Lightning Teaches Sledding

Lightning and puppy Nimbus sledding together
Lightning loves to pull his kicksled. Until this point, he has run solo. Now he has begun to share the fun with his five-month old brother Nimbus. Lightning is a great teacher, and Nimbus seems to love this sport already.

This image was taken on Christmas Eve when the boys ran a mile together near Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. Lightning went on for another five miles. Nimbus was led back to the car to be played with until the return of his mentor.

Snowy Times For Nimbus

Nimbus learning to pull the sled beside Lightning
Here is Lightning (dog on right) teaching five-month old Nimbus (left) how to be a good sled dog. This was Nimbus' first official team hookup. I was very impressed by how the puppy held his line tight, ran straight, and worked hard beside his brother. We went one mile, with lots of stops and oodles of praise and hugs. Nimbus knew he was doing something very special, and Lightning loved working next to him. 

Besides me and the kicksled, the boys were hauling the brand new International Traildog Log, a journal which will be carried by adventurous dogs around the world. We were breaking it in on its inaugural voyage, after the original Traildog Baton was lost. This image graces its pages, as does a brief description of our fun morning.

Five-month old Nimbus enjoying the snow
Nimbus has been getting a first-class education about snow this winter, with local record snowfall for the month of December. Here he is laying on our deck "stairs", while the pile of snow behind him is over six feet high! Lightning and Nimbus love to play tag together in the deep snow. They keep each other entertained. One big bonus from having such a great snow pack is that both boys stay clean. We are not looking forward to the time when our snow melts and the dirt beneath is revealed.

Lightning Goes Best Of Winners

Lightning's first American championship points

On December 1, 2001, Lightning was awarded Best of Winners by judge James White for his first American championship points. The outdoor conditions can only be described as gale force winds and driving rain. Many judges and most exhibitors complained bitterly about the weather, but Lightning enjoyed the excitement. The following day, the Salinas Valley Kennel Club moved the outdoor show rings indoors, after most of the ring gates and all of the outside vendors were crushed beyond repair by up to 80 MPH winds. I was very comfy showing our boy in my skijoring/kicksledding outfit, and noted that a few of the other exhibitors were eying my protective garb with envy. 

Nimbus Learns To Pull

Nimbus is learning how to pull. Our four-month old puppy has been introduced to a special adjustable puppy harness. Now we are allowing him to drag lightweight objects such as this partly filled plastic jug. Doing so will get him used to a noisy thing following him.

Nimbus was altogether unphased by the rumbling milk jug. After turning his head to look at the object, he walked along with happy enthusiasm while being praised for doing so.

Nimbus Helps With The Scooter

Puppy Nimbus testing the scooter line

Four-month old Nimbus loves to help his older brother Lightning, who puts between 30-60 miles a month on his scooter. Nimbus is quickly learning about this sport, and has already decided that the lines do not taste very good.

Four-month old Nimbus learning to run with the team
Young puppies can learn a lot from a trained working dog. Nimbus runs free alongside Lightning during some of our scooter runs. We travel at the puppy's pace for about one quarter of a mile, rest, then return home. Lightning continues his workout while one of us entertains the puppy.

Welcome Puppy Nimbus!

We got to meet Nimbus, our long-awaited new puppy, while attending the 2001 Samoyed Club of America National Specialty in Denver, Colorado. What a cute puppy!

He joins Lightning to share mascot duties for our company, Wolf Packs. Nimbus is a nearly full brother to Lightning. Both of these boys were born to the same mother, but Lightning's father is Nimbus' grandfather.

Shown here at 10 weeks, Nimbus is a fine example of the ancient Samoyed breed. He will eventually grow to be a strong, handsome 55 pound dog. In time, he will accompany Lightning on many adventures, as well as become a partner in harness. With a temperament as sweet as his brother's, we are very excited about this new addition to Pacific Crest Samoyeds!

2001 SCA National Specialty

We attended the 2001 Samoyed Club of America National Specialty. Lightning enjoyed many venues, including a five-mile backpack trip in the Rockies. Here is part of the hiking group sitting atop Brother's Lookout in Alderfer Three Sisters Park in Evergreen, Colorado. Lightning is standing on the highest point, wearing his royal blue Reflector dog pack. Lightning's brother Loki is on the left side of the group, wearing his custom burgundy Reflector pack. Most of these dogs carried over 25% of their body weight in their backpacks, earning them points toward their working titles.

