It was not the best winter for me, nor the worst. Mostly it seems like I was very busy all winter long, but accomplished much less than I had hoped.
Fall training was interrupted by the higher priorities of raising a healthy litter of puppies and ensuring those we didn't keep for ourselves made it safely to their wonderful new homes. That was our highest priority, and I believe we achieved it. When coupled with mandatory work-related training for me, however, it meant less time available to focus on teams and trails.
The early snow of October seemed to promise a great winter of dog mushing, but that didn't really pan out. It wasn't until December that I felt comfortable running the dogs with sleds and even then the trails were rough and difficult. Subsequent snowfalls were rare - though heavy enough to ensure trails were passable.
In any event, our mushing season consisted of short runs in which we focused on leader training. While they were effective from a behavior training standpoint, they weren't sufficient to build the strength and stamina necessary for cross-country travel. Though there were only a couple of serious cold snaps this past winter, it seems they hit at exactly the wrong times, further preventing additional training for the dogs.
Now, when I finally do have more time to focus on the dogs, the weather has thrown a different monkey wrench into the works, with record breaking high temperatures resulting in more poor trail conditions.
For practical (dog driving) purposes, winter is pretty much done. The snow is melting down, the temperatures too high to safely run the dogs, yet still too much snow to accomplish outdoor tasks around the house. Overall, the best term to describe our winter seems to be "frustrating."
However, that is the past. It's now time for me to look forward to summer projects, complete as much of my work related training as I can now, so I can reserve more time in the fall to focus on the dogs and our mushing goals. Perhaps with better planning I can do a better job next season.
My friend Mike Green often said that "Work is the curse of the leisure class." I appreciate his sentiment. Still and all, if I set my mind to it I can surely come up with better ways to adapt, improvise and overcome in order to do a better job for my dogs and kennel.