Volunteering at a Dogsled Farm – Snowdragons, Austria Part 5 (Guest Blog)

The next two days, some friends visited for watching the race. Lukas was able to keep his third place, even it really took him a lot to keep up with the others. The track was obviously very challenging. Still, we had a lot of fun, everything was organized very well, but we were happy when everything ended on Sunday with the ceremony and with a final emotional song I am from Austria (the secret Austrian hymn).

Last time, I was two days before the European Championship really worried, that I wouldn’t be able to join Lukas, because I got ill. Luckily, I felt one day before much better and I told Lukas that I will definitely join him. It was actually the first day since a week my nose was not running – what a nice feeling 😛 Lukas and I had to make some preparations, we weren’t sure that there will be electricity in Ottenschlag, so we needed to buy a generator to heat up the caravan, and a few more things. In between, we still had some time for fun with the dogs. It was pretty much raining the whole week, and Braxi obviously didn’t like to be wet anymore, so he sneaked into the house. I dried him with a towel, I think he liked it 😉

By Sheida Nasseri (Guest Blogger)

Please find the original post, awesome photos, and adrenaline-packed videos here: http://butterflies-needtofly.blogspot.co.at/2016/11/volunteering-at-dogsled-farm_27.html

European Championship in Ottenschlag / Austria

The next morning, we started packing the caravan and loading the dogs. The final decision on the dogs joining us, was in the lead Foppa and Lily, behind them Simba and Atreju, then Arthur and Angor, and as Wheel dogs Punkti and Blesk. They always get really excited and it is not that easy to get them from the kennel to the transporter as you imagine 😛 They pull really hard, because they fear that you will let them behind and of course because they sense that there is something exciting about to happen. After loading all dogs, we said Goodbye to Miriam and Maria and were on our way to Ottenschlag. The weather conditions weren’t that good, it was raining and very foggy, although it was at least cold enough for our dogs to run. It took us some time to arrive in Ottenschlag, due to the bad weather conditions and our very long vehicle – just to remind you, we were about 14 meters long.

Finally, we arrived around lunchtime in Ottenschlag, there were already a lot of other mushers with their dogs. We got a place next to an Austrian friend of Lukas, her name is Ines who was there with her girlfriend Sajma (from Switzerland). It is really crazy, how many people and especially dogs are there.

Of course, with so many dogs so close to each other, there are some frictions. We had one with one of our neighbors. All musher friends from Lukas were doubting that they were purebred Huskies, and the Musher always let the dogs run free when he got them out of their boxes. The mushers were kidding around that if that would be real Huskies, they wouldn’t stay in that area, they would be running off as far as they could. Additionally, one of the dogs always came a little bit too close to the other dogs’ area, which always triggered a barking and growling concert 😛

We always took the dogs out of their boxes to the so-called “stake out”, where they were attached to a line, so that they couldn’t run off to other dogs but still had the possibility to walk a little bit around and pee or poop. When you let out the dogs out of their boxes, you hold them on their collar and lead them to their place where they got leashed on and back the other way around. I don’t why, but getting the dogs out of the box was never a problem, but getting them back inside, definitely was! At least with a few dogs, and especially with Punkti! I either compared him with a wild going horse or an ox 😛 Not that they didn’t want to get in the box, no they wanted to, so badly, that they were going crazy and pulling so hard, that I almost couldn’t hold them. We had the strongest dogs with us, Atreju, Angor, and Punkti! Lukas was making fun of me, because my muscles in my arms got really sore from holding the dogs, that he always said that if I keep going on, my arms will get longer and very soon I can walk around like an ape with my arms first 😉

Most of the day, I spent actually running around and looking at the other dogs or cuddling with our dogs. They just love to cuddle J

It is amazing to see, how many nationalities are attending on such an event, there were people from 18 countries which were; Italy, Moldavian, France, Slovakia, Romania, Belgium, Serbia, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Poland, Estonia, Hungary, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and of course Austria.

We had quite a short night, due to the fact that somehow a lot of mushers let their dogs out in the middle of the night, although it is forbidden. There is a rule, which says, that the dogs have to be in their boxes between 10pm and 7am. Well, not all of them were following the rules, and when the dogs are out of their boxes they start barking. Very loud. Nevertheless, the morning started early with letting the dogs out and feeding them. Lukas starting time would be at 10.10 am, so we started preparing the dogs shortly before and you could feel the excitement within the whole place. There are different categories where the mushers can run with their dogs. Existing categories were cart run with ten, eight, six and four dogs, Sprint Bike with two or one dogs, Sprint Scooter with one or two dogs, and Canicross with one or two dogs. Can you imagine, CANICROSS with two dogs???? You remember, when I told you that running just with one dog is already a challenge and then with two dogs?? Wow! I watched them running, and I had to laugh because I recognized that expression their faces “don’t fall, don’t fall”. and that was also very difficult, due to the mud.

