Friday, November 30, 2007

Training On the Sled

Lynn Orbison, Edie Forrest and I ran dogs yesterday. ALL DAY yesterday. I had a great time doing so, too.

Daisy's limp was worse in the morning, so I dashed off an Email to our vet. She'll be seen on Monday - and meanwhile I'm staying the course with massage, Algyval and rest. Today she is moving much more naturally. I can't find any tenderness in the shoulder or leg, but I'm going to lay her off until Dr. Olson can check her out.

Lynn and I had originally planned to run my dogs on the sled rather than ATV, and I was rather anxious about the decision. Lynn (ever the wise one) let me work through the process myself, and I eventually decided it is probably safer to let them run at their own natural pace pulling the sled than to be pulling against the resistance of the machine so figured we'd take the chance and see what happens. I'm really glad I decided to do so.

We hooked 'em up, Lynn made herself a nice easy chair of cushions in the sled (I have a very long toboggan sled for this sort of thing), and we headed out. It was darned sure icy and slickery under the runners, but within a short bit I was lost in the moment, no longer so worried about Daisy's injury or whether or not the decision to run on the sled was 'right' or wrong. I was just running my dogs in the sunrise, in the company of a good friend. It was the best thing for me.

Here's the training report in my log book:

11/29/07 Daisy is off today due to injury. Gump did a fast 3 mile run with Kia and Chinook & Lynn on a sled.

My main team did 8 miles on the sled (training toboggan) with Lynn O riding along for assistance. 8 miles – Lynn’s to PV Road to Swenson’s Field to Baseline to big field by Aliy Zirkle’s and return via Baseline. 14.6 mph max speed, 9.7 mph moving average. Very hard, fast, icy trails..

Dutchess with Nels first, then Grace
Sheenjek with Grace first,then Nels
Rose & Seamus

Poor Daisy was very upset to be left behind this morning, and in all truth I was upset to leave her behind. I almost abandoned our plan to run the team on the sled in favor of the more controllable four wheeler. Ultimately I decided it may be safer to run them on the sled so long as I have help in case of problems. With the sled the team can run at their own pace rather than against the engine compression, and may be less likely to slip on ice. It may have been a good decision as I can’t recall seeing a single foot slip in this run.

Grace ran nicely beside Sheenjek in swing – no significant fussing at all that I noticed. We started out with Nels running beside Dutchess, and he did a grand job until the end of Swenson’s field, where he started getting distracted. We stopped, hooked down as best we could and swapped Nels for Grace. Grace scotched at Dutchess just a bit, and at one point Dutchess got totally fed up with her and gave her a serious dressing down. After that Grace ran like a champ. She’s a natural leader and enjoyed “strutting her stuff” today.

Rose didn’t show her usual work ethic today. She did well, but not to her usual high standard. She is apparently coming into season, though. The hormonal stuff combined with this adolescent fear period may well be to the cause. Not much to be done about it but keep training her.

Dutchess was, of course, brilliant up front. Although she wanted to follow yesterday’s trail she corrected nicely each time. It’s wonderful that these leaders will offer alternative behaviors when they get it “wrong”, testing to find the one you (the driver) wants. From an operant conditioning standpoint it gives us the opportunity to shape the desired behavior and makes it easier for both the dogs and the driver to communicate with each other.


After our sled run, Edie and Lynn O took a team of race dogs for a long run while I hung out in the yard. It took 'em a while to get back and I'll let Lynn describe the run, since I wasn't there.

Next, Edie and Lynn took off with (I believe) 12 dogs on another long run, and I hooked up 8 on my ATV to take eight miles. I had Bobcat and Puma in lead (both are brilliant sprint leaders and I love them like kin), Valentine and Polar in swing. In the back of the pack I had Edie's dogs Maui and Ambrose in team, and Sizzle and Riggins at wheel.

Sizzle is just a little slip of a girl and decided for the first time in her life to chew through a neck line. Riggins had a brand new collar, which he slipped in about the first 100 yards of the run. The dogs were way too charged to stop, so I just let the empty collar dangle on the neck line until half way through the run, when the dogs were tired enough to give me a few seconds to fix it. Those guys wanted to run fast, and we all had a great time doing it. I wonder if Bob and Puma might not be feeling a bit sore this morning, though. They set a fast pace and their team mates wanted to follow it.

By the time we got back from those runs it was getting dark out, but we had one more team to run. My guy Gump ran next to the trophy-wife dog Kia in lead, with my St. Bernard / husky mix Chinook in single wheel, with Lynn on a sled and chasing me on the ATV.

I didn't get to see much of it because they were running faster than I expected (none are particularly fast dogs), and I had to focus on just staying ahead of them. Kia actually worked for her kibble and poor short-legged Chinook had a devil of a time keeping up with them. Lynn had a marvelous time, and asked me to leave Gump at her place so she can run him and Kia together today. I'm looking foward to hearing aobut it.

By the time we got home I was "dog tired." Got everyone fed, nuked something for me, and then fell asleep in the easy chair.

In spite of Daisy being out for a while, it was a wonderful day of training. Today my team has the day off (I have to run errands in town - yuck). We will be training again tomorrow - another big day with lots of dogs to run.

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