The last time we ran a dog team at Priest Lake was in 2016. The year before life came crashing down around me and life itself became incredibly uncertain. This year it was with great pride we took to the trail with our dogs for the 6 dog sprint. While we weren’t out there to break any land speed records we were there having a great time running our team and enjoying the company of some fantastic mushers we are so privileged to share the trails with.
Like so many others its been a challenging year keeping dogs on the trails for us. With the inconsistent weather, heavy snows ruined by heavy rains and quickly disappearing trails…I had worried that we may not have had the training to run even the 6 dog 6 mile race. Thankfully it appeared the dogs had the training and the incentive to run a consistent pair of days! Our times were among some of our better times this season showing great improvement over the early fall runs of last year. There were some down right beautiful moments on the trail, and I couldn’t help but to just be proud of us getting back on the trail despite some of the bumps in the path we’ve had to overcome. While the team looks a lot different than the last time I ran, Keegan being the only dog on our team with any sled racing experience, it was nice to see the dogs that have been so much of my heart over the years doing something they were bred to do and doing it well.
The race also provided another proud moment for us as breeders. Our first Bred-By puppy Phoenix put on her harness and ran in her first race behind her parents Keegan and Maddie. She shows a lot of great potential and had some wonderful opportunities to get some much needed positive socialization amongst other dogs and people. Overall I was very happy to see her blooming and growing in confidence with each day and each passing mile on the trail. She maintained a good attitude and tight tug line the entire time, there were even a couple of moments where she looked like she was going to out run my main leaders - maybe she’ll be the next generation on the front of the team, she certainly has the genetic aptitude for the role!
Not to be outdone, I want to take a moment to highlight another special member of the main team this year. Sakari is our only rescue dog to run on our main team. Over the summer last year Sakari and a companion (who was sadly never recovered) were posted as a pair of local troublemakers in our area. They were harassing local livestock and killing wild turkeys. Their days were numbered as a number of our neighbors were calling for the pair to be shot. A local contacted me alerting me to having contained the white female but not having seen her companion since earlier that morning. I felt that we needed to help this troubled girl before she met the likely same fate as her friend. While we searched for her owner, no one ever came forward to claim her. She was shy, not well socialized, and lacked a lot of manners, and she was incredibly thin. After vetting and some weight management and conditioning we decided to see if she could be rehabilitated through harness work. Seeing the complete transformation in this girl in just a few short months has been such a wonderful source of pride. From shying away from contact to jumping into my arms and enthusiastically into harness to run with the team….just pure joy.
On the second day just a few yards down the runway I could see Gypsy’s gait was indicating she was not feeling well. She had dropped back a couple of times the day before but always threw herself back into her harness. This time there was something different. I slowed the team and got them onto the main trail and past where the other 6 dog teams would be coming back onto the main trail to stop and put her in the bag for the rest of the trip. She was not happy about having to ride in the bag at first but eventually did settle. We did crash once when she shifted her weight in the bag as we hit a hard corner on the back loop- thankfully it was a soft landing and we were able to recover quickly. Our times were relatively unchanged so that was positive. We had the race vet check her out once we got back. She got prescribed rest and relaxation for most likely a strain in her rear. She should have a full and speedy recovery- another positive bit of news.
Overall I don’t know if we could have had a better weekend with our dogs. They came in each day with tight lines and big smiles. This race was exactly what we needed to see this is where we are supposed to be- We are already making plans for future training, racing, and what comes next for us in dogs. Stay tuned! We’re excited to share our upcoming adventures
Growing up in Montana my love of the Siberian Husky started at a young age. It has been quite a journey so far. There has been much to learn and still a lot more yet to learn! I truly believe that we are never too old, too experienced, or too full of ourselves to learn something new. I also believe that knowledge is useless unless we are willing to share it with others.