SC Dogsled Team Training Journal

dogsledding, dryland, carting, dog training, dog behavior

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Photos from Sunday

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

More photos from Sunday

Sundays Photos

More photos from Saturday

More photos from Saturday

11 12 06 Creeper Trial day 2 Sunday

On Sunday morning we drove to the beginning of the trail in Abingdon, VA exit 17 and turn right on west main street. Fayth and I ran Cosmos-Kenai, Bear-Yeti, Sasha-Jojo, Ulric-Dancer. As we left the start we had Fayth's younger sister, Danyel, riding in the cart. This was her first "dogsled" ride. She had a great time. There were 10-12 horses that left just before us and the dogs wanted to catch up with them so they were running fairly fast. Cosmos is a trail hog and thinks he has to run down the left side of the trail. I had to keep telling people they could pass on my right. Danyel rode to the first "check point" which was Watauga. There is only a parking lot here. Danyel got out of the cart and I loaded the water and food for the dogs and we were off and running again. The dogs were still hyper and ready to run. We took off again and would not meet back with our van that was following us until we got to Alvarado. Along this part of the trail were many gates to open. The gates were nicely designed so they close by themselves. One of us would always run ahead and open the gate while the other ran the dogs through. It is easy with two people. It might pose a challenge for one person. I found that I could run ahead of the dogs and open the gate and jump back on the moving cart as it went by with out a problem. There is beautiful country in this area nice trestles to cross. I think the longest trestle is on this section of the trail as it crosses the upper portion of Holston Lake. Nice high trestle beautiful scenery. The big trestle is just before getting to Alvarado. There was also a "rest" area next to the river if you are walking, running, riding horses. We stopped in Alvarado and snacked the dogs and let them rest till they were back up and rearing to go. Ulric just about chewed through the gangline in front of him which would have released all the other dogs ahead of him. Luckily I had the leaders tied to picknic table with a snow hook. I like to carry a snow hook to tie down leaders or to stop a crazy team if need be by hooking a tree. Never had to do it though but just in case. After resting in Alvarado we went on to the Iron Horse Campground. On this run we bootied the front feet of Cosmos, Bear, and Jojo. They ran well. The dogs were looking good during the run and were having a great time. The distance for Sunday was 14 miles total. Bringing the weekend total to 29 miles. The dogs were in good health and rested afterwards as running dogs should. I am ready to go back and run the trail again. I love to see the dogs having fun.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

11 11 06 photos

More Photos

Nov 11, 06

I did not run the dogs during the past week except turning them loose in the yard to run free. I had several that had injured pads and I wanted to rest them for the upcoming weekend. By Friday pads were looking good. So Friday we packed up and headed for Damascus, Va where we stayed at the Iron Horse Campground and had a cabin. The cabin was beside a beautiful river and the Creeper Trail ran in front of the place. This is about the mid point of the Creeper Trail. Fayth and her family came up and her grandparents came up to watch. We had a great time. Saturday we ran the dogs from the campground west to Alvarado. The run was aprox. 4.5 miles in each direction. Fayth and I ran Cosmos-Kenai, Bear-Yeti, Sasha-Sloppy Joe (JoJo), Ulric-Dancer. We ran to Alvarado and rested the dogs for about 30 minutes and ran back to the camp. The dogs did well. I had JoJo's front feet in booties. After resting for several hours and having lunch with several other mushers as we planned the Serum Run on the Creeper Trail for Jan 27, 07 we drove and looked at each of the points along the trail. When we returned we ran the same team 3 miles out and 3 miles back. By the time we got back it was dark and raining. We put up the dogs and went to the resturant there at the camp to eat. The dogs had ran a total of 15 miles for the first day.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Full Moon Delivery

