I arrived in my new home state of Alaska 19 years ago last month. Sometimes it's hard to wrap my brain around the fact that I've lived in Alaska longer than any other place. Before I was pretty footloose. I was born in Missouri, raised in Colorado, and at various times lived in California (as a very small child), Missouri, Wyoming, Colorado and Washington and have additionally spent significant amounts of time in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Idaho, North and South Dakota and Kansas. About the only states west of the Missouri River that I haven't done more than just drive through were Nevada, Nebraska, Oklahom and Texas, and I have driven through them from time to time.
Even when living within the confines of a single State I've moved around quite a bit. I returned to Colorado after a three-year stint in Wyoming in 1976 and remained until 1989. During that 13 year stretch I lived in Buena Vista, Loveland, Denver, Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Mesa Verde National Park and Crested Butte.
So, being naturally footloose and fancy free it seems remarkable that I've lived in the Interior of Alaska for 19 years, and in my current home for 16 of those years, with no immediate intention of moving. It's even more remarkable when you consider that Alaska is one of those places where a person consciously and intentionally makes the decision to stay each and every year, generally about break-up. As much as I enjoy winter activities, winters up here aren't easy. Some are just harder than others. After one of those hard winters with weeks of forty-below temperatures a person really does have to make a conscious decision to stick around for a while longer.
My regular trips Outside for training are a nice perq of the job, but they also serve to remind me why I choose to remain in Alaska. Even though I do my rotations in a rural area, that country is crowded with people. You can't hardly throw a rock without hitting someone, or someone's house or car. The hassles of driving in traffic and coping with neighbors who are too damned close too damned often is more than I choose to accept. Especially given the lack of back-country wildlands in which to escape that traffic or those crowds.
OK, enough reflection - let's share some news.
Linda Newman reports that Topa is coming right along in here pregnancy and she is expecting a little sometime around Thanksgiving. That's very cool and I'm looking forward to receiving a puppy from the litter. Topa is a full Hedlund Gray Husky and was bred to Oken, who is half Hedlund and half from Linda's remarkable "Zulu" line of old-school trapline dogs. The combination of the two is likely to produce some remarkable dogs to help preserve and perpetuate the Hedlund Gray Husky line.
With a bit of help from my handler, Ted, Kyle Belleque's leader Juliet is now in Eureka, where she is to be bred to Brent Sass' famous and heroic leader Silver. Kyle has offered me a female put from Juliet's breeding and I'm very excited to be able to bring some of that DNA into the Stardancer kennel. Silver is known to "throw true" for head, conformation and feet and Kyle's leaders are always excellent.
I love to boast that Ted is the best damned dog handler in the business, because he is. He knows his job inside, out and backwards, is a hard worker and is absolutely reliable. He has a cool head when things are going "wierd" around the yard. He is especially knowlegdeable about working Siberian huskies and is well on his way to developing a world class team of purebreds. Unfortunately, he and his wife Clare are also well on their way to home ownership. As a result, I need to recruit a new handler to start sometime between the first of next year and break-up.
In a day or two I'll try to post a full job description and information. Meanwhile, if you are interested in exchanging about 60 hours of labor each month for use of a new 12 X 16 foot dry cabin with heat and electricity provided, easy access to water, shower and laundry privileges, and room for your own team of dogs, please contact me by Email to firstname.lastname@example.org.