Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Playing with your dog is the fun part of dog companionship, so enjoy it!
Your dog will enjoy it and it is a great form of aerobic exercise.
Never play "catch the dog" sorts of games. This can lead to a dog who is hard to retrieve when you need to go somewhere.
Now is a good time to train the dog a 'drop' command. When the dog drops the toy near you, say "Drop it," then praise the dog. Do this repeatedly until they understand that when you say drop it, they have to release whatever they have in their mouths. If you have a smaller dog that you're not too worried about, you can actually apply gentle pressure at the hinge of the jaw, or gently open the mouth when giving the "Drop it" command. Use their name before the command, so they know it's a command ("Rover, drop it"). Then give lots of praise.
Make sure your dog is well-trained. Some dogs can be overly aggressive and don't realize their own strength. Do not allow anyone else - especially small children - to play with your dog until you're sure your dog knows not to bite or jump on people.
Sassy believes play should be exciting and noisy.
She eagerly chases the tennis ball, brings it right back, places it at my feet and immediately starts barking for me to throw it again. I can't move quickly enough for her.
Zack has a more calm, focused approach. He will sit patiently and quietly, keeping his eye on the ball until I throw it. He is confident that I will eventually throw the ball and he is happy to wait.
He will retrieve the ball but doesn't always bring it right back, as he would prefer to be left alone to rip the ball apart. He isn't nearly into the retrieving part as Sas.
Buddy doesn't have much interest in chasing or retrieving. He gets his ball and runs around, showing it off, until he gets tired, at which point he hides under the bench, coveting his prize.
He has no desire to play with others, including me!
He's a "Ball Hog!"
They each seem to enjoy our playtime together, which is what matters most.
Please click on over to my friend, Deb's blog, Posted From Home , to see her beautiful tribute to her dog Ben. It has been 6 months since Ben left Deb's side, but he is still with her...
Monday, March 30, 2009
Many of you know that I have been deeply troubled over the deaths of 6 dogs in this year's Iditarod. When Maynard, from Warren Palfrey's team died, it became even more personally painful as I had spent time with Kate and their great team of dogs.
This year's weather was brutal, with blinding blizzards and windchill temperatures dipping into the 50 below range. The conditions were exceptional and took its toll on many mushers and dogs.
Mushers Kim Darst and Blake Matray decided that Mother Nature's force was too wicked. They made the difficult decision to request assistance, but not to save themselves.
By Tim Mowry
Published Sunday, March 29, 2009
FAIRBANKS — A dead dog wasn’t worth the belt buckle and finisher’s patch that Blake Matray would have received had he completed the 1,150-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, a dream that ended in a storm about halfway through the race from Willow to Nome.
Back home in Two Rivers a week after he pulled out of the historic mushing race, Matray is content knowing that he helped save the life of a dog in fellow musher Kim Darst’s team during a storm that brought the two mushers literally to their knees on one of the most wild sections of the trail.
“It’s disappointing I’m not going to have a belt buckle and (finisher’s) patch, but that dog survived and I’ll hang my hat on that every day,” Matray said of an 8-year-old dog named Cotton that was in Darst’s team. “I did right by a fellow musher I was traveling with, and if I had to do it all over again I’d do the same thing.”
Matray’s dream of finishing the Iditarod ended about 8 p.m. on March 16 when he, Darst and their 26 dogs were flown off the trail by the Iditarod Air Force after being caught in a storm that left them wallowing in waist-deep snow on a drifted-in trail between Iditarod and Shageluk, about 600 miles into the race.
Just 16 hours earlier, things were going well for Matray and Darst. Even though they were the last two mushers on the trail, Matray and Darst still were plugging along, which is precisely what Matray planned to do with his team of mostly Siberian huskies, which are known for their endurance more than their speed.
Halted by storm
Despite reports of a hard-packed and fast trail, Matray and Darst ran into trouble almost immediately after leaving the ghost town that serves as the race’s halfway point.
“We didn’t go two miles out of the checkpoint and the winds picked up to 25 mph,” Matray said. “The trail was already drifted over. We started breaking trail almost immediately.”
The two mushers spent the next six hours breaking trail through soft, drifted snow. The trail was hard to discern, and every time their dogs veered off it, the mushers had to wade through waist-deep snow.
“It was like wading through a swimming pool to get up to them,” Matray said.
Eventually, they resorted to crawling up to the front of their teams on their hands and knees because it was easier than floundering in the snow, Matray said.
