SC Dogsled Team Training Journal

dogsledding, dryland, carting, dog training, dog behavior

Monday, October 23, 2006

New Runner and Obedient Dogs

Tonight I waited till dark and for the traffic to clear so I could run the dogs close to home. We took a 5 mile trail. I added Toshiba for the run tonight and left Sasha at home. The team was Cosmos-Kenai, Bear-Toshiba, Sakari-Yeti, Ulric-Dancer. As I was hooking up the dogs Toshiba was wanting to fight with Bear and had tons of energy. I had to break up that fight. Then after snapping in Sakari last, who usually fights with Yeti till we get out of the yard so I snap her in last and we take off, Toshiba had her harness pulled off and twisted in the strangest ways I have ever seen. I started working on the harness and Sakari broke into her fighting mode with Yeti again. I jumped in the middle and stood between them to keep her at bay. I'm thinking of using a water ballon to stop this action in the future. I got Toshiba fixed back up and we were off. They were pulling great up the hills still at a good speed. It was dark and the sky was full of beautiful stars on a cool clear night. It was wonderful to be running with the dogs. Cosmos missed a Gee and I had to stop the team and turn them and we were off again. At about 3 miles into the run Sakari triped or something and did a face plant on the ground. I had the team stopped quickly and ran up to check her. She had scraped her knee so I picked her up and loaded her on the cart so she could ride. Well, half a mile later Toshiba decides to sit down and I stopped the team quickly again. I ran up to her and checked her out and did not see any injuries. I sat there with her for a while and I called to each dog one by one and had them to sit and lie down. They each did an excellent job and lying down and staying while I held Toshiba and checked her out. I sat there with them for about 5-10 minutes and I had the leaders to stand up and tighten out the line and get us ready to leave. I had Cosmos to ease into a walk to see how Toshiba would do. She was still walking slow so I stopped the team again and took her out to ride on the cart. As I looked at the cart there sat Sakari growling and ready to start a fight. Well, there is room on the cart for 2-3 dogs but Sakari and Toshiba are known for being the bitchiest bitches around and this was not going to work. So I picked Toshiba up into my arms and held her like a baby and jumped on the card and had Cosmos to ease into a walk to make sure I could keep my balance and hold Toshiba. We were doing well so I sped them up and all was well till with started up the big hill. I now was down two dogs and they were now "dead weight" on the cart so the team slowed. I finally held Toshiba in one arm and held on to the cart with the other hand and ran pushing as best I could to help the team out. I had several dogs to look back to see what was going on. After we were up the hill and back at cruise speed I lay over the handle bars and held Toshiba in my arms with her licking my face and loving on me. I glanced down at Sakari and through Toshiba licking my face I could see that Sakari had turned around on the cart and was looking up at me smiling and being polite. These girls were finally happy and content and not growling or fighting. They knew I was taking care of them. Cosmos and Kenai ran back home and opened the gate to their kennel and went in so I jumped off and put Toshiba in the kennel and grabbed Sakari and checked her out. There was a slight bit of blood on her knee but she was doing fine. I put her in her kennel then placed the rest of the team in the kennels. I went around taking off harnesses and checking feet. Everyone looked good. I think Toshiba was just tired. I will run her for a while with some of the other new dogs till they get their legs on shorter runs. But this taught me that I need to carry more snaps to lock dogs down on the cart if I have this to happen again with two mean bitches. I will work out a plan to run two teams of dogs and get some of the newer dogs in shape to run with the conditioned team. It is awesome to see a team of dogs sit and stay on command like that while I was working on Toshiba. I love it when the dogs obey.

Training is for Who?

Well, after the first run I learned I needed to be in shape. An old injury of an axe through the knee cap was still healing. After going to the orthopedic doctor and doing some physical therapy I'm back up and running and feeling good while wearing a brace on the knee. When I went in for the final knee inspection my neck was hurting so we did an xray and found degenerate disk in the neck and bone spurs. So I'm back in physical therapy for this. In my case its not the many years of wear but the many many miles of wear and tear. I was always told that someday I would pay. I thought that someday would never get here. Now someday is here.