Wednesday, May 25, 2011

 Spring Projects and PUPPIES!!!!!

Ana & her cousin Maddie playing in the new dog house opening Larry built for the new puppies

Maddie, Ana & Makenzie playing with the Slider/Serra puppies

The Elrond/Odessa pups sleeping in their new pen. They are named after places in Alaska: Juneau, Sitka, Willow, Ruby, Dutch, Kodiak and Homer. Pictured above from left to right: Dutch, Juneau, Ruby & Kodiak.

Homer, Kodiak, Dutch, Willow, Ruby, Juneau, and Sitka all squeezed together under the step. We have since built a new step that they can't fit under for safety purposes.

Ruby, Kodiak & Juneau exploring one of their "new" houses. My Grandpa Kelley built this house for our dogs a long time ago. It is looking pretty grim these days. We have repaired it a lot over the years because I just don't have the heart to throw it out. Plus, the dogs love it!

This is Juneau. She is so beautiful!! She gets her picture taken alot. She looks like her older sister Fender, who is the best female in our kennel. I hope she takes after her in the future as well.

Dutch & Juneau trying to escape!

Odessa's pups sleeping on their new steps

Ruby, Juneau and Homer wishing they were a little bit bigger!

Me & Kodiak

The entire Odessa litter. From left to right: Sitka (standing on Dutch), Dutch, Homer, Ruby, Juneau, Willow & Kodiak

The Slider/Serra litter. They are named after musical instruments/equipment: Banjo, Bongo, Tuba, Fiddle, Capo, and Cello. Not pictured here is Banjo. He was busy exploring during this photo opportunity.

Bongo resting after a long day of exploring his new digs

Fiddle exploring

Fiddle, Bongo & Banjo (the black/white pup)



Left to right: Dutch, Sitka, Ruby, Juneau and Homer

Ana holding her favorite pup from the Slider/Serra litter, "Banjo", when he was just a few days old

Ana helping her daddy grade the driveway

Pictured above are the new dog houses Larry built inside our garage. We used to have one inside, it leads to a pen outside. We always have our females whelp in here so we can keep a close eye on them from the house & bring the puppies inside often so they get lots of attention. The old house was on its last leg and with 2 litters only 2 weeks apart, it was time to build 2 new houses inside & 2 bigger pens outside. Also note that the entire project was built with wood we recycled. It was going to be thrown away so we put it to good use.

This is the pen on the outside. This doorway leads into the doghouse that is in our garage. I love it!! It has made caring for these 2 litters much easier!!

The two new pens. Serra is sticking her head out of her new house watching her pups. There is also a doghouse in each pen on the outside so the puppies have another spot to get out of the weather. It takes them a couple of weeks to be able to use the stairs to the garage house.

Sitka, Kodiak, Juneau & Homer (left to right)

Serra resting in our office with her pups. This was her home for 2 weeks while she waited patiently for Larry to finish her new house & pen.

Ana recently had her first gymnastics show. She was so proud & so are we!!

We have had a very busy spring with puppies and projects!! I thought we would get a break after our race season, but I guess spring & summer is the time to get things done before training starts up again. We are done with most of the things we were going to get done like spring cleaning the kennel,  the garage, the barn and building two new pens and houses. Next on the list is getting our dog trailer ready to sell & building a bigger one. I swore I would never build another one after last time, but we are going to again!! We have finally agreed on the design of the new one and we are very excited to start this gigantic project.

Odessa's pups are growing so fast and are already 7 weeks old. Serra's puppies are also doing great and will be 5 weeks old this Saturday. We have started going on puppy walks with Odessa's litter and soon will do the same with Serra's. Then, it will be time for them to stretch their legs a bit more and chase the four wheeler. I love this part of puppy training! It is a blast!