After six hours, they decided to camp to rest their dogs and see if the weather improved. They put jackets on their dogs and dug holes in the snow to serve as snow caves for the dogs to get them out of the wind, which Matray estimated was blowing at least 35 mph. Combined with the 10 below temperatures, the wind chill probably was pushing 50 below, he said.
Matray also was carrying enough straw to give each pair of his 14 dogs a small bed. The two mushers fed their dogs dry food on the snow because it was impossible to melt snow for water or use food bowls because of the wind.
They then crawled into a tent that Matray was carrying and tried to sleep. When they awoke at 1 p.m., 5 1/2 hours after they stopped, the wind still was blowing and the dogs were covered by snow. The mushers dug out the dogs to check on them, and Darst found one of her dogs, an 8-year-old leader named Cotton, in trouble.
“She came running back and said, ‘Blake, I’ve got a dog that’s freezing to death,’” Matray said.
The dog’s eyes were rolling back in its head and it was convulsing, he said.
Recognizing that the dog was hypothermic, Matray told Darst to put the dog in her sleeping bag and climb in with the dog to warm it while he checked the rest of the dogs. Matray also fired up his Jet-Boil, a small gas stove used to heat water, to warm the tent. Once Cotton was in the sleeping bag, she stopped shaking.
At that point, the two mushers had a decision to make: Keep the dog in the sleeping bag, load it into Darst’s sled and keep breaking trail toward Shageluk, or push a button on the Spot Device, a handheld satellite and safety messenger that Darst was carrying, to call for help.
Both mushers knew that if Darst pushed the button their race likely would be over. Iditarod rules forbid mushers from receiving outside assistance.
But they also knew that breaking trail another 45 miles to Shageluk would take at least another day of hard travel. They didn’t know if Cotton would make it that long.
“We were physically fine, but that dog was hurting,” Matray said.
So Darst pushed the button, which sent a message to her mother in Anchorage. Her mother notified race officials.
“At that point, we knew our race was over, but we saved the dog,” Darst said. “We wound up deciding (Cotton’s) life was more important than the race.”
At 3 p.m., an Iditarod Air Force plane flew over but didn’t land. Unbeknownst to Matray and Darst, another rookie musher, Lou Packer, was having problems a few miles up the trail and Iditarod pilots were checking on him. Packer had been caught in the same storm that stopped Matray and Darst. Two dogs in his team died. Had he known Packer was in trouble ahead of them, Matray said he would have walked up to check on him.
Four hours later, two men on snowmachines from the village of Shageluk arrived to check on Matray and Darst. They told the mushers about Packer’s problems and said an airplane was flying out to pick he and his team up.
“We told them we had a hypothermic dog and we needed to get it out of there,” Matray said.
They loaded the dog and Darst into a sled one of the men was towing and raced up the trail to get Cotton on the plane.
When the two men returned with Darst, they asked the two mushers what they wanted to do. At first, Matray and Darst thought about continuing, but the men told them the trail to Shageluk was “obliterated.” Figuring they already were disqualified from the race after calling for help and getting assistance from the two men on snowmachines, Matray and Darst decided to pull out of the race and have their dogs flown off the trail rather than mush to Shageluk on bad trail.
Following behind the two men on snowmachines, the mushers found a sheltered place to camp for the night. The snowmachiners cut down several trees with a chain saw so the mushers could build a fire, then returned to Shageluk to inform race officials of their decision to scratch and their request for air support.
Driving their teams to Shageluk didn’t make any sense at that point, Matray and Darst said.
“There was no need for us to run the dogs to Shageluk when we were disqualified anyway,” she said. “That was better for the dogs.”
Early the next day, four Iditarod Air Force planes arrived and flew the two mushers and their dogs to Unalakleet, where Darst was reunited with Cotton.
“They had her on top of a chest freezer with an IV in her,” Darst said of her 8-year-old leader. “When she saw me, her tail was going ‘thump, thump thump.’”
The sight of Cotton wagging her tail was enough to show Matray that the mushers made the right decision in calling for help and getting her flown off the trail.
“When I went into that hangar and that dog was standing there wagging its tail, that made it all worth it,” he said. “The vets told me that if we had continued on that dog would probably have been dead by the time we got to Shageluk. They worked on her for four hours.”
Veterinarians told Darst that Cotton’s body temperature was in the low 80s when she arrived in Unalakleet. The average body temperature of a healthy dog is 101 degrees. Vets pumped warm saline solution into her with IVs and used heated blankets to get her temperature back up.
“The vet said that dog was 10 minutes from dying when they got her to Unalakleet,” Darst said.
