Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Training Day

Yesterday was another training day for sled dogs and (of course) mushers. I had two opposing goals for the day. On Saturday I plan to run two dogs in the four-dog class at the Alaska Skijor and Pulk Association's first ever dry-land race, running them on the Sacco cart that Lynn Orbison and I share. They are both young, physically fit, hard driving dogs that I think will give us a really hot run, but I wanted them to get some training miles in conditions similar to those they'll face in the race.

The other goal was to give my Darling Daisy and my big furry buddy Chinook a chance to run for a bit. Daisy is old and starting to show the wear and tear of age, and Chinook has such short legs that he can't keep pace with the rangy village dogs that make up my main team. They nonetheless need the opportunity to exercise their bodies and minds, and Lynn has several dogs in her yard that also benefit from short, easy, fun workouts.

The entry in my training journal is copied lower down on this blog entry.

We also ran two teams of faster dogs from Lynn's kennel, so basically in the course of a morning we ran 4 teams of dogs varying distances and intensities, and did so before Lynn had to leave for her job. It kept us moving at a pretty fast pace.

When I got home from running dogs I spent some time with puppies, training them to walk up and down the ramp I use to load dogs into the truck. Cassiopeia and Capella, the two little girls, seem to have it figured out already. Orion is a bit slower to "get it", but he's getting there. After all, this was only their second training session for this behavior and when you are a little bitty puppy the top of the ramp is a LONG way up in the air.

We've had a change of plans for today (Tuesday). The original plan was to run my "A" team today, bumping up their mileage and intensity level. Instead, we've been given a LOT of moose meat butcher scrap and bones. Bones need to be cut down to a reasonable size for dog chews and the meat needs to be cut up, and much of it ground for trail snacks for the dogs. Lynn will be coming over here to the house in a little bit so we can do that work today.

Tomorrow is also out, as I have to get new snow tires mounted on my dog truck, get some preventive maintenance cone on the truck, and run some other errands in town.

Today marks the mid-way point of this R&R, and so far I've been able to accomplish most of that which was important to me. All I have to do is maintain the pace and I should be well satisfied when all has been said and done.

Training Report:

22 Sept 08: Race dog training and fun run for older dogs.

First team – Grace and Scooby Doo on Sacco Cart

4.15 miles

Max speed 17 mph

Average speed 10.5 mph

This was a training run for two dogs I plan to run in the Skijor and Pulk Associations dryland race on Saturday. The race course is 3 miles total, out and back on the same roadway.

For this training run I unlocked the brake and held on, letting the dogs have their heads. We first ran ½ down Pleasant Valley Road and turned around, to help teach the dogs to do the “haw back” turnaround the race will require. From their we took Ander’s St to Lake Trout, around the loop up Sockeye St., back past the ball field and the little loopy road back to PV Rd, and then back to Lynn’s place.

Only one work can describe this run – YAHOO!!!!!! I almost rolled the cart on the turnaround, and these two wild dogs had wheels skidding on several of the turns. It was just a wild ride and it will be a real hoot if we can duplicate it on race day.

The second run was an easy run for older or slower dogs that don’t quite ‘fit’ on the race or touring teams, but who need to run for physical and mental conditioning.

2 miles

Average speed between 5 and 8 mph.

Poncho & Daisy

Ende & Puma

Carpe’ & Sweety


Fame & Jethro

Daisy turned 12 years old in June, and in some respects the Queen of the Kennel is showing her age. Her hearing is fading and it’s difficult for her to hear the cues. When she does hear them she responds instantly, though. She has always been a tremendous gee/haw leader. Poncho and Carpe’ basically just came along for the ride, trotting along like nothing in the world was going on. Both kept their tuglines tight the entire run.

Sweety was a feral dog, live trapped at a dumpster station. She is very suspicious of humans and even other dogs. At first, running directly ahead of Chinook (who can be a scrappy SOB) she was so busy trying to watch in all directions at once. Lynn moved her to the other side of the gang line where the big boy wasn’t directly behind her and she did much better. By the end of the run she seemed to be actually having fun.

Jethro worked well and seemed to enjoy the easy pace of the team. Fame was fading by the end of the run, but she is no longer a young dog and at wheel was probably working harder than necessary at the beginning. Ende and Puma are honest dogs and they gave the kind of honest performance one would expect from old pros.

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