Beautiful and fast, five of these pups call Schroeder, MN, "home." That's where they live with pro mushers Rita and Bill Wehseler. Rita kindly agree to let me train with these amazing athletes in 2012 so I can step up my mushing skills and try out a race or two. Ginsberg is the only city boy in the crew. He lives in Minneapolis with me, at the 44th Street Accidental MicroKennel.
Penya is extraordinary. She's a highly trained lead dog who has finished John Beargrease Marathons, no easy task. She is incredibly eager to please, efficient, and easygoing. One of my favorite things about Penya is how, when we stop to rest, she plops herself down AND keeps the line tight. She keeps a close eye on the team, looking for clues as to what's next. She has a wonderful, thick luxurious coat and a petite face and petite paws. I greet her first when I arrive and she knows I'm usually packing treats. But even when I'm not, she greets me happily and roles on her back for belly rubs. Such a hard working girl, I never see her slack off. She's been an excellent teacher for me.
Nickname: I like to call him "Coltish Boy"
Colt is the biggest pup on our team. He's leggie and lanky and has a sweet, innocent face and a puppyish disposition. He can be a little shy at first, but he warns up fast. He and Penya run beautifully together in lead, often matching each other's stride. He works very hard to follow commands, and definitely looks to Penya for cues. Another hard-working pup who is ready to go any time!
Lydia is my talker. She's also an energizer bunny and probably the most affectionate pup on the team. She'll wrap herself around you in seconds flat. When I'm scooping in the dog yard, she keeps up a constant "rrrr, rrrr, rrrrwoof, rrr, rrrr, rrr" as if to remind me she's still there. She's all business in harness and would go forever, given the opportunity. This girl looks at you with such loving eyes, you cannot help but fall in love with her, even when you'd like her to quiet down. Her work ethic never ceases to amaze me. She never questions anything, and she gives 100%. She's one of my "jumping beans," pups that just go slamming into their harness and literally levitate to get going.
Ah, Greyling, my shy girl. It's taken a while to win her trust, but win it I have. She's incredibly submissive and nonthreatening and I still have a hard time getting her to take treats from my hand. But when I arrive to run the team, she'll now come right up to me for a little loving. Her fur is incredibly soft and silky and her build is lithe and elegant. In harness, she's another of my jumping beans (a cheerleader) who really doesn't want to pause too long for rest stops. I don't believe I've ever heard her bark. But maybe that's because some of the other pups are louder. She has a gorgeous trot, with almost a wolf-life quality about her.
This girl stole my heart from day one. She is calm and loving and playful. Of all the pups, I believe she has the most incredible work ethic, never slowing down even when she's thirsty or has nicked her nail. Another of the "jumping beans," Elias will practically scream to get going after we take a rest. And she also likes to let me know I shouldn't forget about her when I'm working in the dog yard. Elias and I have a very sweet bond, and she loves to snuggle and wedge her head between my leg and her house. She drinks more water than any of the other pups, and is always eager to have another treat. Her gorgeous blue eye is also a parti-eye, with smudges of brown around the top. Sometimes she reminds me of a pit bull, with her solid build and wide face. But she is all Alaskan husky. I like t think of her as Miss Congeniality because she is so friendly when a new pup is in the dog yard.
Nickname: Gins (hard "g" sound)
Namesake is poet Alan Ginsberg, from Shannon Miller's Writers Litter (2010)
Pedigree: Gwennie (J Barron) x Jack (S Miller)
Male: 1/4 Seppala + 3/4 Alaskan Husky
Ginsberg turns 2 on January 2, 2012. When we began training, Gins was a little surprised about what was expected of him. He kept looking back over his shoulder at me, as if asking whaththeheck? But he has had such impeccable mentors with THREE BLUE EYES that it didn't take long for him to make sense of what was going on. He is so solid in wheel, I'm amazed. His tugline is always tight, his focus laser-sharp now, and his work ethic amazing. Because I've worked with him since he was a puppy and he knows me well, I'd like to try him in lead at some point. But for now, I like that he's taking his job so seriously and performing very well. When we first started passing practice, he kept his focus and did not try to interact with the other dogs. I think that's pretty good for a pup that is essentially a "yearling." I can't wait to see what else he learns, shows me, and teachers me.