Tuesday, September 18, 2007

An eventful R&R.

I'm back at my place of employment after a very eventful two-week R&R. I went into it expecting to run dogs frequently, do a little moose hunting, and take care of a few issues around the house. For the most part I was able to do all of those things and more.

Nels is healing nicely after his surgery. He is back out on his normal swivel, a blur of constant motion as he plays with his buddies and does all those normal dog things that he does. I have no doubt that I'll be running him as soon as possible next time I am home from work.

As my training logs posted further down reflect, the dogs have been doing a great job and are coming along very nicely. I'm not nearly so worried about Daisy as I was after our first run. She is gaining endurance very quickly, just as she did at this time last year.

Rose is very much a natural sled dog. She loves to run and pull, and gets along well with most of her running mates. She has even run up in lead a couple of times and done very well up front. That's a very encouraging sign, especially in such a young dog.

Kia has been working in the wheel position next to my 'megamutt' Sheenjek and they make a fine pair at the back of the pack. She is pulling harder and longer than before, so our work with the chain broom appears to be paying off. Wee Seamus is still the enthusiastic young cheerleader that he was last year, having the time of his life as we cruise past the countryside.

Unfortunately, my St. Bernard / Alaskan husky mix Chinook is not going to make the team. He just can't keep up the pace that the longer-legged sled dogs set. He gives it his very best effort, but after a half mile or so he is pretty well spent. It isn't fair to him to ask more than he can deliver, and it's not fair to the team to force them to run slower than their natural pace to accommodate him. No worries, though. My big-ole love muffin will be spending his time doing carting, skijoring and general draught-dog dog that he seems to prefer anyway.

As I was delivering Kia and Chinook to board with Lynn while I'm away, she came dashing out the door to catch me, saying "you have just GOT to meet this new dog that came in." The new dog is 'Gump', a village dog type of husky that was whelped in Wayne Hall's kennel in Eagle. While the whole story of his travels is rather uncertain, a couple of years ago he was rescued from an abusive situation. His foster is doing some extensive traveling and asked Lynn to take him in.

Gump is an 8 year old neutered male, and a classic "up river" aboriginal husky. He's a good sized boy, probably 70 lb or so. He's long in the barrel with well formed legs and feet, tulip-eared and gray with a darker saddle. I gave him a pretty thorough examination and he has good spread between the shoulder blades, excellent range of motion, solid hips, even wear patterns on his pads, and a wonderful temperament in spite of his hard past. Best of all, he is said to be a good gee-haw trail leader.

We don't have any more detailed information about him, but I like the way he looks and the way he behaves, so I'm going to plan to integrate him into the Stardancer team. He'll be going in for an annual vet check and appropriate vaccinations along with the rest of my gang.

I didn't do a whole lot of moose hunting, just a couple of walks through the woods with a rifle in hand. It was hard to get motivated when there is a registration permit hunt just north of the Alaska Range that will give me a chance to go camping and moose hunting with the team during mid-winter. My friend Bob Hunter has offered to go with me and provide snow machine support and I suspect I may be able to recruit some others to come along as well. It could turn into a wonderful traditional adventure.

During this past R&R I was able to get my kennel inspected for the Mush with P.R.I.D.E. Voluntary Kennel Inspection Program. In addition to all of the mandatory items, my kennel also passed all of the optional standards. I'm very pleased and proud of that.

That is pretty much the full extent of news. Here are my training logs from the past couple of days:

9/13/07, first run of 2. 2 miles, Sacco cart, speed unknown but very nice. PV Rd. to Wilbur to Ball Field to Store to Lynn O’s.

Daisy & Sheenjek

Daisy and Sheenjek gave me an excellent Sacco cart run this morning. I let them set the pace, which was a fast loping start and then settling to a trot for the most part. They slowed to a walk on a couple of small hills, but never for very long. Sheenjek did not try to back out of his harness while running with his Mom, and once Daisy figured out the game is all about running she was enthusiastic and did an excellent job.

Daisy does not seem to have any stiffness or soreness this evening, and acts as though she would gladly do it all over again.

Second Run. 1 ½ miles, four-wheeler, speed 10 at start, 8 to 10 mph typical. PV rd to new subdivision rd, to ball park rd., right on Wibur to PV Rd to Lynn O’s.

Marten* & Puma*

Rose & Polar (?)*

Kia single team

Chinook & Seamus

Wow, Chinook and Seamus ran together. Chinook got a bit snarfy a couple of times early on, but easily corrected with just a word. The snap on Rose’s neckline broke very early in the run, but she maintained her position and continued pulling very nicely, even when a squirrel dashed across the road in front of the team. Rose still wants to crowd her running mate, and seems to be doing this very consistently.

Martin wanted to go left at the ball park road, and then kept trying to turn the team toward home. Lynn finally released him to free run home. We let Puma run single lead for a bit and then put Rose up front with her for a while. Rose did very nicely up there and doesn’t seem to feel pressured by dogs behind her at all.

On Wilbur Rd. Kia came off her tugline and was trotting slack through much of the remainder of the run. Rose wanted to drink at puddles but got back into her tugline quickly.

Next we switched Rose for Polar in lead. She did a wonderful job the remainder of the run.

Making the right hand curve on Wilbur, a squirrel in the woods distracted both Kia and Rose for quite a bit. They kept running, but weren’t paying attention. Once they got their minds back on the job they did fine for the remainder.

9/15/07 47 degrees, humid and overcast. Four-wheeler, 2 miles (Lynn’s to PV Rd to Wilbur , around ball park past store and back to Lynn’s. Consistent 10 mph pace.

(L) Daisy & Ende*

(S) Rose & Seamus

(T) Chinook

(W) Sheenjek & Kia

This team gave us a very solid training run this morning. Daisy and Ende lead the team very nicely. A little confusion on a couple of cues but were able to correct with coaxing. Rose the Seamus pulled consistently and hard. Sheenjek & Kia worked nicely together at wheel, and Kia did a much better job of working this time around.

Chinook is having a hard time maintaining the pace of this team. He ends up off his tug because the pace is a bit too fast, but slowing down for him puts Daisy and some other dogs off their natural pace. I’m afraid my “Big Guy” may have to stick to solo carting and weight pulling type work.

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