Lightning made the cut in the Open Dog conformation show ring under breeder-judge Pat Morehouse, pulled the second heaviest load in his weight class for the Novice Weight Pull, was certified by Delta Society as a Therapy Dog, and trained twice with his sister, half-siblings, and cousins while pulling an ATV.

Also at the National, Lightning (left) and brother Loki (right), got to work together. They were introduced to a Sacco cart, which is a sit-down device with four bicycle-style wheels, special friction brakes, and a unique hookup system for the dogs. The "U" shaped aluminum tubing above each dog serves to anchor the harness in place. The ends extend back to the cart. Here the boys are just back from a run around the site of the National, waiting patiently to have their harnesses removed.

Probably the biggest event from the 2001 National was that Lightning got a puppy of his own! Nimbus is now sharing responsibilities as Wolf Packs' mascot. Nimbus and Lightning are nearly full brothers. 

Canadian National Specialty Win

At nearly 18 months, Lightning was awarded Winner's Male at the 2001 Canadian National by breeder judge Jeanne Zuver. Winner's Male is similar to Winner's Dog in the USA. It means that the judge felt he was the best representative of the breed among the non-championed male dogs present in the ring.

This win earned him 3 points toward his Canadian Championship. The judge commented on Lightning's beautiful movement. We are so proud of our boy!

Dancing With Joy

During our trip to Point Reyes National Seashore, Lightning taught himself an unusual dance step. Here our clever boy is seen showing off for his new friends as he practices standing on one foot. The other dogs look intrigued, and are possibly eager to practice this for themselves.

Building a Gate

Hooking up the log
Lightning helped to rebuild the log gate on our driveway. It had rotted away several years ago. We searched our land for a sturdy 20 foot long log. Finding just the right one, Paul took most of the branches off so that it would drag smoothly.

Hauling the log into position for the gate
Then we wrapped a chain around the thickest end, and hooked it up to Lightning's special weight pull harness. He lowered his head and dragged it into position for us. We're easing our boy into weight pulling, and this was the heaviest load he's been asked to pull to date. The log easily weighs more than he does, though we have no idea exactly how much more. The new gate works beautifully, and we will think of Lightning whenever we open or close it!

Best Working Award

Lightning entered the 2001 Williamette Valley Samoyed Fanciers Specialty. A "specialty" is a dog show that focuses on a single breed. Since he has a title, he was qualified to compete in the Working Dog class, which is only occasionally offered at specialties for working breeds such as the Samoyed. Here are Linda and Lightning gaiting in the Working Dog class (we're the team in the lead). 

Our boy was awarded 1st Place in the Working Dog class under breeder-judge Shirley Mangini. Next we went into the ring with the winner from the Working Bitch class. Lightning was again awarded 1st Place, to become the Best Working Samoyed at the specialty! Lightning was also awarded 1st Place in the 12-18 Month Dog class. It was all quite exhilarating, although win or lose, he's always a winner to us.

Lightning received lots of ribbons and prizes. He won some pretty nice stuff, including some special grooming products to help keep his coat in top shape. We met many nice people, admired many beautifully groomed dogs, and had a fun day all around. Lightning didn't let all the attention go to his head though, and slept soundly on the drive home.

Backpacking on the Pacific Crest Trail

At 15 months old, Lightning began to do serious backpacking. We are shown here resting atop Hobart Bluff in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Tranquil Hobart Lake is 680 feet below us. The town of Ashland, city of Medford, and the Rogue Valley spread out beyond into the distance.

Here Linda and Lightning take a break on a fallen tree along the Pacific Crest Trail in southern Oregon. His loaded Reflector dog pack weighs over 12 pounds, which is ¼ of his bodyweight. We hiked five miles on this outing, following a nearly seven-mile hike on the previous day (which was National Trails Day, June 2nd, 2001). 

