Rant and Raves - January 2008 thru June 2008

June 2008:

Life, Death and Renewal. Spring continues to be that time of year when we cleanse our souls, clean up the proverbial cobwebs, work to abandon bad habits and and perhaps take on a new hobby.

This winter and early Spring, after watching MISCHA's condition slowly deteriorate - we made the heavy hearted decision to bring her to see our vet. Sending MISCHA, our 14 year old namesake and first Siberian Husky to the sofa in the BigSky, was a very difficult task. We closed a major chapter in our lives that day. And while the wound was still fresh, we welcomed a beautiful litter of 7 puppies into the world.

Hung the shade cloth a month 1/2 earlier than last year.

While shopping for tomato plants for our garden, we purchased a few flats of marigolds and mint. The stack of old aluminum watering pails were given a coat of spray paint and recycled into planters. They now hang around the dog yard, adding a little splash of color and cheer.

Surprisingly, we survived the Heat Season. Within days of breeding DHARMA, the other four intact females came into season one week after the other. GRANITE freaked out and for a few days, required calming drugs. AERO and COSMO needed a bark collar and the Z-boys a crate indoors. But all in all, we got through it without threat of divorce court or an expensive boarding kennel bill!

This Spring we also made some life altering decisions around the kennel. Three males and one female have been officially removed from the breeding pool. ALLAGASH because of her age; KONA because we've obviously decided to focus on his brother at stud; GRANITE because he goes absolute bonkers when girls are in season and GINSING because he has a bit too much prey drive. Ah, tough decisions indeed; but for the overall dynamics of our yard ... it had to be done.

Attended the ISDRA meeting in Portsmouth, NH. As expected, Mike and Sue Ellis's presentation was well received! We met some folks with whom Rhonda has been electronic pen pals and a distant admirer. It was a fabulous opportunity to finally put a face to the names! Also had the pleasure of making Leigh and Susan Gilchrist acquaintance. The weekend capped off with us hosting a kennel tour for another group of pen pals; including a fellow musher who like us, enjoys the Sepp-Alta/Howling Spirits strains.

One if not both of us have attended the YSHC Annual Meeting going back 14 years to when we first acquired MISCHA. This year not only did we miss the annual meeting but we also skipped the Specialty. Instead, we showed our support by taking out a catalog ad.

May 2008:

May 3rd, “marks the fifth anniversary of the loss of the Old Man of the Mountain. For many, the image of the Old Man, who sat for eons on the side of Profile Mountain in Franconia Notch, was a familiar icon for those who traveled through the White Mountains.”

Rhonda and Jaye kicked off the hiking season with a 7 mile tour around a section of the Bear Brook trail system. Being the first hike of the year, Rhonda chose ALLAGASH as the dog to accompany her. Figuring that Allie is older, this would be a nice, calm, walk through the woods. Hah!! No such chance!!! Allie wanted nothing other than to be out in front, dragging Rhonda along at a nice clip.

Attended the annual NCM meeting. Thanks to Mitch and Kricket for hosting us again.

Signed up for a beginner agility class at Bo-Gee. Rather than focus on one dog for the entire session, each week we are exposing a new dog to the classroom.

Took the puppies for a walk down Hampton Beach boulevard. Pete and Karen joined us, along with their Burmese Mt. Dog named CHLOE. CHLOE is no longer the little pup who ran next to OSAGE for an introductory training run back in November 2005.

We attended the annual NHMA meeting. It was a nice afternoon and an even better opportunity for connecting with some friends and acquaintances who we have not seen in many months.

ASPEN has moved to Canada. For the past two months, she was living on a trial basis with a fellow musher. She fit in so well, that Rob and Louise pretty much decided on day one that ASPEN would be staying with them permanently. Now you may wonder, why did we end up selling this dog after she earned a position as an alternate for our 250 team? Well.. earlier in the season we decided one of Rocky's daughters had to go. Retaining too many intact females here at our small kennel setting is simply not practical for a number of reasons. Second, when Rob & Louise approached us, we wanted to provide them with a dog they hopefully, would immediately be pleased with... and at that time, RUBY was still a work in progress. We would have loved to keep ASPEN since she obviously has alot of potential but as we've come to learn... there is no shame in selling a good dog, even if it means we kick ourselves later!

April 2008:

Kobe after more than 800 miles of training - Spring 2008 After more than 800 miles in training with our team this season, KOBE has gone back to live with the Carey-Block family. He is a different dog from the day he first arrived. If we were not anticipating a litter and he just a few years younger, KOBE would be staying. He's got a good base under him now and will slot right into a 30-60 mile team. His departure opened up one of the tie out areas in our yard. JASPER and CURLY now occupy that space and are learning to maneuver a swivel and sleep in separate dog houses.

DHARMA is not walking as gracefully as she typically does. A good sign that she is pregnant.

March 2008:

We did it!! The team completed the Can-AM 250; the toughest, and longest sled dog event on the East Coast!!!

