Misty Morning

Lightning standing in the sun-kissed mist
Snow crystals float in the early morning air and surround Lightning as he surveys his domain. Our 10 month old puppy loves to play in the fresh snow, sometimes persuading us to get an earlier start on our daily adventures than we had planned. This image won 1st Place in the art show during the 2002 Samoyed Club of America National Specialty!

Holiday Card

Holiday card
Lightning was featured on a card titled "By The Fire", designed by Beth Bloch Creative Cards for her 2000 holiday series. Beth skillfully merges photos with watercolor, creating whimsical and often amusing scenes. Her art is available on greeting cards and other fun items. Lightning was eight months old when Beth captured his likeness for this fun card.

Lightning In The Sky

Lightning about to go for a flight
Lightning had his first experience flying in a small airplane in November of 2000. He was a little nervous during take-off, looking out the window and poking us with his nose.

Linda, Lightning, and Paul in-flight
Once we were airborne, the treats came out. He wagged his tail and gazed at the miniature buildings, cars, and landmarks below. Here are Linda, Lightning, and Paul inside the airplane together. Lightning has his front paws resting on our seat backs. There is a bench seat behind us for the puppy (or human passengers).

Back on the ground, Lightning looks out of the airplane windowOur flying puppy was a real trooper. What a pleasure to fly with such a confident, well mannered dog.

International Trail Dog Baton

Skijoring on the Pacific Crest Trail
Nine-month old Lightning had his first taste of skijoring on the Pederson Snow Loop in southern Oregon. This winter route covers a more than two-mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail, and ends at a small log hut known as the South Brown Mountain Shelter.

Lightning carried the International Trail Dog Baton on our adventure. We strapped it to the top of his harness. You might be able to just make it out (the grey tube with white end caps) in these photos. Inside this baton rides a list of dogs from around the world who have carried it, along with the date, distance, region, and trail.

Lightning pulling hard on his skijor line
We followed five miles of packed trail thanks to two snowshoers and their dogs who hiked in ahead of us through two feet of snow. The trial wound through beautiful snow shrouded old growth forest, and the day was sunny and still.

Our puppy was incredible, contributing a great deal of power along the way. He was wearing a sled dog harness and a skijoring line. I was treated to wearing the belt that Lightning's line attached to. With him in lead, the two of us had enough speed to make Paul work pretty hard. I was so proud of how well Lightning responded to his commands. What a great dog!

A signpost along the Pacific Crest Trail
Near the far point of our trip, these signs indicated the distance to Mexico and Canada. The hut was 300 yards ahead, and we were happy to rest there for awhile, sipping hot cocoa and offering Lightning special treats.

The Trail Dog Baton was the brainchild of the Trail Dog List membership. You can subscribe to this list to learn about enjoying the outdoors with dogs.

The Point

Enjoying a sweeping view from The Point
Lightning's first true snowfall came in mid-November when he was eight and a half months old. About four inches had fallen. A sunny window shone through the clouds for a moment, so we decided to drop everything and go for a walk.

This photo is taken on The Point - the top of a cliff popular with local rockclimbers. Lightning was attentively listening to a howling Siberian Husky 600 feet below.

Lightning's first snow
As you can see, Lightning loves snow. He was a blur of white on white, barely visible but for his black nose, eyes, and lips, and that pink tongue. It should be very exciting for our pup after we get solid snow cover and the skis come out of storage.

Visiting Washington DC

Lightning in front of the Capital Building in Washington DC
Lightning visited Washington DC, and seemed to enjoy the majesty and beauty of the park-like grounds. Here Paul, Lightning, and Linda are sitting on the edge of the pond in front of the Capitol Building.

This young lady was fascinated by Lightning's wagging tail
We walked toward the Capitol admiring the incredible bronze sculptures along the way. We were discovered by an adorable young lady who was delighted by Lightning's soft, waving tail. Our puppy was wearing his ID Cape with "Ask To Pet Me - I'm Friendly" and "Therapy Dog" patches, made by our company Wolf Packs. He was hugged and petted by many children that day, which he really enjoyed!

SCA Pack Hike

Group shot of the hikers at the 2000 SCA National Challenge Pack Hike

Since the Samoyed is a working breed, various traditional working events were offered during the Samoyed Club of America 2000 National Specialty. We hiked with a group of friendly people and dogs on a five mile loop trail through beautiful Catoctin Mountain Park in Maryland, which is very close to Camp David. All dogs carried a pack, most of which held gear weighing at least 25% of the dog's body weight. Our Lightning (far left with blue pack) and his brother Loki (third from the right with burgundy pack) carried lightweight wadded newspaper because these puppies were only seven months old.

It was very dark when we started the hike
Here is our adventurous trail puppy about to embark on the hike. As you can see, we began the hike at an unthinkably early hour. Even though he's snowy white, the reflective trim on his Reflector dog pack and his eyeballs are all that the camera flash could record.

