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.
The 2007 Siberian Rendezvous, Sammies Too race took place above Glenwood Springs, Colorado. It was a race for pure-bred teams only. The course was nearly 10,000 feet high, and a bit steep. We all felt the thin air, but still the team ran hard and finished the race with a respectable time. Lightning (left lead) and Moonrise (right lead) were seven years old at this race. The rest of the team consisted of Nimbus (right wheel) and Canyon (left wheel).
In the 2007-2008 winter season, we borrowed two wonderful girls from Kay Hallberg of Wolf River Samoyeds. Moonrise (right wheel), an experienced sled dog, and Canyon (left wheel) added a great deal of power and enthusiasm to our team. The Chemult Sled Dog Race in Oregon was my first time racing a four-dog team, and it was just thrilling. The course was incredibly fun, and beautifully groomed. The dogs ran hard and strong. This race helped our team to win the SCA Top Sprint Team award for the season. I think our boys, Lightning (left lead) and Nimbus (right lead), enjoyed having the girls helping them out.
Lightning (right lead) and Nimbus (left lead) are teaching Paul how fun it is to race with a dog sled. We had two fairly good runs at this race. Day 1 - Paul’s sled bounced off the side banks about 100 times (the course grooming device left a crown down the center), but the team still averaged 15 mph. We shocked the crowd by being the first team to the finish line. Day 2 - Paul only hit the sides 20 times so we averaged 15.9 mph. We took 4th Place overall out of ten teams. The best part was at the finish line where the crowd was amazed to see a two-dog team keeping right in time with all the 3-dog Alaskan Husky teams.
The 2004 Shaver Lake Sled Dog Race was Paul’s first experience driving the team at a race. Temps were around 50F degrees, and the course was slushy, steep, and very rough. Experienced mushers said it was the toughest race course they had ever run. Lightning (right lead) and Nimbus (left lead) placed 2nd in the 3-Dog class. First place went to a well respected musher who usually wins several classes on the California circuit. Even though she ran a team of three Alaskan Huskys, our 2-dog Samoyed team beat her on the second day! Although this was not quite enough for us to overcome the edge she had from the first day, it was a very impressive showing. Paul and the boys earned tremendous respect from her and the other mushers.
In 2003 our team traveled to Priest Lake, Idaho for our first race on snow. We entered the 3-Dog class, and ran it with our two boys, Lightning (right lead) and Nimbus (left lead). The other nine team ran with full three-dog teams. We finished the race in 3rd Place, averaging nearly 15 miles per hour throughout the course! This race helped our dogs to earn the SCA Top Sled Dog award for the 2002-2003 season.
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.
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.
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.
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!