Monday, November 23, 2009

Saturday's Run

On Saturday we travelled to a place known as the Geophysical site north of Newport.  In winter this area is a cross country ski area.  Other times of year the trails may be used for hiking, biking, or well dog training!  Since the area is well drained and a thin layer of ice and snow blankets many of our other trails we decided to try this one.  The parking lot looked great.  We went over and checked out the trail map again to decide upon our route.  We chose the outer loop which has some somewhat challenging short steep hills for the dogs.  Many of our runs to date have been relatively flat.

After getting the dogs "dressed" in their harnesses and the cart outfitted with lines, I took off.  When I did so, I did without knowing the adventure that lay before us.  Within a mile or so we can to our first downed tree across the trail.  It was small and easy to get around.  We had come to several trail intersections by now and I was working with my leaders, Cooper and Rose on gee and haw commands.  Cooper is still getting used to my voice and how I give commands.  I don't think Rose really has learned hers yet.  They are definitely learning though!  After the small tree, somewhere before we reached the mile point, we came across our first large log.   I did not measure it, but it was at least 12 inches in diameter.  I asked the dogs to go ahead and they all hopped over and then stopped when I asked them to.  Now I had to get the cart over and get on it before the dogs took off.  Normally I have my dirt brake to keep the dogs from taking off with the cart while we are stopped but this strategy would not work here.  Sometimes my dogs are very patient and will wait for me to call them up after they have stopped.  This time however they were not patient and though I told them to "whoa" they were already starting to move.  So I grabbed the handlebars, and jumped on the cart as it went by.  This brought back some not so fond memories of homemade carts (we called them "death traps") and runs gone by in Flagstaff.  At the mile mark we reached the first short steep hill and fortunately at this point Bob showed up.  I say fortunately because if he passed us on the hill my team could hopefully chase.  Bob's team was not so inclined to race up the hill either.  Between the steepness and the trail surface, which was lumpy grass, we both had to get off and give our dogs some assistance.  That or wait a very long time before the dogs might decide that was the only option!

Several logs and a couple more hills later, we both arrived back at the truck and the dogs received their well deserved meat soup and the special treats, frozen hotdogs!!  I have not given the dogs hotdogs before but on a email discussion list I am on some people said that their dogs really like them as an after run or trail snack.  Upon the first sniffs the dogs looked doubtful, then they took the "dogs" in the mouths and their demeanor changed.  Tails started wagging and everyone was looking for their second hotdog!  It is definitely a winner!

Second run I took out the rest of the dogs, a second 6 dog team.  I had a new dog with me this run, named McGee.  McGee is just over a year old now and just being exposed to work in harness.  His breeder had started to work with him to ensure that he would be the kind of dog that would work out here.  So far I am very pleased.  This day he ran at wheel next to my boy Pepper. Pepper is really sweet boy, not a mean bone in his body.  He does have one bad habit I have to work on in races and that is trying to visit.  He thinks everyone is his playmate....errr not so buddy.  Otherwise Pepper is very steady in harness, his tug is always tight and he has a calm demeanor that I like.  I like a dog that knows its job, takes off with joy and energy but is not crazy to go.  Some people do like their teams to be crazy to go, lots of leaping, lunging, and jumping in harness.  It is just a preference really.  For some this is a sign of their team's absolute joy in running.  Quieting them is stifling their behavior.    At any rate McGee did a great job as a wheel dog.  I really felt the power through the gangline on this second team, a little more so than the first team.  That was a nice feeling. 

As this team drank their meat soup and later devoured their frozen hot dogs, Bob, I and good friend Luanne caught up with one another over cups of coffee. The weather had held for both of our runs, temperatures were very nice for training (certainly for people).  In spite of the obstacles we "lived" to train another day and definitely to tell stories (tall tales perhaps?) about our runs today.  So we and our dogs will look forward to more adventures ahead.  It is surely through those that we learn the most!

No comments: