Today we put the dogs to the true test...can they run in the traces pulling a sled. The answer is YES! We met with the Bitterroot mushing "club" in the West Fork of the Bitterroot up Nez Perce. This was a first for the dogs and for us, as mushers. We thought Nicki was just going to put our dogs in the traces with her dogs...but in reality intended to loan us a sled and her lead dog J.C. and we'd run the dogs. So after lots of preparation setting up the gangline, snow hook and sled we harnessed the dogs and got them in the traces. J.C. in the front, Blue in the middle and Kona and Tensaw as the wheel dogs.
We were ready for just pure chaos; the dogs trying to run every which way except for forward, but with such a good lead dog as J.C. in the front they quickly fell into line and just pulled. I took them out first and Cobey brought them back in. It was a nice, easy, gradual uphill and the snow had been packed down some by snowmobilers. It was a beautiful sight seeing them run and they impressed us and the other mushers how quickly they picked up on it. Nicki told us many times she sees this with Siberian huskies because they are bred to do this sort of thing.
All did exceptionally well but Kona was the champ of the day! She pulled hard the whole time. When she'd get tangled in the line she would untangle herself. Tensaw on the other hand does not know how to untangle himself. He got tangled many times but kept truckin' along like nothing was wrong. While they all pulled well at the beginning you could tell Blue was getting worn out by the end and wasn't doing her share of the work. Tensaw had some intenstinal distress during the sledding and caused a little bit of chaos when he stopped numerous times trying to relieve himself. The positions we put them in the traces seemed to work out perfectly for them.
All mushers and dogs enjoyed the time immensely. This will definitely not be the last time we take the dogs out sledding...we're hooked!
Brandi and Cobey