We are really looking forward to Memorial weekend. Larry has 3 days off, which he is really looking forward to. I can't wait for garage saling, BBQ's and seeing friends & family. Hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend:)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Odessa had 7 puppies on April 6th! There are 3 males, 4 females. We bred her to Pete & Sharon Curtice's super leader, Elrond. This is a repeat breeding that we did in 2006 that produced 3 of the best dogs on our main team: Jackson, Gibson & Fender. She had the exact same number of pups as last time & the same male/female ratio. The only difference is last time she had almost all white puppies, this time we got lots of colorful ones!! We have another litter due soon as well, Slider/Serra. She is due April 25th.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

2011 Race Season Wrap Up

Roxy, our "rookie of the year" yearling female. She handled everything we threw at her & is doing super in lead!!

One of our last training runs before the Copper Dog 150. Roxy & Zoey are in lead.

Our snow was almost gone so we had to truck the dogs to our straight, boring, safe snowmobile trail for the last 2 weeks before the Copper Dog. We only received a few inches of snow in that time and shredded 3 sets of runner plastic in the process!!

Another shot of the final 12 before Copper Dog

Larry finishing the Midnight Run in 7th place.George & Franklin lead the entire race. Curlin, Fender, Prophet, Gibson, Manny & Jackson made up the rest of the team. Larry leaving the starting chute lined with thousands of spectators at the Copper Dog 150 on March 4th. Eddie & George are leading the way! Photo courtesy of Brockit Inc.

Larry workin hard!

Larry & team on the first leg

Larry and the team reaching the top of Brockway Mountain on the 3rd day of the race.

Photo courtesy of Brockit Inc.

Larry & team coming down the finish chute. Curlin & George are in lead.

Larry & the team finishing in 9th place

Another race season is in the books & we are thoroughly enjoying our off time. I've been a bit lazy about updating the blog so I figured I better get on it!! After the Beargrease we went to the Midnight Run in Marquette, Michigan. We had a severe warm up the week of the race and lost a lot of the snow. The trails up there were extremely icy & dangerous. In the best interest of the team & me I scratched from the race before the start. I was very disapointed after training for this race for 6 months, only to not run it. Larry decided to run the A team and scratch the B team. Not only was the trail very challenging, but the wind gusts grew to up to 60 mph! It was nasty out!! Larry had quite a few problems on the first leg. The trail wasn't marked very well so he took many wrong turns and had to turn the team around. The lake he had to cross was glare ice with no defined trail. George & Franklin headed across the lake in the wrong direction. After a lot of voice commands, Larry finally got them to make a huge circle back to the correct trail. In the beginning of the first leg, there were tons of stumps sticking through the melted snow. His drag pad got ripped right from the sled on that part, so he had to do almost the entire 1st leg with his metal brake, which was NOT fun!! After the mushers finished the first leg, the common word to describe the trail was "it was brutal". The 2nd leg was not as dangerous, luckily! Larry started the 2nd leg in 8th place & passed one team to finish 7th. At the post race meeting many of us talked about our concerns with the trail & the race organization took action! They are moving the start next year & we are finally starting in Marquette!! This will be so exciting with all the spectators that are there watching the UP200. Plus, there are so many trail options. I cannot wait to sign up next year & run that new trail!

Our last race of the season was the Copper Dog 150. This is a 10 dog stage race that starts in downtown Calumet, Michigan and runs to Copper Harbor & back. Basically it is three 50 mile legs. The competition was top notch & the downtown start was amazing!!! We had so much fun & learned so much!! We didn't have the best first 2 legs, but we had a great 3rd leg. The beginning of the 3rd leg we started in 12th place & ended up in 9th overall. The team was on fire!! I was very proud of Larry & the team to come back and make it into the top 10. We will definetly be back next season & look forward to trying to improve our finish.

