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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dog Family Visit





Q left and Bazil right

Recently we visited a nearby kennel where some of our dog family lives. Jesse, now almost 11 years old, is Klaus and Sweet Pea's mother. She is a 55lb female Alaskan Husky originally bred by a Beargrease Marathon racing kennel. Klaus' resemblance to her is notable. Bazil, full brother to Klaus and Sweet Pea and son of Jesse and our Zulu, is the sire of the 2007 Tuloon litter so he is the father to our Oken, Zala and Zodiak. Blue is a full sister to our Klaus and Sweet Pea as is Zimbi and they are both Jesse and Zulu kids. "Q" is Bazil and Tuloon's son and brother to our Oken, Zala and Zodiak. He is also the grandson to Jesse and our Zulu. (Yikes! Did you follow all of that?)

Click here if you would like to visit the web page that includes all of the Points Unknown dogs.

Polka Update


In the fall, I wrote a post about Polka, a large, traditional female Alaskan Husky working for Voyager Outward Bound School in Ely, MN. She had been bred to Phoenix and we were extremely excited about this breeding and waited in anticipation to hear if the breeding took.

We found out that in December, not too long after the breeding, she was taken to the vet to investigate an issue with her hind legs. They discovered a dangerous uterine infection and Polka had to undergo an emergency spay. It was very unfortunate and sad that they discovered that the breeding did indeed take and due to the immediate need to save Polka's life, the puppies were lost.

The happy news is that Polka is better and happier than ever. She continues to be a sled dog ambassador for Voyager Outward Bound School.

Planned Tuloon/McKenzie Breeding!

Tuloon is a 50lb female Hedlund Husky with a dense coat, excellent structure, even temperament and outstanding leader qualities.

McKenzie is a 70lb male Hedlund Husky with an extremely dense coat, rangy build, outstanding work ethic, leader potential and laid back personality.

At Points Unknown, we LOVE puppies! At the same time, we have a very aggressive spay and neuter program. We only keep dogs intact that have rare lines, the most well rounded temperaments, sound structures and the very best work ethic and abilities. We are not in the business of selling puppies and will only have litters when we have spots to fill in our teams or when other affiliated kennels need puppies. Then, we seek to only recoup our expenses or trade for new bloodlines.

We are so excited to announce the planned 2009 litter between Tuloon and McKenzie, both deep Hedlund Husky line Alaskan Huskies! Tuloon has proven to be a thoughtful open country leader and has produced one exceptional litter already. She is the mother to our Oken, Zala and Zodiak and their three exceptional littermates who have all shown strong abilities as sled dogs and leaders during our recent winter season. This will be Tuloon's last litter.

McKenzie joined us in April of 2007. This past winter was his first working season with Points Unknown and he has proven to have an exceptional work ethic. Wanting him to settled in this first season and not wishing to add additional stress, we haven't placed him up in lead and won't do so until next season. He was training to be a leader at Mush Knik Networking in Knik, Alaska prior to his arrival and we've been told he was making great progress. McKenzie is a mild mannered gentleman of a dog that gets along with everyone in the kennel. McKenzie is the sire to Journey, one of our young leaders, and her four exceptional litter mates.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Journey Spayed

Neil lounging with Journey and the house dog gang, which now includes retired leader Zulu, prior to her surgery.

Journey on her back yard tie-out after the spay

The decision was a difficult one, however it was decided that Journey would be spayed upon our return from our winter adventures. Last Thursday she went in for her surgery and is doing quite well in her recovery. She will live a sheltered life for the next two weeks between a crate in the sun room, a short tie out in the back yard with her trusty companion Zulu and in the house roaming free without her E collar in the evenings when she can be supervised by the house dogs and me.

As I said, it wasn't an easy decision. Journey is an exceptional sled dog and new leader. Exceptional. She also is a descent size female with a super dense coat. All wonderful attributes for a traditional sled dog. She is a very sweet girl to those she knows well and gets along extremely well with everyone in her pack. The temperament issues that made it important to have her spayed were her extreme shyness around strangers and her aggressiveness to any dog she encounters outside of our pack.

