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.

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...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Old Days: A Few Photos from the Past and A Bit of Rambling

I was busy organizing all of my million ba'jillion pictures on my computer when I came across some old pictures of when I first got into sled dogs and even a couple of life before the "Mush Bug" took over. 

I thought I would post them since I don't usually post very many pictures on here. 

Plus I have a few pictures from a just-for-fun photo shoot I did with the dogs yesterday. (my camera mysteriously started working again...)


Might as well start with the very beginning, right? This is me in a kiddie race at the Mackinaw Mush when I was about 4 years old.
Whats funny is now when I look at these pictures, I think I recognize some of the people and dog trucks. lol

This is me in the same kiddie race when I was 3. I think I tried doing the kiddie race every year until I was too old. I don't remember what year I stopped...

This picture was taken about 8 years ago. The only dog we still have in this picture is Ruby, the one in the front. (She had a cast on her leg
From left to right there is Lakota, who was a mix breed female that my sister brought home from the shelter.

Jesse was a German Shepherd mix female that my mom got from some guy in the U.P. She was my dog after my first dog, Willow died. Jesse accompanied my family and I on our trip to Alaska in 2000.

Jenny was a mix breed female that my other sister got from the fair.

Here's the team on the trail in the fall of 2010. This was almost a year after Jacob and Salsa arrived at the kennel and a month or so before Jazz and Cougar came home from the shelter.

The above and below pictures are of Heidi, my old Beagle. We brought her home from a breeder in 2007, I think? Sadly, she was hit by a car a couple of years ago. :(

This was my "dog yard" when I first got into sled dogs. I made the houses out of old pallets, carpets, and tarps that we had lying around the yard. The dogs were inside dogs but I wanted to be able to say I had a dog yard so I made this mainly for decoration... and it changed at least once a week. It gave me something to do while I waited on my mom to finally say yes to getting huskies. lol

Here's Ruby and Ellie the fall before our first race. I was going to enter the Mackinaw Mush with these two in the 2-dog junior class until I got Jacob and Salsa. It was probably a good thing for Ruby's sake that I didn't run her; I don't know how long she would've lasted. She was kind of a "I'll run when I want to" dog.

Now for the recent pictures...mainly of just the dogs being goofy in the backyard. :)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Summer Ends, Fall Training Begins...

Whew!  What a summer! I can’t believe it’s almost over already. As I was walking through the store tonight while running errands, I noticed that all of the “back to school” stuff is out. I said to myself “Where in heck did summer go?!” It feels like just yesterday it was May and now it’s the end of August. Time goes by too fast for me sometimes…

I just got home from being on the go, non-stop, for almost 6 week’s straight visiting family, traveling; it’s nice to be able to sit down for more than 10 minutes. lol

I haven’t been on this blog in forever so I have a feeling this post is going to be quite long. So grab yourself a cup of coffee, sit back and relax for a few.

First off, my summer was a blast! I got to spend time with lots of family and friends that are very special to me. We had lots of fun together traveling, laying on the beach, cooking out, being crazy. There’s never a dull moment when my cousins and I get together.
                       Some of my cousins and I on the rocks on Bois Blanc Island, Mi.

For sad news, my local horse club has disbanded so there were no horse shows this summer. I mainly just rode a friend’s horse and worked with my own horse when I had time. I hope to have more time to ride now that I’m home.

Me on my friend's horse, Buddy.

Now, for the dogs…
Tonight marked the start of fall training. After I threw all of my bags in my room I immediately began getting all of my dog gear out and organized. Of course I couldn’t wait to hook up the crazy fur balls, so I did!
It was a bit warm so we just went for a short run. Everything went smoothly, no tangles, no crashes; I’m quite proud of that first run!
(Although, the first run did result in a broken screen. Ellie was not happy about being left behind so she took it upon herself to make a doggy door out of the window in the feed room…)

It was so nice to be back behind a team of dogs again. It’s like being hooked up to a happy drug—you just take a deep breath and completely relax once you step on the cart/sled. Well, at least I do anyway.

I’m happy to get a bit of an early start this year as we have lots of work ahead of us this fall. Sydney and Char need to be able to lead by the time racing season comes since Jacob retired and I need to get myself in shape for canicross (haha yeah, we’ll see how that goes…the getting-myself-into-shape-to-run-two-miles part anways).

Sydney has taken to being a sled dog like a duck takes to water. All she needs to do is get some experience under her belt…err harness and to learn the commands. I’m hoping she will be my next main leader.
I also want to give Jazz a chance to try leading a few times to see if she likes it. It would be awesome if my whole racing team could lead so that way everyone could run in different spots on the team more often (I like to rotate what position each dog runs so they don’t get board of running in the same place all the time).
I also neglected some changes that need to be made to the dog yard before winter comes so I have those to keep me busy this fall also.
It never seems to be a dull moment around here either, I guess. Lol

Well I have lots of unpacking and cleaning to do so I better run.
I hope everyone had a good summer! 

     (Side Note: Unfortunately my camera broke or else I would have lots of pictures to go along with this post. I'm going to have to borrow one from somebody until I can buy my own because a photographer without a camera is pretty much a natural disaster... )