Welcome to the blog of a teen and her life with 9 dogs!
These ramblings are best read with a hot cuppa' coffee in your hand and warm slippers on your feet.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Snow? What's that?

It's December 27th and we have NO snow.

That's right, no snow in Northern Michigan in December.

This is the first time this has happened in my 17 years of living here. I've had a Christmas with barely any snow but never no snow after Christmas.

As you can imagine, this is very depressing for a dog musher. I'm sure it is for the skiers and snowboarders too but hey, at least you guys can make snow.

What do you do in this situation?
You improvise. Continue "fall" training with the rig and curse the weather. lol

I guess that's the way life is a lot of the time. We don't know whats going to happen tomorrow or 10 years from now. We just kind of have to "go with the flow". The only thing we can fully depend on is God. Jobs change, people change, weather changes; God never changes, He's the same yesterday, today, and forever.

I guess I'm just going to have to sit tight and enjoy the ride. Can't do much about the weather...unfortunately... ;)

Peace, Love, Sled Dogs

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sled Dogs and Endurance--Are They Capable of More Than We Think?

These are bits and pieces from a really cool article my grandma sent me from the Alaska magazine about sled dogs and endurance.

The article is called "A Changing Race". Its from 2009 so the number of race wins for the mushers aren't right but enjoy it anyways!

"When Lance Mackey shocked the dog mushing world by being the first musher to win both the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, it wasn’t just that he was able to succeed in two 1,000 mile races 2 weeks apart, it was that he did it with many of the same dogs. Thirteen of his dogs that ran the Quest were in harness at the Iditarod starting line in Anchorage, less than one month after finishing the Whitehorse, Yukon, to Fairbanks race. Nine of those dogs finished with him in Nome.

“I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have the fastest team, but I have the steadiest, happiest team out there,” Mackey said. “As long as they have fuel in the tank and their feet are healthy, my dogs are enthusiastic about running.”

Mackey’s unprecedented streak of four consecutive Yukon Quest wins (2005-2008) and back to back Iditarod titles (2007-2008) is reminiscent of Tiger Woods’ golf dominance or Lance Armstrongs’ seven straight victories in the Tour De France. The big question is, mill Mackey’s Comeback Kennel continue to dominate the Iditarod, or has the rest of the field figured out his secret?

The answer might be somewhere in between.

Chief Iditarod veterinarian Stuart Nelson believes that the key to Mackey’s success isn’t a secret at all. Advances in sled dog science have gone hand in hand with breakthroughs in the field by Mackey, four time winner Jeff King, two time champion Robert Sorlie and a handful of other mushers who are challenging the status quo of sled dog racing. “There is a trickledown effect where everyone benefits,” Nelson said.

Dr. Michael Davis, a professor at Oklahoma State University’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, has been studying Iditarod dogs for more than 10 years. In a paper presented to the American Physiological Society last year, Davis outlined three key areas in which sled dogs have a huge aerobic capacity, they adapt to exercise very well and they are superefficient in their use of food -especially fat- as fuel.

“Lance recognized that dogs that ran the Yukon Quest were better at the Iditarod than those that didn’t. He didn’t understand the physiology of it, but he saw it. About the same time Lance stood on the back of the runners, gazing out over his dogs and coming to this conclusion, we were doing this physiology research generating this data that’s showed the same thing,” Davis said.

Chief veterinarian Nelson saw it coming as well.

“Mackey has definitely come to something that we hypothesized in the past. I saw anecdotal evidence that dogs could do higher mileage before the start of the race. Dogs were getting stronger during the middle of the race, and we saw metabolic evidence that this might benefit the team.”

So what exactly is going on? To put it simply, sled dogs are super athletes.

“Dogs are capable of far greater endurance and challenges than we ever thought,” Davis said. “It boils down to the fact that the 1,000 mile Quest or the 1,150 mile Iditarod, are just another element of training.”

If the average human male runs all day, his body will break down at a cellular and muscular level, and fatigue will set in as the muscle runs out of energy. The same thing tends to happen in a sled dog after a day on the trail, but, unlike humans, a sled dog is able to adapt to stress. After a few days, sled dogs develop an enhanced ability to pull nutrients out of the blood stream so the exercise that was energy depleting on Day 1 is sustainable on Day 4. As Davis says, “at that exercise level, with the proper nutrition, it renders the dog (almost) fatigue-proof.”

