About Us

Bryant, Wisconsin
With over 20 years of experience with Siberian huskies, we have a lot to reflect on. Except for the occasional acquisition from outside of our kennel, we have raised all of our dogs. We have raced in 16 states and provinces and have put thousands of miles behind the dog teams that we have proudly watched grow up from puppies. In the process, the dogs and other mushers have taught us husbandry, nutrition, genetics, skill in training, and lots of patience, perseverance, and humility.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dogwreck Revisited

Well, don't go too hard on dogtec admin. We've been warming up to the new version, and.....well, errrr...... I'm beginning to like it. Please give it a look/see, and also give it some time to sink in and grow on you. Some features will be different. The front pages for kennels will no longer be so unique and colorful. And the main kennel directory is way different. This version is much more complex and not exactly user friendly, but it has a lot more to offer with a little patience to learn its features. Bear with us as we update and refine the new format. And be sure to tune in to our dogtec blog as well as this one. They will be a little different in content. Be sure to bookmark the main dogtec homepage too: http://www.dogtec.com/. It will show you all the recent updates from all the kennels, including blog posts, events, and photos.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Dogtec to Dogwreck

Elizabeth has almost all of the firewood in, and since she's been using our new Husky 372 w/ a 24" bar, her arm is sore. We have had our first really cold snaps and some snow, and the miles are adding up on the dog team. We are right on our usual schedule w/20-mile runs beginning for the upcoming deer season next Saturday. We have to go out at night w/ one big team and another ATV riding point to watch for porkys. A good light is not enough with all the hills and corners, and we've had enough porky experience to teach us. Another sign that we're right on schedule is that we're just now unpacking from last year's racing. That turned out to be fortuitous when our well pump failed and we found bottled water for coffee in one of our drop bags.

Now for the dogwreck part: For those of you that have been checking in to our dogtec web kennel presentation, you might be surprised at the new format just enabled. We were horrified, and if they stay with this new style we will no longer keep it up. What's your opinion? Please e-mail Jacques and Magali at: jmphilip@noatak.com and tell them if, like us, you think this is a step down.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Summer's End

Here in NE Wisconsin it's barely been a noticeable summer, with no real hot, humid spells. And it's almost over too. Any day it'll be time for the first hook-ups with the dogs. Can't wait--this year we have 7 new young dogs to plug in to the program. Meanwhile, we've been very busy adding more machinery to our woodshop and producing bowls, lamps, and furniture with our new tools. Elizabeth continues to work at home, and Mark is still pulling 40 hour weeks at his "day job" working for a civil engineer who also operates a municipal sewer and water system.

This summer we had our first serious event regarding dogs eating rocks. Quarry has turned out to be the dog that introduced this trait into the kennel, and since we have bred her quite a bit, we expected to see a bit of this in her offspring, manage it, and breed around it. It does seem to be a heritable trait. So far we had no serious problems, but had a few dogs who would as a habit pick at pebbles and rocks after eating their meal. They were put on wood platforms and were watched more carefully loose in the yard or on the truck. Cooper (Quarry pup) missed a race due to eating a rock on the truck when we went out west. We have never had any serious cases where surgery was needed--until Mustard, the next great hope, ate a rock kicked up onto his platform by a neighboring dog, would not pass it, had surgery, and died from complications. This was, needless to say I guess, devastating to us. He was a very special boy, loved beyond what we can express here, and losing him will always haunt us. Despite his short life, we have wonderful memories of Mustard- I will never forget how as a pup he used to steal the green tomatoes from the garden and race around the exercise yard with his mom and littermates in hot persuit. He was such a happy, affectionate dog and would "grab" us while we did chores, even as an older yearling he tugged at our pants legs, always wanting more play time and love. Our kennel is also going to suffer his loss as he was a tremendous athlete and one of our up and coming leaders. We'd pegged him as the next stud for our breeding program also. His litter holds a lot of promise for making a jump for our team (more later re: this), but his brother Thistle has an overshot jaw and doesn't make a good breeding candidate. Now we have to rely on the female sisters Sesame and Poppy.

The next crisis involved Sesame, and when we found her one morning listless and barely able to walk, we were worried we'd lose another from this good litter. Turned out that Sesame had the first case of Lyme's disease in our kennel. Within a few days on doxycylcine she was herself again. This summer has presented us with the worst season for ticks ever. Recently, Violet (an older Boo Boo/Easter female not listed on our Dogtec site) also showed the same symptoms as Sesame. only Mark at first thought it was a case of pyometra because it coincided with the most full-bloomed estrus season ever here. Just another case of Lyme's, and she too is doing fine now.

