Friday, January 7, 2011

The end of dog mushing

When I first read a book called (A dog named wolf)a story of a stray dog in the Yukon wilds by, R.J lippincott in the 1970s. I always dreamed of having a Dog team But growing up poor but happy it was not possible, I always said if and when i ever could have a dog team I would love to run in the Yukon,But I choose to be a cowboy in the early part of my life competing in amateur rodeos all over western Canada I did this for over 16 yrs jumping off of perfectly good horses in the steer wrestling competition when I did retire from rodeo,
Dog mushing was still on my bucket list. Then I got an opportunity to help out a sprint racer driving 12 hrs every weekend for about 2 months I jumped at the opportunity of learning the ropes so to speak for my first year and then moving on to a distance mushers kennel, soaking in every thing I could on the sport ,and starting our own kennel.So After about 8yrs of having our own kennel and competing around western canada, I made a work change and moved me and my family a little father north
That enable me to plan to run the Yukon quest 300.

And what a thrill to be on the same trail as the gold rusher's

Starting the race in Whitehorse then ,off to Braeburn and Carmacks everything went fine running though the hills and valleys though the notorious pinball ally Whew"
when I was just outside of pelly crossing about 30 miles for town things were not going good I was depressed beyond belief I was down to 7 dogs everything was coming apart ,we had packed another musher who had lost her team,
I had a dog in the bag ,about an hr later we found her team I dropped her off and I continued on the team was not looking good so I decided since we were not going to make a difference in the race anyway , I stopped it was around 2-3 in the afternoon.
I made my friends comfortable and built a fire about 1/2 an hour later Lucy came along she said she was continuing on , I explained I was going to take a break I still had one of those monster burgers from Braeburn, so i proceeded to warm it up over the fire and I made some Tea and as I was sitting there I suddenly broke down and bawled I still do not know why , maybe because of all the things that had happened behind us or maybe I was just feeling sorry for myself , after I composed myself.
I sat drinking Tea and eating my monster burger by the crackling fire I was thinking to myself, this is the greatest achievement that I have ever done , I have accomplished my dream of running dogs and traveling thru the Yukon wilderness by dog team, from the book of so long ago, except the trapping part (still possible) and I have done a lot of adventures , it was like I belonged here in this Yukon wilderness and it was apart of me and always will be and I can come back anytime, suddenly my Lead dog for no reason gets up and starts hamming the gangline wanting to go,I start whistling ,I knew then even if we did't finish this race (we came up 8 miles short) I completed what I had set out to do. Thank you R.J Lippincott, just like in the story of the dog, in the End wolf becomes a sled dog for the trapper,and me a dog musher .
And now a couple of yrs have past since then, The fire is starting to fade
My oldest daughter will be graduating this yr, I promised my youngest Disney land and my wife more of my time to spend with her family and mine and to travel .
And this year wasn't that great for me I lost my oldest brother ,then I put on a race, and was sick a couple of times .

It just made my decisions that much easier to say lets move on to new adventures and new beginnings .
however having said all of that God willing and my health stays good I will be back on a sled one DAY I don't know when or where but I will race again also I now have a lot of Mushing buddy's
This time I am not sad because I know ITS NOT THE END OF DOG MUSHING

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pick your dance any dance

Well its been awhile since spring hit and I fell off the map,Now that training is in full swing ,I'm back and will update my goings on and doings,I only have 10 dogs this year been awhile since i have been that low on dogs ,but the 10 I have I feel are the best I have owned ,9 boys and one girl,she gets ALL the attention the boys are all sweet on her ,Dixie is a 7yr old leader however there have been times in training when she frustrates the hell out of me on these time I take her out of Lead and she becomes a team dog ,never a slack Line with her but it seems that once we are back at home ,she feels that its all Waylons fault ,and she will sit there and chirp at him ,and let him know she does not like to be upstaged ,And like a good, lead partner he sits there and takes a verbal beating just nodding his head I feel for ya big guy..And then there these three new misfits took awhile to coheres their owner that he would be better off without them ,they are fun to be around, make you feel good Kinda dogs ,watch the Dancing brothers do there thing.

