Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Challenging Early Run

Our first little run this morning reminded me that it is indeed very early in the training season.  Things have been going so smoothly thus far that I had didn't expect the challenges we encountered, and overcame.

Part of the problem is that I didn't sleep very well last night, so I wasn't as well rested as I normally am by 7 AM.  We also made a couple of changes in the line-up and line-out.

The first team, consisting of 8 dogs, was:
Torus and Capella (lead)
Orion and Nels (swing)
Levy and Bella (Ted's dogs) team
Seamus and Gump (wheel)

As we were leaving the yard we noticed a tug-line tangle, so had to stop and clear that.  While trying to do so Capella decided to enjoy some social time, trying to come back and play with the team.  This of course caused even more of a tangle.

Once we got moving again Capella acted pretty confused until we did the U-turn onto the neighbor's driveway.  At that point she figured it out, and ran with head and tail down very nicely for the next quarter mile or so.  There she spied a tweaky bird to the side of the trail and wanted to investigate, pulling Torus toward the side with her.

Shortly afterward I noticed Torus running with a limp, so slowed the team WAY down to try to finish the run.  Capella wanted to turn left when I called for the "gee" around the lollipop loop, so we had to stop while Ted ran up to show her the way.  Then as we pulled the team into the turn Levy tried to go the wrong way around an obstruction, which got him tangle up.  Once we got around the loop the remainder of the run (the second half of the run) went pretty smoothly.

In retrospect, I was trying to do too much "new" in a single run.  It was Capella's first time running and lead, and Levy and Bella's first time running with a team.  Levy is very rude to other dogs, literally barking and snarling in their faces, and that behavior while trying to hook up a relatively large team was very distracting.  I'm really glad I didn't try running him in a team that included Sheenjek.  Levy and Sheenjek have already had one fight that resulted in Levy receiving some stitches.  Once on the trail he settled in and did a very nice job.

Bella did wonderfully well for a six-month old Malamute puppy.  She was distracted by being in a whole team of dogs rather just beside her buddy Levy, and also by the machine.  That had her looking back from time to time, but overall she ran well and kept a tight tugline most of the time.

The second run was much easier than the first.  That team included;

Rose and Just (lead)
Cassiopeia and Grace (swing)
Sheenjek & Beau (wheel)

Grace was a bit snarly with Cassie early in the run, but Cassie was on a short tug line so snarfing at her required Grace to turn her head way off to the side and slacken her tug-line.  Because it was inconvenient she got over whatever issue might have been happening and settled in to run nicely.

The leaders responded to each of their cues without a problem, so the run progressed pretty smoothly overall.

About our Fall Training Trail

The trail we are currently using for these early season training runs has it's own story.  Years ago a lady purchased a property behind my house, where she built a crude cabin and kept her dog team.  Her driveway shared the same entry onto the highway as mine.  In any event, she put her cabin in the furthest corner of the property, and ran her driveway right alongside my property line.

That place is now under new ownership, and we have permission to use that nice, long driveway as a training trail.  To access the trail we leave the kennel and run down my driveway, cross over between the two, then head up the neighboring drive to circle around where the original owner's dog yard had been. 

I've been told we can also access some additional trails by taking this neighboring drive, but I've not taken time to try to scout them yet.  That will come in due time.  Meanwhile, here is a map of our fall training trail.

This trail gives us only 1 mile, which isn't very much for a team of sled dogs.  It does involve a pretty good hill climb, though.  Mostly it just gives us a way to get the dogs out of the yard for a little bit of mental as well as physical stimulation. 

1 comment:

  1. Swanny, thoroughly enjoying your comments on some early "back in the saddle" with the team. And the videos - especially the first - amazing what they know and remember :-)