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.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Snow Apocalypse

Well there was an apocalypse today...

But not one to end the world...not one with zombies searching for flesh...

just one to begin winter!

Yes, winter finally showed up last night in the form of 12 inches of fluff.  I woke up to the land of Narnia this morning.

The highway by my house. I pray for all of those who have to be out in this (beautiful) mess.

The dogs were begging to play in the snow when I went out to feed this morning.

Why not?

Sydney in hot pursuit of Char

 That's quite a suspicious look...

Super Char: The Flying Siberian

The snow is a very (VERY) welcome sight after looking at brown for longer than I care to. My sled is in for repairs but when I pick it up Sunday...

 we might just take it for a spin.

 My team and I on a training run last winter

Along with the beautiful snow to enjoy, we also have another 4 legged friend to snuggle. 

Say hello to Piper, the newest member of my crazy pack. She came to us from the shelter about 2 and a half weeks ago. 

She's a 1 year old Beagle, now Dixie's partner in crime.

Dixie and piper playing tag. This is what the yard looked like yesterday morning...

Piper has brought a lot of joy to the house after the loss of Maggie and Ruby. We readily welcome her and all of her kisses (and mischief). 

Well with that, we hope you enjoy your weekend (and the snow) and we here at Small 'N' Mighty Racing wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas! 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Goodbye Maggie

Maggie lost her battle with cancer and hemolytic anemia last Monday.
Although it was very hard to see her go, I am glad she is no longer in anymore pain. 
She is now running around up in heaven with Ruby. I'm sure they're having lot's of fun adventures together...they always did when they were here. 

We love you Maggie and Ruby!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Give Thanks...Even When Giving Thanks is the Last Thing on Your Mind

That seems to be one of the hardest things to do in life, give thanks even when it's the last thing on your mind, when times are tough.

This past month has been one of those "tough times". A couple of weeks ago my lab, Maggie, was diagnosed with cancer and hemolytic anemia. The prognosis is not good. 
We figure we have one more week with her unless things begin to improve. 

On top of that, about a week ago, Ruby was hit by a car. 

Someone once said "A dog's only fault is that he doesn't live long enough." and truer words have never been spoken. 
When you get a dog you never really think about having to say goodbye to them someday. You just expect them to be by your side forever, even though that isn't realistic thinking. 
And in a way, they are by your side forever. Even though they may leave your physical side when they pass, they still live on by your side in your memory and in your heart. 

So on the eve of the thanksgiving holiday, I want to give thanks for the time I had with Ruby and the time I have with Maggie and the rest of my dogs. They are some of my best friends and I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Midwest Sled Dog Symposium and A Trip to Nature's Kennel

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Midwest Sled Dog Symposium in Curtis, Michigan. It's an annual event put on by the people of Nature's Kennel and it is full of fun and educational seminars all about the world of dog sledding.

Below is Saturday’s schedule of events so you can of get an idea of how things went. (The ones underlined are the talks that I attended)


Favorite Lead Dogs—Ed Stielstra, Dr. Tim Hunt, Others TBA

 Hands On Beginner Workshop 101. Making necklines and proper fitting of harnesses and dog
booties—Jim Haibach and Louise Russel. Lower Level Classroom



Veterinarian Discussion Panel. Erickson Center Auditorium

Kennel Organization, Management and All the Mistakes I’ve Made. Learn things like how to manage an “urban kennel”, hook up your sled/quad safely, have good neighbor relations, and even learn to build a dog house and pooper scooper—Tim VanderMeulen  and Jessica Wallstrom.

Let skills be your lead dog, and fill your sled bag with content! Use the Iditarod to create skills that last a lifetime (problem solving and critical thinking) while connecting to science and math content—Sid Lucas.


12:00-1:30pm. LUNCH.
Q and A phone call with Iditarod musher Lance Mackey

Lunch hour discussion—Iditarod Teacher on the Trail program--Diane Johnson, Iditarod Trail Education Coordinator. 


Sharing Success in Midwest Mushing—Ryan Anderson, David Gill, Nathan Schroeder.

Virtual Mushing—Following races online. Learn how to interpret race statistics, follow mushers,and gather useful data for classroom use—Craig Adams.


Skijoring and Carting.  Gerhart and Al-Jo Thiart, and Lindsay Demers.

Hands On Beginner Workshop 102. Making tuglines and ganglines—Jim Haibach.

Great Ideas To Get your Classroom/School/Administration Involved in Sled Dog Curriculum . Shannon Wyckoff & Linda Fenton (2013 Target Teacher on the Trail).

Keynote speaker, Paul Shurke will talk about his arctic adventures and Wintergreen Kennel.
(This talk was incredible -- I really like Paul Shurke! He even got a standing O when he finished.)

A few images I captured of the day...

The beginnings of a dog platform...

Jessica and "Ham" demonstrating how the dog platforms work.

Tim showed us how to make a cheap poop scoop.

 "See, it's that easy."

All of the talks were great and taught me so much! The whole thing was so well run; I will be attending this every year I can from now on.

Visit to Nature’s Kennel
On Sunday, everyone was invited out to Ed and Tasha Stielstra’s kennel for a tour and a chance to play with over 170 dogs and puppies.
Can you imagine the dog kisses and puppy breath? So many dogs to cuddle! I was in my element all morning.