Though she was a rookie from New Jersey, Darst, a 40-year-old helicopter pilot, was a capable musher, Matray said. She never panicked in the storm.
“She kept her head,” he said. “She did what she needed to do to take care of herself and her dogs.”
At the same time, Darst said she “couldn’t have asked for a better running partner” than Matray, a 41-year-old pilot for the Alaska Air National Guard.
Both Matray and Darst think they would have been able to finish the race had it not been for Cotton’s troubles.
“I had 14 healthy dogs out of Iditarod,” Matray said. “I felt like we had the ability to reach Nome, but everything changed when that dog was sitting in that tent dying.”
Said Darst, “I think it would have been tough, but we would have done it. I think we would have gotten there, but it would have taken a long time.”
Part of the reason Matray wanted to tell his feel-good story is to counter the bad publicity the Iditarod received for the fact that six dogs died in this year’s race.
He returned home to read headlines about animal cruelty in the race and the fact that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the animal-rights group that has hounded the Iditarod for years, wanted criminal charges filed against mushers with dead dogs.
What he and Darst did shows how much mushers care for their dogs, Matray said.
“Two mushers did all they could to save a dog once it was in doubt, to the point of leaving the race to make sure it got the medical attention it needed,” he said.
Race officials didn’t necessarily show the same loyalty to Matray and Darst, however.
When the two mushers showed up in Unalakleet after being flown off the trail, not a single race official talked to them about their ordeal or about scratching from the race.
“They never even came up to us when came to Unalakleet,” Darst said. “We never signed any paperwork or anything.
“They never said, ‘Nice decision with the dog,’” she said. “They just ignored us.”
But the experience didn’t sour her on mushing. Darst, who was driving back to New Jersey with her dogs when contacted for this story, said she plans to run the Iditarod again in the future to fulfill her dream of completing the Last Great Race.
As for Cotton, she’s doing fine.
“I call her my belt buckle now,” Darst said. “I could have had a dead dog or a belt buckle, and I chose the dog.”
For Matray, this was his second and last attempt at the Iditarod. He started the race in 2003 when the start was moved to Fairbanks, but he ended up scratching 300 miles into the race when his dogs fell sick.
He and his wife, Erin, have family plans, and Matray doesn’t envision having the time that’s required to prepare an Iditarod team.
“This was my last shot,” he said.
But Matray is a glass-half-full kind of guy. He’d rather focus on the upsides rather than downsides of a situation. He’s already thinking about putting on a clinic for novice mushers about how to handle storms on the trail.
“There is no formal forum to pass on that kind of knowledge,” he said.
His ordeal on the Iditarod Trail simply reinforced to him what the race is all about, Matray said.
“There was weather the race hadn’t seen in years,” he said. “The stuff we encountered was a reminder that it’s the Iditarod and it’s Alaska and sometimes the weather on the trail can be dire and can blow up in a moment’s notice.”
Contact staff writer Tim Mowry at 459-7587.
Blake at this year's Musher's Meeting
Visit Blakes's website and leave a comment on his guestbook:
I got this picture of Kim's truck in the parking lot of The Millennium.
Another great story about Kim:
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Hey, that's my bedroom slipper!
At least Cousin Sydney is having a nice, sunny day in North Carolina.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Most of these dropped dogs were suffering from minor ailments such as sore shoulders or hips.
One dog was thought to have pneumonia and was taken inside immediately.
All the dogs were sweet, affectionate and appreciative of the extra attention.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
A doctor on his morning walk, noticed an older lady sitting on her front step smoking a cigar, so he walked up to her and said, "I couldn't help but notice how happy you look! What is your secret?"
(I've got to keep Sassy away from the internet...~K)
Their Honeymoon was spent on a train headed to Philadelphia,
Daddy's next post assignment.
Daddy passed away in 1980 and Mother has been gone 8 years.
As an only child, with no children, my parents were my family.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
And on that note, I am going out to let them all have a final stretch before bed and love on each and every one of them. Warm thoughts to all of you and your canines too. Kate
Rest in Peace, Maynard
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Iditarod ends, critics seek inquiry into dog deaths
Tue Mar 24, 2009 8:21pm EDT
By Yereth Rosen ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) -
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Timothy Hunt of Michigan was the final musher to cross the finish line of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Tuesday morning, bringing to a close the 1,100-mile (1,800-km) event, which came under fire for an unusually high number of dog deaths.
