Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Day of Enlightenment... Squeaky Tennis Balls!!!

The tennis balls have arrived!! The tennis balls have arrived!!!! Thanks to Sue, we are introduced to the wonderful world full of squeaky tennis balls.

Ok, they arrived a few days ago now, but to dogs time is irrelevant. I could bring the plastic bag out of the truck again and pretend like we didn't just do this a few days ago... and they'd totally buy it!! Hmmm... I'll try that next time I'm looking for some way to screw with.... er, entertain them.

Sneaky George tries to steal a ball. Blatant thievery! Right in front of me!!

You can see that little sneak looking at me out of the corner of her eye...

So I bust her: "Hey! Get away from those enticing, squeaky balls of joy!" I say.

And this is her typical reaction when you tell her something she doesn't agree with - a few "woo-woo's and barking in your face. That's gratitude for ya.

Ok, so do you REALLY want them?

You sure? (enough torture??)

You can see big-head is right in there. He heard the squeaks and as predicted, was dancing and leaping around with excitement. However, he's used to squeaky toys being those plush stuffed toys, not balls. So when I scattered about 7 balls at once, all the other dogs ran from ball-to-ball, excited just because. They were new toys and they were everywhere! But Kuna had this preconceieved notion of what constitutes a squeaky toy and I had a heck of a time convincing him that the tennis balls, did in fact - squeak! For 15 minutes, he ran in circles looking for the source of the squeak. Even when I held it up to his face and squeaked it, when I threw it, he was like "no, that's just a tennis ball... helloooo...where's the squeaky toy??"

Here he is wandering away from the balls looking for the squeak. Eventually, he caught on and once he did... all tennis balls were Kuna's property.

Except he knows better than to mess with this little firecracker and anything she is in posession of.

Lucy is a little more wary of him as her past experience with his stealing has her a bit nervous as he wanders by... eyeing up her tennis ball...

Everybody's happy!

Jack approves.

Then I unleashed the maniac. Ripper and the balls. Ripper and the rest of this group could NOT be trusted with the balls for more than 2 seconds. They were intent on destroying them as soon as possible. And eating them was a given.

So I had to carefully dole them out. Which meant us playing our usual game of fetch. Except Ripper (who normally has the LOUDEST bark!), was 100x louder than normal due to his excitement about the squeak.

If I'm not mistaken, I think you can actually hear his bark in this photo.

So we threw and fetched a few times, with me having to tackle them a few times when they refused to give up the ball. So all was going good and I here I was going "want the ball Ripper? Eh? Eh? How much would you like this squeaky ball" as I'm taking pictures and Ripper, Ivy and Sage are bouncing around in anticipation of the throw...

None of us noticed the fuzzy figure (well, she wasn't fuzzy in real life) heading towards us - that's Kate, the matriarch of the clan, nonchalantly walking right up to my hand as if not to notice all the insanity the ball was causing. She simply heard the squeak and went to investigate. She came, she saw and...

she yoinked the ball right out of my hand.

And then she wandered off with the ball squeaking away in her mouth, leaving me peeing myself laughing. The rest of the dogs stared at her, bewildered as she ambled off, as if to say "Hey... she ruined the game. No fair!!"

Luckily there were 23 other balls to drive them nuts with!!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Kate and Ivy have a proposal for EVERYONE!!

It's an invitation to our Canada Day Celebration!!

They are modelling the latest trends in doggie fashion (the patience of this 14-year old dog is simply amazing).

We are having a PARTY next Saturday - that's right, July 1st!!! It is open to anyone and everyone and will be starting around 4-5 pm. There will be some kids around in the afternoon, complete with kiddie games and prizes and slobbers by 14 hungry... er... FRIENDLY huskies!

"Hang on Kate, while I attach these windmills to your collar" (I bet she's never heard that one before)

I don't care what anyone says, Ivy looks damned good in any type of headwear.

Later on in the evening, we'll lock the kids in the shed and let the adult festivities begin. For that, there is, well, a lot of food n' booze planned. That's about it. We're an easy-to-please bunch.

There is also plenty of dog poo free areas (I think) for folks to pitch tents or pass out on the wood pile. The dogs would LOVE some night-time company as well! They LOVE peeing on new things.

SuperDog Ivy hopes to see you all there!!

Feel free to send me an email for directions - or look for the posters/billboards strewn throughout town... :)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay

Well, the bike race has come and gone. What a blast it was! It was my first time riding in the event, and there was a total of something like 1200 riders. The relay is 238km (148 mi) and is made up of 8 legs. Teams ranged from solo (or: crazy and insane) riders, 2, 4 and 8 person teams. We had a 4-person team, so we were doing 2 legs each.

Check out the nice home-made bike rack on Heather's car! You can see Sean's carpentry skills coming through on that one.

