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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Welcome Janae Radke!

Janae gets a warm fuzzy welcome from the pups

Please help us welcome the new Points Unknown sled dog intern, Janae Radke.

A native of Oregon, Janae grew up as an avid equestrian. Her first outdoor experiences came in the form of trail rides through Central Oregon’s beautiful Three Sisters Wilderness. She has since continued to indulge her love of the outdoors as a hiker, cyclist, skier, and scuba diver.

A love of travel, adventure, and service has led Janae all over the world. She has studied in Germany, China, and Uganda, taught in Venezuela and Micronesia, and had adventures in many other places, including scuba diving with sharks in the Philippines and road-tripping around India on a motorcycle. She is a certified Wilderness First Responder, Lifeguard, and Rescue Diver. 

Janae greatly values education and the transformative power of the wilderness, and it was these passions that led her to move to northern Minnesota to work as an outdoor educator. She is thrilled to start her next adventure as a handler/intern and guide with Points Unknown and to experience her first true northern winter.
www.points-unknown.com

Saturday, July 30, 2016

New Winter Adventure!



Under the northern sky; stars and perhaps even northern lights!


NEW!

A Taste by NIGHT!

Our A Taste by NIGHT! Dog Sledding Experience, lasting 1 1/2 hours, is similar to our "Taste of the North Woods Dog Sledding Experience" with the added magical mystery of being pulled by dog team through our enchanted forest trails, in the dark! Who knows what nocturnal woodland creatures will be watching us as we glide silently through the north woods.  $189 per Adult: $129 per Child under 12 yrs (must be accompanied by a participating adult)

Monday, July 4, 2016

A Day in the Life of a Lover of Dogs

Mamma Topa with Six healthy puppies


A puppy! That's Lucky Seven


Another puppy!


Topa resting comfortably in the extended cab of the pick up!

Mamma and two babies

Back home with 4 more to come!




Happy Birthday!

Day 61 of 63 and no signs from Topa that she would be having those babies any time soon; or so I thought. Within a half an hour after announcing this “no news”, Topa lost her mucus plug and began heavily panting. I recalled the birth of Sasha’s puppies back in January. She had lost her plug early in the morning and didn’t have the puppies until 24+ hours afterwards. Our litters never tend to be text book so the anticipation and excitement began.
Within a few short hours of Topa’s telltale and signature vocalizations, I saw her lightly push. This was 11:21PM on Thursday. Oh! Pushing! Alright then. It won’t be long now before we see the first beautiful baby. Having a litter of puppies is like a box of chocolates. You never know what’s inside! 

Time went by and no more pushing. Huh. So I pop online to facebook to post my experience on the page of an educational and life-saving group about Canine Reproduction. They have over 9,000 members from the person having had only one litter all the way up to reproductive specialists. I have used them for information on litters past and found what they have to offer to be invaluable.

Ok, so she is now in Stage 2 labor once she begins to push even the slightest. Good to know. This is my 10th litter in 16 years of having these magnificent dogs in my life and each one is like the first; there is always something I didn’t anticipate or didn’t know and always something new to learn. Just before Topa began to push, I printed off all of the important documents from this reproduction site and I began to read them (again) and had our new dog handler do the same. Ok! Along with all of the items I had set aside in a box marked for “whelping”, we should be prepared. 

Now, it’s 1:38AM on Friday morning and Topa begins to actively push. We’re all tired now and, if I recall, I am the only one up, until the pushing begins, then you bet everyone else will be up if I have to go and physically get them up myself. This is serious business and it’s only the second time that Neil has been here during this process. It was nice to have extra hands on board. The rush of excitement soon waned, and I found myself, again, the only one awake as we waited for the puppy to make her presence known. After about an hour, I, again, reached out to my reproductive group, so glad that someone was still awake, and the response was to feel inside to see if a puppy was stuck. In my 10 litters, I’ve never had to do this so was hesitant but knew that it must be done.

Alright then, the little guy wasn’t stuck and was clearly interested in making its way outta there. Another hour went by and still no puppy! I had read in my literature that after 2 hours of pushing, an emergency vet visit was the next step. Again, I am online pleading for expert advice. After being reassured that the situation didn’t sound dire just yet, I felt better but the roller coaster of emotion was starting to take a toll. I was advised to try the “wheelbarrow method” with her; again, something I have never done or even witnessed. This would apparently help to move the pup into a more appropriate position for birth. So, here we go.  I was told to elevate her back legs onto the couch with her front legs firmly placed on the floor and have her stay put for at least 10 minutes. 10 minutes?! Can you imagine trying to keep a dog in that position for even a minute and much less a dog that is giving birth, hopefully, any minute? I had, again, awakened my two drowsy helpers and they assisted placing Topa in the “wheelbarrow” position. 

