotmail.com


At 12:08 PM , Blogger lagniappekennel said...


I am really enjoying your blog posts. They have some heft to them -- more than just a little snippet! I'm having fun following your fall training in the Schnuelle-mobile :) Keep up the great work!


At 12:53 PM , Blogger Heikki said...

Moro Juho, Näyttää maisemat olevan hulppeita. Englanninkielentaito ei ihan kaikkea riittänyt kääntämään mutta jotain Suomi-Ruotsi maaotteluhenkeä tuntuu löytyvän!!??
Hyvää syksyn jatkoa ja "campailua"
Terveisin Hessu

PS: Turvallista Huomenta.

At 1:33 PM , Blogger webmaster said...

Best wishes to Juho. He seems to be as tough worker there as carrying my backbags in Golden Eagle trips here in Finland. All the best to all of You, matti


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