Newsflash ... Akela's Den!
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Akela’s Den finishes off the season in glory!
We are just through March, and we are enjoying the warm weather and finally we can try out our future stars. We have 17 pups to try out, so the weather better stay cool for a little bit longer….
I ended our last flash when we started gearing up for the Neckbone Race. Well, lots has happened since then! The Neckbone was a 2 day event, each day a 50 mile run. Mostly ran on the Challenge trail. A good training run for dog and musher. With the Walker’s there, we had some stiff competition and knowing they were too fast for us we enjoyed our runs and took it easy. If you could enjoy the first day! The trail mostly all on Lac La Ronge was tough, with a strong head wind dropping the temperatures to well below a comfortable level. Bart came in 3rd and Tanja came in 9th after lots of trouble with staying on the trail. 2nd day went a lot better for Tanja. She made up some time and came in 4th but overall she moved to 8th place. Her young team did very well and we were pretty confident she was going to do well in the Challenge. Bart kept his 3rd spot and the team was ready to attack the 12th Canadian Challenge Race.
February 17th was the day we can look back to as the start of a very successful season! A lot of prep work went ahead of this day to get Bart and Tanja’s teams ready. Making sure we didn’t forget anything.
The next day the teams took off from Central Ave. in Prince Albert, at noon, and looking at the times at the first checkpoint I had a good feeling about the outcome…. Yet Tanja and her team had some interesting moments along the way…! Having the inexperienced team, and not having trained on roads, they were a little confused when large farm yard approaches were encountered. I guess they wanted to check out some other realestate, as they turned into nearly every farm yard along the way!! Tanja still being a nursing mother, also had other issues her competitors didn’t have to contend with…which also made for more interesting moments! After the fist checkpoint though, the dogs started getting the hang of things and settled into a nice pace. From here on in they camped out on the trail twice, and once in the unassisted wilderness checkpoint. The dogs were great, as they left each site eager to go and happy. One dog was dropped along the way though, as she wasn’t keeping up and didn’t seem to be enjoying herself any longer. The rest cruised to the finish line in La Ronge, and still jerking to go on. They had finished in first place with a 5 hour lead!!
La Ronge would be a pit stop for Bart. After we got things set up the handlers enjoyed a lot of stories and jokes in the famous “blue bus”. Bart was the first musher into the checkpoint around 11pm. He had a good lead on the rest of the pack but it was still another120 miles to go. So he was in for a good rest! One victory for Akela’s Den, and one more to go was the question? After a nice long rest Bart’s team was out of site in a hurry. The team was ready to chew up some more miles. After a brief stop in Grand Mothers Bay, it was a 5hour mandatory rest in Stanley Mission before Bart could leave to finish back in La Ronge. Bart’s run times were often faster than his competitors so it was his to lose. For the first time in the race’s history, the 12 dog and 8 dog winners came from the same kennel. We were very proud and happy with the results and how the dogs performed was just the icing on the cake!
The Caledonia Classic was our next target. It would be Bart’s and Stefaan’s 200 mile Yukon Quest qualifier. We left home a little earlier and enjoyed a great visit with the Joinson family. It was lots fun! It was Bart’s first time out there, so he got to see some real hills to go up and down. We got into a heavy snowfall when we went on a training run a couple of days before the race. From sunny weather it turned to wet, thick snowflakes just an hour after we left.
The race took off in a mass start on a nice sunny day. The hill part was slow going with the fresh snow and temperatures hovering around the freezing mark. Some teams pulled off the trail to let their dogs cool off, but surprisingly our dogs were handling the weather pretty good. After 50miles we hit the lake again, to conquer some more lake travel to our checkpoint. Arriving late afternoon at the ˝ way point, I saw that Bart was 2nd, just 15 minutes shy of Sandy burke who came in first. Knowing our teams, we figured we had a good shot in catching him. At least Bart did. I was still 45 minutes behind and dropped a couple dogs. I figured we could travel faster that way. Bart left the checkpoint with his 11 dogs he started with. I was moving some dogs around to take a section of gangline out and not paying attention, so the dogs jumped on this opportunity and so I had a breeding going on, which delayed my departure by a couple of minutes! Yet we were the lucky ones that left the checkpoint in time to avoid the worst of an incoming blizzard, with lots of blowing snow and a strong wind. Surprisingly enough though, we barely made it into the bush and there you could see the sky around the other side of the mountain, and it was clear enough to run without a headlamp. Dogs were running well and just before I got to the lake again I caught Sandy. We traveled together for a while but soon disappeared. Coming onto the lake I had only one thing to say. Where the hell is the trail? Perhaps it wasn’t in such nice vocabulary! The trail was blown in by many inches of new and blown over snow. I had just some trail leaders in my team so we had a heck of a time to stay on the trail. That female in heat started to bother some dogs and I had to load her. Things went well for a while but my leaders had more interest in the female than running in lead. So I had to make some switches to find a combination that would work. It was very slow going and was I ever happy to cross that finish line. So we came in 1st and 2nd!! We had a great time and again hats off to our awesome dogs. They did great! We drove 1600km back home in one go. The temperatures dropped down to -30 C, too cold to sleep in the truck!
Last weekend we finished off our season in Candle Lake. Bart and Tanja’s handler, Brittany Clark, raced and came in 3rd and 7th – a nice way to close things off!
Looking back at this season we can say it was another success. A combination of good dogs, good food and good training can make a great season. Bart has his qualifiers so now we can start planning for our next season!
Akela’s Den Winter Newsflash 2009
With racing season in full swing, I figure it’s time to give you some updates on what is going on at Akela’s Den.
