Saturday, March 14, 2009

Black Ribbon: Mozilla's Moose on the Loose

Those of us active in Malamute Rescue are a close knit group across the country – we help each other out with dogs needing homes, and we laugh and cry together when it comes to our dogs, both rescues and personals.
Today I we got an email announcing that Mozilla’s Moose on the Loose (Moose) passed on to the Rainbow Bridge. Moose was a rescue who found his home with one of our rescuers – Vicky of Illinois Rescue. We all cried with her…

Mozilla's Moose on the Loose 10-31-2000 ~ 3-13-2009

One day, nine years ago or so, a pup was born into this world. Like every other pup that is born into this world, he had his whole life ahead of him, filled with thoughts of what would come - a home to love him, people to call his own, an anticipation of a good life to come. This pup was not so lucky - he was sold to someone who who should never have owned a dog at all. He was put out into a small pen, and left day after day to watch the world go by, and wish that he could be a part of it. The days turned into weeks, the weeks to months, the months to years. His neighbors would call animal control, so sad for the poor pup left alone, with nothing or no one to play with, no regular food or water, living in his own filth. His person would make small amends, for a week, maybe two. And then the calls would start again. The laws don't always favor our furry friends, and they certainly didn't favor this poor pup. Over the course of years, many calls were made, many trips were made by animal control. Finally, after four long years, conditions were bad enough to remove him from his sad environment.

And so he came to rescue. And what a sight he was. He was skinny, and dirty, and over the top excited about being free from the small pen that had been his prison for as long as he could remember. With no fosters available, he was placed at a rescue friendly boarding kennel, where he always had plenty of food, fresh water, shelter, and volunteers to offer up the walks and belly rubs he so craved. One after another, potential adoptors eyed our big wild boy, and all proclaimed him "too much dog" - he was after all, a great big boy with a heart full of puppy mischief, short on manners, but long on personality. He was - and I'm sure he enjoyed being - a real handful. He loved the kennel - it was sooo much better than anything he had ever known. He greeted everyday and everyone with a big smile - a smile that everyone knew just meant trouble. He was a favorite among the seasoned volunteers who liked a dog that gave them a "run for their money".

After many many months in the kennel, and many potential adoptors looking at this handsome fellow but deciding he was just too much, one warm August day, I decided that he had waited far, far too long for a real home of his own - and loaded him into the car. And Moose became mine. He was probably mine all along, it just took me awhile to realize it - after all, I'm just a slow human. And Moose was nothing if not trouble! He wanted to eat the cats, fight with the other dogs, escape at every opportunity, and cause as much general mayhem as possible - all with a great big silly "hey world, look at me!" grin on his face. We gave him Halloween as his birthday - it seemed so appropriate, as he was always playing tricks. We had FUN. Everything was fun to Moose - there is nothing that we did that he didn't meet with a "this is GRRREAT" attitude. He learned obedience (ok...mostly). He learned to pull a sled with his sister Miss, and went on many sled demos for the rescue. He went to some weight pulls - and always pulled his 1000 pounds as a novice. He learned to race like the wind in his big yard, chase and catch woodland critters, do the happy dance at dinnertime, go swimming, go on long walks in the twilight, chew a bone, sleep in a warm bed, and get belly rubs and cookies. He loved life - every part of it, large and small. And he loved his people, and we loved him back, fiercely. There was just so much love and joy inside his big heart, it seemed that sometimes it might just burst from all it held inside.

This morning, Mark went out to let everyone outside - and came running in to me and said that Moose didn't want to get up, maybe he was sick. I threw on a pair of jeans and a pair of shoes......and in those short moments, Moose was gone. It happened so quickly - it did not seem real. In shock, we brought our boy to the vet, for the last time, to find out what had happened, if we had somehow failed him. How could a boy that we loved so much - and that loved us that much in return - suddenly be gone from our lives without even a chance to say good-bye? The autopsy results confirmed....Moose had died of heart failure. It was sudden, and unpreventable...all the love, and all the joy he had inside - his big heart just couldn't hold it and gave out.

