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.

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.

Nimbus Earns WSX Title

Nimbus (right) finishing up his WSX title
Nimbus completed the requirements for his Working Samoyed Excellent (WSX) title. This title is granted by the Samoyed Club of America to dogs that have earned over 2,000 points in various working categories. Nimbus specialized in: sled, scooter, and skijor racing; excursion sledding and scootering; and backpacking.

Nimbus (closest) is shown with Lightning on the 5-mile scooter run that finished his title. He is an incredibly hard worker and loves to run fast!

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!

2007 Sammies Too Race

2007 Sammies Too Sled Dog Race in Colorado
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).

2007 Chemult Sled Dog Race

2007 Chemult Sled Dog raceIn 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.

2004 Priest Lake Sled Dog Race

2004 Priest Lake Sled Dog Race in Idaho
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.

Shaver Lake Sled Dog Race

2004 Shaver Lake Sled Dog Race in California
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.

2003 Priest Lake Sled Dog Race

2003 Priest Lake Sled Dog Race in Idaho
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.

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!

Showing at 2002 SCA National

Judge preparing to inspect Lightning
We showed our dogs at the 2002 SCA National Specialty in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Here is Lightning in the Best of Breed ring, just before being inspected by breeder-judge John Ronald. There were nearly 200 other Champions entered, each judged against the official Standard (a detailed description) for our breed. Only one dog or bitch is selected as Best in Specialty Show (BISS), a highly prized achievement. Lightning went on to win this top honor at the 2004 SCA National Specialty!

Nimbus (right) and his brother Draco (left) were in the puppy sweepstakes and regular dog show at the National. They both made the cut in sweeps, meaning they were considered for a placement. Nimbus also made the cut in the regular dog show. 

Both of these boys (together with Lightning and his brother Loki) represented their mother, Ch Wolf River's Fata Morgana ROMX, in the Brood Bitch class. At 11 years old, she had no trouble leading her well-conditioned sons around the ring. It was a very impressive lineup!

Working Events At SCA 2002

Backpacking with the Samoyed Club of America group hike

The 2002 Samoyed Club of America National Specialty took place in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Lots of fun working events were offered, alongside the conformation show. Lightning and Nimbus hiked with nearly 20 other Samoyeds (including their brothers Loki and Draco) on the Appalachian Trail. Our boys, seen on the right, hiked in their royal blue Wolf Packs Reflector dog packs. Their brothers are next to them wearing their purple Banzai dog packs.

Lightning pulling at the SCA Weight Pull event

The picture above shows Lightning pulling 14 times his body weight in the SCA Novice Weight Pull. He worked his heart out for me, and pulled the second highest weight that day, 757 pounds! He made 12 pulls in all, increasing by 50 pounds each time. All of his pulls were under 6 seconds, with the exception of his last which was under 7 seconds. Several people commented that Lightning really lives up to his name!

Nimbus pulling at the SCA Weight Pull event
Nimbus had fun at the Novice Weight Pull event too, hauling a total of 402 pounds. He had never done this before, and seemed to get a kick out of the applause and attention. We look forward to entering more weight pull events with him in the future!

Nimbus herding sheep
Nimbus participated many other activities at the National including sheep herding. This picture shows his introduction to sheep. He was very enthusiastic, and it was fun to watch him interact with them. 

Lightning also worked sheep, and completed his Junior Herding Dog (JHD) title at this event. He did a lovely job of moving three sheep around a field the size of a football field, and through several gates, in a controlled manner.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

Best Working Award Again and Again

For the second year in a row, Lightning earned the Best Working award at the 2002 Williamette Valley Samoyed Fanciers Specialty! Our judge was Howard Dullnig, who also awarded Lightning's brother Nimbus Reserve Winner's Dog at this large Specialty show. He defeated many older dogs to earn this prestigious win. 

