Monday, August 15, 2011

New Horizons with a new team

Hi Everyone,

The summer that never was is almost over, and the air is starting to get that crisp autumn feel to it. As I sit here it is raining for the second consecutive day. That may not sounds to bad but when you consider that we have enjoyed only 6 days without rain since May 1st, I feel I have earned the right to gripe about the weather like an impotent old man. On a factual note, this has been the wettest summer in my area since 1906. Which bodes well for future summers (in theory). Rather than brave the weather and head out into the dog yard I must admit that I am sitting in bed with a cup of coffee, watching the weather come down. I stood up briefly to check, and apart from the occasional glance out, the dogs are warm and dry in their dog houses, and seemingly quite content to stay that way for the immediate future.

Speaking of the future. We have some new puppies to report.
My leader Soka has had her puppies. Four solid puppies were born exactly three weeks ago today. We were fortunate to get two males and two females. In honor of the wettest summer in 105 years, the puppies have received the following names. Puddle, Wave, Rain, and Stream. Wave looks like his mum, while the remaining three are copies of their father Langbein. I was up visiting the puppies father several days ago, and he seemed rather unmoved by the news that he has become a father for the billionth time. He regarded me with a sort of warm dissinterest, much like a elderly relative. His eye's said "That's nice dear...What was your name again?"
No matter, Soka is a wonderful mother. Attentive without being obsessive, and very gentle. I am very interested to see what the puppies we hold on to will turn out to be. The breeding is an exciting one.

Our kennel has experienced a changing of the guard the past few months. Old timers have been retired, and young upstarts have stepped in and are in the process of filling the footprints left by the retirees. Overall I would say that the team has gotten better. However, it is sad and bittersweet to say goodbye to some of our old friends. Blåmann has retired completely. Kajo and Splint left for better trails in Hemsedal with Andreas Heja. All of our borrowed dogs were returned in the spring. Now we have our core team left and one borrowed dog for the season.
With a few acceptions, the team is still known to us, as most of the "new" dogs are last years puppies. They are looking very nice so far. We had our first training run on Friday night and they are looking fantastic. Marble, my future super dog, ran in lead for the entire first run. Moon, the puppy I had the least faith in last winter has suprised me with her drive and positive attitude. Soline has guts and a beautiful gate. Onyx is head down no BS. Bronx is steady and happy. Shale is fast and light, but a little unsure if she is up towards the front. Hudson is the strongest dog I have ever owned, bar none.

During the last of our winter runs, Hudson broke three harnesses. I want to be clear... He did not chew them, or break the tig loops. He broke the stitching that held the harness together. I thought that perhaps the harnesses were getting a little old, so for Fridays run I put a newer harness on him. We didn't leave the yard before the stitching was gone. Off with that harness. I rumaged around in an old duffle-bag and found Yoda's old Nooksack harness. For those of you that know Yoda, he was my first dog and 80 pounds of pure, happy, muscle. Hudson is stronger, but Yoda weighed more. So far, Yoda's old harness has held up thanks to the quadrupple stitching I asked Kathy for all those years ago. Hudson has some big paw prints to fill if he is running with that harness. However, with his friendly attitude, and bowlingball head, he is well on his way to doing Yoda's memory in the team proud.

Apart from the puppies we have a few newbies in the team.
Øyvind Mortensen from Kirkenes has been nice enough to provide me with the dogs I needed to fill out the team.

Emi is a small (wicked small) female. Born last year. Pertified of bridges with water running under them. She was here in the beginning to see if I could get her to run. She is sweet, has a good coat, good feet, and basically became one of the gang within literally moments of arriving at the kennel. After seeing her run, she is here to stay. Emi is young. Only 18 months.

Merian is a big rangy male. He can be a bit of a wimp if he is running far up in the team and a lot is happening behind him. But he is honest, and a few kind words is all he needs to settle back into his beautiful trot.

Kill is the newest team member. With Kajo sold, Splint sold, Blåmann retired and Soka on maturnity leave, I found myself suddenly leaderless. Kill was a dog I had been eyeing at Øyvinds since he arrived at his kennel from Robert Sørlie. Luckily for me (and Øyvind), Øyvind found himself with more good dogs than he expected out of the last few years of puppies. So he needed to make some space. Øyvind has a well founded faith in his own puppies and breedings, so he decided to hold onto his own breedings first. I was lucky enough to get Kill. Kill is 2.5 years old. Has an awesome coat, awesome head and great atiitude. He is another of those rare dogs that was at home the moment he stepped into the kennel.

I am signed up for the Femundløpet 400 in February. I will have a very young team, so we will be taking it slow and fun. The speed in between checkpoints will be good, and we will rest for a long time in each checkpoint. It will be more of a training race than anything else, with the main focus being fun, and finishing. I am excited to see which of the puppies make the team.

Otherwise, the summer is slowly coming to an end, and training will be in ful swing within the week. We have a few runs under the belt so far, and are getting pumped for the season.

Wishing everyone a happy and safe late summer/early fall.

As always... Updates as events warrant.

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