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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Smokin' Oken; Off Leash Agility

 That's Right! Oken. SECOND class. Sequencing. Perfection.OFF LEASH!

He's well on his way to becoming another kick butt open country leader for us! Can't believe how much his confidence has grown since the first class and since he's been separated from Klaus. I am in awe of this dog at the moment.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Topa and White Feather; 2 Years Old!

Topa and White Feather at between 2 and 3 weeks old. First visit outside!

Topa has blossomed into an attentive leader

White Feather is also becoming a consistent leader

Happy Birthday to Topa and White Feather!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Points Unknown Canicross Hikes 2011 - Willow River

Oken pulls so hard that it takes two of us for resistance.

Mira, Ziggy and Eli cool off

Annie has a "zen" moment by the waterfall.

Crossing over the bridge

Ziggy shows us some tricks

Mira showing her stuff   

My buddy Oken
One of our favorite hikes; Willow River State Park! I can feel the "burn" in my thighs from our steep decline to the waterfall. Despite myself and Eli both being attached to Oken, I still had to give some intense resistance so as not to go careening on my rear end down the hill. "Easy" is a command that takes some time to teach a focused dog with a strong instinct to pull.

 The reward is always taking a rest by the falls, soaking in the pools of water that form below them and listening to the meditation inducing sound of the rushing water.

The weather cooperated with temps in the low 70s, however the humidity was uncomfortable for the dogs so our hike ended earlier than planned and after another dip in the river up from the falls, on our return to the trail head.

Kristen and Ziggy
Shannon and Mira, a beautiful and super social Siberian Husky, joined us for the first time. I think that Shannon discovered that Mira does actually have some of that inborn pulling instinct after all. Just a reminder - you don't have to have a northern breed dog to come along on our hikes, as witnessed by the large, black, short haired, and floppy eared Ziggy pictured to the left!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The End of an Era in Sight?

Mr. Hot Shot himself

 Oken has been Klaus' understudy for  3 1/2 years now. He's a very sensitive and somewhat cautious boy, just like his Uncle Klaus was at his age. He seemed to just have reached his sexual maturity last year when his behavior began to change for the first time when the girls were in heat.

I've been holding Oken back. Or maybe it is more like holding my dear lead dog and loyal companion, Klaus, forward. He'll be nine years old in the fall. I've noticed signs of age creeping up on him. He appears a bit more stiff and hesitates to jump up on his dog house these days. Last winter, for the first time ever, I saw my once young and spry friend hold back and let his line slack. He didn't trudge through the deep snow and underlying slush and instead let Oken do the work during one of our mid winter runs. This was the only time it occurred during the winter but it was a noticeable and thought provoking shift.

The two boys, intact Oken and neutered Klaus, have been living together in relative harmony since Oken was a puppy. This is the longest I have been able to keep two males together and I knew there would come a day when I might have to consider separating them. Yesterday was that day. Nothing dramatic happened for the decision to have been made yesterday. It was just an accumulation of thoughts.

I need to continue to boost Oken's confidence as I did Klaus' at the same age and work with him alone. He needs to be able to search for his own answers to our challenging trail questions and not look to Klaus for clues.

Oken began agility class last night. He has been to obedience class but agility will be the ticket for his improved level of confidence before I begin to introduce him to new open country leader challenges this winter. I have always known that once I begin to do this and his confidence grows, combined with his new maturity level, the chances of a major conflict developing between he and Klaus would be great and I have been putting it off. I know this from experience. This happened to Klaus and Zulu when Klaus was Oken's age. I don't want to go into the kennel and find Oken with a death lock on Klaus' neck someday. Zulu came out of the situation unscathed but it could have been much worse. Yes, Oken and Klaus are very different dogs, Klaus having more of a nervous edge to him but I just won't risk it.

So my heart broke last night as I listened to Oken howl for his buddy Klaus who was spending the night in a kennel up near the house and out of Oken's sight. Today, to keep his mind busy, I put the puppies in with he and Journey. Klaus doesn't seem to care in the least that he no longer has a young studly kennel mate. As long as he knows where I am, life is good for Klaus.

