Saturday, June 30, 2012


Super hot summertime! Temps here at the Ranch have reached 102 degrees two days this week, which is great for the blackberries that grow wild on our property...

but not so great for a buncha huskies accustomed to much cooler temperatures. Keeping 17 huskies relatively comfortable when it's this hot is a difficult task. During the heat of the day, my aim is to keep the dogs laying low and hydrated.

Here are five things you can do to keep your dogs cool (and entertained) in the summertime! 

1. Take a dip. The Ranch is only two miles from a state park with a large body of water. We often trek there in the evening to let the dogs have a swim.

11 month old, Tosh, gets a drink from a local lake

2. Make like a kid...and head for the kiddie pool! The Diamond Dogs love their kiddie pool in the summer, often climbing in two at a time!

Miles (dark dog) and Ruffian (white dog) get the zoomies after a dip in the kiddie pool. Dogs release heat through their paw pads - only one of two places they release heat (the other is by panting) - so just getting their feet wet in cool water helps a lot with keeping their body temperature normal.

3. Freeze out with some frozen treats. Our dogs love frozen treats like "Fla-vor-ice" or even ice chunks in the summertime. You might also consider a frozen treat made by Purina especially for dogs called "Frosty Paws," found in the frozen food section of your local grocery.

4. Wash it off. Some dogs are resistant to getting their paws wet. But when temps reach highs in the 90s and 100s degree range, it's important to keep dogs cool regardless of their hygiene preferences. Simply washing a dog down with a cool, wet washcloth can help them stay comfortable.

5. Chill out. Keeping active dogs as relaxed as possible in extreme heat is often a good thing. I actually keep two of the house dogs who run around like idiots in crates for a few hours during the hottest part of the day to keep them cool.

On one of the hottest days of the year two days ago, we had a dog sledding presentation at the University of Akron Center for Literacy's children's summer day camp, Camp Digi-Lit. Miles and I trekked across the scorching concrete campus just as my truck's thermometer flipped to 97 degrees. My trusty assistant, Elise, helped me get to the center, where we were greeted by about 20 2nd-5th graders! Special thanks to Courtney Cable of the Center for Literacy for inviting us!

Miles having his picture taken by the campers at the University of Akron's Camp Digi-Lit at the Center for Literacy

Miles is really such a renaissance man: finishing his first 100 mile race strong as a yearling, and working a crowd as the perfect, gentlemanly education dog! What a man!

That's it for now. Stay cool and send us a line on our Facebook page about how you keep your doggies cool in the summertime!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

2012/2013 Race Plans Announced: the best laid plans of dogs and (wo)men

"The best laid schemes o' mice an' men..." - Robert Burns

It's June and while others are enjoying their summers without a thought to winter, we mushers still dream of snow. It might seem strange to think of winter when the days are hot and the livin' is easy, but with the plans I have for the winter ahead, it's best I start planning now.

I am always hesitant to make plans for the upcoming season "official" by putting them into writing because, those who know me know I've had great plans in the past and, like the Burns' poem referenced above, they have gone awry several times.

But the fact is, I keep running longer and longer races, and I still can't get enough of my time in the woods with the dogs.

So, if intention is everything, here are my intentions for the 2012/2013 season:

  • A race I have always wanted to make but have yet to do is the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota. I plan to do the mid-distance portion of this race. This will kick off on January 27, 2013, and will take significant funding just to make the 14 hour drive to Duluth for the start! Fingers crossed for sponsors. 
  • In 2006, I said I had a five year plan to compete in the UP200 in Michigan's beautiful Upper Peninsula city of Marquette. I missed the mark by a few years, but now I finally have the dogs to get to the starting line of this 12-dog, 240 mile sled dog marathon on February 14th, 2013. Happy Valentine's Day, doggies! This race will be a huge goal for me, and a significant achievement if I can complete it: the UP200 is an official Iditarod qualifier.

The entry fees for these four races are over $1,000 and the total mileage for all four races is nearly 600 miles in the frigid mid-west! Therefore, I am starting to search for sponsors for the upcoming 2012/2013 season!

If you would like to make a donation to the kennel, please send us an email at lazyhuskyranch at yahoo dot com.

Things we are in need of: 

Entry fees
Gas cards
Meat not suitable for human consumption (deer, beef, chicken, tripe, turkey)
New runners for the race sled (Rex/Matrix runners)
Corn Oil
Mechanical services to keep the dog truck and the four wheeler running well during the season
Dog food
Veterinary services

It takes an army to put dog food on the table. Thank you to our past sponsors! Without you, this dream never would have gotten off the ground.

Dreams do come true! Help us get there this year, and if you can't, please spread the word! And as always...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Coming out: a musher in the closet

I spent eight years getting a degree in English, only to launch a career in healthcare in 2001. (I know, right? How did that happen? See! There is life after an English degree!) When funding ran out for my hospital job (which I loved and excelled at) in 2008, I was resentful, but like most life-lesson stories, I quickly realized it was a blessing in disguise. I returned to my roots - to who I really am at my core: a writer, a photographer, an artist - to those things corporate life had slowly began squashing out of me.

The need to connect - at least on some level, however minuscule - to communicate and feel a camaraderie with others is a basic human instinct, I think. But so often the hundreds of ways we are "connected" anymore leave a lot of room for misinterpretation.

Sometimes the language that I speak with my camera is easier to translate to others than my words. Sometimes, lately, I reach for my camera instead of my words. Sometimes, I am misunderstood. I fear that misunderstanding, so sometimes I allow my camera to speak for me - to say what I cannot say.

But lately, I have been trying to articulate how I have finally embraced this non conventional life. 

Losing my hospital job allowed me to embrace the lifestyle I wanted to embrace: out here, in the sticks, with my dogs. On some level, I was always secretive about my lifestyle and being a musher when I was in social situations. Afraid of judgments, I didn't readily offer to anyone how many dogs I had ("you have how many dogs?") in my professional life, and even now, I keep my lifestyle hidden from clients. At least until I get to know them, and, more importantly, they get to know me.

I felt like this knowledge was reserved for only a few special and trusted people in my life. 

I always kept a secret stash of lint rollers everywhere - in my vehicle, desk drawer at work, and a mini one in my purse - to quickly brush away the husky hair that invariably covered my (usually black) clothing.

I carried on about how I really drove a 4x4 truck because of the "safe" factor.

I invented elaborate excuses for why I couldn't come to work those weeks in January or February. Race weeks.

I was a musher in the closet.

Something magical happens when you know, without a doubt, who you are and what you're meant to do on this earth and you embrace it.

Unapologetically. Authentically.

A peace settles into your Muck boots. You confidently stroll into work without heed to the white puff of husky hair stuck so brazenly to your black blazer. You no longer apologize for the random smidge of dog poo on your work pumps, but rather wipe it off with a quick swipe in the corporate bathroom.

Why are we raised as children to believe that it is good to be ourselves, only to so often stifle our true passions as adults? Why does society demand so much of us?

Here's to being yourself. I raise my cup of coffee to the mushers, the writers, the poets, artists and those who keep it real and live their authentic lives.

Here's to leaving the closet - no matter what you have to "come out" about.