Home  |  Bookmark Us  |  Tell a Friend Saturday, April 19th, 2014
Nature's Kennel Sled Dog Racing & Adventures

Nature's Kennel
PO Box 5
McMillan, MI  49853
Tel: 1-906-748-0513
Email: info@natureskennel.com

Royal Canin

NK Adventures HomeNK Adventures Home
NK Racing HomeNK Racing Home
Educational ProgramsEducational Programs
Mighty Mutt ClubMighty Mutt Club
Our AthletesOur Athletes
For SaleFor Sale
Calendar of EventsCalendar of Events
Area Lodging/LinksArea Lodging/Links
SponsorsSponsors
NK Fantasy HomeNK Fantasy Home
NK GearNK Gear
Sign up for the
Nature's Kennel
Email Newsletter
BARK
Adventure Journals
Welcome to the Nature's Kennel Dog Blog!  Check out the latest kennel news, stories of your favorite sled dogs, Iditarod training adventures, and more!
 
Monday, February 25th, 2013

We had hoped that our dog blog would be filled with much more exciting Iditarod news, but things have not quite gone as planned.
 
Ed's race season had been off to a great start. We had fabulous fall training, great snow for winter trails, and Iditarod preparations were being made. Drop bags were shipped, plane flights secured, and dogs ready. However, as many of you may already know, Ed had a bad accident the evening of Tuesday, February 12th. It was about 8 pm and he was getting ready to leave the dog yard with ten of his race dogs. He leaned down to pull his quick release and at the same time adjusted his headlamp. He slipped off the runners of the sled, was drug into one of our metal snub posts consequently biting his tongue and chipping his teeth. He could not get up in time and hit the second snub post head on, causing a six in gash in his head and needing 19 stitches. The dogs are fine, but the musher is taking longer to heal than he'd like.
 
After much deliberation, Ed has made the decision to not run the Iditarod this year. He is experiencing a significant loss of energy and strength. Also, he is struggling mentally at times (Tasha thinks that is normal though). We are told these are common, temporary symptoms after head trauma of this nature combined with the significant blood loss. Crashing is the norm in the Iditarod and we are worried that even a mild crash could endanger Ed's health and more importantly his ability to take care of his dog team. The deciding factor is that Ed does not feel confident that he can hang on to the sled in a difficult situation. And a loose dog team without a musher can easily result in dog injury and/or death. The Iditarod is indeed the Toughest Race on Earth, and one had better be physically and mentally prepared to take on that challenge.
 
We would like you to know that in 20+ years of racing and running dogs, we have never scratched from a race. This has been a once in a career incident in which we have come to conclusion that we are very happy that the dogs and Ed are alive. Only Ed has been working with the race team this year so the possibility of another person who has met the strict Iditarod qualifications set by the race to run his team is not an option. Running a race of this magnitude and not knowing the dogs inside and out puts the dogs at risk. We are not willing to take that chance.
Ed is still driving up to the Iditarod with his dog team and participating in all pre-race activities as well as the banquet and ceremonial start in Anchorage. Ed has has the same Iditarod-rider in his sled for seven (now eight) years and we want to be sure Claudia gets her ride with Ed. We are also thankful that our major sponsors, Royal Canin and dogbooties.com, understand our situation and are still going to be there to cheer Ed on. We feel horrible for withdrawing from the race but we still want to make it as right as possible.
 
Ed, his brother Chad, and his annual Alaska travel companion, Cliff Henning leave early Friday morning, the 22nd for their journey north. We'll be sure to share the many stories along the way.
 
There are still fantastic mushers to follow this year, notably Jake Berkowtiz who got his start mushing at Nature's Kennel as one of our guides and Jodi Bailey who was our keynote at the 2011 Midwest Mushing Symposium. Good luck to all the mushers this year and we are already looking forward to 2014.


Posted by Tasha

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Why is it that we all are attracted to blood and gore?  I don’t know but I assume that is why you are now on our website.  To read about what happened to split my head open like Humpty Dumpty having a great fall.
 
Let us start at the beginning.  Not that all of it is relevant but it seems I have your attention.  I had run a 10 dog team earlier in the day and had an awesome time!  In fact, I remember exclaiming to our Guides, “Those are the best trails I have ever run dogs on in my life!”
 
The first team of the day was most of my big boys.  Power, power, and more power.  That left a weaker (but still strong enough to pummel me) second 10 dog team to run in the evening.  Rhu and Swann were in lead, which is kind of like cheating.  I swear they can read my mind and so few commands are needed.  Ayn and Enzo were in swing with  Blast, Schue, Triton, Conch, Chuck, and York following.  The perfect team, on a perfect night, on a perfect trail.
 
The first bad decision was involving my headlamp.  I went inside to get a headlamp for the run, as it was dark outside.  The first headlamp I grabbed was an old bike light that I fastened to a baseball hat about 10 years ago.  If I remember correctly, 10 years ago was the last time I wore the thing too.  It is a super bright light and seemed to work great.
 
I proceeded to harness the team, hook them up to the gangline, and bootie them.  They were all very patient.
 
My second bad decision has been one that has been in the making for the past 20 years.  Overconfidence leading to carelessness.  If I do say so myself, I am a really good sled driver.  Somehow that is now a lot harder to say with my tongue swollen and teeth chipped.
 
I was now ready to go.  As I pulled the snub line to release the now screaming dogs, my headlamp started falling off of my head.  This is where I made my third bad decision and tried to catch my headlamp.  The snub line in my left hand, trying to catch my headlamp with my right hand, the dogs surging forward, and me leaning hard to left keeping my balance albeit not holding on to the handlebar.
 
