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Thursday, October 20, 2011

It's beginning to feel a lot like winter-

Wow, what happened to summer?? (geez, that'd be a whole 'nother post) As I type, it's 13 degrees, the moonlight is just giving way to the dawn, and there's a few inches of new snow on the ground. Dog chores are done for the morning, the yard is cleaned, dogs are fed and loved-up. Chores take about 90 minutes in the morning these days, including taking care of the three puppy kennels and their inhabitants. This August, Eliza, her mother Gila, and her daughter Stinson all had litters. Eliza had a litter by way of Stump, with 6 males and one female. They are named, just like Eliza's litter, for Phish songs. We have Frankie, Mule, Monkey, Glide, Fluff, Bug, and the girl who's one of the boys, Billy. We are keeping all of this litter. They are just awesome and we have needed some more boys on the team as the kennel had become pretty girl-heavy. Stinson, never to be out done, also had seven pups. Since she is younger, we decided some of her pups would be for sale. We found three new owners for 5 of Stinson's 7. We will keep a male and a female, who really need to get permanent names!!! (suggestions for a son and daughter of King Wilson and Stinson Brook??) Letting these pups go and deciding who goes where has been painfully difficult for us and although we are extremely happy with the folks who are taking them, we wish they all could stay here. Old lady Gila had just two pups and although she gave it her best effort, she could not deliver them naturally. A midnight c-section at After Hours Emergency Vets gave us two huge males. They were big at the start, and they still are as big as Eliza's litter that is over two weeks older!! In honor of the very special dog we decided to line breed on, Gila, her two boys are named for moutains that stand side by side, overlooking the Gila River valley, Granite and Growler. We will certainly be keeping both of these mountainous boys!! So, we have 11 new posts set out in the dogyard and 11 sheets of plywood, waiting to become doghouses once these guys outgrow the puppy pens just off our porch. The 'shed' is full of straw and kibble. The firewood is stacked. The snow tires are on. We still need to get meat, but are pretty ready for winter. Bring it on!!!
Why'd I have to go bring up kibble?? After just one year, Momentum was no longer able to help us. Although we were mostly happy with the food, we could not afford to pay double what we had been paying. Step in Horizon Legacy, a family owned dogfood company from Canada that uses human grade ingedients and has their own mill! (www.horizonpetfood.com) We are in a trial period with their food after they got us a full pallet at an extremely good price, except for damn shipping that runs way more than the food!! Their food is designed to replicate a raw diet in a kibble. It is grain and potato free. We're really excited about the food and the potential of working with them. The dogs chow it! Just when we thought we were going backward, we're going forward-
Speaking of going forward, training is well underway for this season. We are once again training for the Yukon Quest. It has been, and remains our ulitmate race. We'd love to experience the Iditarod and still hope to some day, but the extra $15,000+ it would take just isn't here. We won't give up a Quest to do an Iditarod and could do two or three Quests for the cost of one I-rod. The goal for the year is to be as competitive in the Quest as we can be. 2010 was a very competitve Quest for us, but it only finished us in 13th place. Last year, in a race where I was living by the motto "have more fun", I wasn't nearly as competitve and finished in 8th. Funny how things work out sometimes. This year I will have a few changes in the team and changes in my racing, and therefore, training strategies. I know we can still do much better than we have at getting down the trail for 1000 miles. I'm looking forward to continuing to see just what our team is capable of. It starts with changes even now as we build the team up in early training. We are adopting a bit more of a 'loose' schedule this year. No chance of us giving up on our overall structure, but we are getting there a different way. The five two year olds, Stinson, Bebee, Pemi, Baker, and Sparkle give the team a youthful infusion this year as they step up to Quest training after running over 2000 training miles last winter, but never racing. We need to get them out for some early season socialization and racing, but haven't made decisions on what races we'll run before, or after, Quest. Copper Basin and GinGin are always good choices for their timing and cold, tough trail for the dogs that get to go, but it's not so good for the ones left home that have to take a whole week off. We may try some other, cheaper training options this winter and just travel with the team. Then again you may see us out there racing in December and January. Just not sure yet. Thanks for checking in -