Friday, December 31, 2004

Pre-run anxeity

I have been going through this. Looking back at my lasy entry it seems kind of disjointed and depressive. It's because I have been a bit discouraged. I had four days off and only ran the dogs one of the days. Today isn't really a day off because I work tonight. I kept putting it off or coming up with excuses until it got dark. This can be a stressful hobby. I was thinking about this as I was running today. I was trying to come up with an analogy. The one I came up with was coaching a sports team of a sport you never played before and none of the players speak english. That's about the best analogy I could come up with.
It's kind of a weird balance you need to have I am finding. You need patience and a calm demeanor also persistence but at the same time lightening quick reflexes and decision making skills. Dogs can die. They can get tangled up and then get in a dogfight and kill each other, they can get tangled up and then drug and strangled to death. There are a lot of very stressful things to worry about. Its physically demanding also. Which I don't mind that part because its nice to be getting back in shape again. But unlike a solo sport, where it is just you and the elements, thuis is a team sport and I am the coach as well as a participant.
The leader problems I have been having have kind of been taking the fun out of it too. The majority of the time I have a major tangle as I am trying to get to my driveway. This is when the dogs are all juiced up with adrenaline and ready to fly. But this is the first turn where the leaders have been deciding to screw up the whole team in order to opt out of the run. Hooking the dogs up is stressful. Most of them are jumping around and screaming and whining wanting to run. It is a highly charged atmosphere. There are also a lot of quick decisions to be made and some last minute preperations to take care of. I usually try to plan out ahead of time who I will run and where but then will often make last minute changes for various reasons.

With this on my mind I was tempted to just take it easy today. But that would mean I ran the dogs once out of five days. So I forced myself to run the dogs. Here is how it went:

Pumpkin was snug inside her house. All the rest of the dogs were jumping around wanting to run including Fir finally walking on all fours again but no where near ready to run yet.
I tugged on Pumpkins chain to pull her out of the house to harness her up and I had to literally pull her out of her house. I don't like seeing this. I like dogs to want to run. But I was stuck.
I hooked her up and chained her to the set of tires I have to keep her in place holding the line out. I hooked up Strider and Ruger in wheel, Doppler and JJ and last of all Jack in lead.
Really Jack is an odd sort of leader. He has to be hooked up last because he is my most unruly dog. The leader is generally the most well behaved well trained dog. Good thing he is one of my favorite dogs or it would be really annoying hooking him up. It is a wrestling match every time just trying to get his harness on. He tried to climb inside my coat or somthing today. Then when I hooked him up he seemed to be catching on and held the line out after I unhooked the tire and walked back the the sled.
Pumpkin decides that she isn't going to run today. So she refuses to keep the line stretched out and the gangline gets all bunched up. Jack decides to turn around and sniff JJ because she hasn't run in a while and I guess he missed her. This is JJ's cue to bail and drag the team back to her dog house. Somehow Strider gets a knot tied around his leg composed of the gangline and three other dogs tugs. Ruger is all turned around and begins snarling curses at Strider because they are all twisted together.

So I took a shot and put Pumpkin away and put JJ up front after I got everything all untangled. I figure a leader that turns around at will and doesn't listen to commands is better than one that won't keep the line stretched out. So true to form she missed the first turn but I wasn't to upset. I pulled them onto the trail but Doppler shot ahead of the leaders. Minor tangle.

Then as we are going down the driveway Jacks tug comes off and he is running with such force he flips around in a circle around JJ. I whoa the team. I get everything all fixed up and then JJ decides to pull her first U-turn of the day. I gave her a sharp slap on the nose. The "positive reinforcement only" thing is out the window. I seemed to have got her attention.

Then she misses the turn onto the trail. Can't for the life of her fathom what "Haw" means. I am starting to have the impression that she is not really a command leader but is a good dog to run next to a command leader, kind of like Jack. That is she WAS a good dog to run up front before she developed this U turn problem.
About this time some ATVers come down the trail as I am untangling the dogs and trying to get them facing the right way. They decide to stop on the middle of the trail and gawk. I wave them past. I am sure they were nice people just interested in seeing a dog team and wanted to chat but now was not the time. I hope they don't think I was too rude but they seemed to wilt slightly when I looked at them. I was not in the best mood at this point.
So we finally get going down the trail and JJ is doing really well and Jack is right along side her running wide open. I have to say, for all the problems I am having, I really do like JJ. She is my type of dog. Tough "village dog" type dog. Totally honest. She is always pulling her butt off even when she is disobeying. Jack seems to be feeding off her energy and is pulling hard as well. Not that he is a slacker, but Pumpkin is kind of a limp noodle at times even when she is running out front and listening to commands. The only time she pulls is on the way back and even then it looks kind of odd with her hybrid saluki type body. JJ runs with her head down legs wide and digs.
I have a loaded sled, loaded with about 150 lbs of salt. We are going uphill in fresh snow for this first mile of the trail. The dogs are all doing great. Strider is running a little better than last time keeping his tug tight at a gallop instead of just running to keep up. I like watching Ruger run too. He is another very honest dog. He looks kind of humorous though for some reason. It think its because he has this cute Teddy Bear look to him but looks really serious when he runs.
Doppler looks good to. He is the super smooth natural athlete of the bunch. Wheras Ruger is very strong and honest and still pretty quick, he has kind of a rolling gait. Doppler's gait is perfect, effortless, everything perfectly in line. He runs best when we are going fast and there are at least five dogs hooked up. Speed motivates him. I tried to take it all in and enjoy the run while things were going well.
We got the place where we cross a road and JJ could not fathom that I wanted to cross the road. She wanted to go "Haw" and follow the bikejoring route we had done in the fall. Once again reinforcing my impression that she is not a command leader but runs on memory. I halted the team and kept saying "on by" What she does is what she often does and that is lunge in harness and scream, to keep going the way she wants to go. At this point I was thinking maybe we can just turn around and make it a 4 miler, JJ is not as well conditioned as the other dogs anyway, because I haven't been running her, eventually she turned the team around on her own. At this point I was too spent to get upset too tired to correct her again.
I decided on the way back I would just relax and enjoy the ride. The weather was nice; not to cold out but not too warm either. The trees were covered with fresh snow. Everything was silent except for the footfalls and panting of the dogs. I thought about how nice it will be when we get to go out on an all day journey in the woods on new trails. I tiried to implant this things in my mind to think about just before the next run.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Best run of year in worst weather.

