Friday, December 28, 2007

When the "Magic" Happens, Things Get Broken

12/28/07 Friday: Daisy was pretty stiff and sore yesterday morning so I decided to give the team a day off. I really need to make it a point of bringing the old girl back up to speed a bit more gradually after I'm gone at work for two weeks. For today's training I divided the Stardancer gang up into two teams, with some help from their Daisy Acres Kennel friends. Dutchess has been working her little heart out, doing a lovely job teaching the yearlings while running at a freight dog pace which is much slower than her natural gait. I decided she deserves to have a little fun and run at her faster natural pace, so I decided to let her lead the yearlings and some faster buddies from the Daisy Acres sprint racing kennel in a good long run. Meanwhile, I wanted Daisy to run a bit shorter to help her stretch out and limber up, and I wanted to give Gump some incentive to work harder, so I ran a small team that required everyone to give hearty effort. Here is the formal report.

Team #1: 9.14 miles, max speed 15.7 mph, moving average 9.8 mph. Overall average (including a couple of stops to move dogs around) 8.6 mph. -10 degrees at start.

First line up;

Dutchess and Nels

Rose and Valentine (Lynn O’s dog)

Seamus and Lucky (Lynn O’s dog)

Minnie (Lynn’s) and Amazing Grace (jointly training for our CCB friend)

Nels sometimes runs well at lead, but sometimes the ‘puppy’ shows up in his behavior. That was the case today. He couldn’t figure out ‘line out’ to save his hide, even though he usually does pretty good. Once on the trail he got tangled in his harness. Lynn fixed it, but he did it again in very short order. He got to run about ½ mile up front before he tried to play with the dogs behind getting into a hell of a tangle and a near fight with Valentine.

Next line up:

Dutchess and Valentine

Rose and Nels

Seamus and Lucky

Minnie and Grace

Well, this team lasted about 300 yards or so. Poor Valentine was so shook up by her tangle and encounter with Nels that she just couldn’t get her head into the game. Rather than make running lead a bummer for her, we decided to switch to our final configuration.

Dutchess and Grace

Rose and Nels

Seamus and Lucky

Minnie and Valentine

THAT was the magic combination. Little Dutchie and Grace led us on a good, fast run. About ½ mile after we made the switch I clipped a little stump or something that broke a bracket on the drag pad, so the sled handled a bit squirrely but nothing unmanageable. All of the dogs worked well, even Valentine who has been running a lot the past few days. To me, Minnie seems like a small dog, but she was trained up for one of the major long distance races before coming to Lynn, and she is 100% heart. She and Val did a great job at wheel in spite of having to compensate and deal with the sled skewing around behind them.

This team wanted to run fast, and we gave them the opportunity to do so. Lynn quipped that I probably didn’t need a cup holder when running this team, and she’s right. I wouldn’t have had time to sip at my coffee with this crew, especially with a busted sled.

Between confused humans and lead dogs trying hard to please we missed a couple of cues, mostly due to human confusion. It was certainly no big deal. Overall it was a really fun run with a very lovely team of dogs to watch.

Team #2: Approximately 5 miles, speed unknown but not particularly fast (my GPS was lying on the ground in Lynn’s yard).

Daisy & Fame (Lynn’s)

Gump & Sheenjek

Sheenjek scotched at Gump who scotched back at Sheenjek at the start, but they quickly settled their differences and decided to be sled dogs instead.

We had originally planned to run another big team, but with my big toboggan sled down for repairs Lynn offered me one of her sprint sleds to run these four together. It accomplished the goals of letting Daisy have an easier run while forcing Gump to work harder to earn his kibble. We stayed pretty much on the flats skirting the edges of some cleared fields. Had one encounter with a pair of loose dogs that the owner eventually corralled. Thank goodness. One of them is a good sized chow that could spell trouble if he tangled with my Megamutt.

On the way back I called for a gee onto PV Rd., but Daisy was unwilling to push Fame nto the turn, even though Fame is a considerably smaller dog. We ended making a big circle in the wrong direction to get pointed the right direction. Personally, I think it shows a high degree of canine cognition for Daisy to figure out a way to do what I was asking without having to invade Fame’s personal space. It was sure a pain at the time, though.

In any event, my little four-dog team still had enough left to sprint home and everyone seems happy and healthy in their houses tonight.

Meanwhile, their musher is one tired puppy tonight. I'm going to give the team a day off tomorrow while I repair broken drag mat. We have something extra special planned for Sunday that should make for either a really fun blog post, or a really interesting one.


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