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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Planned Litter Announcement!

Beautiful Canyon on the right. Tulipq, McKenzie's sister and Canyon's Aunt, on the left.

Canyon is a great working companion

Phoenix is a big teddy bear

He has an intense drive and focus in harness, never slacking. His open country leader skills are exceptional.

Canyon, a McKenzie/Cranberry daughter, has taken her sweet time coming into heat this fall. It actually didn't happen. We had resigned ourselves to the fact that we would wait until spring for Phoenix's "participation" in this long distance breeding. You see, Canyon lives in Alaska while Phoenix calls his home Minnesota. A long distance "romance" has been in the works for months. All of the details have been ironed out. Upon a phone call from Canyon's person, Rose, we would rush Phoenix to our special reproductive vet where he would make a "deposit". This chilled deposit would then be Fed Exed over night to Alaska and delivered promptly to the lady, Canyon, in waiting. Artificial insemination would commence and in 63 or so days, we would have the arrival of a new litter of deep line Hedlund Husky puppies to help further this special line of Alaska Huskies. But first, Canyon has to cooperate!

The time as come! We received an email from Alaska the day after Christmas indicating that Canyon was indeed and finally in heat! Progesterone testing will begin on Friday to determine the likely window of opportunity. Then the tricky part comes in. We need to be in town in order for Phoenix to assist in the process. Our plans to be out of town next weekend can be adjusted to accommodate the process. Phoenix's contribution will last up to 72 hours and we've been told that the likelihood of success is excellent.

If you have been following the blog for sometime, then you will recall that this will be Phoenix's FOURTH try. Not for the lack of trying. Things just haven't worked out for whatever reason. A few years ago, we had a visitor from the Voyageur Outward Bound Kennel near Ely, MN. Polka is a beautiful 65lb, white, Hedlund Husky compatible, female. She and Phoenix hit it off quite well, however upon her return home, an emergency hysterectomy was required due to an unexpected uterine infection. Sadly, puppies were present but could not survive to preserve Polka's health. Second time around was an attempted breeding with Zimbi, Wimzi's mom. Phoenix was not interested enough at the time Zimbi visited to complete the task and it had to be passed on to "Q" who is Oken, Zodiak and Zala's brother who lives in a nearby kennel. And finally there was the attempted breeding of Zala. Phoenix completed the task, Zala was not at all happy about the entire process. Even so, the end result was surprising...... no puppies. Zala's issue or Phoenix's issue, we just don't know.

SO, on to try number four for Mr. Phoenix. He is an excellent all around companion and sled dog. At 29 inches high at the shoulder and 72lbs with a nice dense coat, he is inspiring in harness and has become a turn-on-a-dime open country leader. We are so looking forward to the perpetuation of his genes in this special Hedlund Husky line.

Canyon lives in a small recreational kennel approximately 50 miles north of Anchorage, Alaska. She is an excellent house dog/companion and loves to run in harness, although her drive is not as intense as Phoenix's. She has an amazingly huge coat, thought to be a throw back from the Malamute in the Hedlund Husky line that will be a nice addition to the Points Unknown kennel as we strive to bring a bigger coat into our Zulu line Alaskans.

The Day After

The December rain "dampens" our ability to provide Oake Lake Experiences at the moment.

A day of lounging around is in order

We had planned to head up north to run the dogs on our beautiful northwoods trails after the Audubon Family Event. The forecast indicated that rain and freezing rain was likely the entire time we had planned to be in the area giving us no option but to travel home to Watertown directly after the event to make sure we didn't have to travel under dangerous conditions. Not to mention the fact that running sled dogs in the rain in the middle of winter is really not an awful lot of fun for the humans. The dogs don't mind, of course. Instead, we are spending a much needed day of rest as we try not to be too bothered by the sight of our lake trails slowly turning to water right in front of our eyes.

The forecast calls for temps dipping below zero beginning tomorrow night with rain changing to snow. Our hope is that the temps remain low for the next couple of weeks so that the lake can recover. Low temps could also help do away with all of the slush we were dealing with prior to the rain-out as the frozen lake begins to rejuvenate itself.

