Sunday, September 03, 2006

Rivers News 9-3-2006

Hi gang Rivers here,

Well, the rain has returned but not before Mike got a chance to do many chores around our homestead. He has been off for the last few days. Mary and Mike have been working very hard to get the homestead ready for the winter. It has been a
very cool and sometimes, wet summer. The fireweed is almost gone to seed, so winter could be just around the corner.

Now, according to local Indian lore, when the fireweed starts to go to seed, winter is very near. As I reported in my last newsletter, we have snow in the mountains. Mike was telling me that when he first came to Alaska in 1985, there was snow in the mountains by mid-August. However, since then, he told me, the snow comes to the mountains later and later each year. He was very surprised to see it early year.

Our friend Pat from Texas came to visit. Pat runs a travel agency and tour business for senior citizens. Pat has been a long time “Rivers fan” and this was the first time she was able to meet my kennel mates and me. From what the girls were barking to me, Pat took a bunch of pictures. I hope they all come out. Pat was up here to check out places and activities that she can promote for tours to Alaska and other places worldwide.

We found a really cool web site dealing with dog sledding.
Now I am sure you have your own favorite mushing, dog racing and sled dog web sites, but check out I bet it will become one of your favorite sites. The site is called “Sled Doggin’” I am not sure if they have a guestbook or not, but if they do, tell them that Rivers sent you. Hey Ms. Tails, check out the dog sitter link!

Our good friend, the Georgia Sky Queen came to visit us and Mary took her to the fair. We will talk more about the fair later. It is always good to see our good friend Sky Queen. While she always brings treats for us, Mary told us that Sky Queen brings treats for Mike and Mary also. Besides great treats, Sky Queen gives us plenty of ear and tummy rubs. You know we enjoy that. Even Lakota will come out and visit with her, and you know that Lakota is not only shy, but also very selective whom he lets into his doghouse.

The fair. For those are you may not know it, Alaska has a state fair that normally runs the last two weeks of August and ends on Labor Day. There has been a bitter controversy this year because the school districts started school two weeks early. That means the kids cannot go to the fair until after school is out. Many of the kids have livestock, crafts, vegetable, and baked goods they exhibit as part of their adventures with 4 H and other programs of that nature. Another problem was that high school students usually work at the fair to make extra money. This year fair was only 11 days instead of the normal 14 to 17.

The weather has not been very nice, either it has been very rainy and cool. However, the day that Mike and Mary went to the fair, it was dry, but overcast. We really do not mind them going to the fair and leaving us in the kennel because Mike gives us special treats before they go.

When Mike came home from the fair, Icy (Christmas in our books) became very excite as she was stiff him. She barked that Mike had different smells on him. I went over and sniffed him and so did Lakota. We were not sure what Mike smelled like. He started to laugh and said that we must have smelled the goats, pigs, cows, steers, and chickens that he petted at the fair. Now considering that Mike is a city kid from New York City, he told me it is very excited seeing all the livestock.

One farmer told Mike that his cows give between 12 to 15 gallons of milk a day and the cows are very gentle. Mike did not know that. Mike asked the farmer if he sells all that milk. The farmer told Mike that the milk he does not sell becomes cheese and cheese curds. Now, I am not sure what cheese curds are. Mike said they are delicious. Mike told us about is a place at the fair where cheese curds are deep fat fried. Now I do not know if that is true because Mike never brings home any samples.

Sky got into little bit of trouble today. As I barked, it has been raining and Mike took Sky out with him in the front yard to check something. Now, Sky is normally very obedient and a smart dog, but today she saw a stray cat. Sky chased the down into our lower lot. Sky did not come back on Mike’s command. We all heard Mike call Sky many times, as we loafed nice and cozy in the garage. I have not been down in the lower for while, but Lakota has. He told me that the lower lot is overgrown with Devil’s Club, tall grass and many trees. The trees are full of leaves and some branches are crowding the trail. You cannot see too far. Since this is the power line trail, Mike does not do too much grooming down there. I know Mike went down to the lower lot after Sky, and I am sure he did not find her because of all the overgrowth.

