Monday, December 9, 2013

My SPIRIT--a memorial

 December 10, 2013 would have been Spirit's 12th birthday. On May 28, 2013 I helped him across the Rainbow Bridge. A very sad day and still brings tears to think about it. Spirit was my heart dog. While I love all my huskies, every now and then, one grabs you more than the others. Before Spirit, it was Quinn. When Quinn passed I wasn't even going to get another Siberian. I had my pound dog Annie and figured that was enough for a while. But, Annie was lonely, so I got Chena. And a couple years later, I got Spirit. Maybe I bonded with Quinn and Spirit because they came into my life when they were only a few weeks old. I met Spirit when he was 10 days old.
Spirit(left) and a littermate at 10 days.

I went back to visit him again at 4 weeks, 6 weeks and at 8 weeks I took him home. He was such a cute puppy.
4 weeks-stole my heart
6 weeks-Spirit far right
8 weeks old and home!
Spirit was always a whiner and a loner. When I went to pick him up to bring him home, my sister asked if I was sure he was the one I wanted. Of course he was!! And he whined his whole life. It became quite the laugh. He could noises like a wookie in Star Wars. I read somewhere that George Lucas patterned the wookie noise from his Malemute. Well, he could have used Spirit.

Spirit settled in quickly. Chena adopted him immediately. Annie tolerated him. My mom's dog Jill loved him. He was quite the boy. He seemed to like everyone.

Chena, who never had puppies, quickly adopted Spirit.

My Mom's Clumber Spaniel, Jill, found a new playmate.

Annie, the old black pound dog, tolerated a very playful puppy.

Even as a pup, Spirit loved  snow.

Spirit was a great dog. We walked everyday at Prettyboy Reservoir. He was allowed off leash for a couple years, until one day Chena led him astray. After that, only one of them was ever off leash at a time. That pack mentality was not good. He loved running through the woods. He chased deer--never caught one. He met horses and was quite interested in them. He caught a squirrel once and brought it to me. I ignored him. I knew if I tried to take it away he'd eat it. He was so proud of himself and I think disappointed I didn't feel the same. So he hid the squirrel under a fallen tree. For 3 days he'd stop and check on that squirrel. But the 4th day, it was gone. He was quite upset about that, running to me like it was my fault.
Spirit always liked high places. This was on the banks at Prettyboy
when we were having a drought and the water was low.
Spirit proved to be a real snow dog. Whenever we had snow--and this was in Maryland--he would be laying in it. When we moved to the Poconos he did the same thing. And when we got to Alaska I think he found his heaven.
In Maryland, Spirit laying on the deck, observing his world,
and totally enjoying the snow.
In the Poconos, we lost Chena. And even though Sissy had come to live with us, Spirit really missed Chena. After that, he never really hung out with any of the girl dogs. I was the only one he wanted to be with. I kept getting more dogs and while he liked them, he became Mr Aloof. 
Sissy and Spirit. Sissy was an Iditarod finisher with Karen Ramstead.
She taught Spirit to be a sled dog.
Vocal his whole life, here he is giving me lip while I'm trying to take photos.

Spirit in right wheel.
While he loved to run, he didn't pull a lot.
Finally figured it might be because his head was so big and
heavy that he wasn't comfortable. When he could no longer keep
up with the girls he retired. When he was younger, I did show him a 
few times, but he wasn't much interested in it. We tried obedience, but
unlike Chena, he would never get a CD title. He did however love agility and was the class clown, talking through every run. He was pretty good at it, except for the weave poles. I think in that husky head of his, he thought they were pointless.

Spirit in the show ring. Not sure where this is.
On the teeter-toter

He loved the A Frame!

And through the tire.

Spirit became my go to dog. Whenever I could only take one dog, it was Spirit. He was so mellow and so handsome and he loved to go. He rode in the back with his head between the seats, many times laying his head in the crook of my arm. He was the happiest when it was just he and I out and about. I took him when I drove back the Denali Rd, when we camped in Ninilchik and when I worked at the Princess Lodge for Alaska State Parks one summer, he went with me. He was part of my demonstration on mushing and sled dogs. He loved it for a few weeks, but the pressure got to him. We would be in the lobby with 40 people standing around him taking his photo and calling his name. I think he couldn't understand what they wanted since he was right in front of them. I was sad to send him home, but knew he would be happier--or at least not stressed out. He did mope when I went away and didn't take him. He did love going to Ninilchik. We camped in my Scamp on the beach. He got to sleep in the bed with me and we walked a lot..his favorite thing. Spirit was also a thief. If you had food on the counter, you better not step away because he would have it. I never put food on they table unless I was going to sit down. At Ninilchik, sitting around the campfire with my friends Pat and Sarah, Pat had a sandwich in her hand and was holding it up near the side of her face. Spirit walked up behind her and took it right out of her hand. He was so fast!! Pat was quite shocked. LOL He was also quite the beggar. If you ate dinner he was right there at your elbow with the most expressive eyebrows just looking at you with that, "Are you going to eat that?" look. It was hard to get mad at him. Even at night, when he choose to sleep outside. Didn't matter the temperature, he was happiest outside. That is, until about 4 am when he would beat on the sliding door and scream like something was after him. I'd let him in and he'd run full blast to the bedroom, jump on the bed, turn around really fast and collapse with a harrumph. He was great to sleep next to at -30 as he radiated heat. 
Spirit in Denali National Park-Polychorme Pass
We had a lot of wonderful adventures.