Also for the second year in a row, Lightning was the Best Working winner at the 2002 Samoyed Club of Washington State Specialty, under judge Estelle Cohen. This image was taken right after he won his class and shows him awaiting a treat from his loving owner-handler. Thank you Ron Manor for this nice image.

We are very proud of our boys, and even more so knowing that they are active workers with many trail miles behind (and still ahead of) them.

Lightning Wins Back-to-Back Majors

Lightning going Best Of Winners for a 5 point major at SCSD Specialty

On May 17, 2002, Lightning earned a 5 Point Major at the Samoyed Club of San Diego Specialty! After earning 1st Place in a large Open Dog class, he was awarded Winners Dog, and then Best of Winners at the Specialty by Australian judge Lynn Harwood.

Lightning's second 5 point major to finish his American Championship

The following day, under breeder-judge Jeanne Zuver, Lightning was awarded Winners Dog for another 5 Point Major, which completed his American Championship! Lightning is our first purebred dog, and was handled by Linda (his owner) all the way. You might say we learned about dog shows together.

Lightning's grandfather, Ch Wolf River's Drumlin ROMC (a well-known and important contributor to our breed), finished his Championship at this Specialty decades earlier. It is an honor for Lightning to echo the past.

We wish to thank all of our judges for rewarding this very special dog!

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!

Nice Show Wins

On March 9, 2002, Lightning was awarded Winners Dog and Best of Winners for a 3 Point Major by breeder-judge Annella Cooper at the Centralia, Washington show.

Nimbus was chosen as the Reserve Winners Dog (to a major) out of the 6-9 Month Puppy class on the same day! It was very exciting.

This image shows Lightning waiting for the judge to inspect him during the Open Dog class. Thank you Ron Manor for this candid picture of our boy!

A well-attended sanctioned Fun Match was held on the previous day, so we entered both of our boys as a way to remind all of us what to do in the conformation ring. Lightning went Best in Match, and Nimbus was the Working Group 2 winner! The boys won lots of ribbons, some mugs, and a pretty stained glass window hanging.

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.

Winning Streak For Lightning

Lightning going Best of Winners at a dog show
On February 9, 2002, Lightning was awarded Best of Winners by judge Dick Webb. This all-breed conformation dog show weekend took place in Albany, Oregon. The following day, under judge Judith Brown, Lightning was awarded Winner's Dog. He earned points toward his American Championship both days!

Our boy enjoys his time in the show ring. He wags his tail at the judges and while standing at attention. His trademark is his lovely movement. Lightning covers a lot of ground while appearing to float smoothly across the floor.

Lightning's Second Skijor Race

Lightning and Paul sail toward the finish line at the Chumult Sled Dog Races

Lightning sailed along the 2.6 mile Novice Skijor course at the 2002 Chemult Sled Dog Races. Partnered with Paul, our team averaged 9 miles per hour over the two day (5.2 mile total) event. Lightning was the only single-dog entry, and still came in 2nd Place, beating 2-dog Alaskan Husky and Alaskan Malamute teams. Conditions could not have been nicer, and fun was had by all.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

National Specialty Best In Show

Lightning winning Best In Show at the SCA National Specialty
Lightning was Best In Show at the 2004 Samoyed Club of America National Specialty under breeder-judge Mardee Ward. He was in the show ring all day, and never stopped showing for me. It was one of the special moments in my life that I will carry with me forever. We have a short video showing this win on our movies page.

ISDRA Championship Team

Lightning & Nimbus at the Club Mud race

In the winter of 2002-2003, our team won the International Sled Dog Racing Association 2-Dog Gig racing class. This was the first time an all-Samoyed team ever won an ISDRA class. They did it again in the 2003-2004 season! Together, Lightning (right lead) and Nimbus (left lead) won many other sledding awards. These powerful boys won the Samoyed Club of America Top Sled Dog/Sprint Team award all three seasons they raced. They also won the Organization for the Working Samoyed Sled Dog and Skijor awards multiple times.

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!

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.

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.

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