Well. I must admit I had my own thoughts about the snow. Thank goodness that we have Inferno, and his snow report, with Oriana as a special guest. 4” and rain? No big deal. #snowreport
Rookie of the year: Gem Gem!
It was during fall training when I realized how special Gem is, during some long back to back runs where she led 3/4 of the miles. A fun loving slip of a hound dog, Gem is a friendly three year old in her first year of racing, and her first year with the team. While a natural leader, there were a lot of things Gem had to learn this year: pacing herself, sleeping in straw, snacking on the trail, and the communicative teamwork among musher and dog team. She did it all, with her semi-floppy ear and long hound tongue.
Gem ran in the front end of the Beargrease team, unfazed by the crowds of the trail and the chaos of the checkpoints. She sat sentry through the rests, both in that race and in the Can Am. I didn’t know what to expect of her in the Beargrease, and she surprised me with her focus and determination.
I also didn’t expect the leadership of the Can Am 250 to rest in her little paws, but it did. With injuries to Aurora and Ariel, it was up to Gem to take the lead as the main leader. This is a lot to ask of a young dog, in her first year racing, but she led 200 miles of that race, with as much confidence as she had. This little girl has a lot ahead of her.
For all of these reasons, I am so proud to award Gem the first ‘Rookie of the year’ mention for Shady Pines Sled Dogs. Gem was sponsored this year by Chris Garby. Sketch by @cooperhill and photos by @klementovich
Glorious evenings. And Oriana.
Spring hikes with Rocky.
Leaving the office, my phone rang. I had asked Chuck to feed the dogs, since my workday was long and busy, and he had the day off. Since we are usually text-communicators, to see his name on the screen surprised me. ‘What’s wrong?’ is how I answered the phone. ‘We have a miracle,’ he said. Being the kind of person he is, he made me guess. I am horrible at guessing, but he made me guess anyways.
When he had fed the dogs, Fanzine, normally outside demanding her dinner, was quietly laying in her house.
Fanzine had her puppies.
Two weeks prior to that, during the big April trip to the vet for rabies vaccines and exams and other questions, Fanzine was x-rayed and palpated. My vet declared it a false pregnancy. But she kept getting bigger. I waited for her to get smaller, as he had assured me she would. As this story goes, she did get smaller—when she had the puppies.
Happy 1st birthday to the LOST litter: Jumbotron, Freckles, Hoss and Orchid (and RIP little brother Whiz Kid).
When Flora left to spend the winter doing tours at Muddy Paw, she left as a poofy, easily excited and easily overwhelmed, tiny toy of a dog. She was just barely one year old.
Over the winter, I got reports on Flora (and Fauna, but more on Fauna later) from Brianna and Wes. Flora was doing best in small teams, running less often, and running in the back of the team. She still seemed easily overwhelmed, and as a result ran about half as often as Fauna.
Flora came back three weeks ago, and at first all I could see was the poofy puppy I knew in September. The more time I spent with her, the more I noticed something new in Flora. Something….stronger.
On her first run in the team, I put her in wheel with Loki. It was a 10 mile run with 10 dogs. I intended to watch her carefully and cautiously, waiting for the moment when she’d struggle with race team speed after a winter of doing tours.
She was flawless. Loki gave her cheer and confidence, and she moved with a perfectly executed trot. She never looked back. Snowmobiles, birds, downhills, she was totally focused ahead. She ran the next run in point, charging ahead and driving the speed with Gemma.
As I sat with her in the evenings, her head in my lap, I wondered what other surprises she might have in store. With the rapidly melting snow, I was running out of time.
So, I put her in front of a big team of adults.
She held her line out and never looked back. She and Ariel worked well together, and Ariel seemed to like her. I have seen natural leadership. Sometimes it comes out right away like with Willie Jr, Bayley, or Fauna. Sometimes it takes time, like with Wembley and Ariel.
When I look at Flora now, I see a serious, solid, confident emerging leader. It’s up to me to not screw it up. Ariel and Aurora will help.
Welcome home, Flora. And thank you Bri and Wes for taking care of her.