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Monday, August 31, 2009

Introductions; Ben Smith and Liesa Helfen

Ben and Liesa

Their Siberian Husky pups Dashi and Suki

Your food for the Points Unknown Women’s Winter Metro Adventures will be prepared by Chefs Ben Smith and Liesa Helfen.

Ben most recently works as the Sous Chef at Forepaugh’s Restaurant in St. Paul. He has previously been Sous Chef at Café Barbette as well as working at Spoonriver and Café Brenda. He attended Macalester College where he left the pursuit of a law degree for the lure of the kitchen. He is self taught and puts many of the best schooled Chefs to shame. He excels with fresh, local ingredients and aspires to open his own restaurant to bring his vision of farm to table to fruition. He co owns two huskies with Liesa and prays they will figure out which of them will be the lead dog before they are old enough to pull. (He thinks it’s Suki).

Liesa is an ex-Chef whom left the pastry world for the allure of the farm. She currently works for Ames Farm and enjoys the inspiration from the different single source honeys as well as the interaction with people everyday at the markets and showing people how to pair honeys with different foods. She still does pastry on the side for specific projects. She attending Pastry school and interned at Charlie Trotter’s institutions in Chicago. Returning to the locally farm based restaurants of Minnesota, she was Pastry Sous Chef at Spoonriver, helped out at Barbette and eventually became the Executive Pastry Chef at Open Arms, a non profit organization feeding people with terminal illnesses. She enjoys the outdoors, her garden, and her two new huskies, Dashi and Suki.

We are looking forward to working with both Ben and Liesa and having them as part of our Points Unknown team.

Introduction; Marleane Callaghan

Marleane Callaghan

Marleane Callaghan is a naturalist for the Wayzata and Orono School Districts in the western suburbs of Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN. Her passion is to educate and inspire children and adults to love nature and be confident and comfortable in the outdoors.

Kayaking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding and hiking are some of Marleane’s favorite pastimes. Marleane teaches survival skills to her students at her summer school program on Big Island which is on Lake Minnetonka. Fire building, making shelters, finding edible plants, making use of what is available all around is one of the favorite topics for her students.

Marleane joins us for our Points Unknown Women’s Winter Metro Adventures and will teach winter phenology and using a turtle shell, explain the legend of Native Americans about the thirteen cycles of the moon and the changing seasons. Learn what happens in your birthday moon!

Marleane will bring an assortment of art supplies for your creative side.

We are happy to welcome Marleane aboard!

Women's Mushing Adventures in the Metro!

Phoenix, Journey and Sweet Pea will happily lead you on your very best adventure of the winter!

We are excited to announce our two newest women's adventures! And both are within one hour of the Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, USA area!

Please visit the Adventure Trip page of our website for details on these and all of our available adventures. We hope to see you on the trail!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Arrival in New Hampshire!

Me with pups at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport Cargo warehouse

Lidia, Hana and Tumac

Richard and pups

This morning began early with a run in the backyard for Tumac and Hana before they hopped into their crate for the drive to the airport. An extra crate was brought along in preparation for a potential mess on the way to the airport. I am happy to say that it was not needed. After a quick walk around the parking lot, both pups had to be placed in their crates and checked in for their flight. Last night a small dish of water was frozen to be attached to the kennel door this morning, just in case the puppies got thirsty along the way. A nice thick comforter was placed in the bottom of the crate for their comfort and to absorb any liquids. Neither pup seemed concerned about their new experience. After a sad "goodbye", the pups were on their way!

Lidia and Richard of Uktousa Kennel left various updates along their journey to the Boston airport to retrieve the pups. Apparently, the area is being affected by a hurricane and there were high winds and heavy rain, making the road conditions poor. We thought the only issue with shipping today might be the crowds and funeral proceedings for Ted Kennedy. Add to this the terrible weather conditions.

Despite the rain, the pups arrived safely. According to Lidia, the airport attendant greeted them with the crate facing backwards and said "You're gonna love these puppies!" and he proceeded to let them out of their crate and hug and kiss them while tails wagged and he got a face full of puppy tongues before Lidia could even greet them. It's nice to know they were well taken care of on their journey.

Apparently, there was no mess at all in the crate. Considering these are 9 week old puppies and they had been in those crates for a total of 6 hours, that is pretty amazing! The pups were welcomed into the family out in the pouring rain. No one seemed to mind.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Quartet's Last Night Together

White Feather at 9 weeks

Hana at 9 weeks

On the move

Tuloon keeps an "eagle eye" on the kids

Tuloon and Topa

Blueberry, one of the puppy sitters, keeps a close eye on the pups too.

Topa at 9 weeks

What in the world is this thing?


Topa and Tumac

White Feather has the same silhouette as Tuloon did when she was a pup.

Tumac at 9 weeks

Puppy fun

They just don't stop moving!

The backyard is an obstacle course of retaining wall tiers, bushes, trees and brush. It's the perfect place for exploring.

Tumac and Hana's Last Night on Oake Lake

Hana and Tumac with mom, Tuloon

It is Tumac and Hana's last night with us before they fly out to New Hampshire. We all spent quite a long time running around in the back yard playing and exploring one last time together.

This is the part of bringing puppies into the world for us that is bittersweet. We've spent weeks nurturing them, socializing them, and falling in love with them. We've given them every opportunity to thrive and they have enhanced our lives tremendously. Now it is time to say goodbye to Tumac and Hana as they begin their journey to their new home with our dear friends Lidia and Richard at Uktousa kennel. They will no doubt be appreciated and loved wholeheartedly for the rest of their lives as they live the life of a king and queen; being hardworking sled dogs by day, just as they were bred to do, and then being cuddled and pampered every night, sleeping soundly in the company of their musher and other fuzzy friends.

Our responsibility to them is for the rest of their lives. It doesn't end the minute they leave us. We will share in their progress and stay in regular touch with their mushers throughout their lives. And wonderful lives they will have.


Our forever changing sky

The scenery on Oake Lake is forever changing. There is not one day that we look out over the lake to find the same sky. All too often it is taken for granted as we move through each day completing task after task. We need to remind ourselves that we are lucky to have such a beautiful setting. We need to remind ourselves that life is about the journey and not only the destination.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tumac and Hana to the Vet

Tumac and Hana's first ride in the truck

Waiting calming in waiting room just before the "incident"

Tumac gets a thorough exam. Since there is Siberian Husky in the Hedlund line, issues with undescended testicles can occur as do occur in the Siberian Huskies. We were glad to find out that both have fully descended. If not, Tumac would have been fixed and therefore could not be a part of the Hedlund Husky breeding program.

Hana gets her exam

Katrina and Scott from the Watertown Vet Clinic have been taking thoughtful care of the Points Unknown Sled Dogs for many years.

Since Tumac and Hana will be flying out to New Hampshire to meet their musher and team on Saturday, we needed to get them to the vet for a Health Certificate required for the flight.

Tumac weighed 22lbs at 8 weeks and 5 days while Hana weighted 17lbs. They got their first ride in the truck in a crate without incident. And they were more than happy to walk up the steps into the vet clinic and play with the children waiting for their puppy to come out from a recent stay. However, they were not quite ready for a man on crutches who walked in with a large black dog. I'm not quite sure what scared them most, (I should say, what scared Tumac the most) the black dog or the crutches. Poor little Tumac let out a blood curdling scream and ran from one end of the clinic to the other, releasing any and all that he had not deposited in the back yard before we left. Hana, who would have otherwise likely not been affected, followed her brother when he fled.

I've informed Tumac's new musher to make sure she is able to get a hold of some crutches and a black dog or two because Tumac will need some desensitizing after today's incident. Interestingly enough, after this unexpected event, this little boy recovered quickly and went somewhat willingly into the exam room and remained calm the remainder of our visit.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Puppy Class!

White Feather analyzes the crowd of puppies in the corner.

A Standard Poodle became a friend.

Ears down indicates a bit of apprehension.

It's a cat!

"My, aren't you an interesting sort.", Topa thinks as Luna says "Bring it on, fluff ball!"

I guess you're a dog too!

White Feather and Topa got their first round of shots last week which made them safe to go to puppy socialization class or just puppy class, as we call it. Puppy class is so important for any dog and even more so for dogs living in a relatively large pack of dogs that all look like them. They need to know that there are other dogs out there that we may run into while out and about that look a little strange but it's not so scary. Our training facility also has a donkey, horses, a pig, a couple llamas, cats and chickens which can all be used as training tools for young pups. Not to mention the adventure of traveling too and from class!

