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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Oken and Zala at Obedience Class

Zala with impeccible eye contact

Look at those legs!

Waiting patiently

Oken (with still a patch to shed)

"down stay"

Handsome boy

In addition to Canicross Hikes this season, two of the Tuloon/Bazil puppies, Oken and Zala, have been attending obedience class. Zodiak and Journey are next.

I still can't get over the fact that my "Group 4" puppy, Zala, has been doing amazing well in harness and at obedience class and is the most attentive of the pups. If you recall, the little peanut tested the absolute worst possible in her 49 day/7 week puppy leader test. According to Mel Fishback, a Group 4 puppy will never be a useful sled dog and (paraphrasing) may as well just pack it up and find another career. Granted, since the test she has had special training and attention to combat those troubling findings so we aren't quite certain if that is what it took or she had a bad day while being tested or just what could have happened to turn things around for her. Whatever it is, we are delighted!

Oken is so much like his uncle Klaus. Even though he is a completely different color, he has the same build, same head, eye set, ear set and personality. And like Klaus when he was younger, he needs a bit of confidence building. He tends to lag behind during the heeling exercises, concerned about getting in front of me. He's a sensitive boy and doesn't like the mild corrections given with the training collar so more verbal corrections and praise are being given. Canicross Hiking seems to have built up his confidence by leaps and bounds(literally) as he has no problem being in front and keeping the line tight.

It is with great joy that I watch these pups progress in their training and in their growth. They will be 10 months old very soon. I wonder if those legs have stopped growing!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Summer 2008; Dogs at Play

Neil with Klaus

Points Unknown was fortunate enough to have a visitor from abroad come to meet the dogs, help around the kennel and learn about sled dogs for the past month. All photos were taken by Neil, our visitor from the UK, except for this one, of course.

You would have thought I had treats in my hand instead of heartworm medication.


Icoa and Ilu










Northern Minnesota Visits

Gunflint Lodge in the summer.

How strange to see boats on the water that was previously covered with ice!

A visit with Gus, Ilu's litter mate.

Pretty Face, Isis' litter mate.

Wapusk, Isis' litter mate.


An actual bear at the International Bear Center.

International Wolf Center

International Wolf Center

One of the two wolf pups to be introduced to the pack.

It's rare that we spend much time in northern Minnesota this time of year. Why? Well, there's just no snow and not to mention those darned mosquitoes! However, it was thought important to check on the dog yard at Gunflint Lodge in the Grand Marais, MN area and make some notes for the next mushing season. A separate trip a couple weeks later to the Ely, MN area was made to purchase some winter gear, hoping for considerable discounts at this time of year and to check in on one of the Points Unknown pups from Icoa's 2005 litter that makes his home at Wintergreen Kennel. Gus went to Wintergreen kennel as an 8 week old pup and we were told that he has been a client favorite. This apparently runs in the family. How nice this was to hear!

During this trip we also found ourselves visiting the Voyager Outward Bound School dog yard to look in on a few other Inuit Dogs that began their lives with us. Pretty Face and Wapusk are Isis' litter mates and have been working with clients at the school for the past several years. They are now retired and up for adoption at the age of 10 years old. If there is any interest among the readers, please contact us and we will put you in touch with the appropriate folks at Outward Bound.

It was quite a surprise to see one of Amaruq's(passed away unexpectedly in fall of 2007 from a reaction to anesthetic) litter mates at the school that had apparently just returned from his work in the Arctic a week previous. Bear has been on numerous arctic expeditions over the past 6+ years of his life, including at least one trip to the North Pole, and has now come back to be with the Outward Bound School to continue his work with their clients and recover from and be medicated for his just diagnosed thyroid problem. This condition continues to pop up in the Inuit Dog which is quite a concern. Thankfully, there has been no evidence of this issue in Ilu and Icoa's lineage to date. We are also thankful that Bear will live a long and happy life and be able to work again for the Outward Bound School once the medication takes hold.

While in the Ely area we also took the time to visit the North American Bear Center and the International Wolf Center. These two places are a "must-see" if in the Ely, MN area. This year at the International Wolf Center, they are introducing two gray wolf pups to the existing pack.

Canicross Hikes 2008 - July, Minnewashta

Zodiak left and Oken right

Up the hill...

Through the prairie...

Jen with her rescued Siberian, Echo. Echo's first Canicross hike!

