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29 September 2015

The Coldest Summer

This past Ittoqqortoormiit summer has been the coldest since I moved to Greenland in 2007. And here's hoping this winter's sledding conditions will be as good as last winter.

We had a little snow at the start of this month.

Early September snow.
September snowfalls rarely last and rain usually follows.

Snowfall turns into raindrops.

It is normal for autumn weather to do this freezing and thawing for a while before settling into its winter stride with accumulating cold and snow so we can get good running conditions for the dogs.

The cold summer meant my dogs' old coats from last winter appeared reluctant to be brushed out. Usually my dogs will shed hair from their old coats starting in June and be done by August. Early on I would brush all of my dogs at least twice a week to keep up with the shedding. However, as summer progressed it felt as though the old coats were saying, we know we've got to go but it's too cold. Unfazed I continued to groom all 20 of my dogs knowing sooner or later the old hair would be ready to come out.

For some dogs like Gadget (pictured below) there were days when I groomed out bucket loads of old hair in one go. Gadget is always happy, busy and very vocal. He loves attention and being rid of his old coat made him even more boisterous.

Still grooming Gadget in September.
It is interesting to note, in previous years we normally collect four kilograms more dog hair than we have now, even with Gadget's generous contribution.

A bucketful of Gadget's old winter coat.
On the subject of buckets, each individual dog's water bucket is now in for the winter due to the freezing temperatures. We have switched over to offering water to the dogs in bowls twice daily. They all drink well as it is a familiar winter and journey routine for them.

Bringing in the summer drinking water buckets.
The 24-hour daylight is long gone and the nights are pulling in. Several polar bears have come ashore close by or swam near enough to get the dogs' attention and alert us. Nothing beats a dog as a polar bear early warning system.

Late September snow accumulation.
With falling temperatures and snow, each day that passes my dogs get more feisty and vocal. They are eager for the end of their summer vacation and the start of the new sledding season.

For more about Gary and his dogs go to www.garyrolfe.com