I really do not think Sky realizes the dangers of stray cat chasing. As you know, cats will instinctively climb trees because they know dogs cannot climb trees. However, sky corned the cat and the cat decided to fight, Sky might have been in big trouble if the cat still had his front claws. Cats, with claws go for a dog eyes and nose. Nevertheless, all is well that ends well, and apparently Sky doubled back behind Mike and ended up on the upper lot, while Mike was still in the lower lot. Sky did not realize that Mike was a little upset with her for running off. She started to play hide and seek again with him. That is when I heard his voice go into that tone that we will know means, "and you are a very bad dog.” I am sure that once Sky heard that tone she made a mad dash to the kennel gate before Mike got there.

When Mike brought Sky into the garage, she received a good scolding, not only from Mike but also from a Momma Icy.

Because of Sky’s game playing, Mike did not finish the project he started in the front yard, so he took Lakota out with him. Now Lakota is one happy camper when he gets to go to the front yard. Lakota told me that he likes to run at Mike then darts a way at the last moment. Lakota barked to me that sometimes Mike chases him, running one-way and then the other way when he plays with Lakota.

I told Lakota that he is acting like a young dog and not the 13-year-old dog he is. Lakota replied, “Well you know, Rivers, I had that cancerous kidney removed and it made me think. I do not know when I will be crossing the Rainbow Bridge. I decided to live every day as if I will cross that bridge tomorrow.”

I had to think about what he was saying. The more I thought about it, the more I realize how right Lakota was. I am very happy that Lakota is feeling well and having so much fun playing with Mike. As you can tell, Lakota is doing great.

Mike is trying to put together a schedule of guest appearances, teacher conferences, and presentations for the winter months and through Iditarod time 2007. If you are interested, please contact Mike as soon as you can. When Mike and I visit, we enjoy showing our sled, telling stories, and talking about some of our mushing equipment. Make plays the “Blind Dog” game with the some of the students and of course enjoys autographing the books we at these events. Mike still works his day job and therefore needs to take vacation time to do this if you want us to visit during the week.

If you are store that sells all books, thank you very much, we really appreciate it. We are more than than happy to visit your store and promote our books. Again, if you are interested, please e-mail us privately. Of course, these visits can only be in Anchorage or the Mat-Su area.

Last year we had to refuse visits to several facilities due to scheduling conflicts because people waiting to last minute to see if we could make it. As I barked above, Mike, needs to plan out vacation time to do this and it is only fair that he gives his supervisor as much notice as possible for time off

Stormy has become very proficient on the computer and she found something that may interest you. It is clone of the Acrobat Reader program. If you use the Reader, you know it only allows you to read documents saved in the Acrobat format. What happens if this document is a form you have to fill it out and designer did not design it so you could just fill in the blocks? You have to download it, print it, and enter the information by paw. Stormy found this great software that is free and allows you to, not only opened and read Acrobat files, but also type into them if you need to fill them out.

The software is Foxit Reader and you can find it at When you get a chance, please check it out. The freebie version allows you to type on to the document but not save the document with your typed changes. To do that, you have to buy the Pro version, which may be a good idea if you fill out many of these forms...

Now Mike did hear from Lt., excuse me, Captain Tony. He told Mike they are doing OK. They are doing their job and waiting to come home from Bagdad. Captain Tony told Mike that several of the people from his unit were already home or on airplanes to come home when the decision was made to extend their tour in Iraq. Some people had orders to go to other places in the United States. That meant they sold homes and started to get ready to move but those plans had to be changed because of the extension. Mike told me those kind decisions, while devastating to military families, is par for the course if you are in the military. Please do not forget out troops.

I forgot to bark that while Mary and Judy were at the fair, Mike was doing a book signing at the Saturday Market in Anchorage. Mike told me that he met Dr. Jim and Dr. Jane at the market. With them was a beautiful golden retriever dog. Dr. Jim told Mike that the dog (whose name Mike did not hear), takes Dr. Jim skiing, which is something like us taking Mike mushing. Mike told me that Dr. Jim and Dr. Jane are doing well. They just did a clinic in Fairbanks and did some work at the Alaska Zoo. They do some amazing stuff.

Well it is starting to rain again so I guess I might as well go back to one of my favorite pastimes, napping. Oh, I almost forgot. Many of you asked about the flooding that we had in the Valley. While it was devastating in many places, we are okay. Mike told me of some pictures he saw that some of his associates took of their damaged properties. It was unbelievable how much power those normally tranquil streams and rivers can generate once there is too much rain or snow
melting in the mountains.

Here is a picture of Tundra (Tunny)

I had better go. I understand our buddy Keith is coming by.

Take care,