Aggressiveness is an absolute no-go when it comes to my breeding program. I also want my sled dogs to be comfortable around people. Both items are extremely important when putting your dogs to work as I do. I have had years of dealing with the inherent aggressiveness in Inuit Dogs and I have vowed not to tolerate it in my traditional Husky lines. Working with Journey on her issues is something I am committed to doing because she is a member of the family and it is workable, however I have no desire to knowingly add that element to the kennel in the future.

So Journey's genes stop here but long live everything else she has to offer as the exceptional sled dog and companion she is!

Spring Clean Up

Neil next to some of his handiwork

New pen right out the back door

Zala left and Tuloon right, making use of the new pen

Second new pen used as a double entry for the main kennel

Nicely raked yard

Since my dog sledding accident nearly three weeks ago, I haven't been very mobile. I've relied on Neil to do just about everything necessary to properly take care of the 14 sled dogs and he's done a super job! In the past week I have been able to limp along on flat surfaces and just graduated to walking gingerly on uneven surfaces two days ago. With the arrival of spring comes a multitude of other jobs in addition to the basic dog care and my ability to walk came at an opportune time. I wasn't able to complete these items myself but I was able to lend a hand which felt much better than sitting on the couch looking out the window wishing I was there. The credit for tasks completed needs to be given to Neil as he went above and beyond "the call of duty" prior to his departure back to the UK last evening.

Where to begin! In just 5 days the following was accomplished:

Installation of two new dog pens. This was necessary due to the growth of the kennel and came at the perfect time because both Tuloon and Zala went in heat at the same time and are taking advantage of this space away from the main kennel. Since one of the pens is right outside the back door to the house, it will make it easier to care for dogs recovering from surgery or an injury and it won't be so disruptive to the main kennel when there are unsupervised pups left inside for the afternoon after a morning of supervised free running in the backyard.

Removal of straw from the dog houses and around the kennel. It is spring so the dogs no longer need this insulation. If it remains in the kennel it will soak up moisture and hold odors and just be plain unsanitary so it needed to go.

Raking of leaves in the yard. This is a job that doesn't always get done due to the lack of time, however it is a good thing to do. It helps promote the growth of the grass that will soon be trampled on by packs of sled dogs which is better than having the area mulched with leaves which then kills the grass and leaves those packs of sled dogs running in mud. (Which then translates to mud in the house)

Washing of windows and the cleaning of screens. The cottonwood trees disperse their cotton-like seeds that catch on the screens making it difficult to see through the windows and out to the amazing view we have here at Oake Lake. Those poor screens haven't seen a cleaning in quite some time and I won't even mention the state of the windows prior to this week's cleaning spree. Copper, one of the little house dog mascots, deserves to be able to sit on the back of the sofa and patrol his area without an obstructed view.

Numerous other miscellaneous items. Light bulbs, cobwebs, poop pick up in the back yard, etc. It all needed to be done!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Return to Watertown

The beginnings of this morning's sunrise over Oake Lake

The dog sledding season officially ended on March 22nd with our last client runs. Several days of 50 degree weather did a number on the trails and they were no longer safe to travel with clients. We spent our remaining time at Gunflint Lodge offering our Open Dog Yard events where folks come and meet the dogs and learn about what we do. We also provided dog sledding slide shows.

As we began to pack up on March 30th to take the dogs home to Watertown in central Minnesota, we were hit by a snow storm, of course. Liz packed up and headed out in the middle of it all, wanting to get a jump on her several day trip back to Oregon. We waited until April 1st to load the dogs and head home, just as the plow trucks were passing through. In all, I believe we got a good 12 inches of snow from this storm.

We arrived home late on April 1st to spring. The ice went out on Oake Lake on April 3rd which is at least a week before its disappearance last year. It took us a good two days to unload the trucks. The cube van needed to be empty for our long one day trip back up the Gunflint Trail to retrieve some final gear the following Saturday.

We're all glad to be back. The dogs seem happy to be in their kennels again, able to play freely with their kennel mates. We're looking forward to planning the next winter season adventures with the dogs and there are a lot of new opportunities in store for both us and our guests next winter!