Sunday, December 18, 2011

RIP DUBS

Last weekend Lee and I made the tough decision to put our beloved dog, Dubs, down. Dubs had a tumor for 4 years that did not interfere with daily life and caused very little discomfort until a few months ago. He was a fantastic character and beloved member of our family. Dubs was the start of our adventure. Lee and I got him after I came home from my last summer in Alaska. I was determined to start my own team of alaskans. The only problem was that I only new Siberian Husky owners.



So one day when reading the Burlington Free Press I saw a Free AD for GSP/Husky Mixes from a sled dog home. I called the number but the pair had already been picked up. A few weeks later I saw an ad of the same dogs on Sled Dog Central. A super nice guy had gotten the two but once home saw that it was not going to work out. Dub's brother was not so friendly and attacked Dubs nearly killing him. His brother was put down and Dubs was not fitting in with the heavy coated dog in his small group. We picked Dubs who at the time was being called Gabe. His original name was Ghost. We brought him to our little home ( which was really a shack in the middle of no where) to meet our dog Deklyn. So we were now a group of 4. Two people, two dogs living in a one room shack 1/4 of a mile off the grid.



Dubs was not used to people or anything related to how they lived. He knew how to pull and be tethered, and could not be off leash.



The first time we let him in the house is something neither of us will ever forget. We let him off his tether and walked him up the porch he followed Deklyn in at full speed and hit the center in the room and froze. He stood legs all out at angles, still as come be and then slower than a sloath he turned looking around all wide eyed. He had clearly had never been inside a human dwelling with a stove and furniture. It took a few minutes of him slowly slowly walking around to start to relax and then he layed down in the middle of floor in front of the stove like a sphinx un-moving. It did not take long for him to settle in to Human living.



He was a big fan of recliners and dog beds. The last few years he has been a constant companion on hikes and in the kitchen. Dubs was a great pet as well as a fantastic sled dog. He never lacked enthusiasm on the team and in a pinch could lead us through some tough spots. His last race was the Stratford Nighthawk race last year where we came in second!



I could go one with a novel about our Dubsy Bear but will leave you with the biggest lesson he taught us. No Matter what wrongs you there is always a Brighter side around the corner. Even though he was in extreme discomfort at the end, he was always happy to see us, to eat, to cuddle and interact with the other dogs. We will be forever touched by our time spent with Dubs.



R.I.P Dubs
9-22-01 - 12-10-11


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bikejor Clinic was a great success!

Lots of people came and we had lots of happy tired dogs! Thank you For everyone who came out, helped out and had fun!

Two tired pups!


Yes that is a Boxer mix in Lead and a Chocolate Lab in Point!
Scooter FUN!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bikejor Clinic Tomorrow!

Come join us tomorrow in Stowe at Cottonbrook for a Bikejor clinic. No matter what level or interest. There will be several mushers there with dogs, bikes, scooters and equipment to help those who want to get started or just experience the joy of teaching dogs a job! The clinic starts at 9:30am.



Directions From Waterbury - Take Rt 100 North to Stowe. Turn left onto Moscow Road. Go to end and then straight onto dirt road after bridge.

From Morrisville Take Rt 100 South through majority of Stowe. Turn Right onto Moscow Road. Go to end and then straight onto dirt road after bridge.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fall Again!

First I would like to apologize for not posting over the summer. Lee and I were very busy. We got married in the end of May and went on a nice Honeymoon in California in June. Yay US! I am now Mrs. Strobridge! The dogs relaxed and we cleaned out some of the old dog houses from the yard to give them some more room. Jersey has gone to live with my best friend Emily Blum in Michigan . She is super happy being there with her boyfriend, Diesel. She is learning to be a good house dog and has only ruined 2 or 3 pairs of shoes...





