Visit our Photo Albums!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Illy and Aise; 1 Year Old Today!

Aise and Illy turn one year old today! They are Hedlund Huskies out of  Points Unknown/Uktousa's Tumac and Kimmik Kennels/Uktousa's Daisy at Uktousa Kennel in New Hampshire

First Puppy Pull Training Session

Rommel, 12 weeks old and Rayna, 8 weeks old, were harnessed for the first time.
They were praised every time they demonstrated a desirable behavior such as pulling and moving forward.
We had our puppy moments, which we just let happen.

And more puppy moments.....
Rommel strikes a pose despite having his leg caught in Rayna's harness.
And we had moments of perfection as both puppies pulled straight forward in harness. Our entire session lasted about 15 minutes; short and sweet and ended on a good note!

Topa/Oken Puppies; 1 Week Old

Silver Bay - 1lb 13oz - very soft longer coat, goes limp when picked up
Temperance - 1lb 13oz - very soft coat, goes limp when picked up
Grand Marais - 1lb 14oz - middle of the road
Tofte - 1lb 13oz - middle of the road but leaning towards the softer side
Lutsen - 1lb 10oz - middle of the road but leaning towards the squirmier side
Gooseberry - 1lb 12oz - vocal and wiggly when picked up
Arrow - 2lb 1oz - Most vocal and most wiggly when picked up - Only Boy!

 These pups are healthy and thriving. Can't tell you how happy I am about this considering that we lost two puppies from our last litter in 2009. They're all gaining weight at a normal rate and appear to be very active for pups this age as they scoot all over the whelping box. These pups don't "puppy pile". They wander off on their own in different corners of the box. They're just discovering themselves and have an awareness of those around them. First puppy toenail cutting is later today!

I've included some of the first observations I've made of each pup under their photos, keeping in mind that things change so much along the way so no real determination of temperament or coat type can be made at this stage.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Three Way Tug-of-War

Rommel Meets Rayna

Teeth clanging fun

Lisa holds Rayna for the introduction

In flight

Rommel doesn't want to share the hedgehog with Blueberry

Rayna arrived with the hedgehog and now it is the most sought after toy in the house

I've not been consistent with blog postings since the arrival of ALL of the puppies. Rayna came the night before Topa's puppies arrived and hasn't gotten the Blog time she deserves. We are so excited that this little ball-of-fire joined us from the Andy Bassich/Kate Rorke Kennel via Nita Fowler at Sirius Sled Dogs in Fairbanks. Never having been drawn to black sled dogs before, I almost passed up the opportunity until Andy's recommendation swayed me towards this beautiful and soulful girl. Andy said that if I wanted the best of his kennel for breeding into mine, Rayna was the one. I fell in love with her the moment I laid eyes on her.

If you recall, her half brother Rommel, arrived a few weeks ago, completely melting my heart. What a perfect fit this line of dogs is for our kennel.

Rommel is a month older and quite a bit larger than Rayna at this point, but that doesn't seem to make much difference. Rayna's fairly open about her boundaries and swiftly tells Rommel when he crosses them. The puppy play is infectious and has all of the dogs revisiting their puppyhoods. Is has become the evening entertainment. The house dogs get into the act and we've got squeaky toys squeaking and puppies bouncing and rolling all of the house. Wait until we add Topa's bunch to the mix in several weeks time!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fall Training; "On By" Video

Just got the first video of the season. It's a poor quality clip but shows how well the dogs are doing on their "on by" training. Not one of them chose to check out the camera lady and continued moving straight ahead down the trail. And note the excellent "gee over" from Mr. Phoenix, the magnificent and the superb cart driving of Miss Kristen, the handler extraordinaire!

Rayna - 8 Weeks old Today!

Rayna was 20lbs at  8 weeks old today. This photos truly depicts her personality!

