A new layer of snow has fallen in the Bitterroot and we decided to once again take our small team of three and mush. We choose to sled Roaring Lion again but this time independently from our group of mushers. Now that we have the required gear for sledding this can easily be accomplished. While we appreciate the mentoring and guidance we receive from members of the Bitterroot Mushers, our dogs get rather distracted by the four legged members of the club. We thought Sunday would be a good chance to take them out to train with fewer distractions. Tensaw was as vocal as usual while he waited impatiently to be put in the traces. Since Blue was up to the task of leading last weekend we put her in lead again. The snow was deeper with tire tracts from the occasional car traveling to the Roaring Lion trailhead, leaving the middle of the road the obviously easier path for the dogs to traverse. Yet, the moment we got the dogs going, the bushes across the deeper snow had a strong attraction. Not long after getting them lined out again we encountered a fellow Siberian Husky owner and her dog, Ginger. They were returning from a skijor trip up the same road. Our dogs have not made the distinction between working and playing and sought to greet Ginger, which was quickly thwarted by Brandi. After pausing to let them pass and, yet again, unsuccessfully attempting to place Kona in the lead, Blue led Cobey and the team up the road.
When Cobey returned, I took the team out for a run. I was super impressed by Blue. She has turned out to be the lead dog I thought she’d be, for not actually being trained to be a lead dog. Impressively, she kept a straight course, keeping the pace well, never leaving slack in the line, and even, when the other two veered off the road to smell and pee on a rock, she kept focus down the road, attempting to straighten the others out. Tensaw and Kona definitely pull harder than Blue but only she so far has shown capable of leading the team.
While attempts keep being made for Kona to run lead, I think wheel is perfect for her. She seems to get freaked out in the front and likes having another dog to run next to. Compared with the other two, she has the most heart and pulls hard. Tensaw has the potential to be an excellent sled dog but he needs to learn how to untangle himself, or better yet, avoid getting tangled to begin with, and to focus on the task at hand, running, not sniffing and chasing critters. Still, our team is finally coming together, and for what it consists of now, a few inexperienced companion dogs, I’m mighty impressed.