Sunday, November 27, 2005


Here is a sample of one of My Aunt's drawings that I am trying to help her sell.

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Net, eh?

Here is another:

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Friday, November 25, 2005

Who am I kidding?

I am not meant for civilization. There is one really cool old growth forest here in Madison. Its called "picnic point." There are huge 200 year old Cottonwood trees on it and Oaks and other hardwoods. But you can't go there without seeing a gazillion joggers and mountian bikers etc. and Yesturday I took a walk there on a beautiful evening with full moon out and I almost got a ticket. This police woman drove up and informed me that the Park closes at ten pm and that I could get a $ 180.00 fine if I didn't leave.

Imagine if I was an indian or somthing whose ancestors were burried there? It doesn't seem right. Ancient forests shouldn't close at ten pm. I used to love taking long walks in the woods in northern MN when there was a full moon out.

Madison is a beautiful city. But there are just too many damn people. You need lots of laws and regulations when you have so many people all crammed together. I am glad I came out here and got to spend time with my Aunt and my Mother. But now I am basically here to save money to move to Alaska. Regroup. Recover from the divorce, and all the changes to my life recently.

I thought at first that maybe I would put down roots here and get involved in the arts and the local left wing politics. I am against the war and globalization and so forth, but most of all I am a non-conformist politically. I don't really fit in with left wing political groups. It burns me out. Plus the vegan bunny hugger contingency really irks me.

So I am running out of excuses not to go, not to take the plunge and move to Alaska. I am done overthinking it too. There is no perfect plan, I have to come up with. The planning just keeps me from going.

I could have went after high school, but I joined the Army instead, rationalizing, that I would get a college fund. I could have moved after I got married and my Wife and I wanted to go an be close to nature, but I moved to Minnesota instead. The rationalization was that I would still be close to family and that Minnesota was a lot like alaska because it has moose and wolves and lakes and so forth.

well not quite. but it was nice. I got a sled dog team, but before I really got fully into it, I got divorced and had to give all the dogs back.

Its really odd how I have always, from earliest childhood had this yearning for alaska, while always having this hesitation, of going. Somthing holding me back. I can't figure it out. I don't know what it is. Maybe its because I know I won't do it part way. Maybe its because I know I will be drawn very deeply into the land and want to be like these handful of people that still live a substinence lifestyle in the Bush.

Maybe its because I fear not seeing my relatives again, maybe its because I don't know if I can really make it. I don't know if I can be totally self sufficient and really live off the land. Hunt my own meat, build my own shelter, carve out my own existence. Maybe its a test I don't know if I can really pass.

I mean if its a matter of moving to Anchorage or Fairbanks and getting a regular job. I know I can do that. I can be a "weekend warrior." Camp, Hike and explore here and there as a vacation.

But compromises have not satisfied. This is what I have been doing. It just increases my appetite. I got a taste of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and I felt like I wanted to dissapear into it. Slip into its expanse like a lone wolf and never be seen again. But civilization has permeated that place too.

I guess what I am facing is similar to what the pioneers of old faced, as they decided to "light out for the territory" and become a "mountian man."

They faced the strong possibility that they might not make it, that they would die, fail the test, or even if they made it they may not see their loved ones ever again.

This is what is ahead for me. I must face this fact.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

More on the Amur Laika

The next dog I get is going to be an Amur Laika. This is actually a real life embodiment of my concept of the perfect dog. Before I discovered this breed of dog, I actually imagined it and thought of various breeds of dogs I would have to breed together in order to create it. I thought of maybe breeding an Akita to a German shepherd and then crossing it with an alaskan or siberian husky. The qualities I wanted were that of a leggy agile akita, that was an obediant companion dog and also had sled dog ability so that it could be used as a skijoring dog and also a hunting dog.

American Akitas, are very large and blocky;very big boned. They are not a sled dog. They can be trained as a sled dog, but lack endurence and can be very dog aggressive.

They also are challenging to train and are very protective and can be agressive toward humans. A dog that is very protective and can be aggressivce towards humans combined with being difficult to train, is a very potentially dangerous dog.

Contrast this with the siberian husky. The siberian husky, is a capable sled dog with natural beauty, not dog aggressive, not agressive to humans at all, actually, no watchdog ability whatsoever. However, very hard to train, as far as being off leash. This dog does not tend to come when called and can roam for days even weeks if allowed loose.

German sheperds are very trainable, obediant dogs. They are protective, but easy to control with proper training. However, they are designed for the flying trot, which is not the best gait for sledding or skijoring. The working lines are better, but they still aren't built the best for sledding because of their heavy heads and fronts.

The Amur Laika, combines all the traits I want. Superficially, they look a lot like a siberian or alaskan husky, but perhaps a bit larger. The difference is in their temperament. They are protective, and give a warning bark, when strangers approach, but will not bite humans. They are more trainable than siberian husky and can be off leash. They don't stray but keep close contact with their master. They also have good sled dog abilities. Check out the racy lines on these dogs:

The Amur Laika is actually a subspecies of the "East Siberian Laika". The live in the Amur river region of the soviet union. This is where Siberian tigers live.