Rayna has only been with us since Sunday night but has settled in and has the best of both worlds; lots of fun play time outside with her big brother Rommel and adoptive mothers Tuloon and Sweet Pea and inside play with toys and the house dogs. She is a gem! Her nickname in Alaska with Nita and Andy and Kate was "mini me" because she looked so much like her mom. She is most definitely a old soul in a little (BIG) baby's body. Man, those legs and feet are HUGE! They are about the size of Rommel's and he's a month older.

Rayna weighed 20lbs at 8 weeks old today! Comparatively, Tumac, the largest dog out of our kennel, now living with Lidia and Richard at Uktousa Kennel in New Hampshire, weighed 20lbs at 8 weeks old and he is now upwards of 85lbs! How fun it will be to watch this little big puppy grow.

Monday, November 21, 2011

November 20th; 7 Puppies!

Proud Momma

#1 - Female - 16oz - Silver Bay
#2 - Female - 15oz - Temperance (River)
#3 - Female - 16oz - Grand Marais
#4 - Female - 16oz -  Tofte
#5 - Female - 16oz - Lutsen
#6 - Female - 15.5oz - Gooseberry (Falls)
#7 - MALE! - 15oz - Arrow (Arrowhead Trail)

Topa had seven healthy puppies yesterday early morning on day 62.

Her temperature began dropping the Wednesday before; down to 98.8. Not having had too many litters, I relied on the knowledge that once the temperature drops, you've got 12-24 hours until puppies arrive. The normal temperature range for a dog is 100-102.  I could hardly believe the drop, considering her due date window was from the 18th to the 25th and here it was only the 16th. I had planned to be at the Do it Green Gifts Fair selling our Scent from Nature; 100% Pure Beeswax Candles on Saturday the 19th but it looked as though our attendance was in jeopardy.

Thursday came and the temp went back up to 100.2 in the morning and then down to 99.1 in the evening and Topa's behavior remained the same, however she had been going to the door more for the past few nights to be let out. Her milk had come in three weeks prior already and she began nesting at that time, as well. Friday came and her temp was up to 99.7 then down to 98.8 in the evening. What was going on? I told myself that if I saw a drastic change in her behavior on Saturday morning before I packed up to head into the Gifts Fair, I would cancel. To be on the safe side, I called my on call vet tech, Missy Lewis from the Westonka Animal Hospital, to see if she could come out and check on Topa a couple times during the day and stay with her until I got home, should she see a need. After losing two of Tuloon's puppies in 2009 (Topa was in this litter), I was going to do whatever I could to make sure none were lost this time around.

Saturday morning came and Topa seemed fine, however as the morning went on, I saw subtle changes. She wasn't panting or overly clingy and the money to be made at the Gifts Fair is greatly needed so I opted to go, knowing that she would be in good hands while I was gone.

Saturday was also the day that sweet little Rayna was flying in from Alaska and Lisa Urness, one of our super dog handlers, was kind enough to agree to pick her up and keep her company until I returned home that evening.

At the Do it Green Gifts Fair, my mind was somewhere else. It's hard to focus on selling when all you can think about is what might be happening at home. I packed up at 5PM on the dot and headed straight home in what was our first snow storm, no less! It took me an extra half an hour to get home so with Lisa bringing Rayna over at 8PM, I needed to get moving considering it was now 7:15. The poor adult sled dogs only got a quick hello and a bowl full of food and water before I had to head in and prepare for the new baby's arrival. Topa's behavior still appeared normal as she rested in her crate while we introduced Rommel to his new little sister. We had a puppy party in the sun room for the next hour before having to call it a night. Or so I thought.

Topa didn't appear as though I needed to have her in the whelping box so I opted to leave her in her crate and try to get some sleep. Rayna had different ideas and made quite a lot of noise in her crate that was left in the sun room with Topa. After moving her crate into the bedroom, thinking it might be more comforting for the puppy I heard what sounded like a warning bark of some kind coming from the sun room. Topa was trying to tell me something. So we all moved downstairs to the whelping area; Linda, Topa and puppy in crate.

