Monday, March 30, 2009

Female asses are mysterious creatures

What? It's from a Planet Earth episode on grazing herds of the plains.
Two posts in one day. Wild and crazy, I know.
Anyway, I'm trying to put music on my MP3 player while Rich is cooking pizzas for me to vacuum seal for the race.
A short dog run to come. I wanted to post a link to the race for any of those who are interested. Clickity click right Here!

Is that something you might be interested in?

Well, Mama Summer and her babes are doing well. They've settled in to a routine of eating...and, well, that's about it. Summer has been eating and drinking. She takes a bite of food and then goes back to the pups, bite of food, back to the pups, etc...
I got all my sponsor booty and will be sending it out after the race. I'm hoping to finish the Taiga 300 by Saturday morning. That's a really conservative schedule, but I don't have delusions in this one. I just want to finish with happy dogs. (I used to hate it when mushers said that in interviews, but it's true.)
So, here's the breakdown:
Sponsors who gave between $1 and $49 get a bumper sticker and a photo card.
Sponsors who gave between $50 and $99 get two bumper stickers, a card and a Spitfire Kennels hat.
Sponsors who gave between $100 and $500 get four bumper stickers, a card, a hat and a T-shirt.
Sponsors who give over $2,000 get a guided three-night trip via dog sled. (Airfare to Alaska not included)
So expect your booty by the end of April.
Also, all of these items including, Spitfire Kennels fleece jacketsand hoodies are for sale. Posters are also for sale upon request.
Today we're getting last minute items for the race and taking the dogs out for a short run.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Say hello to my little friends

We've got four puppies! First up was a dark brown girl named Ruby, then a few hours later came a little grayish-brown girl named LuLu, minutes later came a dark brown boy named Cinch and finally a little light brown girl named Alice. These are the latest addition to our family and Rich and I are very excited. Summer is doing well and is an excellent mama. She and the babes are resting in the dog barn.
Here are some photos. Also, there is a short video clip of Roy partaking in his favorite morning ritual: Barking at moose until they charge him.

Dog-barn hotel
Jilly and the Micro-tinies.

Proud parents!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing...Puppy Watch: Day 63

No pups yet. I thought for sure it was going to happen last night. All night long, Summer would initiate howls followed by moans and a couple of groans. I would hurry down the ladder (hurrying and ladders don't mix, needless to say) and outside to see. But each time, she'd just be sitting outside her house looking at me like 'what?'
I fell asleep on the couch in front of the warm, glowing glow of the propane heater, waiting for the next episode. I had trouble sleeping because her howling was so loud as she's right outside the window by our bed. It sounded like she was right...outside...our...window...nevermind.
So then, a while later, she started the old trying-jam-the-metal-food-dish-in-the-doghouse game. In my mind's eye, Summer's thoughts went something like this:

After about 20 minutes she must have realized that if she turned the dish sideways it would go in. The clanging stopped and the next time I went outside, she was curled up with her food dish. in her dog house.
She wouldn't eat breakfast this morning and she looks really uncomfortable, so those little pups are coming any time now.
I don't necessarily want to be there when she's actually having them, but I do want to be around in case there any complications (ie; if she withholds a pup or tries to eat them).
This summer when Sadie (a Greg Parvin dog) had her pups, Rich would go to check on her and she'd get so excited to see him, she'd burst out of her house to get some pets with a puppy hanging out of her vag. Not good.
We just moved her into the dog barn in a corral with lots of bedding hay and fresh water.
So, here we wait. For babies. I had crazy dreams last night that she delivered a litter of kittens.
God, I hope not.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Puppy Watch: Day 62

The mood is tense; I have been on some serious, serious reports but nothing quite like this. I, uh... Ching... King Summer is inside right now. I tried to get an interview with him her, but they said no, you can't do that he's she’s a live bear dog, he she will literally rip your face off. 'Hey, you're making me look stupid! Get out of here, Panda Husky Jerk.'

Summer has actually been very loving and patient while I poke and prod and snuggle her every day. She's going to pop out these pups any day now. Her vag is really swollen and leaking goo, so I'm pretty sure she's almost there. She's still eating every morsel that's put in front of her and her poop is solid, so it's still probably at least a day or so off, but we'll see. When she stops eating, it's time.

Rich and I have been busy getting ready for the race; packing dry food, cutting meat, etc. Rich also made some white, polyester dog coats for my race. I have the heavy insulated ones too, but if it's warm and sunny, I need to protect the dark dogs from overheating.

I let a few of the race dogs loose this morning to let them stretch out and see how they look. Oh yes, they look good. Nice and happy and strong.

