Link, Belle, and the Rest of the Crew

We’ve been a little quiet on social media for the last few days– Sorry about that. The metaphorical race trail that is this season has been a rough one. You could say we have some bad luck. OR you could say we have had extraordinarily good luck… We made it through our wildlife encounter with everyone alive; we were able to catch a few worrying veterinary issues and get them addressed by the great folks at North Pole Veterinary Hospital; we have an incredible set of followers and friends whose support has made a massive difference to our ability to go onward. Sometime the trail just gets bumpy.

Here’s an update about the last few vet visits:

With Belle, we had phenomenal news. You may have read that she went in recently for a worrying limp that we just couldn’t get to go away ever since the porcupine encounter. I was counseling myself to prepare for the worst– that this all-star athlete would race no more.

Well, North Pole came through again. Two vets worked together to meticulously palpate her wrist. They could tell she had pain in one specific area. After talking over what they saw, we decided to try an incision.

About 5 minutes later one of the vets came back proudly holding up the largest quill I could imagine being fully inside of a wrist. I was beyond excited. The worry is that a quill is present but kind of hidden– never find-able. Well, they found it, and they got that sucker out. I was almost hopping from excitement in the vets’ office. I had so thoroughly prepared myself for bad news that I wasn’t sure what to do with the opposite. The vets said 14 days and she should be ready to train.

Meanwhile, Rebel and Marnie have been doing a little catching up. It’s a tough trick to work the injured dogs back into the team with just me mushing. I’m hoping to use a “trailer” to switch dogs out (and give dogs still in the building up process some time to rest). The trailer will tow behind the sled like those fancy bike stroller things, with compartments for two dogs– or at least that’s the dream! I need to build this or configure some kennels to make this work. Never a dull moment!

The exciting news is that we’re mushing on sleds at last! The dogs are especially happy about this. I think they get as sick of the noise and smell of the quad as we do, if not more so– not to mention the slowness and weight (which is an important element of the first part of training, but definitely gets boring for them). We’ve had a decent amount of snow here in Two Rivers, giving enough of a base to hit the runners. The real factor is if you can set a snow hook, the sharp anchor that digs into the frozen ground to hold the team at “stop” when you need to do something with the team, like untangle a line, or switch a dog’s position.

The last few nights I’ve taken a small team out (2/3 of the group at a time) for 30 mile runs. Despite our porcupine run in, we are hitting the mileage we were at last year, which is good.

Our very last vet visit was with Miss Cassidy. She got an abscess on her face– probably from eating a foxtail (a weed). Normally we treat these at home, but this one ended up “blowing up” and required a vet visit. The vets were able to open the abscess up and drain it, and we’ve been doing close care to help her continue ward off further infection.

Cass with abscess

A few days later!

Last year, we went to the vet once or twice. This year I have lost count of all of our visits. I am so grateful for the excellent work North Pole has done. And I’m ready to stop visiting now!

Now the hard training begins. We are camping, mushing many miles, and starting to do some of the at home prep for races. We received our 1-ton meat order yesterday, and will be spending a lot of time this week cutting up meat for the doggos for meals and for snacks. They will be excited!

Things are moving forward, as they always do. We are very lucky to have you, to have good friends and family, and to have these great dogs.


  1. John Breiby
    | Reply

    HI Will, we’re so happy to hear that the vets got the quill out of Belle’s wrist. It sure must have been painful for her! And we’re happy you have enough snow for sledding now. We got dumped on by about six inches last night. I’m not ready or enthusiastic about it. Guess I’m beginning to feel too old to deal with it. And I spent ALL DAY deleting 22,000+ (!!!) emails from the MTA server because I forgot your warning to go in and delete them periodically, so now I’m computered out.
    Best to you and Shawn.

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