Topa began to whine loudly at roughly 11:30PM and then was joined in song by Rayna. Alright, this was just too much. After a super long day at the Gifts Fair, my patience was running thin and I desperately needed some sleep so the puppy went outside to sleep with Sweet Pea. I comforted Topa as much as I could but since I could do no more at this point and she didn't seem distressed, I popped an ear plug in and tried to get some sleep, knowing that I would be far more helpful to her with just a little bit of sleep behind me.

But alas, I was not meant to sleep on Saturday night. Topa's whining and restlessness grew in intensity and the puppy outside howled and cried off and on. Not having the capacity at that moment to do anything but comfort Topa, I left Sweet Pea with the responsibility of the new puppy for the night and she soon settled down, allowing me to focus now on Topa.

I noticed Topa  push for the first time at roughly 4:30AM. Eight minutes later, standing up and screaming, Topa delivered her first baby as I tried desperately to make certain it didn't drop to the ground as I pulled Topa down by her collar. She obviously had no clue what was happening to her and seemed very out of sorts and overly focused on me which, considering my state, wasn't the best of ideas. She did reluctantly clean the puppy and sloppily cut the umbilical chord but would not lay down so the puppy could drink. I was horrified as Tuloon's 2009 lost babies came to mind and I frantically forced Topa to lay down and tried to get the puppy to suck but her mouth wouldn't open. I can't tell you how frightened I was at that moment. We were not going to lose a puppy. I was beginning to get so upset with Topa but knew that she was feeding off of my emotions and I was only making her even more frightened than she already must have been. She still wasn't certain what was happening.

As the second baby started to crown and I multi tasked and called Missy to let her know I needed her help and that the baby was not able to suck and Topa was not helping things. After hanging up the phone, I noticed a change in Topa. The instinctual switch flipped and with her second baby, she seemed to "get it". I tried to call Missy back to say she didn't need to come out but it was too late, she was already in the driveway. She came in with a full load of warming supplies, formula, syringes, towels, you name it. She got right to work on Topa, helping to comfort her. She worked with each new baby, making certain they began to suckle. She weighed them and helped to clean them off. She was my guardian angel that morning.

Missy arrived at 5AM and was out the door at 7:30AM. All seven babies delivered in three hours! After five hours of Topa's whining and panting, I sure was happy for the short delivery time. We kept track of coloring, weight and sex as each little baby came into the world. We knew we were expecting seven and when we got up to puppy number six and still didn't have a boy, I was hoping......Number 7 - BOY! And all appeared healthy. Thank goodness.

Lisa, my other guardian angel, arrived at 8AM to help feed the sled dogs. I had hoped to have a meeting with my pillow later that morning but that never did happen. Too much to do; little puppies to watch, Momma to care for, bigger puppies to play with and adult sled dogs to exercise. Boy was I beat at the end of the day yesterday! Neil is back in the UK so missed it all but will be here very soon to see all of the new babies.Until then, I've got a few wonderful helpers who will be coming and going over the next few weeks. Kristen stopped by this morning to help feed and with the holiday, Hailey and Melanie will be back from college to lend a hand with the pups.

I'm happy to report that, after my initial scare when she had no idea what was happening to her,  Topa is an excellent mother. She doesn't lay flat on her side to nurse but curls up in a "C" with all of them tucked inside her, even putting her head over the bunch for added warmth. She is diligent about keeping them clean and isn't too happy if I pick them up at this point, as she tried to gently take them away from me with her mouth. I'm having a difficult time getting her to leave them for potty breaks and that is to be expected.

So everyone please welcome the Topa/Oken litter of seven beautiful pups!  We've chosen their temporary names under the following theme - "Minnesota's North Shore" Litter!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Topa's Puppy Count!

Thinking it would be difficult to lift her, I backed up to a hill and she walked right in.
Not too stressed after all of the handling on the x-ray table.

Heads are marked with a green marker. There are Seven!

Topa is only about a week away from delivery and now was the time for a puppy count to make sure we know to wait for all of them before heading to bed. 

