SC Dogsled Team Training Journal
dogsledding, dryland, carting, dog training, dog behavior
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
I rode around looking at the trail that I had not been down and taking photos of the snow scenes. The photos are from the top of Whitetop Mtn. The puppy is the baby girl of my wheel dog Ulric. She now lives near Charlotte and she and her family came up to see us run this weekend.
When I left the area and drove home down I-26 from Bristol, Tn to Asheville, NC I ran into heavy snow that night. There was somewhere between 3-4 inchs of snow on the road and the snow was falling so heavy that you could hardly see yet I was able to see well enough (due to my many experiences of driving in snow) that I kept driving at 45-50 mph and I passed all the cars that were in the far right lane doing 20-25 mph. I hit the brakes a few times to test the snow for ice and found it to only be snow so I kept going.
Monday, January 29, 2007
Serum Run Jan 27, 07
This weekend we were privileged to take part in the 1925 Alaska Memorial Serum Run on the Virginia Creeper Trail from Abingdon, VA to Damascus, VA. Our team of 10 dogs ran the 7 miles from Alvarado to Damascus. Wow! What a turn out of people interested in dogsledding. The event was organized by Marcia from Siberian Husky Assist in Bristol, Va. We had wonderful accommodations at the Iron Horse Campground just outside of Damascus, VA Donald and his staff were very friendly to us with all the dogs. I still want to get back there and give Donald and his wife Brenda a dogsled ride. Reporters were from so many places that I lost count. We even had a bicyclist ride beside us down the trail. My thanks go to him for helping to clear the cow out of the trail as the team went by. The cow incident was being watched by the mountain Empire Amateur Radio Society from Abingdon, VA on their GPS unit and by many of their members with their radios keeping track of the movement of the serum. I heard that they said my team sped up then stopped, then sped up again. This was as they went after the cow, then I stopped them, then as the cow decided to take off running down the trail. Here is where the man on the bicycle was so helpful at keeping the dogs and cow separated. Luckily the lead dogs only wanted to go by the cow. The Ham radio club was most helpful at keeping all of us updated on the location of the serum so we could be ready with the dogs as the serum arrived. As we approached Iron Horse I was amazed to see the crowd of people standing on the trail. Wow! We came up and had a vet check by DVM Matthew Garret there across from the Iron Horse Campground. From there we took off in a parade of mushers on carts and bikes and scooters and the like for the run to Damascus. Lucky for me I had my friend Lindsey riding with me in the run and she was able to help me with the team. At one point near Damascus the leaders (who I believed were thirsty) jumped down a steep embankment and dove into the river. I saw the leaders being carried by the current until the gangline stopped them. Before I could say anything Lindsey was off the cart and down the hill pulling dogs out of the water and trying to get them back up the bank. Dogs were tangled in a mess of ganglines so she started unclipping them and moving them up the hill. With a lot of effort and getting muddy and wet Lindsey and others who helped the team get back up were finally successful at bringing the team back on the trail. (I just found out that a few days earlier this was the exact location where they found the body of a man in the river and took him out). I wonder what the dogs were doing. As we neared Damascus cars were stopped on both sides of the road and cleared us a path to cross the road as we headed into Damascus Park. Once in the park we weaved through a trail created by people standing and watching the dogs. It was incredible. The most incredible thing I witnessed this weekend was Fayth and her 8 month old puppy Dominic. Before the event I told Fayth that when I got to Iron Horse I would give her one of my lead dogs and she could use him to follow us to Damascus. When we arrived at Iron Horse there were so many people and dog teams lined up on the trail that I did not get to her. When I ran past Fayth and the 4 dog team that was on drop chains with out harnesses on and without booties on my stomach sank. I was trying to think of a way to turn around and help her, but I was caught in the current of dogteams moving toward Damascus. However, my team “going for a swim” was a blessing (time wise). In the time it took us to get the dogs out of the water and back on the trail Fayth had harnessed and bootied up the dogs and started them running to catch up by herself. This was the first time she had to do any of this all on her own. Then even more amazing was that in lead she had her own dog, Dominic, whom she had been training with just a leash and running him around the yard teaching him commands. Dominic stood up to the challenge of leading a team of adult dogs (that were only their second time in harness) and leading them down the trail and catching up to us as we entered Damascus. I’m sure for Fayth that this was a thrilling moment. It was thrilling for me. I was excited to see the courage it took for Fayth to harness up the new dogs (only second time running in harness) to a new cart (that her father and I had just built over the past several weekends) and place a puppy in lead (that she had trained) and take off down the trail only to find out that her training had paid off and the puppy (Dominic) took control of the team as he jerked his teammate in the correct direction and took commands from Fayth. Kudos to Fayth and Dominic for rising to the great challenges set before them and overcoming them without any help. This has really shown me that Fayth is willing to do what it takes to take on the challenges of going for the Iditarod. I’m just happy to be a part of being with her to see her advance through each of these steps to the goal. I will post a few photos here.
Friday, January 19, 2007
What do I do when I'm not running and training dogs? Well I make the gear that it takes to train and run the dogs. :) Booties, harnesses, ganglines, leashes, collars, doggie jacket (to cool and to warm), my mittens, hats, wrist warmers, face mask, neck gators. I make most all of my own gear so I will know how to repair it on the trail or so I can modify it to work better for me. I even have to get the serum ready and labeled for the Serum Run. Of course the "Serum" bottles came from the many vaccines that I give the dogs. (washed out and filled with colored water of course). Here are a few photos of what I do.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
What We Have Been Doing in the Heat
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Jan 1 06 Creeper Trail
Today we ran the dogs 16 miles. My friend Lindsey and I rode the cart this time. We did some switching up of the leaders to see what combos were going to work best. We started with Cosmos and Kenai then went to Cosmos and Bear then Cosmos and Tucker. Cosmos likes to run the left side of the trail and Tucker wanted to run on the right side of the trail so the neck line was tighter than the tug line so before a fight broke out I moved Cosmos back and up Bear up with Tucker. She ran fine then started slacking off so I moved Kenai up with Tucker when we started off I was about thrown off by the sudden start. All the dogs had tight tugs. Even Cosmos was working hard. Normally Cosmos will sit down and refuse to run in I put another dog in lead. Cosmos seemed ok with having Tucker in lead. Tucker did well and listened to commands. On the way back down I gave him a gee and he immediatly jumped gee into a pool of water (where I normally water the dogs) and he immediatly jumped back haw out of the water. The team went for a swim but Tucker chose to stand on the side and drink. As we came back down through the town of Damascus and had road crossing Tucker took commands well and the team was working well. I was impressed with Cosmos working with the team in a different position.
When we got back we fed and watered the dogs and took off on Lindsey's horses. I was wearing nylon pants due to the wind and mud from the previous days rain so as I rode bare back on the horse I was sliding all over. I won't try wearing nylon pants again. Lindsey was gracious at not laughing at me too much.
Dec 31, 06
Today we ran the dogs 9 miles. I was giving a local family I met on the trail a ride. They looked like they had fun doing it. I hope they will have a chance to come back and ride again. We all enjoyed having them aboard.
Dec 30, 06 Sights and Break Time
Here are some of the sights that one can see along the Creeper Trial. Also photos of the dogs taking a break after running 14 miles up from Damascus. We still have the 14 miles back. The dogs did great although Caleb was getting tired and had to be bagged in the cart (I let him ride in the bag of the cart). The dogs are snacking on steak. They get to eat a lot of red meat while they are running and training. I'm still eating ramen noodles and anything someone gives me. :)