Friday, October 24, 2014

Five Buck Truck!


A dog truck isn’t a want for Snowhook Kennel.  It’s a must-have member of our Iditarod team.  And, up until its unexpected demise last week---complete with foul odors, black smoke, coughing, gasping, swearing, and much ado about mechanics--- prayer has been a critical component of our auto maintenance plan. 

A truck payment was not in our budget for this year.  Is it possible to raise $5000 to help with a down payment on a truck in less than two days?  That’s almost the equivalent if all of Snowhook’s fans on Facebook laid $5 down, or $5 for each mile of the Iditarod race. 

Join Team (insert possibly witty, heartfelt, long, short, boring, fun---we could got any which way, but definitely forthcoming---name here)  with a $5 or more contribution and help Snowhook haul huskies to starting lines, from finish lines, to training trails, and to and from the vet.  

and help us meet our goal of $5000 by noon (AK) Saturday, October 25th!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Harris: Snowhook’s Latest Rescue

The text message was short with the sweetness up for interpretation.  It was classic AJ. 
“We just got a new dog.”
Fair enough. 
With a few back and forth text, it was explained that the new dog was in fact a four-month old pup who was not going to have much of a future.  AJ’s decision was easy.  He knew Rebecca would not turn away a dog in need of a second chance.  There is always enough love to go around, she is quick to tell anyone.  If AJs text was classic him, this reaction to a new dog was definitive Rebecca.
Despite the low pay and a vision plan solely based on squinting, Rebecca, as Snowhook’s Chief Naming Officer named the pup in short order.  Named for a friend and sponsor of Snowhook, Harris, the pup not the person has made herself welcome at the Kennel.  As she should, as she should.  She has stolen several gloves like a proud member of the Outlaw litter, convinced Tenzing that he doesn’t need all the dog pillows for his own, and serves full-time as AJ’s shadow. 
Welcome home, Harris, welcome home.    

Friday, July 18, 2014

Bjourn’s Bad Day: It’s all Fun and Games until Someone Ends up in a Cone

“I think I broke Bjourn,” Rebecca began her phone call with AJ.  Away for work throughout the summer, their nightly phone call always began with an update about the dogs and goings on in the kennel.  Dogs first, the rest of life---if such a thing exists---second.    
“What did you do?”  The musher’s concern for the lead dog was evident in his voice. 
“I put a cone on him,” she confessed. “I’ve never seen a dog react that way to the cone of shame.”
“Yeah, he’s a pretty sensitive dog.”  Knowing their dog, concern gave way to laughter as Rebecca filled AJ in on the details of Bjourn’s bad day. 

*****

            “Oh, Bjourn, what did you do to yourself?”  Rebecca questioned the black dog as she examined a small sore on his side while she did the evening chores.  In true canine fashion, he offered up no explanation.  “Let’s get you cleaned up.”
            Bjourn watched as his wound was cleaned and treated with care.  He included the occasional lick of Rebecca’s fingers or face to aid her efforts.  “There, good as new,” she said as she completed her work and gave him a scratch between his sizable ears. 
As soon as Rebecca’s fingers parted from Bjourn’s fur, he took to licking the sore on his side with the newly added wound-care condiments.  “Bjourn!”
He stopped licking.  What?
With shovel and bucket in hand, she moved to Bjourn’s neighbor with thoughts of cleaning the rest of the kennel. 
The licking started again. 
“Bjourn!”
The licking stopped again.  What?
Determined that her work not being undone, Rebecca set off for the barn emerging moments later with a cone.  With pink hockey tape around the edges to keep the cone from cracking in cold temperatures, the cone had served Snowhook well over the years.  Garcia, of the Freight Train Eight litter had been the cone’s most recent resident.  Rebecca smiled at the memory of her dear boy wandering around in the cone.  He may not have worn it with pride, but he had accepted it as part of a new found fashion sense. 
“Bjourn, meet the cone,” she said as she approached the black lead dog.  “Cone, meet Bjourn,”   She held the cone at snout height for inspection and a standard sniff and whiff greeting. 
As Rebecca slipped the cone over Bjourn’s head and secured it to his collar, Bjourn waged a vocal campaign---equal parts howl, cry, car alarm, and Chewbacca---to verbalize his disgust.
After securing the lampshade barrier, she told herself he just needed a few minutes to adjust.  She grabbed the shovel and bucket to complete her evening scooping duties.  He will be fine, he will be fine. 
Bjourn was certain he was not fine. 
Reaching the opposite end of the kennel, the bucket heavier than before, Rebecca stood straight and looked in Bjourn’s direction.  He was silent---when did that happen? 
As if the weight of the world had filled the cone around his neck, Bjourn’s head drooped, the cone flush to the ground.  Her heart ached at the sight.  I think I broke Bjourn. 
As she approached and setting aside the tools of a dog handler’s trade, she spoke, “Bjourn?”  The cone, not lifting from the dusty ground moved in her direction.  “Bud, you okay?”  The cone shifted toward her again. 
She stood next to him and touched his side.  “Bjourn, bud.”  The cone raised from the ground and covered the toe of her boot allowing it into his new world. 
As she slipped the cone off of her canine, he jumped, arms wrapping around her waist.  Let me tell you about the day I’ve had!

