Visit our Photo Albums!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Thunderstorms and Surprising Finds

Post thunderstorm this evening

Post thunderstorm yesterday evening

Morel Mushrooms and the "dog yard" rhubarb

Morel Mushrooms

Young snapper crossing the driveway

This has been the week for thunderstorms and surprising finds here on Oake Lake. The skies are brilliant enough without the intense weather but add a thunderstorm or two and the sky lights up with some quite amazing cloud formations and colors. Thankfully, we had no hail in our area, however our southeastern neighbors were not as lucky. Reports were made of 3 feet of water running through the streets due to clogged sewer drains. They were clogged from the leaves that were stripped from the trees when the 2 feet of golf ball size hail pummeled the area. June is historically when we receive the hail storms. Years ago, the apple orchard was hailed out two years in a row on the very same day; June 10th. Needless to say, we have our eyes on the sky even more so at this time of year.

With the beginning of June and hail season also comes the migration of the turtles. The painted and snapping turtles make their way from Oake Lake up to the property to lay their eggs. I was surprised to spot the first turtle yesterday. It was a snapping turtle that appeared to have hatched out last year. The turtles make their way into the strangest places. Dog kennels need to be periodically checked and the play area is given a once over every day before the dogs get let out to play. Many a turtle has fallen victim to the curious sled dog and ended up with a few distinguishing battle scars on its shell from those furry beasts considering it a chew toy. Thankfully, no turtles have been mortally wounded and all do seem to return sporting those custom marked shells.

Morel mushroom season begins when there has been enough warmth and sun to bring the soil temps up to 63 degrees F. Looking for nearly two hours a couple of weeks ago, we found nothing. A surprising find of a cluster of 10 Morel Mushrooms came about during a bike ride around the lake today. They were clumped together, in a sunny patch of ground and directly under a dying Elm tree with bark beginning to flake. The spores of the Morel are released from the bark of certain types of dying trees, one being the Elm. Morels, fried in butter, are a delicacy. They go for $50.00 a pound in the stores and can be found at high end restaurants in the city. Interesting what a little bike ride in the country can uncover.

Journey Turns 1 Year Old Today!

Journey at 8 weeks old when I first laid eyes on her

Journey and mom, Cranberry. She knew this little girl was going to need some special attention. She consistently put her mouth on Journey while leaving the other litter mates alone to play.

House training after the big "journey" from Alaska to Minnesota

No fear even at 10 weeks

Her introduction to a harness and the training cart was at 4 1/2 months as she hung out with the resting team after a run.

At 5 1/2 months she was placed in the team for a slow one mile run. Her eyes were always focused on the trail and in front of the lead dogs.

At 7 months old, Journey needed to live on a chain for the winter at Gunflint Lodge
for our winter adventures and quickly adapted.

At 7 1/2 months she was tested in lead with Zulu and amazed us all with her focus and drive!

At 10 months old she had her first lake run in point position which is directly behind the leaders.

She did so well on her first lake run at 10 months old, that on the way back she was placed in lead with Klaus and did some open country leading. She wasn't the least bit thrown by the lack of a trail and followed Klaus' cue.

Journey enjoying a birthday bone at 1 year old.

Journey is a Hedlund Husky that Points Unknown traveled to Mush Knik Networking in Knik, Alaska, to retrieve in August of 2007. Her Father is McKenzie, formerly from Mush Knik Networking in Knik, Alaska, now residing at Points Unknown Kennel. Her mother is an Alaska bush trap-line sled dog that was added to the Hedlund line for diversity.

Journey has matured quickly from likely the most mischievous puppy I have ever encountered, to the very even tempered, quiet, intelligent and slightly stubborn girl of today. She has gone from a puppy having absolutely no focus whatsoever, who would run full speed ahead and leap up into my arms unexpectedly at the last moment, catching me completely off guard, to a mature sled dog that doesn't keep her eyes off the trail and who thrives in lead and when running directly for me, now sits at my feet.

She was a precious gift to our kennel and we look forward to seeing more of her potential shine through as the years go on.

Happy Birthday, Journey girl!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Canicross Hikes 2008; Lake Maria State Park

From the woods to the prairie

The dog power comes in handy when traveling up hills!

Some of us had it easier than others.....but what a work out!

A small bog in the forest

The trail takes to the road for a bit

We saw no rare turtles today. What an interesting sign!

A beaver mound in the background

Trail through the big woods

Break time!

Temps were in the upper 60s today with a nice cool breeze to keep the newly hatched mosquitoes away, making it perfect for a hike.

Lake Maria is a beautiful State Park known for its spring wildflowers and big woods. The hike today was about 3 miles in length and it took us through the big woods, onto the prairie and down to the wetlands. We ended our hike at Lake Maria where all of the dogs took a dip to cool down, as most haven't shed their winter coat.

