Monday, July 21, 2008

Preparing For Some Serious "R&R"

Tomorrow I'll be going off-duty at my place of employment, and heading home for some well deserved "R&R" (aka Rest and Real-Life). There is much to be done and enjoyed this time around.

My friend Janece will be flying up from Kentucky for the first week of my R&R. She is recovering from injuries suffered in a bad automobile collision and is under solemn doctor's orders to take time away from her work to REST and REHABILITATE. The only way for a business owner to get away from working is to get as far away from that business as possible, hence she will arriving late Tuesday night. The very easy-going agenda for this visit includes several trips to Chena Hot Springs to soak in the mineral hot springs.

Our informal "Red Lantern Club" is planning a pot-luck picnic and afternoon of fun with dogs for Thursday afternoon. Our "club" is really just a group of friends who train our sled dogs together, and who frequently quality for the traditional last-place consolation prize in most of the races in which we compete.

Friday morning my venerable and brilliant lead dog, Torus, will be going to the vet for the Big Snip. Having confirmed that Lucky is pregnant, Torus will be sterilized to reduce the risk of unintended breedings in my kennel. Frequent readers of this blog know that Torus is a truly exceptional leader, and he was bred to Lucky, an equally exceptional bitch belonging to musher Kyle Belleque of Dillingham. Kyle and I will be dividing the litter between us.

Lucky is due to whelp in the middle of August, and will probably do so while boarding with my training partner. Nonetheless I need to finish some details of her whelping pen, where she will raise the wee-ones during my time off from employment. Having finished converting a good shelter into an excellent whelping house with a removable roof, all the remains is to cover the pen with fencing wire to thwart the intentions of owls, hawks and other airborne predators with fresh puppy on the menu. To integrate that project with an enclosed storage barn for the straw used for bedding during the cold seasons, I'll need to remove some fence posts and replace them with taller posts, which will serve double duty in supporting the roof the new shed. If I'm reasonably diligent I should have the shed completed before I next return to my job.

There are also some smaller project that need to be completed in the next two weeks. Although it will be months before they are needed, I need to set up at least 3 more tethers. When the pups are ready to integrate into the main yard they will need houses and tethers, and they are much easier to set up during summer than after the ground has been frozen and covered in snow. I also plan to install some floodlights over the kennel so that I can illuminate it while doing my chores and to dissuade visitors of the wildlife variety. Finally, I'll need to install a pair of picket lines on which dogs can be temporarily restrained while they are being harnessed and prepared for training runs.

I'm sure that other projects will crop up in the future, but those details should basically complete the 2008 Kennel Renovation Project, and result in an unusually secure and efficient sled dog kennel for the Stardancer Historical Freight Dogs.

Meanwhile, on Saturday Janece and I are planning to take Chinook and Amazing Grace to a practice weight pull put on by the Interior Freight Dog Association. Although Chinook has been trained for weight pulling he's never had the opportunity to do so in competition against other dogs. At the time I got him, the IFDA was inactive. Now they have been revitalized so it's time to see what the "Big Guy" can do. Grace will come pull in order to introduce her to a new experience and give her a chance to play with her owner, Janece. If they do well, I will enter them in the real deal, a weight pulling competition at the Tanana Valley State Fair on Saturday, August 2nd.

Although it may seem early to those in the Lower-48, the Fair usually occurs during a transition in the weather that marks the difference between early and late summer. It is such a reliable occurence that we jokingly call it "Fair Weather", a pattern that is marked by gloomy, overcast skies, chilly temperatures and cold drizzling rain. Most years the Fair weather pattern develops in late July and lasts through most of August, and sometimes well into September. Many of us consider "Fair weather" to be natures little warning that winter is well on its way, and we'd best be finishing up our warm weather projects in a hurry.

So, that's what's happening here, that's the plan. We'll have to see how well it is executed.


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