Within the categories there were even more categories, whether gender or age or if it is a middle or long distance or just a sprint. Shortly, before it was Lukas turn, Lukas got a call from Birgit that Braxi did somehow run off. We have no idea how he did it because there is everywhere a fence around but he wasn’t on the property. Unfortunately, exactly what day the hunting started, the hunters would be out for the next three days. We got really upset, but luckily shortly after that call, Birgit called again and said he was back. He was totally out of breath, limping and smelled like fish! We have no idea where he was, but at least he got back. We guessed that he tried to follow us, but who knows he won’t tell us. We also couldn’t find a hole in any of the fences. As I said, Braxi won’t tell us 😉

Then, we leashed the dogs on to the cart and then (Ines and Sajma helped us) we run together while holding the dogs to the starting line. I had to hold Foppa, he is always so excited and starts jumping over poor Lily, so I hold him the whole time tight. He was really eager to start, we’ve got some pictures of that 😉

After the first race, Lukas was in third place. On the first was one Czech guy with incredible 44 minutes time for the 14.7 km, on the second place one guy from Switzerland, Thomas, we got friends with him, with 54 minutes and Lukas with 58 minutes. In fourth place was again some Czech guy, with only 40 seconds after Lukas. Lukas said, that the first and second place is too far away for him to reach, but he really would like to keep the third place. But therefore, he needs to get a time advantage for all three days and it was already a close catch.

The next two days, some friends visited for watching the race. Lukas was able to keep his third place, even it really took him a lot to keep up with the others. The track was obviously very challenging. Still, we had a lot of fun, everything was organized very well, but we were happy when everything ended on Sunday with the ceremony and with a final emotional song I am from Austria (the secret Austrian hymn).

The ceremony ended around 7 pm, therefore, we decided to leave on the next morning. we didn’t want to have the stress of driving in the dark. I enjoyed it a lot, but I was very tired and finally happy, that after arriving, packing out and taking a super long shower I could have a nice long nap.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. Tomorrow, Maria and I are flying to Paris, to Walt Disneyland! Stay tuned for my next post 😉

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Volunteering at a Dogsled Farm – Snowdragons, Austria Part 4 (Guest Post)

I would like to express here that the dog’s wellbeing is Lukas first concern and therefore he didn’t stress the dogs to run fast or on all three days like others did! Therefore, he knew there would be no chance to win that race and this race wasn’t important, it is more like a training…

Here we’ll go again, somehow a lot of things happened and then, not again. The same weekend where Miri and I were alone (Lukas, Birgit and Maria went to Reingers in Austria for a cart race), a previous volunteer arrived. She was the last time only two weeks with Lukas and wanted now to come to visit the dogs and Lukas for a few days. When Lukas, Birgit and Maria came back, they all were kind of relieved and happy to be back with all dogs and all in one piece. Obviously, there was some catastrophe going on in Reingers. Due to the weather circumstances, Lukas decided to not let the dogs run on all three days. It was too warm!

By Sheida Nasseri (Guest Blogger)

Please find the original post, including photos, here: http://butterflies-needtofly.blogspot.com/2016/11/volunteering-at-dogsled-farm.htm

I would like to express here that the dog’s wellbeing is Lukas first concern and therefore he didn’t stress the dogs to run fast or on all three days like others did! Therefore, he knew there would be no chance to win that race and this race wasn’t important, it is more like a training. Usually, Birgit would have gone with four or five dogs and Lukas with eight. Due to the fact, they left out one day, they decided to run with the big team instead, so with all thirteen dogs. Usually, there are several dog handlers which are supporting the Musher holding the dogs and release them in time when the training or race starts. When they wanted to start running, one of the front dog handlers didn’t let go fast enough the leash and fell, so six dogs were running over him, and the seven behind stopped to not run over the guy and the mainline snapped through the force from both sides going in different directions. It snapped in the middle where Braxi was attached to; I am not sure if you know what that means.

The dogs have a neckline attached to their collar and one leash which is attached to the harness on their back; so when the main line snaps in the middle, the neckline is attached to the six dogs who were now running free and his backside to the leash which belongs to the dogs who stopped; they could have ripped him in two pieces, but lucky as Braxi is, his collar was not too tight on his neck, so he could get out of his collar and was standing still in shock! Two dog handlers jumped on their quad bikes and drove after the six dogs which were running their race without the cart and musher. They caught them fast, but that was a really BIG shock for all of them! Lukas directly bought new and stronger lines and a new nice collar for Braxi! That was somehow too much, three times in one week something snapped.

Being back, Maria had the next four days off and went to Vienna. Miri also left on the next day, so I was left with Silvia. She had no experience in doing the routines, so it was pretty much me doing the work … but Birgit and Lukas also helped 😉 I am very thankful for her pictures and videos, though. When we had training, she was filming and taking pictures. Interesting to see, because I never get the chance to take pictures during training (Lukas would most probably kill me if I would take pics instead of helping ;-)) I wanted to post the video, but somehow I had difficulties to upload it.