I wasn't sure I could safely lift her in the back of the truck so I backed up to a hill at the bottom of the driveway and she stepped right in. When we arrived at the vet, I was shocked to discover that she had gained 15lbs in less than a month! The receptionist and I did some quick figures; 5lbs for "stuff" and 1lb per puppy. Yikes! 10 puppies!?  I sure hoped not. Dr. Jackie from the Westonka Animal Hospital came to retrieve Topa for her x-ray. I opted to stay out of the room, thinking that my stress may transfer on to Topa. I was concerned about how concerned she might be about the whole thing. Turns out, not at all!

After several different views, the best shots and the alternate view to confirm were ready. Seven puppies! That's a manageable amount, considering I feared ten.

Now we just wait. I've done a baseline temperature; 100.4. Her temp will drop about 12-24 hours before she is ready to give birth so if I stay on top of things, I'll be able to pin point it within a day.

Be prepared for a barrage of puppy pictures over the next several weeks!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Dog Mushing Close to the City!

Oake Lake Dog Mushing Experience (Photo by D. Loan)

For a portion of the winter season, we're located only 30 miles west of the Minneapolis, MN area! Dog mushing that close, really! Please visit the link below for more details.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Puppy Socialization for Rommel

Rommel and Anna

Topa checks out Kelsey

Rommel follows Phoenix around the yard

Phoenix and Tuloon stand in line for attention

Sweet Pea is always nearby, keeping a watchful eye over Rommel

Belly rubs

The big dogs want attention too!

 Our dogs LOVE having company and Rommel is no different. He fit right in and ate up all of the attention he was given. This week is a big week for Rommel. He visits the vet tomorrow afternoon for a puppy check up and then its on to puppy socialization class later in the week. It's important that at a young age, he be introduced to all kinds of new things so he can be a well rounded adult. It's obvious that he's had all kinds of socialization before he even arrived at Points Unknown. Now, we'll just continue the work.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Rayna at 5 weeks old
Rayna will come to join us on November 19th. She is another pup from the Andy Bassich/Kate Rorke kennel outside of Eagle, Alaska.

Puppies from Alaska.

We recently stumbled upon a line of freighting dogs in Alaska that appeared somewhat compatible to our Hedlund and Zulu line Alaskans. This line has the larger size we seem to lack in our females and it will serve to bring the size of our males up a bit, as well. Not to mention, it will add refreshing genetic material to both lines to support vitality and vigor.

Through a past introduction, nearly three years ago, came a reconnection with someone that would turn out to be instrumental in sending us our first pup from this line! (and 2nd...more to come!) Anita Fowler owns Sirius Sled Dogs in Fairbanks, Alaska. In addition to having several dogs from this line, she is acting as the caregivers to some of the older pups from the Andy Bassich and Kate Rorke kennel outside of Eagle, Alaska. Here, Andy and Kate own and operate Extreme Bush Alaska Lifestyle Camp.  More on their dogs and this wonderful line of freight Alaskan Husky can be found on their blog - Our Life in Alaska's Wilderness.

Blueberry and Rommel
Rommel at 9 weeks old.

Rommel arrived last weekend and has now settled in to the routine. He's met every dog (most from my lap) in the kennel and gets special puppy walks and lots of inside bonding time with us and the little dogs. He lives with Sweet Pea when outside and she has taken on the dutiful role of adoptive mother and is doing the wonderful job that she has always done to raise "other people's kids".

It just seemed like something was missing. Topa will be having her pups soon but Rommel will be way to big to play with them until they're much older. It just made sense that Rommel had a friend his own age and size to grow up with and secondary would be the added genetics in the kennel. Just so happens that there was another pup available from a litter a month younger! Things happen for a reason. We were meant to also get Rayna, a big and beautiful black, copper and white puppy. She'll be arriving on the 19th when she is 8 weeks old. Did I mention BIG? Her weight at 5 weeks old is 11lbs 5oz. My records show that most of our females at that age have been between 8lbs and 9.5lbs. NONE of our males have been that large with the biggest topping off at 10lbs 8oz. Rommel will indeed have a friend his own size. Rommel, himself, is going to be a big boy. At 7 weeks old he was 17lbs. Our biggest male was 15lbs 6oz at 7 weeks old. That male is now nearly 85lbs.