Henry and Suzie have grown up and are now a year old. We started training about a month ago with some small runs with the bike. Then one day I was nearly killed and had the life scared out of me when I hooked up Suzie and Dubs ( who just turned 10!). They were WAY to powerful and leaving the driveway we left a substantial skid mark down the length of the driveway. We started running the ATV after that adventure. We are up to 5.5 mile runs with only one real water break. The dogs are getting really strong and this week the weather was cool enough for us to have early afternoon runs. One of our many totally awesome wedding presents was a new GoPro Helmet Camera which is far superior to our older Tachyon XC. I am still working out some of the features. Here is a great shot I got today on our water break.



The dogs performance this year has been great right from the get go. We have been switching the dogs around a lot in the team and they are all doing great. Munchkin has been a little slow getting used to the build up to 5.5 miles but she usually hates fall training! I have also not been pushing Dubs much up the long hill since he has had some medical issues this summer. AND he is an old fart. The puppies Henry and Suzie are both going to be Super Stars! Henry is a lot calmer than Suzie but they both have great drive and are very well behaved on the line. Suzie needs a little bit of work on her Loose dog on-bys but that is a tough one to train. Carmine has had only one seizure since February and is continuing to alternate as a leader. It has been really nice having a solid bonded team so far. Personally my goal this season is to have as much fun as possible, not get stressed out and let the dogs do what they naturally love. If they are having a bad day I am going to be a little more sensitive. As displayed below.





Happy FALL! P.S. Vermont is Open after Tropical Storm Irene! Come up and enjoy the Foliage!


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Fun Runs and Pictures

At the end of the season I always try to sneak in some fun runs. The dogs and I went to a lot of different places and they seemed to really enjoy themselves on the Lincoln/Breadloaf Trail. Here are a few pictures from our last two runs there. Also after the Can-Am a local butcher gave us a WHOLE cow carcass that the dogs are still enjoying chewing on almost 2 months later....

Henry running away with a piece of a leg!

Munchkin and Carmine sharing a portion of ribs, so cute like Lady and the Tramp.


Random Blizzard on our second to last day of running!

Eventually all the dogs made a snowangel.

Same trail as above but on a clear day before sunset. The shadows were very long.

Look a picture with all of us together!

The wooded portion of this trail is hard to get photos of, its very windy but I managed to get the camera out on the straight section


Henry at about 9 months on the left, and 3 year old Elli on the right. I am hoping Henry's growth slows a little bit, he is already a MONSTER!

End of Winter 2011

So, with a wedding to plan I went straight from Running dogs to planning a wedding. Most that check list is complete so it gave me a chance to write about the end of our season.

After the Wilderness Race we had a we had a few really good training runs and a long off leash snowshoe before the Sandwich Notch 20 mile race. The weather had warmed up and there was really fast conditions, I even wore a helmet! Jersey broke her toe so she was out for the rest of the season, so I ran 5 dogs. Ellie and Eli in lead, Carmine by himself and then Munchkin and Dubs in wheel. The dogs loved the trail and they all remembered it from last year. The tight wooden turns with lots of ups and downs were fueling the team to go faster. They were solid even when we hit the windy open fields ( my sled was being blown sideways). I was feeling awesome, we kept passing teams and they acting like real professionals, even passing a whole pile of dog kibble dumped on the trail! It wasn't until the last 5 miles when this small soft spoken woman came FLYING, literary FLYING past us like we were not moving. At which point I yelled back to Corina Alexander and said " Who was that!?" I was totally impressed. We kept going and caught up with Sydney Plante who is young but couragous. We stayed with her through the difficult road/bridge crossing and then finished really strong. I was so proud of the dogs they were on their A game all day. We came in second!


Dubs came up really lame after the run, even with extra rub downs. So for the Can-am I borrowed Scofflaw Dawgs Ollie and Squint again. We had some nice long runs before hand and the 6 dogs were working well together. We stayed with Julia Bayly in her cute cabin up behind her house. The dogs liked staying there because I could let them off to run around for a bit after the long drive. The weather was a wet snow making me nervous, but we started in the middle of the pack and as we left the spectator packed main street start and entered the wide snowmobile trail we started to pass other teams.

Giving the dogs good luck kisses at the start

I look calm on the outside, I waved at all the spectators and thanked them for coming out in such nasty weather
Eli and Ellie in Lead, Eli paces making his gate look very uncomfortable.