When that traumatic (for the people mostly) experience was done, I was instructed to feel for the puppy again. In doing so, she was in the same position but, only, this time, she wasn’t moving. My heart sank and it still does just typing this. I had managed to keep it together until this moment of the process. I felt tears welling up and I felt like curling up into the fetal position and bawling my eyes out for a second but you can’t do that now, can you? I snatched the phone out of the cradle and called our emergency vet in Canada, an hour and a half drive away. I explained the situation while holding back the tears. We discussed when I would be there and when I hung up the phone, we all agreed that Parker, our new handler that had only been here for 3 days would come with me and Topa to Canada and Neil will remain back with the other dogs. 

Parker held her cupped hands underneath Topa to catch a pup that may decide to make an appearance, as if waiting to catch a low-flying football pass, as we rushed to the truck.  I had already grabbed water, passports, rabies certificates and other miscellaneous for the journey. Topa readily jumped into the truck which was amazing in of itself because she really dislikes car rides. She will typically be very agitated and drool herself sloppy wet the entire way. Thankfully, there was already a “dog” blanket in the back for our various doggie trips to town.

Fearing encountering a deer in the dark at roughly 3:30AM, my eyes were glued to the road and I instructed Parker to do the same thing, but to also keep glancing back to check on Topa. We bumped and bustled down the gravel road and when meeting the pavement I immediately felt a bit of relief for Topa and sped up. Ah, the highway! Thank goodness. I picked up the pace just as I was reminded by what felt like a mini roller coaster ride (quick arms-up-in-the-air type drop) and then an abrupt “WHOMP” as I was compressed into my chair and then my head nearly hit the roof of the truck once back up on pavement, that there was road construction! I’m sure I uttered something not quite appropriate for this post, but can’t recall what it was and I quickly glanced back at Topa. I was not able to see a thing from my vantage point so quickly instructed Parker to take a look. A PUPPY! That bump (to put it lightly) must have dislodged the puppy. THERE SHE WAS! Was she alive? YES!!!!

We have no cell coverage at this point in the road and were closer to the Canadian border now than to home so we kept going, thinking I would give the vet a call once in Grand Portage when we could pick up a signal again. At this point, I had fully intended to continue on to our emergency vet in Canada but remembered that contractions are so much more productive when calcium is given. I had left the calcium at home so thought we could quickly pick up some in Grand Portage while I called the vet to see what he thought we should do next. 

Turns out that the Trading Post in Grand Portage was closed so we parked in the parking lot (across from the Casino) anyway so that I could make the call to the vet. 4:15AM -  ANOTHER PUPPY! It’s a BOY! She seemed to be on a roll now.

The vet indicated that it would be best for her to have them in a place with which she was familiar so we should drive back home. He assured me that he would be there if we needed to drive back. So, back home we drove, taking special care to avoid the road construction hazards this time. 

The sun was beginning to rise and daylight came upon us. The post office was on the way home so I decided to stop in to check the mail. Seems rather nonchalant, doesn’t it? Well, I guess that all of my years working on the life lesson of “letting go” really did work after all. I figured that she comfortable, she was having puppies and she didn’t appear the last bit distressed so it wouldn’t matter one bit to her if I checked the mail or not. 

We returned home around 5:30AM or so, I really can’t recall. I opened up the extended cab door of my Toyota Tacoma to find mamma Topa and two babies comfortably resting. I picked up the still slightly wet puppies and Topa readily follow me and puppies into the house and right into the whelping box as if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened. She effortlessly delivered another male puppy at 6AM and then continued in an uneventful manner until the last puppy was delivered at 8:24AM. 

I finally got myself to bed at around 9AM and was relieved by my, still very groggy, husband. All I remember was a knock on the door at 9:24AM – There’s another puppy! We were expecting 4-5 and got #6 unexpectedly. When puzzling over the puppy theme names we agreed that The Grand Portage Casino litter made the most sense. It was local and very fitting. And our #6 puppy was our Jackpot.