Winter took a long time to settle in here. I can not remember a time yet that we were on the quad for so long into December. Out of necessity we transferred to the sled with lots of sleds braking down. With barely enough snow on the ground we had to make the switch to be able to crank up the distance. Trees were the only things that could hold the team! We had to do a lot of fixing of sleds, as they were abused a lot! It took till the end of December to feel confident to put the hook in the snow, and it would hold for 10 seconds.
I guess we also broke some records, having the longest stretch of cold weather in the province for the last 100 years! It took almost 6 weeks to get the temperatures near – 10o C during the day. We had to supplement a lot of extra fat to keep some weight on the dogs.
We slowly had to cut dogs out of the teams, and it was a difficult descision because there were not too many weak links this year.
December came and went and we had to get ready for the Seeley Lake Race (Montana). This would have been our first race and big test for the main team and Bart. Unfortunately, Mother Nature decided otherwise. We left on Jan. 6th, and made it over the border no problem. Yet when we hit the mountains the next day, sun turned into clouds, snow and then rain. What a mess. The last 200 km we drove in 4x4 over inches of ice. That didn’t look so good, and arriving in Seeley Lake we got the final call that the race was cancelled. We drove almost 1300 km to find out it was better to turn back. So that was a big bummer for us. We were looking forward to meeting a lot of new people and having some fun in a new place.
Back home we gave the dogs a good workout to make up for the time in the box. Now they are easily doing 50-60 mile runs, and the dogs come back great. Looking forward to seeing what this team can do in the Challenge. I believe they are an even stronger team than last year.
Tanja is doing great with her younger team. She is running 10 dogs and cranking up the miles too. A camp out for those young guys taught them to settle down a bit and more are planned. She also has a hot team to run the Challenge. Our expectations are high!
We are gearing up for the Neckbone this weekend. A 50 mile run for 2 days, over the Challenge trail. It will be an eye opener for Tanja and her dogs, to see what nice trail she’ll be running on.
Our pups from last year are coming along very nicely. I can not wait to try them out this Spring. We were starting to worry about some shortage of space in the dog yard, but we just sold 5 dogs, so we now have just enough room to tie up all the pups before they all start to jump over the fence.
So that was about it. Keep an eye on the race we enter. You can find their web pages on our link page. Hope you all have a great season and enjoy it because it won’t last to much longer!
Akela’s Den Fall Newsflash 2008
Fall is in full swing here, and before you know it winter will be upon us…!
Training is also in full gear as we are training up 3 teams (35 dogs). Bart is training the main team this season and has nearly 500 running miles behind them. They are looking focused and strong, and even got to show off their brawn as they pulled a truck out of some pretty mucky stuff, which had gotten stuck on a very muddy road!
His goal this year is to do his qualifiers so he can enter the Yukon Quest in 2010.
Tanja is training the 2nd string, to gear up for the 8 dog Canadian Challenge Sled Dog Race in February 2009. They too have nearly 400 miles behind them, and are working hard and looking very promising…!
Stefaan is taking a step back from the racing for the most part this season (will likely do some smaller local races, and maybe some races in the Spring.), so now gets to remember what being a handler is all about. He is training some recent arrivals to our kennel – 8 dogs that we acquired from a fellow musher, and gearing them up so they can join the other teams. Most come out of Mitch Seavey’s yard and will be a great addition to our kennel! However, it also means we will have to start thinking of down sizing the dog yard before the snow falls, as we soon have to make room for our many pups!
Last year about this time we were on the sled. We have been fortunate the past 2 winters, but it seems like we can’t put the 4-wheeler away yet!
Our Yukon Quest 2010 mission is going well. We received our first point dog Sponsor.
The Beer company Labatt is coming on board through KOKANEE.
We will get back to you as soon it is white on the ground!
Expedition Yukon Quest -2010- Official News Release
August 27th, 2008
Akela's Den Sled Dog Supplies & Racing Kennel is pleased to announce our “Expedition Yukon Quest 2010 Fundraiser”.
Click here to read more!
Summer Time Puppy Time
August 27th, 2008
I was suppose to write this in May but never got around to do it. In April we went back to my homeland, Belgium! Had a great time, enjoyed the chocolates and the beer but it was the first time for me to see a personal change. Still proud to be a Belgian I found I didn’t belong there anymore. The bush and the dogs were missed too much.
During our absence Bart kept the place running and became an expert in trenching the water out of the dog yard!
Why is it that when you plan to downsize your kennel you always find some good buys and end up sometimes with more dogs than planed? Called musher-dog addiction perhaps?
Our breeding we planned for this year got a little twist. With our first litter we were convinced that we had a big one. We were wrong off course. Jones only popped out 2 pups. Than our 2nd one we soon were sure she did not catch so during our holidays Bart wanted to make up and we had female bread. Did we know better, we would have only bread her and not Sandra too. That happens when you buy some good breeding stock and wanting to find out what their pups our worth. We have 17 new additions to the kennel. We are planning already for next season. You may have noticed that Bart is planning to run the Quest in 2010 if we get sponsor money together off course! We are going to see some different terrain that is for sure!
Together with Sundogs we purchased some cart that we converted to take some people out on runs. We are working on some advertising and this new thing will take off next spring!
Our new dog food, supreme, has been success full and we are planning to keep fine tuning it. Together with Horizon manufacturing we will be increasing our fat value towards the 25% so our energy level will be close to 4500. We are really looking forward to see how the dogs are doing on that!
At the moment I am writing this flash when it is 30*C outside but going towards the end of August and looking at the forecast we may be training by September Long. We are sure looking forward to get jerked around the trees again. Hope you all too!
Expedition Yukon Quest -2010-
Akela's Den is on track to race the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race 2010.
Click here to read more!