I had a ten mile run today. It went pretty well. That was the farthest we have gone so far. We did kind of a figure eight pattern on the trails we have been running. I have mixed feelings about how excited to be about this. I still am not really doing what I want to do yet. The goal is to go exploring in the wilderness. Running the same trail over and over again working out kinks is just the lead up to this.
I have kind of a love/hate relationship with Pumpkin still. I guess "hate" is too strong a word. "Love" is too.
Call it a "need/strongly frustrated with" relationship. She has led a 200 mile race before for a top musher. So she knows commands. She still can't seem to get out of the yard half the time and will ignore commands from time to time. Never on the way back though. On the way back she always gets everything 100% right and pulls her butt off to boot. Little details like that frustrate me, when the realization hits that she could do the right thing all the time. I also have no idea what motivates her. She is not at all affectionate. She tolerates being petted. I work on this everyday trying to pet her, but the impression I get is that by letting me pet her she is doing me a favor. She is like "OK. I know that this is about the time you pet me everyday after you pick up poop so I will crouch here and tolerate it"
But I realy do need her because Jack is a yearling and needs to run alongside her and learn. JJ is less reliable and stronger than any other dog on the team so really causes problems, Fir got his leg chomped on and sprained it in a fight with Ruger and is probably out for the season, even though it looks like he will be OK, eventually.

So basically I really really need Pumpkin. I think in retrospect, I should have been a lot pickier choosing leaders. I should have made sure they were dogs I really really liked. I am thinking my leaders should be my favorite dogs of the team. When I think about what Pumpkin is getting out of the deal, I am surprised she listens at all. What does she really gain? Two warm meals a day and a place to sleep? Its not the petting she is after. So I have to give her a lot of credit. I also got her for free. I plan to keep her. One of the sad facts of racing is dogs get passed around a lot. Competitive racers go through a lot of dogs because they want a top team and are always cutting dogs. I have decided to keep Pumpkin for life. Ideally, she will eventually be only a back up leader. I will be leader shopping again this spring when dogs are cheap and plentiful. But I would be lying if I said I was not about to jump out of my skin in frustration yesturday when Pumpkin missed the first turn onto the driveway and pulled the team out into the yard again for the umpteenth time. Jack even looked like he wanted to go the right way. He looked back at me in confusion, but is still not confident enough to correct Pumpkin and yank her in the right direction.
Today Pumpkin pulled the same thing but I had weighted the sled down and was able to stop everything and pull her back onto the driveway. We had one other major screw up a little ways up the trail where Doppler pulled himself out of his collar while he was pooping. He hasn't learned how to poop on the fly yet. Either has Jack, for that matter, which being in lead and putting the breaks on to poop, has even more disaterous consequences.
But the run went well for the most part. They all pulled hard, except for Strider. I had five hooked up: Ruger and Strider in Wheel. Doppler in "swing" or "point" by himself and Jack and Pumpkin in lead.
Strider can't really keep up. His tug was slack most of the way. I was advised to ride the break a little, untill all the dogs are pulling, but to do that with Strider would be way slower than I want to go. He is not fitting in with the team and is just along for the ride. I may try to give him away. He has a lot going for him. He is friendly and very handsome and some people like big dogs. He might be a good skijoring dog for someone or maybe he would fit in on a large malamute team. I don't like the idea of going through a lot of dogs but his situation is a little different than Pumpkins. He is house broken and would make someone a handsome affectionate pet.
The ultimate team as far as power and speed would be Jack and Pumkin up front maybe cruiser, the siberian husky and Doppler in swing and Ruger and JJ in wheel. That would be some serious power, I can always notice a difference with different combos.

Unfortunatley I need to order some more harnesses or repair the two Jack chewed to do this. I am short now.
All in all it was a good run.

