Sunday, October 11, 2009

Second Training Run, October 11

Fall seems in full force now as temperatures dropped precipitously after an arctic weather system swept south and settled into northern Idaho. Our high temperatures have been in the low forties and at night they have plumeted to the low twenties. The dogs are full of energy.

This morning we loaded up the teams and headed out north of Blanchard to run with friends from another friend's property. The trail network is extensive and includes many small roads that wind through the woods, it's training heaven. We arrived at around 9:00, it had been 7 degrees there this morning. It was still brisk and cold.

We unloaded our first teams and with the cold temperatures and other dogs, their excitement was tangible. Everyone was barking, tails wagging eagerly, eyes following me with anticipation as the lines come out, the harnesses laid next to each dog. I took my "boys" team out first once again. This time both Abby and Cooper were running with us (so it was really the sammy boys team with Abby and Cooper ;). Abby and Cooper definitely enjoy running together. Abby is a 10 year old alaskan husky but she loves to go. Samoyeds always run better in the cold, with their thick coats the colder the better. This morning was no different.

It was a beautiful morning to be out, crisp cold temperatures stunning beautiful blue skies, trees turning gold. About a mile and a half into the run Bob came up behind me with his scooter team of Xena and Cody. As they passed my team digs in and the speed and power go up several notches. The enthusiasm and power of this six dog team is noticeable today in the cold temperatures compared to our first run. Two miles out we turn left and up onto some windy trails through the woods. Bob's scooter team refused a turn and we pass at least temporarily for a windy run through the woods with his team on our wheels. Partway through this stretch there is a short steep hill and I stop my team before heading up it to give them a breather and let their enthusiasm build for running the hill. Bob's team passes, perfect! This is just what we needed for that extra effort to climb the hill. Still it is early season though and about 2/3 of the way up, their momentum slows and we pause for another quick break to catch our breath. After a few moments, Abby and Cooper are ready to go and with my "are you ready" command they are straining to climb the hill. As we crest the top of the hill the trail plunges around a shady bend and down through the trees. At the bottom of the hill we turn left again and take some winding trails and some gee and haw practice. Then we come out on the main road again and turn right and head back to the truck. I am impressed the sams are still running with great enthusiasm, they are enjoying the cold. Skye put in an awesome performance at point. That boy really loves to go and he was pushing the entire run. Blizzard also put in a stellar run, my big powerful wheeler. Once back at the truck, raw meat with water (mmmmm), canned food with water for a few, the team looks very satisfied.

The second team to go out is my girls team, now with four girls in heat. Better to get this out of the way at once I guess than spread it out over two months. Rose and Starr take the lead, Nova with her daughter Saffron at point, and Willow and Kes are at wheel. Our take off today is not quite as powerful as on our first run last week. I don't know if this is because their hormones have them a little distracted or something else. However, after about a quarter mile down the trail the whole team kicks their speed up a notch. Teams do this sometimes and it is never quite clear what they have detected. Is it an animal they smell off in the woods, something about the trail, something they hear? It is hard to know. The team is doing really well until all of a sudden both leaders dash off the trail into the dense thicket of trees along the side. I didn't see a bird or squirrel but there must be one. My "onby" and "leave it" commands fall on deaf ears. These girls don't seem to miss a single possible prey item! I stop, set my dirt brake, and go up to line out my leaders, now tangled with each other from their brief adventure. As I line them out I see Bob with his "A" team racing up behind me. They fly by us literally. That definitely gets Rose and Starr's attention and we are off and running again.

We keep them in sight for awhile but Bob's team is fast and my girls team is smaller and not as powerful as my first team. He slowly draws away. I don't know if my first team could stay on this powerful scooter teams wheels. Still the girls are doing well, they are clearly happy and working. One girl in particular is most enjoying herself, perhaps a bit at the expense of the rest of us. This is Nova. Nova is a little bit of a sightseer sometimes. She loves to go and she can run as fast as the wind, but of all my girls; Nova is my biggest hunter. One day I was out and she was in the middle of the team somewhere. We were moving along, the team was running very smoothly, everything had gone according to "plan". Then we pass a dead grouse that was off to the side of the trail (by a few feet). I missed it. The leaders missed it. The point dogs missed it. Nova did NOT miss it. She leaped off the trail, pounced, coming up to my surprise with grouse in mouth. Of course at this point, EVERYONE on the team knew what was up!!!! I don't think Nova has ever forgotten that run and she is always on the lookout for a possible treat....At any rate, she was in rare form today and definitely enjoyed herself.

As we reached the turnaround point of this run and head back to the truck the girls speed up. Are they thinking about their meat broth? Or were they thinking about the squirrel they saw back along the trail? I am not sure but something has peaked their interest. This increased speed lasts for a while and then they slow down. It is time to take a breather. It is a little warmer than the first run. About half way back along this stretch of trail, which parallels the road I came out on, I turned into the woods to the give my leaders some practice with turn commands. we do a small loop on a windy woodsy trail all with right turns. It is preferable when practicing to try and work on each turn separately. This loop worked very well for that.

As we approach the truck the girls anticipate the finish. Everyone is working hard. Seeing the team working as a team always puts a big smile on my face. Starr has especially impressed me on this run, particularly during the last stretch where she was working incredibly hard. I smile once again as we pull up behind the trailer. We have finished another adventure together and until the next run, we will savor its memories.

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