3 Years On

16 August 2012     3.00 PM    64 F   Cloudy with rain showers

So it seems I missed our anniversary.  No, not the important one, I’ll never forget when that is – but the anniversary of our arrival in Alaska. In my defence, I only missed it because I thought we didn’t arrive until the 18th August, when it seems we actually got here on the 13th.

Accordingly, I’ll take this opportunity to look back over our third year and forward to the coming one.

This year has been marred by the loss of 3 of our beloved dogs. Milloy died in April, Dushka in June and we just lost Bhu 2 weeks ago. Each loss hurts us deeply. No matter the number of dogs we have, each one is special, each one has their own place in our hearts. They are all so much more than just dogs.

We decided to have a litter of puppies with Cuchi as the intended mum. Deciding to have a litter is no small thing, a whole lot of thought goes into it – and there’s also a great distance between our decision and Mother Nature’s required co-operation. Fortunately, everything went according to plan and we were delighted to welcome 4 little bundles of fluff into our lives in November. Those tiny puppies are now 9 months old and a real joy to behold.

We also brought 5 more dogs into our kennel from Seppala Kennels in Manitoba. I returned with Arkady, Boofochko, Jakal, Yuri and Kalinka in June and they have all settled in really well. I’m excited to get them into harness in the next few weeks.

We had our usual allocation of visitors from the UK over the year and were delighted to host each and every one of them. Most of them are even welcome to come back. We also had visitors from several other US States and even had an Iditarod team spend the week prior to their big race here. Brent Sass went on to win Rookie of the Year, solely due to our relaxing accommodations, I’m sure.

Our running plans didn’t quite follow their prescribed path, even with the help of a handler. As ever, the dogs were doing wonderfully well, it was their human who continued to be the very weak link in the chain. There’s always next year – he says hopefully. However, we did make some progress, saw quite a lot of trail that I had never travelled before and managed to get a reasonable number of miles under the dogs’ paws before all the snow melted away.

So, 3 years on from our first week in Alaska, we’re looking forward to the year ahead. We already have some visitors confirmed for the winter and we’re always ready to host more. As ever, the dogs will be our main focus of attention – it is why we are here after all.  Each year, I learn a little more and feel a bit more prepared for the coming season. Our dogs have also learnt a lot, especially those young dogs for whom this is all a new experience.

I set a target of entering a race last winter and we failed to achieve that. However, we did learn quite a bit (despite my injuries and bad back) that will hopefully make it easier to actually attain that goal this year. So, this year, my stated aim is to be on the start line of the Don Bowers Memorial Sled Dog Race, a 200 mile race leaving from Willow on 25th January.

There’s a lot of work to be done between now and then, but with commitment and effort, there’s no reason we can’t be there.  A friend posted one of those funny sayings on Facebook a few weeks ago, that I found to be strangely reassuring and surprisingly motivating.

It said  DLF >>DNF>>>DNS.

A Dead Last Finish beats a Did Not Finish which greatly trumps a Did Not Start.

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