This is a much belated blog about our second sled outing with our dogs which occured a few weeks ago. This sled trip was a little more of a fiasco than the first. Once again Nicki was kind to lend us a sled and a dog. At first she was going to give us two of her dogs but after a conversation with another musher we took a different pair. So we put Carmel and Cashew (the two from the other musher) in the lead, Tensaw (our pup) next in the traces, then Blue and Kona in the wheel. With me in the sled and Cobey driving the team we took off. Right off the bat, it was crazy and Carmel and Cashew obviously didn't want to lead with Tensaw the terror behind them. So Tensaw got a crack at the lead with Raven (Nicki's dog), who was just added to the team. In this case, Tensaw was only interested in Raven, and Carmel and Cashew just wanted to return to their team. After a few minutes of confusion and tangles, Cobey removed Carmel and Cashew from the traces and sent me off with Raven in the lead, Tensaw second in the traces and Kona and Blue at the wheel.
Things went well until we passed by a man with his small ankle biter dog (that I'm sure the Huskies thought was a cat). The dogs were doing well and ignoring it until Raven make a quick turn towards the dog. By the time I was off the sled and to her she had the dog by the throat and had picked it up off the ground. I got her to release it and it took off running down the trail (the man eventually caught his dog before the other two sled teams came up the trail). After that whole mess, I got the dogs lined out and we continued on. We probably made it about 2 -2.25 miles up the trail before I decided our dogs had had enough pulling (after all they are new to it and need to be conditioned to this type of running/work). The way back was all down hill and we passed by the man with his dog, whom I apologized to and who was very understanding of the whole ordeal. At one point during the run after we turned around and Nicki was still headed up the trail with her team, I switched Raven and Kona in the traces because Raven wasn't interested in leading. Kona did an amazing job! She is a REALLY hard worker, aims to please and does what she's asked...which I now realize makes her our best candidate for lead dog of the three. And after that day, I'd say she'd do a pretty good job. Blue also worked really hard. You could tell she was sore and would fall back in the traces but then would surge forward and pull for a bit before falling behind again and continuing the cycle. She worked hard but you could tell she was either tired or her hip was sore.
This was another great mushing adventure and we're getting pretty serious about it. We want to get a few more dogs, all Siberians, and especially a trained lead dog, Right now we're putting those plans on hold until next fall/winter season because Cobey is moving to Alaska for seasonal work this spring through fall. But we'll keep you posted on any new advances in our sled team.