The crucial element that makes this all work is fuel, especially high-fat fuel. Sled dogs are capable of this adaption only if they get enough calories. Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps, who is three times the weight of a sled dog, eats 8,000 to 10,000 calories a day when training. During the Quest and Iditarod, dogs eat upward of 12,000 calories a day.

“Dogs rapidly adapt to the demands of strenuous exercise and go on a sort of cruise control,” Davis said. “I preach to mushers, ‘You can only go as far as the food you got your dogs to eat.”

Mushers have stumbled upon this discovery through a series of steps starting with Norwegian Robert Sorlie proving that long runs at a slightly slower pace paired with shorter rests could win the 2003 and 2005 Iditarods.

The new data on dog endurance point to the musher as the weakest member of a sled dog team."

And that's it. There is a little more to the article but these are the important parts. I couldn't find the article on the Alaska magazine website so I had to copy it from the article itself. Then I went and lost it so I couldn't copy the rest of it.

This just goes to show that dogs are truly amazing athletes!

Peace, Love, Sled Dogs

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's a colorful world out there....

...and we're missing out. With our eyes glued to our smart phones, computers and tablets, we're missing out on the beauty of the world.

All it is now is rush, rush, rush; make more money, buy a better car.

The Upper Falls in Taquamanon Falls, MI

Why don't we take a moment and get back to the good stuff?
Spend time with your family, have dinner together, have an actual face to face conversation with your friends.

Go for a hike and breath in the fresh air. I've heard it's good for the lungs. ;)

Maggie and I decided to do just that today.

We covered 5 miles of ground in an hour and a half. It was 35 degrees and beautiful. We left this fast paced world behind and tuned into nature, into God.

When we came back it was time to run the race team.

We did some exploring of our own while going down new, undiscovered trails. The dogs love the adventure and so do I. They can't wait to see what's around the next bend in the trail.

You can't do that with a smart phone. ;)

So get off that couch and go explore the world! Technology will still be here when you get back.

Peace, Love, Sled Dogs

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Michigan's 1st Dryland Sled Dog Race Makes the News

Last weekend, the 12th and 13th of November, marked the first annual dryland sled dog race. This is the first race of it's kind in Michigan and it caught the interest of the 9&10 news crew as they came out to interview mushers and video tape the race. It was a part of their "Hobby Hunting" series.

Here is the link to the video. 9&10

We were not able to make it to this race , unfortunately. We were planning on it when we heard it was going to be run but it ended up colliding with the annual youth conference, Chosen. I just had to go to Chosen (Which was awesome by the way. God is awesome!!) so we we'll have to plan on next year. It looked like it was a blast! There were 36 teams in total.

Peace, Love, Sled Dogs

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

ManMat Junior Musher Contest

If you're a junior musher, this post is for you!
The dog sledding equipment company, ManMat is holding a contest for junior mushers across the US and Canada! The prize is 8 harnesses and collars for their team along with other various equipment and apparel from ManMat. The total value of the prize is going to be around $1,000!

If you're a junior musher in between the ages of 13 and 17, whether you distance race, sprint race, recreation, or skijor, they want YOU to participate! Here is a direct quote from their Facebook page stating some of the rules:
"To participate, submit a biographical essay stating age, state/province, # of dogs, type of racing, mentor, favorite musher, races you have done or want to do, # of dogs in kennel etc. Have fun, this may be the first time you have thought of these things in detail. There will be no grading for spelling or grammar. If English is not your first language, submit it in the language you are most comfortable with. We can interpret several and have assistance if needed."

The contest will run from today, the 15th of Nov. to Nov. the 22nd so you better get typing!!

You will have to check out the link here to find out the rest. I highly suggest that you do!

Now, I better get crackin' on my own essay!

Peace, Love, Sled Dogs

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Animal Rights Or Advertisement?

It's no secret that most of the animal rights activists like the people of PETA are not fond of dog mushers. Their main disagreement is focused on the Alaskan sled dog race, the Iditarod.
They believe it is too hard on the dogs, the dogs are forced to run, mushers abuse their dogs in the race, and so on and so forth.
They actively protest the Iditarod each year whether it be on their website blog or standing at the race site holding signs. They send letters to race sponsors telling them to "stop supporting such a cruel sport".

What some of you may or may not know is that there is a race, called the Yukon Quest, which is said to be "the toughest race in the world,". It starts in Whitehorse, Yukon and ends in Fairbanks, Alaska. The race is 1,000 miles, slightly shorter than the Iditarod, but sometimes tougher on the dogs and their mushers. The temperatures can be lower, the terrain can be tougher, and the wind can blow harder.