We had to take a picture at the Wolf Rock sign
Here we stand at the trail sign for Wolf Rock. We just had to pose the dogs by the sign because our company is named Wolf Packs. Dogs from left to right: Kyber and Red (our token non-Samoyed) both owned by Diana Steele, our Lightning, and Loki owned by Cynthia & Matt Woodard.

First Dog Show

Lightning at his first dog show, the 2000 SCA National Specialty
Lightning and Linda made their debut in the show ring at the Samoyed Club of America 2000 National Specialty in Frederick, Maryland. Lightning's brother and cousins were in the ring with us, which made it feel more like a family gathering than a formal event. Lightning made the first cut in the 6-9 month old puppy class under breeder-judge Lynette Hanson-Blue. The show floor was described as a "sea of white" with over 500 beautifully groomed Samoyeds presented to the judges over the week-long event.

Little did we know at the time that our beautiful puppy would go Best In Show at the 2004 SCA National Specialty, just four years into the future!

Borthers Lightning and Loki at the SCA Challenge Pack Hike
We took advantage of many working events that were offered at the National. Here Loki, owned by Cynthia and Matt Woodard (burgundy pack) sniffs noses with his brother Lightning (blue pack) prior to the Challenge Pack Hike. They are both wearing Reflector dog packs were made by our company, Wolf Packs.

Herding Sheep

Lightning was introduced to about ten gentle sheep owned by herding dog judge and trainer Roy Sage. Most people don't think of northern breed dogs as being capable of working livestock. Samoyeds were often used by their original nomadic people to tend reindeer. Many of their descendents still retain the instinct to herd.

Lightning took to the sheep right away. He circled the herd with much enthusiasm, keeping them in a tight ball around Roy. When several broke off from the cluster, he dashed after them, trying to get in front and send them back to their friends. This sometimes led to a group of sheep that split further, forcing Lightning to make a decision about which one to work.

After 10 minutes we rested the stock and the pup until all were recharged. Then it was back to the pasture with Roy. Just as much enthusiasm was evident as Lightning completed his second session of about 10 minutes. Our good boy didn't bark at the sheep, even though he was thoroughly excited to be running with them. What a neat way to work the mind and muscles of a trail dog! Herding will definitely be a fun way to keep our young pup fit for his future working career.

First Time Bikejoring

Training 5 month old Lightning to pull using a bicycle
Our puppy Lightning loves to bikejor with Linda & Paul. Lightning wears a harness which is specially designed for dogs that pull sleds. We wear a belt which was made for people who ski with their dogs while the dogs pull them (skijoring). Because Lightning's training for skijoring began in the summer, we decided to use our mountain bike on local dirt roads to teach him the commands.

Lightning kisses Linda after his first bikejoring experience
At five months old, Lightning discovered the joys of bikejoring. Here he is showing Linda what he thought of his introduction to the sport. Since his training began when he was so young, I pedal hard to be sure that our puppy isn't pulling too hard against the line. We strive to make activities fun and safe for our dogs.

Atop A Balanced Rock

Here is our adventurous puppy Lightning standing on top of an amazing balanced rock that sits near our home. I had often thought how wonderful it would be to photograph one of our dogs at the top.

Lightning is wearing a royal blue Trekker dog pack (now replaced by the Reflector). Because he's so young, his dog pack is empty and just for fun. Puppies should never carry weight until they are fully grown!

I worked with my little buddy for a week with my "Rock" command, using tree stumps and low rocks to practice on. Basic click & treat rewards were part of our program, whenever all four of his feet stood on the object I pointed to. He was very comfortable standing atop this geologically doomed formation for these photographs.

Puppy Pack

Puppy Lightning wearing his first dog pack
Lightning is captured here during his very first dog pack experience. He is a fine example of the ancient Samoyed breed, and will eventually grow to be a strong, handsome 55 pound dog. Lightning adores people, and has an outgoing, happy attitude toward life. He is a joyful member of our family.

Our 13 week old puppy is pictured in a royal blue Trekker (now replaced by the Reflector) dog pack. These dog packs are made by our dog outfitting company Wolf Packs, for which our dogs model. Although we couldn't resist letting Lightning try on an empty dog pack for these pictures, puppies should never carry weight until they are fully grown.

Lightning and Linda on the summit of Soda Mountain
Linda and Lightning are enjoying the sunshine on the summit of Soda Mountain in the Siskiyou Range of southern Oregon. This special region is now part of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, and has been deemed the most diverse biological area in North America. From our spot it seemed like you could see forever. Mount McLaughlin, an inactive volcano in the Cascade Range to the north, is visible in the distance in the top image.
Pacific Crest Samoyeds ~ Blog