Lucky Seven (first thought to have passed but was born alive!), Ace of Spades, Deuce, Queen of Hearts, Wild Card and Jackpot - all healthy active puppies. Mamma Topa is the perfect mom and is finally to the point where, after a week on the planet, she thinks it’s alright for her to go out and get some “me” time away from the puppies, a few times a day for short periods of time. And me, well, I am thoroughly enjoying the last litter we will have for a while. We’ve got lots of youngsters to train, a few older retired dogs to pamper and lots of other young and middle-aged dogs to spend time with, care for, love and work.

Just a day in the life of a lover of dogs. 

______________________________

If you would like to follow the growth of these puppies, we post photos regularly on our facebook page. Click HERE  for that link.  

Friday, June 10, 2016

Minneapolis Star Tribune Feature

Linda with Misquah and Phoenix


Linda and Points Unknown were featured in a Minneapolis Star Tribune article earlier this year and we were so busy with winter tours, we forgot to share it here!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Sled Dog Handler Interships Available







Click on this link for a video that was put together by a former Points Unknown handler/intern, of her experience with us. 

Points Unknown is a a small, educational Sled Dog Adventure and Touring kennel. We're looking for TWO mature and responsible dog handlers.  A background in dog obedience training and/or animal behavior will take favor over prior dog mushing experience, however, the applicants’ love and respect for dogs, a desire for adventure and a thirst for knowledge are the most important qualifications. We’ll teach you the rest.   This internship offers room and board and all of the experience and knowledge you can absorb.

At times, you’ll work longer and harder than you likely ever have before. You’ll get tired, sore, sometimes wet, cold, and really dirty. At times, there will be plenty of time to relax and just soak up the beauty of the woods while hanging out with the dogs in their play groups or to head out to explore the area.  You’ll likely learn more about yourself and canine working companions than you ever thought imaginable and you’ll have the time of your life. There is potential to guide tours in the winter once we teach you what you need to know, for a little extra pocket money.

We live entirely off grid, using solar energy, in the remote wilderness of Minnesota’s Arrowhead Region but have all of the modern conveniences like indoor plumbing and wifi.

Hours are flexible in the off season, so a paying job in town is always possible.

Both positions run into April of the next year.  Please send inquiries and resumes to linda@points-unknown.com Visit our website to learn more about us - www.points-unknown.com

Monday, February 29, 2016

Puppy Aptitude and Leader Testing


The Sasha/Arrow puppies are now 7 weeks old, which means that it's time for our routine puppy testing. For those who haven't been following the growth of these puppies on facebook, here is a link to the puppy album.

Any testing at this age is taken with a grain of salt and is used to help us better understand each individual puppy and set up a customized training plan going forward. We've seen them grow from birth but, up until this point, have not seen how they behave without their litter mates or mom, with an unknown person, in an unfamiliar place, with new stimuli. This test provides that information.

The Puppy Aptitude Test was originally developed for Golden Retrievers and does need some tweaking for our dogs, but, for purposes of this post, we will share the link to the test as it is. Please click here for more information on this test.


Social Attraction and Following 

 
Restraint
  
Social Dominance
  
Elevation Dominance
 
Retrieving - which is something our dogs are  not likely to do, however it is always interesting to see how they react.
 
Touch Sensitivity
 
Sound Sensitivity

Sight Sensitivity
 
Temperament Stability
 
Structure Assessment


The second test is based on a piece written by Mel Fishback called "Puppy Selection for Work and Training". It involves placing a collar and leash on a puppy for the first time at 7 weeks of age and with leash in hand, just walking away from the puppy to see how they react.
Leader Testing

Group 1 puppies crane their necks for a second then immediately rush to your side or head out in front of you. These puppies are the most level headed pups and those that will be real learners and make the best leaders. If they grab the leash in their mouths, then even better!

Group 2 puppies take a bit longer to figure out the idea of a collar and leash and might resist, make noise, throw themselves on the ground but within a few minutes get the hang of it and come right along. With specialized training, Group 2 puppies can make excellent leaders.

Group 3 puppies will fight the leash and object in a passive way. They will eventually come along but not in a very happy or excited way. These puppies make better team dogs than leaders.

Group 4
puppies actively resist the leash and are somewhat defiant in doing so. According to Mel Fishback, puppies in Group 4 are quitters and will not make good working dogs.

This test is done for informational purposes only. Points Unknown has made leaders and good solid working dogs and sled pets out of Group 4 puppies and you can too!