Monday, September 5, 2011


Life changes abound here at home. The kennel is undergoing its own changes as well but the changes here at home are overwhelming enough to keep hold of my focus quite strongly.

James and I have been foster parents for years and this month we are seeing an end to that era. Well, an end and a sort of beginning as well. He and I have decided that we will no longer take in foster children but instead focus more on foster dogs which leads us to focus on the Sled Dog Sanctuary and the new property.

The 'sort of beginning' part of this is that my mothers adopted son, James (Little James as we call him to keep all the other James' straight with minimal confusion) came to live with us a few weeks ago and is now a permanent member of the family. The transition is great, working well and it has been wonderful to see this boy thrive. Ive known him for so long and it feels pretty good to take up where my mother left off so she can have her own space and get back to who she is as her own person.

My mother started working with foster children shortly after we did and its had its ups and downs just as we have had. This type of work can take a lot out of you, other times you get lucky and its a breeze. But over all we all need our breaks and its nice to see my mother finally get hers.

Another change is that our good friend Mike, who has helped us with so many construction projects, has decided to move back to Louisiana to care for his family. It will be very, very hard to see him go. All of us here have grown quite attached and we all have seen why he and my husband James have been friends for so long. We hope he will come back soon, or at least visit often, only time will tell. Alaska is so wonderful in that it is so far removed from the 'real world' but when people move on it is hard for some to come all the way back.

But we are pleased to find that James Langston's passion of working with the dogs is still alive, strong and continues to grow. He will be continuing to stay here with us and work as my right hand. The correct term is 'handler' but he has become so much more to us than that. The nickname we have given him is the Alaskan Mule cause he works so hard and takes on what ever job needs doing. Having him here is like having two working on all the various projects we have going...

As Mike transitions out we are pleased to see that the garage project that he helped us get started is nearing completion. Once that is finished we will be free all next summer to camp at the property and get a lot of work done. In my mind the idea of calling it work sounds ridiculous cause camping out and building our future sounds so darn fun and certainly not anything like work.

I am more than excited to be finally building a home that will be ours for our future, instead of looking at it as just an investment, but part of me is more excited to put in the dog yard than the home we will actually be living in! Ive got so many ideas and plans. Most of which will be the same layout as we have here but on a much larger scale. Pens will be bigger, more of them, with options for dogs to have regular play groups without worrying about them bumping into others who are 'party poopers' in the main yard or who are jealous just enough to start a fight.

I'm sure there will be more improvements and changes along the way from what we have going on here and it will be very exciting to see and be a part of the evolution.

There is also a huge part of me looking forward to winter and running the home trails again this year. I'm sure we will have at least two more winters to enjoy before heading to the property but the writing is on the wall, our time here is drawing to a close. Before long it will be my time to say goodbye to our familiar paths so we can forge ahead to break new ones open.

But the biggest change out in the dog yard continues to be the pups and their growing stages. They are quickly turning into adults as well as developing their own unique personalities. Orion is getting quite large, though still the runt puppy at heart. His time inside being nursed back to health has clearly had an impact on him as we see that he still demands to have special treatment from time to time. Though he is growing out of this it is slow and often a frustration to his siblings to be around him through these tissy fits but it is a joy for us to see those moments when he finally 'gets it' and gos along with the flow.

So even though we are not on four wheelers yet, knee deep in fall training as we would like to be this time of year, we are still remaining extremely busy. Meat is coming in on a regular basis and the freezers are staying full. With hunting season happening right now we expect to be even busier stashing away much needed meat for the trail and supplements for the dogs regular diet. Right now every one is on a pretty regular meat and kibble ration and their bodies are showing all benefits of this ancient nutrition. Even though many of them are still in summer relaxation mode it is amazing to see how bulked up in muscle they already are.

We may see a few dogs fall into retirement this season but overall the main dogs are all looking super and ready to rock as soon as the weather can stay steady and cool. Once the final touches are put on the garage project James L and I will be headed back to the dog yard with our days bound up in training and last minute chores before the snow comes.

It has been absolutely wonderful to be out in the yard feeding, cleaning and caring after them as the sun sets. The chill comes on the air as they settle into their houses for the night and with the coming dark its clear, another day is complete.

The everlasting daylight is nice but it does get old after a while. As the nights darken we think of the snow covering the land reflecting what light remains so we are never fully in the dark...