On the snowmobile trail

We passed 3 teams on that 7 mile stretch and the dogs made a perfect Haw turn onto the wooded Can-Am Trail. The dogs were great, feeding off the now super fun trail! The thing about the Can-Am trail is that most of it is just for dogs, they are old logging roads and trails with all these small pines and firs growing up along them. This makes it hard to see around the corners and even with a 6 dog team I was loosing sight of the leaders. We caught up with Holly Dionne, a rookie teamed with her sister Amy a future champion. I stayed with her for a long time and we passed a bunch of other teams. I lost her after a wide logging yard section and we were on our own in the woods for a while. It was really quiet and sometimes unnerving until the odor of the wood fire of the halfway station waffed in the air and the dogs picked it up. After cruising by the old log cabin we continued on and caught up with Caroline Blair Smith. The two of us fed off each other for the rest of the race. Amy Dionne passed us in the rolling potato fields like a frieght train and it was the first time that I had ever seen someone peddling behind a team going down hill. I tried to stay with her but her dogs are just faster, despite Eli trying his hardest. The trail was very wet and punchy in the big fields and we started to slow dog. Eli was getting really hot so I stopped pushing him hard. Squint and Ollie were still charging to go even towards the end and a few times they tried to pass Eli and Ellie. Those two were total super stars. Squint is so young just about 2 now and has more drive than any dog I have ever met. Ollie is extremely constant and doesn't want to stop. I don't think I had to say a thing the whole day to the wheel dogs Munchkin and Carmine the whole time either! Eli is a big dog and that is his strength and weakness. He was a lot faster this year compared to last but still has to work on being faster. He is the best competitor out there though and loves to run and coupled with Ellie they make a really nice leading pair. I was very happy with the dogs at the end and was totally shocked to hear that we had come in 6th! Last year we came in 12th!

I am very excited for the future of our team in racing. Every year we get a little faster, a little smarter and more experienced. Next year will be Dubs's last if we can heal his wrists and next year will be Henry and Suzie first race season. Till then we will just be having fun!

Life with 9 Dogs.

Life with the dogs is always a lot of fun, when you put things they do into preceptive. You have to be patient and figure them out when they are doing something totally irritating and annoying. When Lee and I moved into our house we barely ever let the dogs into the house. We went the whole winter enjoying their nightly howls after dinner and morning wake up.


Until we were told by a neighbor that we were the "Neighbors from Hell" and that if we didn't do something about all that howling they were going to sue us. So, the dogs moved into the house! I had never intended to have 9 house dogs but I do and it has worked out.

The dogs come in from their kennel each night to the walk out basement, they eat dinner inside, have their after dinner howl and then have playtime either supervised outside or through out the whole house.... They sleep in crates and on the weekends have to stay in past 9am. With all the restrictions on noise it makes life interesting. The dogs periodically wear bark collars ( when I can afford the batteries) and I cannot go out after work, because the dogs have to be inside at a decent hour, since I don't get out of work until 6 and it is an hour away, I have to go straight home. But as Lee says if you don't adapt and over come you will be no where in life.

Dogs helping me with leftovers

But now the dogs are spoiled, they have learned that if they cry in their crates or outside I will come running immediately to see why they are making noise. Causes a bit of stress for me! The dogs love being inside the house and days that I am home and force them out so I can clean they often just sit by the basement door waiting to be let back in. I have to remember that they are social creatures and they just want to be with me, their Owner.




They often chew or dig their way out to come sit by the basement door.
This particular incident allowed 5 dogs to break free!

With all the extra work involved in having so many house dogs the benefits have out weighed them. I have a strong bond with each dog, I can have everyone off leash and can recall them with out treats, they are experts at watching my body language and can pick up any change of my mood.




The last has helped us the most, especially on the trail. When I am freaking out they calm down, when I get excited and want them to go faster they pick it up. When something is serious and dangerous they look to me for extra guidance. They are fun to have around and are often more entertaining than the latest "Must see TV."