Before Maria came back, we had a spontaneous photo shoot for our race which we organize in December. I think, I already mentioned that we are organizing our own race here in our region. It will be on the weekend of the 10/11th December. We wanted to hang out some posters to make an advertisement and Lukas asked me if I could take the role as a runner, or so-called Canicross. There will be Sabrina, who is also one of the helpers who will be on the bike and Lukas on the cart. Tim (he is only 9 years old) is going to take the pictures. He is really good at it. Lukas told me, that we will start running up the hill in our yard to the open place and that I have to be really fast because I have to keep up the pace with a bike and a cart! I was doubting that I could keep up that pace, but I didn’t count on Braxi. He was dragging me up that hill so fast, that I even overtook the cart and the bike and was not able to slow down!  I have to admit, a little bit painful because the belt is kind of dividing your ass, but that was actually really funny.

When Maria came back, I left on the next morning for my long weekend off. I also went to Vienna with my boyfriend. It was really lovely! We had a nice hotel, with some crazy architecture, went for some sightseeing, shopping and we even went for the opera “la Cenerentola” (Cinderella). I loved that weekend and I will miss him even more after it.

Being back, I was a bit down. I think I caught something, I felt not that strong. Birgit and Lukas wanted to go away for a few days and that morning we still had a training. I got to go with Lukas and finally had the chance to drive the cart and I discovered my hands are too small to hold the brake of that big cart :-/ typical! So mean L at least, I could drive a few times when we were going more uphill and I didn’t need to handle the brake =P

When we returned, I didn’t feel really good and lay down for the rest of the day. I got sick. With Birgit and Lukas being away, there was not much to do so I could rest. Miri and I found out that Maria (coming from New Zealand) never watched “The Hobbit” or “Lord of the Rings” we were shocked!!!! We started watching that week all Hobbit movies and kept on going on with the Lord of the Rings. Lukas and Birgit returned on the 11th of November. The next morning, we started with a training and Lukas suggested after the training, that Maria and I could take the car so we can go to Buschberg, he saw some pics that there was still a little bit snow laying and  Maria is so eager to see snow. She didn’t really see much snow in her life. In addition, she didn’t get up there to see the nice view, so we went together. It was much fun, I also felt better again.

Sometimes when we got too much paper and carton leftover we do a big fire and burn everything. Maria is freaking scared of fire, so she ripped the carton and I did the fire. I am not afraid, but I have respect. We were making a decent fire, at one point, Lukas came and asked why we are not putting the whole carton at once into the fire. Well, he did, and the fire got so big. He was laughing about us and made (and is still doing) fun about us ripping paper into small pieces and says “I already start a fire, I will be done in two days” and then just cracks of laughter!

Later that day, we went to the chickens and I noticed that little brownie was not outside with the others. When I checked the shed, I directly noticed that something couldn’t be right. She wasn’t on her eggs but was laying in the corner, with her face down in the Stroh. I tried to get her up, but she seemed not able to get on her feet, so I put her in one of the incubators so that she didn’t fall on her face. We went back to the house and told Lukas. He noticed that she had diarrhea, he tried to make her drink water or eat something but couldn’t. Brigit’s father, Pauli, also checked on her but he said that she probably won’t make it. A few hours later she already was dead. I couldn’t believe it, the tamest and most productive chicken died. Still sad about that.

The next day, I didn’t feel good at all! That was the first time I stayed almost the whole day in bed, instead of helping. I couldn’t even help with the night training, Lukas and Maria went alone. I really fear that I will miss the European Championship. The next morning, I got up and helped with the training, but it did cost me so much energy that I was shaking for almost ten minutes… had to rest afterward a little bit. Lukas asked me if I think I will be fit for the Championship. He will need someone who is 100% fit. Birgit is this time not participating due to health issues so it will be just Lukas with eight dogs and one dog handler. I couldn’t tell him, I said, I will wait for the next day and when I don’t feel better I will stay.

If you want to know if I made it to the European Championship, stay posted. Within a week, my next post will be online. Hope to see you again! 🙂

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Volunteering at a Dogsled Farm – Snowdragons, Austria – Part 2 (Guest Post)

The weekend, after the group left, we spent pretty chilled with a few hikes, watching movies, and playing board games. Maria and I, we figured out that we have the same kind of craziness! We both LOVE Walt Disney Cartoons, we use almost every sentence to start a new song, and our favorite activity is, miming the voices of dogs…

1st October 2016

Today it is Lukas’ birthday 🙂 and he is having a cold 🙁 poor guy, although he was still fit enough to ask if his cake is ready 😉 but, as always, let me catch up the last events.