Sadly, there will be no Oake Lake Experiences until our lake trails are covered in snow again.

Audubon Center of the Northwoods Family Event

We awoke to beautiful pink skies; a foreshadowing to the weather change that would occur later that evening.

Our visitors were of all ages

Topa with a young guest

Phoenix likes to get close and personal while Sweet Pea would rather nap at the moment

White Feather and Guest

Zodiak makes certain our guests are tucked snugly in the sled

Oken and Klaus indicate they are ready for action

Journey and Topa wait calmly on the gang line

These dogs aren't just beautiful. They are extremely hard pullers to boot! This is our first of three teams out on the trail. This team was run by either Neil or myself.

Hailey was the musher of our second team with Zala and Tuloon in lead. This is Hailey's first year as an official musher for our winter events. She couldn't have done better!

This was our third team out; a three dog team lead by Phoenix and driven by a guest 12 years or older (at the musher's discretion) after extensive safety instruction from Rebecca. See how Phoenix and White Feather give 110%. Sweet Pea has earned the right, over the years, to give only 100%.

Our third happy team and new musher

We took our guests out around a one mile loop, every 30 minutes and were able to give mini adventures to 60 people yesterday! Our typical adventure lasts from an hour and a half to a long weekend but this event is a nice new experience for the dogs and keeps them on their toes. (Along with the mushers!)

Hailey with our second team and new musher behind. As you can see, our new musher is illustrating what NOT to do when on a dog sled. "Look mom, no hands!" is not a safe way to run a team of our dogs.

Topa and young friend

Olive, Neil's mother, looks the part of a north woods woman

Phoenix keeps the line tight as the remainder of the team is hooked up

Ari and Sasha wait patiently at hook up. It took six hook ups for this to happen! This is exactly why this is such a wonderful experience for the dogs. They learn to relax and pace themselves.

White Feather and Sweet Pea. White Feather watches as the neighborhood Ermine continues to taunt the dogs between runs.

Zala and mother, Tuloon

Second to the last run of the day and they continued to look fresh

Second and third teams

Hailey and team

Olive was in charge of the dogs' fat snack and treats, in addition to being the honorary poop scooper.

Olive hands out the dogs' Redpaw Performance Recovery treats

Zodiak stares intensely at the taunting Ermine while Zala catches a cat nap

At the end of the runs, Topa is more emotionally worn out than she is physically. It's hard for even dogs to be "on" all day.

Tuloon curls up with her nose under her tail for complete warmth

Rebecca gives Klaus a much needed massage wile Oken waits his turn

Oken presses up against Rebecca to remind her that he is still waiting

Journey has a habit of "winding" herself up when she is harnessed. She begins to go around and around in circles

C'mon! Oken implies as he lays down next to Rebecca. Is it my turn for a massage yet?

Phoenix catches some winks

White Feather looks nice and cozy in her snow bed

Time for a nap for Sweet Pea too!

Yesterday was the most sedate we've seen little Miss Sasha. She settled right into the routine.

A good day. Now time to sleep

Day After Christmas Run!

Rebecca runs her first team

Rebecca and Melanie with a five dog team; Phoenix and Tuloon, Ilo and Sweet Pea and Zodiak

The mighty little Zala

Ilo and Sweet Pea


Joel runs our seven dog team with me in the sled

Rebecca on the runners

Melanie maneuvers the sled well through deep snow

Oken in single lead breaking trail

Oken leads us through the slushiest portion of the trail without hesitation

Phoenix and Tuloon

Hot shot Oken with Klaus and Topa in Point position


Ari and Topa

Forty two pound Zala next to sixty pound Wimzi!

Our handsome boy, Klaus

Melanie, one of the Points Unknown dog kennel helpers was on winter break from college and spent the day running the sled dogs with us along with a new aspiring kennel helper, Joel. It was a beautiful day for a run and little did we know it would be our last on the lake for a while. As I type, the rain is steadily coming down and creating huge puddles on our beautiful lake.

Neil took all of the beautiful photos in this post.