Friday, April 08, 2011

I don't give a damn about my bad reputation

A couple weeks ago, whilst I was in Portland, I got a phone call from fast-talking television producer. His name was Jody and he is a producer for the Discovery Channel's show American Chopper. For those of you like me, who had never really seen the show, it's been on the air since '03 and it's about a father and sons and crew who build specialty motorcycles. They own a shop and make custom bad-ass bikes for a variety of people, mostly celebrities, I think. I had to do some research and talk it over with Rich and but we eventually decided that yes, we would take the cast and crew of American Chopper on a dog sled tour. Over the coming weeks I was in constant communication with Jody sorting out the details. And with each conversation, my stress level grew. That's just me. I love doing tours, but they tend to stress me out a little. We decided on Friday, April 8th at 7 a.m. Rich and I made arrangements with our respective jobs to come in late and commandeered a slew of handlers for the occasion. Fast forward to Thursday, the day BEFORE they were supposed to come. We had a close call with an ornery moose in the dog yard and then as I'm driving to work, I got a bunch of messages from Jody saying that they needed to do the tour today, preferably right now! Well, shit. I called him and said we both had to work and that we weren't really ready for it to happen until the next morning. He seemed a little desperate. I called Rich and our prospective handlers and asked them about bumping the tour to that evening. Everyone was on board! I called Jody back and said we could do it that evening. Anyway, long story, long, I was kind of a wreck at work, thinking about all I had to do in the two hours I would have before the tour after I got off. My super flexible and understanding boss let me go early and I raced home and started cleaning up, rigging sleds, etc. At around 7 p.m. I drove the quad to the top of the driveway (it's too slushy to drive trucks down right now...break up...) and waited. After a few minutes, I heard vehicles approaching. And then, my stomach dropped. Six big SUVs crested the hill and were coming toward me. 'How many freakin' people are there??' I thought. A lot, that's how many. No less than six (maybe eight) camera guys, sound guys, producers, creators, mechanics and, of course, Paul Teutel Sr., simply known as 'Senior' on the show. Rich and I were 'miked' up and 'Action!' There were a couple of staged shots. The first was Senior and crew walking into the dog yard and Rich and I standing there to greet them. Handshakes all around and then we launched into a talk about the dogs, sleds, what we do, etc. From there, Rich took Senior et al over to the sleds and talked about how to drive, safety stuff etc., while Katy, Jason, Kelly and I hooked up three teams of six dogs. We kind of jumped the gun on the hook-up because none of the camera guys were in place by the time we had the dogs hooked up. Oops. So there were several minutes of 18 dogs going absolutely apeshit and us standing there while the camera guys scrambled to get into position. So we finally took off. It was myself, then Senior, then some other dude whose name is failing me. They dumped a couple times and struggled to get up in the gooey snow, but they never let go! Amazing! Jason and Rich helped them up and off we went again. And again. And again. The dogs did three passes with different crew members and everyone, especially the dogs, did great. My team was Nova and Lahey in lead, Hitchcock and Doyon in swing and Maude and Audrey in wheel. The second team was Ku and Tim in lead, Lefty and Ruby in swing and Pancho and Dolly in wheel. The third team was Capiche and Strider in lead, Omar and Crush in swing and Drake and Hazel in wheel. We swapped a couple dogs out after the first two runs, just so everyone could have a chance. The dogs were superstars (as usual). We thought that, even though our little loop was short, the soft conditions and warm temps might tire them out a little. Not so. They seemed to get more and more amped up with each run. It was a proud moment for Spitfire Kennels. Rich and I did short on-camera interviews after the dogs were put away. I think we'll come off okay, but I am a little concerned about how we'll be portrayed. I guess we'll see. We just did what we do: run dogs and love life. Before they arrived I had even contemplated, albeit briefly, putting on a little makeup and wearing something I knew I wouldn't be comfortable in. I quickly came to my senses (I also quickly realized any makeup I still had was years old and would probably turn my skin green). I wore my smelly old dog bibs, a fleece jacket and a hat. That's me. Chubby and plain. No frills. And we like it like that! The crew left after two hours at the ranch. They were all happy and smiling and I really think they had a good time. I know we did. The episode it set to air in early May. Since I was wrapped up in the tour, I didn't take a single photo. But luckily, our friend Kelly took lots and some video. Thanks, Kel! Peace.

Camera guys.

Rich and I waiting for Senior to walk up the trail and greet us. I kept forgetting I had a microphone on....and I really can't remember what I was saying to Rich...uh oh...

Senior arrives.

He was quite interested in the dogs.

And the sled...I wonder what he's thinking...

He made it back relatively unscathed and kept saying what a workout it was. Now that I look at this photo, I think we could have at least moved the shit buckets...

Me talking to one of the welders, Mike. The whole crew was really nice and very interested in what we do.

Our friend and neighbor Matt skied down to check out the circus and offer up a hand. He got there a little late and we were just wrapping up. He got bit by Roy and skied home. Poor Matt. (Roy was having trouble controlling his emotions. He wasn't biting out of aggression, it was more of a 'what's up, neighbor?' bite. And we just found out that Roy bit him in the leg and the ass.)