Early Season Update

A couple free loaders on our run!

After a few weeks of fall training, all the dogs are looking amazing! I may be biased, but I’d say they’re the best dogs out there! Here’s a short blurb about each ADULT athlete’s performance so far this season. I’ll be doing another blog post updating everyone on the yearlings’ performances as well as the retired athletes.

Amelia- She’s looking strong and focused. Amelia is one who moderately enjoys human contact, but prefers to hang with her canine buddies. I don’t think she particularly cares if I’m on the team or if it’s some other human. She’s a great eater and works hard, so if she maintains focus, she’ll be vying for a spot in the A Team.

Badger- Badger has Perm’s limitless energy. With his thick coat and good appetite, I think he’ll mature into a fantastic Quest athlete. He has a tough head and leads occasionally in training. Badger is looking strong so far this season, so if he maintains his weight (youngsters can have a hard time keeping weight on), he’ll be right in there with the core team.

Boone- Boone is sassy and jazzed for training. I love the energy she brings to a team. She made the Quest team last year and was one of the remaining athletes when we ended our race early in Circle, but her finicky appetite in cold weather is never a good trait when racing the Quest. Each year she seems to get a stronger appetite and hold weight better, so there’s certainly a chance she’ll be on the Quest team! Boone is a mainstay on the CB team, having run the race the last three years.

Cartel- Cartel is looking excellent. While running, Cartel normally either “power trots” or “ditzy lopes.” When Cartel is in the zone, she has a hard driving, authoritative trot. When Cartel is pulling but at 1/2 strength, she does what I call a “ditzy lope.” The ditzy lope is fine and still keeps us moving down the trail, but the power trot is something to write home about, and Cartel has been in 100% power trot mode. I hope she keeps that all season!

CJ- CJ is a little chunky coming off her summer hibernation, but that’s not slowing her down. She’s been training farther back in the team, normally with Yuker, just because she’s one of the few that won’t put up with Yuker’s antics. CJ is trail-hardened and proven, so she feels no need to brag and flaunt her athleticism like some of the youngsters. CJ used to be the troublemaker, but she’s starting to settle down and relax a bit.

Cooke- I’m really excited about this two-year-old. Cooke has been leading a lot, picks up commands, and has non-stop energy (almost to a fault). Because he’s always moving, it’s near impossible to keep weight on Cooke. If Cooke doesn’t make the A-Team this year, it will be for his exceptionally high metabolism. His drive, focus, and gait are perfect.

Crunch- Goofy Crunch. He’s doing great in training and makes sure we don’t forget our sense of humor. He’s playful and happy. Crunch gets a little too worked up during harnessing and can overheat before we leave the yard, but normally once we go through some puddles he’s good to go. Crunch also struggles to poop on the move, so we stop the whole team for him.

Drake- Drake is READY! He had a boring summer on the injury reserve list. At the end of last year’s Quest, Drake had a swollen Achilles and was prescribed months of rest. No sprinting, no running, no jumping- the poor guy! He’s back in training and seems to be doing well. He has another vet appointment scheduled for an ultrasound to check on the status of his injury. Fingers crossed Drake is good to go!

Elmer- Elmer is doing exceptional. He leads regularly, though he has a stubborn streak and likes to question my directional commands occasionally. Elmer is not a fan of water, so the enormous puddles we cross in training have been good practice. Elmer is very sweet and trots along just like his mom Crazy. Hopefully he has her Iditarod Champion endurance! Like several of the two-year-olds, if Elmer holds his weight, he’ll be in contention for the A-Team.

Ewok- Ewok has been leading often in training. She’s a bit of an airhead, so when she’s up front, it is mostly for her speed and drive. I have to run her up front with someone like Lefty, Goblin, or Katy to make sure she’s moving in the right direction. I like her energy and enthusiasm, so I hope to work with her in lead more this winter. Maybe by the end she’ll know Gee and Haw!

Fenton- I’m so excited to have this guy 100% again. Fenton had a swollen wrist tendon November of last year, meaning he had to sit out the rest of the season. Iditarod and Yukon Quest finisher, this guy has done it all. He’s exceptionally strong and has the best attitude around. I expect him to be on the Quest team. Fenton can run with anyone and is a great influence for his teammates.

Fish- Flying Fishy is spunky and ready to run. She’s one of the first to start chirping when I walk by the harness rack or pull out the ATV. Fish also likes to get the after-dinner howl going, but boy, she doesn’t have the prettiest singing voice. I can relate though. It’s fun just to belt it out anyway! Fish’s endless energy puts her squarely in the mix for the A-Team.

Flash- Flash, a.k.a. the Jumping Bean. Immediately leaving the yard (or anytime the team is going slow by Flash’s standards), she starts jumping up in the air as if she has turbo boosters. However, it doesn’t actually help that much sense the force is upward and not forward, but that’s ok. Her extreme excitement is almost tangible! She’s a huge cheerleader for the team with a need for speed. Her distant sprint dog relatives shine through occasionally because she just wants to go faster!

Goblin- The man. He’s starting off the season amazing as always. He’s been leading most runs, accompanied by a two-year-old to show the youngster the ropes. His old man croak bark is one of the first to be heard when I start stirring in the cabin before a run (his bark and Fish’s). Goblin is a very important athlete in the A-Team.

