{Tsuga Siberians}
December 8th, 2008 - "Dog Food and Dogs"

Taking a break on Firebreak trail.  Wilson & Trip in lead.
Alaska Range Sunset

Hi there. We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We shared ours with Bill and Sandy and Renee and Rob. Sue cooked up a wonderful meal and the dogs sure enjoyed the turkey soup she made for them, too. The cell phone minutes took a pretty big hit that day as we got to talk to a bunch of family and friends back home. Weíve got a few new things to be thankful for as well. After years of trying to get some help on our dog food bill, we have a sponsor for our kibble supply! We have signed on with Loyall Dogfood. We first started using their food this fall after the Northeast representative and the national nutritionist came to our kennel to meet us and the dogs just before we hit the road for Alaska. I really have to thank Mitch Ingerson for making the introductions that led directly to this new partnership. He is totally responsible for getting the ball rolling in our direction. Anyway, the food is here in Alaska now and we are convinced it is an excellent feed that our dogs will continue to excel on. Dog food is of course a major cost for us and this new venture will significantly help us in that department. Not to mention that the dogs love it and are performing very well on it.

Ambler gets to try leading (with Stump).
Ridgeline Running

That leads me straight to an update on training. In a sentence, the team is doing awesome! Our training miles are stacking up quickly now and our longest single run is up to 70 miles. The dogs are running nearly 200 miles per week now, and although we were a bit behind on mileage when we got here, I am very happy with where we are right now. Weíve got a great mix of hills and flats from home and we continue to change up the duration and intensity of the runs to suit the dayís training goal. We also got another 4-5 inches of snow over the weekend and that has allowed us to expand our range and run some more new trail. There is plenty more yet to see. We have still only really scratched the surface of the vast trail system around here. The dogs are having as much fun seeing new places as we are. Stump continues to be our number one leader. He is just amazing, but thatís really nothing new. Wilson and Reba have both made great strides in their leading ability and I can count on them in all conditions and situations now, ranking them right up there with Mugs. Merlin and Trip are the two big surprises in the leader category, as they have been doing an awesome job up front, especially with keeping a very quick pace. Gila, Lotus, Eliza, and Moon are all getting significant miles in lead and show continued improvement. That gives us 10 solid leaders and I expect all, except maybe little Moon, to make the Quest team. My wonderful Jim just turned ten years old, and he continues to put more on the tugline than any dog in our kennel, although Hood, Logan, and Ambler are right there with him. Gecko, Curly, Cassin, Esther, and Isis are all fighting amongst each other for the chance to make the race team.

Gila & Stump leading in Little Chena Valley.
Reba & Mugs leading through snow drifts.

Which leads me to our revised race plans. We decided just yesterday as we started to make preparations for a race this weekend that we simply need to cut back our plans. Not due to the dogs, but because we just canít afford to do everything we want to. Of all the races we had signed up for, the Sheep Mountain race this weekend was the one we felt we could do without. Our other races are better preparation for Quest and we will stick with doing the GinGin 200 just after Christmas and the Copper Basin 300, starting on January 10th. They have longer runs and are more suited to our team, so although we wanted to go to Sheep Mountain, we have to be realistic and make the best of what we can do.

Well, Iíve got to go clean the dog yard, feed them breakfast, get Sue out on her run for the day, and then fire up the bandsaw to cut a few hundred more pounds of frozen ground meat. I hope your day is nearly as goodÖ


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