Tiffany had to return to her home in Vancouver earlier than expected, which left us searching for a new long-term handler and caretaker. Jeff Garlough has accepted the position and is currently training in preparation for my return to work on Tuesday.
Jeff, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, has 8 dogs of his own, and needed to find a place where he and his team can enjoy some low-cost privacy. He is past president of the Two Rivers Dog Musher's Association and a very active volunteer within the association. All of the Stardancer dogs really like him, and I have a lot of confidence that he'll fit right in and will be a big help in achieving our own modest goals and objectives.
I got a call from the heater repairman last night, telling me that the heater for the cabin is now working properly. Apparently the circulating fan wasn't running quite fast enough to keep the cabinet at the proper temperature. With a new fan on it, it hasn't triggered the high temperature sensor at all. That's very good news, as it means I'll be able to have everything here at the place back in order before I have to return to work on Tuesday morning.
One of my neighbors, Eric Cosumtto, came by with his big snow machine and broke out my feeder trails for me yesterday, so there will be no problem getting my own dogs out over the course of this weekend. That's EXCELLENT news as I was starting to despair over whether I could actually get in a few more training runs. Now it's looking good for some trail time.
I also repaired a couple of gate latches that have been giving us trouble lately. Any major modifications will have to wait until summer, when I plan to expand the kennel size a bit and do some other fairly large projects around the place. That's for then, though, and today is now. I'm pleased that we've finally gotten everything properly dug-out from the big snow dump, and broken stuff is now repaired.
With most of the work done around the place, I let the puppies in for a good, long romp in the house. They are growing by leaps and bounds and just full of energy. Here are few photos from our play session.
|Chetan (foreground) and Animosh playing "Queen of the Futon"|
|Animosh checking out the camera|
|Chetan and Animosh seem very attracted to the futon|
While Jeff was feeding the team yesterday evening I shot a few photos of some of our dogs. Some of those turned out pretty well.
|Chinook is healing nicely|
|Aumaruq checking out the action|
|Nels is king of his dog house|
It appears to be a good morning for my friend Aliy Zirkle. When I checked on the Iditarod race this morning it was just in time to see that Aliy came in and out of Nulato in first place, having passed Mitch Seavey somewhere in the night. Mitch's son, Dallas is currently in 2nd place, heading into the checkpoint of Nulato. Jeff King is running in third and Mitch has fallen back into fourth place. John Baker is also well within striking distance of the leader.
We are now seeing the beginning of the 'end game' of the chess match. From here to the finish each musher will try to capitalize on his or her position, all trying to avoid mistakes that can cost precious time while seeking to take advantage of the mistakes made by their competitors. It's the part of the race where oversleeping for as little as an hour can determine whether you win the big bucks, or have to go home with a smaller pay check.
In other words, it's the part where the race gets really fun for spectators.