Well last night was the full moon. And as I expected Sakari (a female rescue) had puppies. The arrival of the pups was welcomed with a welcoming howl by ALL the dogs in the middle of the night. It woke me up and I thought it was very strange that they would be singing a welcoming song in the middle of the night. Over the last few days I have heard many moon songs all night long to the moon as it got fuller but then in the middle came this welcoming song. Upon checking on the doggies this morning I found that unlike humans doggies don't lie. As near as I can tell there are 5 puppies. Momma won't let me move her to count them. I was growled at and I know to leave her alone. I will move them in the house tonight. Living with so many dogs that talk and howl I have learned to understand their talking, and howling it is incredible. I can never say that Huskies are a dumb dog. They have a very clear form of communication and it can be understood by anyone willing to listen. Native Americans believe that the wolf is a teacher and one has but to listen in order to learn. I have a yard full of teachers. (Huskies are thought to be close to the wolf genes). They play jokes and pranks but they don't lie in what they say. They always speak straight truth. What a privilege I have of living with such wise, intelligent, truthful communicative animals. Friends have been over visiting when the dogs would start "talking" and I would ask them to listen for a minute. The dogs would tell me that one of the dogs was loose. As I listened more the dogs would tell me exactly who was loose. My friends would tell me "yeah, right. I want to see this". When my friend and Iwent out of the house sure enough that exact dog came running by us in the yard. Dogs don't lie. Wonder why I like living with dogs more than people? Yesterday, I went into the big kennel to trim the hair on the dog’s pads and beforeI could get started one of the dogs had taken the scissors and walked off with them. They play this game of hide and seek and find it very amusing. Fayth finally found the scissors and we trimmed the hair. I sort of expected yesterday that Sakari was close to delivery. So I threw down several flakes of hay for her. She already had a hole dug for a "den"and she immediately took the hay and ripped it apart and lined her den. So this morning all I did was cover them with a blanket.

Now that it is evening I have been able to distract Sakari with some treats and get a leash on her and walked her outside of the kennel and shut the door while I went back in with a box and collected puppies. There are indeed 5 puppies. I brought mother and pups in the house and have placed them in the welping box. They are doing well and she is finally letting me near them. Here are some photos.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sun Nov 5 Fayth's First Driving

Today Fayth came down and I had her to harness up the dogs and put them on the gangline. We let her pup ride on the cart with us. He loved the ride. Since going up my driveway is the hardest part I had her and the pup to ride till I had the dogs on the road and stopped. Then Fayth drove the dogs and gave the commands and did the braking and steering. She did an excellent job especially for the first time at driving. As we passed one house the dogs ran over into a person's yard to see the dogs. I had to get off and take the leaders back to the road. Cosmos snapped at me and I jerked my hand away. I stopped him and watched for a second and realized it was redirected aggression that was meant for the other dogs. I whispered his name and got his attention and he looked at me with a smile and I gave him a nice warm petting and we were ready to go again. We ran them to the point on the road where I have decided to turn them around and we started back. We ran past the dogs again and did well this time. I did a lot of running so Fayth could do the driving. At one point to get up a hill I ran out ahead of the dogs and made them chase me. This reminded me of an old trick I used to do so I told Fayth and we decided to try it. We got just shy of my house and we turned the dogs around again to run back past the other dogs. When we got there I jumped off the cart and ran out ahead of the dogs and had them to chase me and keep there interest on me instead of the other dogs. Sasha was the only one who even looked at the other dogs but I called her attention back to me and we ran on past. Sloppy Joe finally blew out the booties he has been wearing. So he will get a new pair. I noticed that Cosmos right rear toenail was bleeding so we took care of this and I will give him a few days rest. I will return him wearing booties. I think Cosmos got this injury when he stopped to poop and the other dogs ran up on him. I see today that he out got out 2 plops of poop and had not finished his business before receiving the tailgater. In the meantime I will try Kenai and Bear in lead. I think Kenai knows the commands as I have worked with just him before and I will be patient and work with him on it. Bear is a fast little girl who I think will make a great lead dog so I want to see how she will perform as well. She is very focused on working. The team today was Cosmos-Kenai, Bear-Yeti, Sasha-Sloppy Joe, Ulric-Dancer. We ran 7 miles total. I may add another dog from the rescue into the line up for this week. Since I will be running the team slower without my trusted lead dog I will have to fill another space. I will put him in the team position and see how he does. If he does well I may move him up to Swing. I'm looking forward to seeing how he will run. I have a musher in VA who wants another good runner so I will check him out. I have actually already put him into the kennel with the race team. So I now have 11 dogs in the same large kennel. I watched them today and they are doing well together. It is incredible how they accept others into the "pack" and love to run together. But I need this for when we travel together since we have to be in close quarters.

