February 9, 2011

2011 Arctic Expedition – The Rookies

Note: The photos I am using on blog posts this season are from expeditions past.  Joe has no way of getting current expedition pictures to me.

This year, Red and Bunny are the new kids on the expedition block. Although they have run a bit here locally in the Fairbanks/Two Rivers area earlier this winter, this is their big debut into the Arctic expedition world.

Bunny and Red when they were puppies…

Bunny Red

Typically, Joe introduces the newbies to expedition-style travel by tethering them to the sides of the sleds and letting them run alongside before integrating them into the team (like the two malamutes on either side of the sled in the photo below).

06-07 Expedition 220

This allows the youngsters to ease into their new lifestyle and lets them have their playtime moments without the pressure of running next to the big boys and prevents them from disrupting the focus of the team. It also allows them to take a little breather if they need to until they realize they need to conserve energy while pulling instead of clowning around.

2008_Expedition 600 Howdy being a kid Howdy on the sled

But being tethered to the side of the sleds was not in the cards for Bunny and Red this year. They were so eager to pull that Joe put them in with the team from the start and they’re fitting right in.

Joe’s running the team in his Tri-Hitch (3×3), but has an even number of dogs, so he’s just running two dogs in wheel…Red and Frankie.

Henderson's Tri-Hitch When he hooked Red up next to seasoned veteran Frankie, the old guy was probably scoffing to himself, thinking, “Are you kidding me, Joe? I don’t have the patience for this young punk. He’s a greenhorn, for crying out loud! Kid, you just watch and learnhmph!”

Red might have been a little intimidated at first, but as soon as Joe gave the command to go and that “young punk” hit his harness, Frankie had to eat his words. Red’s rippling muscles and sheer determination shot down Frankie’s scare tactics and the two of them have developed a mutual respect for one another. After a few days, the two of them became excellent partners in wheel position.

Bunny is holding her own in the team as well. Although she’s daintier than Red, she pulls like a champ and has no problem running next to a couple of the other girls, Beebee and Ginger. They’re in the row ahead of Frankie and Red. Bunny has an ornery streak to her which serves her well on the expedition. She focuses a lot of that energy and vitality into pulling.

Of course, being plucked out of her normal environment and thrust into the Arctic wilderness can throw a newbie for a loop. The wind doesn’t really blow where we live, so Bunny was taken aback by her first windstorm. She howled and whined in camp all night as the stiff Arctic wind rumbled across the tundra.

windstorm She was concerned and confused, but soon calmed down enough to observer her elders and followed their lead. She learned that instead of trying to fight it, it’s best to lay low and let the windblown, insulating snow blanket her. Now she knows it’s nothing to panic about and any windstorm that comes along is no sweat!

2008_Expedition 671


  • http://piappies.blogspot.com/ Piappies World

    We are really proud of Red and Bunny as the new team members. We are sure that the senior pups would help them through the expedition.

    We are praying for the success of the 2011 Artic Expedition!

    Piappies Fudgie, Princess, Frappie, Mocha, Sugar, Wai-Pai, Wai-Max & Forgie

  • Wyoming Fan

    Another exciting season is upon Expedition 2011. Hope all goes well and that Joe and the dogs stay safe.

  • http://e410.wordpress.com Just Run With It

    This is a great post! I never realized how the team is set up :) So cool!