Tuesday, October 9, 2018

A near tragedy turned miracle

Last Sunday the team and I, with our friend Sonya and her huskies, went up to the Lubrecht Forest (where we are hosting our first dryland race on in November) for a training run on the trails. After we were going to make the signs for the race.

My team had never run the trails before. The plan was, I was to run a 4-dog team followed by a canicross with Buck. Sonya was going to bikejor with Flier and her dog, Kaya, then a bikejor parade of the seniors, Tensaw and her dog, Sepp.

Sonya took off with Kaya and Flier. We gave them a few minutes head start. Then I hooked up Whip and Jig (in lead) and Isis and Buzz (in wheel). When I released the snub-line, it caught. The dogs had gotten a few feet of momentum before the cart abruptly stopped. Unfortunately, my aging bungee could not take the strain and it tore. To my horror, my 4 dogs took off without me. That was the most helpless feeling I've ever felt before.

Luckily, Sonya had her phone and we surprisingly had reception (we never had before). I called Sonya, she immediately turned back but did not come across the team. I took the truck and trailer up the trail, luckily the trails are roads, and I could do so. I had no idea what trail they would have traveled up. I drove the main loop road backwards hoping to run across them, they did not take that road but as I was driving that road back toward the start, the team came running down a road above which met up with the road I was on. It had been an hour and somehow they had gotten turned around (as far as I knew, the road they were on was not a loop). Miraculously, the team had not tangled but it was down to 3 dogs; Isis was missing. I thought the worst.

My three dogs noticed me and slowed but did not stop. They still wanted to run, so I drove behind them and gave commands to where I wanted them to go. Sonya was at the main intersection at the beginning and they were headed that way. Almost back to the intersection, I came head on with another truck so I lost contact with the dogs but I trusted Sonya would get them (and she did). I spoke with the passengers, informing them I was still looking for one dog and giving them my number.

After meeting up with Sonya, checking over the dogs, getting them watered and put away, I received a call that Isis had been found....ALIVE! They brought my sweet Isis down to me.

I am SO thankful. As I watched the team run away from me, I thought I would never see them again. I was most worried about Isis, she is noticeably slower than the other three. I didn't think she would be able to stay with them for long. Isis is still sore, a few of her pads blistered/wore and her muscles were worked harder than they had in a while, but she is mending.

Sonya and I decided, since Isis looked really worked, to abandon the second run, and head back to Sonya's house, just in case one of the dogs needed immediate medical attention. At Sonya's, the dogs relaxed and played in the yard while Sonya and I made signs. While the paint dried we did our canicross and senior parade. In the end, the day turned out pretty nice and the dogs had a good day (other than poor Isis being so sore). From losing the dogs onward, the day couldn't have gone any better. I was so happy to have all the dogs back.

I have learned from my mistakes and all my old lines have been culled from my equipment. Only my best lines will be used from here on out. I owe it to my dogs.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Fall Season Line-up

Now that the fall temperatures are consistently cool for training it's time to talk about races!

I have been training all year long and am ready for a race or two!

We plan to compete in three dryland races around the region this season:
1) Oct 20-21 Run-A-Way Dryland race in Okotoks, Alberta, Canada (IFSS sanctioned)
2) Nov 3-4 Spokane Dirt Derby in Spokane, Washington
3) Nov 10-11 Western MT Dirt Derby Lubrecht Forest, Grenough, Montana (IFSS sanctioned, and hosted by the club we are members of)

Our racing team is rapidly shrinking, though, due to age. We are currently down to 7 dogs that run regularly (two of them, Tensaw and Isis, were not on my race team last year).

Here is the status on the team:
Buck is my strongest, craziest dog. He also is my canicross dog. So this fall he will not be on my 4-dog cart team. He is the legs of the team.

Whip is a strong, smart, little girl. She is a solid, important member of my 4-dog team. She is the heart of the team.

Jig is another smart, little girl. She also is crucial to my 4-dog team. She is the brains of the team.

Flier is my second strongest dog and also a great canicross dog for small events. He suffers from low thyroid levels and anxiety so he will not be my main canicross dog, a trip to Latvia for Worlds would be too much for him. He is an amazing athlete though, loves to run and is therefore a crucial member of my 4-dog team. At races where I do not run my 4-dog team (like Run-A-Way race, I will just be doing canicross), my mushing friend Sonya will run Flier with her dog Kaya in scooter or bikejoring.

Tensaw is nearly 11 years old and struggles to keep up with the rest of the dogs. He mostly only runs on slow, short training runs. Though, if we just want to round out a team and race, Tensaw has the ability.

Isis has never been fast but is consistent. She likely will be back on the race team this year.

Buzz has decided this season he does not want to run most days. Buzz suffers from low thyroid levels (corrected with medication) as well as seizures and I believe that has taken its toll on him. He will only run on days he wants to.

Tank is our biggest dog and his size is catching up with him. This January he will turn 8 but, he seems to be going on 11. He has arthritis in his back and, though his head and heart still want to run, he cannot do so anymore. He may go out on short training runs or canicrossing but I doubt he'll be competing anymore.

Okanogan is our oldest dog. She is 13 years old and retired quite a few seasons again. She is the mother of Buck, Buzz, Whip and Jig and taught them everything she knows. She was an amazing lead dog and imparted that natural and taught ability on her girls, Jig and Whip.

Looking forward to the racing!!!!!