Monday, January 31, 2011
…until the team catches her, and then we’ll have to find a new leader.
Monday, January 24, 2011
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Saturday the trail was getting light rain but still in good condition and I decided to run Blue which, in retrospect, was not the best decision. Halfway she was showing her age and was dragging the team back. I considered throwing her in the sled but, because I’ve never put any of them in the sled before, I decided we’d hobble in; it was not the time to test it out. We dropped Blue the next day and ran only Okanogan, Kona and Tensaw. It was raining when we left home and it was raining even harder when we arrived at the race start. All mushers were soaked through before the races began. The race was still on but, because the trail conditions were poor and extremely slow, the mid-distances races were dropped down in mileage. Since we were the slowest team Saturday, as I expected, we went out first in our class. Tensaw did better in the rain that I thought he would but Kona did not like it one bit and shook off every ten steps.
About 200 meters after the turnaround, I came upon three other teams in my class and had near tangles with each of them, no thanks to Tensaw, so I decided to pull the team aside and let them pass, which they most certainly were going to be doing in short order. It was a nice idea in theory except that once I started the team up after the other three passed (two of which were fellow Siberian teams) my dogs found new motivation and stuck right with them. I had to continue to brake the dogs until we made nomad’s land. At this point it was a mess of passing and re-passing, for each time a team would take the lead they would find no more dogs in front of them and they’d slow down prompting another team to pass and run into the same issue. The finish for the three Siberian teams was a photo finish with Deb’s team crossing first. I had an immense amount of fun with Deb and her daughter Sierra who made the trip all the way from Utah, and another young musher and his mom from Potomac, MT. I hope to see them in the future and wish them all the best on their season. Our team, as was predicted by me from the start, won the Red Lantern award (the last team). Despite the weather the Darby Dog Derby was a success. I hope the other mushers felt the same, spread the word and return next year.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Thursday, January 6, 2011
From the moment we put her in harness ‘til the moment we take it off, Kona gives 110%, consistently. When a run is not going smoothly, Kona’s name is rarely called (except when followed by a "good dog"). Sadly, she is often forgotten because, like is said of Barq, you can just put her into the team and forget about her. Usually I’m too busy wondering what Tensaw is distracted by or trying to get Okanogan to ‘gee’ instead of ‘haw.’ Unfortunately, I shouldn’t forget about her, and should instead focus on her, praise her more and let her teach our dogs good behavior in and out of harness. This is what I intend to do. Kona deserves more recognition and this is why I wrote a special post just about her, so everyone could know what an exceptional dog she is.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Monday, January 3, 2011
In mid-December we packed up the truck and headed to Pray, MT to pick up our new dogs, Okanogan and Paluk. The roads were clear and we pounded out the drive, arriving at the Chico Hot Springs Resort, headquarters of the Absaroka Dogsled Treks, by late afternoon. There we met Mark Nardin and he led us to his home and kennel. Mark and Sharon have a well run outfitting business with some very talented dogs (mostly Siberian husky). He led us over to Okanogan and Paluk. Paluk is full Anadyr Siberian husky, 6 years old, noisy and very friendly. Okanogan is an Omar/Ramro Siberian husky, 5 years old, and extremely timid but Mark claimed she is a different dog in harness (and boy was he right). After some introductions, questions and discussions we definitively decided to purchase the dogs and were soon headed back down the road. That night we stayed at a hotel in Bozeman. Letting the dogs out to do their business was a loud endeavor that, I’m sure, caused many eyes to peer out windows; though I avoided checking this notion because ‘if I can’t see it, it isn’t there’.
We are now home forcing this chorus upon our new neighbors. We try to keep them quiet the best we can but sometimes you just can’t stop an eager dog from talking/howling when it’s feeding time. Nor can you stop them when you’re not at home. Though like the old saying (rephrased), “If a husky howls in the kennel and you’re not around, does it make a sound?”
For the inaugural run we went to our old familiar trail, the Nez Perce Road up the West Fork of the Bitterroot NF. In that way, at least the trail was familiar for Tensaw, Kona and I, hopefully making it the easiest place for the new dogs to adjust. The run went really well. We only went 3 miles, too short for the new girls but we did not want to overrun Kona and Saw, who are not in as good of shape. Okanogan turned our team of 4 around with 2 simple commands. “Okanogan Haw” followed by “Come Haw.” I was so impressed I decided then and there my future team will consist of nothing but Okanogan offspring! Paluk on the other hand, while she pulled well, showed no leader qualities on this run. She may need more time to adjust to her new home/team, or she just may not lead for us; only time will tell. Tensaw didn’t have much motivation that day but, like always, Kona pulled hard the entire way.
Since that run Okanogan has struggled to adjust to her new home. She is still nervous and doesn’t have much of an appetite. On runs she will “haw” but not “gee.” I am surprised the more we go out the trail how similar Okanogan and Kona are, which at first I would not have guessed. Okanogan and Kona have similar gaits (same with Tensaw and Paluk) and both are very eager to pull. I look forward to many more runs with these two and the rest of the gang.