Visit our Photo Albums!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Canicross Hikes 2008: Willow River in September

Journey waits patiently for the others

Kimberley and Shaggy at the start

Good side-by-side training

A water break for Tasha and Timber


Marilyn and Conan enjoying the scenery

Melanie and Annie navigating over obstacles

Our "German" sled dog member

We decided to return to a favorite park today for our last Canicross Hike of the season. We had hopes of brilliant fall colors but discovered we are still about a week and a half away.

Temps were in the upper 60s and it was a bit humid but the dogs trudged on, enjoying our halfway stop in the water, at the base of the falls. There were two "non" northern breed dogs in attendance today which is so nice to see. Conan is a German Shepherd and Shaggy is a Border Collie/Irish Terrier mix. Both fit right in and didn't seem to know they were any different than the remainder of the group which consisted of Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Huskies.

It was Tasha and Timber's first time with us. It was also their very first canicross hike. They did amazingly well and acted as though this is what they were meant to do.

The Canicross Hiking Club season begins again next May after we at Points Unknown have had a chance to rest from our rigorous winter schedule with the sled dogs. New destinations are on the agenda for next season so we can all get out and enjoy some new scenery and some new challenges with the dogs.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tuloon/Bazil Puppies' First Birthday!

Zodiak, Oken and Zala at one year old!

Zodiak at 6 weeks old

Zodiak today!

Oken at 6 weeks

Oken today!

Zala at 6 weeks

Zala, the little peanut, today!

I can hardly believe it's been a year since Tuloon gave birth to these outstanding and amazingly beautiful puppies! Zodiak, Oken and Zala turn one today!

They were in harness for short puppy runs last winter, just to note their interest. There were no issues there! We had our first run of the new season a couple weeks ago when the weather was cool and all three kept their lines right, never tangled and focused their eyes directly down the trail. It will continue to be an amazing journey with these three as we uncover all of their potential.

Happy Birthday puppies!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Near Disaster

Klaus snacking from the crab apple tree

What Klaus snacked on today

They say bad things happen in threes. Well, today was that kind of day with the last event of the day being a near disaster.

The morning began when we noticed some swelling on Tuloon's upper left leg after she began to limp. She had been sleeping soundly in her crate in the house that night so this limited the possibilities to an inspect bite. She was watched closely throughout the day. The limp went away as did the swelling.

The second "event" occurred when a group of dogs were out playing in the yard. Journey approached with blood soaking the outside portion of her foot. No limp at all, just blood. After taking a closer look, we found that she had torn her toenail exposing almost three quarters of the quick. The nail was still very solidly attached, however now extending at a distinct angle. The wound was cleaned and she continued to run around the yard showing no sign of pain. We'll keep a close eye on this area to make certain no infection develops. Otherwise, she will keep in clean and it will fall off in time. As long as she is showing no pain there is no reason to have it removed at this time.

The third event wasn't quite as easy and could have had a very disastrous outcome, thank goodness it didn't. Klaus has always had a strong desire to guard "resources"; his bone, his crab apples on the tree, his fill in the blank. Today, while a group was out playing, he was placed in a crate in the house to avoid any issues with another male. When he was let out, he made a mad dash for the door, snatching up the remains of a plush toy that the little dogs had destroyed, then running outside trying to devour it as he ran. It was, of course, now his and the only way to keep it all to himself was to eat it! When I got to him it was completely down. He ate the entire plush toy whole in seconds. My heart sank, having had a dog die as a result of a soft obstruction last year at this time, I was thinking the worst.

At the moment, I knew I needed to get him to throw up but my mind was racing and I wasn't able to remember the name of the liquid that induces vomiting so I jumped on the phone to my vet finding that they were now closed. Thankfully, I had home and cell phone numbers and finally got a hold of them. Hydrogen Peroxide. After hearing the words, I kicked myself that I hadn't remembered and could have administered it minutes sooner. After squirting a good 36CCs of Hydrogen Peroxide down his throat he began to throw up but still no plush toy. The second time around, out it came! A huge sigh of relief.

The thought of losing a dog is just unbearable and the thought of losing one because I was unprepared is even worse. Words of advice from someone who just got a dose of reality today; brush up on your first aid skills and be prepared for anything to happen when working with sled dogs.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fall Training 2008; First Run of the Season!

Loading the dogs to a September sunrise

Klaus with Zala and Sweet Pea behind

Zala and Sweet Pea

Icoa and son, Ilu

First Team out

Second Team ready to go!

Zodiak next to McKenzie

Six dog Hedlund Husky team

Oken and Phoenix

Zodiak and McKenzie

The leader girls, Journey and Tuloon

We awoke dark and early this morning and began loading the dogs at 6:30AM. The temperature was perfect for the first day of training at 40 degrees F. I was anxious to put the Tuloon/Bazil puppies in with the team this year, having done so well with their short "fun" runs over the winter, I was hopeful they would be excellent. These pups will be one year old the end of the month!

Another exciting anticipation was McKenzie's first run with the team. He arrived to Minnesota from Alaska in April and has spent the summer getting used to his new home, new musher and new team and had yet to be put in harness.