Sunday, December 26, 2004


Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas. Sorry for not posting in a while, got kind of busy.
I have been learning about the different temperaments of my dogs as well as my own temperament. Some of my dogs are quite sensitive and others very hard headed, like Jack. When things don't go well and I get frustrated I tend to yell and this makes things worse. JJ especially, gets upset when I yell and that is why she wants to bail out. I noticed this the other day, when I yelled at Jack for causing a tangle. Yelling doesn't seem to phase Jack at all but, it apparently upset JJ and she decided to try to drag the team over to her house while the sled was tied to the truck. The fact that she almost accomplised it from the wheel position with five other dogs hooked up facing the opposite way is a testament to her strength and determination.
So I decided from now on to really try to maintain a calm demeanor. Many of the dogs key off of this. Pumpkin is also a very sensitive dog. I would say Ruger and Strider are about even as far as sensitivity, not really hard headed but not too sensitive either. Doppler is a bit sensitive, Jack on the other hand is a really confident, cocky dog. Personally, I prefer the more hard headed temperament. That temperament reminds me of my German sheperd that passed away. Police dog people prefer hard dogs. Hard dogs can take a serious reprimand and it won't take the wind out of their sails. If you think about the types of people that train working German Shepherds, many of them are big gruff former cops and this type of temperament meshes well with their personality.
Alaskan huskies, especially lead dogs, have a tendency to be a bit shy and sensitive. Many mushers prefer this type of temperament. This is called a "soft" temperament. These types of dogs are easier to train. They really want to please their master and if they feel they have done somthing wrong they feel bad. They are eager to please.
Jack on the other hand, is a very hard headed dog. The thing about him that is so amazing is that he is a pretty good lead dog and this is his first winter in harness. He just has a lot of confidence. He is very hyper and unruly too, but when In put him in front of the team he is a natural. He likes being in front and he is a fast learner. If he were a kid though, he would be the kid that was labeled as having ADHD. The kid that can't sit still and causes a lot of trouble in class. He is a chewer, it is really ard to put his harness on. It is really hard to bring him up to the line. I have too hook him up last, he used to wrestle with the dog next to him with his former owner during fall training, but as he gains more experience he gets better and better.
He pulls hard and he really likes to run.
I think in many ways, as I have said before,he is a throwback. First of all he is not built like a fast racing dog. He is short and stocky with a big fat head. He likes to sleep outside his house. A few days ago it was 30 below zero and he slept outside his house on the ground. When I came out to feed the dogs he had frost all over him. He has this one spot where he curls up in a ball. The snow has melted and there is this little hole.
Alaskan huskies have changed over the years from having, other breeds crossed in like Greyhounds and other things, plus there has been selection over the rears for racing traits. The more old fashioned dogs like Malamutes and inuit dogs are harder headed. Later in the winter I plan to get together with some freighting people with these types of dogs, it will be interesting to observe their personalities.
But whatever kind of dog you run it is best for the "lead dog" (the one behind the sled) to have a calm demeanor and act in control at all times, it makes for a more positive experience for all.

Monday, December 20, 2004


My dogs really like venison. The four deer carcasses my neighbor and fellow church member gave me are all eaten up. So I went around to various grocery stores trying to find a good source of cheap( or free) raw meat, but to no avail.
Then on the way to work I saw a roadkill deer and thought, "Hmmmm."
I made a mental note of the location and on the way home stopped to snag it.
Well, first of all it was on a highway with lots of traffic and I felt a little embarrassed about people seeing me pick it up. Second of all, it was in kind of bad shape, gutted from getting run over and it had frozen in place and was stuck to the highway and I couldn't pull it off. So there I was with cars going by yanking on this deers leg trying to pull it free. I felt pretty stupid, plus there was still fresh blood and guts leaking out of it and I knew it would make a mess of my truck.
So I gave up.

Then on the way home , on a less busy road just two miles from home, I see a beautiful deer on the side of the road, with just a little bit of blood coming out his mouth and one mangled leg.
It had not been there earlier that morning.
So I stopped and quickly hoisted it into the bed of my truck and was off again in less than a minute.

So now my dogs have fresh venison again in addition to the kibble that many of them are not too excited about. I guess I should have gutted it and skinned it and hung it somewhere, that is if I had the tools and know how to do that. I am not a deer hunter though. My method was to let it freeze as much as possible(the 20 below cold snap helped) and then chop it up into peices and dole it out over the next few days until its gone.

The dogs were pretty excited about it. Yesturday I cut all the legs off and doled them out. Ruger got the head. He likes the head. He has eaten three so far this winter. I am sure there are lots of vitamins, in these parts as opposed to just feeding the meat. Along with the legs I cut off chunks of shoulder , because the legs really don't have much on them. Jack got the heart and some chunks of lung. They do look like a pack of wolves when they eat the raw venison. It is kind of cool to watch. It becomes pretty clear that these are not housepets. It comes only too natural to them to tear into this raw meat.
Their droppings begin to look like wolf droppings with fur and little bits of bone in them.
Ruger can actually crack open and eat the better part of a deer skull. Of all the dogs he is the most primitive one. Not too much hound blood there. He never barks, but only howls like a wolf in pure clean mournful notes. A very "arctic" sound.

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Friday, December 17, 2004


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Well I had another good eight mile run. It went so well it was over pretty fast and I was like, "Wow, I can't believe its over, I though eight mile runs were supposed to kill an entire day."
That's not how it is supposed to go , but has been my experience as often as not, so far.

