Monday, July 26, 2010

What else do you do with a 33-pound punk?

You hook her up in single lead and hit the trail!! Mr. Lahey had her first single lead adventure the other day and she AMAZED me! Despite being horribly homesick, having the worst luck of my life over the past few months and being wet and cold while not making any money, this one single dog run made my whole week! Amazing what these dogs can do when you're feeling blue. Aaron and I hooked up a couple teams on one of our (many) weather days last week and went off trail. I tried Lahey up front on her own and she dug in and took charge. I was so proud I wanted to cry. So yeah, instead of moping around feeling sorry for myself I hooked up a couple teams and focused on training new leaders. We haven't done tours in several days and I'm fearing the weather will never get better. But, only six more weeks and then it's home to Homer. I ran into Sebastian Schnuelle last week and he made a good point: Even though we're not making money, this is a good chance to train dogs. So that's what I try to do. I mean, really, what else is there to do when we have no guests and it's pouring rain?
Peter's foot is still infected. It's been two months. I am fearing the worst. He's still on antibiotics and hopefully a vet will be up soon to look at him again. He's been hanging out in my tent a lot so his foot can stay dry, but it's still oozing. His spirits are good though and he's eating well, so we'll see what happens.
The countdown to Homer and my Rich is on!

Monday, July 12, 2010

So much beauty it'll make you cry

Last week, we got weathered down on the ground while the other half of the crew got weathered up. We took advantage and went hiking (on my birthday, no less) to the ice caves under the toe of the Mendenhall Glacier. We did get three days of tours in following our stretch of bad weather and then the fog rolled in again. The other crew got weathered on the ground this week while we were weathered up. Finally yesterday, there was a small break in the fog, rain and snow so that we could switch crews and come down. We, and when I say we I mean the South Dog Park crew: Kym, Dustin and Aaron (fellow mushers) Josh and Claire (handlers) and Dale and Martha (boss and cook), are down just long enough to shower and do laundry (and blog) and we're going back up today. It's sunny now so hopefully we can get some tours in. Peter is still at the vet, but hopefully will be returning to the glacier today if the weather stays good. This week I had great guests who asked great questions and had a great time. (I guess one exception was the guy who asked if we were in Alaska. Uh, yeah! I'm not sure where he thought he was, but I just smiled and said yes.) I also started running our yearlings, Ruby and Alice, in lead and they are amazing! I feel like a proud mama. So all in all, pretty good week. I'm still counting the days until I get home to Rich but hopefully our bad weather is over for a while and I can stay busy.
Here are some photos that Kym and I took on our hike to the ice caves.
Kym and Dustin on the way to the caves.

Getting there was half the fun. It wasn't a long hike but there was some rock scrambling and river jumping.


Kym, me and Tessa at the toe of the glacier.

Heading into the caves. I can't even begin to describe how cool it was. What a nice way to spend my 33rd birthday. It would have been perfect if Rich was there to share this cool adventure.

A completely different world.

Kym raising the roof!

Here I am scrambling.

Look up...look waaaay up...I think I'm looking for my youth in this one...

We returned to the crew house tired, wet and hungry. Martha had graciously prepared a birthday feast and a cake! That's a lot of candles!!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Sometimes the rain must fall

Rich is here in Juneau and all is well in the world again. Today, I'm working on being positive and with Rich here, it's easy. We pick up where we left off, just like we were never apart. Must be love. Meanwhile, this week has been the worst yet on the glacier. I'm just going tell this story and then I am all about being positive. Sneaky Pete has had a festering infection in his foot for weeks. Three different kinds of antibiotics coupled with soaking in Epsom salts twice a day was doing very little. A vet came up, took one look at Peter's foot and said how nasty it was and that he needed to be sent down to the ground for a more extensive exam, x-ray and probably some kind of surgery. I was more than happy to send him down because his foot had been messed up for so long. He went down to Southeast vet clinic upon the request of Juneau vet (also a Quest vet) Nene Wolfe and had his foot opened up, drained and cleaned with a culture sent to a lab to see exactly what the infection is. Peter is a young male who is an amazing leader but a hard keeper. With him being on the ground and me being up on the glacier, obviously I was concerned about his recovery and often asked my bosses to ask about him when they were in radio contact with the ground. Thursday morning one of the ground crew told us he had good news and bad news about Peter. The good news was that the procedure went well and was performed by one of the owners of Southeast vet. The bad news was, and this is where I exploded into expletives, Peter 'got away from them' and had been running around Juneau with an injured foot and a cone on his head since the night before. Yes. It's true. They let my dog go. So Thursday, the next day, Rich arrived in Juneau for our lovely, romantic birthday weekend, but I, still swearing at anyone who would listen, was stuck up on the glacier because the fog had rolled in. Rich spent the night with some AIE peeps searching for Peter. When they went home at 10 p.m., Rich stayed out until after 1 in the morning. People had been spotting Peter in various neighborhoods and animal control ran around trying to catch him. To say that Peter was scared is the understatement of the century. Finally, late Friday afternoon, with Peter on the loose for 48 hours, the weather cleared and I got down to the ground. We rallied the troops, my co-workers, fellow mushers and handlers and started searching. We saw him many times but he was not coming to anyone, even me. People in the neighborhood started coming out of their houses to look. Cars were driving past yelling 'We just saw him over there!' and 'We jumped out of the car to try and get him, but he's fast!' A woman even drove up with border collie and tried to herd Peter. It was awesome. I don't know if it was that people cared about our dog, or rather that he was becoming a massive traffic hazard and had dodged cars several times on a four-lane highway. Regardless, we rallied. In the end, about two hours later, it was my former handler Ben who chased Peter into a backyard, cornered him at a dead end and grabbed him. I was so happy that Peter was finally safe and that Rich and I still had a day to relax and enjoy each other. Peter is back at the vet for a second surgery to fix the damage caused by two days of running. He'll stay at the vet until he is sent back directly to me. Positive end to a ridiculously negative story. Sigh. Most of the week was weathered out again. Monday is my birthday. A new year and a new week. A new week of me being positive. Thanks for your help, Juneau.

Peter, on the right, when he was healthy. Here's wishing a speedy recovery to my Sneaky One.