Friday, April 3, 2009

Dogs, Dogs, and more DOGS

We're seeing Dogs, Dogs, Dogs,
At the start of the 440,
We hear em bark, bark, bark...
As we yell, "GO Dogs, oh Lordy!"
(Sing to the tune of, "ring of fire!")

Lead Dogs

Kotzebue saw plenty of Dog action yesterday (Thursday) at the start of the Kobuk 440 sled dog race. The race consists of (you guessed it!) four hundred and forty miles of tundra wilderness and quaint Inupiat Eskimo villages scattered throughout the Northwest Arctic Region of Alaska.

Every dog gets a good rubdown before the race.

The 440 (as its commonly called here) is the second longest race in probably the toughest terrain in Alaska. The mushers start on the Chukchi Sea Ice in front of Kotzebue. Off the road system, many mushers arrive by 747 -combi jet and their dogs come in the warm igloo's up front, or by Lynden Herc. Because of the volcano eruptions and the ash in the air, many of our most famous mushers did not make it this year, as flights in and out of Anchorage were cancelled. Lance Mackey, DeeDee Jonrowe, Jeff King, and others were not able to make it to the drawing on Wednesday. Previously, we have seen 20 or 30 mushers brave the Arctic for a chance to win a marten hat in Kobuk! This year, we have 12, and many of those teams are local.

Mass Start

Every year, on a Thursday, at 4:40 p.m., mushers and handlers line up their dogs for a mass start. If you've never seen a mass start, its "MASSIVE!" Everyone starts at the same time. There are sometimes dog fights, and confusion for the rookie teams who've never started like that before, but for the crowd, its amazing. Its a lot of excitement for just a few minutes of pleasure, watching the dogs run...

Mass start, again!

The race takes about 4 to 5 days depending on how nice mother nature is, and what the trail conditions are. In order to qualify for prize money, you must finish within 24 hours of the first musher into Kotzebue. Since there are only 12 mushers and 12 place winners, everyone who doesn't scratch will get prize money.

Ready for a nice ride to Kiana

Let's hope all the mushers (a list of names and standings can be found here and their dogs stay on the trail and their dogs stay healthy and happy. Don't forget, these dogs are bred to run, love to run, and are well taken care of. I know ours were when we ran dogs...

wrong way!
Here they come...the wrong way!

there they go
Just a little detour...

As for MY dogs. I'm not a fan of either of them right now. All this dog sledding forced unremembered memories through my head of when we owned dog teams. I was really young, but we had dog teams for racing and for working. We used them to check nets, go hunting, and go back and forth to camp from my aana's house on front street. They loved to run. They loved to be harnessed up. They listened to me.

Not my dogs. They don't listen to me unless Dean is behind me reinforcing what I say. I got the wild hair to go ski-joring with my dog Nugent...he was all keen to the idea that we were going for a walk/run/drag! I hooked him up to a harness and hooked up my belt to him. Kaisa got wind of this action and wanted in on it. So, she hooked herself up to the jet sled and put a qaatchaiq (dried caribou skin, very warm) on the bottom of the sled. She then tied a rope onto the pull rope and said, "here mom, put this on your belt too..." So, I did.

Normally, our other dogs, Pooh included, would have LOVED to go pulling us for miles, but Nugent, nah, he wanted to sniff here and there and cause trouble with my skis. So, barely a mile into this venture, I cussed up a storm, unhooked my skis and walked the rest of the way home.

on his rug
Don't use a bird dog to do what sled dogs do!

What did I come home to you wonder? A half eaten fish, and some saqpik (unmatched) socks laying on the floor. My number one "bad" dog, Shockie was at it again. Darnit, these were my favorite socks too...unfortunately, anything left on the floor is fair game for this one. If you've seen the movie, "Marley and Me." This would explain EXACTLY how Shockie is. Besides my socks, other things that have been chewed up include: TV Remote, Mukluks, Slippers, toothbrush, power cords, rug, kennel, memory foam mattress corner, 75 year old quilt corner, rings of the wedding variety, bullets, gun straps, dresser corners, tie out cables, dog beds, pipe insulation, and of course, my favorite, victoria's secret apex bras. This dog, if she weren't so cute, we'd sell her to the gypsys!

Sock eater
Don't be mad at me. :)

1 comment:

Ms. ~K said...

I always enjoy my visits with you...
love the dog pictures and keep us posted on Foxy!