Now my goal is to add dogs till I get up to six and then start packing on serious miles and get the team in condition. I hooked up Pumpkin and Jack in lead, and JJ by herself in wheel. I felt this would be the best way to really work on JJ and get this girl straightened out.

Here is the difference between JJ in wheel and two yearlings in Wheel:

I hardly peddaled at all the whole run. (for you non-mushing folks enjoying this blog; No sleds don't have peddals. Peddaling is kicking your foot to help push the sled along!)
With the yearlings I peddal a lot. Too much, in fact. I may be teaching them bad habbits. When the going gets a little rough and the sled slows down the yearlings look back as if to say:
"Hey, Bub, why aren't you peddaling?"
When JJ is hooked up and things get tough, she puts her head down, spreads her feet out wide and digs! You go girl!
I still peddaled a little though as JJ doesn't have as many miles on her as these other dogs, I was kind of tapping into her latent conditioning from years of racing and also her time running and playing in the back yard.

We are finally working things out with JJ. First I would like to say, all of the problems I have had with her are my fault and not hers. She is an awesome dog. The musher is the person responsible for the training and conditioning. The dogs don't make mistakes, mushers do. Dogs do what they are bred, trained and conditioned to do.

JJ still tried to drag the team into my back yard, but I was able to pull her back out onto the trail. I ran her just with the two other dogs because three dogs is all I am confident dealing with right now in a serious tangle. I am moving at my own pace right now. We did have a couple really bad tangles but I worked through them.
Part of the problem is Jacks inexperience. He won't hold the line out in the few seconds I need to untie the sled from my truck when I start off. He turns around and wants to play.

This makes JJ nervous and then she trieds to bail and pull the whole rig back to her house.

But we are working things out and I still have hope of eventually putting her in lead with Pumpkin to give Jack a break.

Once we gott on the trail though JJ was great. He tug was tight as a piano wire the whole time. I got a chance to see a fine dog at work doing what she was born to do.

Pumpkin is getting really good on comands too. The training is there, but is just coming out as she gets used to me. We went the other way on the Looop coming back home. Gee instead of Haw, this is just a little trick to do to keep her sharp.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Good Bookends

In the interim since my last post, I would describe my runs as two good "book ends" punctuated by two disasters. That is, good run, disaster, disaster, good run. A "good run" is a run where nothing goes wrong and we put some serious miles in. A "disater" is when things get so royally screwed up we don't leave the driveway.

Wednesday was my best run so far. I started out a bit discouraged but then things went really well. Linda was helping me so that was a real plus. I hooked up 5 dogs. My idea was too hook up two yearlings up front, Strider the big German shepherd mix, and Jack. Behind them I hooled up two lead dogs, Pumpkin and JJ. In wheel, basically along for the ride, was Doppler. The idea was to make the two lead dogs a little jealous, that they aren't in lead, and then when Strider begis to screw up a little out on the trail, like I knew he would, put the two lead dogs up front. This woukld be there chance to rise to the occasion, answer the call of duty, whatever.

Adding JJ to the team added some serious power, she is from tough "village dog" stock and her muscles are hardened from years of long distance racing, but I have yet to harness that power productively. We could feel it though, we left the dog yard like a shot out of a gun. The first turn at the barn went OK, then JJ tried to dogleg into the back yard like she always does. I was able to jump off the sled and correct her. We got going again and I grabbed the sled as it shot by just barely. The next tun at the driveaway went well, and we hit the trail probably doing about 20 mph. The sled was jumping all over the place, Linda and I each had a runner, but it was hard to hang on, so Linda jumped off. This amount of speed wouldn't last long but Linda wasn't aware of that yet.
Soon things slowed down a bit and right on schedule Strider began to screw up, sniffing trees and things like that, But I didn't fault him, this was part of the plan. Now it was JJ's turn to shine! I tied the sled off to a tree and managed to keep the line out. I then switched JJ into lead alongside Jack. But as soon as I did she tried her turning around crap again. I kept werestling her back the right way, but eventually gave up.
I said "JJ, if you want to go back home that bad just go." I unhooked her and let her walk right back to her house. We were only a half mile out at this point.
I then tried Pumpkin. Praying that it would work out. It did. Pumpkin really came into her own. When ended up going eight miles, our longest run of the year so far. It was great. We finally were a real sled dog team. The amazing thing though is Jack. He is only a yearling and is learning to lead his first season in harness, he pulled like an absolute animal the whole way.
He is smart too and is really catching on.

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We encountered a fallen tree across the trail. The trunk was about a foot in diameter and it was about six inches off the ground. I halted the team, and then jack just jumped right over the log, Pumpkin hesitating for a minute and then jumping right over as well. All the dogs were able to negotiate it. I was able to get the empty sled right over it and we were off.
Next came the poodle. This is really funny! The two track, turns into a gravel road at about the two mile mark, right there is a driveway. Smack dab in the middle of the road right across from the driveway stood a toy poodle puppy. The dogs sped up to a gallop, a look of horror came over the little poodle face and it shot down the driveway. Here is the best part: Pumpkin perfectly executed an "on bye" command and did not go down the driveway, averting total disaster. (and possibly a poodle sandwich) Good thing this was not one of those toy poodles with a Napolean complex that thinks he's ten feet tall.