Hunt of Marquette, Michigan, was the 52nd musher to complete Alaska's most popular sporting event, finishing in 15 days, 14 hours, 6 minutes and 22 seconds, nearly six full days after Lance Mackey claimed his third victory in the Anchorage to Nome race.
Since he was the last musher to finish, Hunt received the "Red Lantern" award -- a reference to the red light at the back of a long train -- meant to signify perseverance.
Amid the Iditarod celebrations and honors, some animal rights activists raised questions about the number of dog deaths.
Iditarod spokesman Chas St. George said, "We've had five deaths associated with the race this year, and that's five too many. The goal is zero fatalities."
Preliminary investigations show that two of the dogs died from pulmonary edemas, or fluid in the lungs, associated with heart abnormalities, St. George said. The cause of death for the three other cases is unknown, he said.
Typically, one or two dogs die during the running of the Iditarod. A sixth Iditarod dog died in a post-competition aircraft incident.
The race has stringent dog-care protocols, which were improved for this year's race with the use of tracking devices that allowed mushers to summon aid if needed, St. George said.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a longtime critic of the race, said the Iditarod's investigations were not good enough and asked the Alaska State Troopers to launch a criminal inquiry.
"The Iditarod is more than a thousand miles of torment for these dogs," PETA Director Debbie Leahy said in a statement.
"Every year, dogs suffer serious injuries and death. The five dogs who paid for this race with their lives deserve justice. And that means holding these mushers accountable under Alaska's very clear cruelty-to-animals law."
The state's police agency said no investigation is planned, unless the race's organizer requests it.
"Unless the Iditarod Trail Committee indicates some concern over the treatment or cause of death of these animals, we do not generally investigate those particular events," it said in a statement. "If someone within the Iditarod Trail Committee or from the public has evidence of behavior that is beyond normal practices of mushing activities, we will gladly look into these acts."
(Editing by Bill Rigby)
I don't usually care about this sort of thing, but Letterman is my favorite...and being able to watch him every night is one of the great things about being retired.
Way to go Dave!!!
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Late-night TV comic David Letterman has quietly married his longtime girlfriend, telling audience members of his show on Monday that he almost missed the ceremony because his truck was stuck in mud.
Letterman, 61, and Regina Lasko tied the knot during a courthouse ceremony near their Montana ranch last Thursday. The couple, who have been dating since 1986, were accompanied by their 5-year-old son, Harry.
" ... I had avoided getting married pretty good for, like, 23 years, and I -- honestly, whether this happened or not -- I secretly felt that men who were married admired me ... like I was the last of the real gunslingers," Letterman said, according to a "Late Show" transcript provided by a spokesman.
But the afternoon ceremony at the Teton County Courthouse in Choteau (pop. 1,700) was delayed by an hour because the family's pickup truck was stuck in mud two miles from their house. Letterman was forced to walk back in a howling gale to get the car.
"So then we get in the car and Harry says, 'Are we still going into town?' and I said, 'Yes, we are,' and he gets very upset because Mom had told him if I wasn't back in an hour, the deal was off."
Letterman's spokesman declined to reveal any details about the ceremony, or to give Lasko's age. Letterman, who was married once before, is intensely private, and is rarely photographed with his family.
The news of his nuptials was first broken by celebrity tabloid US Weekly.
(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)
Monday, March 23, 2009
Date: March 23, 2009 at 4:56 pm
DATE: Monday, March 23, 2009
TO: Race Officials
FROM: Mark Nordman, Race Marshal
Earlier today (at approximately 12 noon AKDT) Iditarod Race officials sent a plane from Nome to Shaktoolik to pick up scratched musher Alan Peck’s dog team.
On the flight back to Nome the aircraft encountered significant turbulence. By the time the pilot was able to land in Golovin, it was discovered that one of the dogs (Cirque, a 2 year-old female) was deceased.
The dogs were in good condition when loaded on the plane. A necropsy will be conducted to make every attempt to determine the cause of death.
Posted by Iditarod Staff in Race Coverage
Date: March 22, 2009 at 11:11 pm
The Nome Recreation Center was full of hundreds of Iditarod race fans as the 2009 Iditarod Finishers were recognized for their achievements during the thirty seventh edition of “The Last Great Race on Earth.” The Finishers Banquet was catered by the Millennium Alaskan Hotel, as dozens of volunteers from Nome and beyond served the many who attended. Below is a listing of the Awards that were awarded earlier this evening;
PenAir Spirit of Alaska Award- The recipient of the 2009 PenAir Spirit of Alaska award is Aaron Burmeister from Nenana Alaska. The award is a beautiful framed mask depicting the spirit of the “team”. Burmeister also received $500 credit for travel or freight.