Klaus is not retiring so I am not going to concern myself with this until it happens but just the thought that he is slowing down and has passed on all of the leader knowledge he can to Oken and Oken is now the "guy" means the end of an era for me and for Points Unknown kennel. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hedlund Husky Preservation Frustrations

McKenzie, a foundation of the present day Hedlund line.

I'm fairly renown for my ability to speak my mind, tell it like it is (or how I perceive it to be, anyway), get to the point and various other versions of the same thing that can be considered both an attribute and a curse.Call it what you like. It is what it is. Why should this topic be any different? Now, having said that, I've been working to accumulate the various tools over the years to be able to present "my" truth in a diplomatic manner and as one of the 6.93 billion humans occupying our world, I do admit that I can occasionally fall short of that goal but not for lack of good intent. Keep this in mind as you read on.

It has not been an easy task; organizing and participating in an effort to preserve this exceptional line of Alaskan Husky called a Hedlund Husky. I have made some of my very best friends during this quest over the past 7 years and have also faced some immensely frustrating challenges to the point of  throwing in the towel at the general population and just concentrating on my own kennel. My love and devotion to the line continues to put me out there, seeking like-minded people to help with this long term project. This opens me up to not only feeling the joy of finding the perfect placement for a particular dog but to confronting the extreme disappointment when finding myself in situations where failed placements, despite the intense diligence prior to placement, come back and knock the wind out of me and threaten to crush my spirit and trust for the human side of the equation.

Then there are the inquiries. And there are lots of them. Someone wants to know if puppies are available this very moment to purchase. First of all, who are you? Why think that you can buy your way into such a rare and special line without as much as a paragraph indicating your intentions and who you are? I know why. Sadly, this is the culture.  There have got to be billions of dogs out there; maybe even zillions (Neil loves that word). And you can buy many of those dogs as long as you've got the cash. In the dog mushing arena, there is so much swapping, selling and disposing of dogs that people wanting a sled dog expect this to be the case. Sorry folks. Not here.  My hat goes off to all of those responsible breeders out there, although there are few, who seek to find the very best placements for each and every puppy and do intense background checks prior to even discussing the potential for receiving said puppy. 

From the 2009 Hedlund Litter - Topa, Tumac and Hana.
I would rather the Hedlund Husky line fizzle out and become extinct after my lifetime than to place any of my dogs in a home that doesn't meet our criteria. If you want a puppy, which by default means being a part of the preservation efforts of this line, then:

1)Contact us and tell us about yourself and your intentions and desire for this line. We so welcome like-minded people who truly and honestly want to contribute to our efforts and we will welcome you with open arms if we feel you are sincere. We don't play games. Life is way to short. You get what you see.

2)Provide your current and past dogs with the very best you have available and be able to prove it; proper nutrition and vet care, proper and varied shelter, exercise and love and devotion. Let us know the ways you provide them with the types of on-going stimulation that this type of northern breed dog, or any dog for that matter, needs in order to thrive and tell us what you will do to ensure any puppy from our program will have the same.

3)Stay in contact with us and keep reminding us that you are interested. We may not have puppies available at the moment but if you are truly interested, you won't want a quick fix and will wait. It is your job to convince us that you would be an excellent home for one of our dogs.

4)Follow through and communicate. If you are unable to communicate with us prior to receiving a dog, we know that the likelihood of your communicating once you've received the dog is low. These dogs are so precious to us that communication is a MUST if we are to properly preserve this line for future generations.

5)Come and visit one of the affiliated kennels to find out first hand if this line is for you. Ask questions. Be curious about those dogs related to your potential puppy and find out as much as you can about them and the line. We've got nothing to hide and will share any information with you about the line we can and provide our philosophy from breeding to raising to retiring. Just ask!

