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Friday, September 28, 2007

Points Unknown at Gunflint Lodge

Gunflint Lodge is located 45 miles up the Gunflint Trail from Grand Marais, MN.

Gunflint Lodge

Gunflint Lake and distant view of the burning that occurred this year on the Canadian side.

Points Unknown is excited to announce that we have been contracted by Gunflint Lodge to create, manage and execute their new dog mushing program. From December through March, Points Unknown will be providing educational dog mushing adventures that range from hands-on dog sled rides to custom guided adventures that can include your own team of sled dogs. The Gunflint Lodge property and the adjoining Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness makes for a breathtaking and magical experience in of itself. Now just add the dogs and it doesn't get any better.

Gunflint Lodge was established in 1927 and has been providing dog sled rides for many years. We're honored to be a part of its transformation to more educational-based guided adventures.

Come see us at Gunflint Lodge!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tuloon/Bazil Female Puppies

The little light girl with white triangle between her eyes weighed in at 14.7oz at birth. She has been the most vocal so far and is the most assertive of the girls, at this stage. Since she has Tuloon's coloring, she'll be referred to as the "T" girl for now.

This little girl with the white eyebrows and white nose has been as quiet and easy going as the male with the white flash between his eyes. She weighed 14.9oz at birth. I'm afraid I am not as imaginative right now with a reference for this little girl. She'll be referred to has White Eyebrow Girl, for now.

The white nosed little girl with the dark black and copper face seems to always be at the milk bar. She is not as assertive as others but when there is an opening, she's right in there. She weighed 14.8oz at birth. Again, imagination escapes me and this little one will be referred to as White Nose Girl for now.

Tuloon/Bazil Male Puppies

This male has his grandpa Zulu's coloring. He'll be referred to as the Z-boy for now. He was 16.4oz at birth and is one of the two most assertive at the milk bar. He is also one of the more vocal at this stage.

This brownish/copper faced boy was 16.8oz at birth. He is also very assertive at finding his place at the bar. He'll be referred to as Rusty for now.

This little dark and copper boy with the white flash between his eyes weighted 15.1oz at birth. At this stage, he is not the most assertive and is always up near Tuloon's head. This guy will be called Flash for the time being.

Tuloon/Bazil Puppies Have Arrived!

Tuloon and Bazil

Six healthy puppies arrived September 26th 2007.

Tuloon and pups.

After being in labor since 5PM on Tuesday, Tuloon had six healthy puppies yesterday by C-Section. The vet thought that since the puppies were so large, Tuloon just stopped pushing because she was making no "head-way", so to speak and unfortunately, a C-Section was the best choice.

It took Tuloon a couple of hours to get acquainted with them and it took them a little time to wake up fully and begin to do what newborn puppies do(drink, squirm and then sleep again). Rejection of the puppies after a C-Section is always a possibility so she had constant supervision for the first four hours. We knew that when she tried to crawl into the little box they were all warming up in, the motherly instinct was very much intact and there were no further worries.

Mom and her 3 male and 3 female pups, are all doing well as they rest peacefully in the plastic kiddy pool in the laundry room off my office. The heat lamp keeps them nice and toasty as Minnesota Public Radio plays softly in the background. They get hourly visits as I check to make sure all is well in puppyland.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Journey at 15 Weeks

Journey and Jan

Journey and Phoenix

Journey showing proper dog body language as Klaus approaches.

Points Unknown had company for the last week. Temps are still too warm to begin running the dogs, however every day was spent in the dog yard working with the dogs.

Journey is now 15 weeks and growing by leaps and bounds. Her first play session with Klaus was successful as Journey realized his power during play and made sure to stay close to us or an object she could duck under if he got too rough.

Puppies Due Any Day!


Tuloon's due dates began on Saturday and run through tomorrow. Having company last week until Monday must have caused her to opt for having the pups when there would be more peace and quiet.