Spirit in front of Denali when he was with me at the Princess Lodge.

On the beach at Deep Creek State Park 
So handsome and huggable

My traveling buddy

When Nahanni arrived (she also was an Iditarod finisher with
Karen Ramstead) Spirit found another girlfriend. He was
more attracted to her than all the other girls since Chena. She really missed
him when he didn't come home with me in May. She grieved.

A typical Spirit scene. Curled up in the snow. Sometimes he'd go
in one of the dog houses, but mostly he liked being out in the snow.
I'll miss you forever.

(All photos are ©2013HuskyProductions/DonnaQuante)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

My 7 Year Alaska Vacation is Over

I have enjoyed living in Willow, Alaska more than I can explain to you. I moved here to run my recreational team of sled dogs and have experienced great happiness out on the well groomed trails of Willow.
My  team rounding the turn from Maleia to Serenity. Yes, we drive
our teams on the subdivision roads and can access the trails from here. 
Winter Wonderland

But, now it is time to move on. So, for the person, couple or family looking for a nice Alaskan style home, on the grid, 5 star energy rated, 1.32 acres of land, dog lot in place, fabulous greenhouse and more--just look at the photos. Home has three bedrooms, one of which is the master bedroom consisting of two rooms. There is a room in the full basement which I use for a guest room, but it has no windows, so cannot be listed as a bedroom. It is quite cozy.Two bathrooms, one on the main floor with the master bedroom and one upstairs with two bedrooms.
The house in autumn. Notice the brand new roof installed in 2012. The
front yard has a rail fence with turkey wire to keep the dogs inside the yard.
Short driveway, so not too much plowing. Area to right is big
enough for a dog truck.

The two garage is heated with a Toyo stove and has it's own oil tank. You'll be thankful for the heat in winter. The garage also has a new roof. Inside there is a lot of extra room with a work bench, bathroom, dog run-with a dog door to the outside puppy pen and wood shed, and enough space to store an ATV.
puppy pen/wood shed
Automatic doors. Automatic lights have been added
over the doors as well.

The timber frame greenhouse will knock your socks off. I grow corn and tomatoes in here very year!

The dog lot in winter when I housed an Iditarod musher. The new greenhouse can been seen below. A couple posts need to be moved because of snow slide off the greenhouse roof.

The dog lot has 24 posts inside the fence. On the back side are 11 more posts. There are 16 houses available.
The front yard has two posts and houses. There is plenty of room for more posts in the front yard. Some room for additional posts in the back. Back yard has 5 foot chain link fence. Nice for summer if you want to let dogs run around a little while you're out there with them.


The living room/dining room. High birch lined ceiling in the far room with a step down. 

The open kitchen with birch cabinets and high birch ceiling. You will love this floor. No wax, wash with water, almost dog proof for toe nails, looks great!! Gas stove.

Master bedroom is two rooms. When I moved here, the second room had a hot tub in it. That didn't work for me, so I removed it and put in a waterbed. That room has the wall and ceiling lined with tongue and groove --probably pine. Huge picture window so you can lie in bed and watch the northern lights. This is the room I start my corn and tomatoes for the greenhouse in.  Outer room is large. Has a large closet with solid wood sliding doors and smaller closet with solid wood folding doors. As you can see, my dogs all sleep in the house with me. 

Master bath has only a shower. Also rooms the washer and dryer. Dryer is gas. The flooring from the kitchen runs the hallway and into this bath. There is also a heated toilet seat. LOL   The bathroom upstairs has a bath tub.

Vermont Castings wood stove. It is amazing how much heat it puts out. Great back up for the oil furnace--which is only a couple years old. The stone around the stove came from the Jonesville Mine area. It gets very hot and releases warmth long after the fire dies out. The pipe from the unit is double walled. House also has a new air exchanger and a new water softener unit.

Summer is just glorious here. The flowers do extremely well in pots under the windows. The back dog lot is full of fireweed and raspberries!!! You'll love sitting on the front deck with your dogs and enjoying the summer breezes and sunshine.  Yard is full of birch and cottonwood. I removed all the black spruce as they were a fire hazard.

And in the winter, if you're lucky, you will get to see the Northern Lights dance right over your house!!