Mischa @ the Dawg House - Spring 2008 New England dumped so much snow this season, MISCHA was able to snack from the bird feeder. Speaking of Mischa (our mascot/namesake), this month we celebrated her 14th birthday along with JELLO's 10th.

Participated in the Bartlett year end fun run. Unfortunately it was overcast with rain clouds and mushers this year were not able to enjoy the breathtaking view (something Rhonda was looking forward to).

Bred TK to DHARMA. This combo is admittedly a departure from the Kodiak/L'Epiphanie/Sepp-Alta that we've become known for. However, both of these dogs have shown exceptional intelligence and performance in harness and sometimes you just have to breakout of your comfort zone and try something new. TK is presently our fastest male; and Dharma lead the Can-Am team over both the start and finish lines.

February 2008:

Over the past few weeks we have had the pleasure of introducing a few friends to the sport of dog mushing. Chris who typically runs a much smaller team, along with his friends from Somerville, MA came up to the Dawg House and trained with us for a weekend. We finally got Pete and Karen on the runners!! Pete V And for Rhonda, the highlight of the Stratford Sled Dog Race, was when she and Mike Bennett, Pres of the Stratford Nighthawks Snowmobile Club took an 8 dog team out for a ride down the railroad bed.

Back in January, a fellow musher wished to pull his entry from the Stratford Sled Dog Race because his leaders were a bit rusty. Rhonda suggested with the rain date 30 days out, not to be so hasty. Alot can happen over the course of a month. Well wouldn’t you know? Not only did Scott Isabelle have success with his team, we had a breakthrough of our own. ASPEN who we had up for sale, Aspen decided to squelch concerns we harbored regarding running dogs of a smaller stature. She has since earned a spot as an alternate for the Can-Am 250 team and no longer runs with her tail up!

Alternates are not B string dogs by any means. But ASPEN as a young, inexperienced yearling would be ranked a B if someone like TK is unable to participate on the Can-Am 250 team. We have diligently worked this season to keep the dogs healthy and prevent injury. Bob did not push the dogs hard at Eagle Lake or Greenville and we limited our race schedule, all with the sole purpose and goal of the Can-Am 250 finish line in mind. Now with less than two weeks to go, we are dealing with a bug that we can only assume the dogs caught at Greenville, Happy Dogs Ready to Go and we are also facing the possibility of taking TK off the team. TK and Saint He has a shoulder injury that may require more rest than we have available. As a puppy we were questioning whether he’d be any good in harness. Boy was we surprised! TK is a valuable player and a dog that our team greatly needs in the years to come. Its breaks your heart when he jumps up and down to be harnessed when the rest of the team is headed out, but we have to keep the future and his greater health in mind.

Speaking of B string dogs, JELLO who we thought for sure was going to be sitting on the retirement Jello bench with RAVEN this year has totally impressed us. During a training run this month, Rhonda had JELLO and ENZO in lead. For a good portion of the run, she had to stand with both feet on the drag while the team moved along at speeds 15+ miles an hour. Clearly JELLO has decided to postpone his retirement until next season!

A few folks had wondered how we were going to field both a 12 dog and 8 dog team at Can-Am this year. Well, we had been holding out for the opportunity of borrowing a few dogs from our friend Dawson Spencer’s Call of the Wild kennel. Earlier in the season, Rhonda took TOSHI (one of the Zen kids) and DAWSON (TOSHI’s son) out for a training run. Spencer has built himself a tremendously strong dog team! The infusion of just one of these boys on our team would have been awesome. It looked for awhile like the plan was set. But Spencer being the busy guy that he is, even now in retirement, training for long distance just was not in the cards; this year. Instead, he introduced his grandson to the sport and they participated together in a few NY fun runs.

January 2008:

Although Rhonda has finally overcome a trepidation of running a 10 dog team, she suffers from a condition called Raynaud's. As such, we've decided it would be best for the overall welfare of our team at the unassisted checkpoint, for Bob to remain as the driver for the upcoming Eagle Lake 100.

Speaking of Eagle Lake, we've got 12 potentials for the team. GRANITE is now running along with the main group and is really quite impressive in the position of lead. The other siblings in his litter are maturing a bit slower than we are used to. Like fine wine and cheese that take years to mature into something exceptional, we may be kicking ourselves later for putting ASPEN up for sale.

Our kennel has two new faces. We are pleased to introduce (from the ROCKY x EMMA litter) CURLY and JASPER (previously referred to as Mo).

Back in December, Automotive News analysts were quoted as saying, "Automakers might not be building cars, designing cars or even engineering automobiles, but the auto business is alive and well and serving America. For dealers, it's business as usual." With the price of gasoline fluctuating between 3 and 4 dollars a gallon, the Nation facing a recession and massive layoffs across various industries, fewer people have the need to even drive their car, never mind purchasing or repairing one. On the 16th of this month, we received word that the Chrysler dealership where Bob was employed, shut it's doors.

Being on unemployment can be a time of great stress and anxiety. Rather than worry about the financial implications, we are considering this an unexpected gift. Our mantra for the season has been adopted from Lance Mackey: "Excel, Don't Dwell".

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