It was a fast run down the gravel road, there are no deep tire ruts like on the "minimum maintenence" section of the trail. Then we came to where a county road crosses. That went well. Then I was back to "slolom sledding" as I balanced on one runner staying out of the deep tire ruts. We headeed into a wildlife managemant area. This a beautiful really scenic area but I was looking at the dog team, evaluating each member. Doppler is a beautiful dog, he is so graceful, everything moves like a well oiled machine, never a step out of place, I notice his tug goes slack though now and then, he is still developing a work ethic. He would probably do best on a super fast team, running with a lot of dogs. I will have to develop a way to challenge him with a small team.

Strider, is just a big ungainly brute. at 75 lbs he is way bigger than my other dogs. He has a fat fluffy bubble butt, narrow shoulders and kind of a long neck. He is kind of wedge shaped like a polar bear. He has all he can do to keep up when the team is going fast, but when things slow down a bit he pulls like a little trooper.

Jack is my Star so far. He is just a bundle of energy, almost impossible to hook up he is so hyper. But once in harness he just wants to go. He is just a natural. The mental pressure of learning how to be a lead dog doesn't seem to phase him. He is so hard headed I can correct him and he learns without getting his feelings hurt. He is a very hard headed dog. For some reason he is fast too. He is built like a little tank but is smooth and fast. Pumpkin and he seem to be a good pair in lead. Despite their similar wolf grey markings they are total opposites.

Pumpkin is just a very shy dog. Some alaskan huskies are just like that. But a harsh word will put her into a sulk and worse cause her to freeze up. So she needs positive reinforcement only.
She is also not very assertive toward other dogs, so I can't use her to straighten out disobediant JJ. But it seems to be going well with her and Jack. She also is pulling again, especially on the way back. I take advantage of this and stand on the runners without peddaling too much, giving all the dogs a chance to really pull.

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There is a nice loop inside the wildlife management area to turn around in. That went well, the whole run back went well.

So that was wednesday.

Today, there were two disasters where I didn't leave the yard. There was a bad tangle where Doppler got all tangled up in the gangline and I feard he would strangle, so I unhooked all the dogs and Jack , Strider and Doppler took off down the trail loose. I was able to find them up the trail a ways eating the gut pile. Its all gone now, so shouldn't be a distraction any longer.

The problem is this first stupid turn at my barn where the trail leading to the dog yard connects to my driveway. Pumpkin for the life of her cannot fathom to turn "haw" and head down the driveway. She balks and everything gets all tangled up. I had five dogs hooked up, and it became an enormous knotted mess. Then there is JJ pulling the Knotted mess toward my fenced in back yard, for all she is worth. Picture an optical illusion, where a person is walking a little lap dog down the street only the person is acting like they are being drug down the street by a St. Bernard. That will give you an idea of JJ's power.

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So then after gathering up all the loose dogs, I hook them up again, and JJ keeps jerking the entire sled back to her house while I am hooking the dogs up. The sled is tied to the truck at this point, facing down the trail. So she pulls it all the way back around and partiall under the truck, back toward her house yanking Pumpkin along with her. She had decided that she is done for the day I guess.

So then a third time, I try hooking the dogs up today, minus JJ. I hooked up Pumpkin, Jack, Doppler and Strider. Same problem with that first turn. For some reason once again Pumpkin won't haw, but instead drags the team out into my front yard. Then wraps the gangline around a bush. Again in frutration I try to fix this snarled mess, and never am able to leave the driveway.

So I get an idea. I park my car right by the barn, cutting off the way out into my yard, Then I move an old washing machine, my broken bike, a roto tiller, and my lawn mower., building a barrier, to hopefully steer the dogs in the right direction, away from the house and out onto my driveway.
I take a break, eat some Pumpkin pie, and watch a "Charlie Brown" Christmas special with my wife.

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So, then, I do some serious praying, and hook up, just Strider, Jack and Pumpkin, hoping for the best. So wouldn't you know it, Pumpkin sees this crude barrier there, haws, and then tries to make a haripin 180 degree turn after the lawn mower and into the yard. These dogs are anything but stupid. "Nice try." I said.
Luckily I was able to get the three dogs back onto the trail.

The run was much like the run yesturday. We came across a truck heading toward us out in the Wildlife preserve, But the dogs got over to the side and let it pass. I was actuall at that point wondering where to turn around without making it too long of a run just with the three dogs.

Jack solved the problem for me and tuned the whole team around to chase the truck. The truck soon hung a right, but I gave an "on bye" command and they listened. I would say over all we went 7 miles.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Back to two dog two milers

On my second run of the day I decided to try Fir up front. I figured I really need to give these leaders a chance to lead or else I'm screwed this winter. I can train the yearlings to lead from scratch but they can't lead a six dog team. If I train them it will have to be two at a time,on short runs until I feel they have built up enough confidence and skill to have dogs running behind them. If they don't have the confidence they balk and create a tangle. There is a certian amount of pressure in being a lead dog and I don't want to push them to do more than they are ready for.