In addition, this was the first fall training run of the season for our new handler Kimberley, who traveled from Australia with her two dog team to join us for the season. She caught a glimpse of the routine and soon will be working with her own team that she will be using for our winter adventures at Gunflint Lodge.

First Team:

Lead - Klaus
Point - Sweet Pea and puppy Zala
Wheel - Ilu and Icoa

They got right back into the swing of things and acted as though they had only been on vacation for a few short days when in reality, they have been enjoying their "time off" since March 31st!

Zala, being tinier than everyone else, got under the gangline a few times but quickly returned to her side after being prompted. Pretty darn good for her first run in the "big dog" team!

Sweet Pea and Klaus are the veterans at 6 years old and didn't miss a beat, however, making the "haw come" back home, Klaus got a bit confused as a new trail had been added at our usual turn-around spot. The command eventually sunk in and back to the truck we went.

Ilu and Icoa did their typical "Bonnie and Clyde" comedy routine at hook-up and pulled steady the entire run.

Second team:

Tuloon and Journey in Lead
Phoenix and Oken in Point
McKenzie and Zodiak in Wheel

I underestimated the power of this team and we found ourselves hanging on to the cart rather tightly as I stood with both feet on the brake to slow them down. Yikes! I think we'll put some of the "puppy power" on the other team next time!

Tuloon had been co-pilot for Klaus last year. This season, she will be the main leader and part-time mentor to Journey during our training sessions. Tuloon was as anxious as ever to go. Last year at this time she was three weeks away from giving birth to the puppies so when Fall training came around, she had to sit out until the very end, once the pups were weened.

Journey still shows great promise as a leader and it's straight ahead she goes.

Phoenix was his calm predictable self, pulling harder than ever. He was placed next to Oken, one of the puppies, to show the "little" guy how it's done.

Oken was a bit concerned at hook-up, sitting down and backing up but once we got going, he settled into a nice trot. He moves well and pulls well and appears to be a natural.

McKenzie went from being a mild mannered, soft spoken boy to a wild man! It began when the dogs were loaded in the truck. He new exactly what was happening even though he had never gone through our routine before. He whined and paced and couldn't sit still. At hook-up I saw something oddly familiar. Journey, McKenzie's daughter, did the same thing last year when I first hooked her up. He winds up and then lunges into his harness and each time he winds up, he pulls the dogs in front of him back by his neck line. When he lunged forward, it was with so much force that he moved the cart with its brakes locked and earth brake engaged, all by himself. He did soon calm down after a stern but quiet discussion about hook-up manners. Journey, with what we know now seems to have been a behavior passed down from her dad, did soon calm down, as well, and off we went.

Zodiak, the third Tuloon/Bazil pup in the team this year, pulled his heart out and just like Oken, moves well, although his gait was a bit more puppy-like for the first couple of miles until he settled into the pace.

All in all, the first runs of the season were successful. There was a bit of sadness, however, as three of our dogs have retired and this is the first season they have not been with us on our first run of the season. Zulu, my magnificent leader is now 12 years old. He rested comfortably in his crate filled with comforters and in the house while we ran. He spends his days roaming the fenced-in back yard and most evenings he is in the house. Tukisi 9 and Isis 10, both diagnosed with hypothyroidism, slowed down a lot last season and will be getting a lot of special one on one time doing canicross hikes or scootering this fall. To avoid having their hearts broken when the other dogs were being loaded, they were placed in crates out of sight until our return.

On our return, we made a stop at the vet to weigh everyone. The little peanut, Zala, weighed in at a very light 42lbs while our largest dog, Ilu, was 77lbs. All other boys are 70lbs+- and the remaining girls are around 50lbs+-, except for Sweet Pea who weighed in at 59lbs.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Canicross Hikes 2008: Elm Creek Park Reserve

Double training moment; Over a bridge and "on by" the scary bicyclers.

Journey shows her frustration with my slow pace, jumping up and lunging into her harness.

Goldenrod in full bloom

Ears perked up and line slacked when Journey hears something that might be scary, coming around the bend.

Straight ahead

Frankie left and Meg Right

Journey learns to "gee over" on the road which means to run along the right side.

Today's Canicross Hike was held at Elm Creek Park Reserve just northwest of the Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN area. Temperatures were in the upper 60s and there was a slight breeze. The hike lasted almost two hours. No mileage was determined, however we estimate it to have been around 5 miles.

There were numerous distractions for "on by" training that included, bicyclists, dogs on leash, cars and trail workers. Hints of horses on the trail were everywhere but no horse encounters were had today. There were also many trail crossings to practice the "straight ahead" command versus "gee" for a right turn and "haw" for a left turn.

Journey was my trail dog today. The last time she came on a Canicross Hike was when she was 10 weeks old. She came along for a walk and to observe but ended up wanting desperately to join in the fun. I had wanted her to get used to wearing a harness so put one on her for the walk. We rotated between pulling in harness, walking and a bit of free running along with the other dogs to keep her focus. She enjoyed the pulling best, it seemed. I was amazed at the pull instinct and drive at such a young age. Since she is now over a year old and will be training in lead with Klaus this fall, I thought it was time to do some one on one with her during our hike. She has had some issues with other dogs as well as new and "scary" things. Today, with all of the distractions, proved the perfect training ground and she did an excellent job.