Munchkin was very small in size then but had the makings of a big heart!

The also have helped Lee and I learn a lot of valuable life lessons, humility, patience , understanding. Research shows that dogs are really good at detecting human emotion and I have seen it first hand, it is true that they are Mans Best Friend no matter how loud they are.



Dubs on Mount Mansfield




Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A few photos related to the previous post

This is leaving the Start at Stratford day 1 Picture by J. Burke


Picture take by Corina Alexander at the Wilderness Race. She was the last team we saw out there!


Photo by Barb Shenton, team is Eli, Ellie, Carmine Squint, Jersey, Ollie, Munchkin and Dubs. Ollie and Squint were great Thanks Barb and Andrew!!

Racing Season, well so far....

So we have gone to a few events so far and I have to admit I am still Learning. A few weeks ago we went to the Stratford Nighhawk Race and the dogs loved the cold weather and familiar trail. I made some mistakes though. I knew that Jersey would not go through the tunnel and gets freaked out by bridges but I still left the start with her in Lead the first day. I ended up switching her out in the first mile and put Carmine up in Lead. I under watered Eli so on the way back he was still diving for snow stopping the team. So I stopped again and put Munchkin up in lead. She did great until we past Stacy's team and she saw her best friend Trapper! Then she wouldn't go and kept turning around looking for Stacy's dogs.... So I stopped AGAIN and put Dubs in Lead with Carmine. Dubs was great and we finished strong. But all that Stopping! in a 13 mile race it was just too much. So Day two we started with Carmine and Eli in Lead and that was great, they passed teams and went through all the obstacles beautifully. The only problem was Dubs. It was cold in the morning, well below 0 with the wind chill. Dubs did NOT want to get out of the dog box. On the line he neck-lined for the first 2 miles and was not into running so I had my foot of the drag until he picked up. Unfortunately with all the neck-lining he injured his wrists and is still ( over 2 weeks later) limping. We also did one leader change at the end of the second day, I put Ellie up in Lead as Eli was being goofy.

But with all those set backs the dogs still ran really well, they were fast and kept driving for the finish line. We came in 2nd over all! It was a really fun weekend, the gang was all there, Stacy ran 4 of Barb and Andrew's dogs so they were all there!

The training the weeks following the Nighthawk race went smoothly, sans Dubs, and i did two runs with Scofflaw Dawgs Squint and Ollie. Those two dogs are about as consistent and hardworking as they get! I was super excited to get to run them for the Wilderness Race in Greenville ME. So it was set that I was going to run 7 dogs in the race. Saturday was really really warm in the morning. I didn't even wear my fleece under my windbreaker... I watered like crazy the night before and that morning. We had been to this race last year but the course had changed last year due to lack of snow. No problem with that this year, almost too much snow! We left the start and went out onto Moose Head Lake. There were a billion different snowmobile tracks and the dogs tried to find the most packed down trail. I tried to keep them slow as it is a longer race ( 27ish miles). The lake seemed to last forever until we got into the woods. Carmine and Eli in lead was great they navigated through the trail very well and by all the road crossings filled with people like a dream. The only problem was that we never saw anyone... we went about 8 miles before we caught up with someone. The dogs were getting hot really quick so I let them stop a few times to eat snow. We went a little further and caught up to another team. We stayed with them going back and forth on the hills until we hit the down hills then the dogs TOOK OFF! They were loving the down hills and all 7 were line tight cruising down them. We caught up with another team in a section of trail that was punchy and then the last 10 miles, no body. It was kinda creepy. The dogs really thrive on passing and in this race the fast teams had all gone out well ahead and we only saw the 3 teams. When we hit the lake it was like someone put us on a backwards treadmill. There was a headwind and the dogs bogged down on the long open flat. So I started to sing, and sing goofy made up songs which worked. Then we got to the finish.... that is when the two leaders who had been nearly perfect crumbled. There was a HUGE cheering crowd, snow fencing and the trail narrowed from an entire lake to about 4 feet. Carmine turned the team around at that point....... grrrr. I was out there, 100s of yards from finishing and I had a team that wanted to go back out. So 5-6 minutes later I had my team wrapped around my sled with my wheel dogs going across the finish line first. We did alright for our first 30 of the year coming in 8th out of 17. The trail was wide, with beautiful views, hills that were small and extremely well manned by volunteers.