GCI Dorothy G. Page Halfway Award- Presented to Lance Mackey from Fairbanks Alaska who was the first musher to arrive in Iditarod Alaska. Lance received $2,500 in gold nuggets and a beautiful trophy.
Millennium Alaskan Hotel Anchorage First To the Yukon Award- Presented to Lance Mackey from Fairbanks Alaska; the first Musher to arrive in Anvik Alaska on the banks of the Yukon. While in Anvik, Mackey received a nine course meal. Tonight Mackey received an additional $3,500 in one dollar bills as the “after dinner mint” for his efforts.
Wells Fargo Bank Alaska Gold Coast Award- Presented to Lance Mackey from Fairbanks Alaska. Mackey was the first musher to arrive in the Gold Coast community of Unalakleet. He was awarded a beautiful trophy and $2,500 in gold nuggets.
Nome Kennel Club Fastest Time from Safety to Nome Award- Presented by the Nome Kennel Club. The recipient for the fastest time between Safety and Nome is Ramey Smyth from Willow Alaska. He was able to complete the trek from Safety to Nome in 2 hours and 27 minutes. He received $500 for his efforts.
2008 Horizon Iditarod Most Improved Musher Award- Was awarded to Dallas Seavey from Seward Alaska. Dallas went from 41st position in 2007 to sixth in 2009.
Rookie of the Year- The Rookie of the Year Award has been sponsored by Jerry and Clara Austin of St. Michael Alaska since 1980. The 2009 Rookie of the Year was Chad Lindner from Brookline Massachusetts. He received $1,500 and a trophy for his efforts.
ExxonMobil 37th Iditarod Award- Exxonmobil presented an Iditarod Gold Coin (valued at $2,500) to Harry Alexi, from Bethel Alaska for being the 37th musher to arrive in Nome
Fred Meyer Sportsmanship Award- This award includes $1,000 in Fred Meyer Gift Cards and was awarded to Aaron Burmeister of Nenana Alaska for helping a musher find his team.
Chevron Most Inspirational Musher Award- Presented to Iditarod musher Trent Herbst from Ketchum Idaho. Trent received the award for the work he has done in the classroom teaching his students all about “The Last Great Race on Earth.” The honor included a trophy and $1,000 worth of Chevron gas.
Golden Clipboard Award- The 2008 Golden Clipboard is awarded to the checkpoint along the Iditarod Trail that exemplifies community teamwork The 2009 recipient is the village of Nikolai Alaska.
Golden Stethoscope Award- Awarded to the veterinarian deemed most helpful on the trail by the members of the Iditarod Official Finishers Club was awarded to Dr. Denny Albert from Denali Alaska.
Alaska Airlines Leonhard Seppala Humanitarian Award- is based on specific criteria to determine who has best demonstrated outstanding dog care through out the Race while remaining competitive. Alaska Airlines presented the award to Iditarod 2009 Champion Lance Mackey. Mackey received a lead crystal cup on an illuminated wooden base and two free round trip tickets to anywhere on the Alaska Airlines system.
The City of Nome Lolly Medley Golden Harness Award Winner- Originally presented by the late Lolly Medley, Wasilla harness maker and one of two women to run the second Iditarod in 1974. The award honors an outstanding lead dog, chosen by the mushers. This year’s recipient was Kuling a 9 year old member of Jessie Royer’s team from Fairbanks Alaska. Kuling has completed seven Iditarods and led her team to an 8th place finish in 2009. She was Jessie’s lead dog for all seven of her Iditarods.
Northern Air Cargo Herbie Nayokpuk Memorial Award- Presented to the musher chosen by staff and officials as the person who most closely mimics “Herbie” in his/her attitude on the trail. This year’s recipient was Sonny Lindner from Fairbanks Alaska. He received a free freight allotment on Northern Air Cargo, $1,049 cash and a trophy.
Wells Fargo Winner’s Purse Award- Was awarded to the 2009 Iditarod Champion, Lance Mackey. This year’s award was $69,000.
Anchorage Chrysler Dodge Official Truck Award- Was awarded to the 2009 Iditarod Champion, Lance Mackey. Mackey received a 2008 Dodge Ram Laramie “HEMI” 4/x/4 quad cab pick up.
During the Banquet each musher had the opportunity to try starting a brand new 4 wheel Bombardier compliments of Northern Air Cargo. The winning key belonged to Robert Nelson from Kotzebue Alaska.
Posted by Iditarod Staff in Race Coverage