Friday, April 6, 2012

How I adore these pups

Now that the winter has passed and spring is here, the pups and I have relaxed our training. Last Sunday, my husband kindly captured the affection I feel for these amazing canine athletes, my team mates, as we goofed around in the hay field last Sunday.

PENYA





LYDIA









ELIAS












COLT







GREYLING








Our time together ends April 15. It's been one extraordinary journey together, one I'll never forget. I have not experienced this kind of joy in more than seven years. May we all be so lucky, always.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Puppies!


On Presidents' Day, WolfMoon Kennels (where 5 of the THREE BLUE  EYES team boards) was blessed with puppies!
The "blondes": Barkley, Truman, DeeDee
Homer

Ovi

The mom is Soli, a beautiful sleek black eurohound with gorgeous blue eyes.

Soli
Papa pup is Charlie, just about the sweetest big ole hunk of an Alaskan Husky you could ever imagine.
Charlie
THREE BLUE EYES pups might be just a tad jealous; it's hard to resist these little stinkers when I come to Claire's to run my pups and attend to dog chores.

But why should I be the one having all the fun! Enjoy this little video that captures their lives from just a few days old to 6 weeks. Soon they'll be headed off to their new homes - and maybe Claire can get some rest!

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Long awaited -- snow

This may be our last run this season (sniff) . . . and it sure was a delightful one.

Out on the Beargrease Trail . . .

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dry spell



The lack of snow this year in Minnesota sure did put a crimp in my plans. Two races were cancelled and I had to withdraw from another two because I did not have enough training miles on the sled to be a solid competitor.

So disappointing, and yet I trust that things are playing out as they should, even if I don't understand why.

I haven't been back on the sled since the mishaps just before the end of the year. So much has transpired since then. A precious friend ended her life in January, and those of us who loved her remain shell-shocked. I came down with the flu soon after and was the sickest I've been in years. The ole joints have really been screaming for attention, and I'm usually the last to hear. But I had to listen up recently when the discomfort got the better of me.

I haven't really had words to describe the sadness, bewilderment, and strain of seeing a dream that seemed so real slowly fade to gray this year. But I stumbled upon just the right language penned by my favorite poet, Mary Oliver. And I've been sitting on some dreamy footage of my pups and me training one foggy morning in January when the sun finally warmed things up. And then I found an extraordinary piece of music (humming, really) by Carly Simon, and something took shape tonight that gave expression to this odd place I find myself in.

The dogs are so beautiful, the experience so haunting, and in the end, I remain hopeful that I am doing what I am supposed to do and grateful for the mentors, the friends, the colleagues, and the family who have seen me through this strange journey.

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Beautiful, complicated, and willful lead dog, Penya, from whom I have learned much. 


Sunday, January 1, 2012

SNOW!!!!

Incredible. Exhilarating. Exhausting.

I finally got on a sled this weekend. Actually, I got on Bill Wehseler's training sled Thursday. Bill and Rita Wehseler run Stony Creek Sled Dogs, which offers sled dog rides in the gorgeous north woods along Lake Superior in northern Minnesota.

Rita is the expert musher who has made it possible for me to train with 5 veteran sled dogs (Penya, Colt, Elias, Lids, and Greyling). Last Wednesday, Randy and I went up to Schroeder, MN, where my mentor Claire Seekins has a cabin and where Rita and Bill operate their kennel.

I had planned to spend the week training there in preparation for my first race Jan 7. But Mother Nature had plans of her own: We haven't had enough snow to actually get on sleds and my poor hubby has been sick as a, hmmmm, really sick guy. He's had a serious Man Cold and has had to do a whole lot of resting.
Randy and Ginsberg crash at Claire's cabin
But Wednesday, we made the trek up north and, lo and behold, it snowed! And Rita and Bill lent me a sled and, oh my gosh, I have SO much to say and, as usual, not enough time to say it.

In short, I blissed out on snowy trails - and got seriously schooled by my pups on the amazing trail used for the John Beargrease race.

But for now, I'll let this little video tell part of the story. In a word, it was divine!
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Happy New Years!!!

Beautiful break of day in the North Woods of Minnesota - Deember 31, 2011


Thursday, December 22, 2011

What THREE BLUE EYES taught me today

"DON'T LEAVE US BEHIND!!!"
These days, it feels lately like I'm meeting myself coming and going. 

I'm definitely coming to understand my limitations. Especially around time. Training in the middle of the week is intense. I'm up, driving, hooking up 6 fast sled dogs, running the 4-wheeler in sub-freezing temps, unhooking them, giving them water, hauling buckets of their "stew" around and feeding them, scooping up their living spaces, making tomorrow's stew, and driving 75 minutes back to Minneapolis -- all before I start my regular work day.

It's humbling how tired this routine makes a person. By early evening, I'm pretty well spent. But do I get myself to bed? Er, um, well, there's this GREAT book series I'm reading (The Hunger Games), so, well, I guess the answer is clear enough. I've been under the weather more this fall than is typical for me. And I know I need to take better care of myself and get more rest.

And hence, the less-frequent blog posts.

But, my pups taught me a thing or two today, and I wanted to make sure I recorded it. 

The trail we run has several hills, not big huge ones, but hills nonetheless. One has been particularly challenging for the team. And I though I try to be a tough gal and make them work up that hill, usually I cave and give the 4-wheeler a little gas to help them out.

But not today.

I gave myself a stern talking-to this morning on the drive north and committed to helping the pups get in shape to do at least one serious hill (during CopperDog 35 in March) without help from me. So up up up we went on our training hill, and they gradually slowed down to a complete stop some 30 yards from the top of the hill.

I told them to "get up" but they merely peered over their shoulders at me with a look like, "What, you're gonna be lazy and not help us out."

Yep, that's exactly what I'm going to do.

And as it turns out, I had completely underestimated their abilities. Within two seconds, myshygirl Greyling was doing her levitating act, and next to her, sweetness Elias, was screaming at the top of her canine lungs to get moving. Yep, honest to goodness cheerleaders.

And guess what happened? Bigboy Colt seemed to remember his strength and pulled hard, along with gotogirl Penya, and before you know, we crested that hill! All on pure canine power (and thanks to some genuine restraint on my part). I just felt so proud I could have popped!

It was a little tool chilly to take off my gloves so my bare fingers could make contact with the iPhone screen. But yesterday I managed to catch a few priceless moments.

Hope you enjoy them here in this short video:
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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Shoes-ie-Q, I love you . . .

So, we hosted the lovely eurohound sprinter, Shoes, last weekend. Claire tells me that there's something about the mix of the pointer breed into the Alaskan Husky mix that makes for incredibly sweet (and FAST) dogs. I've definitely found that to be the case. We spent time with Chinook (from Maggie Heilmann's kennel) who was also part pointer. And she was a complete love-bug.

Funny thing about Shoes is that she's had many many names in her short life. She's been a Prancer, Charlie, Socks, and now Shoes. We found ourselves calling her Boots (she has cute little white "boots" on her legs. And she was training with the very fast sprint musher Jan Bootz-Dittmar's team. We thought we'd better ease her into that name so we called her ShoosBoots for a while.

But once I started to make this little video, it was clear that she was Shoes-ie-Q. She'll undoubedly have a new name in her new life with Claire. But she'll always be Shoes-ie-Q to me now.

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