Gentleman secure your Booties and hang on introducing ,Tango, Two step,& Hip hip,
OK pick your Dance any Dance

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Canadian Challenge 2010

A bit of a long post, so bear with me.
Canadian Challenge 2010 is over, and it seems everyone is going home happy. At the awards breakfast this morning, mushers shared their trail experiences and expressed their support for the race. Second place finisher Aaron Peck challenged other mushers to return next year and bring at least one other musher! That’s an endorsement we really value.
We had the two scratches south of Weyakwin. It seems if a team can make it past Weyakwin, which is in the hilliest area of the trail, they tend to finish. It’s unfortunate Ron Shaw and Ed Jenkins had to pull out, and we wish they could have continued. But they know themselves and their dogs, and we know their decisions were made in the team’s best interests. We invite them back for 2011.
The first great success was seeing 13-year-old Keeler Munro pulling into Elk Ridge with a huge smile on his face after a great run from Prince Albert. He was the only competitor in the Junior race, but it was a huge moment all the same. He’ll be facing competition next year!
Luke Naber did a great job to take the 8-dog crown, a great re-entry to the distance sled dog racing world. Congratulations, Luke. Dave Neubuhr had every intention of winning but had dog problems in the last 50 miles. And we’re really pleased for Irvin Wai, who has come up short three times before, that he was able to finish. His dogs were on fire from the wilderness checkpoint north, and although we staffed the 165 road crossing at a time when we expected him through, he was long gone northward before we could get there. We were just getting concerned when he showed up at the La Ronge checkpoint! Way to go, Irvin, it was great to have you back. Irv says he’s going to spend next winter on the beach, but we’ll see . . .
Gerry “the Ghost” Walker walked away with the victory in the 12-dog race. His dogs grew wings and just flew. He and second place winner Aaron Peck were holding their cards close to their chests all the way, but Aaron had the advantage that he could read the signs to see what Gerry was doing, while Gerry had no knowledge of how close behind Aaron was. No pressure there!
Third place Randy McKenzie of Fort McMurray was an unknown to us, but he had a good race and is now one of the “family”. We hope to see you back, Randy.
Jessica Allen finally hit her stride by moving up to the 12-dog race, finishing with a great almost-sprint from Stanley Mission to La Ronge with only six dogs in front. This is supposedly Jess’s last race, since she and fiancĂ© Jeff Thomas are heading back to their native Australia this summer, where they plan to get married on a beach somewhere in the Adelaide area. Our best wishes to them. We’re not laying bets on whether or not they’ll return, but I think Canada and mushing is well in their blood so don’t be surprised.
And then there’s Red Lantern Sid Robinson. He’s still not listening to his mother; she told him before the race not to get another red lantern (he has quite a collection), but he disobeyed her again! Sid is a great musher and supporter of the sport, and he runs dogs for the fun of it. He always has a smile on his face and a word of encouragement for everyone.
Great handlers this year too – Brenda Walker for Gerry, Debbie Naber for Luke, Stacy Neubuhr for brother Dave, Jack for Irvin. Didn’t get Randy’s young handler’s name, sorry. Aaron’s handler was Jeff (Geoff?), Jeff Thomas for Jessica, and Redmond Fox for Sid.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

We made the paper. La Ronge,Notherner

Canadian Challenge a successful event

Mushers, dog teams, organizers, vets, volunteers – the team that makes the Canadian Challenge work.

Mushers and dogs glided into La Ronge to complete the 2010 Canadian Challenge. Ten teams started the race with two teams dropping out before the finish line; three eight-dog and fi ve 12-dog teams competed in the 13th Annual Canadian Challenge Sled Dog Race.

Gerry Walker of Pierceland, Sask. took the cup in the 12-dog race; Luke Naber, of Shellbrook fi nished first in the eightdog race.

Sid Robinson, of La Ronge, collected the Red Lantern award for the 12- dog race and Irvin Wai, of Bezanson, Alta. received the Red Lantern for the eight-dog race.

Wai, who competed in the Challenge four times the past, but didn’t finish the race, swept into La Ronge in the surprise finish of the race.

This reporter sat in the bus at the La Ronge checkpoint listening to concern about this musher, who seemed to be lost.