These dogs have actually been used to hunt Tigers. They also are used to Hunt brown bears and 500 lb. wild boars.

Notice how close this region is to Japan. The japanese have recently altered the type of the Japanese Akita and created a seperate registry to differentiate them from the American style akita. The American style Akita hearkens back the the earlier type of fighting akita that showed the influence of european giant breeds like the St. Bernard and Mastiff. These older style Akitas are massive (over 100 lbs) long bodied with massive mastiff like heads. The japanese breeders wanted to breed these qualities out and return the akita to what they percieved to be its original more natural form. So they imported laikas from the Amur region and added them to the gene pool. The newer version of the japanese akita is leggier and more agile and not so massive of bone.

The bone and head structure of the Amur Laika, however, is heavier and sturdier than that of the "West Siberian Laika." The west siberian laika is finer boned and only about 50 lbs. Below is a photo of a "west Siberian Laika." These are from the western region of Siberia, closer to Europe and Central Asia.

The Amur Laika is about 65 lbs. This is a larger more substantial dog, but still very agile. This incidentally is also the upper size limit of an efficient sled dog. The type of sking I want to do would require a larger type of sled dog that can pull a pulk or small sled but have the endurence to travel long distances on remote trails, in deep unplowed snow conditions.

Testament to the amazing abilities of the Amur laika is the story of "Otchum."


This was a Laika from the Lake Baikal region of the former soviet union, owned by French adventure and arctic explorer, Nicholas Vanier. Othchum led thousands of miles of arctic expeditions, with a team composed of his offspring, that resulted from a mating to a Greenland dog bitch. This dog also acted as a companion on horsback rides in the summer, a pack dog and a companion and babysitter to his yound daughter. I have a picture book by Vanier with several pictures of his beautiful dog "otchum." Vanier has also written a book about this dog and his amzing exploits.

Here is a link to a page about that book with some more pictures. Scroll down for pictures. The page is in french:Otchum book

Unfortunatly OTchum was killed in a dog fight with one of his sons. These dogs however went on to take Vanier in many more arctic journeys, including a winter long trip across the entire contiennt or North America.

Otchum was a very handsome obediant dog.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Still love dogs.

Well, I have this blog here that people still seem to be visiting to check up on me...

So I just thought I would check in. I live in a little aparetment now, in Madison, WI. This is the capital of Wisconsin and a college town. Its kind of an urban area, but it is a rather liberal/progressive city and most people here are very concerned with conservation, so there are lots of well treed parks and wildlife preserves and several lakes. There is this one area called the "arboretum" that I walk in every day. It is a man made natural preserve, that belongs to the university. I think it was created in the 1930's. They apparently just bought some farm land and planted a forest. There are turkeys and deer in the park and several other species of birds. They are quite tame, since hunting in not allowed and I have walked to within a few yards of both deer and turkeys.

The arboretum is very nice, but it is strange to see so many people while walking in the woods. This is not Northern Minnesota.

This is a fairly large city with lots of cultural opportunities, lots of resteraunts, museums, Art galleries etc. I was kind of missing this aspect of life while living out in the woods, so I am catching up on this. I have been working on my writing and assisting my Aunt, who is an artist, in getting her work shown in galleries.

Probably I will be here for a year or so, get all this culture crap out of my system and then head of for the wilderness again somewhere. I'd like to make some money and get established as a writer. That is my main reason for being here.

I don't think I will get right back into mushing though, especially with global warming. Though I only had my sled dog team for one winter and thought it was the most fun I ever had in my life, I really don't think it if feasible to have a team of dogs, if its only going to be winter for 2-3 months. Where I lived in MN used to have winter from Halloween to Easter. That is, it used to be almost 5 months. But lately for much of the upper midwest it has been only basically january and February. Manybe half of march and half of december.

There is a lot I want to do the rest of the year, like traveling, hiking, kayaking, camping, hunting etc.

What I plan to do is get a pair of dogs someday for skijoring. Then in the summer I can pack with them, and camp with them and if I need to I can board them.

This is even if I move to Alaska.

I really am still into dogs, and like talking to people around here when I see them out walking them. I have seen a couple that look like alaskan huskies even.

What I'd like to do this year, is see some sled dog races in the northern part of the state if they have them. I will post photos. I am also excited about following the quest and the i-rod this year too.
Two of my favorite mushers, Karen Land, and Karen Ramstead, are both running the Quest. I am really anxious to see how they do.

I also still like to research breeds of dogs on the internet. Here is a link I found about a rare breed, called the "Amur Laika" Its in Russian, but there are lots of cool pictures.

This is an all purpose dog that looks like an athletic looking malamute. It can pull sleds or skiers and is also a fearless hunting dog.

This may be the perfect breed for me somday, when I get established again with a house.

Check it out. cool dog breed.

Amur Laika