Hi everyone! I just got back from our first 22 mile run. It was beautiful, especially on the way back with the setting sun. I can’t wait to introduce you to my team, but first is another installment of “the first week”.
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So I was left alone just a few days after my arrival in the frozen north with over fifty sled dogs and lots of leaves. It was actually quite warm – a good thing because the boxes of clothes I’d mailed a week before did not arrive on time (despite what the post office told me, mail is a few days slower in
Everything went well, my runs with the yearlings were uneventful – probably due in part to the fact that with just seven dogs I had too much control with the 4-wheeler. I’d never run such a small team on a 4-wheeler in my entire dog sledding career…I thought we’d be running big teams up here, but even Scott was training three twelve-dog teams. It all seemed too normal!
Then, the morning before Scott returned, trouble visited the kennel: two of the dogs decided to have an argument on the end of their chains. The wounds were not serious, but I decided to call Aaron and give him a heads-up anyway. This led to putting the dogs on six days of Ammoxicillin and putting Betadine on the wounds every day. One of the dogs, Spinner, was great – he’s the shyest dog in the kennel and just cringes on his house whenever you do anything with him – but Vasser…well, I think he had some experience at thwarting the medicine-giver. For six days I struggled to get the Ammoxicillin pills down his throat and even when they were down he would gag and cough until I was afraid he would spit it back out. Putting it in his food was no good – he’d just dump it and pick out the pill. Some dogs are just too smart!
The next morning we ran all the teams and I tried to figure out what my schedule would be. Often I’d be waiting around in the dog yard, not sure what else needed done. It was tough, I had come to help and didn’t want to go off and do my own thing if there was work to be done.
A few days later, we got between six and eight inches of snow. Since it hadn’t really been cold, both Scott and I were dreading that warmer weather would melt it and leave us with a sloppy, muddy mess. Thankfully, it didn't.
About this time, several things happened. First, we realized we had to get some food in the house. Most of what was in the fridge and pantry was outdated or, what both Scott and I mutually disliked, it was boxed, prepared meals…that were probably outdated – I never checked.
So, we took a trip to Nenana and the grocery store. I should mention that the first trip we took ended up with the one store, Coghill’s general store, being already closed and since we were in need of butter we tried the gas station. To my surprise they had butter…but at an outrageous price - $4 for a pound!
The next day we got mail and went once more to Coghill’s. We fared slightly better, but the produce is really pitiful – very little of it and somewhat wilted. However, we were able to get less perishable items (again, at inflated prices) and figured we could get by since we have an abundance of moose meat and sausage up here.
It must have been two days later that we went into Nenana again, this time to take Leila to see if we could find a spark plug. I really felt bad for her, everything seemed to be going wrong or breaking while Bill was gone…and then when she did get running again a dog got a foot injury.
The next day, I had my own bad day. Things had been going very smoothly since Scott had written out a schedule (see below) for me, and I was walking puppies when he took the first team and then running my team (now with only six, since Scott had taken one of the adults back on the main team) after helping him out with the second team. Alas, when I came back with my team I noticed Flynn’s circle was sprinkled with blood. And then I saw his tail…
Flynn is a very pretty black and white dog, and he had a nice tail to go with it, but his neighbor had apparently caught hold of it and ripped the skin and hair off over half of it. I could see the bone and it was dripping blood everywhere, though fortunately it wasn’t bleeding fast.
I did what I could to stop the bleeding and clean it up, as I called Aaron...without success because he was out of range. Fortunately, he’d given me his
home phone number and I called there and started to leave a message before Mandy, his wife, answered. I explained the situation and she told me to wait until Scott got back because Flynn is his dog and it wasn’t life threatening. Nome
And so I waited…I kept thinking, how am I going to explain this to Scott? Flynn is such a nice dog!
Scott got the team in, I explained what happened, and he took a look at the dogs. The offending dog got moved to the corner, far away from Flynn. I was relieved that Scott wasn’t too upset, other than at the dogs for fighting.
There is a different concept on the treatment of injuries/injured dogs up here. Both Scott and Aaron believe that, “If a dog has enough energy to fight, it has enough energy to run” and "They're going to feel a whole lot more miserable during long training runs or races." Basically, as long as the injury isn’t to the joints or something that would be worsened by running, the dog runs.
So Flynn ran…that very afternoon.
The next day, he got his tail docked and began running again in a few more days..
During this time Scott, Leila and I got together often for dinner – either at Bill’s or here. We actually ate quite well – all homeade: Taco’s, Quesadilla’s, Gyro’s, fresh Grouse and Stew. And in addition to being a good cook Scott would often do the dishes!
On one of these evenings, Leila and I discovered that in a few days it would be Scott’s birthday and we plotted about what we could do to celebrate it. She agreed to cook and I went over to bake the cake. Since she had no frosting, I managed to find some in the pantry that was only slightly outdated.
We had the meal at Bill’s and Leila invited another neighbor, Jaysen, who is an older musher originally from
, to join us. It was a fun evening. California
Now, all this happened over a little more than a week, but it went by very quickly. At this time, due to the huge difference between life here and at home, I was not homesick much but I was looking forward to the Burmeister’s return on the 29th of October.
Well, that’s all for now – we’ve covered a lot of ground in these couple posts so now you’re almost caught up to the end of October.
– water dogs, scoop yard
– eat breakfast
– be hooking up first team
while first team is out, walk each of the nine pups (I ended up taking two at a time and figured I walked/ran/dragged 2.5 miles per day!)
Help get second team out and then run my team
Help get third team out, and then the rest of the day was mine until third team came in/feeding time at