By Sheida Nasseri (Guest Blogger)

Please see the original blog post, and all the beautiful photos, here: http://butterflies-needtofly.blogspot.co.at/2016/10/volunteering-at-dogsled-farm.html

The weekend, after the group left, we spent pretty chilled with a few hikes, watching movies, and playing board games. Maria and I, we figured out that we have the same kind of craziness! We both LOVE Walt Disney Cartoons, we use almost every sentence to start a new song, and our favourite activity is, miming the voices of dogs and interpreting what they probably think or would say. We just went for a walk, when I was miming one of the dogs and I noticed that it is a good thing that she is as crazy as I am, otherwise every other person would just call the men with the white coats =P

The other day, Lukas and I went to pick up the transporter for the dogs. When we are going for a race, we would go with the transporter which includes self-made boxes for the dogs and the caravan attached to the transporter. The caravan, we already picked up before. Now it was time to tidy up the transporter. Even it doesn’t look like, there is really space for 16 dogs. Maria and I were supposed to clean the car. In the beginning, I was thinking that the boxes were pretty small and I couldn’t believe that there would be space for two dogs within one box. While cleaning it, I noticed that I fit easily with half of my body inside to reach all corners. Bigger than I thought. Doing so, I felt tempted to try out if I fit in … so I’d tried …  and I did fit =)

Lukas was amazed and said that usually there are just three people going to the race. Now that he knows, I’ll fit, we could go with four….no way =P

I think I didn’t mention until now that at the moment we have Aliy and Laska in the house. Aliy is already in heat, and Laska is about to get in heat and they would drive the male dogs crazy staying in the kennels.

Just to give you the picture, we have nine full grown, not castrated male dogs =P Aliy is not allowed to get puppies yet, because Lukas has no breeding certification for her. She needs to be tested before. Laska is allowed, but Lukas wants her to breed with some Husky from Switzerland he has chosen. So we are just waiting for her to get in heat, then we would drive her all the way over to Switzerland.

A dog is getting about every six to eight months in heat. She is usually around four weeks in heat, but she is just able to breed as of the 11/12th day. She will be then, hopefully, pregnant for 58-68 days and then we will have puppies! I’m really looking forward to it. I want to be here, when it is happening! knowing myself, it will be probably difficult for me to go away… maybe, I will extend my stay a little bit 😉 We have a little bit troubles with Braxi, the yard dog. Braxi is absolutely in love with her (that’s the children version – psssst ;-)) Maria and I are calling it “Romeo & Juliette” Story. The forbidden love. He is waiting infront of the window or door and howling for her and she is sitting on the other side. Every time we get out of the door, he already awaits her and when we are coming back from a walk, he is waiting behind the gate. I have to make a video/pic of that! So cute, but unfortunately they are not allowed.

The rest of the week was actually pretty calm. There was just one senior group visiting for one hour, so Maria and I had a lot of free time. I used that for publishing my first post, practising to take pictures with my mirror reflex camera (I am trying to take pictures of stars, believe me, that’s not that easy) and drawing.

I found an Italian Tattoo Artist, Lucreziau, she is just amazing! I love her drawings, so I sat down and tried myself a few of her drawings, not that bad for the first attempt I guess 😉

Well, and then Lukas was the whole week reminding us that it is his Birthday WEEK 😉 and then he tricked me. He asked me if I could bake, I said yes. Then he asked, what kind of cake I can do and I answered him, I can do any cake by recipy – he wants a black forest gateau (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte)! Well, I said I could do anything so now I had to prove that I could! I changed a little bit the design, but I think I didn’t do too bad! It tasted delicious though 😉

2nd October 2016

Okay, two different things which came to my mind on this special Sunday =)

I just saw this morning some advertisement in facebook about Walt Disney and then it just came up my mind. I would love to go to Walt Disneyland Paris!!! And the best company for such a trip is someone who is just as crazy about Walt Disney as I am – Maria!!! I went to Maria- ok no, I was jumping into her room with a huge grin in my face and told her my idea and her eyes started to sparkle!!! She would be in! So the only thing to find out, would be, to find the perfect timeframe, so that Lukas can bear both of us not to be around for three/four days! Do you know those days when good ideas just come to you very easy? That was obviously one of those days 😉 Lukas told us the day before that one of the last volunteers would come end of November to visit him for a week. So I thought, when we would go in that week and Miriam would be here too, then there should be almost no reason to say no, right? Before we even could ask Lukas, Maria and I were so excited about that idea 😀 when Lukas came down into the kitchen, we both ran to him and almost screamed at him and he said YES!!!! Woooooooohoooooo 😀 Both of us, started dancing – hahaha =) we sat down and started planning our trip. So right now, we booked, hotels, entrance tickets and plane tickets – 28th until 30th of October are set up! Still two months to wait … keep you updated, there will be most probably a separate post just about Walt Disneyland 😉