Well, I hooked up Ruger in wheel, first, because he lives in my backyard and I had to walk him down to the dog yard. Normally you hook the lead dog up first and his job is to hold the line out while you hook up the other dogs. Next I hooked up Fir. He would not hold the line out. Ten times he pulled the whole rig over to his house, knocking over the sled which was tied to the truck. Ten times I dragged him back. I knew he knew what I wanted, this is a former iditarod leader for crying out loud! But he would not listen. The tenth time Ruger got sick of him jerking him around and decided he needed a severe ass kicking. Some times dogs will do this. They will get aggravated at a dog in the team that keeps screwing up and try to discipline him. I can't have dogs disciplining each other, that's my job, besides they can get hurt. I broke up the fight but not after Ruger got some puncture marks in his face and Fir was limping. I looked around for a bite mark on Fir's leg. I can't find one. He also lets me handle it so it must not be too tender. Maybe it is bruised or maybe Fir is being melodramatic. That might sound far fetched but its not, sled dogs can actually learn to fake injuries in order to get attention. They learn to do it when they have a real injury and see how much attention they get. Simple Pavlovian conditioning.

So Fir's run was over before it started. I tried to run just Ruger and Doppler, but Ruger looked all befuddled. He is not a leader, never been a leader was not sold to me as a leader. At seven years old, I can't expect him to start now. It's not his fault. Some dogs just don't have what it takes. So I put him back. I feel bad that I haven't run him yet because I really like him. As soon as I get my leader situation worked out I will.

Next I tried Strider and Jack. It weant well. Both dogs are eager to run, listen to me, and seem to be slowly picking up commands. On the way up they hit the gut pile, but on the way back I convinced them to keep going. It's almost all eaten up by now so either they will learn "on bye" really well or eat the whole thing in the next few days, one or the other. It's kind of annoying to have there, but a good training opportunity, nonetheless. A two mile run is a two mile run. Not the greatest most exciting thing, but it went as good as expected. The way back is fun because it is almost all down hill and the dogs get a chance to open up. Strider is astrong puller but not the natural athlete these other racing dogs are. He works for me though, but if I had a serious racing team he probably wouldn't make it. I am gald to have him though.

I took a short break, watered Strider and Jack, went back to the house, checked my e-mail and had a glass of milk. I pondered who to run next.
JJ, with Doppler? What if she kept turning around? That would teach Doppler bad habits or ruin his confidence.
I walked back out to the dog yard after a half hour and there was Jack, banging out to the end of the chain, eager to go again. I figured, why not? It's not like two back to back two mile runs pulling an empty sled will kill him. He was up to five mile runs back in November with his previous owner anyhow. If anything he has gotten out of shape.
So I ran him with Doppler. Here is the difference between Doppler and Strider: Doppler is a very fast naturally athletic dog, but likes to look around a lot and doesn't pull as much. He did better than last time though. On the way down was when he really shined. He is a super fast super smooth runner, just like a grey hound. For a while there I think he and Jack were racing each other, for all his stockiness, Jack is pretty fast, but not quite Dopplers equal in sheer speed.

Jack started losing focus on commands toward the end of the run but I can't ask too much of him at this point. All in all he did really well. Doppler got a chance to run loose for a while as I hooked up Jack. It's fun to watch him zip around the dog yard, he really is poetry in motion. He came when I called him too, which is a plus.

I am thinking my biggest mistake was buying all these dogs my first year. I only need four dogs this winter and that is all I will probably end up running, at least for a while. I need to pick four dogs and just work with them. Having eight dogs is too many to choose from. It screws me up because I want to exercise them all and so I keep trying all these combinations and none of them are logging serious miles yet. I don't have time to always run two different teams even if I had two combinations that worked. I need to find my four best dogs and find homes for the rest.
I want to have a micro, micro, and I mean micro, kennel.

another disasterous run.

Linda had to work all day today. She is really a big help so I knew she would be missed. I really wanted to work either JJ or Fir back into the team, so I decided to run Pumpkin and Jack out front and Ruger and JJ in wheel.
I basically have NO leaders. zero, zip, nada.
Pumpkin tried to climb into a hole in the side of my barn. Pumpkin does not want to lead and she doesn't pull. I can't discipline her because she is so shy to begin with she barely lets me pet her. I have been bringing her around trying to gain her trust, she has become a little more affectionate.
Basically she ads nothing to the team but a mouth to feed. She is my best leader.
JJ has the turning around problem, so she can't lead for me at all unless she is heading home and knows the way back. The added disadvantage to her besides not leading is that she is so strong that even when she is in wheel, when she wants to go off the trail she leads all of the other dogs in the team with her, jerking them all sideways and backwards.
Then there is Fir. He is very similar to JJ in that he doesn't listen to commands at all and is stronger than all my yearlings, so that there is lots of potential for him to screw up the team.

Those are my leaders.
I really can't tell how good Ruger is because without a leader, its hard to evaluate a team dog. But he seems to be a good team dog but has no team to be in with no leaders.
I like Jack the best out of my yearlings, but it really is too early to turn him into a leader, plus having no role model to learn from, makes it even harder.

