Thursday, June 23, 2005

The curse of the Fish

Fishing. Whaddaya know? The rain stopped for a day and a half, just in time for my days off. Sweet timing. Thank you weather gods. So, Steph and I headed out fishing, in an attempt to break the "curse-of-no-fish" we've long been under. Why are we under this curse you ask? Well, we may have the answer to all our problems here.... a friend of hers told her what he thought our problem was. Apparently we both have some bad auras kicking around us and that's why we're not catching anything. Hmmm... bad freakin' *aura's* for 3+ years now!?!?! Why didn't someone tell us this before!?!? Ok, that's it! Next trip, we're painting ourselves up, doing a naked "Prayer-to-the-Fish-Gods" dance around a giant burning effigy of a Rainbow Trout. Hell, we may even sacrifice a donkey or two. We'll try anything at this point. I pity the poor tourists who witness that event. And.... I hope they don't have their cameras with them.

Ok, so enough whining already. It was a great day regardless of whether we caught anything or not. I really mean that. We didn't get rained on and the sun was out for most of the 6-hour trip!
Packing up. Steph's new sweet canoe.
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"You've got the beer right?..." "Ok, got the tacklebox..." Wait! Did we remember the beer?..." "Got the CD's for the drive over..." "Fishing rods? What fishing rods??!"

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Steph illustrates the art of knot tying. Yeah, ask her how long it took us to UNDO those freakin' knots later on...

Making the most out of the situation. We won't let the absence of some fish drag us down. And let me tell you internet, it's not like there wasn't any fish out there. There was. They were launching themselves out of the water all around us. Taunting us. Showing us that lake wasn't fished out, like we were telling ourselves.

Or... maybe we just need to get more serious about this whole fishing thing?!?!
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Ah, nature at it's finest! This eagle was flying around(to the right in the pic below), ahhh.... very serene.... Until he started attacking some gulls, they attacked him back, it was mayhem in the air I tell you!! They were swooping down really close to us, and we decided to get outta the way. Especially when we realized the momma gull was just over on the shore sitting on her nest, protecting it from Mr. Hungy-for-gull-eggs-Eagle. Very exciting to watch the aerodynamic airshow they put on just for us! Well, we needed something to do other than commiserate about our lack of fish.
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We talked to some fellow fisher-people later and found out only ONE fish was caught that whole day. So we didn't feel so horrible and fishing-inept. But - we did run over and analyze their hooks, bait, rods, method of casting, trolling, bobbing, and even their *auras* (which were not much better than ours I'll say). then we ran back, jumped in the canoe again, paddled out there like we've never paddled before, started fishing, and.... nothing. Sighhhhh....

My new mantra: Be the fish....think like the fish.... I am one with the fish...

Monday, June 20, 2005

Why I have, like ZERO bugs in my cabin...

During a nice and peaceful evening last night, as I lay on the couch finishing off a great book by Andrew Pyper called "Wildfire Season." About - what else? Wildfires. But it takes place in Ross River, Yukon, so of course it's of some interest. An entertaining read.

Anyways, cut back to the nice peaceful scene, reading, quiet, dogs all fed, me fed, perhaps a beer found it's way into my hand, perhaps not.... I'm just saying everyone was content, it was slightly rainy outside (have I painted the scene yet?)... when all of a sudden, a little black fuzzy maniac launches herself off the floor, onto my head and up the wall to the lamp above me. Gracie had heard some BUGS (her arch nemeses... nemesis'..... ENEMIES!), and lucky for you all my trusty camera was right there to catch all the action!
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Not one of the other dogs inside took note of these *alleged* bugs in the room. I didn't hear anything either. I'm wondering if these bugs are really only in that wee head of hers?

Ok, so she calmed down for a few seconds, but KNEW something was up there, taunting her, screwing with her head, and eluding her capture. THIS little maniac is clearly obsessed with anything that flies. After all, it is HER cabin. I just hope she starts dusting soon...
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(fuzzy photo due to the fact that she was vibrating with excitement in anticipation of the kill!)

2 hours later - and they say dogs have crappy memories. Ha! Gracie's now on night duty.
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They're in the walllllllls!!!!!

Well, I don't know what the heck happened after I went to bed. All I know is I was nice 'n bug-free all night!! Ha! Screw you mosquitoes!!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

For the Old Man...

Happy Father's Day!!!!

And, as I've come to realize in my infinite wisdom... it doesn't take much to make the old guy happy.! So, here we go:
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Yukon grayling (hint, hint!! Get your ass up here and VISIT... this decade!!!)

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mmmmm.... trout!!

My parents are staying relatively sane, considering they must be going through camping & fishing withdrawal right now. Since all of the Southern Prairies are experiencing flooding and just may be floating away as I type this, they are unable to get out and whup it up in the Great Outdoors. Their usual weekend adventures of hopping in the new truck & camper have been quashed by the flooding of epic proportions. The fish are safe for yet another weekend...

