Saturday, February 11, 2012

Yea, go get my dogs!

Wednesday, as I was headed out the door to get the dogs ready for a run, Keegan came running up to me saying "Shoes on! outside!" He wanted to help me get set up, so we put his shoes on and he joined me outside. When I got the cart out he wanted to ride it down the driveway. This is something he really enjoys and had a big grin on his face. When we got to the end where I hook up the team he exclaimed "Again!" I said, we need to set up the gangline and get dogs. When I was ready to head back to get dogs, I asked Keegan if he was coming with and he gave me a gesture as if to say "go get my dogs, I'll wait here!" I could see the beginning of trouble brewing. I finally coaxed him into joining me and we got dogs ready. By the time we started hooking dogs into the gangline, Cobey had joined us. Keegan had this look in his eyes, like "Yes! WE'RE going to run dogs!" When I said bye and hopped on the cart, tears began to flow! He didn't get to go. The cart is too dangerous to let him ride along at this age and it hurt my heart to leave him. He's been hooked! YES!

The run was less than smooth, as Okie, yet again, decided to turn us around; this time even earlier than usual, in a place we've never turned around before. She would not go forward, no matter how many times guided her back around. So, reluctantly, I placed her in swing (worrying about what this would do to her confidence and morale, I guess time will tell) and had Kona lead. She was doing good but not keeping the pace, as Okie and Isis kept running up on her. I needed a dog with lots of drive to run up front with her, so Tank got his first shot at lead. THEY DID GREAT! Kona listened to my commands, keeping the team on track, and Tank held/pushed the pace. It was a great run with those two; I was very proud! Good dogs!

Saturday, we watched the ceremonial start for the Race to the Sky. It was most exciting because we got to meet Blake Freking and his dogs from Manitou Crossing Kennels in Minnesota. They are our favorite kennel that we follow and were EXTREMELY excited to see them in person! All, musher and dogs, exceeded our best expectations! Great team! We wish them well on the trail, may they have a fun and fast run!




Sunday, February 5, 2012

Yukon Quest

Cobey and I made our lists last week for our predicted top 5 finishers of the Yukon Quest. We're following along closely, we'll see how close we are. My Iditarod top 10 list last year was way off. Obviously some on the list are favorites that we had to add just cause. Hope they do that well, it'd be awesome!

1 Brent Sass
2 Allen Moore
3 Lance Mackey
4 Mike Ellis
5 Trent Herbst

1 Jake Berkowitz
2 Hugh Neff
3 Lance Mackey
4 Brent Sass
5 Michael Teplin

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Good Ol Trusty Kona!

Today the team and I joined Annalisa and her dogs for a run up Skalkaho. I loaned her our lead dog Okanogan and, the usual, powerhouse Tank. That left me with 5 crazy dogs to decide where to put into the gangline. I started with Paluk and Kona in lead (as Paluk knows commands), Isis in team by herself, and Tensaw and Shilah in wheel. Paluk quickly again proved to me she's not about speed but power as she was dragging. I slid her back with Isis and left my trust in Kona. Oh boy she did not disappoint, she did fantastic! Though she had trouble at the turn around, she wanted to keep going. I kept helping her turn the team and when I'd give her the command to go she'd try and swing the team back up the trail. Here was my mistake, I switched the line up that was working for me and we had a not so smooth run back down before I finally threw Kona back in lead! We'll be bumping up the mileage each week in preparation for the Stanley race!

Kona leading the team! GOOD DOG!

Still going!

Annalisa and her team when when we met on the trail.

About to head back out!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Who to pick

I am always very concerned about the health of our dogs. They’re very hardy dogs and rarely do we have physical health problems to worry about so I mainly am concerned on a day to day basis about their mental health. I try to keep them happy and fit and in the case of the Siberian husky (heck, really all animals, including us!) those two go hand in hand! But just running the dogs isn’t enough. They’re social and need free time and lots of human interaction. I’ll admit with both Cobey and I having full time jobs, a 2 year old son and another on the way, they probably don’t get the full attention they need, but we try! A big concern of mine is Paluk and Okie. Last year we bought them from a dog sled adventure outfitting kennel. The only time they were off their chains was when they were running in harness. We don’t want to run our kennel like that and so we’ve been letting them off the chains when we’re home and can keep a close eye on them. (….because Paluk got the nickname (about this time last year) of Ninja Dog because of an amazing skill she has. She can scale a 6 foot fence in seconds silently. We were standing a mere 3 feet away from the fence when she went trotting by). I believe this really helps them, it has done a lot for Okie who was very timid when we got her, but has opened up a lot in the last year. She still has a ways to go, though.

Last night, I had a very difficult time when choosing dogs for the run. I will not run more than 5 dogs with my cart (even then, that might be one too many). I originally had Okie, Paluk and Shilah as definites but was having difficulty deciding between Kona, Isis and Tensaw. Many factors kept bumping dogs on and off the team in my “mental line-up.” The biggest factor is we’re bumping up training so that by early March they can do a two-day 10mile/day race and I want all the dogs to be evenly conditioned for pulling. I almost always take Okie and Paluk because they’re on the chains so much but both had already had their fair share of runs early in the week. So, sadly, I had to bump Paluk off the run last night, keeping Okie for lead.

So the team was Okie, Kona, Isis, Shilah and Tensaw. We were flying; having a great run…until “the spot.” From our house there is only one safe almost car free run. This run is an out and back run but has the option to be a loop or have another ½ mile dog leg added on but that involves a lot of road running or dangerous intersections. This is not an option at the end of the day when everyone is coming home from work or it is dark, as in the early winter. So our early season runs are the out and back run that involves the same turn around. My BIG mistake is doing this over and over and over. Okie has gotten so in the rut of turning around at the spot that I can NOT get her to run past it. Last night, I was determined to get her past it. I put the brake on the cart and joined Okie in lead, grabbing one lead tug line; I slowly help Okie lead the team past “the spot” and onto the dog leg. Once past it she was fine and the run proceeded at the fast pace! I think I will have to help her past that spot for a few more runs and we’ll see if that helps.



A little blurry, that's how fast they were going ;)