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Detroit Lakes MN – Frazee Sled Dog Race! January 27, 2008
The Kollmans spent this past weekend in Detroit Lakes for Michael’s first sled dog race. Tony and I left Thursday around 3:30 or so to go to the race for the weekend. We had originally thought we’d only go for a day to watch the race, but we all realized that we were needed as dog handlers, so we decided to make a weekend of it.
We had a great trip to Detroit Lakes. The dogs slept in the van the whole way, and the trip went fast. We got there at about 6:30 or so. We had planned on spending that night in the hotel room, relaxing and watching our Lost DVDs. We also wanted to hit the pool, and make sure that we were in bed early so that we could get up for the race on Friday. However, our plans did not go exactly as we had made them.
My parents were coming from the other direction – from Aberdeen – and probably left right around the same time. They did not have as uneventful of a trip as we did. Outside Fargo they nearly ran out of gas, which forced them to drive into a tiny town to find gas. THEN, right after they got it taken care of, they blew a tire on the dog-trailer. This lead to another long search for the right size tire and the right type of rim, as they bent theirs driving to find the tire. They also had to stop in Fargo and pick up a dog. So, they were running quite late.
Tony and I had gotten to Detroit Lakes and had checked in at the front desk of the Best Western. We were just about to take our stuff into our room when my mom called to fill us in on what had gone on during their trip, and to tell us they were still in Fargo. It turned out that my dad and Michael had to be registered at the Musher Meeting – which was to start at any moment – and we were going to have to be the ones to do it. The Musher Meeting takes place on the night before the race, and it is the time when everyone gets registered and gets their information. So, being the only ones there, we had to go to the meeting. We left our dogs and all of our stuff in the car, and left the parking log.
Tony and I drove to Frazee, which is about 10 miles from Detroit Lakes, and, after a crazy search we managed to find the Frazee Event Center, where the Musher Meeting was being held. Now, Tony and I aren’t mushers. We know a little bit about the sport – such as, we can harness a dog, hook one up to a sled, and understand the basic functions of most of the equipment. We’ve only ridden the sled once or twice a piece, so we aren’t mushers by any right. But, we showed up at the event center, and got in line with all of the other mushers, to tell them that Mark and Michael were on their way.
After we checked them in at the door, there was more to come. We hadn’t been to our hotel room yet, because we were in a hurry to get to the Musher meeting. So, our dogs were stuck out in the van, while we waited for the Musher meeting to start. The meeting lasted about a half hour – and it was a very stressful half hour indeed, for me. I had been given a whole stack of information when I checked in for my dad and Michael, but I had to sit in the meeting and take notes about the other things. There were changes in the rules to take note of, trail conditions, things that were required, different processes to be aware of – and it was all told to us in a language that we didn’t really understand. I told Tony it was like having a high school shop student sit in on a Masters class in Molecular Biology and try to take notes for someone who wasn’t there. I didn’t know what half the words meant that I was writing down, and I was nervous that I would forget to write something down and my dad or Michael would end up in trouble because of it.
At any rate, I tried my best, and after the meeting was dismissed we gathered up all of the gear we’d been given, including bibs and sponsor signs, and headed out to the car, where our poor dogs were still waiting for us to go to the hotel. My parents arrived just as the meeting ended, so we drove to their hotel room in Detroit Lakes to meet them. We ended up there for a couple of hours, helping them bring their stuff in, getting dinner for everyone at McDonald’s, and doing our own Musher meeting where I tried to convey all of the information I had gotten at the meeting to both of the mushers. We didn’t get back to our own hotel room until after midnight – and we still had to unpack and settle the dogs into the room, and all of that. Needless to say, we did not get the relaxation we were looking for, or the good night’s sleep that we wanted!
We were up at 6:45 the next day to meet everyone for breakfast at the Holiday Inn. Michael and my dad were very excited and a little bit nervous, as they went over the plan. My parents had brought 7 dogs, and picked up another in Fargo, bringing the total number of dogs in their dog truck to 8. Michael and my dad were both entered in the 2-4 dog Novice races, and were each planning on running a team of 4 dogs. Michael had the “A” team – big and not-so-bright Ziggy and Bob as his wheel dogs (where they didn’t have to think or listen, just follow and pull!) and Rohn, a tested leader out front with the new dog, named Fergie. He was confident that his A team would give him a good race. My dad had the “B” team. He was going to race a good leader, Double Trouble, who had raced with him many times. He was also going to race three girls from the sandwich litter – Sally, Hoagie, and Patty. He knew that his B team was inexperienced and probably wouldn’t be the fastest, but he was still looking forward to the race.
We got out to the race grounds at about 8:30 on Friday morning, and got right to work, dropping dogs, organizing, and getting things set up. Friday’s race times had been decided at random, so my dad had to be in the chute at 10:55, and he was to leave at 10:59. Michael had to be in the chute at 11:01, and he was to leave at 11:05. Therefore, we had to split into two teams, because it was impossible to get them there one after the other, there just wasn’t enough time! Devon, Michael’s friend ,and I took my dad’s team and headed to the chute, just in time for his chute time. We waited in the chute for the countdown to begin. Behind us, I could see my mom and Tony bringing up Michael’s team.