She's decided that nothing tastes right and isn't eating well but still has a nice thin layer of fat on her ribs so we're not too worried.

This morning, after being let out to run, she was found sitting by the blocked entrance to the dirt den she has been working on for the past few weeks. This afternoon, she found a comfortable spot and was successful in taking over little Copper's crate. She must not be too excited about the plastic pool whelping box I fashioned and lined with a soft comforter.

Tuloon's belly is sagging and very active with puppy movement. On occasion, she will look sharply at the movement, cocking her head while she tries to make sense of it all.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sky 11/5/94 - 9/17/07

Sky - my loyal companion.

Sky passed away peacefully this morning. He was a very sensitive and loyal companion; always concerned about me and how I was feeling. If I were to cry, he was right there by my side to see what he could do for me. He was very happy to be the mascot of the sled dog team and enjoyed years of socializing puppies. He was also an anxious dog and he began rapidly declining in the past year. His quality of life was diminishing to the point that it was kinder to make the decision to put him down than to let him further decline.

He left the world in the sun room, on his favorite dog bed as soft classical music was playing in the background. Since his life was filled with anxiety, I wanted him to pass as peacefully as possible. He did.

This is a part of living your life in the company of dogs. It never gets any easier.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Young and Old

Journey is the youngest dog in the kennel at 13 weeks.

Zulu is the oldest at 11 years. He's the fraternal grandfather to Tuloon's expected litter.

Tuloon Update

Tuloon is glowing.

As she tries to get out of the den she re-dug.....

Tuloon is progressing in her pregnancy nicely and its quite obvious that she has lost her girlish figure. She has 20-24 days until her due dates. She continues to eat the gourmet meat patties I prepared for her along with her normal 38/25 Redpaw kibble. If its too muggy outside, however, she tends to skip a meal or two.

Becoming a little more "testy" with the males and the puppy, Tuloon makes it clear when she wants them to stay away or calm down. She continues to stay friendly with Sweet Pea. I think she recalls the early years when Sweet Pea "raised" her after her arrival at Points Unknown when she was 8 weeks old.

Within the next couple of weeks she will be taken out of the kennel with the other dogs and get used to spending more time in the house where she will have her puppies. She's a natural house dog and comes in often so the transition will be relatively smooth for her. I'm not sure how disappointed she'll be about not being able to have her pups in the den she re-dug into the hill in the back yard. This den was originally dug by the grandmother to these pups, Jessie in 2002 and then re-dug by Icoa in 2005 after it was filled in.

Fall Training Preparation

Rope inventory

Snow hook ropes and raw rope, brass clips and misc.

Bungee sets for each set of ropes.

It's still too warm here in central Minnesota to begin fall training. This begins early in the mornings when temps dip below 50 degrees F. It is time, however, to take inventory of gear and add where needed, repair and replace ropes and give the four wheeled cart a once over to make sure it is in proper working order so we're ready to hit the trail.

This weekend was spent making new sets of cart/sled ropes for the fall and winter; gang line ropes, tug line ropes, attachable neck line ropes, neck line ropes for double leaders, snow hook ropes, quick release ropes, leader section ropes. That should do it.

Three different sizes of polyethylene ropes are used for our freight style mushing; 1/2" for the gang line, quick release lines and snow hook lines, 5/8" for the tug lines and leader section ropes and 3/8" for the neck lines. The rope sections being placed at the back of the line and closest to the cart/sled need to be made a bit longer than the other sections to minimize the downward pull on the wheel dogs' rear ends. Fids are used to make the ropes. Brass clips are needed for the neck lines and tug lines to attach to the dog's collar and harness loops. Each set of ropes then requires a bungee set with a carabinier on either side and a safety line attached to each carabinier just in case the bungee ever breaks. This bungee is used to take some of the shock of the load away from the dogs. Different strengths of bungee are used depending upon the number of dogs and the weight of the load hauled.

There's one project that can be crossed of the list.