The start of the race in Haines Junction.

My team was made up of me (legs 7/8), Glen (legs 1/2), Ed (legs 3/4), and Heather (legs 5/6). Our team name was "Three Huskies and a Mutt" - Glen being the mutt, the only non-musher of the group.

And they're off!! This is about 10k from the start.

Another group zooms by. The weather was a bit windy - of course there was a headwind the WHOLE way. We pretty much had every type of weather along the way: rain, snow, sun, etc.

Here comes our team-mate - Glen!

Looking happy eh? God, this guy is in great shape! He's ridden this thing solo a few times before, and his start this year was questionable. He apparently has heart problems and would only be able to decide the day of the relay if his heart was good to go. Ed was prepared to do legs 1-4 if he had to. As it turns out, Glen was fine and blew through his two legs fairly easily.

Driving towards Dezdeash Lake

This wasn't a totally serious race. In fact, organizers emphasized it is an "event" not a race. These guys in tuxedo shirts were hilarious on their tandem bike.

They were constantly smiling and chatting with each other. And if you can believe it, they did the whole race like this.

Note the Hawaiian shirt - on the appropriately named "Hawaiian Shirt" team. They were a fun group of 4 guys.

And what would a bike relay be without a bagpiper surrounded by mountainy-goodness?

Ed was the lucky one who got the hilliest, most hellish legs in my opinion. Here he is part way up that 6-MILE hill - near the end of his second leg nonetheless. I got tired just watching him. He was speedy though, and everytime we'd drive up 10k or so ahead of him, before we knew it he was right behind us. We couldn't shake him!

Checkpoint 4 - Ed comes in here and Heather takes over.

This *sweet* big-headed dog just about took Heather's hand off as she went to pet him.

And no, we didn't just want a picture of this "Race Virgin's" butt... just the paint job. Really!

What a shot! That's Ed coming in and Heather poised to take off like a rocket! Or something that vaguely resembles something sort of fast. She had only been on her bike 4x this year. We were all a bit worried (her included) about her finishing off her 60km.

But she was a trooper. She had to deal with everything from wind to snow, to rain, to cold cold wind and hills. She sucked it up and pedaled on (she had no choice, we kept driving... haha!).

That's a long road...

Well, hello WINTER!!

She keeps on going and going and going...

I got to take over just before the border, and we didn't get to just ride through this year. They had set up an extra border crossing just for riders. So we had to stop briefly, but it was quick and easy. I think the border guards took one look at our wet, sweaty id cards that had been packed between skin and spandex for god knows how long, and decided maybe this wasn't the greatest idea...

Here I am coming in for more water!!! I made the mistake of drinking Red Bull before my leg started. I'd never had the stuff before, so I downed some in the car with Ed. It was like I had injected myself with a pot of coffee, I immediately got jittery, hyper and shaky. I couldn't wait to get out on the bike!

Then, my calves started cramping up. I was setting a great pace for leg 7, so much that when Ed and Heather finally caught up with me they couldn't believe I had gone that far. Oh, I was also riding a mountain bike.

The recumbant Hawaiian Shirt guy.

This is right after leg 7 chatting with Ed. A break was needed for more water and to let the calves rest to stop the spasms I was having.

I think I'm on leg 8 here. Leg 7 was totally fun and mostly downhill, a bit windy. Leg 8 was nothing but HEADWINDS and more HEADWINDS.

Then there were the folks who were there just to have a GOOD time!

If you can't read it - the windows read: "Arses, Airheads and Alcoholics" A.A.A. This big purple bus even had an outside loudspeaker that they would scream and hoot and holler on when they passed you. I just about fell over the first time, not knowing what that horrific noise was.

They had a few more signs...

And to prove that point:

Heather took all these shots as I was cycling. Look at all the fun I missed! Oh, and the guy zooming by on the bike squirted those bare butts with his water bottle.

Back to the race... er, relay! A quick stop to go "How much further..."

You can see Ed checking his watch, faking that he knows how far I've gone. Those guys kind of forgot to pay attention to certain details when supporting me! Ah, well, as long as they were waiting at the end with some cold beer, I'd be happy. And they did have a trunk full when I got there. Now, that's support!

So I arrived in Haines and we waited for Sean and Katrina to show up. He was doing the whole race and Katrina (his daughter) was attempting the last 4 legs for her first time. It was sweet to watch them come into the finish, holding hands with their arms raised.

Here they are after they were able to get off their bikes without falling over. There was a lot of people falling over after they got off the bike, thinking they had enough strength in their legs to actually stand.


Our campground companion:

And his half-pint buddy:

What a cute pair eh? They kept Ed company the night before and each slept on one side of him on his sleeping bag.

And that's the race. This is definitely going to be an annual thing for me. Hopefully, next year we'll have TAILWINDS!!!