But I say - Hey, suck it up! You didn't hear Noah and crew complaining now did ya!!??!
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There's dad right at the front, taking charge as usual. Mom is probably below deck... CLEANING (gasp!) or something. God knows (no pun intended) how dirty all those animals can be! Ummm... hello.....where's all the DOGS!!?????

But, as usual... I digress...

Happy Father's Day Dad!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

What else? Misc. dog shots...

I scoffed this idea for a pic from a website (TTips?). Thought it was a great view of the dog. And hell, I was on a road trip by myself and, well... a bit bored on the drive out I suppose. That's what happens when your radio kicks out due to crap coverage, and the only tape (CD Player!?? HA!) is a local band you've listened to and seen wayyy too much.

Anyhoo, this is George looking very regal. She also seems to have giraffe-like proportions...
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Damned right, this is MY truck!! Home, Beeeeyatch!!

The Gabe-meister hanging out in his new "hole"
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Yawwwwwnnnn... do I have to move?? I've had a busy day y'know... sleeping, barking, keeping the pups in line... geez...

Had a nice ride home last night. I'm trying to get up to commuting both ways (it's a 30km one way trip), but am working up to it one commute at a time. The wind is really what's bumming me out! I had a brutal headwind the whole 2hr ride (with the exception of about 10 minutes), and barely outran the wicked storm coming behind me. I did get rained on, just enough to keep me wet all the way home. I also came home numb in more places than I care to share here.... but all in all... it felt great!! I just keep thinking of all the gas money I'll save...

I get home and this is what's waiting for me. Note the uncanny ability to concentrate.... when he wants to that is...
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Fooooood....

Monday, June 13, 2005

On the road again...

The Temptation: Alsek Music Festival in Haines Junction
The Dilemma: How to swing the trip without leaving the dogs
The Latest Plan of Brilliance: Take 'em ALL with me!!!!

The Result: ROAD TRIP!! The whole crew and I hit the road Friday night after work. It was pissing down rain, which was kind of a bummer way to start out the weekend. On the plus side, the temps dropped, so I didn't have to worry about the dogs getting too hot in the trailer. This is a Laura's trailer - she did an awesome job building her first dogbox!!! Lookit that rig! Very nice to drive and easy to maneuver. I hope to build something similar this summer and hopefully my inner-carpenter will come out and help me build something half-decent.
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I *think* I brought enough CRAP with me!! As many know, organization is not one of my strong skills. And let me tell you, there is a hell of a lot of organization required on a trip with one person and 14 dogs...

Big-headed Kuna. Face pelting rain didn't stop this guy from hanging his big mug out the window whe WHOLE WAY!!!
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This is at the cabin. The dogs adjusted pretty well to the dogbox. Some had been in dogboxes before, but the pups and Loki were brand new to this experience. I had a bit of a problem stuffing Sage into the box the first couple times - it was like trying to bathe a cat. He'd splay his legs out and refuse to stick his head in the box, kick me with his back legs.... he is one pup with a LOT of energy.... and strength... did I mention how damned strong he is!?!?
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Ivy - she really does have back legs.... she just bonded with her box.
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Jack: "Are you taking pictures AGAIN!?!? Ok, just a sec...let me put on my cute, inquisitive face..."
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Ripper dancing around his tree:
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So... the dogs *seemed* to be doing well. Fast forward to 3AM!!! They were all right outside the cabin I was in, and the pups decided it might be fun to bark at, oh, EVERYTHING!! A leaf would blow off a tree: "bark, bark, yip!" The wind blew: "bark, yap, bark!" Another dog moves in his sleep: "Yip, yip, bark!!" The river flows: "Bark, yip,yap!!" I felt like I had a couple colicky kids out there. They would not shut the hell up. I was excited when 5 minutes went by without them yapping. And everytime they yapped, I imagined a pack of wolves or a bear circling them out there. Soon enough, I was worried Jon and Laura were being kept up, so with my whopping 10mins of sleep, I decided to put them in the dogboxes *hoping* that would quiet them down. So another 10 mins of yapping as I was moving their buddies, they were all inside the truck/box and quiet... for once.

The plan actually worked. Then I found out the next morning that neither Jon nor Laura had heard a peep out of the dogs (or my feeble attempts to "shhhh" them) as, for some reason (beer? cider?), they slept more soundly than is humanly possible.

Festival site:
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We got to HJ around 1:00 and headed to fellow musher, Sean's place. He offered up his extra dogyard for my guys which worked out great. We also did a bit of bikejoring, and hit the festival later. It was a blast.