Every few minutes we heard a woman’s voice on the radio expressing concern about this musher who hadn’t come to their checkpoint at the Creighton crossover. The decision was to give him a little longer.

The radio quieted for a bit and someone in the bus saw, what they thought was a snowmobile coming up the dog sled trail and just as everyone was getting concerned, she noticed the dogs in front of the snowmobile, which, of course, turned out to be the sleigh and our “missing” musher joyfully entered La Ronge.

The fun didn’t end there because when the women on the radio was informed of the arrival, we heard her express her confusion on hearing the news about a musher arriving in La Ronge from a phone call with an Alberta number. It turned out the cell phone used to make the call was a local caller, who has an Alberta cell phone number.

With all the confusion cleared up, and the musher identified as indeed No. 51. There was much celebration in Irvin Wai’s successful completion of the race and perhaps the story illustrates some of the care and camaraderie of the people who compete, support, organize and volunteer to do the many tasks, which make this event happen successfully year after year.

One group that is an integral part of the Challenge is the team of veterinarians who give up their time to support the race.

“We’re there as a preventative measure and for emergency care,” said Dr. Ruth Sims, the head vet on the team.

The veterinary team travel up and down the trails throughout the event.

“We try to be at every checkpoint where there’s dog teams,” Sims said.

“We do mandatory vet checks before the race and one at the last checkpoint before the finish line,” she said, adding hydration and lameness are the two areas they look for particularly in the check up.

“They are the two big ones, because they are the main reasons why a dog is going to get sick and not complete the race.”

The advice of a vet is needed if a musher wants to drop a dog from the team during the race.

“If people want to drop a dog out, we check them out and put a red stripe on their head and write it in the race book so they can’t be put back in (the race.)”

And why does she keep coming back? “I think after five years you get to know the mushers, you know the volunteers involved so it’s like coming back and seeing old friends again.

Sims operates a mixed practice in Grand Forks, B.C. where she treats large and small animals, “horses and cattle, cats and dogs, anything that comes through the door basically,” she said.

Sims is a veteran at the Canadian Challenge as this is her sixth year; her third as the head vet. Sims also worked with the Yukon Quest in 2006.

Dr. Stewart Walker, a veterinarian from Shellbrook, assisted on the team for the fi rst year.

The team also included four, fourth-year veterinarian students from the University of Saskatchewan: Glenna McGregor, Andrew Ritson-Bennett, Angela Chen and Maria Sung along with a veterinary technician.

The race began in Prince Albert at noon on Wed. Feb. 10 and ended with an awards breakfast Sun. Feb. 14 at the La Ronge Hotel and Suites.

The highlight of the breakfast - the stories of race experiences, some poignant, some brought gales of laughter from the audience, but they made up the When Jess Allen decided she needed to get on ahead of Sid Robinson, on the race trail so she wouldn’t get the red lantern, she said, “I like to think of Sid as a friend, so you don’t interfere with a friend’s collection.” Robinson traditionally takes home a Red Lantern award, but also exhibits the traditional friendliness and helpfulness characteristic of the early trappers, who used dog teams for their transportation needs and followed the trails to move around the country.

“The route you’ve taken north, that’s our highway,” said CBC’s Tom Roberts

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Running Free

Now that summers is close to being hot the team looks forward to thier play time,smelling smells having fun chewing and antlers and digging holes ,we have a few that need new homes where they can continue to give plenty of affection and go around Running free ..........................

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dog Patch

well spring is here today it was a balmy 20+ degrees in April way to warm for me ,warmest winter mushing for me from -5 in Sask when it is more than likely -30 any other time, ,climate change gotta wonder,

I feel our season went OK ,entered two races finished one ,my Nemesis race,towards the end of the season I said to my family that's it we'll sell the dogs keep a couple for fun and do some traveling to all the hot spots California here we come ,I can't stand the heat now how will I coup in L.A in July might not leave the room,I fined my mind wondering to this coming winter ,Again

sold some of my best dogs to a good friend I know they will have a good home as he has some from my first time around ,well I'll tell you a secret I went and made a deal to lease some ,and now I fined myself making deals to buy some more ,got some splain'nin to do Thank god she understands me, cause I don't,Oh well I'll feel a little sheepish as i said I was done for a couple of years when I show up at the start line ,all will be forgotten once I pull the snow hook Sorry Hon. When I decided to quit smoking I went cold turkey ,did not need any help but now I'm sitting and thinking I wonder if they Make a dog Patch