So why, you ask, doesn't PETA protest this race in stead of the Iditarod?

The answer is easy: It's good advertisement. The Iditarod is way more commercialized than the Yukon Quest, meaning it's more worth PETA's time and effort to protest where all of the cameras, money, and spectators are, which is the Iditarod. More people to get money from and more cameras to see it happen.

Type in a phrase like "PETA and the Yukon Quest" into Google and see what pops up. I just did and the words 'Yukon Quest' and the acronym 'PETA' aren't even in the same sentence when you scroll through the links.
Now type in "PETA and the Iditarod" and see what comes up. PETA and the Iditarod are like salt and pepper--they're always together.

Now you may be wondering what the sole purpose of PETA's campaign against the Iditarod really is--are they in it for the dogs or are they in it for the money?
Truth is, it's probably both. I don't think it would be fair to say that they are totally and completely in it for the money and don't care about the dogs. I mean it's obvious on their website that they do care about the welfare of the dogs.
On the flip side, I don't think it would be truthful to say that they are in it totally and completely for the dogs either. The Iditarod, I'm sure, brings in a lot of money and publicity for them, which is why, I feel, it's their main focus rather than the Yukon Quest.

So that is part of my view point on PETA. I'm not a fan or a supporter, but nor am I a hater. They may mean well but their actions sometimes can prove otherwise...to me anyway.

Now I'm going to go a little off topic here and explain some things that I feel need some time in the spotlight.

One argument from the AR activists that I find totally unrealistic is this; they believe that since a few mushers abuse their dogs or don't take care of them right, the whole sport needs to be outlawed.
In reality, you could say the same thing about raising children (and pet ownership) "Since some parents abuse their kids and don't take care of them right, having kids should be outlawed.". That's obviously never going to happen nor is it realistically thinking.
Outlawing something like the Iditarod is NOT going to solve anything. Mushers would just run the Yukon Quest instead which, as I said above, is a tougher race.
Outlawing dog mushing altogether isn't going to solve dog abuse. PLENTY of pet dogs get abused everyday. A dog doesn't have to be a sled dog to experience abuse.

Unfortunately we live in a non-perfect world. Sorry if I burst your bubble but it's true. There is always, always going to be some sort of "evil" or wrong-doing in every aspect of life whether it be murder, theft, abuse (of any kind and inflicted on anything) etc. You can take measures to control it (ie. establish laws and enforce them) but you will never ever be able to eradicate it...even if you outlaw it (murder is illegal but it still happens).

So that's why I feel it's unrealistic to say that since some bad stuff happens in dog mushing, it should be wiped off the face off the planet.

I could say so much more on this subject but I won't. I think I've said enough for now.
Please keep in mind that what I have written is all my opinion. It came from that squiggly, slimy thing in my head they call a brain. I'm not trying to state my opinion as any form of fact either (If I was I would be on the same level as the AR activists.). You can agree with my opinion or disagree with it, it doesn't matter. I won't hate you if you disagree and if you do, well then welcome to the club. lol

I'm also not trying to paint an ugly picture for the Yukon Quest. Heck, I may run it someday.

I will leave you with this quote (I've put it on here before but it needs repeating)
"It's a mistake to theorize before one has data. Inevitably, one begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts." ~Sherlock Holmes
Translation: Before you think that dog mushing is a cruel sport (after reading PETA's website or Sled Dog Action Coalition or whatever) take the time to go watch a race and talk with the mushers. After all, it doesn't make much sense to advocate against something you know next to nothing about now does it?
Food for thought.

Peace, Love, Sled Dogs

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"They're off and running!"

Well, we're not quite off and running yet BUT, we know when and where we will be running!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the 2012 race schedule has been decided! You can find it to the right of this page and on my website here.

We're excited to be able to welcome back the Mackinaw Mush! The race wasn't able to run the past two years due to lack of snow and other complications.
I'm pretty excited to be able to run the Mackinaw Mush for the first time this year--after all, it's the race that dragged me into this lovely addiction! I grew up spectating the race every year and I even ran in the little kiddie race with one dog when I was little. Then I was bit by the bug when I was 11 and the rest, as they say, is history!

We're waiting on the snow to fly now. Hopefully it won't be long!

~Peace, Love, Sled Dogs

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Seventeen years ago yesterday, a little baby was born in the wee hours of the morning.

That little baby was me!