The return trip home was fairly uneventful, except for the stop I made at the rest stop to let the dogs out to loosen up. I felt like a travelling circus sideshow, as we had RV'ers and tourists gawking and gathering around us, wondering what the hell this set up was all about. I soon figured out that the gawk factor was due to the fact that the summer tourists miss out on dog trucks everywhere in the winter , so it must have been a bit of a novelty for them. Then Rupert decided to put on the "I-slipped-my-collar-and-now-I'll pretend-to-run-away" show!! After a few panicked moments of chasing him - calmly and cooly, otherwise they aren't coming anywhere near you - he trotted over to me, pretty pleased with himself. And then, we were on our way and the tourists were left to find other forms of entertainment...

Monday, June 06, 2005

Money well spent - Part 1

This weekend the Quest put on a canine workshop given by Wes Rau. Wes is a physical therapist who works on people, and, more importantly... DOGS! He has his own dogyard of 40, and has worked with many mushers getting their dogs ready for races, etc. This workshop was unbelievably valuable for me - and I think most who attended agree. If anyone gets a chance to go see Wes speak, or go to a workshop, don't hesitate!! After one 8-hour day (could easily be a week-long workshop), I came out looking at my dogs totally differently, and touching and feeling them differently. And we all know how dogs love the touching and feeling!

Wes showing the cranial extension on this *dog* - she was a very good listener! Even for a french-speaking dog...
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We looked and felt for the C1 and C2 vertebrae. The dog looks a bit stiff, but they really calmed down and warmed up to the attention and massages. I brought Rupert, and although he did his usual "Rupert-annoying-whine" on and off for the first hour, he later mellowed out, layed down and let us manipulate the hell outta him!!
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And stretched the neck out. This specifically stretches the Cranium-C1 "Yes" Joint:
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Stretching the C1-C2 "No" Joint" - the C1 (or atlas) can be felt pretty easily on either side of the dogs neck. You can feel the "wings" of the vertebrae. The C2 can NOT be felt, but is directly underneath C1.
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With 18 dogs in the room, the place was really calm and had a relaxed atmosphere in the afternoon. A photographer from a local paper stopped by and commented on how he couldn't believe how QUIET it was! The dog drugs helped I suppose... :-)

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There was a few older dogs in the workshop, and one in particular had a tough time with this stretch. Wes worked on him though, and showed us the extent the dog could stretch. The dog had trouble with the "yes" strectch in particular. When pressing down on the C1, you can manipulate the neck and make it stretch without the dog having to do it and strain his muscles. He did this a number of times, slowly, then re-attempted the stretch on the dog. The dog was now able to stretch his neck much farther than before. The difference in those few minutes was pretty significant!

Next: Those darned shoulders!

Friday, June 03, 2005

Evening training

I've got a few summer goals here. One is to really work on Loki and hopefully by fall have a dog who doesn't try to run the hell away from me when I come near him. I took him out on a run with me around the neighborhood last night - our second time trying this. The very first time I tried this way back when I first got him, it was a nightmare. He was darting away from me, got spooked by EVERYTHING, wrapped both of us around trees, yanked my arm out of the socket a half dozen times or so... oh! What FUN it was!! I got back from that exhausting walk and immediately started figuring out how to improve our *relationship.*

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Loki - Whatchoo lookin' at?!?!?

I started by switching to a realllllly long leash so he could stay a comfortable distance from me - and let him be in charge of this distance. He seemed to dig that! He got to choose the distance and is now more comfortable near me. As of last night, we have graduated to regular length leashes, and he even now allows some slack in the line and walks only about 3ft away from me. Woohoo!

And then there's the pups.... boy! Those two are crazy. I want to spend more one-on-one time with them, since their listening skills go right out the window when they have each other around, jumping on and attacking each other EVERY FIVE SECONDS!!! They really need to start learning their names and I need to get them to focus on listening to me when I call them.

So I brought Ivy out on the leash, we walked around a bit, and then I brought her in the cabin. She was very sweet and calm - sniffing around like crazy, totally excited by all the new, exciting smells! I had dinner not much earlier... and, ahem... there *may* have been a few dirty dishes (or ALL of them) piled up in my sink. But she was very good, and catching on quick to that no word.

Enter the TASMANIAN DEVIL (Sage)!!!!
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I brought him inside to hang out, and holy crap!! That dog was sliding all over the floor because he was going 100 miles/hr, bashing into counters, sliding into the tv, attempting to eat remote controls, grabbing at my shoes, and totally ignoring my attempts to bribe him and calm him down with cookies. He lasted, oh, a total of about 10 minutes until I was too annoyed to let the mayhem continue.

But I find, these really short training sessions with the dogs really help, and really - that's all they can handle with their little crazy puppy brains. Between these three young guys, I fully expect this triple-burst of energy will add a new dimension to the team next year!