Rayna's arrival can't come soon enough. Poor Blueberry is getting fed up with a 10 week old puppy, taller and heavier than he is, using him as a dive bomb target.

Klaus Concerns

Still pulling his heart out!
I had considered that Klaus may retire earlier than some dogs because of his intense work ethic. From 6 months old when he was put up in front on a short run, Klaus has pulled his heart out, line never slacking. We've always used the phrase "you can bounce a quarter off of Klaus' line" because it was true. It still is but I do see some signs of him slowing down.

Twice during our run on Friday and then three times the week previous, he was running along with no signs of distress, not a change in his gait, nothing, and Klaus stopped. He just stopped from full speed. I've learned over the years that if Klaus doesn't eat there is something very wrong with him. There is also something wrong if he isn't pulling and then, well, he's never stopped before so I can only assume we've got a potential problem brewing. Each time, we rested and then continued on but at a slightly slower pace. It could be that we were just going to fast for him. You're only as fast as your slowest dog and I've got quiet a few young dogs that seem to want to keep the speed up. For Klaus, we will slow things down. This will give the young dogs time to focus on pulling rather than speed. We've never been about speed. I think Klaus is giving us a reminder.

Topa Update; 44 Days

Our sweet Topa.

At 44 Days into her pregnancy, Topa is losing her girlish figure. It's no surprise! She's eating like a horse, thank goodness! She's got a nice layer of fat on her ribs. Of course, I am providing a wonderful catering service for her. Each meal we're mixing a 3-5oz sample bag of various kinds of grain free dog food (for variety) with 3oz of cat food, a couple cups of Redpaw's 32K, 1 cup of either cooked and ground chicken necks or hamburger, 1 Tbs of Redpaw's Balanced Fat and enough warm water to make a thick gravy. In between meals, she's getting a hard boiled egg which she gobbles down whole.

To help keep that fat on her ribs, she's sleeping inside at night in a crate lined with a cushy comforter. A few days before she is to whelp, we'll all move downstairs to the whelping box. She'll be the one sleeping in the whelping box, although Neil did make it large enough for me to lay down in! I'll bring my cot.  We've got a vet tech on call for the week she is due. After Tuloon lost two puppies in 2009, we wanted to make certain all bases are covered.

On November 15th, we'll head to the vet to get an x-ray done to count puppy heads so we know how many to expect. The way she's looking now, it could be a big litter! We're hopeful for a routine delivery and a healthy mom and pups.

Sasha in Lead!

Striking a good pose for the camera. She's keeping the line tight even while checking out what's over in the bushes.

If you recall, Sasha is a Zulu grand daughter and sister to our Wimzi. She lives with one of our handlers, Chris. He sent us this photo of her in lead of his three dog team. Good job, Chris and Sasha! She looks great!

Ari and Ilo to Vet

That's Ilo looking at the camera while Sweet Pea keeps her eye on the trail.

Ari is in "the zone" before the run while Sasha poses for the camera.
Ari and Ilo visited the vet on Friday. Ari had a growth removed on his back inner thigh and it was sent to the lab for testing. Benign! And it is not likely to grown back. We're thankful for this news.
Ilo had a routine dental. At eight years old, his teeth were in need of a good cleaning to remove the heavy calculus that could create tooth problems down the road. They discovered that his heart conduction isn't normal. He'll be brought back to the vet in two weeks and be hooked up to the ECG machine again to determine if it was the anesthetic that created the issue or if he does indeed have an AV block. There are no outward signs of an issue with Ilo and he continues to be a productive part of the team with good recovery time so we are hopeful