One of 3 identical rows. I love this set up!

One of the first females I greeted. I can't remember her name...

This girl could be my Salsa's twin! Her name is Alaska.

Charger, another Iditarod team contender.

This handsome guy's name is Pirate. Ironically, he has a sister who is missing one eye...maybe they should trade names! lol

 Now entering the puppy pens. Warning: The following photos may contain an overload in cuteness!

 "We're ready for our close up!"

Just hangin' out...

"Seriously, put down the camera and hold me. NOW."

Getting some puppy lovin'!

The puppies are learning how to use the wheel...

While we were there they ran one of their teams and took a few people on a ride.

I love that happy face! 

 After the tour of Nature's Kennel, we took the long way home and stopped at a few places along the way.

Dixie on the beach in Grand Marais, Michigan.

All in all, it was a blast of a weekend! I met so many nice and interesting people. It was a great way to kick off the start of another sled dog season. 

I'm way ready for snow now! lol

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Tribute to Jacob

Today was the first hook up I have ever done without Jacob.

Ever since I got him almost 4 years ago, Jacob has been leading my team in every race and nearly every training run since then. The only time he didn’t run lead is when I was giving him a break from the tough position.
I’ll admit that I was very nervous about not having him on the team this morning. Before, even when he didn’t run lead, he was still on the team so if I had a problem I could always put him back in lead.

Today I didn’t have him at all.

And it showed too, especially during hook up. Jacob was my anchor for the team – I could count on him to hold the gangline out and to keep the dogs looking forward while I hooked them up; something of which Salsa has never been good at. (She was the brains of the operation, knowing gee and haw, while Jacob was the strength and sturdiness.)
Jacob, demonstrating his "lineout" on a training run last winter.

We weren’t 5 minutes into the run this morning when the neighbor’s dogs came charging out of their yard and blew through the team.
Without Jacob to keep the team moving in the right direction, the dogs got confused and tangled. 
Before, the dogs wouldn’t even have stopped and we probably would have out run the loose dogs.

To put it plainly, I’m going to miss Jacob very much this year. I always knew he was a good sled dog but now I see how truly amazing he was (they say you don’t know what you have until it’s gone…).

My team running in Kinross last year. This was Char's first race in lead...

I put 100% of my trust in him but now without him, I don’t know what to expect.

I obviously have my work cut out for me this fall. The run today showed me what needs to be worked on…and it’s a pretty long list.

How well my team does this year depends 100% on me and how well I’m able to teach them.

The pressure on me makes my stomach churn. I want my team to do well and if they don’t, that means I’ve failed them in some way.

I have always been afraid of failure; it’s just not an option for me.

When the temperatures get cooler, we’ll be working harder than ever. Char, Jazz and especially Sydney have shown leader potential so I will be working with them one on one teaching them commands and hopefully instilling confidence in them. That’s one thing Jacob will be helping me with.

Once I’ve worked with each dog one on one, I will be hooking them up with Jacob to my bike.

Jacob helping Char learn the ropes of running in front.

He will probably be able to teach them more than I can. 

So with that, I want to say thank you, Jacob, for being such a great athlete. It was a pleasure having you on the team and I'm glad you are a part of my life. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Happy National Dog Day!

Here are a few pictures to celebrate National Dog Day!

 From left to right: Maggie Jazz, Ruby, Cougar, and Dixie (the Beagle).

Maggie and Ellie posing for me on a hike.

Cougar getting some kisses from me! She looks less than thrilled. lol

 Dixie, trying to fly. lol

The team and I on the trail last winter.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Give Me Snow or Give Me Death!"

Ok, well maybe the title is a bit dramatic but you get the point. 

Yes, I know it is still August but dreams of snowflakes and frigid mornings are dancing in my head already. I've been looking through photos and videos from past race seasons and I want it to snow. 

Or at least the temperatures could be lower. Like 45 degrees F. That would be fantastic!

But no, the weather man calls for low 80s for the next five days with lows of 60 degrees. I couldn't even get up at 4am and train if I wanted to. :P

*Sigh* I guess it will be here soon enough. Not soon enough for me but soon enough.

Below are a few of the pics I've been drooling over...

This is the end of my driveway in the middle of winter about 4 years ago. I think that particular winter was the best since I got into sled dogs. The temps never went above 20 degrees F all of January and we had more than enough snow. I wish these winters would come back...

Our first victory race, the Indian River Sprint in January of 2011. It was only me and another team in the class but eh, who's counting... lol XD

The team and I running in Atlanta last year. This was our first race with the M.U.S.H. club and we had a blast! We hope to do a few more of their races this season... and maybe join the club!

This is how we roll in the winter time. Not your typical fancy dog trailer but it works. It's a royal pain in the butt though; getting in and out of the van every time I drop dogs or need something. After a race weekend, I usually come home with bruises on my knees from getting in and out of the van so many times. 
I dream of having an actual dog box someday...

Us running in the Kinross Classic last year. 

Some of the dogs staked out at the Kalkaska Winterfest in 2011. 

Me in the starting chute at my second race, the Kalkaska Winterfest.

Jacob's house was nearly buried in a snow storm a couple of years ago.

The dog yard 2 winters ago. This was the morning after a snow storm, I think...