The B team did take off when the countdown was complete – but they got confused after they passed the last of the hay bales. Instead of entering the open trail like they were supposed to, they veered off to the side. Luckily I was still close enough to run up to them and get them onto the trail. The team behind my dad started the race and after they passed him, his team decided that they wanted to run after all. On the second attempt they got as far as the first curve on the trail, and decided to run directly into a photographer who was crouched on the ground. I took off at a run for the curve, and got there just as the rescue guys on the snowmobiles did. We again straightened out the team, and my dad took Hoagie out of lead and put Sally there instead. The race marshal told him at that point that if he didn’t get past the next curve he would have to scratch the race. The dogs seemed to hear this and understand, because this time when they took off they stayed on the trail and headed out onto the rest of it.
I walked back to the starting line, just in time to see Michael and his A team take off. They had no problems with hay bales or photographers or anything else. I knew that they would shoot right past my dad, very soon. I was extremely proud of Michael as I saw him take off on his first ever sled dog race. I knew he would have a great one!
We hurried to the finish line, and about 10 minutes later the racers started to come through. Michael had indeed passed my dad, and came across the finish line with the biggest smile on his face. My dad arrived quite a bit after the other mushers had all come in. He said he’d had a few problems out there, and had to stop at least three times to untangle his B team. He said that Hoagie just didn’t seem to remember what she was doing. They’d almost lost the trail right at the end, too, because they could see the dog truck through the trees, and wanted to make a break for it. But I had been under the finish banner, calling for them, and they decided to come my way instead, to finish the race.
When the times were announced, we learned that Michael had finished in 2nd place for the day! We were so excited for him! And so proud of him! My dad was proud of his B team, too, although they had finished in last place. He knew they were a young team, and so he thought it was great that they had finished the whole race! He thought that they would have a much better race the next day.
We spent Friday afternoon napping in the hotel ,and then had an early dinner together at the Holiday Inn. After chatting and having a couple of drinks in the hotel bar, and watching Michael and Devon play pool, Tony and I left to head back to our hotel. We were in bed before 10!
The Saturday race schedule was almost the same, except that the racers left in the order that they had finished the previous day. That meant that Michael left second, and my dad left 7th. So, we were able to help Michael get going, and then help my dad get going. Michael again flew out of the starting gate, with no problems. My dad’s B team seemed to remember what they were supposed to do as well, and left the gate in a hurry too.
The guys had a GREAT race Saturday! Michael had just about the same time, only losing about 10 seconds off of his first race. My dad took a whole 7 minutes of of his race time, and was very proud of the B team for doing so. They didn’t even try for the dog truck at the finish line, either.
The scores from both days were added together to find final places. Michael’s two scores earned him an overall position of 3rd place. He was 2 seconds behind the boy who got second place, and he was only 25 seconds behind the girl who came in first. We were so proud of him! His first ever sled dog race, and he’s locked in fierce competition, jostling for the top three positions, with two other people.
We spent Saturday afternoon relaxing at the hotel and swimming in the pool. Saturday night we were back in Frazee for the Musher’s Banquet, to see Michael get his plaque! It had a picture of him racing printed onto it, and it was a GREAT trophy for him to take home.
We got back home to Howard Lake at about 3:30 today. My mom called me to tell me that the figured out why Hoagie hadn’t seemed to want to race all weekend. She and her identical sister Monte had gotten mixed up on Thursday before they left, and my dad had loaded Monte instead of her! We thought we were racing Hoagie, and it was really Monte. Monte had only done one run before hooked up to the sled – and she had gotten just outside the backyard gate, laid down ,and refused to run anymore! Michael had to walk her back to the yard separately. Sled dogs want to run – love to run – and it is simply something that is in their blood. However, every once in a while you’ll get one that just isn’t into it – and that is how Monte feels about it. So, after we found out that we’d been racing the wrong dog on the B team, my dad was even more proud of how well his team had performed!
Tony is in the studio again tonight, and I am absolutely exhausted from this weekend. We are looking forward to getting everything back to normal around here this coming week!
Doggie Class #1 January 24, 2008
Wicket had his first class last night. He is three years old, and so we had to enroll him in an adult doggie class – not a puppy one. Though he probably would have been fine in the puppy class! We decided to enroll him in a doggie class because he is not very well socialized with other dogs, and is scared of all dogs and people. We got him at 8 months from a woman who had more than 80 dogs in kennels. Therefore, he must not have had much experience with people or other dogs. He is fine with our other dogs, and great with us (though he is still sometimes hesitant with Tony). Anyway, we thought that a doggie class would be good for him. It would force him to be around other dogs and other people. And he might learn some stuff too! Our first class was nerve-wracking for all of us. His classes are at the Petco in Eden Prairie. He has three other dogs in his class – a German Shepard named Trinity, a Boxer named Max, and a Husky/Retriever cross named Ella. These are all three BIG dogs. They are all very friendly, but they are huge. Wicket can walk under all of them with no problem. Last night’s class was pretty simple for Wicket, command wise. We worked on “sit” and “stay”, which, turns out, he’s pretty good at. We were able to have him sit and stay and we could walk up and down the aisles of the Petco without him following. We also worked on walking on a loose leash, which he does pretty well. The biggest part of last night was being around other dogs and people. It was all very overwhelming for him. He was terrified for most of it, but he didn’t spend the whole night hiding under my chair, like I thought he would. He only jumped on my lap out of fear twice. He let the big dogs sniff him, and he even took some treats from the trainer and let one of the other women pet him. And, after the class was over and we were walking around the store, he not only let two small dogs sniff him, but HE sniffed THEM, which is a huge step forward and shows that he is trying to come out of his shell a little bit. We are so excited to have him in this class, we really think that it will make a big difference in his behavior in general, and in how well he gets along with others. We are excited for next week already!