And so, our hearts are broken. I cannot imagine mornings without "good morning MooseMan!" and night times without "sweet dreams MooseGarou", and days without trying to keep up with my mile a minute boy full of joy. Our lives will never be the same. Not ever. And tonight, and until we meet again, the angels will be ducking for cover from my big boy in his silver harness, as he runs through the skies looking for mischief.

Once upon a time I was falling in love
But now I'm only falling apart
There's nothing I can do
A total eclipse of the heart
Once upon a time there was light in my life
But now there's only love in the dark
Nothing I can say
A total eclipse of the heart
Turn around bright eyes............turn around......

I'll see you in the dark, in my dreams, MooseMan. You were so very easy to fall in love with. I'll love you for my whole life, and beyond. I promise.


Dear Mom Vicky and Dad Mark;

Please don’t cry but remember the good times – and every minute I had with you was a GREAT time. I am writing this letter because I didn’t have time to say a long good-by and a “see ya later” but things were moving fast and Lover Boy came to me and told me he needed my help on a special project.

You see this year the entire ’94 Malamute Iditarod team is running the race watching over all the dogs there – the trail is deep and punchy and they are needed to keep the route open and safe for those little Alaskans and Siberians on the trail; and the rest of the Mals North of the Rainbow Bridge are running with them. Lover Boy looked back towards the start and saw a small white dog named Nigel lost on the trail – and in Anchorage, a musher crying because her dog had been alone and lost for 4 days. Lover Boy went to search for Nigel. This morning, Lover Boy found Nigel and started to guide him back to people who could get him to his Hu-mom, but it was taking too long and Nigel was cold and hungry and scared and all the Humes were looking in the wrong places. Lover Boy needed me to help get Nigel home safely and quickly. We did it! And tonight we are watching Nigel and his Hu-Mom, Nancy, happily together in Anchorage.

Well with the serious stuff done – and not having gotten the time to scope out the Bridge fully, I was off to see what all the hoop-la called the Iditarod was about. Guess what I found. A musher and his team way out in front of everyone else – so I paid them a visit. Larry, the lead dog told me that his Hu-dad, Lance, was getting a little intense and agreed it was time to have some fun, so Larry and I ran the team and musher around the bush for a couple of hours – Boy THAT was fun.

As I joined up with the Malamute Silver Harness Team, the lead dogs, Jacob and Joshua, informed me that playing with the teams was not nice – they were working, after all – and as I contritely listened, they all burst out in laughter – agreeing you had indeed named me correctly – Moose on the Loose.

Now that night is approaching, remember I love you and you made my life on earth whole. I will hear your nightly “Sweet dreams, MooseGarou” and I want you to know I am living those sweet dreams.

I love you and want you to know I am not gone, just gone ahead to other adventures.

Your Moose Man

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


We have gotten started on the third day of the Race and the first five checkpoints are closed. This is the time the Race Geeks start to come out from under cover. To those of us who start keeping statistics NOTHING is too geeky (is that a word?) to compile, to figure, to compare to prior years. This is what separates the Fans from the Fanatics – to be able to let all who ask that THIS year all the mushers are at least into Finger Lake Checkpoint and no one has dropped out of the race yet - I am sure that somewhere someone is checking to find out if this is the farthest checkpoint without a scratch.

I am tracking who has dropped dogs and at what checkpoint. Others are tracking the comparable run times between checkpoints – this year, so far, the runs are a tad slower.

Once again – the best coverage by fans seems to be the Forum sponsored by The Bering Sea School District.

As Internet fora go, it is a small group, a little less than 400 members and some of those are out on the trail in the race, but it is a GIANT as far as enthusiasm goes. Membership is free – just sign up and you do not have to be a total Fanatic to be a member. The BSSD board is one of the friendliest Fora going and we welcome anyone who is interested in the race – long time geek or new fan. The Board is also open to anyone who is not registered to read… Serious discussions, Talk to the Musher threads, and pure fun threads.