In the team will be seven of my dogs and five of Greg Parvin's dogs. For clarity's sake, I've been calling them Rich's dogs. (Bite my tongue, bite my tongue, bite my tongue.)
Regardless of who owns what dogs, they have been well-trained this season and are healthy and happy.

We're packing for the race, but also packing up all of our worldly possessions to hit the road to Homer and beyond. Homer for the summer for sure, but after that, who knows? Wherever the clever North wind blows us, I suppose.

Here is my Summer-boo in all her prego glory. She has beautiful eyes, coat, gait, appetite and disposition. I can't wait for her babies!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Don't put your ash near the dogs, please

Nothing could top the news of Rich finishing fourth in Goose Bay 120 yesterday. Not even a volcano erupting close by, showering the Mat-Su Valley with ash. (More on that in a minute)

Here are some results for all you Goose Bay fans.

1st) Jason 'I'm not my brother's shadow' Mackey

2nd) Carmen 'Came out of the woodwork' Perzechino

3rd) Joseph 'Not afraid to call out the Iditarod' Robertia

4th) Richard 'I'm not grumpy when I place in the top 5' Savoyski

5th) Gus 'I don't know what to say about him because he's mildly vanilla' Gunther

6th) Debbie 'Sparky' Moderow

Other people from 7th through 13th included Elaine something from Wasilla, a colorful character named Jesse Bebee, Wayne Curtis and his beautiful Siberians and Tom Someone-With-An-Accent who was running Kathleen Fredricks' dogs.

14) Colleen 'Doesn't seem right for her to be back here' Robertia

Sue Allen scratched about 15 miles into the race.

So, the confusion came after teams had their eight-hour layover at a makeshift checkpoint on Flathorn Lake. A storm moved in and with it brought strong winds and falling/blowing snow. Visibility was very limited and the trail had blown in. Trail stakes either weren't there to begin with on the outbound trail or had blown away/gotten buried, so teams were floundering though sometimes-waist deep snow (that's neck deep for the dogs) to find some inkling of a packed trail. Some teams went back to the checkpoint and according to one musher at the finish line 'The whole race got lost.' Trail breakers went out on snowmachines but unfortunately they a) didn't know where the trail was or was supposed to be either and b) had been drinking whiskey for a while.

Dangerous, foolish and frankly, appalling, I know.

Eventually up to 12 of the remaining 14 teams were lined up in a convoy trying to find the trail in the dark, in a storm. They would go up one way, realize that it was the wrong way, send word down the line to turn around and would turn, in unison, 12, 12-dog teams 180 degrees and head back. That's no easy feat even when you've got a tired dog team and conditions are good, so imagine how it was for these teams who were fresh off an eight-hour break and in a storm on fresh snow where it was impossible to hook down. According to Jason Mackey and others at the finish line, they had to do this synchronized turning many times before Rich finally spotted the correct trail and told the others. They took off and spread out. Jason and Carmen shot ahead both vying for first, but Joseph and Rich ran together for a lot of it along with Debbie and Gus. The trail was still confusing even as day broke and the winds died, but Rich and I train on these trails, so Rich knew the way and would wait for Joseph to make sure he was on the right path, too. For this, Rich got the unofficial sportsmanship award. I was so proud at the finish banquet when Joseph, who finish third, recounted Rich's helpful actions and then handed over some of his race winnings so that he and Rich had equal amounts. I was so proud!!! My heart was bursting and I haven't seen a smile like that on Rich's face in a while. Way to go, baby!

Rich is still sleeping as he didn't get any on the race and he was pretty amped up after the banquet so we watched a movie. (Cold Creek Manor, perhaps one of the worst ever.)
Rich's finishing team was: Ku, Rohn, Capiche, Bully, Drake, Omar, Steven, Jerry, Stanley, Crush and Pete. He dropped Sipsi at the halfway because she wasn't having fun. The dogs came in strong, tired and with absolutely no injuries. This, with the exception of Jerry and including either Hazel, Strider or Doyon, will be my team for next week's Taiga 300. (I'd like to thank Arctis LLC at for the shout out and sponsorship.)

Mount Redoubt erupted yesterday but Big Lake is east of the fallout zone so luckily we haven't had any ash raining down on us, but it is all around us in Willow, Wasilla, Talkeetna and Skwenta. Let's hope it doesn't happen as the dogs ingesting those particles is obviously very bad for them.