Monday, February 15, 2010

Red lantern

The Race day started out with a slight brisk wind just about right for a race Prince Albert to Anglin Lake 50 miles,first the 12 dogs teams left town followed by us,the 8 dogs teams as the count down started my sponsor rider jumps on the sled right off, the bat we are behing the 8 ball, weight wise so to speak we are two big boys. but I knew the rules coming in we all start even ,

off we go the team starts well down main street and on to the river over on to the opposite bank we come to the drop off for my rider he thanks, me I in return thank him and his company for helping the race ,As sponsors, are a big part of most competitive we wind though the outskirts of Prince Albert and on to farmland the day is rapidly warmimng up the team just doe'st seem to be themselves.

as we continue along we come to a drop down to the little red river no trail just a drop and man" do we drop and Crash' we hit the bottom of the river bank I do a quick survey of the team at this point, they all look no worse for wear so we continue on. (everyone who went down this embankment has a story to tell, a couple went the wrong way one musher lost her team,for the first few miles all teams are jockeying for position and this will continue for the next while The trail is heavy and slow ,Bo starts to have a slack tug line way out of charteter for him ,when we stop he's not hitting the line wanting to go, the way he normally does ,I keep my eye on him ,All the teams seem to be in a good mood .we leave the field and head into the forest and are now in Resort country ,I still felt at this point we where in a good position and that the team would respond once it cooled off as i was planning a night run.

we arrive at Anglin Lake check point and My Handler JD is there to greet me we discuss the team and any concerns with their Care , as the vet are checking over the team I tell them about Bo" My main wheel Dog, not being himself, once examination are done all is good except Bo he has a bruised lung tissue, I mention the wreck at the river ,we all agree in the best interest , Bo's race was over" ,it was hard to leave him behind,as he was one of my best wheels dogs .
I'M down to 7 dogs.
we head out of Anglin Lake on our way to Elkridge check point #2 ,20 mile run finally some fast trail we do the run in 21/2 hrs , they don't seem to have an appetite i decide to stay a couple of hrs. we do other check of the team all looks well,off we go I'm hopping to do a 40 mile run ,we are now heading back to the highway. about a mile from there i spot two teams sleeping in a warm up shack ,A couple of my dogs seem off so once again I decide to give them a break .I grab my sleeping bag and head in. theres a fire going I like this, it turns out to be 2 mushers I know well and good friends,I tried to be as quite as possible ,Sid was up and we had a short talk. I get about an hr worth of sleep,still to hyped up ,Sid & Jess pull out I decide to stay a couple more hrs I roast a couple of hot dogs for breakfast and have a cup of tea ,As I'm hooking up the team the morning feels to warm for northern Sask we have been here when it has been -49 -59 ,now I'm Way to warm -6-16,Off we go check point #3.
As i Step on the Runners, In a blur I notice
That my lead dogs, guide dog (Yeah really) is continually looking back never a dip on hers tugs ,I start worrying she not running right soon she just says to heck with this and stop working completely ,

we stop and I do a head to toe check to see if she has and injury , None evident Not taking chances I load her in the sled still 35+ miles to go. "Now" this, as we carry on the heat of the days is catching up with us ,I'm doing all I can to stay positive at this point, anything different and the dogs will pick up on it and act to it,
As the heat overtakes us we stop we are all exhausted ,Checkers come by ask how its going ,I explain NWAS but thanks for asking, Nice guy we chit chat for a bit,He keeps saying I don't know but they don't look to good , I should consider scratching, I'M Thinking no, only 1 dog is feeling poorly the rest are ready to continue(I Think ), I ask Him if the Vets could come and have a look at her, he agrees and request or suggests (sleep Deprivation) he will call my handler to the roadside just in case.(As a last place musher HRS behind the rest there are times when some want the race to be over and to close the checkpoints, as everyone is tired its been a long week and so on ,more negatives I won't dwell on,moving along)

