Get Active

We have officially started summer as of June 21. It has been a long spring starting mid March. A good mixture of sun & rain. The fields & forests are green. Often by this time they are starting to brown due to a lack of rain. As predicted water levels are down, especially in rivers draining into the Great Lakes as are the Great Lakes. It is quite startling to drive along the north shores of Huron & Superior & see the water so low. Many of the great white water rivers are not runnable. Docks are sitting high & dry & extensive sand bars & rocks now extend for miles. This will obviously have dire effect for the plants, animals & fish. One effect of the weather in these parts is the reduced number of black flies. One function of the black fly is to pollinate the blue berry plants. Without the black fly doing their work this will prove to be a poor year for blueberries. Prices will skyrocket. Will also create some hungry bears as the bear rely heavily on the blue berry crop. Throughout this blog you will begin to see that the people involved here see this as a way of life & not just a job. The opinions expressed here are my own. They work here. There are other philosophies & methods of doing these same things that work. We are very involved in keeping current on animal care issues. A big concern here is nutrition. Every ingredient in the food is there for a reason & we look not just at what we put in but where it comes from. We feed a raw diet because of a personal belief that cooking & processing destroys a lot of the nutrients in food. Because we use fresh sources of meat there is no need to cook or process to destroy bacteria. I do not use processed or refined foods in the mixture. Again this year we are doing a major review of the diet based on new information that suggests sled dogs metabolize somewhat differently to the pet dog. We have had our food tested & some of the supplementary food tested as well. With help from John Peterson of Musher’s Brand Dog Foods we are looking to tweak our diet to provide optimum nutrition for the expedition dogs. The racing team is also working with John to develop a diet specific to the needs of a racing dog. This is a lesson I should have applied to myself as well. While being very particular what went into the dogs, raw & unprocessed, I was eating far to much processed & refined foods. Same principles apply to feeding humans. Eat raw. Eat unprocessed & unrefined. Single ingredient foods. No chemicals, no additives. Pretty easy these days to research this using the internet. People driving by the yard are often surprised we have them in the open. This is to my opinion desired. The sun keeps the area dry & keeps the soil an inhospitable place for parasites. As well the sun keeps the smells of the kennel at a minimum. If you have ever wandered the northern bush you will know that the black flies & mosquitos like the shade as well & also the cooling effect of the moist forest floor. In the early morning & evening the bugs are just overwhelming in the shade. Kept in the open, the area is pretty much devoid of bugs. There is always a breeze blowing across the kennel. Every dog house in the yard is raised to allow dogs shade under their houses. All this makes the kennel a very pleasant place for the dogs & for the humans who spend hours in the kennel everyday. Driving by the kennel one might think we only employ nudists. Again because of the sun the staff need not be concerned about bugs. Another observation when driving by the kennel on hot days is there are no dogs moving & the yard often looks empty. A closer look will find the dogs lying in the sun just soaking up the rays. This is common behavior for most animals. Sunning is a part of daily life. The animals recognize the importance of getting some sun. The sun supplies Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential to life. Google Vitamin D & read about the importance of this vitamin. All life needs sun. Human as well. All this hype about protecting yourself from sun is bunk. You need to use discretion but you need to get sun. I credit the good health of the dogs in large part to exposure to the sun. The other lesson learned from the dogs revolves around exercise. The more exercise the better. The dogs thrive on physical challenge. The harder you work them, the more they want. A number of racers have shown how true this is. For years running back to back long races was not considered wise. Lance Mackey for one blew that theory out of the water with back to back victories in the Yukon Quest & the Iditarod. A number of mushers have since reinforced the concept. In our expedition kennel we have learned that if you place everything in order – proper nutrition & hydration, proper conditioning & training, proper rest, & all important that influence of positive atmosphere – then you can work the dogs day after day. 100 days straight is no problem. Work & exercise is actually contagious within the kennel. This is no different for the human being. The harder you exercise or work, the more committed you become to the activity. The more you see the results of your efforts, the harder you work, the better you feel. But it is a total effort. Physical exercise, combined with good food, proper rest, & a realistic & planned incremental training. Of course do it all in the sun. You will feel better physically & mentally. Keeping yourself healthy is a full time commitment. Keeping the dogs healthy is also a full time commitment. Paul