One might look at our recent (quite a few years now) race results and conclude something about the overall abilities of the dogs we have. In defense of that, and to remind everyone of the obvious things we miss sometimes in relation to improving our teams: we have had no real leaders since.........well, I can't remember when exactly. In the recent years we have made HUGE strides in the overall athletic abilities of our dogs. They stay fresher after running, they run cooler, eat way better, and can sustain faster paces over both short and long distances. This was accomplished by doing our homework and choosing breeding pairs. Our choices involved the whole package of a dog. What we were forgetting, and what we lost over time, is the importance of temperment, especially those things that allow a dog to do what great leaders do--pass other teams and distractions well (yes, can be trained to a great extent), not be afraid of people and things, to just keep going along the trail and enjoy it immensely, etc. We can remember even during the few years of great succes with our 8-dog, 30 to 60 mile team with Copper, Ember, and Jackson as leaders, that they were not the real true-blue, die-hard and bone-headed lead dogs you would wish for. A huge amount of time was lost on the trail in those races (despite our great times) from stopping at EVERY head-on pass and Jackson going down to the ground upon hearing a snowmobile in the distance. The team as a whole was just so good that we made up for all that time lost to come across the finish line faster than any other Siberian team could. So we bred those dogs together, even while doing some outcrosses. It was not lost on us that we needed more than the traits those dogs had, and that was the main reason for going to Leigh Gilchrist. Have you seen how the Gilchrists can put four teams, that's 8 leaders, into their sprint races? Having put the temperment/leadership issues on the backburner so as not to lose what we had, i.e., the best (at that time) team of Siberians wherever we went, we got a bit locked in to an important weakness. Since then, with some careful closer breedings, we have solidified those good traits and improved upon them too. However, unless the newer breedings with Jasper and with Best, two dogs with much better leader temperment, provide some front-end dogs, we will still be "all-dressed up with no place to go"--a great team of all team dogs.

We were only able to get one litter on the ground because no one besides Quarry came into heat in time. Those 3 Corty/ Quarry pups are doing very well and will be 4 months old mid-September. They have been running loose behind the 4-wheeler on some cool mornings, and at other times have been going on berry-picking walks with us and the beagle. We've been calling one of the males (Heathrow) Phil Donahue because he talks so much he should host his own show. With only 3 pups and with losing 4 dogs this year to various maladies, mostly old-age stuff, we will be down in numbers especially of non-racing dogs.

Apologies for the photo quality in our slide show. This will eventually be fixed when we post higher res pix, but since we cannot easily do that on our home dial-up connection, Mark needs to do it at work. Also to be posted is a video clip of the team at the '08 Beargrease (when we figure out how to edit the segment). In the meantime check out this link and go to about minute 5:25 to see Elizabeth #15 and team go by: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWiSYeFE_TA&feature=related That's Jasper and Fuji at lead.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Mascot

Shotgun, "Gunny", the small female beagle, came to us in December. Elizabeth was driving home from town and found her running down the middle of the state highway a mile from our house in the rain. After much effort to find her owners, to no avail, we accepted her into the family. We fell in love with her right away, and within a week we couldn't imagine how we managed without her. Gunny marched right in the day we found her and claimed the cats' bed as hers. Her favorite pastimes are gopher watching, chipmunk chasing, and playing with the young pups. She also loves to ride shotgun in the car or truck, hence her name. She rode with us to all of our distance races this winter as a sleeping bag warmer and companion. If we had a nickel for every time someone asked us "Is that your lead dog, hahahah?", we'd have our dogfood bill paid up for the year. Gunny fits right in with the huskies--she cannot be trusted off-leash. She gets on a scent and she's gone. Last week, Elizabeth let her loose in our 2 acre fenced-in yard, Gunny dug under and escaped, and Elizabeth had to pull her out of a gopher hole by the tail!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mark's beginnings....