I agree and But stat I will only make my decision after they have had a once over by the Vets Because we still had a lot of time to go and I felt we could still make it .The race Marshall arrives I explain my position to him he agrees to let me drop the dog there and says the other racers will have the same concessions, he goes on to say the rest look real great and to keep going which I explained I had every intention if the team was fine, I end up dropping another Dog,down to 6 with a 100 miles to go.
"What is going on here not the team I left Home with" Do they have a bug or is it the heat, I'M racking my brain here ("Where is my Team"),So on we go Trying to push the afternoon into the Dark. Then around 3:00 its trying to Rain, at that point a checker arrives ask how this are going, "You know what I said " she says that "ITS about 9.6KM to go, and most of it involved Hills I thanked her for this information, And said I should continue on, and that if I did not arrive in 2hrs to send help and a sandwich LOL ,
As I started again got to thinking I should have said 3-4hrs what if the team stopped,But on the last hill into checkpoint #3 the dogs just flew in ,So in we go JD is there waiting for me I go to a fire to warm up. JD tends to the team ,once done he said we could go to the local hall where the rest of the Mushers rested for a much needed snooze "we get there the doors are Locked ,WTF ,I say Really)
JD" I give up sleeping in trucks yrs ago This is gonna be a long Night I just feel it,I make some calls to the R.M and soon the hall doors are open .Just in Time I start cramping up big time My handler gets me hydrated along with Some pain killers, I crawl into my brand new 400 dollar sleeping bag goodnight" Irene,ZZZZZZZZZZ until about 3 in the morning I wake up sweating drop's of water, Bags working too good soaking wet, I take my undershirt off its wet ,then Lay down to ice cold bag ,shriving I sit up put back on, my wet shirt ,Why the Hell didn't I take up surfing,suddenly theres a loud bang" Furnace must have kicked on Time to rise and run " I wake JD up who just layed down hrs ago after dropping them I get a run down on who's eating and drinking ,as a handler the musher relies on the information and observation the the teams actions while resting I have one dog to be concerned about ,and yes one of the big boys .Its a 20 mile run to the last check point The vets do a quick examine he stats the team looks good,The vets are the trooper of the race out 24 hrs very little rest and Their volunteering their time Can't thank them enough,Off we go the dogs start OUT AT A Good LOPE i HOLD THEM BACK IT IS A FAIRLY EASY RUN TO WHAT IS KNOWN AS LT's

Once we arrive it is my good friend and previous president of the race ,I explain to dave we plan on staying till night fall fall, He says we have lots of food and drink stay as long as we need .I have a good visit with the crew ,and come late afternoon my big boy still is not drinking as much I i would like,I'm starting to worry ,Only 60 miles to go Can I make it with five dogs what to do ,about 3:30pm he starts to drink and eat . Thank my lucky stars ,I ask if there is anywhere along the trail I can drop this brute if he falters, Dave says there is a drop about 35mile up the trail and he states someone will be There." AS we hit the trail it is smooth and just right for the team I hold them back just enough to loosen them up all of a sudden, Mooshu starts to dip for snow and dip and dip right on hes getting hydrated ,Off the road and into the woods we go the sun is down and its starting to cool off the team is flying.

NOW this is the team left home with where have you been, I ask them,When we stop they are hammering the gang line to go,
I says to the team alright if you wanna go we'll go
I'm looking for this road with the checkers on it .As i had already passed a couple of roads, but saw no one But as i was leaving I said to the checker to tell the crew ahead I was planning on taking my time as we were not gong to catch the first 2 racers , all we wanted was to cross that line and slay my Dragon,
As I have tried this Race 3 times previously ,and came up short,at about 11:30 I knew that either we have passed the road or we are really going slow ,12:00 am Nothing,all of a sudden we are on a lake and there are homes along the shore ,could this be Lac La Ronge ,on we run the Northern Lights come out briefly as if to congratulate us soon the lights of town show up ,and I know we have finally finished what we started ,AS I watched my Team run into town the Tears, start rolling down ,I said thank you my most precious friends" Thank you.

I was told Later on That we for Now hold the record for the fastest finish of both the 12&8 dogs teams, from LT'S to the finish line "8hrs15min nonstop ,6 beautiful dogs. The smokey river racing team collects the........... RED LANTERN