I guess I am back to two- dog teams. If I knew I would be running only two to four dog teams all winter, I sure would not have bought eight dogs. It's not like I could have two runs a day with four dogs at a time. I can't. Pumpkin and Jack up front and Strider and Doppler behind seems to work only because it is three yearlings that don't have a lot of power yet. So Pumpkin doesn't mind leading somewhat and Jack just wants to run. Put two serious dogs behind her and she falls apart.
No other four dog combination seems to work so far.
If I ran two teams a day the other team would be composed of Fir and JJ up front with Ruger and Cruiser in wheel. That won't work because JJ and Fir don't listen. Cruiser is too thin to run so I haven't tried him yet. I need to figure out what the problem is. I am ordering another wormer. I think he may have tapeworms. He paces all day too so that keeps the weight off.

I plan to run again today. Not sure on the combo yet. Maybe Jack and Doppler up front and Ruger and Cruiser in wheel. Of course Doppler balked last time in lead.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

4 dog run

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We we took yesturday off. Linda and I were both tired and sore. I felt like I did back in highshcool and college after the first week of wrestling practice. I once heard wrestling practice described as "running a marathon with the flu and then bashing yourself into a wall five times."
Well, maybe not quite that bad, but I have been doing a lot of running along side the dogs to correct them, wrestling a weighted sled around, carrying 5 gallon water buckests out to the dog yard. Riding on the back of the sled involves some skill also, it takes a good amount of co-ordination and balance, plus we have a tobbogan sled that doesn't steer well.
Most of the best mushers are physically fit and stay in shape in the off season to be ready to mush. There are a few chain smokers like famous sprint racer George Attla, but he seems to be one of these people that is just tough as nails anyway, having grown up on a trapline out in bush Alaska.
Reading interviews with top mushers one often finds that they often had an athletic background and excelled in other sports. Iditarod contender Ken Anderson was a college wrestler and even has a little bit of couliflower ear. Former iditarod winners Susan Butcher and Joe Runyan used to run, and if you read profiles of mushers on the iditarod website you often see running listed as a hobby.
We wanted to move up to 4 dogs and keep working with Pumpkin and Jack up front today, but we didn't want to ad too much speed and power as to make things uncontrollable again. So We decided to put two yearlings in wheel. We headed out of the yard with Strider and Doppler.

Pumpkin screwed up at the first turn again to go onto the driveway. That seems to be a real problem for some reason, maybe because it is 90 degrees. We were able to quickly correct that and were soon heading down the trail. Strider pulled like a little trooper again. He is really surprising me in harness. He was a house pet that is kind of pain in the rear end to have in the house, because he is a chewer and wrestles with our other dog all the time. We were hoping he would turn out to be a sled dog. He really is proving himself. He doesn't seem to have the speed and natural athleticism of the other dogs but makes up for it in power and heart.
Doppler is just a yearling, has tons of natural speed and athleticism, but isn't a consistent puller yet. He seems to just ned more time on the trail. He improved markedly from his last run though.
Jack continued to impress, he is learning the "on by" command really well and I was able to discourage him from verring off toward the gut pile (I'll have to go up there on foot someday and remove those) Pumpkin seems to be getting better too. I hape she comes out of her shell a little with us as we run her. She is just a very shy dog. Linda has taken up the challenge of spending time praising her and petting her to get he more socialized.
We gave all the dogs lots of praise after the run.
In the future we hope to either add some more dogs or up the mileage.
We may ad some power on out next run monday by putting Ruger on the team.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Jack comes through in lead.

Well, we tried Ruger and Jack in wheel, and Pumpkin and Doppler up front. Pumpkin and Doppler didn't seem confident in lead so they didn't keep the line stretched out. The wheel dogs over took them and everything got all bunched up. I wanted it to be a positive experience for Doppler so I took them out of lead. The thing with Pumpkin is that even though, she is not being overtly rebellious like my other two leaders, she is very tentative and timid. She also doesn't pull much.

So I put Ruger and Doppler away and we tried just Pumpkin and Jack alone pulling the weighted sled. Pumpkin isn't assertive enough to really correct a rebellious leader, But I was hoping that she would run along side Jack, who seemed willing, take commands, and at least nudge Jack in the right direction.
It went great! This was the best run all season so far even though it was just out and back 2 miles total. Jack pulled the whole way. We think the sled weighs at least 100 lbs with the 6 car tires on it and he did most of the pulling which on the way up is uphill. Doppler and Strider pulled pretty good on an earlier two dog run but would slack off a little , needing encouragemant., But Jack pulled steadily the whole time. Pumpkin did well too. She knows all the Comands, did nothing to screw up or teach bad habits to Jack and even bagan to pull a little.

Overall a good run. Tomorrow will be Ruger and Criuser in Wheel, Doppler and Jack up front or maybe Pumpkin and either Doppler or Jack up front.
Got my fingers crossed.


