Though one of the hottest weekends of the summer, one of our last shows of the summer was a great one for us all! Madison really blossomed and showed well. She won her class in 6-9 Puppy Sweepstakes and received a lot of really nice comments from numerous people ringside. Right now the little girl is a whole lot of leg and awkwardness, but she's really developing nicely! Excited to see what next show season will bring for her!
The highlight of the weekend was Miss Gypsy being awarded Best Opposite Sex In Puppy Sweeps under judge Louise Cooke of Shaytaan Siberians. It was such a nice affirmation for us, as advocates of functional Siberians, that Gypsy shows a lot of potential! Though the win itself comes without any points awarded, it was more than enough for us for the weekend! Later that evening we attended a fantastic seminar by Rob Cooke, who was gracious enough to give us his time to discuss structure, diet, training, and of course Yukon Quest.
The end of August has been showing some signs of fall's arrival. Optimistically we'll have dogs on the trails soon! We're very excited to get to training and hopefully be headed toward a stronger Mid-Distance to Distance team this season!
I can't tell you how many times I have heard the phrase, "Function doesn't matter my dog is just a pet". I know I've been in those exact same shoes, and when we purchased our first Siberian there would have been no way I could have known I would have ended up where I am in the dog world today. Now, looking back, I wish I would have known half of what I do today when we were ready to buy. I'm not talking about the basic Siberian 'know how' when it comes to energy levels, containment, etc...but how the structural soundness of my dog would affect his daily life.
Now, I do not regret for a moment bringing that first Siberian into our lives. Never for a moment will I regret or forget that day. Now knowing just how much his breeder had failed him in their indiscriminate breeding that created a Siberian's heart and working drive in a body that fails him infuriates me. The excitement in his eyes when the harnesses come out, and the pain in my heart to have to tell him 'not this time buddy' as we take the team out for a run. His body, however much his heart desires, fails painfully just a couple miles down the trail. He's the dog that has so much heart he tries to push himself further than his body can bare.
As a responsible pet parent it is our job to know their limitations and not push them past those limitations. Whether it's playing in the yard, chasing squirrels and rabbits in the garden, or those long walks or jogs you enjoy with your companion. After all we want to see years of enjoyment with our pets. Sound structure is important be it 'just a pet', a show dog, or a working sled dog. After all part of a healthy life, is an active life. So what do you do if your pal has a structural issue that limits them? Simple- you love them, you spoil them rotten, you participate in life with them...keeping in mind their limitations and play within those boundaries set by his body.
Let us start with the overall general appearance of the breed. Since, in the case of our breed, the Siberian Husky is the product in large of natural selection and function for which this breed was designed. The littlest details (like the shape of the eye, the set of the ears, the design of the foot, etc) made this breed successful in their extremes, but also shape how we recognize this breed apart from any other. The Siberian Husky is an athlete, light on their feet, agile, and graceful...even if it's just used to jump from floor to the couch or bed. Function has shaped our breed type. The Silhouette of the Siberian Husky is striking and easily recognizable.
I think a good place to start any discussion on structure is with balance. Balance is the fundamental foundation of the total dog. Without balance you have a lack of efficiency, without efficiency you will have a dog that tires easier even in the most basic tasks. Be it on a hike in the woods, chasing their pals at the dog park, or performing in harness. A dog who lacks balance will tire faster than a dog who is balanced. A dog who's rear angulation is greater than its front angulation will have a wide movement in the rear and poor tracking gait. Swinging the rear wide is wasted movement, wasted movement is wasted energy. Eventually we would likely see arthritis develop in the hips and a general breaking down in the rear over time. In turn, if you have a dog who's front is better angulated than it's rear you have a dog who's not putting efficient energy to the ground to propel them forward. Basically any offset of balance results in a less efficient use of energy.