Interested??? email me: (That's
Serious inquires only. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Desert Pictures for sale

I know I haven't written in a long time. Sometimes life gets crazy and there just isn't enough time. I will write soon and tell you what I've been doing. But I did want to share this. I've been taking photographs for a long time and wondering what to do with all of them. I finally found a place that makes quality prints that can be made any way someone would like--from framed photos to cards. This link will take you to some photos I took last week in Nevada on a side trip to Red Rock Canyon. A beautiful, stunning drive through the valley. Hope you like the photos.
red rock canyon prints

Friday, September 30, 2011


After the Ninilchik trip (see previous entry listed right) it was back to work at the campground. Life slowed down as the Silver run was OK this year, but not spectacular. My camp hosts and I went back to the Deshka River with I Fish Alaska and fished for Silver Salmon. We each caught our three a day limit and had a great time again. It's worth it just to be out on the beautiful river. Life at the campground was nice. We finished painting all the picnic tables and the camp hosts had the grounds clean of all trash. It's hard to realize that some people have no respect for the earth and continue to just dump their trash. Where's our Crying Native when we need him??
At any rate, it was a lovely end to summer and closing of the campground.
I made a quick trip back east to visit my 85 year old Mom, see my family and some friends and work for a few days on a sitcom called, "Are We There Yet?" Nice people, cute show. While I love the beauty of the countryside back east, it is far too crowded for my taste and I was glad to return to Alaska.
Autumn was in full swing when I got back. The shades of yellow are just lovely in the fading sunshine. I've been running my four dog team and they are doing great! Temperatures drop into the 20's at night and rise into the 40's during the day. It's a great time of year.
The Willow Dog Mushers, of which I am currently President, held their 4th K9 Athlete Symposium. It was a huge success and a lot of fun. So much to see and do. Here's a blog with photos of the day:K9 Athlete Symposium
A day trip yesterday with fellow Parks employees was the perfect way to end September. We drove north on the Parks Highway to the Veteran's Memorial. Stopping at the Princess Lodge first  for a photo op with the Mountain made me realize how much I love it up here. We decided to continue north to Cantwell where we had lunch at the lodge there. A little known place as it is back off the highway. Food was very good. We were surprised to see snow along the road way. It must have fallen overnight. Termination dust was evident everywhere. Broad Pass was it's usual spectacular self. It was a day of laughs and friendship and just being.
Today was a clean up the yard day with help from a friends' son. He's a good kid and a good worker. After I took him home, I stopped for one last fall photo from Hatcher Pass Rd.
Enough talk, pictures tell a better story. Enjoy!

Sky reflected in the Deshka River--glorious day for fishing!

The limit of coho salmon for us!

At home, the flowers are in full bloom.

Side of my house with full flower boxes.
That's Fritter laying at the bottom of the stairs

Close up of sweet peas.

Fireweed in the back yard dog lot.

Meanwhile, back at the campground folks are fishing for Silver Salmon.
A little Ermine visited me at the fee booth.

Spent opening day at the State Fair--did I say I love State
Fairs? Stepped in the petting zoo with the Alpaca. CUTE!!

I also love goats. Had one as a kid. Her name was Maude.

And this was a sweet llama.

The end of August I celebrated by 62nd birthday!

This is why I love working at Willow Creek. My view from
the fee booth.

Fall started early this year I thought. The fireweed topped out early too.


A place to just be.

A grey jay visits.
Clouds roll over the Talkeetna Mountains.

A fun thing at home. The dog lot was fenced. My huskies
were insanely happy to have more room to run!

Chena likes the new area.

Fritter and Nahanni check out the fence line.

Back at the Willow Creek, The Alaska Range glows in the distance.

Autumn has started along the Susitna River.
Mt. Foraker
A quick trip back east and a wonderful visit with family and friends.

Rainbow over the fields.

I took my Mom for a drive through the Gettysburg Battlefield when
we happened upon a cavalry performance.

Heading home to Alaska we flew over the Susquehanna River.
Still very high from all the flooding. That's Three Mile Island to the left.

My house in Autumn. 

Time to run dogs--photo by my friend Sarah.

Leprechaun Condos!
My view of the team.
View from the Parks Hwy on the way to Wasilla.

Termination dust on Pioneer Peak.
Willow Lake--above and below

Backyard tree

Storm over the Talkeetnas.

Denali from the Princess Lodge pull off.

The full Alaska Range.
Denali from the Veteran's Memorial. It was almost clouded over.
Veteran's Memorial

High bush cranberries I believe.

Spectacular day.
Falling leaves over Byers Lake.
Broad Pass--next few photos. I love this area. I usually take a lunch
and stop at one of the pull outs to eat and enjoy the scenery.

Termination dust on the Alaska Range.
If you've driven the Parks Highway, no doubt you have seen
the Igloo. It was built to be a B&B. Supposedly, at one time,
it was quite lavish inside. Unfortunately, someone has trashed it.
It is for sale and as the front door was broken down, we
wandered in. I've always been fascinated by dome buildings.
One of the hallways on the bottom floor. It curves.
Looking up, you can see the next two floors. Someone
with money and vision could make this such a unique place.
The center ceiling. Look at the wood!
The final shot of fall. Taken on Willow Fishhook Rd, aka Hatcher Pass Rd.
Looking over the Matanuska Susitna Valley. Winter is on the way!