Saturday, November 5, 2011

Little Big Dog's First Time Out

Innoko, 11 months of age, photographed on November 6th, 2011

 "Little Big Dog" is actually named Innoko and is an 11 month old Canadian Eskimo Dog - Alaskan Malamute - Yukon River Dog mix from Charlie House's lines.  Innoko was given to me by Mike Cavaliere last May.

Though still just a pup, he's far and away the largest dog in the Stardancer Kennel, tipping the scale somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 lb. or so.  He is just as scrappy as one might expect from dogs of his lineage, but he is truly just a big puppy.  He LOVES people - and I mean ALL people.  He really LOVES food - any sort of food, and he LOVES playing with the other dogs, he just expresses that joy in a rather snarly manner.  We are very careful to manage him in such a way to prevent him from reinforcing that behavior, which means he doesn't get as much contact with his team mates as I'd prefer.

I've been a bit slow in training him to harness.  He's had just one session pulling a tire and not much else.  Due to his age I've had concerns about damaging the growth plates in his long bones through overwork.  However, he IS a sled dog, and he NEEDS to learn his trade.

Today, in one of those "spur of the moment" moments I decided to hook him up in a team.  He was just so excited watching the other dogs going out and coming back that he could hardly contain himself, and I figured that if I plugged him in near the back of a strong team that could keep him lined out he probably couldn't get into too much trouble.  I certainly wanted to do it while on a four-wheeler as it has so much more control this time of year than does a sled.

I hadn't really planned on posting today's video, but it is a red letter day for the Little Big Dog, and I'm sure that blog followers who are familiar with his story will be really interested in seeing whether or not he truly has what it takes to be a member of a team.

So, here is the video from Innoko's First Time in a Team.  Just in case his massive size doesn't give him away, Innoko is the big dog running in the single team position (just ahead of the wheel dogs).

Although we had to slow way down toward the end so he could keep a tight tugline, and stopped on the way home to generate some enthusiasm in all the dogs, Innoko was remarkably well behaved and performed very well for such a young dog.  Whether or not he'll be able to keep up with his longer legged running mates remains to be seen.

Here are my entries from my training journal for both of the teams I ran today.

Date, Day, &c:
Sat., Nov 5, 2011
Mileage & Speed:
1.5 miles.  Speed not measured
Route, Trail & Terrain Conditions: 
Boyce - Stricker Drive Loop.  Fresh powder on packed dirt.  Four-wheeler
Partly cloudy, 19 degrees F
Rose & Capella (lead)
Denali & Grace (swing / team)
Beau & Midnight's Son (wheel)
Pretty easy hook up and start, and the dogs took the "gee" cue onto the powerline, and the second "gee" to the drive easily, though perhaps more from habit than as a response to the cue.  Everyone pulled well past Ted's yard and Grace didn't try to check out any of the smells beside the trail. 

At the top, Rose and Capella had a tough time figuring out the "haw" cue, and it took some temptation in the form of treats to convince Capella to hold the line out to the left, rather than wanting to run to the right.  Nonetheless that worked.  The most interesting thing about all of that was that Ms. Grace was trying very hard to turn the team from the swing position, with no neckline.  I was actually quite impressed by her effort, though it did turn out to be rather futile.  I was also less impressed when she grew frustrated with the wait and started grabbing the gang line. 

On the way home Grace thought it might be fun to visit Ted's place, and got rudely jerked backward was a 'reward'.  She quickly regained her place in the team and we finished off the run in good fashion.

Date, Day, &c:
Sat., Nov. 5, 2011
Mileage & Speed : 
1.5 miles.  Speed not measured
Route, Trail & Terrain Conditions: 
Boyce - Stricker Drive Loop.  Fresh powder on packed dirt.  Four-wheeler
Partly cloudy, 22 degrees (F)
Just & Cassiopeia (Lead)
Orion & Selene (Swing)
Innoko (single team)
Seamus & Nels (Wheel)
Narrative:  I decided to run Innoko on this team as a sort of spur of the moment decision. 

In designing the team, I wanted enough dogs in front of the scrappy little big dog to hold the line out when we stopped, and I wanted a pair of larger, more burley males behind him, just in case he decided to start something.  It probably wasn't necessary as he was very well behaved the whole time.

Innoko balked for only a split second on launch, and was then tight into his tug line and running well.  He maintained a tight tugline through most of his run, though it showed a lot of slack (probably from inexperience) once in a great while, and we had to slow down considerably toward to the end in order for him to keep up and keep pulling. 

Just and Cassie had very little difficulty with the "haw" at the top of the drive, as Just pushed Cassie into the correct direction very nicely.  All of the dogs seemed to be having a good time during this run and things went very smoothly as a result.

Only time will tell if Innoko will be able to keep up with his long-legged compatriots.

1 comment:

  1. That's the kind of dog I Like! Reminds me of a " Polar husky" like what Will Steger did all his expeditions with. Good luck with him.