            Rebecca stroked Bjourn’s ears, his black fur warm in the evening sun.  “A cone isn’t your style.  Point taken.”

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Let the Bidding Begin! --- AUCTION IS NOW CLOSED

This is no time for a nap!----Snowhook's summer online auction is officially open!

Bid early, bid often---with over 40 items, this could be our biggest auction yet. 
The auction closes on Sunday, July 6, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. (AKST). 

THE AUCTION IS NOW CLOSED

This is our first auction since Melanie Montague passed.  It was an honor to dedicate our 2014 Iditarod to our friend as she battled against liver cancer.  Melanie volunteered her talents to primp the photos in all our past auctions.  To honor our dear friend, the auction site was accented with purple, her favorite color.  She is missed.  

Friday, March 14, 2014

In Memoriam: Melanie Montague Carpenter

Two journeys have come to an end. The first when the team passed under the burled arch yesterday, and the second occurred last night. Melanie, dear friend of the kennel, passed away after a fierce battle with liver cancer.

It was Snowhook's honor to dedicate our 2014 Iditarod to Melanie, and an even greater honor to call her our friend.
 
 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Hard Fought Finish Line: 10d 21h 18m 24s

"The dogs did exactly as I trained them to run," AJ said shortly before he fell asleep after 10 days, 21 hours, 18 minutes and 24 seconds on the trail, and a 33rd place finish.
 
Yes, the dogs did quite well. They led him through terrain, the likes of which he hopes never to see again. They darted through ferocious winds to deliver him to the next checkpoint. And, in the final seventy-seven mile stretch, caught in a blow hole, AJ trusted the dogs he could no longer see in the whiteout conditions. Out of a band of amazing canine athletes and partners who did he choose to lift above his head to touch paw to burled arch?---The whimsical Louisa Mae. Having led sporadically throughout the season she did not rank among his main leaders going into the race. Yet, this sweet girl led the team for the final 200 miles of the race and across the finish line in a race that will go down in Iditarod history.

Stories are slowly being shared about the difficulty of the race---the details may not come at all---yet each tale is punctuated by the black bruises that span the length of AJ's body. It was a hard fought finish line.

And now, we rest.

***
It was an honor to dedicate our 2014 Iditarod to Melanie.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Waiting in White Mountian

There is no place like Nome especially around the race. The burled arch is erected on Front Street waiting for each team to welcome the finish of a hard fought race. Constant chatter and slinging of stories from the trail are white noise in the Mini-Convention center that serves as the Nome-based headquarters.   
A lot can happen between the seventy-seven mile run between White-Mountain, the checkpoint where teams take a mandatory eight hour layover and the finish line, yet I expect to see the team running up Front Street midday on Thursday. What a race! The team may not have crossed under the burled arch yet, but this race with low snow, a trail that waged war on the mushers, high winds and a high scratch rate is one for the record books.

Is it possible to express my pride in AJ and the dogs that have partnered together in this journey? Hardly. It is the kind of pride that takes my words and fills my heart with burning and my eyes with tears. 

***

Our finish line nears as does Melanie’s. Both are surrounded with love.

