Thank you to all sponsors and fans for your support and encouragement. Without you, not only would Evening Star Kennel been absent from the 2010 Yukon Quest, but this incredible sport and these wonderful dogs would become a thing of distant memory. I thank you from the bottom of my heart and I hope that you have enjoyed following this amazing event.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Athletes: Tequila puppies

On July 5, 2008, Detour had her pups. She had 7 pups who grew rapidly and now, somehow, are big dogs.

Most sled dog litters are named with themes. My theme this time was "Tequila". So we had Patron, Margarita, Chinaco, Diablo, Milagro, Voodoo, and Skinhead. Milagro went to live with Nikki Arndt in the Bitterroot Valley are few hours from here. The other 6 have become monsters. They are absolutely loco.

This litter is the first litter I have had that was mine from conception on. I watched their births while lying in bed. I took them for their first puppy walks and for their first puppy runs in harness. And I hope to take them to their first races as well. These pups have changed the group dynamics pretty drastically. My mellow team of the 2009 race season is now a noisy, hyper bunch of dogs. I attribute this to the high energy tequila pups.

Margarita is a nice big, blonde girl. She likes to run and play and loves people. Margarita got her name from my friend Anita: her full name is "Anita Margarita". She is a bit of a dominant female and likes to push her sister around. Margarita has a set of lungs on her and can make the most amazing noises I have ever heard come from a little dog. I guess she is appropriately named. I am excited to see how she grows into her own.

Voodoo has always been a striking pup. Her black and white markings as an infant resulted in the joke that she was Wylie's pup. (Wylie is my neutered Border Collie.) Voodoo was only 3 weeks old when her ears stood straight up, making her look like a Chihuahua instead of a sled dog. But now she has grown into her ears and she sure can run. Voodoo is a bit on the small side but there is nothing but speed and desire in this little girl.

Chinaco was always a big boy. He quickly became a bit of a bully in the puppy pen, especially at feeding time. When Chinaco started pushing all his siblings off of the food pan, I decided it was time for him to become a big dog. He thought that was alright right from the start and never even cried when I tied him up. He got his own food dish and a lot more individual attention. Chinaco is definitely my buddy now. And what a powerhouse. Maybe he'll make the trip north with me next year.

Patron is a fuzzy boy and definitely made for cold norther winter weather. On one of the early puppy walks when he was about 8 weeks old, we went further than usual. About halfway home, he got tired. When I picked him up, he fell asleep in my arms. No more sleepy puppy in him anymore. He loves to run and is a very stron boy. Hopefully he will learn to lead like his mom and join the race team next year.

Diablo was the second pup born. While most of them seemed dead when they were born until Detour licked them alive, Diablo came into the world head first and crawling. There was never any doubt that he was full of life. And there is still no doubt. Diablo is a bit of a mama's boy and is the only one from his litter to really know his name. The last run we did, Diablo led home and dragged the grown ups along trying to get them to go faster. I would not be at all surprised if this little green eyed devil makes the whole Quest run next winter.

And last, but definitely not least, is Skinhead. He did have a tequila themed name. Actually a few, but none ever stuck. When Skinhead started eating food as a few week old pup, he lost all his silver colored fur everywhere on his body. The only places he had hair, and it was thin, were his tan mask and legs. I changed his diet and bedding and he got his hair back. But this spring when he started to lose his winter coat, he developed a receding hairline as well and no longer has hair on his head or ears. Skinhead is a nice big boy with a great sense of humor. Hopefully, we can get his skin allergies figured out and get him out on the Yukon Quest.

These guys are the future and I am excited to see how they progress. Watch for future updates.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Athletes: Lightning

Lightning is the only "adult" in the kennel who did not race with me last year. During the holidays this past winter, we got 10-12 + inches of snow per day. We were slogging. On Christmas day, we ran 18 miles before we saw a single soul. When the first snowmobile caught and passed us, we were breaking trail in about 18 inches of untracked snow. That was the day that I decided that we are going to run the Yukon Quest next year. Our 36 mile run took almost 7 hours.

The next day, when we took off, Lightning was struggling to keep up. I stopped and left him home. Although I could never pin point why he couldn't keep up, Lightning got a month off. When we returned from the Siskiyou, Lightning joined back in and never wavered at the 35 mile runs we were doing. Although he had very few miles this winter, he remained amazingly muscular and had recovery times equaling or exceeding the rest of the team.

Lightning is the first to bark, whether for food, attention, running, or just to bark. He is a great athlete and never gets tired. I may never know why he struggled this year, but I expect it has a lot to do with his age. Next year as a two year old, I expect he will fair much better and won't be surprised if he not only makes the Quest team, but runs a good portion of it in the front of the team.