So let’s get started 😉

The second thing, Maria and I were thinking about starting some abs challenge! I upgraded the whole thing into a fitness challenge. I downloaded an app, called 30 days’ challenges. It is separated into two beginners, intermediate and advanced levels in all body sections – Ab, push up, squat, arms, butt, plank, thigh, and cardio! Maria and I decided we want to try us in three sections – ab, squat, and cardio. We will start as of tomorrow. There will be no uploaded information or pictures in between. I will definitely work on a video, so that improvements are visible – hopefully =P What I like about that app are the different levels you can exercise, that means, when your done with one level/challenge you can tackle the more advanced one. I should maybe mention, that I am usually approximately 51/52kg (I am 1.57m tall (small)). I put on weight in the last months and had my max. weight reached by beginning of September– 57kg!!!! I was shocked!!! Since I started here, I got down to 54.5kg. Just by moving more, but I am definitely eating too much chocolate =P If I start taking care of what I eat and add more exercise, I am sure I will get back to my usual weight and maybe even better? In addition, I started a bet with my boyfriend. Who ever is reaching his/her goal until Christmas get invited for a nice dinner and gets a small present OR is allowed to wish something. As the Fitness challenge Maria and I are doing, will take 30 days, I’ll upload most probably around the 6th of November one separate post about that challenge. So, let’s get started!!

4th October 2016

Yesterday, it started to rain. It turned much colder and the earth got soft. Lukas told us, that now the dogs need to be taken out as often as possible. So we went in the morning with Aliy and Laska (they are still in the house, so they need some exercise), then we took Braxi and the puppies and in the afternoon we went with Atreju, Simba and Lilly. Atreju and Simba were pulling us like crazy, they have so much energy! Unbelievable!

Talking about Aliy, she can be really an ass! Sorry, but as much as I love her, she is really sassy! When she is pissed about something, for example, that Laska can go for a training, but she doesn’t, she is peeing in the house … out of protest! She did it already three times! And she is soooo jealous of Laska. She doesn’t like it, when you pay attention to Laska, she wants all the attention just for herself =P When you start petting her, she sits down right infront of you and enjoys it so much. But don’t you dare to stop, if you dare, she either comes one step closer looking at you with her dog eyes.

5th October 2016

YES – training! My first time as a co-driver!!! I recorded some of it, but I need obviously still some practice because not everything turned out as well as I wished for. Still I got some beautiful pics and videos.

We went this time longer than usual. Before, Lukas went for approx. 10-15minutes, but today we went for 20-25 minutes. You could see that the dogs were exhausted and even they have to get used to the training again. There was a whole lazy summer and a few kilos too much on a few dogs 😉 But even I had my training, I had to jump off in between to untangle the dogs or even run the hill up, when it was too steep. Good workout =P

Braxi is getting more and more annoying with Aliy, I think now the dangerous days started, when Aliy would be ready to be humped. I really had a fight with Braxi, holding him back so that Maria could pass by with the Aliy and Laska. I don’t know if that was the reason, for what happened later but when I wanted to get out of the house, I noticed that my boots were gone. Maria’s boots were lying a little bit further away but still in front of the house, but mine were gone! I suspected Braxi, and when I got my sport shoes on and went to look where he could possibly have put them, it happened. Braxi tried to hump on me! I can tell you, when such a big dog, is holding you with both front legs, that’s painful and you need a lot of strength to get rid of him! I couldn’t move! As soon as I did one step further, he tried humping me again! I started to get really angry! I couldn’t get rid of him! Then I heard Lukas yelling, he tried to call him off but he failed because he cracked … of laughter!!!! Now I really got upset! I got rid of Braxi, he still was following me wherever I went, but at least I was able to keep him in a certain distance from me. I don’t know what got into him, but he is just doing it with me! He leaves Maria and Angelika alone. At least later during the day, I got him to relax a little bit more or let’s say, I could see early enough when he is about to hump on me, so that I did correct him. Men – seriously!

Next day, there should have been also a training, so we got up early and started feeding the dogs. Maria noticed directly that something is wrong with Duke. He obviously vomited his dinner and was lying motionless in the corner and wasn’t even interested in food. Everybody who knows Duke, know exactly that something cannot be right, if Duke is not interested in food. He loves food! He seemed to be really weak. After everyone was fed, Maria and I started putting the harnesses on the dogs and asked Angelika if she could go down and tell Lukas about Dukes’ state. She came back and said, that someone will come up to check on him. When Lukas came, he directly called the vet. He carried Duke to the car, and he and Birgit drove away. Training cancelled. We took off the harnesses and sat in the kitchen waiting for them to come back. We all felt very restless. They came back, and the whole atmosphere was kind of tense. They carried Duke upstairs and told us, that the vet didn’t know what it was. After an hour, Lukas and Birgit went for another vet because Duke had a break-down and they were really afraid of losing him! Situation wasn’t easy at all. I kind of felt not good on that day either. I got stomach issues – maybe sympathy sickness? No idea. The whole day we were not in such a good mood because we were worried. Though on the next morning, Duke felt much better. What a relief! Check that video, just adorable 🙂

