Saturday, December 5, 2009

All Tied Up

Stephanie's Sled, That is....

My friend Stephanie was given an older Laughing Husky dog sled that was almost complete.  Although in good condition, most of the hardware had been removed at one time or another.  The wood was very dry, and it needed just a wee bit of work here and there to bring it up to snuff.  I volunteered to help Seph with some of the work, to practice the sled lashing skills I learned at Dave Klumb's workshop at the ADMA International Dog Musher's Symposium a couple of months ago.

Steph had the hard part - she had to track down hardware for the sled.  A lot of the important stuff she already had, salvaged from a wrecked sled that she used to ride.  She did a very nice job of oiling the wood.  She gave the sled as much lemon oil as it would absorb, which of course raised the grain quite a bit.  She burnished it down with steel wool, then gave it another coat of oil.  So, when it was time for me to replace some lashing the sled was already looking very good.

I installed the new eyebolt, and then went to work with new braided nylong Mason's twine to lash the stanchion, which probably has to take more force than any other part of the sled.  You can compare my work to that of Dave Klumb in the picture below.

The only real difference is that Dave tied his hitches on the inside of the lashing, and did mine on the outside.  I actually ended up cutting this lashing away and replacing it later with the knots facing the proper direction.  It probably doesn't really matter much, but what Dave tends to have a reason for the things he does on a sled, and there is no reason to go looking for problems when it only takes a few minutes to correct the work.

I helped Steph put new runner plastic on the sled and fasten the bungee that works as a spring to raise the brake bar, and Steph was working on a new brush bow as I left last night.  I suspect by now she's probably test driven the sled behind some of her dogs, though the trails are far from ideal.

More 1-on-1 for Orion

Orion got another session of "line out" training yesterday, and did very well.  He is a quick study in spite of his exuberance.   The sun is already set and it is getting dark out, so I doubt that he'll get a session today.  I'll have more time tomorrow to work with him, though.

In the News...

Only a couple of news articles of significant interest in today's issue of the Daily News-Miner.  One is an article bemoaning the lack of snow.  "With only 12.9 inches of snow this winter at Fairbanks International Airport, Alaska’s second-largest city is 16 inches below normal. If this were an average year, more than two feet of snow would have fallen by now."  

The Alaska Dog Musher's Association has postponed their first race of the season until next weekend, but with no snow in the forecast I doubt they'll be able to actually run.  There is talk here in Two Rivers of canceling our annual Solstice 100 mile race as well.  Lance Mackey was quoted as saying that he's put more miles on his dog truck looking for snow than he has on his dogs.  Though I imagine it is an exaggeration, I'll bet not by much.

The second story of interest is "Drug Testing Planned for Iditarod Mushers".   Basically the story acknowledges a rules change made by the Iditarod Trail Committee earlier this year, to require some random drug testing during the race.  

Of course I have an opinion on that one - and I'm willing to share it.  I can see it now....

There you are, cruising along down the Yukon and suddenly have an insatiable craving for chocolate chip pizza...

Seriously, the Iditarod is under constant scrutiny by animal rights fanatics and even some legitimate animal welfare groups. There is a valid albeit undocumented concern that someone who is using drugs may not keep his or her head together well enough to provide proper care for his or her dogs. It does seem rather ironic that a guy best known for exemplary dog care carries a medical marijuana card, though.

I can understand why the committee would feel such a rule is a good idea, in spite of the fourth amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  Heck, that amendment was thrown out the door way back during the Ray-gun administration. That whole "freedom" thing is highly over-rated anyway. (sigh) That last sentence is an example of sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek, BTW.

The prohibited drug list appears to be identical to drugs test for in safety-sensitive positions defined by DOT and other federal agencies, so it really shouldn't be a big deal. Most of us who work in such positions are accustomed to the whole random drug testing thing, and think little of it.

All in all, I think it will turn out to be a non-issue.


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