Thursday, August 11, 2011

Run Amok

It's another dark, damp day here at the Stardancer Historical Sled Dogs kennel, just a bit too warm to run a team, but too cool to be truly comfortable.  As I write an "isolated shower" that once again turned some of the pens into muck is starting to ease off a bit, leaving me hopeful that I won't need a full 'body armor' set of rain gear when I go out to feed.

This afternoon I spent a fair amount of time in the dog yard, first allowing all of the dogs their turns at playing run-amok.  To play the game, I just release three or four dogs from their pens or tieouts, and let them do as they wish for 15 or 20 minutes.  They can visit their buddies, run around willy-nilly, pretty much anything except fight or mate.

Selene has had to sit out the last couple of run amok sessions as she was in season.  She is now coming out of season, though some of the intact males are still casually interested in her.  She's far enough along that I felt confident in letting her take a turn and it worked out without any problems.

With each group, I made it a point to do some one-on-one behavior training, especially for the newer dogs to the kennel.  Innoko, Selene and Midnight's Son all were lavishly rewarded for coming when called.  Seamus is helping to train Innoko to the "down" cue, and so forth. 

I did have one incident during the games this afternoon that made some of that recall training pay off.  Innoko, Capella, Just, Beau and Grace were all playing together and crashed into an older gate that hasn't yet been converted for lifting during deep snow.  The gate came crashing down, so the dogs were free to flee, and flee they did.

None of them went terribly far.  They just extended the play session into the front yard while I replaced the gate and then started fetching dogs.  Each of them came back when asked to do so, in spite of the huge distraction of my handler's yard and dogs.  I was pretty darned proud of them for that.

Here is a short video with clips from a couple of different play groups.

Once everyone was finished playing Run Amok, I spent a good hour brushing out Torus' and Selene's coats.  HOLY SMOKES, but that pair is shedding fur.  By the time I was finished there was so much fur on the ground it looked as though a dog or two had exploded in the pen.  Both of them really enjoyed the attention.

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