We had a training and afterwards Lukas and I went with Duke for the doctor to see the blood results. The doctor was relieved to see Duke so much better. Obviously, he had stomach problems before and she is suspecting some infection in the liver, cause the numbers were a bit high. She gave him an infusion and some tablets for Vitamin B and liver antibiotics. Additionally, on that day, my boyfriend arrived! I was so excited to see him again 🙂 we stayed in a pension in Stronsdorf. He arrived late in the evening and we directly went there. The pension is located up a hill, with no other houses around you very quiet and nice. We had a wonderful chilled evening with some wine and talked a lot.

Next morning, we had Breakfast around nine (so strange to sleep longer than 6/7 am) talked with the owners, played a little bit with their labrador Maya (super cute) and drove then to the snowdragons. We went to the yard, and Max got to know all dogs and believe it or not, since Max came to visit the dogs.

Afterwards, Miriam, Angelika, Max and I went on a hike with the puppies, Laska and Aliy. It was for once not raining and we enjoyed our hike a lot. It was a nice feeling, to have your loved one with you, sharing the experiences you do 🙂 later, Max and I went to a restaurant Gasthaus Herbst it didn’t look that fancy to be honest, but the food, OMG awesome!!! Really nice! Lukas told us afterwards, that they obviously have some Star cook working there. With full stomachs, we returned to the pension and just chilled in the afternoon, watching TV, napping and talking. In the evening, we went to Lukas and Birgit and we all went to an event, called Night of Celtic fire at a museum in Asparn. It was really nice, very cold though. Max and I would have loved to see the houses and environment during daylight. We spent another nice evening together, before Max left on the next morning.

Sunday afternoon, we had a kids birthday taking place. Ten kids, in an age of 7-9 years old. It was very exhausting, as always when kids come to visit 😉

The next days we had trainings and a lot of hikes. We have to get prepared. The first race we are taking part, will be in the last week of October. On wednesday, I had to prepare a scavenger hunt for a children group – 55 kids!!!! On Thursday, at 8am there would come 55 kids in an age of 10/11 years old. Lukas, said he needs someone grumpy for the hike =P no, of course he was kidding, he needed someone who can control a bunch of kids and two dogs. We were going to divide the kids in five groups and we would have five stations so that each group is always busy.

I don’t know if I ever mentioned it, but I got an UP bracelet which is counting my steps. My personal goal are 11,000 steps per day, well on that very special day, I did 24,000 steps!!!! Actually, it isn’t any problem to reach the 11,000 steps anymore, I am at least on two hikes every day! But on that day, I really was exhausted! We all were, at 11pm it was total silence in the house and no lights burning.

In between I am always considering and reflecting my whole situation. Even, when I am in between really tired and my whole body is aching, I am really happy. I have a loving boyfriend, I have wonderful people around me, such sweet dogs who give so much love and I have no pressure that I need to do anything. Of course, I am already checking what could be my next step, but if I don’t find the right job as a next step, I just would do another volunteer job. I have to admit, I was even thinking to do another study course, but these are just thoughts. I will let you know for sure, when I decide 🙂

Hope to see you for my next post 🙂

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Volunteering at a Dogsled Farm – Snowdragons, Austria – Part 1 (Guest Post)

I did travel to a few spots, always with friends who inspired me to do what I think is right for me. Nevertheless, I did not dare just to quit without knowing what will be my next step, what my next job, how to realize what I want or more, what do I really want. I know I love to travel, take pictures and be around people, animals and try the most crazy activities, but what kind of job description is this?

March to September 2016 – what happened since my last post

Since my last report, there is some time passed and MANY things changed. Obviously, I needed that time before I start off for real, but now I will for sure.

by Sheida Nasseri (guest blogger)

Read the original post and look at the photos and videos here: http://butterflies-needtofly.blogspot.com/2016/09/volunteering-at-dogsled-farm.html

 

Let’s catch up what happened so far (in short cut):

I did travel to a few spots, always with friends who inspired me to do what I think is right for me. Nevertheless, I did not dare just to quit without knowing what will be my next step, what my next job, how to realize what I want or more, what do I really want. I know I love to travel, take pictures and be around people, animals and try the most crazy activities, but what kind of job description is this? I started to research and to search and to search and it got me from jobs in Alaska to the very corners of China. In the meanwhile something else happened, I found love. Well, that’s typical. I want to go away and travel the world and I fall in love with a German guy in Czech Republic/Prague. It kinda throw me back a little, but still he told me that if it makes me unhappy, I should follow my dreams and if it works out, at one point we will be at the same place again. I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. Then I got an idea, maybe, it will be the right thing to do some volunteering work and take the time I need to figure out what I really wanna do? I was not sure yet where I wanna go or what to do exactly, but at one very special morning on the 10th of May, I just got so upset in the doing something I don’t have any passion for, that I decided to quit on that very same day. First, I was relieved, then I think scared and at one point very sure that was just the right decision. If you think rational about it, what am I scared off? I saved some money to make sure that I will survive a while without a job, I will do some volunteering which is always good in your CV, AND just in case everything does not work out as I wish, I always can find a job! Even if it is not the perfect job with a high salary, but I am capable of finding a job very fast and secure me financially. So what am I afraid of? That I finally could find something what I really like and be happy?