There were many firsts this evening for the girls. They were loaded into a crate in the back of the truck for the first time. They were trained for an hour each in different classes. This was the first time they have been completely separated from their litter mates. They had to sit in the crate all alone for an hour while the other was in class. They were in a large room that echoed, filled with strange people and other strange puppies doing very strange things.

When loaded into the crate, not a noise was made. No accidents happened while in the crate on the 30 minute journey to class except for the last minute when White Feather threw up just as I was about to remove her. Car sickness can be typical with young pups. To avoid accidents, it helps to feed them 4 hours before class then let them run around and play within a half an hour prior to leaving for class to get rid of everything that might create a problem later.

Both pups were walked around the training facility property prior to class together so their confidence could be built up then one went in the crate and the other in class.

Topa was first. She wasn't the least bit frightened and sat with eyes fixated on the other puppies and people. She was soaking it all in. Initially, she had no desire to work for treats. She was too busy analyzing the situation so I just let her, occasionally praising her when she did a behavior I liked such as sitting, going down or reacting in a calm manner with other puppies. And each word of praise was followed by the command associated with it. She has no idea what any of those words mean yet, but with consistent praise and naming of the behavior, she will. Her first friend was a cross between a Boston Terrior and a Pug. Now, you can't get much different in appearance than that! Puppies were let free to play after each round of "work". Topa sat and watched each time. Within three quarters of the way through the class she became interested in treats and focused on me instead of the crowd. She even decided it would be alright to address the advances of the other puppies with a lick to the nose. She walked away with a very good experience.

White Feather was next. She came in with a less cautious attitude and immediately went up to check out the other puppies. Neither Topa or White Feather behaved in a puppy manner all evening. Both seemed like "old souls" as they intensely analyzed every movement made by the others. White Feather's head would cock to one side now and again and she would get up if it seemed worth the energy and check things out further. Otherwise, she too, would sit and watch. White Feather showed no interest at all in the treats that were offered in exchange for work. So, just as Topa, she was allowed to take her time and take it all in without any pressure. And again, positive behavior was praised and named. During the final play period, White Feather did head out again and do a bit of socializing. The only time I provide treats, in addition to verbal praise, in exchange for work is during puppy class. It helps, in most cases, to cement the foundation. After puppy class it is all verbal praise. When you've got a team of dogs on the gangline, the last thing you want is for a dog to come back to you looking for a treat.

Neither pup did any yawning or lip licking which are calming behaviors indicating that they might be concerned. They just sat. The other puppies didn't seem to quite know what to make of these two little huskies that acted so much older than their young ages of 8 1/2 weeks. Their classmates appeared startled when out came a quick lick to their faces while the sled dog puppies' body language remained calm and collected.

I was fascinated just watching these two little girls. Their behavior this evening is exactly the behavior I see over and over again with the Hedlund Husky pups at puppy class which is a very good indicator of line consistency. These are the type of dogs I want in my kennel. These are the type of dogs that make the very best sled dogs for me and the work we do here at Points Unknown. I couldn't be happier at how well these two did this evening and I look forward to watching White Feather and Topa as they mature into full working members of the team!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Memories of the UK

An aqueduct. We don't have those in Minnesota!

A couple of the fancy flat bottom boats in the canal. There are 2-3 thousand miles of canals in the UK.


What wales is known for.... sheep!

Beach in Wales.

a 1775 built mill converted to a home.

What a gorgeous sunset!

The hills of Wales were covered with Heather.

The Cornish Pasty!

Believe it or not but this is actually a 2 way road!!! Yikes!

A working Cornish Cyder Farm

The hills in the Cotswold region of England

Camping in Newquay in Cornwall

Stonehenge! (Taken from the traffic jam on the motorway!)

A beautiful thatched roof.

The homes, old and new, are made of stone and of course each area has distinctly different stone. We visited some buildings that were built in the 1400s. These are much newer and likely built somewhere around the 1700s. The roofs are made of slate.

Trumpeter Swans a plenty! More of those white feathered birds....

I was shocked to see a familiar sight - Fireweed in England! It grew in abundance along the motorways.