SUMMER OF 1992 saw the
acquisition of SHAKAL IZ SOLOVYEV as a three-month-old puppy,
who was imported from Yekaterinburg in western Siberia through the
Czech Republic, with the help of the Deutgens. We sold all but three
males of KIDRON's litter and she returned to training as soon as the
weather cooled off enough to run. We had stripped down an old Spanish
SEAT auto as a heavy training rig; in the fall we ran the LLs and the
other Seppalas on that, with KIDRON capably leading the eleven-dog
hookup. The performance of the LL litter was becoming quite exciting.
After building muscle on the heavy auto rig, they ripped around in four-dog hookups with the light Spanish tricycle rig as though it were nothing. Isa's zero-strain Racing Siberian Huskies were having acute foot problems training on the gravel roads, but the Seppalas took the same roads in stride without the least trouble!
AS THE LL-LITTER MATURED we sought snow to train on. A Spanish musher who had started out with Samoyeds, Ramón Rojas, was at that time managing a cross-country ski station in the Pyrenees just south of Andorra, at St. Joan de l'Erm; Ramón allowed us to train at the ski station provided we were careful not to damage their carefully-groomed trails. Of course then (as always) we primarily used sections of snowmobile track as sled brakes, using the claw brake only as a holding device when stopped. After our first run, Ramón's trail crew anxiously went out to assess the state of the trail -- and came back puzzled, declaring that they could hardly tell we had been there at all! (We were apparently the first mushers to introduce that style of brake to Spain!) We had no dog truck or trailer, so we bundled the Seppalas into the Toyota wagon for the two and a half hour trip to the mountains. This, too, caused amazement among the Spanish dog drivers, who had never seen sleddogs that did not fight in close quarters!
THE PERFORMANCE of the LLs on snow was such that we began to feel guilty about keeping them in a place where we had to drive long distances even in midwinter to find snow for training. Isa was becoming disillusioned with the politics of European racing as well as with her own racing Siberians, to whose flakiness, delicacy and unmanageability the Seppalas were creating a stark contrast. In January 1993 we we received notice from Carolyn Ritter that she was selling most of her kennel. I immediately contacted Carolyn to reserve some dogs, and laid plans to fly to Whitehorse, YT, to look the place over, and to return via Wisconsin.
The same winter saw two more litters sired by HURLEY on NORDE and DREAMA. Parvo struck once more, costing us a beautiful HURLEY son and resulting in three others needing careful nursing to pull them through.
WHEN WE HEARD that the Generalitat de Catalunya intended to pave our gravel road, we knew for sure that it was time to bid Spain a regretful farewell and return to North America. It was no longer fair to the dogs to keep them in Spain, where we would always be hard put to fulfill their potential.