Coming down the road to the lake for a dip.

Break time

Zala showing Neil the "ropes" on the trail.

Zala left and Oken right.


In early July, two Canicross Hikes were held. Our visitor, Neil from the UK, had his introduction to Canicross early on the fourth of July when Zala showed him how it all works. Zala and Oken came along for the hike and due to the holiday, there were many training distractions; picnics, running and screaming children, crowds of people and more. Zala, being a three month veteran at the sport, showed her focus by calmly moving on-by just about every distraction, while Oken, being a first timer, didn't quite understand the point of it all and why so many people about and what's over there....and there...... and there?? Neil, being a natural with dogs of all kinds, quickly picked up the skills and seemed to enjoy his time on the trail with Zala.

On July 12th, our Canicross Hike Club met at Minnewashta Regional Park. We met quite early, hoping to avoid the heat and humidity of the day. Temps were in the mid 70s with a nice breeze to keep the mosquitoes away. Our core group of northern breed dogs and their owners were present as well as Marilyn with her "German" (Shepherd) sled dog, Conan. The Points Unknown dogs present were the Tuloon/Bazil 9 1/2 month of boys, Zodiak and Oken. This was Zodi's 2nd hike and he was spot on when it came to pulling and doing his job. Oken, having a group of other dogs to set the standard, picked things up quickly and soon was not the least bit distracted and seemed to delight in his ability to pull and pull hard as he launched his human team member into the air on numerous occasions when asked to "tighten up". That human team member would be me. Thank goodness for the bungee in the canicross line.

Catching Up!

Melanie, weekend kennel helper, shovels kennel gravel.

Journey loses her luxurious thick coat all over the yard.

Neil, our visitor from the UK and his first attempts at brushing Ilu while Icoa tries to help subdue him. (Or is she making it worse?!)

Further attempts prove sucessful.

The summer is flying by! There has been little time in the past month for updates so now they all come at once.

It's the season for brushing the dogs to help remove their heavy undercoats. Most dogs have now fully shed while Tuki, Isis, Klaus and Zulu still sport their full winter best. Poor dogs. The heat and humidity have been nearly unbearable for the humans. How must it be for the dogs? Thankfully, their winter coats also help insulate them from the heat, however they are much warmer than their kennel mates now wearing their summer attire.

Another necessary kennel job is the moving of the gravel and sand within each kennel to fill holes dug around the perimeter, making it more difficult for dogs such as Zala the escape artist, to do just that! Twice, this little magician has dug the smallest of holes between the fence bottom rail and the dig-out wire to spring herself free from the kennel for a half day. Thankfully, there is a double fence system in the yard and she had gone no further, happy just to play with things she could see looking out from her kennel that were apparently just too tempting. The extent of her "playfulness" was not known until turning on the hose to find it now functioned as a sprinkler. To make certain the holes were fixed in the kennel, cement silo blocks were put in place between the gaps before the gravel/sand mix was put on top.

Its obvious now that Zala needs a lot more stimulation than she was getting while in with the older dogs while being in heat. Now that her heat has passed, she has been placed in a kennel with her brothers and Journey who give her more than enough(maybe sometimes too much!) action to keep her on her toes!

Icoa Turned 5 on July 14th!

Icoa at 4 weeks. (2nd from right)

Icoa at 4 months, attending a local Expo.

Playful as can be. January 2005

Always happy. Fall of 2004(Isis on the left and Tuloon on the right)

Icoa in the air. March 2005

4 weeks along with the Ilu litter. 2005

March 2006

October 2006 with Klaus, in lead.

Typical Icoa. Women's Adventure 2007

With son, Ilu. BWCAW trip, winter 2007

Icoa came to Points Unknown from Toadhall Kennel in Inwood, Manitoba. She was to be a foundation female for our Inuit Dog line. Icoa showed early on that she was as smart as could be as well as eager-to-please. She was tested at an early age in lead and did amazing well. For the past 4 years, she has run in every position until last season when she found a permanent spot in wheel with her son Ilu where they can both provide the comic relief for the clients in and on the sled. Those two are quite the pair!

She has always been a favorite of clients and, if she really likes someone, will throw herself on her back for a belly rub. Her enthusiasm in harness is apparent when you see you jumping straight up in the air with a big smile on her face!

Happy Birthday, Icoa!