In case I have forgotten to say who Fayth is I wanted to say it here. Fayth is a 15 year old young lady who called me on the phone one day and said with a direct tone in her voice that let me know she meant what she was saying..."I'm Fayth and I'm 15 years old and I just got a 5 month old Siberian Husky and I want to train it to run the Iditarod. Can you help me to train him?" After I found out who had given her my number I knew she was really serious about this. I may have stuttered knowing the long road from a 5 month old pup to the burled arch of the Iditarod but I said "OK, I'll help you train". I have since learned who else she has been talking to and I see that she is serious about this and is taking the initive to make these contacts. Very impressive for a young lady. She has been coming down each weekend and helping me with the team and doing shots and learning every aspect of what it takes to get the dogs hooked to a cart and ready to run. It is also nice for me to have someone local to talk dogs and mushing with. It keeps me on my toes to make sure that I am correct in what I say and do. But I have always found the best way to really learn something is to teach it. It is wonderful to have her and her family here on the weekends. Her father has really helped me with some things I needed to do but have been unable to do. I look forward to more training time and questions to keep me on my toes, or even keep me off the cart and running to get my body in shape after so many recent injuries have taken me down.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Sat Nov 4 Longer and more runs

This morning I ran Cosmos-Kenai, Bear-Yeti, Sasha-Sloppy Joe, Ulric-Dancer. I ran them 7.5 miles this morning and would get just about to my driveway each time then turn them around and run them back the other direction. Cosmos became confused and would not move. I had to go up and walk him till he realized what I wanted him to do. They looked good for the whole run. I came home fed them and checked them out. After working in the kennels and in the van to ready it for our adventure next weekend I took the dogs out running again. Tonight they ran 5 miles. It was funny to watch them as I hooked them up tonight. They all sat quiet and motionless as I hooked each of them up. When I got down to hooking up the last wheel dog they made just a little noise. Then when I pulled the release they bolted up the drive way at top speed. I rode the brake all the way up and out the driveway. They acted like they had eaten their Wheaties and had lots of energy. They worked together as a team and pulled well. Bear, Sasha, Ulric all wanted to run off and chase other dogs at a place where we pass other dogs. I finally had to stop the team and bite Sasha to get her back to where we could run. When we made the U-turn and came back by the dogs and Sasha again move slightly towards them I called her name and she looked back forward. We had a good run. The moon is just about full and made for a beautiful night. Oh, near the start of the run going into the first saddle of hills Cosmos stopped to take a dump and the rest of the team ran right up on him. I never saw his poop. When we got home I noticed his left rear foot was bleeding slightly. I took care of it and he was not limping. I will put a bootie on him tomorrow.

Thursday Nov 2, Friday Nov 3

I ran Cosmos-Kenai, Bear-Yeti, Sasha-Sloppy Joe, Ulric-Dancer. I placed booties on Sloppy Joe's front feet and he did well. Everyone is looking good. I ran them 2.5 miles on Thur. then 5 miles on Friday.

Tuesday Oct 31

I had to work late so I did not get to run the dogs. So I spent time playing with them. After I had fed everyone I was going around and playing with the dogs. When I got to the five 10 month old puppies (Bell, Scarlet, Skeeter, Miyatuk, Cooter) I was sitting on the ground playing with them and Miyatuk jumped up on my side and scratched my ear. It hurt and burned but I figured it was only a scratch. I continued on with my chores and playing with doggies. When I got to washing dishes I washed my hands and checked my ear and pulled my hand back with a blob of blood and fatty tissue, like little white BB's. I placed my finger back up on the back of the ear and felt a nice gap in the ear that my finger could go into. After washing dishes and cleaning up I thought about going to the ER but this was Halloween night and I figured I had a minor injury so I would be there all night. I walked to my neighbor's to have them look at it when she first looked she said it looked fine. After washing it with peroxide and pulling the ear back she gasped and said you need stitches there is a big gap. So I came home and washed it with more peroxide and a Q-tip and put a piece of tape on the ear to hold it to the head. I sat down and watched a movie then went to bed and slept on that side to keep the ear against the head. I woke up and found no blood on the pillow but still called a doctor to get an appointment. I finally got one at 3 pm. He told me I had done a good job of cleaning it and getting it back together. He added some glue and taped it together as I had and gave me some antibiotics. So I now know why I need to trim puppy nails.

Monday Oct 30

Monday Oct. 30 I ran the team over the weekend and on Sunday Fayth stood on the back of the cart with me and rode. Since Toshiba and Sakari were tired and hurt I chose to run a different team. Cosmos-Kenai, Bear-Yeti, Sasha-Sloppy Joe, Ulric-Dancer. This was Sloppy Joe's first run. I kept the team slow down the hills so I would not blow all their energy on the downhills. This helped me to watch Sloppy Joe. He ran well and had a nice gate and energy level. When I got home as usualy I checked everyone's feet and Sloppy Joe had scraped both front pads so I gave him some ointment and let him rest.