Prayer 11

Creator – we thank you for this day, and for the safe travels of all who are far from home. We thank you for the rest they will have, a deep and peaceful rest to sustain them through the rest of their journey.
     Tonight AJ is closer to the finish line. His courage and his honor have held him up during this difficult race. The strong hearts of his dogs have sustained them through the terrible trails. The partnership this team has will bring them across the line together, and their love will be obvious to all.
     Tonight, Melanie is closer to the end of her journey on this earth. Let her heart be at peace, knowing how much she is loved; knowing how many lives she has touched, knowing that she has lived an honorable life.
     Creator – we ask you to lead the team to Nome, bring them through the ice and winds; bring them through the night and the fog. Let the finish line burn bright in their eyes that they may see their goal so close at hand.
     We ask that the team sleep well this night at White Mountain. Let them sleep a deep and restoring sleep as a tribute to all they have done.
     Creator – tomorrow the team will rejoin Rebecca, and all will be a family again. Let us celebrate the joy of a job well done, of reuniting of loved ones, of testing themselves against all odds and finding the courage and the strength to do the impossible. We are grateful to be a part of this family and this adventure. We ask you to wrap AJ and Rebecca and the team in the comfort of our love.
    Creator – we thank you for this day, and for the safe travels of all who are far from home. We thank you for the rest they will have, a deep and peaceful rest to sustain them through the rest of their journey.
    For then they will be home.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Norton Sound: Safety First

I may have been present when many of our pups take their first breath in this world and there when, as dogs, they take their last breath. I may work to socialize rescues and help them find their place in the kennel, yet a different bond exists between AJ and the dogs he takes on the trail. They return home from the race with a secret language that only they speak. This bond, this marriage between musher and mutts, is the reason the dogs will follow AJ’s lead as they cross sea ice, face down the barrel of treacherous terrain, and are slanted by howling winds. This bond---one of trust---is a beautiful thing.
The team is past the Norton Sound a few short hours ago. This is the same stretch of the race in 2012 that they were lost for several hours. On that race, as AJ twisted and turned the team through a maze of jumble ice he was discouraged.  Sitting in front of the team, he thought about his plan.  As he considered their options, they jumped in his lap and in a tangle of dogs and man, they comforted each other. It was then that AJ decided their race was not over, yet. Fortified by their bond, they eventually made their way to Koyuk.  This year, the bond carried the team again.  
Despite a strong arrival into the Shaktoolik checkpoint and the plan to continue onto Koyuk after a short rest, the team waited out a storm that forced surprising scratches of seasoned mushers further up the trail.  Watching the time and distance that he has worked to create diminish, a decision has to be made.  Do you keep your race at the forefront?  Or, do you put safety first?  I know AJ.  To risk the dogs is not his way---Safety.  Almost twenty hours after arriving in Shaktoolik, AJ led a long string of teams across the Sound many of which caught up to him as he waited out the weather.  

Prayer 10

Creator – we thank you for this day, and for the freedom we have to travel about in your world. We see not only the land of our family, but we travel to distant places to be with friends, to learn new ways, to open our eyes to the beauty all around us.
Tonight, many of this family are traveling. We ask you to watch over all of them, keep them safe and guide them to their destinations.
We ask you to protect AJ and his dogs as they travel through storms and icy paths. Give them vision to find their way, give them endurance to continue their journey. We ask you to keep the finish line in AJ’s heart, let him know that each step brings him closer to the one he loves.
As Rebecca is traveling to Nome tonight, we ask you to watch over her, and keep her safe. Please lift her in your caring arms, heal her from ills, and giver her restoring rest. We ask you to give her serenity while she waits for the one she loves to come to her.
As Staff, Dawson and Barb make their way east, we ask you to keep them safe and make their journey one of lightness and laughter and friendship. We thank you giving these friends bound this time together to celebrate life.
As Melanie makes her way towards her path, we ask you to be with her and all her family. Creator, please give them all courage, and peace. We thank you for giving us this time with Melanie, for she has made such a difference in so many lives. As we think of her friendship and caring, we ask you to carry her gently, until it is time for her to come to you.
Some of our travels may not be across the roads; we may be traveling in our own journey of learning how to best live this life you have given us. We ask you to be our guide, to help us live in a way that is honorable, caring and generous. We ask you to show us the way to live a life that is pleasing to your pattern.
Creator – we thank you for this day, and for the freedom we have to travel about in your world. We see not only the land of our family, but we travel to distant places to be with friends, to learn new ways, to open our eyes to the beauty all around us.