Monday, May 12, 2008

Abbreviated R&R

My R&R this time around was very busy, and though I'm preparing to return to my place of employment I feel like I didn't have a whole lot of either "rest" or "recreation".

The first week of the R&R was spent near Georgetown, KY with my long-time friend Janece Rollet. She had some projects around her farm needing attention, and I really don't mind escaping Alaska during the 'mud season' that is a big, sloppy part of break up. I spent most of that week mowing, replacing weather-worn window frames at her boarding kennel, repairing fences and gates, shoveling erosion debris and so forth.

My flight home was under a time deadline - I had to return in order to do my annual security officer refresher training for the job. Although scheduled to be in Fairbanks at midnight, Tuesday morning I didn't arrive until 7 pm, so I was about an hour late getting out to the shooting range. I was draggin'-assed tired but none the less managed to qualify with all three weapons platforms with reasonably good scores (I've never fired at less than an 'expert' level).

That evening I fetched my dogs home from their boarding kennels and got everyone fed and settled before collapsing into my bed. I actually had more difficulty with fatigue on Wednesday than on Tuesday, to the point where I fell asleep during a lunch meeting with our clients new director of security. That was rather embarrassing and I hope it doesn't cause problems. By Thursday I was pretty much back to my old self and made it through the day of class-room training with no problems.

I spent the weekend at home, trying to get caught up on bills, housekeeping, clean up (always a big thing during break up) and so forth.

Yesterday was the big event of this R&R. I took some of the team over to Lynn O's place to run with the Sacco cart before it got too hot to do so, and we had a great morning.

The first team was semi-retired Daisy running next to Torus. These two are beautiful running together as they match each other stride for stride. Both are black, so it required frequent stops in shady spots to cool off. With these two experienced leaders I didn't need the handle bar at all, other than to hold it up off of my own body.

Next were the wild ones - Lynn O's Scooby Doo with Amazing Grace. It was probably the most exciting and informative of the day's runs. These are both very high-drive dogs, so it was FAST. Not sure how fast, but Lynn was following on her motorcycle so she may be able to tell us.

The first "cool down" spot came a bit too early, the dogs were still full of pee and vinegar and Grace wanted to scotch at Scooby some, so I cut that break short and let 'em run on to the next spot. At that one, we saw an amazing transformation as the two dogs stood quietly, leaning into their harnesses in perfect 'lines out' position, calmly waiting for the signal to run again. This was HUGE as this is a pair of harness-pounding, line-chewing, nut-case dogs behaving perfectly. WHOOHOO!!!!!

Almost as much fun as the rest break is that Amazing Grace responded to every 'haw' and 'gee' cue perfectly. This girl is such a natural sled dog and such a natural leader that it is almost scary.

The next run was with Chinook, my St. Bernard X Alaskan husky mix. We shortened up the route considerably as it was getting warmer and the dogs were showing signs that the heat was getting to them a bit. Chinook had a tough time getting his head into the game today. He was more interested in smelling every single rock, root, tree, bush and blade of grass than in running. He also needed some help hauling the cart over some of the rougher or softer places. I clearly need to focus some more time and work on the "Big Guy".

With the temperature continuing to climb, the last run of the day was with Torus (second run) and Lucky. Lucky is Kyle Belleque's b*tch, visiting from Kotzebue to breed with Torus. At first she was a bit uncertain about the cart shafts and the whole hook-up sequence, but she managed it with very good manners and once she figured out she was running and pulling she was as happy as a hawg in slop.

We followed the abbreviated circuit as Torus had already run once and it was probably too warm to be running dogs that are still in winter coat, but the pair managed the shorter run just fine, pulling me all the way up to the horse trough of water we set up at the finish line.

It was an awesome way to start the Sacco season, with dogs that were happy to get out and run for a while, and just as happy to rest in the shade afterward.

Thanks, Lynn, for helping me get the teams launched and for providing motorized backup on your motorcycle.

Today will be plenty busy and probably a bit expensive as I prepare to return to my place of employment. I have to get my studded snow tires on my truck swapped out for my summer tires, get my haircut and stop at a couple of different stores for supplies. I should also take the dogs to their boarding kennels this evening, though I may wait until early tomorrow to do that.

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