One of the most fun is the Who Is Trailbreaker? thread. A poster asked this innocent question during the middle of the race last year because there was GPS tracking of some of the mushers and always in the lead was a GPS designated Trailbreaker – the crew who marks and grooms the trail just ahead of the lead mushers. Well this question came up about the time the members were starting to suffer from sleep deprivation and during the time most of the mushers were traveling down the Yukon River – not a hotly contested part of the race. Well a legend was born – and the entire history of the Breaker Family was published – including a Family Tree and their Family Crest. My favorite member is Heart Breaker, the femme fatale of the family though others favor Jail Breaker, the Black Sheep of the family and Wind Breaker the family’s gaseous pet Golden Retriever.

One of the back stories coming out is Lance’s confrontation with a Moose on Saturday during the Ceremonial Start. The story can be read at Lance’s website: But the photo from the Anchorage Daily News should be enough to get anyone’s attention.

2009 © Photo courtesy of Rebecca Keating

Well, back to checking the leader board and tracking the Dropped Dogs – now the mushers are over the Alaskan Range they should start dropping more dogs-those which were needed for the power to climb the mountains but not needed for the speed of the Interior and the trip down the Yukon.

Mush on!

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Re-Start -- and so the game begins

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

The Cremation of Sam MacGee
by Robert Service

Tonight 67 mushers and 1071 dogs are spending their first of many nights in the Alaskan Wilderness. . .

For some fans, they can watch the progress of the mushers on the Trail on the via the Iditarod web site tracker for the Insiders who have paid the subscription, for the rest of us we have to follow the old fashioned way – by checking often the Current Standings page at:

But all of us will continue to bounce between the web sites, the blogs, and the emails flying between friends following news, speculation and wild rumors. In other words – just another typical Iditarod race watched by the Idita-nuts in the Outside.

I have lit two candles, one for the Mushers and one for the Dogs which will burn until the last Musher and team arrive in Nome and the Widow’s Lantern is extinguished….thus ending the race.

The story of the FROG in a Sled:
Photo by Donna Quante

And Photos of Lance’s tag sled on its side can be found on Backstage Iditarod Blog – link on the left side of my blog.

Pictures of Eric’s tag sled flipped is on the Anchorage Daily News Photo Essay of the Start.

Off to bed – to continue the internet quest in the morning – at least I have a nice warm and dry bed to curl up in – but then, catching a catnap surrounded by my team is not such a bad dream either.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Today was the Ceremonial Start in Anchorage. Today is for the fans - the mushers use any sled they wish and the dogs they run with often are not the dogs which will be on the team for the rest of the race. Today's theme was celebrating 50 Years of Alaska's Statehood and the Honorary Musher's Sled driven by Dan Seavey, was an antique Freighting sled borrowed from the Knik Museum.

Jeff King who is noted for being 'innovative' when it comes to sled designed went 'old school', VERY old school and ran the Start using an historical design of a Gee Stick Sled. This is a type of sled used by the freighters before the turn of the century like - in the 1800's. The musher/driver is on skis allowing the sled to be filled with freight. Remember that these sleds were designed to be pulled by freighting or sledging dogs, like our Malamutes, not the NASCAR Alaskan Huskies used today. Jeff has posted a You Tube video of a training session - notice the voice control he has of his team - amazing.

Jeff's You Tube

From the Anchorage Daily News: Four-time Iditarod champion Jeff King waves to the crowd near Alaska Native Medical Center as he skis in front of a freighting dog sled during the Iditarod Ceremonial Start on Saturday, March 7, 2009. His freight sled was equipped with a "gee pole" that were used on most every freight sled at the turn of the twentieth century. According to a U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management web page the gee pole was a stout pole lashed to, and projecting from, the front of the sled, which the sled driver could use to leverage and steer the sled. Most dog drivers still did not ride the sled, instead running besides or riding skis or a sort of early snowboard between the dog team and sled. Riding the sled-runners was used only by drivers of light and fast mail and race teams.

One of Jeff on the Start

June’s Blog with lots of pictures

Some Links to follow the inside view of the race:

I am sure there will be more later -- Tomorrow is the Re-start of the race - the 'real' start where the timer is ticking.

Meantime there are questions floating around about the Start ---- Like:
Alexie and the camo dogs
Lance’s tag sled rider got dumped?

Eric's did, too?
A frog in the sled