Although brief, I very much enjoyed my visit in Kentucky. The weather was hot, but not brutally so. It's a shame to see that beautiful country in such drought conditions, but even though it is as dry as a popcorn fart, it is still beautiful country and populated by some of the finest people I've ever chanced to meet. My first visit to Cumberland Falls certainly won't be my last. There is something haunting about that land - something that calls to me.
Of course when I returned home it was time to get into fall sled-dog training full-tilt-boogie, and I feel like we were able to get a really good start on the training season. I really enjoyed spending time with the newest recruit for the team - Gump. Gump is a very distinguished 'gentleman' of a dog. He's a bit behind in terms of physical conditioning and his mental skills are also a bit rusty, but I have a really good feeling about him. Gump is in the team pictured below, the brownish colored dog in the wheel position, nearest the four wheeler.
The Hedlund Husky twins continue to be incredibly impressive sled dogs. They are both highly motivated and generally well behaved for such young dogs. Rose has even run in lead a couple of different times, and her performance at the front of the team is nothing short of astounding. She likes being up front and I think so long as I bring her along carefully and gradually she will become a stellar leader. The picture on the left shows Rose standing next to her co-leader, Lynn Orbison's dog Ende.
Nels, in the wheel position nearest the four wheeler in the picture, runs as though he never missed a training day. His surgery was apparently a complete success and he is a hard working young dog.
Daisy (black with mask) and Seamus (fawn colored dog) are standing in the swing position. Seamus is still the team's cheerleader and social flutterby. Though he is no longer the kid of the crew, his behavior is still that of a young, happy-go-lucky dog.
Daisy's monthly Adequan injections seem to have a huge impact on her ability to recover after running. I haven't noticed her becoming nearly so stiff and sore as after her first run of the season. I've been able to bump her mileage up along with everyone else in the team so I'm much more confident I can keep her healthy and happy for the season.
Sheenjek, the tallest dog in the picture, is a blue collar sort of dog. He gives an honest days work for his kibble and is ready to socialize at the end of his day. Kia, the yearling Alaskan husky / malemute mix, is also coming along, though she had a psychological set back the other day. I was planning on running her with Chinook, my St Bernard mix, on the Sacco cart. Chinook became excessively rude, snapping and snarling at her until she was cowering in fear. She was able to recover well enough to enjoy a short run with another of Lynn's dogs, but I think it will be months before I'm able to work with her on the cart again.
Of course there is much more to life than just running sled dogs. I finally got my little runabout car back. It has been in the shop for the past 8 months for a new motor and some other repairs. It's a 2004 Toyota Rav-4 that I inherited when my wife died. I affectionately refer to it as my motorized roller-skate. It's a very small little car, but it gives me almost 30 miles per gallon of gasoline and with the price of fuel being absolutely outrageous I'm very happy to have it back up and running.
As I left for my place of employment I dropped my truck off with a different and hopefully more timely mechanic. It is producing a strange vibration when in four wheel drive and a fuel intake heater fried itself a month or two ago. I need the truck to function perfectly through the winter dog mushing season but couldn't put it into the shop until I had other transportation. While he has the truck I'm also having him install some new moose lights (flood lights) and a C.B. radio.
So, my October R&R was very productive. I feel like I made good use of my time.
Here are the training log entries for the last sled dog training runs we made before I returned to work:
10/12/07 2.6 miles on four-wheeler. Cold, clear day. Hard packed trails. Fast start (about 14 mph) then steady 8 to 10 mph for remainder.
10/14/07 Fourwheeler, warm nearly thawing weather.
Lynn Orbison and I ran three teams and attempted a cart run with two of my dogs today.