Proportions of the Siberian Husky also play a large part in how we recognize the breed and how the individual dog may perform in harness. We wouldn't expect our Siberians to look like a corgi, nor be square. They should be slightly longer than they are tall, the key word there is slightly. When talking with working breeders around 15% is the offset height x length they were discussing. This is not a hard set number, keep in mind it is an opinion only but a potential decent starting point of consideration. The silhouette of the Siberian is a pleasing form- A Siberian who's body is too long will have a very 'flashy' movement, almost appearing to 'fly' while in a fast gait...however these dogs often develop weak top lines. A weak top line in later years will be seen in a sway back, which often is accompanied with arthritis of the spine. A Siberian who's body is too square will compensate by crabbing or sidewinding as they gait. Again we see an inefficient gait, which leads to lacking endurance- As a pet parent we may see this shortening our long hikes or runs with our companion.
With the start of June we welcomed a new member to the family. NorthWapiti's Molotov, or Molly for short, finally made it down from Canada! We had been chatting with Karen for over a month about bringing her in, but with the Fort McMurray fire just north of the NorthWapiti homestead complicated travel plans for her. But oh worth the wait she was! She came in and settled right in with the rest of the pack like she's always been here. It truly is a blessing that Siberians are so easily welcoming to new members of the pack! It will be agony waiting for temperatures to fall enough to see her in harness!! I have such optimism for out team next season I can hardly wait!
Our trip to Blackfoot was good...though maybe not as fruitful as we had hoped when we went. The goal was to finish Keegan's GCH. He was awarded Select Dog on the first day in a lovely grouping of competitive dogs. Edging him 3 points closer to finishing his GCH. The rest of the weekend was less eventful, though he showed very well! At the end of the weekend he hitched a ride west to meet up with good friends and handling team Annie Oster and Soni Jager for the Canby Specialty and Clackamas Kennel Club All Breed Cluster.
The girls showed well, though no placements. At this point showing for the puppy girls is more about fun than it is about points! Maddie is catching on quickly to this whole show dog game and Gypsy got a chance to play with our friend Elise who helped keep our crazy schedule on track. As well as helping us get everyone shown. It was a great experience for all involved!
News from the LCSHC Specialty was beyond our wildest expectations, we are so pleased to be able to announce BISS GCH/INT CH Silver Falls Summer Lookout At Keahi "Keegan" handled by Annie Oster. We would like to send our sincere gratitude to Judge Dr Wanda V Spediacci for selecting our boy, to breeder Michael S Patton of Silver Falls Siberians for entrusting this magnificent boy to us, to Annie Oster who handled Keegan beautifully in my absence, and to Martin Glover for stepping up to hold the Club Trophy Placard for the photo! We are still reeling!
May is a rather slow month around here. Temperatures have continued to climb which leaves the dogs lounging around the yard more than anything else these days. Digging cooling dens or just relaxing under the shade tarps, makes for some happy dogs!
Winter coats have been flying which has made for some very happy nesting birds taking up residence in the barn...and some cramping hands for me! Soon it will be time for spring time baths and blow outs!
Maddie was entered in her first dog show at the end of May! Day one was SOOOPER scary, the inside arena was noisy and the judge was a scary scary MAN so she hit the deck and refused to stand. Thankfully he was very patient and didn't excuse her. It was a rough start for her. Day 2 was much better. Outdoors wasn't nearly as scary and the judge was very nice and gentile with her. She even won her class! Later that night she got some more practice indoors at a very relaxed puppy B match. She won some toys and had a fun time playing with her sister!
Of course the highlight of the month had to be Keegan coming back into the show ring and settling into his role there. Being awarded Select Dog on Day One of the show was a nice start, but wrapping up the weekend with a Best Of Breed/Best Owner Handled 5 point Major was just a sweet bit of icing on the cake. It was quite a thrill given the nice entry presented there that weekend!
April saw the last of our team's presence on the trails. It never feels like there is enough time to be had on the trails, but the season ended on a very positive note. We ran in the NWSDA Spring Fling 8 Dog Mid-Distance, totaling 9 miles per day. It was unseasonably warm, we took our time, and rested often. We were happy enough to finish second of two teams on such a fun and challenging trail system!
Once back home, temperatures continued to rise. It was time to clean the gear and get it hung for next season. Already counting the days!