The race season didn't really go as planned for us with crappy snow conditions, canceled races, scratching from another, and not finishing as great as we did last year, but that's racing!! We learned so much from all our mistakes we made this year & cannot wait to start training again in the fall. But, for now we are really enjoying our off season!! We are getting a lot of things done around the house & kennel while we wait for the snow to finally melt. We've also harness broke 4 of our pups: Zeus, Clark, Carmello & Hershey. We still have the 4 George/Odessa pups left to run, but they are a bit young yet. We are also awaiting our first litter of puppies. We repeated our Elrond/Odessa breeding from 2006 since it produced 3 of our very best dogs on our main team. Another dog that we sold is running on a top 3 team in Quebec for Marie-eve Drouin. She races the same distances as us. Odessa is due on the 4th. We cannot wait to see what she has!! Ana has no school for a week for spring break. We are having a great time so far & enjoying not getting up at 6 a.m. every day!! I will try & update again soon. Have a great weekend everyone!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Beargrease Blunders
Both Photos courtesy of Marc Bowen

  • Well, we had quite an experience at the Beargrease this year. I haven't had the energy to blog about it since we've been home, but thought I'd better since our next race is only 5 days away!! We were more than prepared as we left Gaylord. We had new plates on the truck, got an oil change, had our trailer tires checked just incase. We were READY!! We had a great uneventful trip until just after Ashland, Wisconsin. We were traveling in a white out, snow storm & going over a stretch of terrible highway. It was one of the worst roads we've ever traveled on! Whoever complains that Michigan has terrible roads, has never driven on this stretch of highway!! Suddenly, we got a flat tire. We were prepared, or so we thought. Our jack wouldn't lift our trailer high enough to put our spare on, so we called road side assistance. They got the spare on only to find out that it had no air in it!! Also, Mark, the tow truck operator, told us we needed larger ply tires on our extremely heavy trailer & was very surprised these tires had lasted so long. So, Mark took Larry back to Ashland to buy a device that would air up our tire on the highway & also to buy two new heavier duty tires & said he would put them on our trailer in the morning in Iron River. I was so hopeful that this would work!! Meanwhile, I had to wait on the side of the highway for them to return.
  • They came back after about an hour & aired up our spare. We put the two new tires in the back of the truck & started for Iron River. Only, we made it about 50 yards, our tire was rubbing against the inside fender & our spare went flat. So, we called Mark, the nicest guy on the planet, to come back & help us again. He jacked up the trailer, took the spare, our other rim & the two new tires back to Ashland to his buddy's house to put the new tires on our rims so we could proceed to Iron River. In the meantime, we were wondering why the tire was rubbing against the inside rim since it had never done that before. While Mark was gone with our tires, Larry took the fender off & the plywood that was on the other side of that with a hammer so we could be sure it wouldn't rub with the new tires on.
  • About 1.5 hours later, Mark came back & we were elated after he put the new tire on. We were thinking this would do the trick!! Wanting to be cautious with the new tire & not wanting to ruin it, Larry went forward with the truck slowly to make sure it wasn't rubbing. Well, it was, AGAIN! So, we stopped before we ruined the tire & then discovered our axle was broken!!!! Mark, who had been with us for going on 5 hours now, put a special dolly under our trailer & we limped into Iron River. We then fed the dogs & got into our hotel room at 3:00 am. We had to be up by 6:00 am, so that didn't leave much time for sleeping!!
  • Both of us had the worst, fitful sleep ever, dreaming about our broken trailer & how we were going to make it to the start of the Beargrease. Larry took the trailer down to A & L at 7 am only to discover that the axle was also bent & could not be welded. To top it off, we had to cell reception so comunicating with each other while he was with the trailer was useless. I was hopeful after he returned that everything was going to be fixed. Well, that wasn't so! Larry said, looks like we are not racing. We need a new axle. I was so disapointed and in shock thinking after all this training we would not be making it to our first race of the year.
  • Then, in one last ditch effort, Larry put an SOS on Facebook describing our hopeless situation & wondering if anyone had a dog truck or trailer we could use to get to the race. The support from all of the mushers was overwhelming!! My phone started to ring constantly after about 15 minutes. Only problem was, I couldn't talk to anyone since we had no service. I became a texting fool, trying to get the the bottom of this problem. Dave Turner & Thad McCracken were on the verge of putting Thad's dogs in Dave's trailer & coming to get us so we could make it to the vet check in time. We didn't want to ruin their races by having all our dogs on their trucks though because we had ALOT of dogs with us!! Turns out, we broke down in the right town. There were a few mushers in the area. Bob Wright had contacted Frank Holmberg about Natalie & Aaron Harwood having a trailer. Frank texted me the Harwood's number. Charlie Voldarski was spreading the word at the Beargrease and Eric Morris was trying to reach us to help out. I called Natalie from our hotel & she only lived 3 miles away!! It was a small trailer & we had 23 dogs, so we were in desperate need of a dog box of some kind also. I remembered our friend's Anne & Merlin Coy had moved to Wisconsin in the fall. I was thinking they lived in Superior. I found her phone number on my Facebook email & called her. When Anne answered the phone, I said, "Anne, where do you live??!!" I was elated to discover she lived only 10 miles out of Iron River. She told me they had some old dog boxes they were going to burn, but would put them on their truck & come to the rescue. Larry got Natalie & Aaron's trailer, Anne & Merlin quickly arrived & we shoved dogs & gear into every box we could. We had the speed of a well trained pit crew! So, now we were off to race the Beargrease in Anne & Merlin's truck with their dogs boxes & Natalie's & Aaron's trailer. We were so happy!!!!