We had all northern breed dogs in attendance today. We don't discriminate! Please plan to join us with your Labs, Retrievers, Herding Dogs, Standard Poodles, etc. Any breed of dog can learn to pull!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Morning Dog Routine

Zodiak, Phoenix and Oken

McKenzie and Sweet Pea

More playful moves

Oken, Zodiak and Klaus

Ilu was feeling lonely without Icoa so Journey joined him until Icoa recovers

Zodiak and Phoenix

The two boy puppies and their play fighting while Phoenix tries to ignore it

Phoenix waiting nicely for his food


Tuki and Isis surprising sedate

Dog activities begin at between 7:30 and 8:00AM be it rain, shine, snow, sleet or storm. The first thing on the list is feeding. Tukisi begins the anticipatory screeching that he does so well, the minute he hears the front door of the house close behind me. Most times, he's the only one uttering a sound. Well, I do what shouldn't be done and feed him first just so I don't have to hear that awful sound any longer. But first, the food must be mixed in the dog food shed. Currently, there are three different types of food being fed. I feed Redpaw feed in different varieties for different dogs.

At this time of year, dogs with average metabolisms get a straight 32/20 kibble(32% protein and 20% fat). Some get a little more or a little less at each meal based upon their need. Dogs with extremely high metabolisms get a mix of 38/25 and 32/20 kibble. Right now those dogs consist of a few of my intact males; Phoenix, McKenzie and Zodiak. The third mix is for those dogs with lower metabolic rates. Tuki and Isis are older with thyroid problems so they get a mix of 26/18 and 32/20 kibble. I would prefer to feed entirely 26/18 so they get more food and feel more full, however their primitive systems don't do well on straight 26/18 so they just end up getting the mix and less of it.

When their water buckets aren't frozen, I dry feed. They each get their scoop of food in some special place in their kennel, typically in or on a dog house to keep it off the ground. This seems to slow down their tendency to gulp their food, thus diminishing the potential for stomach bloat, because they have to pick around for each piece.

While the dogs are eating I reenter each kennel to do the poop scooping. Its the scatology part of having sled dogs and you get an awful lot of working experience with it. No one said it was a glamorous lifestyle!

All buckets are checked to make sure the water is full from the evening feeding before then play time begins. Spending time in each kennel, I make sure that each dog gets special attention, or try to as they buzz around chasing, spinning, jumping, rolling on the ground and so on. They seem to be warming up for their afternoon romp in the yard. When leaving each kennel, attention is paid to each latch and clip. These dogs have been know to spring themselves free from their kennels if their latch isn't clipped.

Its the very best way I can think of to start each day. Then after about an hour, its time to say good bye so their food can settle and the musher can get some of that money making work done to support the crew until the afternoon arrives and then more dog fun begins and on to the evening feeding.

Icoa Update

Icoa in my office waiting for something to do

There she is, little miss busy body. I don't know how many times I've said the words "hey, don't eat the (fill in the blank)!" today. Why should I be surprised? This is the same girl that, when her puppies were only 4 days old, began eating the furnace out of boredom from being in the house. So outside they went!

I picked Icoa up this morning after her overnight visit with the vet to recover from her successful spay operation. She'll remain in recovery for another two weeks. She's on pain meds but doesn't seem to be altered by them. She has just begun licking her incision so an e-collar will be crafted and she'll wear it until she heals properly.

She'll remain in the house for about a week and spend her time either being tethered to me or in her crate resting. After the first week we'll see how she's doing and go from there. The good news is that she didn't attempt to eat the little house dogs. That's certainly a plus and does earn her more freedom.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Big Decision Made

Icoa with a young guest

Icoa and me after a long day on the trail

Ilu and Icoa in wheel position, tugs tight as usual, heading out for another adventure

Tukisi and Isis

Ilu the big bear

Ilu doing what he loves best; hugging anyone who gets within range

Icoa at rest during a day on the trail

For over two years now, there has much agonizing over a very important long term decision regarding the direction of the Points Unknown kennel. Issues have been analyzed and tossed back and forth. Lists of pros and cons are endless. The right decision became very clear over the winter and it was acted upon this morning. Icoa was dropped off at the vet to be spayed and the Inuit Dog line in the Points Unknown kennel will end with this action. Fortunately, her lines live on in the pups sent to Arctic Quebec in late 2005 for the Inuit Dog Recovery Program being executed by two school teachers in Nunavik.

The Inuit Dog is the tank of the sled dog world. It is the original sled dog used by the Inuit people for Polar Bear and Seal hunting and was/is the ideal dog for the harsh arctic lifestyle and climate. One story pointing to the evolution of this breed stands out. In some settlements, the dogs were placed out on islands when the sledding season was done and then those remaining were picked up for the return of the season. It was survival of the fittest. The strongest and healthiest were the first to eat and the first to breed, thus passing down those traits. If they weren't tough enough, nature took its course and they were no longer a part of the gene pool.

