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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Introductions; Karen DeBoise

Karen and her team of Siberian Huskies on Gunflint Lake with a client.

Karen DeBoise was born in Massachusetts and is currently living in Illinois with her husband and furry house mates. She has worked around animals all her life. While living in Massachusetts, she worked in a local zoo and as a veterinary assistant. Karen is currently involved in a dog therapy program and visits local nursing homes with a couple of her sled dogs. Bitten by the mushing bug in 2005, she immediately began her dog sledding lifestyle. She participates in dog sled races throughout the Midwest and enjoys being out with her dogs whether she’s racing or just out for the fun of it, taking a leisurely run through the wilderness. “When you’re out in the woods enjoying the beautiful scenery with only the sound of the runners gliding through the snow and the dogs breathing, it doesn’t get any better”, Karen says.

Karen began working with Points Unknown in the winter of 2007-2008 and we are pleased to have her back for several weeks this winter season as she and her dogs assist with the adventures for our clients.

Introductions; Don Deckert

Photo courtesy of Joy's Sleddog Photos

Don Deckert grew up on a farm in central Minnesota where he learned to appreciate working animals and the great outdoors from a very early age. Coon hounds and Golden Retrievers were the dogs of choice on the farm while Don was growing up. Extensive camping, backpacking, and canoeing where a big part of Don's life in his teenage and young adult years. Don started "collecting" Siberian Huskies during 1994 because of his fascination with their beauty, independent nature and outdoor working abilities. Although he knew nothing about mushing at the time, he studied books, searched the internet and began meeting and becoming friends with mushers in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Being a woodworker by trade, Don decided to build a dogsled and try his hand at mushing during the late winter months of 2000. After hooking up his first two Siberian Huskies and going for a 1 1/2 mile run, Don was hooked and has been mushing ever since. Don currently has a team of 7 Siberian Huskies that he runs recreationally and competes in 15 to 30 mile races in the Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan area. Dogsledding demonstrations and educational seminars are also a part of Don's typical autumn and winter schedule.

Don began working with Points Unknown during the 2007-2008 winter season and we are very excited to have him back for several weeks, working with the mushers and clients of Points Unknown, again this winter. You can meet his dogs by going to his website. Tundra Star Siberians

Fall Fun; Big Dog Bash

Waiting for our turn to cross the pond

Our accommodations

Icoa and Oken, after the muck portion of the trail. Neil holds the team down from the cart.

Klaus leading us through the muck. Don't drink the water! Crazy dog.

Neil with Sweet Pea and Zala.

Passing practice

Klaus in lead giving his typical 110%. Zala behind in a similar stance.

We've been trying to make the Big Dog Bash event in Togo, MN for years and this year we were finally able to make it happen. There was available time in the schedule and four new pups to socialize and acclimate to a new situation. In addition, our visitor from the UK is eager to participate and learn all he can about the dog mushing lifestyle so he flew over for the event.

There were a total of 12 teams and approximately 105 dogs at the event. the dogs consisted of Malamutes, Inuit Dogs, Siberians and large Alaskans. We arrived on a Sunday evening, put up our tent, set up the dogs and got a good night sleep, ready for a very busy day on Monday. The goal for the event was to introduce the now year old puppies to running with and passing other teams. We wanted to tire them out but make it as low stress as possible so there were no plans of placing those pups in lead during this event. Oken quickly proved he was ready for the challenge and on his second run, he was up in lead with Klaus and did quite a good job. Other than the occasional bark at an on coming team, he minded his own business and stayed perfectly in line. The other pups could have very well been ready for this challenge after their run, however the musher decided that working with one pup under these new circumstances was quite enough.

Our first run was with five dogs, two people and a cart with a tire dragging behind it for resistance. We must have found every single muck hole on the place. The dogs were filthy dirty but happy as can be. We did get the chance to run them through clean pond water to not only cool them off but clean them off. Klaus was in single lead and lead us confidently through and around every obstacle.

Our second run was with six dogs, two people and a cart with a tire dragging behind it for resistance. This run had much less challenging terrain as we stayed on the gravel road. The goal was to work with Tuloon and Phoenix, two relatively new leaders, in a situation where they would have to run next to, into and weave through other teams. One issue that quickly corrected itself for the next run of this team was Zodiak's tendency to get under the line and pull to the left. The new leaders were excellent.

The next day's runs were flip flopped. The first team from the previous day did the easier run to get passing practice and the second team did the muck run.

We all returned home from this event exhausted, muddy and with many new experiences under our belts. We were very pleased with the puppies' adaptability and work ethic in this new situation and the reliability of those dogs accustomed to running with other teams in this setting.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Writer/Points Unknown Participant Shares her Story

Points Unknown Women's Winter Adventure at Gunflint Lodge 2008

Last winter we had the privilege of welcoming a participant to one of our women's adventures that had hoped to also do a story on her adventure with us. She did just that and it can be found on store shelves and within the online version of Sierra Club Magazine.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fall Projects: Dog Houses

Hailey saws the 2x2s for the dog house frames.

Pieces for each house are laid out to create the individual "kit"

Using the screw gun to install the back panel of a dog house

2 Finished and a couple more in stages of completion

Hailey showing off our handy work. 6 hours of using a screw gun makes older muscles ache! Ah, to be a teenager again......

After assessing the dog house situation up at Gunflint Lodge a couple weeks ago, it was determined that we needed at least 5 more dog houses. Since our dogs are not used to living on chains but must do so for practical purposes during our winter adventures at the lodge, I wanted to make sure that they had a little piece of comfort from home. Instead of the barrels, generously stuffed with straw that they lived in last season we would make a few flat top wooden houses so they could all take turns perching on top to get a better view of the surrounding landscape. In addition to this improvement, our elders of the group, Tuki and Isis would get to live free of chains in a brand new kennel that will be installed when we return to cut some recently flagged trails in November.

The dog house project was successful and Hailey, a Points Unknown kennel helper, and I finished building 5 wooden dog houses over the weekend.

Fall Colors On Oake Lake

The "chipmunk" tree in the back yard got its name from the many little chipmunks that stash their goods way up in the branches and taunt the dogs from above.

View to the East

View to the Southeast

This fall seems to be just wizzing quickly by. The colors around the lake are spectacular and even though we are busy preparing for the winter, it has been a necessity to enjoy some time each day to bask in the beauty of it all.

Zulu at the "Spa"

Zulu at 12 years old

Since Zulu is getting older, now 12 years old, his coat is not as nice as it used to be and he isn't shedding as quickly as he did when he was young. It was decided that a nice day at the "spa", AKA dog groomer, would do him some good. Upon his arrival home, he seemed to be quite pleased with his new "do".