WOW- the autumn colors have been unreal this year. It’s normally a joke that fall lasts one week, and while that’s mostly true, the one week of fall this year has had blue skies and warmer than average temperatures. We’re still able to run teams in the mornings, but by 10:00 or 11:00, it’s toasty! We always wish it was a bit colder (until it’s -30 or -40F), but right now, we’re all rather enjoying this gorgeous season. The dogs get their exercise first thing in the morning when it’s cooler, then they bask, napping in the sun while humans work on finishing up projects before winter arrives for real.
Anyone who has been following along with our tour business, Last Frontier Mushing Co-op, has probably seen photos of our reindeer. I’ve had several folks ask me, why reindeer? And my normal response is- why not?! I’ve always dreamed of having a farm, and reindeer are the ultimate arctic farm animals. Their coats are exceptionally thick, so frigid -50F temperatures are no big deal. In the winter, the reindeer eat the snow for hydration, so a water trough isn’t necessary. They’re browsers, meaning that our fields of saplings are PERFECT habitats for them. Seeing as caribou and reindeer are just different subspecies, they’re essentially made for the Arctic. I love watching them eat and move. They’re curious and agile. Long story short- who wouldn’t want a couple reindeer?
In our pursuit to begin a reindeer farm, we (Last Frontier Mushing Co-op) purchased three reindeer last fall- Ronin, Chisto, and Olive. A bull and two cows, these are to be the foundation of our new herd. They were all about one and half years old and had lived most of their life in the company of other reindeer, not humans. Ronin, with his bullish confidence, has learned to tolerate us, but Chisto and and Olive are a little more timid. Because we hope to incorporate reindeer as an educational and interactive component in our tours, we decided to not overly stress Ronin, Chisto, and Olive and instead focus on socializing their future offspring. Unfortunately, Mother Nature decided our herd wasn’t ready to produce calves, so we decided to acquire two new bull calves with whom to begin training. And guess what- they arrived yesterday! These two boys are already quickly warming up to their new human and canine herdmates. As I type this blog post, I’m sitting in their pen, watching them nap, snore, and burp. Such cuties.
Temperatures have been getting cooler and the pups are feeling SPUNKY!
We’ve been regularly taking out 10-dog teams for a short two miles to stretch their legs and get them warmed up before we start fall training. Even though they’ve hardly gotten their heart rate up by the time we return to the yard, these shorter distances are perfect for newbies like Scarpa, Petzl, Bert, and Ernie. All four of the yearlings have been rocking it!
I took a short video of a training run this morning. The team comprised of Lefty and Crunch leading followed by Faff and Yoshi, Smoky and Bowser, Thresher and Scarpa, Petzl and Mario, Otis and Bull. Lots of youth and lots of enthusiasm!
Yesterday, Scott Chesney with Tailspin Media came out to the kennel for our yearly school portraits. This is Scott’s FIFTH year of doing portraits! Thank you Scott! Some of the dogs are photogenic and require little distractions. Others require just a squeaky toy. And others require squeaky toy, weird animal sounds on the phone, and exaggerated flapping movements by the entertainment staff (aka me).
Meet the latest recruits to the Ryno team- Tobin and Rose!
These two youngsters joined us from Tagish Lake Kennel.
Rose is super friendly and playful. She’s always the first to come running when called and loves people. She’s long-legged and isn’t afraid of the big dogs.
Tobin is adventurous and little more aloof. He does enjoy attention, but he prefers running through the trees and exploring. He picked up “sit” quickly. He’s fearless and will take off sprinting down a trail even if no one else is joining him.
If you followed the World Cup this summer, you’ll probably recognize the theme! These two pups are named after Tobin Heath and Rose Lavelle who were two of my favorite players to watch. Hopefully these two will be champions like their namesakes!