Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New job, new logo, first race, and other updates

Check out our new kennel logo, created by my amazingly talented artist best friend and fellow musher, Amanda Stanoszek! Click on her name if you have a need for an awesome graphic designer!

Yay for snow! We're back on sleds, and the lake by the ranch is beautiful. Sophie is doing fabulous, and we are finally looking forward to our first race this coming weekend in New York state, the Tug Hill Challenge. This will be Sophie's very first race, and we can't wait to kick off the racing season finally.

Sophie running dogs

Our puppies are nearly ten weeks old now, and two of them recently went to a new home of fellow musher, Tammi Benson, and her family.

Tammi holds Parker, who she instantly fell in love with

Tammi formerly lived in mushing mecca, Two Rivers, Alaska and has run parts of the Yukon Quest. She had to get out of dogs several years ago due to some family issues, but is back and has started building her kennel again with Parker and Coltrane as her first Alaskan huskies since leaving Alaska! Welcome back, Tammi!

Tammi's husband, Freddy, holding Coltrane

We still have four pups, but things are far less chaotic with these four.

Brubeck (left) and his brother Miles (right) decided to cuddle up on a pizza box for a long winter's nap

Brubeck has developed the same pneumonia as his sister, Etta, did at four weeks. Shortly after having chest x-rays done and getting him on medication, Thelonious developed the same pneumonia. Interestingly enough, it's been only the pale-faced puppies with blue in their eyes that have come down with this pneumonia, which has led both my vet and me to consider a possible genetic component to this illness. We'll see.

In other, happier news, I started working at a new job on Monday! I am very happy to report that I am now the Community Educator at Northeast Ohio Colleges of Medicine's BeST Center in Psychiatry. The BeST center specializes in best practices for schizophrenia treatment and is one of the only centers of its kind in the U.S. I am very excited to have been selected for the position!

Here are some photo I shot recently of the lake by the Ranch.

Wind kicking up snow across the frozen lake makes a beautiful, blustery scene that I so love

"Danger: boating hazardous due to unusually low water" - Yea, I'll say!

And my truck stops for weird bumper stickers, like this one

Until next time...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

"A bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless you fail to make the turn"

It seems like every year, something stands in the way of my perfect plans for a perfect season. My own illness, a dog with puppies....I feel like I've got all kinds of things working against me in this sport. Sometimes I just want to give up.

Lately, it's been sick puppies (and the expense of helping them recover) standing in the way.

First Etta.

Etta's favorite place to perch since she was sick is on top of Chris

Now, Thursday evening, Brubeck began wheezing exactly like Etta did.

Brubeck resting

Both puppies have the same symptoms: wheezing that became progressively worse, followed by retracting of the rib cage in an increasingly difficult struggle for air. Both puppies have pulmonary edema - fluid surrounding the lungs. Both puppies responded well to shots of Lasix to pull the fluid out of the respiratory airways and a heavy course of Amoxicillin.

But it takes time.

Luckily, my vet knows me well enough to trust me with two shots of Lasix which I've given to Brubeck throughout this weekend.

I hope no other pups come down with this...whatever it is.

Da Boys: (from left) Parker, Thelonious, Miles and Brubeck

And that's the frustrating thing: we don't know if this is a virus or some kind of congenital thing.

Sometimes it's difficult in the face of mounting vet bills to not think of giving up. Selling out.

But last evening, I free ran the dogs with the four wheeler (over snow) and delighted in watching them run. Nothing thrills me like watching my dogs open up, all legs and lungs, running full throttle. And nothing ever will.

Aspen (right wheel) back in harness for the first time since the November 17 birth of her pups

Today, Sophie and I went out with a couple teams. Sophie has been training with me regularly, and she is making me proud.

There is nothing like watching your child transform from "child" into "musher" - nothing like doing the thing you love with your child, and watching them love it too.

Sophie running my yearling, Kerouac (left) and two year old, Big Brown (right)

Sophie setting her snow hook like a pro

Sophie said to me the other day when we were running teams

"Mom, I'm so glad I have a mom like you who does cool stuff like this!"

And, I am so thankful I have a cool, colorful daughter like you, my Sophie Queen.

Until next time, keep on mushing on!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Can't depend on snow

My sled, runners buried in snow, waiting to go on its first race of the season

A few random snowflakes fall from the sky haphazardly over an expansive, white horizon. There must be a foot of snow on the ground here at the Ranch. The only color is a jagged, rust-colored tree line inching its way upward on this gray and white canvas - as if a painter dabbles his brush neatly in the distance. As the colors come closer, their focus sharpens.

So, how can it be, then, that in this expanse of white that surrounds me, there isn't enough snow up north in snow country for my first race of the season?

It's hard for me to fathom.

I am very disappointed that the first race of my season, the Tahquamenon Country Sled Dog Race has actually been postponed twice for lack of snow.

So, I am modifying my race plans for this season, and trying not to be too disappointed. Tahquamenon is rescheduled for February 12, but that is a week before the Jack Pine 30 which is another race I usually run.

We'll see...

In other news, Ella, one of Aspen's puppies, went to live with my good friend, Jenn, at her kennel in PA this last week.

Jenn and her family have a small sprint racing kennel. We miss Ella but know she is in excellent, loving hands!

We are down to six puppies, and all but the runt and Etta, the one who recovered from pneumonia, are outside now, much to their dismay!

I have several talks coming up from now until March, so check out the calendar of events and stop on by if you happen to be in northeast Ohio.

Prayers for snow!