Jana- Jana is one of the older athletes on the team this year at seven-years-old. Even though Jana has beyond proven herself, she is one of the hardest driving dogs in the yard every single run as if she can never let a youngster one up her. Jana has been leading a fair amount in training. Given her extensive experience, she doesn’t need the miles that the two-year-old athletes do in training. Jana will run enough to stay in shape, but she has nothing to prove. She’s a rockstar.

Katy- Katy is in a similar boat as Jana. She’s trail hardened and proven. Katy has been training youngsters in lead and struts around the yard as if she owns it. It doesn’t matter that Katy weighs 35 pounds, she doesn’t put up with any sass from the pups. She’s been on the A-Team since she was a 2-year-old (well, back when I only had one team), and I see no reason why that would change now.

King Louie- Louie is beautiful. He glides across the ground with a seamless trot. When he wants our attention, Louie leaps onto his back legs and claps his front paws together over and over. It’s so cute, it’s irresistible and you have to go over to say hi. Louie is looking great in training. He has been running in lead with either Lefty or Goblin. He’s a little more sensitive than his siblings, so while I do want to push him this season, it’s more important that he keeps a happy attitude and matures for future years.

Lefty- There’s something special about this weirdo. He won’t let most people trim his nails and acts dominant yet shy with strangers, but he’s just so incredibly smart. A couple days ago, I left the yard on a training run with Lefty in lead. I yelled “Gee”, meaning up ahead take a right. He took the “Gee” very literally and made a 90 degree right, running past our parked cars and off towards the garden, wrapping the team around the platforms. I had to laugh, because he had in fact taken the command! While Lefty will never lead a Copper Basin Champion team (he’s rather slow), he’s one of the few dogs I’d trust to lead us through a white out blizzard, around open leads in the Yukon, or into the unknown.

Nile- Nile is beautiful just like his siblings. He’s rocking training so far. Normally he runs near the back of the team, but that’s only because his house is situated near the back of the hookup area. I plan to start running him in lead more since he showed leadership drive as a yearling. He’s huge and strong. Like the other 2-year-olds, if he can hold weight, Nile will be an A-Team contender.

Perm- Oh Perm. Her high-pitched bark greets me any time I step outside. Spunky, happy, endlessly energetic- these are all Perm traits that she passed on to her pups. I haven’t run her in lead during training (she’s a better race leader), but she’s always near the front. I expect Perm will be an A-Team athlete. Her obnoxious, in-your-face energy is a huge motivation for everyone! Myself included. She’s looking stellar as usual.

Rucu- Rucu is pumped to be back in the team and is looking strong. He’s trotting smoothly and seems to be 100%. Fingers crossed he’ll stay healthy this season after a reoccurring stiffness last winter. Rucu is one big muscle and maybe even the strongest dog in the team. It’d fun to hook a gauge to his tagline and see what sort of pounds he’s pulling.

Supai- Daddy-O! Supai is the father of the most recent litter of Izzy pups. He’s looking rock solid as usual. His tail seems to wag nonstop, and I hope that happy gene is passed along to the next generation. I anticipate Supai being on the A-Team again, since he always is. If dogs wore jerseys, I’d retire his number at the end of his racing career.

Uno- Make sure you’ve had your morning coffee before trying to pet Uno. Or maybe, Uno will be your substitute for a cup of coffee. There seems to be a magnet between her face and your head, meaning she always wants to jump up and be right in your face. She’s just so excited to see you and can’t wait to show her love. Her body seems to buzz with energy. I’ve considered turning her swivel into the next form of green energy and powering my whole house. Uno was the dark horse on the A-Team last year and did fabulously, so I hope she’ll have a similar performance this season.

Vanessa- Vanessa is a lot like Uno. She’s super energetic and playful, but only with the boys. Tyler has run her in lead a few times and said she did pretty well, so I intend to work with her up front throughout the winter. She has a spastic quality to her (like all her relatives), but it makes for a positive team atmosphere. She’s not particularly loud when hooked up, she just has such happy body language that it’s infectious.

Wingman- I’ve been running him in lead a lot with Goblin. I’d love for Wingman to mature into a main leader. He loves to eat, has a positive attitude, and did really well last year as a two-year-old. Wingman likes to do a couple laps around the yard before coming to the line at hook up as if to get some “zoomies” out. I really like Wingman’s agile, athletic build and anticipate he’ll be on the A-Team again this season.

Wombat- Wombat has matured into a really wonderful dog. She’s curious and cocks her head to the side whenever you croak “Wombat.” She used to circle incessantly and have a crazy, detached way about her, but now she’s calmer and very easy to connect with. She’s starting the season looking strong. Last year she ran on the A-Team in the Copper Basin and Quest, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she was on the A-Team again this year.

Yuker- Yuker is a brute, and I say that in a very affectionate and loving tone. He’s kind of like Uno. Half harnesses don’t fit him well, so while the whole team wears half harnesses, Yuker is wearing a traditional one and getting tangled in everything. You just have to sigh and say, oh Yuker. His enthusiasm can be exhausting on a five mile run, but I’m certain that at mile 700, Yuker will be one of the first ones out of the straw. He is very sweet and loves affection, just a tad excitable. I’m anticipating he’ll be in the A-Team!