Thursday, October 11, 2007

Training Party

What a wonderful day we had training dogs yesterday. My four-wheeler is finally back from the shop so we can run big teams again, and Edie Forrest joined Lynn Orbison and I with her four-wheeler and a truck full of dogs. We ran dogs in teams of 10 and ran a total of 5 different teams.

It was "winter time" cold in the morning, about 9 degrees (F) according to the thermometer at my house. It sure felt cold, too. Required me to break out the full package of winter clothing in order to be comfortable. I even had to pre-heat my four-wheeler using a propane heater in order for it to start and run.

While sitting in Lynn's kitchen deciding which dogs to run on which teams, her lovely basset hound pup, Molly, decided my lap was the best place to perch. Lynn said it was like she was sitting on Santa Claus' lap asking for Christmas favors, and captured a photo.

I really enjoyed myself training dogs with Lynn and Edie yesterday. It was fun running some of the dogs who taught me how to mush and spending time with people who I really enjoy and admire.

Lynn and I ran a total of three teams. Here is the training report for the dogs we ran.

10-10-07 9 degrees at start. 20 degrees at finish. Various routes on four-wheeler

Today was a very busy training day. I got my four-wheeler back from the shop last night, and Edie Forrest came over with her four-wheeler and a truck full of dogs. Between the three of us (Edie, Lynn Orbison and I) we ran five teams of dogs today. I had dogs running in two of them, and Amazing Grace ran in a third.

In the team lists below a single asterisk* denotes Lynn’s dogs, and a double asterisk** denotes Edie’s.

Team #1 – four-wheeler, 2 ½ miles. Steady pace of about 10 mph

Daisy and Gump (L)

Ruby* and Jade* (S)

Polar* and Kia (T)

Calypson* and Marten* (T)

Sheenjek and Seamus

Gump is an interesting dog in that he doesn’t leave the yard in a mad dash like my others. Instead, he hits that steady “trap line trot” and maintains it. A bit more than half way through the run Gump was slacking on his tug some, so we swapped him for one of Lynn’s white dogs (Polar, I think). He then got right back into his tug and finished the run like a true worker. Perhaps the stress of having so many dogs behind him, or maybe he was getting a bit tired, as his only earlier training run with the 2 mile Sacco cart run he did yesterday.

Kia was a bit scrappy with Polar early on, but then settled down to give a solid performance. Sheenjek and Seamus were both well behaved and worked hard. This was a VERY powerful team of 10 dogs.

Team #2 – four wheeler, 5 miles. Faster pace at start and then settled down at around 10 mph.

Puma* & Ende* (L)

Rose & Nels (S)

Lucky* & Minnie* (T)

Greta** & Merlin**

Valentine* & Karma (aka Molly)*

The twins were marvelous in this run, just as they’ve been so far all fall. They are natural born sled dogs that reflect their excellent breeding.

Greta and Merlin are older dogs of Edies, and I really enjoyed running these two dogs again. They are among my earliest teachers, and they remain truly wonderful dogs on the line.

Karma (Molly) has a horrible gait that pretty much rules her out as a working sled dog. We may try her in a lower slung harness later on to see if that helps her, but at this point it doesn’t look like her conformation will allow her to work for her living.

Team #3 – four wheeler, 5 miles. Ranging from 14 to 8 mph.

Spruce* & Flicka** (L)

Ice* & Grace (S)

Pelee (single T)

Ernie** & Scooby-doo* (T)

Sizzle** & Ambrose** (W)

Spruce is one of my favorite dogs in Lynn’s yard. She’s just a tiny little thing, but incredibly driven. She’s a bit tentative as a leader, quick to respond to cues but intimidated by any dog running beside her, so is hesitant to drag another dog along.

Grace is my primary focus in this team. She and Ice got into it at the start, but that was the whole idea – to give Ice a chance to teach Grace some manners. It apparently worked as Grace was much more well behaved the rest of the run. She didn’t pull as strongly as usual and at first we felt it was due to her reprimand at the start, but when we checked her feet afterward we found some abrasions to her pads that may have been the major contributor. We are treating those as best we can by coating the raw areas with a layer of super-glue to give them a chance to heal. Of course they all get a day off on the 11th.

Ernie and Scooby ran well together also.

Sizzle is just a little dog, especially compared to Ambrose who is a large, hard pulling dog who looks a lot like a black lab.

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