Monday, August 30, 2010

Rest in Peace my Dearest Flash

Flash taught me more about dog mushing then any other being on the planet. His short life was filled with important milestones. We purchased him in Alaska from a very large touring kennel. Lee and I drove with my best friend Emily to Alaska so she could have her car for a summer internship. We bought yearling Flash while we were up there and flew back to New England with him. Flash was the 3rd dog we got and I felt like I had a real team after getting him. Flash loved to run, and was very serious about his passion. He was stand offish with us until I had a harness in my hand then he would leap and jump at me almost saying " Get that thing on me lady so we can RUN!". He was always ready for a challenge, eager to learn and please. I ran him in wheel at first, he was just so nuts, but I quickly realized his potential. As soon as he was in lead he seemed to know everything. He learned commands quickly and was willing to make mistakes and learn with me.

In our first race I ran 4 dogs in the 12 mile 4 -6 dog Stratford Nighthawk race in 2007. We came in 6th out of 23 competitors! I was totally stunned by his drive. Over the years Flash became my main man. I could always depend on him to do his job and do it really well. We learned about training, breaking trail, speed, working around other teams, camping, racing and most of all trust. I trusted Flash with the whole team and myself on the back of the sled. If I gave a command he wasn't sure about he would look back at me, and he was usually right! I swear he could read trail markers ( probably just smelling the other teams but he was smarter then me!). His quivering bark during hook up reminded me of the woman at the end of "Goonies" with the bag of gems rambling on. I loved Flash and worked with him off the trail too. When I broke my ankle in February of 2007 I would spend hours sitting in his "spin zone" trying to touch him until finally he would come close and I would pet him. I taught him how to walk on a leash and go hiking off leash. I never was able to teach him how to sit and I rarely saw him sit even in the kennel. He loved to get the other dogs to chase during play time. He was in love with all the girls, who of course didn't want anything to do with him! When he did relax he loved to snuggle up with the other dogs on the couch and dog beds; where ever Jersey was he was snuggled right next to her.

In 2008 Flash developed a persistent cough that sometimes made him vomit. We tried everything to clear his lungs and we battled with different medications/treatments and then last summer he was diagnosed with Canine Chronic Bronchitis. Last winter the cough got so bad he was having serious trouble running. He wasn't recovering well from even a short run and his skin was becoming very fragile. He had to sit out the racing season and ran/lead recreational with friends. This was very crushing for him when we would leave him at the truck for long runs. He was diagnosed with Cushings Disease this spring (which he developed from the medication he was on to ease his cough) and went down hill from there. I won't get into detail but it was probably the hardest decision I have ever made in my life. Flash didn't deserve to be as uncomfortable as he had gotten. He was given a chance that many tour dogs never get, he slept in a house, he was the leader of his team, he was pampered when he was sick and he was loved deeply by his owners. It has been 11 days since the little man went to heaven but his short life here has been branded in my heart and it has been hard for me to think about. I don't know if I will ever fully recover from his loss. What a good doggie.

Update: We got a card from the vet's office in the mail. Inside was filled with notes from all the vets and vet techs there. I cried for hours especially after reading: "When dogs go to heaven God doesn't give them wings because he knows they love to run."

Monday, August 16, 2010


Ta Dog! Racing Huskies welcomes siblings Simba, cream male and Suzie, dark female, to the pack. Thank you Stacy for the pictures!

Lee and I have been having a lot of discussions about the kennel this summer. Between Flash's declining health and Schnee currently living with my friend Susan in CT leaves us down two dogs (who didn't run last year either). Dubs ( super star wheel dog) will be 9 this September and will probably want to retire in a year or two. With all the changes in the team we wanted to look towards our future. We turned to Linendoll's Happy Husky Kennel and Shawn Linendoll who had a repeat litter from last year out of his female Aspen and stud Mudslinger. Both dogs on their own are amazing with a great heritage from Swingley lines. We are very excited about these pups, they have great personalities and fit in quickly with most of the adults. They have been quite the show and we have converted the upstairs to a wrestling ring for the puppies to rumpus.
I know they are super cute and fun now but I am so excited for them to get big and I can start training them! Simba is a little chow hound and very out going, he likes to play with Ellie the most but will go up to any other adults and play bow. Suzie is slightly more reserved, she likes to sit, asses what is going on and then picks the best way to pounce! They are learning how to sleep in a crate over night, walk on a leash and ride in the truck right now. Today is the first day they will be separated ( only by fence panel) from each other but I picked babysitters that will console them. Simba is having a harder time being house trained and thanks to him we went through 4 rolls of paper towels in the first week. Suzie is catching on much quicker! I am hoping to take them to a dog park soon but they need to get a little bigger first. I will try to post some new pictures of all the dogs soon, just need to find my other camera. Carmine wanted to see what the insides of my last one looked like!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Proud of our experiences

I have been super busy this spring and summer and finally found some time to sit and write. The past racing season was amazing. I now feel like I am really chasing the dream of being a true musher. I had so much fun training and being with the dogs this past winter. I learned some important things about myself, how to concur my fear of trouble on the trail was a big lesson. I handled those times a lot better than I thought. I kept it together for the team and then let myself think about it after the fact and freak out! I learned that racing is more important than I had originally thought. I pushed myself harder than ever before, in the wilderness race I was down 2 dogs than everyone else, I probably ran 10-15 miles myself and was able to come in 7th! then at the can-am despite one of my worst cold/viruses ever I ran up every hill and really read the dogs, how they were feeling in the heat ( 40-50 degree weather). We came in 12th out of 31 in the biggest field we have ever been in. I was so proud of my dogs this season. I learned that you cannot rely on one dog to pull you through everything, you have to train all the dogs. I learned to pack a lunch that won't freeze in the sled bag. I learned that frozen venison is the dog's favorite after run snack but shouldn't be given on the trail. All these things that as a novice trainer you have to experiment, you learn so much from even your youngest dogs. I am rambling but I am excited still about the sport and am looking towards the future

Other News: Flash's condition has worsened and probably will never run again. We have been making him comfortable all summer but he has cushingoid symptoms and wheezing/coughing persists.

Schnee is having a blast at Aunt Susan Camp all summer and might be staying into the fall/winter! We miss her but know that she is having so much fun being the center of attention.

We are going to be picking up two 8 week old puppies from Shawn Linendoll's Happy Husky Kennel this coming weekend and a puppy pen was set up today! Their names are Simba and Susie. They are Swingley line dogs and their parents are Aspen (dam) and Mudslinger (sire).

All other doggies have been busy digging holes and lounging in the shade this summer, the few mornings that it has been cool they have had some major play sessions.