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Losing the madness over the mountains..

Updated: Mar 29, 2021

The watcher on the wall...

There are many things about Flint Sky I am looking forward to sharing with our friends, our Malamute family and those who have come here to learn a bit more about the breed - and as our first blog post for this site I wanted to begin - at our new beginning. We decided two years ago to make the move back to the Scottish Highlands to 'lose the madness over the mountains'. To regain some peace and perspective and set up a life for us and our dogs that would suit us entirely.

We are a team always on the move - always looking for that next hill to climb, but for now we've found our place in one of the most beautiful (and longest) glens in Scotland - surrounded my mountains and rivers - highland sheep and red deer. We've found a place to regroup and set out anew, with new plans and new beginnings.

Much of our story is about competing - racing and weight pulling, showing and backpacking, we love all of this with our dogs and we'll have a lot of these stories to share in the years to come. But that's not all of who we are, and two years ago we came North with our pack to really embrace all of what we wanted to be - a Team yes, but also a family.

Every member of Flint Sky has a place, a job and a very distinct role in the family. Memphis - as you will have seen from her bio here is the 'Queen'. She came home at 8 weeks old with a wild and fiery demeanor - but also a queenly one. She's been boss from the moment she stepped through the door - boss everywhere she goes and she's the most vocal part of a rather talkative pack. She's always quick to tell anyone when they step out of line, and she keeps everyone on the straight and narrow, but is fair to a fault. I know the 'Rainbows' (Sawyer and Nevada) are playing in the kitchen downstairs by the exact howl Memphis makes telling them off - because she knows there is a 'no playing in the kitchen' rule at our house. It's our rule, not hers though - so rather than sort it out herself, as she is so oft inclined to do, she simply shouts up to let me know 'they're doing it again'. Memphis once stopped running on the rig (her favourite thing in the world) to come back and physically pull me off the rig by my shirt sleeve because until that moment Tim had been the one to race her. I was always waiting at the other end of the trail with sausages as a reward for a good run, so she was quick and vocal to let me know that I needed to get off the damn rig, get my sausage and get where I was suppose to be so she could do her run. It took a couple of years before Memphis would run more than a few yards with me...

Similarly, because I'm the only one who's ever shown her (besides one slightly embarrassing experience with Tim at a fun show at the AMWA Salisbury weekend many years ago we try not to think about) I once came around a corner moving her around the ring at the Alaskan Malamute Club of UK and she saw Tim ringside taking her photo. She shot him a withering look and shouted at him from in the ring, letting him know this was NOT his place - and he needed to get back. She's brimming with character and love - she's become 'Momma Dog' since we brought home Nevada, she makes every spot we stop - whether it's a new house and yard or a stop-over in the van to train and race, feel like home.

Sawyer is the rock. He is gentle and sincere - and all he really wants in the world is for his pack to all be happy and together - and to Work. A lot of people talk about their Malamutes having 'drive' - which is good, and absolutely necessary for a good working dog, but for us we look for so much more than that. We look for what we call a 'good working head.' This is a dog who really thinks about their role, their job and takes real meaningful purpose from doing it. Our dogs ALL love to race - they love to be put in harness and to RUN. But that's just a bit of fun for them - it doesn't stop there and it's not even what they really gain satisfaction from. What they love is the real work behind it, what we do together as a team, their part in making things work smoothly. Memphis is all about speed and glory and dogged, bloody-knuckle determination. She brings that to absolutely everything she ever does. She has the team gee-ed up before we ever get out at an event with her notorious screams. Memphis is a 'Go big or go home' girl. Sawyer brings the steady head. He loves Memphis entirely - the two are the Yin and Yang of our pack, but he also takes her enthusiasm with a grain of salt, and reins her back in when she's pushing too hard. He knows the best trails to take and when, he knows when to slow down because it's best for us or the team - he watches over us and knows how to make the calm and collected decisions; he's invaluable to our pack of enthusiastic girls. When I race him - he constantly reminds me its about pacing yourself well - not blowing out after two miles. When we race our Sawyer and Memphis team over several days - unlike other teams they are almost always fastest on the third day, and this is totally down to Sawyer's management of the pace.

Sawyer is also our Night's Watch. The Watcher on the Wall, we sometimes call him - because every day he ends by stopping on the hill above our homestead and we watch the day end together. He checks to make sure all is right with the world before it goes to bed, he checks on his girls in the paddocks below. We see night descend on the Glen together, and when all is well and the sun has fully disappeared, he lets me know he's ready, and we should head inside and start a fire...

Nevada is still the baby of the pack in so many ways. She's a proper, old school Malamute where development is concerned and approaching 3 years old we are just starting to see a glimpse of her mature self. She's been a happy, easy-going puppy who is a joy to have around the house, but she's still finding her place in terms of working and life on the Homestead. Nevada is a first born - and she lives that in everything she does. She wants to lead - even the big dogs have to remind her regularly that she's the baby and doesn't get to make decisions just yet. Running on her own so far - she's relished the experience of it, but I think there is still something really missing for her - that 'A-ha!' moment they all have when they find their niche and for her I feel it will be running her own team - something we are in the process of developing for her at the moment. For now though, she really shines on one to one work with us.

All of our dogs did really well at obedience, but none quite so well as Nevada. She absolutely ate it up and went all the way to gold before we moved North. She's also an absolute joy to have on the trail pack walking. All of my dogs are good at it - though Memphis finds it pointless and tedious so she makes me pay for it. Sawyer loves that it's important to me and that it's something he can really put his back into and do with me - but the job itself is definitely not his favourite. But Nevada revels in it - she loves new trails, she loves climbing, and she loves working with me to get every footfall where it should be for the most successful hike or climb.

So that is where our new chapter finds us - with three very different dogs all developing into a new, stronger team. A long snowy winter is coming to an end, sadly devoid of competitive events, races and shows - but with so much time to work on our little team we are looking forward to setting off on new adventures and challenges this coming year enriched with the time spent together in the long dark winter of the Scottish mountains.

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