Working Samoyed Excellent Title

Lightning completed his Working Samoyed Excellent title on April 22, 2001. Here he is at the halfway point on the five-mile scooter run, which completed his WSX title. Due to a light snow overnight, I couldn't decide between the kicksled and scooter. Upon studying the driveway, I saw that not enough snow had fallen, and running the sled would have risked damaging the runners. Out came the scooter. As we climbed 400 feet to the halfway point, I was wishing for our sled. There must have been six inches of lovely snow out there, which was surprisingly easy to run with a scooter. Our scooter, a white Blauwerk Downhill, is one of the most rugged mountain scooters made.

Lightning's focus has been in skijoring, excursion sledding, excursion scootering, race skijoring, and herding. He is likely among the youngest Samoyeds to earn this advanced working title. Working points are awarded by the Samoyed Club of America (with proper documentation - here is a listing of all Working Samoyed titled dogs) for adventures which meet certain criteria. Many of the rules require a distance of no less than five miles per outing. We have waited to backpack with Lightning until spring. Until recently, he was too young to carry the required 25% of his body weight over a minimum of five miles. We are sure having fun earning these titles with Lightning, and hope to continue our adventures together for many years to come!


Early scooter training
Thirteen month old Lightning has begun to work with our scooter. These mountain bike-like devices have no seat or pedals, making them safer to use when working dogs. As with sledding or skijoring, Lightning wears a harness which is specially designed for dogs who pull sleds. A special line with a shock cord is attached to his harness, then to the scooter frame.

Scootering with another team
This image shows Lightning and Linda shortly after passing our friend's six dog team. We did a five mile run this day. Whenever we can, we practice passing and running with other teams.

Our scooter is one of the few Blauwerk Downhills in white. Lightning was responsible for selling many Blauwerk scooters until the American distributor went out of business in early 2002.

Skijor Racing

Ready for the second day of skijor racing
Lightning raced in the Cascade Skijor Classic, our first competitive event ever! Here are Paul, Linda, and Lightning waiting for their second run to begin. Twelve month old Lightning did well for such a young lad, but stopped to water some bushes along the way. Linda is not a strong skier, and does not know how to "skate ski", a must in the competitive world. Thus, we placed 5th out of five racers in the 4.2 mile - two day event. Lightning and Linda were presented with the coveted Red Flashlight Award, a parody of the award presented to the last place finisher in the Iditarod race. The flashlight represents a light to find one's way to the finish line.

We had a blast and will be racing again next year!


Above all else, Lightning enjoys snow sports. He has put in enough miles in front of skis, sleds, and herding sheep to qualify for his Working Samoyed (WS) title. Our boy also earned his Canine Good Citizen award prior to his first birthday. What a good puppy!

Here are Lightning and Linda kicksledding together, cruising home from a five-mile excursion (this picture shows him completing his Working Samoyed (WS) title. The kicksled is a lightweight device, often used in Scandinavia for winter transportation. It normally is not pulled by a dog, but offers an inexpensive alternative to a racing dog sled for the single dog team. Lightning can really get it moving, and when he does, it almost feels like weightlessness when riding on the runners.

Just wait until the snow melts though, because we'll be hiking the trails again come spring!

Herding Title

Lightning completed his Herding Capability Test (HCT) title on January 7, 2001. Our boy earned the first leg toward his Junior Herding Dog (JHD) title too!

Our puppy entered the arena with much enthusiasm for running after those sheep or play with the other dogs present. Many of the people there were surprised that an energetic northern breed non-herding group puppy could display proficiency in herding, and were surprised that he was entered in the trial.

When our turn came, the crowd's interest level spiked. Lightning walked into the arena like he owned it. Debbie Pollard, one of the judges, introduced the Samoyed breed to the audience with a nice historical reference to their reindeer herding heritage. Lightning did a perfect sit and stay, controlled the sheep with grace and style, and returned them safely to their pen. The audience applauded loudly. Lightning looked very pleased with himself, nether knowing nor caring about his new title. He just enjoyed moving those sheep!

After the herding trial, we had to stop at one of the unspoiled beaches of northern California. This picture was taken on the ocean side of the gigantic sand spit that forms Big Lagoon in Humbolt County. Lightning's friend Tilly is chasing him along the water's edge. Tilly belongs to one of our friends who has been training her in herding, too.
Pacific Crest Samoyeds ~ Blog