Beginnings of the Project (2):
The "LL" Litter (A Solid Foundation)

K. Dreama of Windigo with LL litter photo
DREAMA with the LL-Litter (December 1991)

BACK IN SPAIN with my newly-acquired Seppalas it was almost time for DREAMA to whelp. She was huge with puppies. On the 29th November 1991 she whelped an amazing litter of eight pups (a lot for a 35-pound bitch). She and I both worked hard to raise them all. Isa and I were both enthralled with the litter.

      It was a model of Seppala diversity: three piebalds, each a different colour, a splash-coat, dark greys, sables, a black and white. It was like re-living the first Markovo litter.

The historic LL litter of Seppala Siberian Sleddogs as puppies playing in their Spanish patio.
The LL Litter played contentedly in our fenced farmhouse patio -- LLUNA, LLEOPARD and LLOP in foreground

AS THE LL PUPPIES nursed and played, I trained HURLEY, KIDRON, NORDE and CROBAR on the bicycle, then on a Spanish three-wheeled rig that I took in partial payment for one of the puppies. (We sold only two of the litter, keeping all the males and two bitches.) HURLEY missed his Missy Carolyn and moped around for several months. KIDRON settled in immediately and quickly became a responsible leader. NORDE was immensely steady and reliable, a solid team dog. "Barbie" was young but willing. We had only the gravel and dirt back roads on which to train, and we had to keep an eye out for flocks of sheep!

AS THE LL LITTER GREW we felt excited about them and wanted to begin working with them. When they were three months old, one day we decided to give them a good free run up one of the back roads on the hillside behind our farm. We bundled Dreama and several puppies into the Toyota wagon, drove up a little way, dropped DREAMA and three pups, then drove slowly down the road calling them. For awhile it worked -- they ran enthusiastically behind the Toyota with their mother. Then DREAMA decided to introduce her own variation on the game -- and left the road, along with the pups! In less time than it takes to tell it, they had disappeared. At that moment, of course, the weather decided to blow up a sudden thunderstorm. We tried to follow on foot, but couldn't see any of them. Isa stayed on the hillside, while I drove back to return the remaining pups to their pen. Back on the hillside, both of us searched frantically. After an hour or so, I spotted a white patch on the hillside; we found three wet and disoriented pups sitting under a bush wondering what to do, but no DREAMA! When we got home with the pups, DREAMA was waiting in the yard with a mischievous grin on her face.

River View's Hurley, a Seppala Siberian Sleddog breed founder, on his doghouse in Catalunya.
HURLEY on his doghouse roof in Catalunya

      That was typical DREAMA behaviour! It was difficult not to trust DREAMA, but quite risky to do so. She often ran loose in the farmyard and would go for weeks without misbehaving -- and then suddenly disappear one day for an eight-hour hunt! Sometimes she would lie for hours under the blistering Spanish noonday sun, apparently enjoying her sunbath. Once she turned up very sick, vomiting copiously and salivating, with blackish stains around her mouth and chest -- we decided she had found an European toad and tried to eat it (they are toxic). On leash walks, she would energetically hunt for lizards on the roadside, her short tail whipping from side to side. In the house, she habitually slept on my bed curled up beside the pillow. Dreama looked after me indulgently, energetically cleaning my face with her tongue occasionally, as though she regarded me as an overgrown puppy. Truly she was a dog who made her own rules.

The dogyard in the Pyrenees where the Seppala Siberian Sleddog Project had its beginnings in the early 1990s
The Seppalas' dog yard at Masía Maurí, Els Masos de Llimiana

IN LATE WINTER OF 1992 while the LLs were growing, I bred HURLEY to KIDRON OF SPIRIT WIND; she, too, whelped eight, but had virtually no milk and the litter had to be tube-fed. That winter we began rig-training the LLs two at a time. Isa's racing career flourished that winter. She finished the season first in the 3-dog class of the Asociació Esportiva de Trineu i Pulka -- but as a foreigner was not allowed to represent Spain at the European Championship! Disillusionment began to set in, then worsened when she lost a good young bitch to parvovirus despite repeated vaccinations.

BY THIS TIME we were running in effect two separate kennels and two independent breeding programmes, as Isa bred her Zeros and Euroberians for insistent Spanish mushers, while I tried to advance my kennel of Markovo Seppalas. Knowing I badly needed another good male, I acquired GRIZZLY OF SEPP-ALTA (bred by none other than Curt Stuckey, by NUTOK OF MARKOVO out of MOKKA OF MARKOVO). Carolyn Ritter kept him for me; we had planned for DALLY OF SEPPA-ALTA, still at River View, to have a litter by him but it never happened.

Sepallop, Sepalleo, Sepallampo, Sepalleopard were the males of the foundation litter of Seppala Siberian Sleddogs born in 1991
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