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.