The first team I took out was on the SLED, just like REAL sled dogs. Ted and Clare chased me on the four-wheeler to help if I ran into any problems. Other than having to work our butts off (both humans and canines) we didn't have any major problems, and Clare shot a nice video clip of the team up at the turn-around loop. This team consists of Just and Rose in lead, Capella in single swing and Beau and Cassieopeia at wheel:
Here is today's training journal entry. As soon as I get this posted I'm going to seek out a position resembling horizontal and get some rest. We've earned it.
11/20/10: Two Teams.
First team – 1.25 miles, home to Boyce/Stricker loop and return. On SLED, 5 or 6 inches new snow on powder.
Just & Rose (Lead)
Capella (single Swing)
Beau and Cassiopeia (Wheel)
Ted and Clare chased me on the four-wheeler. We were breaking trail the hard way, but the dogs were very well behaved for the most part. Rose took Just up the first cut off to Rod and Julie's drive rather than the second. Very heavy going on the cut over but once on the drive, which I had plowed up to my handler cabin previously, the picked up the pace considerably.
Back in the soft snow they maintained a good pace until the trail started steepening. Then it was just hard work of all of us, myself including the dogs.
The loop up top was even tougher as the dogs cut corners, resulting in the sled dragging in very deep, soft snow requiring me to push hard to keep it moving at all. I asked the dogs to take the first cut off to home, which they did fine. They cut the corner going into the yard which caused me to crash the sled into the gate post, but no damage was done.
Although a short run, I think the team got a good workout from it.
Second team – 2 /13 miles. Two laps around the same route by FOUR WHEELER. Clare accompanied me on the four-wheeler on this run.
After having so much trouble getting the sled around the loop on the first run, I opted to take the second team on the four-wheeler, which proved to be an excellent decision.
I've had the team on a feed that contains a small amount of corn, but even though the quantity is small, Grace's behavior has suffered. I've switched back to a corn free product, but it will take some time for the chemical imbalance caused by the maize to sort itself out. I elected to run Grace in single swing until she settles down.
Things still didn't quite go as planned. Here is the team configuration when I started:
Torus & Orion (lead)
Grace (single swing)
Nels and Seamus (wheel)
We'd barely gotten started when Torus and Orion got into a scuffle. I have no clue what it was over, but when we got started again Orion was lagging back. We made the turn onto the power line ROW when the two leaders got into it again. Ted ran over and helped us get started but Orion lagged and was basically being dragged by his neckline, so when we passed my handler's cabin I stopped to make a change.
Torus (single lead)
Grace and Orion (Swing)
Nels & Seamus (wheel)
All the time we were hooking up in the yard and stopped on the trail Grace was screaming and grabbing and jerking the gangline. I kind of suspect that Torus thought Orion was responsible for the disruption. In any event, I finally got Orion hooked up beside Grace and got the team moving. Now Grace was scotching and picking on Orion, so he was still lagging and not running worth a darn. After a couple of hundred yards of that I realized they weren't going to sort out their differences, and I didn't want Orion to be beaten up the entire run – he's a young dog and needs to have positive experiences on the trail, so we stopped for another dog change.
Torus (Single lead)
Grace and Seamus (Swing)
Orion and Nels (Wheel)
Grace was still grabbing and yanking at the gang-line, but I was able to time the restart for a moment when she was standing still, so we launched. This configuration worked out just fine. Grace started scotching at Seamus, who only tolerated it for a wee bit before he snarked right back, putting Grace in her place. Meanwhile Orion had a great time running beside Nels.
Torus maintained a fast lope going up the hill, and I let him do so. He kept up the fast pace all the way back down on the first lap. At first Torus didn't want to take the haw back up the power line to Rod and Julie's drive, and when he finally did so damned if Nels, way back in wheel, decided to turn the team back down OUR drive way. This left Torus thinking he was correct in the first place (sigh).
Ted ran over and helped get the whole team pointed in the proper direction, and we were off again. The pace was much slower which is frequently the case when running up a trail we just finished running only a short time earlier. None the less the dogs kept moving and pulling throughout the second lap.
I pulled the team into the yard and Torus laid down straight away, indicating he was pretty darned tired, so even though a short run it was a good workout for the team, albeit rather frustrating for me.