As is the case with so many situations such as this, things went into slow motion.  I was now precariously off balance so I quickly let go of the snub line and headlamp and grabbed the handlebar with both hands.  Just about that time I smacked into the next snubpost.  (Our kennel is set up with several 4” heavy guage steel posts called snub posts.  These are all in a row spaced 22 feet apart and are used to hold the dog teams while harnessing and putting booties on.)
 
I used some part of my face to hit this first snub post.  My tongue hurt and the taste of blood was apparent.  But overall, not a big deal at this point.  Except for the fact that my sled was now on its side with me dragging behind.  My mind quickly did a calculation that I had 5 more snub posts to hit before I got out of the kennel.  That WAS a big deal.
 
As it turned out I did not have to worry about all five snub posts because the next one knocked me silly.  I used the top of my head this time to hit the post and I still remember the awful deadened sounding thud and the feeling that went all the way down to my ankles.  Yes ankles.  Why the sensation stopped there and did not continue to my toes, I don’t know.
 
I had let go of the sled.  In 20 years of running dogs, I have never let go of the sled.  I got up to chase the dogs and quickly realized what so many men have felt like facing off against Mike Tyson in the boxing ring.  Gravity was strong.  I weebled, I wobbled, and I fell down.  My two brain cells (yes, one more than the average musher) kicked into overdrive and I got my bearings.
 
For those without knowledge of dogsledding, a team with no driver is the worst thing in the world that can happen.  Nothing good can happen, only bad.  For example, if a dog toward the back of the team missteps and gets tangled in the lines.  The other dogs may drag it to its death.  Yes, this had now become a VERY BIG DEAL!
 
The trail leaving the kennel is shaped in a big horse shoe, so I thought there is a chance that I could go the backside of the horse shoe and cut the team off.  I tried, but they ran their 1/2 mile much faster than I could cover my 1/4 mile.  This 1/4 mile lasted forever and I knew that my head was messed up.  I pulled my neck gaitor up over my forehead to try and slow the blood flow that was now raining down my face and down the back of my neck.  It didn’t seem to work but I did not care at this point.
 
Next I decided I needed a snowmobile to catch up to the dogs.  I will leave out some info at this point to make an already long story somewhat shorter.  Jess, our kennel manager and tons of first aid certifications to her name, joined me on the snowmobile which was parked only about a 1/2 mile away from the kennel.  We flew down the trail and caught up to the dogs in about 5 miles.  The dogs were cruising right along without a care in the world.  All was great.  Well, the dogs were fine but I now needed to get me some help.
 
I asked Jess to run my dogs back to the kennel as I needed to seek some medical help.  I would drive the snowmobile, take a few short cuts cross country, and go much faster than the dogs could run.  As she looked at the puddle of blood on the snowmobile, on the trail, and my face completely covered, she reluctantly agreed.  I knew she wanted to stay with me because there was enough blood that shock and passing out was a real option.  I compliment her though for not arguing with me.  I am stubborn and it would only have wasted time.
 
I drove the snowmobile back to the kennel.  Drove my truck to the neighbors house to get a visiting Tasha and then we proceeded to the hospital.  The crew at the hospital knew we were on the way and worked with amazingly efficiency to stop the bleeding, sew me up, fill me back up with fluids, scan my brain, neck, and face and let me go home.
 
I was very fortunate.  Mistake number four was not getting an effective pressure wrap on my head right away.  I had lost a ton of blood in the hour and 5 minutes from when the incident took place and when I arrived at the hospital.  If I would have passed out, things would have gone from bad to awful fast.  Lesson learned.
 
I am currently sitting on the couch with an ice pack on my head, a sore neck, sore arms, sore jaw, painful tongue, and 19 stitches to have removed in 8 days.  I decided to not run the UP 200 on Friday.  The race is mostly run at night and I am not sure how I could wear a headlamp without causing the bleeding to start again.  I need these 8 days to go really well because I leave for Alaska in 9 days.  Pat Moon and Tim VanderMeulen have come to my rescue and are going to run my dogs in the Midnight Run.  Thank you guys and everyone else for their well wishes!!!
 
Footnote:
Tasha and I agreed that we should keep Nate (our 2 year old son) away from me until the draining from the wound stopped and all of the blood was out of my hair (which I finally gave up on and just shaved my entire head).  Upon seeing me and hearing me call his name he responded, “Mom, Dad does not talk funny.”  (Actually I have a slight lisp that should go away in a few days.)  Nate also laughed at my sutures and thinks I have a train track on my head.


Posted by Ed

SEARCH the Journals

 

Journal Archive

▼ 2013
   ▼ February
► 2012
   ► December
   ► November
   ► October
   ► September
   ► August
   ► March
   ► February
   ► January
► 2011
   ► December
   ► November
   ► October
   ► September
   ► August
   ► July
   ► June
   ► May
   ► April
   ► March
   ► February
   ► January
► 2010
   ► December
   ► November
   ► October
   ► September
   ► August
   ► July
   ► June
   ► May
   ► April
   ► March
   ► February
   ► January
► 2009
   ► December
   ► November
   ► October
   ► September
   ► August
   ► July
   ► June
   ► May
   ► April
   ► March
   ► February
   ► January
► 2008
   ► December
   ► November
   ► October
 
- top -
Home | NK Adventures Home | NK Racing Home | Educational Programs | Mighty Mutt Club | Our Athletes | For Sale | Calendar of Events | Area Lodging/Links | Sponsors | NK Fantasy Home | NK Gear |