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.

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.

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