Mark's first dog, Hara

Early team racing in PA

We have not posted all of our dogs on our Dogtec pages, either current or past. 31 litters and 143 pups have been bred here since 1984, and 42 dogs have been acquired from other kennels as foundation dogs or to improve the breeding program. This blog gives us the opportunity to present a more complete version of who we are. Many of you don't know anything about how we got started with this sport. My story (Mark) is a familiar one: I got a Siberian as a pet while living in NJ, hooked up with some friends, Elaine Hamilton, Bob Messenger, and Ken and Claire Oravsky, who were running their Siberians in harness. I immediately got hooked. Attached is a photo of my first Siberian, Hara, and my old team (you can tell that a lot of evolutuion has occurred). We raced some sprints in PA and NY, then travelled to 6-dog mid-distance races that were prevalent in the East then. Many good memories still haunt me from travelling to Marmora, Sandwich Notch, Lewis Run, PA X-Country Championship, and Maine. I also dabbled in the show scene and did some obedience training, but my love was running them in harness. My breed mentors, besides the group I started with in NJ, have been Doug Willett and Anneliese Witschel to name a couple. Leigh Gilchrist has advised us a lot, as well as many mixed-breed mushers. In seeking better dogs through the years, I zeroed in on the successful Siberian drivers who maintained a well-rounded program and had consistency in racing results. It's true for the most part, however, that I remained independently stubborn and refused to become a groupee. Just ask any of them.

Although we might sometimes appear one-dimensional with the breed due to our passion for racing Siberians, our past has given us a broader basis to help us put things into perspective.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Flop ears, speckles, and that black saddle........

Today, as I was working with the dogs at feeding time, I was noticing how similar in appearance Rigby (one of the Jasper/Quarry females) is to Smokey, Jasper's mother. The coat color, face, eyes, and most of all, the slightly flopped ears are nearly identical. This sent my mind off in two different directions of thought-- all the breed adulteration stories we've heard through the years, and the remarkable way that packages of genes stay intact through the generations. The genetic side I'll save for a later post. It's more interesting, but the adulteration stuff is more irritating to me, so here we go.......

To most people involved with Siberians, the flop ear that shows up is surely a sign that the hound is back there, and not too far. A long-time Siberian driver once told us, when he saw Quarry for the first time (she has a black saddle), "Yep, that's the German shepherd back there." That would also be the same person that assigned the flop ear to the hound. On the surface this reasoning seems somewhat logical and believable, and this is why we bump full-face into it all the time, wherever we go with our flop-eared and saddle-backed dogs. Winter before last, a well-known Siberian driver revealed to us, after seeing Fat Pants and his bent ears on our truck, that she had recently sold a puppy merely because of ears like that. Recently, a friend of ours sold some Siberians to the East. As they were viewed in their new home by some other Siberian mushers from that region, the accusations began. They certainly couldn't be Siberians--"Look at those black speckles against the white feet on those dogs!" I guess the Anadyr-line dogs with similar markings can't be pure either, huh? The adulteration is found in a different form in Europe. The same friend has had trouble convincing some dog sale prospects over there that his dogs really are Siberians because why? Because, of all things, THEY ARE VERY BLACK!

To me this is rampant ignorance and a real disservice to the breed. It is irritating that these people cannot even see past it to appreciate some really good dogs. We can thank the Victorians and the rise of the kennel clubs for all of this, not just in Siberians, but all working breeds. Standards of appearance were developed that gradually eclipsed genetic continuity and bloodline purity, as well as made the dogs' performance qualities (their actual reasons for existing) secondary. It is well-known that breeding purely within a bloodline can produce traits that ordinarily are not seen in that breed. I remember waking up to this years ago when I read about a controlled breeding experiment with wild foxes. After selecting the tamest breeding pairs over 10 generations, lo and behold, traits like different coat colors/markings and FLOPPY EARS showed up. Hound in those foxes?--I don't think so.

We all choose what style of dogs to keep, and this is especially true with purebreds. But why should these personal preferences be used to defend one's dogs as the only real Siberians? At NorthEnough we are breed purists, however we select only for performance. There aren't many cosmetic traits that would impact how well a dog performs, but if there are, they would be addressed through selection strictly for well-rounded performance. A coat to keep a dog warm enough in the cold could be an example, as would some aspects of conformation. Form follows function in this case. " The race is the judge and the standard is success."

I would ask all of you to research some photos of the original Siberian imports and you will see how different the typical show Siberian is today. If "Iron Man" John Johnson showed up to one of our races, he would be accused of adulterating the breed (especially if he won the race or beat most of the teams). How ludicrous!

Rumors of adulteration exist for every line. We have personally been told stories about the Zero s, the Seppalas, the Anadyrs, the Kodiak and White Water Lake dogs, the Northomes--and each and every conflicting rumor-generator swears they know what they know. Hmmm, not a pure Siberian to be found nowadays, huh? If your Siberians don't look like my Siberians, are you the liar, or am I? Will the real Siberian please stand up.