6)Expect to sign a contract. How can we expect to do a proper job of preserving the line without setting forth some standards by which each puppy is being placed? Sadly, we have had too many failed verbal agreements in our preservation journey to risk a placement without a written agreement.

There are then a long list of DON'Ts but I'm sure the picture has been painted and enough said for the moment.

In a nutshell, our puppies are chosen to go to folks we can then consider "family". We're here for emotional and informational support throughout the life of the dog. There are expectations that need to be firmly in place on both sides.

Left to right -  Ilo, Tulipq, McKenzie.
For those of you truly interested in the line, we would love to hear from you and will do our best to give you as much information as you need to determine if the Hedlund Husky could be a match for you. If you're just looking for a quick dog to add to your menagerie with no true vision or commitment to its future and the future of the line, then the Hedlund Husky is not for you.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

In the Beginning

I couldn't resist digging up these old photos of Hailey's very first dog sled run when she was just 12 years old. Now she's running tours with us!

Intense concentration!  That's Cece in the sled and Tuloon and Sweet Pea in wheel position. Tuloon had to have just turned a year old and Sweet Pea was only three years old.

We're so happy that Hailey got to know Zulu so well before he passed away at 13 years old. I believe he was about 8 years old in this photo and there's Tuloon in wheel.

Hailey and Klaus who would have been about three years old at the time.

Hailey takes Zulu to the line while Cece hooks up Ilu.



Thumbs up to this rainy sled dog day

 Brushing Sweet Pea

Of course the dogs don't care if it's raining

Hailey came out to visit us today and spent the entire day outside in the pouring rain with the dogs. That is dedication! She brushed the dogs, fed them, let them out in play groups, bleached water buckets and sat with them on the deck while they played.

Having a busy summer ahead of her, Hailey wanted to get some sled dog time in before she heads off in one of the many directions (mainly north) she'll be going this summer before she begins college in the fall. YES! Our Hailey has graduated from High School this year and will be heading off to college! It's no surprise that she'll be heading up north for school and studying things having to do with the outdoors.

We couldn't be more excited for her as she begins college life and wish her all the very best! We love you Hailey!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tuloon - 7 Years Old

It's hard to believe that our princess is 7 years old today! Tuloon is indeed the matriarch of the kennel and has passed along, not only her genetics to many other dogs in our kennel, but her spirit and her drive. She's lead the pack by example and exemplifies the extreme loyalty that the Hedlund Huskies have for their people. She is one of a kind and we love her dearly!

Happy Birthday to Miss Tuloon!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Aise and Illy - 6 Month Weights

Illy and Aise at 6 months old.

Illy - 48.3lbs
Aise 44.5lbs and taller than Illy!

Apple Tree Bloom - Very Late Report

Each year, I report the apple tree bloom on our blog so I can keep a record for the following year. This year, it just slipped by so quickly, I didn't get a chance to post it.

The Zestar trees, which have the very first fruit to ripen, began to bloom the week of May 16th with the other trees not far behind. At this point, we've now had petal fall and the apples are anywhere from 1/4" to 1/2" in size.

The orchard is just beautiful this year. We've done a thorough pruning job and have cleared all of the debris out from under the trees. Neil has diligently been using the weed whip after it gets mowed to keep it looking manicured. This also helps keep the fruit tree damaging insects at bay.

We've been working with a professional sprayer who has been doing an excellent job of applying the IPM spray method to the orchard. IPM stands for "Integrated Pest Management" and means that spraying is only done when needed and not on a routine schedule. There is a handy "Scab Hotline" number available to members of the Minnesota Apple Growers Association that lets folks know the level of scab spores that have been reported. When they are above threshold then it is time to spray. Scab is the number one fungus affecting Minnesota apples.

Canicross Hikes 2011; Minnewashta Regional Park

Lupie and Joe do a perfect "Gee" over.

Photo by Joe Fessler
We've got some tired puppies!

Skyler takes a dip in the lake

Joe and Lupie

A float plane in the distance

Christin and Skyler, a Siberian Husky and Joe and Lupie, a racing line Siberian Husky, were the new hiker teams that joined us on Saturday for our Canicross Hike at Minnewashta Regional Park in Chanhassen, MN.

