Lightning gazing at the world on a brisk, breezy winter day. © 2009 Linda von Hanneken
I took this photo of Lightning while we walked together during a keenly cold morning. A brisk winter wind was blowing across his coat. He placed his elegant gaze on me from beneath a large fir tree. His world was simple and primal.

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!

10,016 Feet In The Air

2007 Mount Massive Sled Dog Race in Colorado

Here is our team at the 2007 Mount Massive Sled Dog Race in Leadville, Colorado. This picture captured all 16 dog-feet in the air. I was very proud of all the dogs: Lightning (left lead), Moonrise (right lead), Canyon (left wheel), and Nimbus (right wheel). Lightning and Moonrise (who are siblings), celebrated their seventh birthday earlier in the year. The whole team worked as if the altitude and warm sun were of no importance. This was a fabulous race site on the highest golf course in North America. The course went out along a fairway, then wove back and forth through the forest before returning.

The two grey dogs on the far right are another team that left the starting line at the same time we did at this “dual start” race. We had never started this way before, and it went really well. As you can see, we beat the Alaskan Husky team out of the chute, and followed them closely for a mile or two.

This was one of the races that helped our team earn the SCA Top Sprint Racing award for the 2006-2007 season, as well as the 2007 OWS Sled Dog Racing award. Our dogs won these awards all three seasons they raced. Running this team was a dream come true!

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.

Nimbus Turns One Year Old

Nimbus went boating for his first birthday

Nimbus had his first birthday party on July 10, 2002. We wanted to do something that he would really enjoy. To celebrate we took a boat to Buck Island on Howard Prairie Lake in southern Oregon. Lightning (right) cooled off by biting at the bow-wake as we made our way across the lake. 

Nimbus and Lightning posing on a pair of stumps

Once at Buck Island, the dogs raced across the beaches and through the woods. We gave them a swimming lesson. Because Nimbus grew up during the cold winter months, this was his first experience in deep water. He was surprised when he could no longer touch the bottom, but enjoyed being cool during a record-breaking heat-wave. Afterward, Nimbus (left) and Lightning (right) hopped up on stumps and surveyed their realm.

Nimbus got a birthday cake. It was a hamburger that we shared with the boys when we returned to the marina. Everybody had a great time at Nimbus' first birthday party!

Backpacking Mountain Lakes Wilderness

Backpacking through Mountain Lakes Wilderness with Lightning and Nimbus
In the summer of 2002 we went on a great backpack trip into Mountain Lakes Wilderness in Oregon. We really enjoyed the rugged trail system into this ancient caldera. This region shares the geologic history of Carter Lake, but instead of forming a bowl, glaciers cut away several sides of this crater and left behind many small lakes.

Lightning (on the left) and Nimbus (on the right) carried 25% of their body weight in their Wolf Packs Reflector dog packs. Nimbus' load included one of his favorite stuffed toys, and both of the boys carried water, their food, treats, dog boots, first aid items, and other necessities. 

Backpacking with our Samoyeds in Mountain Lakes Wilderness
Once we hiked down the steep sides of the caldera, our route went past many beautiful lakes. This is Como Lake, which was very clear and peaceful. Pictured on the left are Linda with Lightning & Nimbus. In the middle is our friend Candice with Corby. On the right is Francisca with Reign. All of these beautiful dogs are related pure-bred Samoyeds.

Nimbus, Corby, and Reign earned points toward their Working Samoyed titles on this 14 mile trip. Lightning has already earned his Master Working Samoyed title, which is the most advanced working title offered by the Samoyed Club of America.

Master Lightning

Lightning completed his Master Working Samoyed (WSXM) title on March 16, 2002. This is the most advanced working title issued by the Samoyed Club of America. He is only the 11th dog in the world to have earned this title. At 25-months old, Lightning is also the youngest Samoyed to have earned this advanced level of working title.

Lightning earned his Master title in these areas:

Lightning has traveled many miles, and is always ready for a new adventure. We are very proud of our hard-working boy!

Lightning Sold Dog Scooters

Lightning enjoyng the fun of scootering

Our powerful Lightning was the official scooter salesman at Wolf Packs during 2001. When the US distributor of BlauWerk scooters went out of business in early 2002, we bought their entire remaining inventory and passed the price-break we received along to our customers.

Lightning and Linda scootering together
Lightning's Downhill scooter is shown here. This device was originally designed for cruising down snowless ski runs, but we have found it to be an excellent lead dog training tool. With this unique mode of transportation, we always turn the heads of people who see our team on the local logging roads and trails.

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.

Hiking At Castle Crags

Puppy Nimbus (left) and Lightning (right) enjoy exploring Castle Crags State Park in Northern California. From this spot we admired the rugged granite spires of the crags, and could also see the sleek white shape of Mount Shasta to the North.

Later in the month, Nimbus earned his Canine Good Citizen (CGC) title, and made his debut appearance in the conformation dog show ring, receiving 1st Place in his class. He loved all of the attention and treats, and charmed everybody with his calm disposition and sweet nature.

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. 

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.

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). 

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.

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!

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.

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