Saturday, August 30, 2008

Training Run Video & Domestic Duties

It's overcast and a bit warmer this morning than yesterday, but still chilly enough to justify shutting down the outside water supply. We're back to hauling water in buckets, but it's only an inconvenience, not a major issue by any stretch.

This morning I created a video with some of the highlights of yesterday's first training run. At 14 meg, it's a pretty large file, but I think a lot of folks might enjoy watching it. To download it, just click on this link - First Training Run Vid

For the dogs, today is a 'rest day'. I will be giving them another training run tomorrow, probably focusing on lots of "gee/haw" work. Gee is the cue used to prompt them to turn right, and haw the cue to turn left.

Although the dogs got the day off, I did not. I have to return to my place of employment on Tuesday, so it's time for me to do some housekeeping. It's mundane stuff, but I've fallen behind so needed to wash a sink full of a dishes and especially clean the floors. Since I am in and out of the house frequently through the course of any given day I tend to track in quite a bit of mud and dirt, loose straw and other dog-yard debris. Then there were a couple of loads of laundry that needed to be washed, dried, sorted and put away, all while maintaining the daily kennel chores.

While out in the kennel tending the mutts I shut down and rolled up the garden hoses that provide water during summer. We've had frost and a frozen hose nearly every day for the past week and at this time of year there is no reason to believe it will get substantially warmer. I also fired up the little garden tractor and mowed the lawn, most likely for the last time this year. Unless there is a major change I'll remove the mower deck and install the snow blade and tire chains early next R&R.

I'm planning to hit the rack early tonight, probably shortly after I feed Lucky and the puppies and give all the of the dogs a couple of scoops of water. We're going to run tomorrow fairly early, and I want to be awake, alert and well oriented to what we are doing.


  1. Enjoyed the training run video. You get lots of head-on passing training! Do most people train with 2 people on the ATV? Is the ATV motor on and in gear or do you have the team pull without motor help? I have no personal experience yet with an ATV, but I recently purchased a used motorless Kawasaki 220 Bayou to train my fur kids when it get cooler here, still in the 90's in NC. Have a Sacco Dog Cart I purchased in 1991 from Kobuk Feeds in Fairbanks that I have used over the years like the one in your photos. Have a good run tomorrow and thanks for your reply. Dave

  2. Since Two Rivers enjoys a large concentration of dog mushers, we do get frequent opportunities to practice passing. Each time is a training opportunity. It's rather unusual to have so many training opportunities on the first run of the season, though.

    We run with 2 people whenever we can. Even with the brakes locked a six or eight dog team can easily drag the fourwheeler down the trail. If we don't have a handler to help out then we'll make do as best we can. I know some mushers who even mount a snubline and hook on their machines to hook down on a tree or in firm soil when they have to go up front to tend to the dogs.

    There are a couple of schools of thought in training with four-wheelers. Most mushers in my area train with the engine running. The machine may or may not be in gear. In our run, we started with the motor running but the machine in neutral. Once the dogs have run off some of their excitement we shift it into gear to maintain a steady pace or around 10 mph. As a result the dogs are actually pulling against the compression of the engine except when they really need help, as in crossing a mud hole or climbing a nasty hill.

    Early season training is essentially a combination of strength training and behavior (gee/haw)training. We will start working on endurance (distance)and speed once there is snow on the ground and we can start running them with sleds rather than machines.

    The other school of thought is that the dogs should be allowed to run at their natural pace, pulling the machine as they would any other dryland rig. In that case they are getting more endurance and speed training.

    I've seen a couple of very nice training carts made by removing the engine from a relatively lightweight four wheeler such as your Kawasaki Bayou. I'm kind of keeping my eyes open for a suitable machine myself. For gee/haw work it's awfully hard to beat the Sacco cart, though. That thing is almost as great an invention as bottled beer.

  3. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I started a subscription to Team and Trail and Mushing Magazine in 1991 and bought the Sacco Cart from a Kobuk Feed Ad in Team and Trail. You don't see anyone selling the Sacco Carts in the USA anymore. They are popular in Europe and Germany has alot of fans with interesting websites. Been reading your older posts. Good article by Dr Zink on delaying neutering and spaying. I am doing just that on a 6 mo old female siberian I adopted at 8 weeks of age just before she was destined for the local shelter. The vet tech that helped me adopt her suggested I do the delay spay. Dr Zink will be giving a talk in Durham, NC next month about 75 miles from where I live. Its great that you have friends like Lynn and Donna to train with and take care of your team while you are away for two weeks at a time. I lived in Anchorage, Alaska from 1976-81 while in the USAF at Elmendorf AFB. My next door neighbor offbase worked on the Alaskan Oil Pipeline during that time and did the rotating schedule. Loved watching the Fur Rondy races and Iditarod race starts in Anchorage during that time. Take care and have a good two weeks at your place of employment! Dave