Thursday, November 20, 2008

What would Caeser Say?

"In the end are you a foe? Or a friend?"
Hey Everyone,
Hope all is well in your worlds. We just returned from our latest overnight foray to Canol rd. for a short 100- mile overnighter. This is the heart of training season for many around these parts. While some folks might want to start a bit later in the year, we'd rather ensure the pooches have enough miles under their belts just in case the weather becomes bitterly cold in the not too distant future. Canol is a 'doggie hwy'- yesterday we saw famed musher William Kleedehn as well as Michelle Phillips, one of the top female mushers in the world. I commented to her in the parking lot that the trail already resembled a race environment with lots of doggie doo-doo. Michelle replied that we needed some more snow. Lo and behold as I looked out the window this morning the air was filled with large beautiful white flakes-awesome!
Canol is fun as well as good training. Nothing really compares however to hooking up a team right in the dogyard and heading down the trail. In this day and age it allows us to leave less of a 'global footprint' as well not having to waste any unnecessary gas. During our school tours I often mention that I'll see more cars and traffic in a week than the rest of the year combined up here. There will be times on our 14 hour drive to races in Fairbanks or Anchorage that the # of vehicles seen on the road is less than the # of digits one has on their own body. Road tripping is a wonderful side benefit of participating in racing events. One could travel all over the north in a lifetime and its beauty never ceases to amaze the soul. Finishing our run yesterday afternoon the sun was setting behing the mtns. leaving the sky filled with different tints of orange. Hard not to appreciate all the splendor the Great Almighty whips up on a daily basis.

Life on the trail has been inspiring. Of the two teams Juho and I ran, a dozen pooches were rookies to long-distance mushing. It's fun to watch them mesh together, surprises like Tutshi, a thirty-five pound female who was in lead for thirty miles are always enjoyable to experience. With so many pooches we stop quite often, not only to snack but love up the pooches and let them know how well they are doing. It's like that fella Ceaser says on tv- " It's all about excercise, discipline, affection." If you've ever seen the show "The Dog Whisperer" you know who I'm talking about. I swear Tamra watches nearly every episode of it. He also talks a lot about the 'pack mentality'. Though not all of his views would work with regards to dogmushing I think it would be great for someone to get this L.A. dude behind a 16 dog Iditarod team. Watching his show one realizes that most dog behaviours are a direct result of how they are treated by their human compadres. So if you have a dog that's giving you problems - get out there and give it some exercise, you could probably use some more of it as well!

Once time on the trail is over it's essential to spend quality visits with the pooches not only caring for their feet but massaging their stiff muscles as well. More mileage requires more food- 3 meals with a few snacks a day is our average this time of year. We just don't leave food out for the dogs to eat endlessly however. Personally seeing an overweight, obese dog on someone's couch barely able to move is just as horrfying as viewing a pooch that is too skinny. All of us should constantly be seeking to live in harmony with this gift we call life. Not only for our own sake but for the well-being of our beloved pooches too. As I'm writing this in our living room I am surrounded by 6 of our pack of pooches - 2 of them are this week's featured Dawgs.
Griffin and Tutshi
Griffin is a fifty pound male yearling whose father is Zorro (Lance Mackey) and mother is one of our main Iditarod leader's, Omen. Grif is a bit young to be racing this year but has done admirably in training. He has that star like eagerness to please that one finds in many great leaders. Our other featured pooch is a bit of a project.

"Famous" Amos

Amos is a 3 year old, forty-five pound male with loads of talent. I rescued him after a race last year. He was having problems bonding with his musher so I decided to make him our kennel's personal pet project. He is quite shy and must be dealt with delicately when putting a harness or booties on. Typically your houndier pooches tend to be a bit more sketchy but thru endless hours of attention this obstacle may be overcome. Amos is often brought into the house to socialize with other dogs. It's like Caeser points out, "You need to have the dogs train each other- that's how a team works." Who knows if Amos will mellow out enough to participate in many races this year but he's already the proud father of 6 adorable pups. Their mom is Annie and both parents have impressive lineages that will hopefully shine thru in thier offspring!
Well, we've had a few hours of rest now- time to hook up a different team and head for the hills. Up here in the north- it's just another beautiful day. Peace, HHN

Here's a pic from my buddy Steve's wedding last month. Tamra's mom couldn't believe that I was actually wearing a tuxedo.


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