After all this thoughts and preparations, I finally decided that I want to find a volunteer place somewhere nearby (so that I could still see my boyfriend) and I would like to try a dogsled farm as I liked it so much in Norway. I really found two places, one in czech republic and one in Austria. After a few messages I decided that I will go to Austria. After such a long time it would be nice to understand the local language. Addionally, I liked that this dogsled farm used the dogs not only for races, but also for therapy reasons with kids, youths and adults. I got the place and arranged that when I get along with the hosts, I will start mid of September and stay there until Dec ’16/Jan ’17.

Dogsled Farm, 11th of September 2016

On Sunday, 11th of September 2016 my boyfriend and I planned to go to Austria, so that he can bring me to the volunteer place. It almost looked like I am not going to make it, because I felt so sick on that morning. I have to admit, I felt the whole week sick due to my excitement – this damn sensitive stomach =P I took some pills, lay down for half an hour and I felt strong enough to leave. The dogsled farm is called Snowdragons and is located by Gnadendorf, but not in the small city, no, between Gnadendorf and Wenzersdorf. So when you need something to buy, you have to drive at least 10km – well that’s in the middle of nowwhere right? Lukas and Birgit, the hosts greeted us very friendly and showed us around. The most exciting part was of course the dog shelters. There was a lot of barking around the corner and 18 Siberian Huskies were greeting me through their shelters. In the beginning, he only let his yard dog Abraxis out, what a big a beautiful exemplar. I have to admit, at first sight, they really are impressive and huge! Definitely in comparison to me =P especially when they jump up on you. Additionally to the hosts, there is Maria, she is from New Zealand is 22years old. Then, there are Miriam and Angelika, who are working in between on the farm when help needed. It is part of their practical year in school and is counted as an internship. They are both 16years old. The girls are really lovely 🙂

Update 24th September

I think, after being two weeks here (with a weekends interruption due to the wedding of my boyfriends stepbrother which I attended) I would say, I slowly get used to the life on the Snowdragon farm. It’s been a really tough week and it is still not over yet, today there will be a group coming of 13 people who will stay until tomorrow. But let me start telling you what happened so far.

Last week, I needed to get used to all dogs and their names and how to feed them and in which order, and so on. It is really tough, to carry the big bucket full with meat, veggies, rice and water and to manage to get inside of the kennels without the dogs jumping on you. I am getting better at it. Then, there are of course a lot of tasks which include cleaning and maintaining the yard, the house and the kennels of the dogs. People, who are visiting the farm, are just seeing the end result. The way it looks very nice and enjoy the time with the dogs, there is a lot of work behind the final result.

When I returned from the wedding, the real work started. We had on Tuesday a school group coming for three/four hours. 27 children in an age of 10/11 years old!!!! OMG!!! I can tell you, that’s pretty tough 😀 but to be honest, the kids were amazing! They loved the dogs so much and played all games so motivated. First, we did a cart race with the kids, to get a little bit of energy wasted – we played it twice and both times the boys won. But we always say, the boys are the stronger and faster, but the girls are the ones, who are cleverer.

Then, they get to play a Quiz with questions about Huskies and the answers were hidden somewhere in the yard. Later on they got to spent time with the dogs in the yard, and then, we went for a hike. The kids got a map and they had to find their way back to the farm – kinda funny because they really were not that good in map reading, but we were not allowed to give them any advice (as if I had a clue, for me, that area was also very new 😀 ). After we returned all savely, they got to spent a little bit more time with the dogs before they had to say Goodbye, which most of the kids really didn’t want to.

