Shadow Fan

Pacific Crest/Wolf River six-dog team running on a fan-hitch.
This haunting photograph is titled “Shadow Fan”. It won the Top Professional Award at the 2009 SCA National Specialty. Our image graces the Samoyed Club of America’s website, exemplifying the working heritage, power, and joy of this nobel breed.

During the winter season of 2008-2009, we once again borrowed Lightning’s sister Moonrise and half-sister Canyon. These girls ran on our team two years prior when we were racing and won the Top Sprint Racing Award from the Samoyed Club of America. We also got to puppy-sit Moxie, one of Lightning’s sons, for a few weeks, which gave us six dogs to play with. We hooked them all up to the sled on a fan-hitch, an arrangement which allows all the dogs to run side-by-side instead of in pairs on a long gangline (as is traditional for our part of the world).

From left to right: Lightning, Stormy, Moonrise, Nimbus, Canyon, and Moxie. The ages of the dogs on this team range from six months to nine years. Moonrise and Canyon belong to Kay Hallberg of Wolf River Samoyeds, the breeder of our dogs. Moxie belongs to Amanda & Michael Berkeley.

Group Run

Free-running in our dog yard
Lightning's sister Moonrise (BISS Ch Wolf River's Moonrise WS) and half-sister Canyon (Seamist Canyon Of Wolf River WS) visited us during the winter 2008-2009 sledding season. They got to do a lot of free-running in the deep snow together. Canyon is leading followed by Lightning, Stormy, and Nimbus. At nine years old, Lightning still plays like a yearling in deep snow.

Snow Surfing

Stormy follows her dad, Lightning, through deep powder on a hillside. It looks as if they are bodysurfing through the snow. These two could have done this all day long. At a year and a half old, Stormy has become a very powerful dog!

Snow Nose

Nimbus enjoys his romps in fresh snow. This picture shows him tasting snow that stuck to his nose while free-running in our nine acre fenced yard. The dogs love to explore this spacious area populated by trees, rocks, and the occasional rabbit.

Boot Camp Bog

We attended the West Coast Mushing Boot Camp with Jamie Nelson and Ann Stead. These intense three-day clinics are intended to improve training techniques for mushers and build communications skills with their teams. Lightning (on right) and Nimbus (on left) comprised the smallest team in our group which included other Samoyed teams, Siberian Huskys, Alaskan Malamutes, Alaskan Huskys, and even a Great Dane!

Our Boot Camp was hosted by the Crystalwood Lodge near Klamath Falls, Oregon. Their dirt trail system made up our lovely training grounds. Several challenging sections included large meadows which the teams had to circumnavigate without benefit of a visible trail, stream crossings, and The Bog (shown here). The teams pulled through about 4,000 feet of muck over the three day event, which was a workout considering how sloppy and deep it was!

I was very proud of how well our kids did at Boot Camp. They did everything I asked of them and then some. We picked up invaluable advise and feedback, and working with other mushers was a special treat.

Cross-Country Trip

Lightning watching bison in Yellowstone National Park

We drove from Oregon to Pennsylvania to attend the 2002 Samoyed Club of America National Specialty. Round trip was almost 9,000 miles! During our adventure, we visited some of the most beautiful spots in America. One of our favorites was Yellowstone National Park. Here is Lightning surveying a herd of bison. Both of our dogs were fascinated by the gigantic animals.

One of the world's most famous geysers, Old Faithful, did not disappoint us! We got to watch it erupt twice during our visit. Nimbus is pictured on the left, Lightning on the right. 

Later, Lightning (left) and Nimbus (right) visited Mount Rushmore. We thought their likenesses would make a great addition to the monument alongside presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln.

After the National, we visited Matt and Cynthia Woodard who own Loki (litter-brother of Lightning) and Draco (litter-brother of Nimbus). We scootered with the four boys on some lovely Massachusetts trails. The trees were cloaked in autumn colors. One great run took place on Cape Cod. Pictured from left to right: Nimbus, Lightning, Draco, and Loki. Notice how the two teams are in-step with each other. This is something we often notice in an efficient sled dog team.

Lightning's Second Birthday

Lightning turned two-years old on February 16, 2002. To celebrate, we thought it would be nice to let him do something that he enjoys. So we loaded him, along with our mountain bikes and his younger brother Nimbus, into the truck. We drove to an abandoned airfield in California. This expanse of land is flat, fenced, and secluded. It was a perfect spot to let the boys run free.

Enjoying a windy birthday
We had 30 mile per hour winds at the airfield on Lightning's birthday. The boys are facing into the wind in this picture (Lightning left, Nimbus right). The dog's fur looked incredible as it was moved by the wind.

Lightning's flying-trot
This image shows Lightning's effortless flying-trot with the high winds coming from behind him. He generally achieves just over 14 miles per hour before he breaks from a trot to a lope.

Lightning at a flat-out gallop

Here is something that Lightning loves to do. At a flat-out gallop, he sails through the air. He can really cover a lot of ground quickly!

On the drive home, we stopped and both dogs got an ice-cream cone to further celebrate Lightning's big day.

First Flight For Nimbus

Nimbus' first airplane flight
Nimbus went for his first airplane flight today. The little guy took to it well, looking out of the window and eating yummy treats. Here we are about 3,000 feet in the air. The shadow on Paul's face tells the story of how this picture was captured.

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.

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!

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.

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!

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