We decided to break with our usual schedule and meet Maddie's breeder in Pendleton for an early season show. It was a small show, only a few Siberians entered. Though, not much love for Keegan and Gypsy. Keegan only able to take home Best Opposite Sex both days with no points available. Never the less, it was a good opportunity for Maddie to reunite with her family and get some good socialization in for when it's her time in the ring!
Our first Siberian, Dakota, turned 12 years young at the end of April. Its hard to believe that just 12 years ago we started down this crazy, amazing, road with our first companion.
Dakota is now retired from Weight Pull, having earned his Working Dog title last fall. As well as completing two of the 4 qualifiers toward his Working Dog Excellent. Though just a pet with a less than desirable pedigree, that far too many have judged him on, he became our introduction to this wonderful breed and the first Siberian in our kennel to earn a Performance Title of any form. To say we are proud of our pup from the wrong side of the tracks, would be a gross understatement.
March took us to Utah in search of the last bit of snow to run on. What a great deal of fun the K9 Challenge was! We could not be more pleased with the conditions of the trail, the company of our friends, and how the team performed was more than we could have hoped for. Keegan and Google lead the team both days with ease and experience beyond their time up front. Its very exciting to watch these two youngsters blooming into such a fantastic pair of sled dogs!
This is always a bittersweet time of year for us. As April closes in and the temperatures begin to rise our time on the trails is borrowed at best. It's always hard to concede to saying goodbye to the trails for another season. I find myself already making plans for next year, next season, a new training schedule, new dogs to harness, and new goals to tackle. For now we enjoy the trails while we can. With any luck, and weather providing, we will have one more opportunity to run with friends later in April.
Gypsy has been maturing ever so nicely. The excitement of her joining the team is palpable at this point! She's already showing quite an athletic form around the yard, and a proficiency for digging, it will be nice change to get her into the ring this summer and see how she stacks up to the competition! I suppose that means I too will have to alter my training routine! Time to dust off the suits and remember what running around a show ring vs running behind a sled or a cart is all about!
Gypsy isn't the only exciting up and comer around here anymore. As Madison grows she's showing a lot of lovely potential. A natural beauty that moves with ease and grace. It's always a joy to start a puppy and have all the excitement of the possibilities to come! There are oh so many possibilities coming our way!
February flew by and left us with some awesome memories to cherish! With the addition of Google we were able to put together an 8 dog team for the first time in our mushing journey. What an absolute thrilling experience that has been!
Mason and Keegan ran lead on day 1 for a great consistent run. Google and Keegan took on lead for day 2 of Priest Lake increasing our times greatly on the trail. To say we were pleased with how these two young up and comers handled the task would be an understatement!
After Priest Lake our temperatures rose, the rain fell, and our snow disappeared in the lower elevations. Time to pull the cart back out to keep the training going. Though wheels are not the same as running the sled it's still time on the trails behind some of the most amazing dogs I've had the pleasure to run! We had intended to run the Dogtown Winter Challenge in Cle Elum, but due to a scheduling mishap we were unable to attend. Training continues on regardless though, we still have a few more runs planned in March and April, weather permitting.
Of course the biggest news of February would probably be our latest arrival, yes yet another one, Zuska's Footprints In The Black At Keahi *Madison*. Madison comes to us from Susan Parraga's Zuska Siberians. She will be joining us as a future show prospect as well as aspiring sled dog. We have a lot to look forward to with this little one. As well as the rest of the kennel, as we see our running season slowly slipping away we'll have to start changing gears and getting ready to get back into the show ring.
What an exciting start to 2016 here at Keahi! Since the completion of our first Mid-Distance race in West Yellowstone in December we've been keeping on the trails training for the next race.
Our next adventure took us to Chemult Oregon, where after a 2 year hiatus the Chemult Sled Dog Races were up and running again thanks to a dumping of snow! Our runs were very consistent between the two days. Heavy wet snow fell on us both days, though the weather man called for rain (we happily tolerated the snow!) Deep, heavy, punchy snow covered our trails, and overall we had a great time and really could not be more pleased with how the dogs did! Keegan was back in lead with Mason and the whole team worked seamlessly together.
Once back from Chemult it was time to literally ring out all the equipment. That heavy wet snow soaked us all! Thank goodness for extra straw on the truck to keep the dogs dry and comfortable!