So I learned that the dogs are still just dogs and have limitations, whether it is physical or mental. I know my dogs better than anyone else and should use my experiences to my advantage. Don't put dogs in situations that they are not ready for ( Carmine and Ellie) or will never be able to cope with ( Jersey). Watch their hydration ( Eli), and body language ( Dubs). Munchkin is NOT a leader ( yet) and it is good to try dogs out before a race ( which turned out AWESOME!!!)

On a side note puppies Henry and Suzie are HUGE, Henry is bigger than Dubs and Suzie is Ellie's size right now. They spent the weekend we went to ME with the Scofflaw Dawgs and had a lot of fun. Was great for Suzie's socializing!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New experiences

We have had very fickle weather causing changes in plans for racing season. We went to the Profile Falls 12.5 mile fun run this past Saturday and did very well placing 3rd for that day. We decided to not go back for Sunday to get some more training miles on the dogs. I also had a hard time with dogs running in lead Saturday; I ended up putting Carmine and wheel dog Dubs in lead. Sunday, Lee ran the team about 20 miles starting from Little River State Park. He had some difficulties. Ellie after some head on passes Saturday that didn't go very well decided she is not going to pass anything. anymore. end of story. So Carmine is out of team and in lead. He has been doing well but does not know any turning commands. Munchkin chewed 4 necklines on the run. First set when hooking up. Lee found a snowmobiler that had gone down an embankment ( really far down!) and stopped to help out when Munchkin chewed away her second set of necklines for the day...

I felt really bad so Lee, and a little guilty. I had a fricken BLAST on Sunday. I took Deklyn our lab border collie mix and our two 7 mo old puppies SKIJORING! In the past I have avoided my cross country skis like the plague, I fall constantly. So i adapted and overcame. I grabbed my down hill skis and went for it. Sure they are heavy and are more work up hills but I figured the puppies would be up for it. AND THEY WERE! They pulled me up every hill and I got some sweet powder turns down all the ungroomed down hills! I had so much fun we went out twice. The second time without Deklyn. He was uber slow and was not into the exercise....so lazy.



video

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Puppy's Running in December

This is a little video of the puppies at just over 6 months old rearing to go! Carmine( Brown) and Ellie (white) in Lead and Henry ( white) and Suzie ( brown) in Wheel. Henry gets a little tangled up here but is starting to get it!


Race Schedule

So it is starting! We only have about 350 training miles on so far, mostly are 10 mile runs with just a few 15- 20 mile runs in there. Weather in late December was all over the place and with the holidays and work schedules getting any kind of training in was a challenge. This weekend we are going to our first race format event. Our season opener was to be Eagle Lake but it was canceled do to lack of snow, they haven't recovered from the New Years rain drenching. The 12.5 mile fun run will be great to get the dogs into the swing of things! Then we are going to be busy!

Jan 15/16 - Eagle Lake 30 - Canceled
Jan 15 - Profile Falls Fun Run in Hill Village, NH
Jan22/23 - Stratford Nighthawk 15/15 in Stratford, NH
Feb 5 - Wilderness 30 in Greenville, ME
Feb 19 - Sandwich Notch 20 or 45 not decided yet. Sandwich, NH
March 5 - Can- Am 30 in Fort Kent, ME


On a side note the puppies are definitely loving running. Last weekend we kept our runs to 8 miles so the pups could join us. They have NO problems running that far even though they are loping the hole way. Henry really likes getting his wrists rubbed down afterwards too (liniment oil as a preventative)! Suzie is a total screamer and throws temper tantrums if we leave her behind. Lee has had it with her ear spliting screams and asked that I "PLEASE JUST TAKE THEM!!!!" They will be ready for sure to be apart of an 8 dog team ready to tackle some longer distances!!!! 60s here we come!