Yesterday I celebrated my 17th birthday.
I'm yet another year older and (hopefully) another year wiser. lol

My friend and I spent the day baking pumpkin pies, boiling caramel apple cider, making manacotti, and then devouring all of the above.
That's one of many things that makes me glad my birthday is in the fall; I get to eat yummy things like pumpkin pies and caramel apple cider.
Other things that make me enjoy a fall birthday are the beautiful fall colors, the crisp fall air, the start of fall training, the activities you do in the fall such as making pumpkin pies, hay rides, picking pumpkins from a pumpkin patch and then carving them. Fall is really a great time of the year.

When I was little, my dad used to tell me that when the geese flew South, my birthday was not far off. So, every time the geese flew over our house, my dad would take me outside so I could see them.
Now the migrating geese are a constant reminder of my upcoming birthday.

I thank God for every year he has given me. I wouldn't trade any of them for anything!

So Happy Birthday to all of you Octobers. Have a wonderful day!
Of course my cake had something to do with dogs. lol

Peace, Love, Sled Dogs

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Joys of Fall

The temps are FINALLY down in the low 50s and 40s to stay! After a week of 75 degrees F this is a wonderful change! We can now get on a regular training schedule instead of running in a sporadic pattern.

Training is going well and the dogs are doing fantastic! I couldn't ask for them to do any better. We're doing about 3 miles each run now and our goal is to be doing 5 miles by January. So we're not doing too bad!

Not only does fall come with training runs, it comes with lots and lots of kennel cleaning/preparing for winter and raking, raking, raking, those pesky leaves. They look pretty when they're still attached to their trees...but then they fall. :P I think I'd actually rather shovel dog poop than rake leaves.

Ah well, it won't last forever. Soon there should be snow on the ground! The weather people here are calling for a harsh winter this year so Michiganders; get out your shovels!
We're hoping for lots of snow to make up for the lack of it the past 2 winters. Hopefully no races will have to be cancelled!
Stay tuned for the 2012 racing schedule!

Peace, Love, Sled Dogs

Friday, October 14, 2011

Happy Harvest!

The title says it all! Hope everyone has a great season!

Peace, Love, Sled Dogs

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fall Training Begins...

Ahhhhhhh yes, it is that time of the year again! Time for lower temps, falling leaves, shorter days, white knuckle rides on the bike with the dogs that usually come with crashes, blood, and bruises.
Yes, my friends, it is fall.
We've already gone on one training run (which went so smoothly I began to wonder if I had dreamed it.) and we can't wait for more!

The first run, like I said, was absolutely flawless. I took out 3 teams of 2 with the bike and everyone ran perfectly. We ran at 6am to catch the cold temps (which were still a bit warm so we ran short and slow). I don't know if my neighbors agree but it sure was nice to hear the dogs scream in anticipation of the first run of the season. I miss that sound during the summer. :P

I have high hopes for this racing season so we will have to work hard this fall! Speaking of that ....I think its time to go run dogs!

Melanie Gould was found alive and well but is the compassion showed by the people who followed her story dead?

*Originally posted on June 12, 2011*

As some of you may or may not know, Alaskan musher Melanie Gould, mysteriously went missing on June 1, 2011. Her absence was discovered when she did not show up for work at the Roadhouse in Talkeetna. Melanie left behind her kennel of sled dogs which were later taken care of by friends and neighbors.
Eleven days after her disappearance, Melanie was found alive and well. She is now recovering in a hospital. No details are being released.

Many people are expressing their opinion on Melanie's strange disappearance. Many are not being nice about it either. It's been said that she "abandoned her dogs" and "just wanted time off of work". The Animal Rights activists are trying to turn the story into an animal abuse case.

Well, you want to know what my opinion is? WHO KNOWS? Who knows what happened out there besides Melanie? NO ONE. Last time I checked the troopers in Alaska were searching for one woman and one woman only. She is the only one who truly knows what happened out there.

Opinions based on assumptions are not opinions at all but fantasies. We can't believe all that the media is saying. When it all boils down, the media is nothing but a fancy way to gossip.
Remember playing the game Telephone when you were a child? When people stand in a line, the person at the front of the line thinks of a word and whispers it to the person next to them, who whispers it to the person next to themand so on. Finally, the word reaches the person at the end of the line, they say it out loud, and it ends up being something totally different from what the first person said. That is because someone along the line didn't hear the word right so they just say what they think they heard. I see the same thing happening with Melanie's story.

All in all, we need to be happy and thankful that Melanie was found alive and well. What ever happened out there is frankly none of our business.

I will leave you with this quote for the day. "It is a mistake to theorize before one had data. Inevitably, on begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts." ~ Sherlock Holmes