I knew I was getting puppies. I did not know that would be last weekend.
Let me back up.
We drove up from Minnesota. Nine long days of scenery, no scenery, cars that worked and cars that didn’t, podcasts, audio book that went faulty at the last ten minutes, lots of pie, a lot of driving, and finally- arrival. Shawn and I made it to Fairbanks with two days to unpack, sort out our lives, and drive the 24 miles from our cabin into “town” (Fairbanks) too many times. Oh yeah! We also got Hooch. I was worried she might not remember me- bud she slipped back into old routines easy peasy. That dog is such a good girl. I sure love her.
Then just a couple days after we arrived it was time to go again. Because we didn’t have Internet set up yet, and because I needed to acquire the epic amounts of stuff stored away, we had to travel 300 miles south to Wasilla, where my parents live. It was great to see them. I also worked in the office for Out of a Jam, and Shawn began their first week of work, teaching English to kids in China, on Beijing hours, which amounts to very odd times of the night.
I am so grateful to the Darnells, the family I mushed with when I was in high school. They donated an unbelievable collection of mushing gear to the kennel. That was a huge weight off my shoulders as I tried to figure out where funds for the stuff I needed would come from. Now I have a basic “starter kit” for a kennel! I am so, so grateful to Pam and Daryl. Thank you!
We also visited the Buser’s. Martin Buser taught me to mush and has been my mushing mentor for many years. I had worked out a deal with him and a friend of his to get some puppies this summer. What I didn’t know is that I’d be taking those pups home on Sunday! Martin put the bug in my ear that if I wanted to bring the 9-week-old pups home with me, I could! After talking things through with Shawn and figuring out some logistics, we decided to go for it! So suddenly on the drive back we had a kennel full of pups squeaking along with us!
(They were actually pretty perfect and slept most of the drive!)
Also with us were my mom and dad, ferrying a uhaul full of mushing equipment and my other worldly goods to Fairbanks. They covered the cost of the uhaul and their own travel. When we arrived at the cabin we had a chicken dinner and unpacked like crazy- then my parents took off! Dad flew home and Mom drove back the next day. I can’t express my gratitude for everything they have done to support me and their support and enthusiasm for this wild adventure. My favorite part was that every time we stopped for a break my mom would start cooing at the puppies, calling them her “grandpuppies.”
As soon as my parents took off, Shawn and I set up the puppy pen. That’s what we call the dog run where the pups live. My plan had originally been to spend a lot of time prepping for the pups I’d expected to get in the fall- but now we had like an hour! We put the pen together as a team and got a good sturdy house set up for them. Shawn gave the puppies all a bath which I’m not sure they enjoyed or not. That whole night seems like a blur. In fact this whole week seems like a blur.
The first thing that was clear to me was that the pups needed something under their pen. Normally I see gravel or sand used for the base. The ground here has a very fine dust (silt I suspect?) that gets muddy fast. Gravel or sand, or even wood chips, keep the base clean and dry. I checked with our landlord but because this isn’t exclusively a musher house (they’d like to rent to other kinds of folks down the line!), they asked me not to add gravel and preferably not sand. So I went with plan b: build a platform. This required purchasing a lot of lumber and hauling it back in the Blazer, a slightly dubious configuration. After a couple days of pain and agony trying to just get the lumber, I was finally able to build the platform and get the pen up on it (with Shawn’s help). This was almost exclusively possible thanks to a donation from Tim and Julie Goggins. Even though Tim and Julie have been beyond generous to Shawn and myself and the kennel, they even gave a monetary donation. I really couldn’t believe it and again can’t really find the words to express my thanks.
So the puppies are much cleaner and happier. We’ve also been embarking on daily puppy walks. The pups chase Hooch all around kingdom come and generally tire themselves out. We practice recall and give lots of praise and love.
We’ve also been bringing the pups in each day in pairs (mostly so we can monitor potty behavior). They have really been enjoying a pair of fleece socks I had out which I believe have become official dog toys…
All in all it’s been a hectic but fulfilling week. The list of things to do doesn’t end… I need to get back out there again!
I owe thanks to a lot of folks but maybe most of all to Shawn. Shawn has been right by my side through all of this. They helped me build the pens, walk the pups, and scoop poop, among everything else. They have also put up with me being crabby and exhausted and boringly fixated on “new ideas for the dogs.” They are a true teammate. I am very lucky to have them as my partner.
Okay lots to do. More soon. Our internet here isn’t the strongest so we’ll see when I can upload this!
Til next time…
PS… Oh gosh, I didn’t even talk much about the puppies!!! I’ll be sharing all kinds of things about these four little cutie-pies, but if you want to learn more about them, you should check out the team!