Their behavior is, to this day, very similar to their historical primitive behavior. They are very wolf-like in how they behave within their pack but are no closer to wolves genetically than a Daschound. They were bred to be companions of people as well as hearty working dogs and those who showed any aggression to people whatsoever were culled. Those who didn't come when called were either culled or starved to death. Therefore people aggression is not a problem in this breed, however dog aggression is and can be quite a lot to manage, especially when going in the direction of involving the public.

Points Unknown has a commitment to our four remaining wonderful Inuit Dogs until they pass on. The two oldest, Tukisi and Isis are now retired and will do very little pulling with the team. Icoa is almost 5 years old and her son Ilu is almost 3 years old. Those two were a big part of the Points Unknown "A" team last season and will remain a big part in the future. They are two of the mildest Inuit Dogs we have come across and their dog aggression management is minimal, allowing them to remain working in the "A" team. They were also the ambassadors of the kennel during our 2007-2008 adventure season, greeting everyone with a smile and displaying tummies for scratching or offering a big bear hug. They will continue to play this very important role in addition to the power they provide in the team.

The focus in the Points Unknown kennel will be our freight Alaskan lines consisting of historic remnants from villages in Alaska that were developed for trap line teams. One such line is the Hedlund Husky.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Spring Time on Oake Lake

Wild Baby Iris'

Wild Strawberries

I was awakened this morning by the awkward honk of the graceful Trumpeter Swan. Two of them had come into our bay this morning to fish for their breakfast. They joined the quintet of Pelicans that arrived last evening.

Near the house are at least a half dozen Robin's nests with nervous mothers patrolling each perimeter. Sitting on the back deck has become a hazard as the Barn Swallows have taken to building another nest atop my sun room window out of mud and grass. If accidentally venturing into their flying pattern, their attempts at diving bombing their subject prove successful and I am forced to evacuate the north side of the deck.

The baby Iris' are beginning to bloom. Tulips have popped up and some still remain after attempts from the sled dogs at decapitating most. The wild Strawberries are in bloom with some tiny green berries already being displayed.

It's a bright sunny day on Oake Lake today. The sled dogs have recuperated nicely from their winter of adventures and are content to play and lounge their days away in the warm spring sun. The musher is slowly beginning to get into the new dog routine of obedience classes, canicross hikes, sled dog visitors and dog yard play time with the pack.

Ahh.....Spring time on Oake Lake.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Canicross Hikes 2008 ; Minnewashta Regional Park

Zala, one of the 7 month old Tuloon/Bazil pups, was my chosen subject for the hike. When the dogs are not working, it is best to remove the tug line from their harness and attach it to their collar so they differentiate between work and play time.

All of the dogs did a great job and pulled well. Then it was time for fun at the beach.

We began our 2008 Canicross Hike season at Minnewashta Regional Park yesterday. Temps were in the upper 50s and low 60s and it was overcast but still a glorious spring day for a hike. It didn't begin to rain until we were almost back to our vehicles.

We plan to do one hike per month at a Minnesota State Park with another hike per month at either Minnewashta Regional Park or Carver Park. The idea behind this schedule was that by becoming more familiar with two parks, we then can focus on individual training issues more intensely at those parks rather then do that in addition to exploring a new area.

We had all northern breed dogs in attendance for our hike yesterday except for our "German Sled Dog" Conan, the German Shepherd. We've had all different breeds attend our Pull Training classes and Canicross Hikes and everyone is welcome. No previous experience required!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Litter mate Update

Q's ears are not quite up yet

Q is a solidly built boy with a dense coat. He weights around 65lbs.

Q follows Zala around

Cookqiz(formerly Zorra) is a long legged girl with a dense coat

Cookqiz weighs between 55 and 60lbs.

The Tuloon/Bazil pups are now 7 months old. All six have proved over the winter to have great potential for being hard working sled dogs and leaders.

Wahya lives in Colorado in Alpine Kennel and is having no problem fitting into her pack and team. No photo updates are available at this time.

Q lives locally and came for a visit last evening to play with his litter mates. After my boys made sure he was alright and Q submitted, they played as if they were old friends. I've been told that he ran with his team a little this winter to get his feet wet and did a great job. His build is a little different than the other pups right now. He is lower to the ground with thick legs and a big head. Our Oken was built this way until recently when he got a growing spurt and grew legs.

Cookqiz lives in New Hamshire in Uktousa Kennel and is still the queen. She's a strong and relentless puller when tested in the team late this winter and tends to look around the dogs in front of her as if to say "hey, put me up in front!".