Temps were in the mid 60s with partly cloudy skies; it was a beautiful day!

Illy and Aise came along on this hike and we're happy to report that Aise apparently learned not to be a crazed bucking bronco in harness on our last hike because she had very few training moments this time around. Illy was driven and focused as usual. It was a bonus that they got to meet and socialize with the two new dogs that joined us. Socialization is so important at this age. With that in mind, we'll be starting obedience class with them both this week! Oken will continue his confidence building training as we enroll him in an agility class this week as well.

Our next Canicross Hike is a favorite. Please join us as we hike through the Willow River State Park near Hudson, Wisconsin on Saturday, June 25th. Pack a lunch to eat by the water fall as the dogs rest and take a dip to cool off.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Waiting Patiently

Klaus, White Feather, Journey and Oken wait patiently in the new back yard pen for their turn to come out and play. Copper makes them aware that HE is the boss of the back yard and he's not finished yet.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New Kennel Complete!

Digging out the black dirt so that a Class 5 sand/gravel base could be put in place

Neil set up the new kennel so that, in addition to having two gates to the outside, there is one on the inside so that the two pens can be one large pen

Water buckets, dog houses, shade fencing and shade cloth; its done!

We've had the kennel walls up since the end of March but due to the lack of a proper base it has been sitting uninhabited since due to the lengthy mud season. Last weekend Rich came over with his big green tractor with a bucket and in all of four hours, we had ourselves a completed pen!

Last year at this time, poor Rebecca dug out the black dirt from the adjoining pen, shovel full by shovel full and then we hauled the Class 5 base into the kennel wheel barrel load by wheel barrel load until it was complete several weeks later! What a difference it makes to have a machine (and competent driver) that can do this for you! Rebecca did say, however, that when she went home, she had the best tennis game ever due to the built up strength in her arms created by the pen construction.

Many thanks to Rich for taking the time out of his busy day to help us with our new kennel. Now we won't be cramped when he brings Kenzie and Wahya over for a "vacation" in August.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Neil's Dog Photos

Blueberry checks out the campers on the other end of Chester Lake in northern Minnesota

Copper takes a dip. He can swim even though he has only three legs!

Aise at 6 months old

No puppies were harmed during the shooting of this photo. Klaus quite abruptly and effectively lets Aise know that under no circumstances will she be jumping on him. His teeth were shown but didn't make contact with her. They didn't have to in order to make the point.

Our Journey girl

Ilo, a 7 year old deep line Hedlund Husky, rests in the shade

Illy, the puppy that she is, eating some leaves.

Sweet Pea makes it obvious that she'd rather be in the house than having to deal with those puppies any longer.

Klaus, an 8 1/2 year old Zulu line Alaskan Husky

Some of the Points Unknown Sled Dogs

Do ya think we're related? Zodiak is a 3 1/2 year old half Hedlund Husky line/half Zulu line Alaskan. Wimzi is his niece and she is a 1/4 Hedlund Husky line and 3/4 Zulu line Alaskan.

Topa is an almost 2 year old deep line Hedlund Husky.

Four deep line Hedlund Huskies. Left to right; Phoenix 5 1/2 yrs, Illy and Aise 6 mos, Topa almost 2 years old.

Neil brushing Ari. It's that time of year! Ari is a 5 1/2 yr old deep line Hedlund Husky.

Neil gets everyone to sit for treats. Left to right; Zala half Hedlund line/half Zulu line, Illy, Aise and Ari.

Topa passively asserts her dominance over Aise by placing her head on her back.

Aise's beautiful build

Neil with Aise and Oken who is a 3 1/2 year old half Hedlund line/half Zulu line Alaskan. Oken is in need of a good brushing!

Illy lets Oken know that she is quite aware that he is the boss even though he isn't directly asserting himself but just standing confidently, ready to play.

Illy and Aise

Illy and Oken