  • We got to the vet check 3 hours late, but we made it! Now it was time to put the trailer stress behind us for now & focus on the race. The start of the race was sunny & warm for Beargrease standards. Usually it is bitter cold there. Or, it feels bitter cold to us fair weather Michigan mushers. I couldn't believe I made it to the start line!! After leaving the chute, I discovered one of our dogs running weird. Prophet is a dog I can put in the team & NEVER have to look at because he is always doing his job. Two weeks before the race, he had harness rub from us getting new harnesses & running him in too large of a size. So, I put a kid's t-shirt on him & ran him in a smaller harness until his special harness rub protection t-shirt arrived in the mail. I ran him with it on two short runs before the race & didn't see a problem. Well, there was definetly a problem today. He was not pulling & had short, quick strides & had his head down. I could tell it was that darn shirt! He pulled up the hills on the 1st leg, but that was it. I was really worried about him.
  • At the first checkpoint, Two Harbors, we discovered that the shirt sleeves had rubbed the fronts of his legs raw. We had a vet check him over & he looked fine otherwise, so we decided to take him on the 2nd leg. Right away, he was running weird. I had a sinking feeling that we made a huge mistake not dropping him. In the meantime, I had two leaders that were not driving down the trail & could not figure out who the culprit was. One of our females in swing, Fender, was in heat, so I figured she had something to do with it. 45 minutes into the 2nd leg, Eddie stopped on a hill & balled up the front of the team. I quickly decided to snack the dogs, move Franklin in lead, Eddie in swing next to his love interest, & took Prophet's booties off to see if this would make any difference. Problem solved!! The remainder of the 2nd leg went smoothly. George & Franklin rocked in lead, Eddie pulled hard in swing & Prophet pulled like a mad man the rest of the time.
  • After a 6 hour rest in Finland, we got the dogs up & walked them around to see if anyone was stiff. Eddie had two sore shoulders & had to be dropped. Everyone else, including Prophet looked great! I started the 3rd leg in 7th place & just hoped that nobody would pass me & we could hold onto our spot. My heart sunk when, right away, Prophet had that weird gait again. His fronts of his legs were obviously bothering him. I could have kicked myself for not dropping him in Finland, but he ran so well on the 2nd leg!! He didn't pull, except up the hills, so I slowed the team to protect him so he wouldn't have to have a ride in the sled bag. The rest of the team really wanted to fly, so it was tough holding them back. We even ended up catching two teams on that leg & finished in 5th place out of 37 teams!! Aside from making some stupid errors about our dog care, I couldn't have been happier. Prophet is one tough dog, because after all that, he made it to the finish line!!!
  • I got to enjoy my finish for about an hour, then the doom of finding a solution to getting home started to sink in. We spent the entire day on the phone to every place in Minnesota & Wisconsin that sold axles. We could NOT find ANY in two states, unless we wanted to wait 2 weeks!! We didn't have two weeks, we needed to get home. The other option was to rent a flat bed truck & put our trailer on it to get home. That would cost $800!! Right before the finish banguet, Larry hangs up the phone for the final time & delcares "WE ARE BUYING A TRAILER!!!!" We didn't want to throw away $800, so our only option was to spend the money & buy a nice, dual axle, 18' car hauler, flat bed trailer to haul our trailer back home. We could then build boxes on it in the summer & have a really nice, safer trailer to drive next year.
  • The next morning, we bought the trailer and went to Walmart & bought 9 heavy duty ratchet straps with 50,000 lbs of breakstrength. We stayed the night at Anne & Merlin's in Iron River and the next morning A & L lifted our trailer ontop of our new one & used the ratchet straps to tie it down to ensure it would make the trip home. We were finally on our way home!!! We drove 50 mph the entire way & made it!!!!!!
  • We would like to sincerly thank everyone that helped us! We would not have made it to the race or home without all of you kind people! I would also like to congratulate Dave Turner for an impressive win!
  • Our next race is this Friday, the Midnight Run. You can check our progress from our website: Also, our old trailer is currently getting a heavy duty axle put on so we can use it for the remainder of our races. We are hoping to have it back by tomorrow!!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Our first race of the season, The Taqhamenon Country Sled Dog Race, was canceled due to lack of snow. Then, it was rescheduled for the following week, but again canceled for lack of snow. This race is North of Newberry, and they ALWAYS have snow! So, you can imagine our disapointment of not getting to go to our first race! It seems like we have been training FOREVER! Me, Larry & the dogs are getting sick of our home trails, we cannot wait to FINALLY get to race next weekend!
In December, our snowfall amounts were pretty pathetic! We got about 18" early in the month & then nothing! Our trails were very fast, but atleast they had set up & we could set a hook almost anywhere. We couldn't run big teams, but atleast we were on sleds.