I have some (hilarious) video of the debacle at the race, but I have to edit it down a little. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

We're drinking champagne like we won a championship game

Rich and the Spitfire Kennels crew finished fourth in this year's Goose Bay 120! The dogs finished so strong and Rich was pedaling and poling for the entirety of the race to help the team keep up their speed. With the exception of a wicked storm last night that caused all 15 teams to get lost and turned around on several occasions, and some mass confusion at the finish line after some teams took a shortcut, the race went relatively smoothly. I'll write more later after Rich and I have a nap, go the banquet to get the prize money (we finished in the money!) and feed the dogs again.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

When the going gets tough, the tough get dragged across the road

Oh man, what a start to the Goose Bay 120. After my debacle last year, I thought no one could top it. As it turns out, it can be topped, or least matched. And by Rich, no less! Ha! Actually, his start wasn't as bad as mine because he hung on and didn't lose the team like I did. Plus the whole starting chute was a goddamn goatrope this year. Sleds were tipping and mushers dragging all over the freakin' place. They switched everything up this year and rerouted the race course to boot. We have a strong team, though a few teams showed up that I'm not sure we could beat. Who knows, though? Anything can happen out there and Rich knows these trails very well as they're our home training trails for the most part. Rich is a very determined, very competent dog driver so we'll see. A total of 15 teams started this year including Colleen Roberia and her hubby Joseph (each running a team), Debbie Moderow and Jason Mackey. Rich made it to the chute in good shape. He was counted down and, with Ku and Rohn in lead, he fired out the chute and over the road. He overcompensated for a 90 degree turn onto the trail and the sled flipped. Rich, who is wickedly athletic and scarily fearless, hung on as the team drug him over the pavement and down into the ditch. He righted the sled only to flip it again but was up again in a matter of seconds and didn't even have to hook down. The volunteers at the road crossing turned back to me after and in unison said 'impressive.' Yep, that's my Rich, never lets go or looks back. The run was rerouted down the Butterfly Lake trail and around Flathorn Lake where they have a basecamp set up. After that 55-mile run to basecamp, all teams must take a mandatory eight-hour rest before heading back about 55 miles to the finish. Unlike last year, which was a true 120-miles, this year will be cut a tad short. Plus, last year, we had our break at Yentna Station out on the river, but teams this year won't hit the Big Su or the Yentna River at all. (That is, if my understanding of the map was correct.) If all goes well, Rich should be in between 8 and 10 tomorrow morning. I'm going to call the checkpoint later to see how the first run went.
Here are some pics and a video (sorry hon, I have to) from the start line.
My last race of the season starts on April 1st. The Taiga 300 will be an Iditarod qualifier for me. Rich will be there to handle (the dogs and me!).

Rich signing a bib.

Sipsi giving her papa a pep talk.

Bully and Capiche relaxing in the truck before the start.

This is the first time I've ever seen Rich wipeout. He did the entire Iditarod last year and only fell off once and it was on the flat Yukon River.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Well, I get told to never get old

I had the worst run yesterday. And it was with the puppies! So in case I've failed to mention, this summer Rich's dog Sadie had six pups. They're about seven or eight months now and we've been taking them on short, fun runs with some of the older dogs. Usually, I run them while Rich is doing longer runs and will take out two teams to divide the chaos in half. Yesterday I was feeling brave and took out an eight-dog team with all six pups and two leaders (Jack and Hitchcock). (The pups names are Mr. Lahey, Bubbles, Garcon, Obby, Maude and Wayne.) Even though these pups have been out on a dozen or more runs, hook-up is still a nightmare. Rich helped me yesterday and there was no shortage of flailing, chewing, biting, and general puppy antics. (The reason I've taken over with the pups is because, believe or not, I have a little more patience when it comes to the scratching, biting, fighting routine.) So right before we took off, Obby wiggled out of his harness and was loose, running around with Roy, who is impossible to catch when he knows you want to catch him. Fine, I thought, Obby can just run loose with the team. We finally took off and I realized that Maude has twisted herself up and was necklining. We were on the road at this point, so there was no stopping. As soon as we turned onto the NorthSouth trail, I stopped and unhooked her neckline. We were off again with Obby and Roy darting in and out of the team causing all the dogs to get distracted and thus, tangled. After several stops and lots of yelling at Roy, Jack, an old leader who has finished two Iditarods, had had enough. He made a quick haw (left turn) off the trail and into the knee-deep powder. I went with it, because I had had enough by this point also. I tried to get the team back on the trail, but Jack wasn't having it. He led us through the deep stuff for a while and then I saw Wayne trip and get tangled in his harness. I stopped quickly but couldn't set a hook because we were in powder, so I just grabbed him and took his harness off, setting him free. I finally got the team lined out and back on the hard-packed trail home. Now Wayne, Obby and Roy were running through the team causing everyone to get fed up. Bubbles reached out and grabbed Wayne, who was running loose beside her, by the ear. By the time I got back up onto the road and into the yard, I was sweating and hoarse from yelling. Jack was utterly fed up, but the pups were still wound up. It was a bad idea on my part to take them all at once. With two teams, I can have each pup beside an older dog and they don't act up nearly as much. Well, live and learn and hope that I didn't do too much damage.
No babies from Summer yet, but we're thinking in the next week or so. I moved her to a house right beside our cabin, so she can have a little peace and quiet.
Rich's 120-mile race starts tomorrow at 1 p.m. They generally don't update during this race because it's lesser known so I'll try to let you know how he's doing. His race team is: Ku, Rohn, Stanley, Steve, Jerry, Bully, Capiche, Crush, Drake, Omar, Sipsi and Pete. We'll see how they do this weekend and decide who will be on my Taiga 300 team. The Taiga starts on April 1st, at Wolverine Lodge.
I got a logo done and have ordered T-shirts, sweatshirts and hats to send to sponsors. I also ordered bumper stickers for sponsors, so if you sent me money, expect something soon besides my undying gratitude.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sometimes fires don't go out when you're done playing with them

It's windy here. And the chainsaw's broken so I can't cut word. Needless to say, I'm a little chilly. We have propane heat, but don't want to use it because fuel is so expensive. Rich is out for a 60-miler with the race team. We're taking turns doing a long runs with the main team and short runs with the pups.
Remember a few posts ago when I recounted the canine coitis on the trail between Summer and Rohn? Well upon close inspection yesterday it looks like Summer's preggers. She's not very big though, so it makes me think that either a) she's going to have a false pregnancy again or b) she'll only have a couple pups.
I hope it's the latter. We'll name a boy Junior and a girl Ruby. I've wanted a litter since last summer so I hope she pops out at least one.
Not much else to report. I'm counting the hours until we leave for Homer.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I'm not ready to make nice, I'm not ready to back down

According to my mother, with whom I just had the sweetest conversation, I'm leaving 'a trail of disappointment' wherever I go. Guess who's not invited to my rookie Iditarod start next year? Yes I gave up a steady career to race sled dogs. Do I regret it? Not for a second. I'm happy. Yes I've 'run away' from various lives I've had in the past several years, but I need to be happy. And you know what? I am happy. Have I disappointed people along the way? Probably. But I'm not living for other people. I completed my first 200-mile race this year and I'm pretty freakin' proud of that. (My mother paid the $200 entry fee but wanted it back when I didn't win.) I'm hoping to complete my first 300-mile race shortly. The people who have supported me along the way did so because they are supporting my dream, not because they expect something in return. And I'm living my dream. I'm not rich and don't have much to show, but I wake up every day not dreading the hours ahead. This is who I am.
We've narrowed the race contenders down. Hitchcock is out because she's just not interested in any run past 20 miles. Summer's out with a sore shoulder. Sister's out because she'd much rather train pups than go on any long runs. We've still got about 16 in contention for a 12-dog team, so odds are good that we'll have a great lineup come race time.
I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Don't piss off the hippie-crites...they might just burn your house down

Well, things have certainly changed a lot here in Alaska. Without getting into all the gory details, I will tell you these little tidbits:
I moved south to Big Lake with the dogs.
I am moving again in a couple weeks to Homer, Alaska, with the dogs and Rich.
I am racing in the Taiga 300 which starts on April 1.

I was talking to a friend online yesterday and he was telling me how he wished he had the gumption to do the things he wants to do. The things that would really make him happy. But he can't. He's got a wife, a big house, a couple cars, an HD flatscreen know...stuff... And he's up to his ass in debt as a result.
I am by no means debt free, but if you wait until where you want to be financially, instead of just making do, you'll never do anything. And as cliche as this sounds, one life is one life. For the love of god, live it!
I managed to race this year with the help of kind sponsors and supporters and now when I get money I buy dog food and the rest is secondary. And I'm happy. And excited because I can do anything. Really. And I will. I have been. My new plan is to do Iditarod next year.
Anyway, the dogs are in super shape. Strider and Sipsi have become superstars of the team, much to my huge surprise. We've got 18 race dogs who are all in the running for my Taiga team. Rich will take 12 in the Goose Bay 120 next weekend, so we'll see how they do on that.
Anyway, here are some random photos from the past few weeks.
I didn't want to hurt anyone, but I know I did. I'm not evil, just selfish, I guess. I need to do what makes me happy.
I have no idea where this is all going, so I'll leave it. 'Nuff said.
We're watching dog races and training pups and race dogs. There are no rules here and it's perfect.

Roy cuddled up with a scarf that Rich's mom made me.

Streeper's winning team at the Fur Rondy World Championship a couple weeks ago.

A team givin' 'er down Cordova Hill during the Fur Rondy.

Rich and Hoser at the Rondy.

Rich and I at the Rondy.