Today we are going up to Detroit Lakes, MN. My brother Michael (see his blog in our blogroll) has his first sled dog race this weekend. We are going to help him by being his dog handlers. We are also going to stay in a hotel and just enjoy being away for the weekend. We will have to write an update as soon as we get home!
Lazy Weekend January 21, 2008
We very much needed a weekend to relax, and that is just what we’re doing. I spent Saturday trying on dresses for our friend Cortney’s wedding in August. Tony was in the studio Saturday night and didn’t get home until about 3 AM. On Sunday, we pretty much watched TV the whole day. There were two football games, the season finale of Amazing Race, and then a few hours of Lost to catch up on. Today is a holiday, so we will probably keep on relaxing.
It is much too cold outside, still. So cold, in fact, that our dogs can hardly stand to go outside and do their business. Some of it inevitably ends up on the floor. They also get distracted by all of the winter smells and the winter animals that have burrowed into the trees by our front door. They start to dig for them, excited that they will be getting some sort of winter treat, and forget that it is frigidly cold. After about 30 seconds they realize how cold it is when their paws freeze and they come crying to the door to be let in.
It is warm and toasty in our house, though. Our landlord installed brand new windows this summer, and boy can you tell. The heater only has to run about half the time, to keep the house where we want it. And from what we’ve heard our heating bill is much lower than some of our friends’ bills have been. So, we are grateful for that.
Hope everyone else is having as lovely of a weekend as we are!
He got them! January 19, 2008
Tony got both cars started. They ran all evening till about 9. Then, he shut them off. He is letting them run right now again for about a half hour before we go to bed. Hopefully they will both start tomorrow morning! It is minus 14 degrees outside right now. FanTASTIC.
It is so cold today that… January 18, 2008
It is so cold today that we cannot get a single one of our cars started. To be fair, the battery on Tony’s van has been dead for a couple of days. He hasn’t had time to jump it, due to long practices and other things. So, he’s been driving my car to and from practice, and we’ve been using my car to go wherever we need to go. However, we woke up this morning to temperatures so low that my car will now not start. This is not a good thing, as he is in the studio all day tomorrow, and I am supposed to be with Cortney all day trying on bridesmaid dresses.
It is hard to live in a town that is at least 45 minutes away from any of your friends. If we were still in Aberdeen, we could call someone to come help us out. Or even get a ride wherever we needed to go. But, alas, we do not know anyone in Howard Lake, and cannot really afford to call a tow truck. So, we’re stuck figuring it out for ourselves. Luckily, Tony got a battery charger/car starter from my dad for Christmas. However, this is proving more difficult than he at first thought.
He first tried to use the battery charger on the van. He thought that since the battery was dead in the van, this was an easier thing to cure than my car, which has a fully charged battery, but just does not turn over due to the cold. However, the van is stuck too far from an outlet, and the charger does not work well with an extension cord. He tried it on the van, but was unable to get enough juice to charge the battery.
So, then he tried to use the car starter feature on my car, again with the extension cord. It didn’t start out in the driveway. So, he and a neighbor man pushed the car part way into the garage to get it closer to an outlet. He tried again, with the starter in the garage, and it still did not work. So, he pushed the car all the way into the garage, and closed the door, thinking that would be warm enough. The starter did not start the car yet again.
So, Tony has come back inside to gather up a couple of our trusty space heaters. His plan is to heat up the engine on the car by putting a space heater out there in the garage right by it. If he can get the engine just a little bit warm, it will hopefully start. Then, he will have to use the started car to jump the van. We need both cars tomorrow, bright and early in the morning, so it is important that we get them both running!
We’ll keep you posted….
lots going on… January 17, 2008
Its the middle of January, and we’ve got a super lot going on. Thought that I would get this thing going so that everyone can know what we are up to. I’m still freelancing my rear off, working between 8 and 12 hours a day. But the money is great, so I’m not complaining (too much). Tony’s in the studio once a week or so, and practicing at least twice a week with the band. Wicket starts doggie training classes next week Wednesday, so I will be sure to post how that goes. In between it all we manage to find time to hang out with some friends, and watch lots and lots of Lost. We’re trying to get them all in before the new season starts on the 31st. That’s about it for now. More soon.