Then, New Year's Eve, it warmed up and RAINED!!! That did it, almost all our snow was gone & everything was a sheet of ice! For the first time in YEARS, we had to find a trail with no ice, truck the dogs away from home, and train with the four wheeler, IN JANUARY!!! That is wrong on so many levels! We trained with the four wheeler for 2 runs, then finally got enough snow so we could leave the driveway on sleds again with small teams. Since then, we have gotten a TON of new snow & our trails are great again!! Thank god!!

This is Liddell, our young sled dog that severely injured his achilles tendon in late November on a difficult training run. He has been such a good boy through all his rehabilitation over the last 2 months. For one month, he was in a cast. That was a pain! Every time he went outside, we had to put a plastic bag over his cast so it wouldn't get wet. At the end of December, his custom brace came in the mail, so we took the cast off & put it on. It took some getting used to for him, but he is doing very well now.

As you can see, he is not being spoiled in the house at all! To the right, you can see our jealous Border Collie protesting that Liddell gets to be on the bed. Liddell has been doing fantastic. At night, when we take off his brace, he stands on his injured leg just as well as the other one. He is making a miraculous recovery! We are still using extreme caution though, we do NOT want to go through all this again! Although he will never be a sled dog again, he will remain our special buddy in the house. Ana LOVES having him inside & is doing a great job giving him lots of love.

Next Friday, the 28th of January, we FINALLY get to go to our first race of the year, the Beargrease 150! Larry has been on the runners the last 2 years since the first year I had severe Bronchitis and the 2nd year I injured my Knee on a training run so bad I could barely walk for 3 weeks! So.........I don't want to jinx myself...... but it looks like I might finally get to be on the runners for this race this season. So far, I am healthy! I am keeping my fingers crossed I finally get to race it since I am not really looking forward to the handling duties this year. Larry will get to see just how fun it is to dig a snow trench at the first checkpoint, I hope! The dogs & us are definetly ready to be on a new trail & compete against some of the best 8 dog teams around! The race starts Sunday, Jan. 30th at 1:00 pm. You can follow the race updates from our website: