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, October 26, 2009

Catch up News

It's been a while since I have posted an update.  Life at Evening Star Kennel is busy as usual, and combine that with my personal life and job and all the other things I decided to overcommit myself to, things have been crazy.  But, all in all, things are coming along nicely for our Quest starting in just over 14 weeks.  Training is going very well and everyone is building great pulling muscle and enduring stamina.  We are running approximately 20 miles each run now.  There are still 21 dogs in training and all are healthy and happy.  19 of those are taking their turn in lead and several are showing great promise for leading this winter. 

I sold 3 puppies to Lacey Hart in Livingston, MT a few weeks ago where they will go on to train and race with her and hopefully take her great places.  I plan to keep 2 of the 4 remaining pups.  They now have names.  For those horse race followers, I have "Rachel Alexandra", "Bird" for Mind that Bird, "Summer" for Summer Bird, and "Calvin" for the jockey who almost won a Triple Crown riding different horses.  They are getting big and now run faster than I can keep up.  My long-time friend, David Toren, came to visit for a weekend and I saw something I thought I would never see...

My friend of over 12 years who always got annoyed with me for stopping to visit every dog I saw on our college campus was actually cuddling with the pups and talking about wanting a dog, a conversation that shocked both of us.  Maybe next year.

Some of the stars of training right now are the 2 yearling sisters, Voodoo and Margarita.  The more we go and the harder I push the dogs, the crazier Voodoo gets.  She pulls harder than anyone in the team, despite being half the size of some of her brothers, and spends every rest break barking, well, actually screaming, to go.  She is running in lead and has one heck of a motor on her.  Margarita is very smart and loves being in front and is already starting to learn directional commands.

I have been running 20 dogs on each run which is a very long string of dogs.  Fortunately, they have been learning some manners and only drag the ATV with front and rear brakes on a few times every run.  My Border Collie pet dog, Wylie, goes on every run with us and comes home much more civilized than when he doesn't get to run.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I just got great news tonight! My friend, Brooke Bohannon, is going to be able to come to the Quest with me to be my handler. This is a very important job as she will be driving the truck from start to finishe, checkpoint to checkpoint. She will be able to help me only at the halfway point at Dawson City, but she will be taking care of any dogs that don't make the final team and any dogs that are "dropped" along the way. If, for any reason, a dog needs to stop and not continue the race, I can "drop" them to the care of my handler. This system is set up to protect the health and livelihood of all the dogs. This is a great system to have in place for a younger dog on a more mature team. I will have at least one yearling to fill out my team. He or she will be going with no expectation but for the learning experience. If at some point s/he needs to stop, I can leave the dog with Brooke and know that it will get the best care possible and be well fed, rested, and loved when I see them again at the finishline. Knowing that Brooke will be there to care for my dogs not on the trail with me will give me great peace of mind and let me better focus on the dogs that are still racing with me.

I first met Brooke in Juneau, AK in the summer of 2005 when we were working for competing glacier dog sled tour companies. We met on a day off in the upstairs of the Alaskan bar in downtown Juneau on a day off. Little did we know then that we would end up living in Whitefish, MT and training our teams together. Brooke and her husband, Sean, have had sled dogs for more than a dozen years, starting in New Hampshire. They have done some racing and had a lot of fun but are slowly phasing out of sled dogs and on to the next thing.

Brooke, Sean, and I started a dog race, Flathead Sled Dog Days, here in NW Montana. 2010 will be our 3rd year and it's been a great event and has been nice to give something back to the sport. We have been neighbors for the last 2 1/2 years. Without Brooke and Sean, I would never get to go away without worrying about my dogs. We swap dog sitting and thus we all get a chance to have a little vacation here and there. I wish Sean could come along too. Then I wouldn't have to worry about a thing. Thank you, Sean, for letting me borrow your wife for a few weeks.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sled Dogs are Tough

If you don't believe that sled dogs are tough, you will now. We got back from a 16 mile training run today and I noticed that Jersey had a cut on her hind leg about and inch and a half long. I brought her home with me and put four sutures in it with no anesthetic. She only squeaked once on the first stitch but hardly moved. When I finished, she got a cookie, a car ride, and a walk at Round Meadows. She is good as new and doesn't even know that she got hurt.