Before and after a group is coming, everything needs to be clean and the tent needs to be cleaned as well. They use the facilities inside the house, so that needs to be cleaned as well. Lukas and Birgit are working on a cultivation which includes rooms for sleepover, a bathroom and kitchen for the guests. So far, they used all facilities inside the house, meaning the bathroom is much more ocupied than usual =P

After the group left we had a team meeting and Lukas told us, that the next days the weather will be cold enough in the morning so that they will be able to go for a cart run with all dogs. He told us which dogs have to be lined up in which order. So on Wednesday, we needed to get up around 6am to feed the dogs at 6.30am and then to get them ready. Put the harness on and get the cart outside ready  –  Well, let’s say it this way; the first time, we kind of sucked =P

Marie, Angelika and I, we put first the wrong cart outside, then we put on the harness on Foppa, which we were not allowed, because he can get so excited that he would chew his harness off. He needs to get ready last! It was so stressful, all dogs went crazy, we forgot to open the gate before we started to get ready, I felt SO stressed!!! BUT, as soon Lukas released the line and the dogs could start running, all dogs went silently and just run perfectly in line. Furthermore, we thought we just go inside and wait, because they will be away for at least twenty minutes. So we had breakfast and then went outside to find out that they were already back and almost all dogs were back in their kennels. I felt really bad. We went then inside and had a feedback talk. All mistakes were mentioned and noted, so that for the next run (next morning) we would be prepared!

Then Marie, Angelika and I took the puppies and Duke for a hike (they are not going for training). Around 2pm the next group arrived. They were 4 young adults in the age between 16 and 19yrs old and three coaches. They are from a vocational orientation training facility. They let the young adults to try out different kind of work and let them participate in projects, so that they’ll know which job they are going to do. In the beginning, when a group arrives, there is always the same kind of routine. They get first to see the dogs, Braxi is greeting all of them so kind and sweet that all of them fall immediately in love with him. Lukas is explaining some main rules, how they have to behave around the dogs, what they really like, what will stress them and then they are allowed to the backyard and we let out the first two kennels. Then we change and they get to know slowly all dogs a bit better. Depending on the group, for example, when they are a bit older like this group, they can go for a hike and they are allowed to wear the hiking belt (it is a belt which looks and works pretty much like a climbing belt and is made for pulling purposes). We (volunteers and interns) are accompanying them, so nothing bad happens and they find their way back. That’s what we did on that day. This group was going to stay until Friday. They grilled in the evening and had some beer and just enjoyed themselves. We girls needed to feed the dogs in the evening. I was really tired on that day and another early morning was still ahead of us.

Thursday, we were up quite on time and started feeding the dogs a bit earlier so we were prepared and had more time. We did not repeat one of the mistakes we made the day before. I also didn’t feel that much stressed, although as they wanted to run, the two Lead dogs got tangled. But with help of Birgit, we managed it and they were off. We waited for them to return and helped to unleash all of them. Lukas said, that there are just small improvements to make but we improved a lot to the day before (whoop whoop :)). Maria, Angelika and I went again for a hike with Duke and the puppies. Unfortunately, Maria stepped into a small hole on the ground and somehow sprained her ankle. It got swollen, so we let her rest pretty much the rest of the day. The group played on that morning a game called “Lost”. The groups will be divided into two groups which will be taken separately to some spot further away. They have to find the right way back with only some hints to a certain meeting point. Lukas and I were checking the route the day before and wrote down all hints for direction. If everything goes right both groups will meet at the meeting point. As of the meeting point both groups have one half of a map, which combined will lead their way back to the Snowdragon Farm. That gave us some time to relax and go for some grocery shopping. Around lunchtime we waited for them in the backyard. Then we all could have lunch. In the meanwhile, Miriam, the second intern arrived as well. The afternoon was pretty chilled, just enjoying the company of the dogs. Then we went for one more hike, before the group relaxed in the evening at the open fire with some beer and food. Lukas told us girls, that there won’t be a morning training for the next days, because the weather is getting warmer again. Somehow a relief for all us – we can sleep one hour longer, although on the other side, I have to wait longer to get a ride with the cart…

On Friday, I felt so much better. I slept good, recovered and was totally motivated. We fed the dogs, and later on the group wanted to go for one more hike. We just went for 25min. because the weather was already too hot. The group then packed their stuff and had one last meal. Lukas talked the day before to one of the coaches and had an offer to make to the group. He has one cart which is really old and needs some maintainance work and also some new colour. He asked, if the group is willing to work on that cart. In exchange, he they could visit us again and they get a drive in a cart with the dogs for free. They were thrilled by that idea. Finally, they packed and went away. In the afternoon, we spent some time with cleaning work, but it wasn’t too much. When Birgit came home she asked us if we would like to join her for some hiking up the hill. We did, so we drove with two cars. Birgit with Miriam and Laska and Nova, I with Angelika and Aliy and Star. It was so much fun. We enjoyed it a lot, the views were just amazing!!! We met on the way some people who had two dogs and they stood still when we passed by and asked if the two puppies were wolves 😀 I couldn’t blame them, they really do look like wolves.

In the evening we played some board games. I have to admit, I almost forgot how much fun it is playing board games. As Lukas is really competitive, unlike me (nooooot) we had a lot of fun. We played the game Ubongo (Ubongo Quick Start Rules). Later on that evening, the girls and I played the ladder game (board game). What a perfect day =) I fell asleep quite early, but very happy 😀

To be continued …

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