It was back to the trails after a few days of rest and relaxation for us all...But with Priest Lake just around the corner, we didn't want to take too much time off!
The biggest news of the month is the arrival of our latest addition to the team and to the family! We like to welcome, from NorthWapiti Siberians, NorthWapiti's Who Knew "Google"! We are absolutely thrilled to have this amazing opportunity to add this lovely girl from Karen Ramstead!
Google is a young female with a start in leader training, Karen says she's still got some of that young easily distracted. We look forward to continuing honing that natural talent with her as she helps our team continue to grow. Karen describes her as fast and driven with a bit of goofy that she gets from both of her parents. We so look forward to getting to know this girl at home and in harness. Look for her in our team at upcoming events!
Another year has come to pass, and we take the time to look back at all we have to be incredibly grateful for. 2015 was a fantastic year for us here at Keahi, in a number of different ways.
Keegan joined the team at the tail end of the 2014/15 season. Running in both the Flathead Classic 4 Dog and Camp K Spring Fling 6 Dog, performing exceedingly well and started becoming a well rounded working dog. He continues to develop with the team, helping us achieve our first mid-distance run in West Yellowstone at the start of the 2015/16 season.
The show season was fantastic for us too! Keegan came back to the show ring as a young Special in the midst of some very tough competition. Though not every show had a lot to report back on, we were able to pick up 14 points toward his GCH as well as all 3 Majors. He was awarded our first ever Best Of Breed win and made the first cut among a large group of very nice males at our National Specialty.
In addition to all that Keegan and I enjoyed in the show ring this year, we also added our next generation of working/show dog in a half-sister. Gypsy has only shown a couple of times this past year, but was awarded a Puppy Group 2 and also made the cut in her very large puppy sweepstakes class at the National Specialty. We very much look forward to her joining the team next fall, she's already showing us the athlete she is destined to become!
We've upgraded some equipment around here as well. Though we LOVE our Sled Dog Systems sprint sled, our future running goals were pointing us to getting a sled that would help carry us into those goals. Picking this sled up and running it for the first time in West Yellowstone we can already see how this sled is going to help us in reaching theses goals!
On the dog box front, we can finally call our dog box completed! Adding security bars, LED lighting, roof ladder, and sled rack. We're very pleased with how the project has finally come to a close! We've been very happy with how functional this box has turned out and are looking forward to future projects!
So as we charge into 2016 we are looking forward to more fun times with our awesome dogs and great friends! See you on the trails!
With the show season at an end for us it was time to hit the trails and start working on building our team for the 2015/16 season.
Our first race came up quick after the National Specialty. We participated in the Spokane Dirt Rondy 6-Dog Sprint class, taking a third place finish over all and a second place in Purebred. Overall very pleased with the consistency exhibited by the team over the two day race period!
After the race it was time to get back into a training schedule as our next race comes up quickly. The West Yellowstone Rodeo Run, with hopes of running the 12 mile 6-dog class we have some work to put in!
Throughout this time we've been seeing some less than favorable behaviors from young Keegan. He's, lets just say, very enthusiastic about his role as a working dog. Unfortunately he channeled this energy in the form of line chewing, forcing us to upgrade our gangline to a cabled line....as well as sometimes gnawing on our handler (aka the husband) which was not appreciated. Turning to experience for advise it was suggested he may be trying to tell us something. That something turned out to be, I AM A LEAD DOG! Since putting Keegan in lead, a role he's taken on with a great sense of maturity and proficiency, his behaviors have been turning more positively toward forward facing energy and less wasted energy.
We've had on our first taste of snow this season. Though nowhere near enough to pull down the sleds. It has rejuvenated training efforts. It certainly has given us a pretty backdrop in which to train and added some unique challenges to the trail. Covering icy patches, adding resistance to the already tough trails. The snow has since faded into rain and mud once again. It keeps it interesting.
With clean bills of health, updated vaccinations, and some very happy working dogs, we look forward to seeing our friends on the trails this winter! Its still early, and lots of training opportunities await us on the trails! We'll see you out there!