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I walked Jack back to get the truck yesturday. I really like Jack. He is one of my favorite dogs. I regret that I haven't been able to run him. I can tell he wants to. He is one of these dogs you can't really walk on a leash. All he knows how to do is pull. JJ is the worst this way. She pulls on the leash so hard she wrenches her head sideways.
So anyway, I wanted to spend some time with him so I walked him the 2 miles back to the truck. The leash was taught as a piano wire the whole time. He kind of reminds me of a siberian husky on steroids. I like northern breed dogs. Alaskan huskies are a mixed breed dog but they are predominantly some type of husky for the most part. In mushing parlance, the non-northen breeds that are crossed in to breeding programs are reffered to as "hounds" whether it be pointer, saluki, greyhound, coonhound, irish setter, or whatever. There are different theories as to what the hound blood ads to the mix. Generally the idea is to ad speed and athleticism. Most alaskan huskies are not a first generation cross breed, but are from two parents that are sled dogs that each may have some of various type of hound in the background some where. The idea is not so much to work out some perfect formula of percentages of various breeds but to prove all breeding stock in harnesses.
So, there is a lot of variablity in appearance with alaskan huskies, but the consistant factor is performance.
Well anyway in the genetic primordial soup, Jack came out with a big malamutish head, wolf like markings, a thick warm coat, floppy ears, and a build kind of like Arnold Shwarzenegger.
Dogs will get muscled up as they get more and more miles in harness on them. Jack had been run pulling an ATV this fall by Karen Land, I think he had gotten up to 5 miles a day.
But Jack's muscles are a result of good genetics at this point. it is early in the season and he is only a yearling. This will be his first season pulling a sled.
I have seen him run, the day I bought him and he is fast and smooth. He is a bit of a wildman though, and needs to learn some discipline. He has been a "line chewer" and unruly on runs with Karen, so she advised me to keep him in Wheel to keep an eye on him. "Wheel" is the position closest to the sled.
Around the dog yard he is so affectionate and curious about me that it is hard to do any work near him, like pick up poop or put straw in his house, becausse he overwhelms me with affection. I am not thinking he is a potential leader at this point, but I really feel I have somthing valuable in Jack.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Leader training

On the advice of some experienced mushers at Sled dog Central posting to me about my problem, we decided to drive out with Fir, JJ and the sled and mush back, to avoid reinforcing the turn around behavior.
We loaded JJ and Fir in the Cab, put the sled in the truck , and drove out to the 2 mile point on our trail where it crosses a gravel road and continues into state forest land. The sled was weighted down with tires and Linda would be riding on the back. I would be jogging along behind ready to run up front to correct them.
Right off the bat Fir veered off into the woods. So I drug them both back onto the trail and gave them a firm "No". I had had their neckline off to see if it was one dog turning around more than the other, not wanting to have to correct the dog that was trying to do the right thing.
We went OK for a while then JJ tried to turn around, Fir following Suit. I was able to drag them and put them back in the right direction. JJ did this three or four times. Then it looked like they got the message and forged ahead for about 250 yards or so and I fell back to behind the sled jogging along with hand on the handle bar along side my wife.
Once again JJ and Fir turned around and I ran up to grab them, and missed, they turned the sled around quickly with a lot of force knocking Linda off the back of the sled and sped down the hill toward the truck. They took off fast.
We walked back dejectedly, thinking they would be there at the truck waiting for us.
When we got to the truck they were no where to be seen. I began to really worry at thet point thinking JJ had run back home along the road where we had done bike training.
My wife then noticed a set of runner tracks going off into a farmer's feild. We ran down the trail as fast as we could fearing the worst.
Luckily they were only a short ways a way laying down on the trail with the sled turned over. Linda was so relived she showered them with affection. I told her to ignore them they are being bad.
I righted the sled attatched a dog leash to their neckline and had Linda ride the brake, slowing them down to Jogging pace.
I said "Nice try guy's. Now, we get to go all the way back up the hill where we came from." That's what we did. With me running along side JJ, holding the leash, neither could mutiny and turn around. Linda was in the back peddaling and running, riding when the grade flattened out. We took a little rest at the top of the Hill right before the turn home. the rest of the way would be another mile, this time all down hill. They dipped some snow, and then began harness banging wanting to go. Then I unhooked the leash and grabbed the handle bars as the sled went by, it was a fast run all the way down.
I admired their form on the short fast run home. There was no chance of mutiny now as they knew where they were going. They both have excellent form and were well matched. They really are valuable dogs and incredible athletes. Leaders are a very impotant part of the team. Without them there is no team. All control of the sled is based on verbal comands and the trust that your leaders will obey them. Not just any dog can be a leader, most of the other dogs on my team are just as athletic and strong but don't have the mental make up. There is a lot of psychological pressure on lead dogs and not all dogs can handle it. If I had more lead dogs to choose from I would give these two a break and run them in "swing" position which is the next position down.
My plan for tomorrow is to try my other Leader, Pumpkin, a shy dog, that lacks the strength and speed of these other two race leaders, with Doppler in lead.
I am hoping Doppler has what it takes. I am also hoping that Pumpkin will be a good match with less experienced Doppler. On the few Bike runs with Pumpkin she seemed to take commands well. Bringing up the rear will be Ruger, the steady seven year old team dog and his wildman protege' Jack.
I have been feeling like I have been neglecting Jack as I have been running these small teams working on leadership. He always howels in protest as we leave the dog yard without him.
Tomorrow will be his day to shine.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

What they don't know helps them.

Ok here is the run down of todays two runs:
I started our with four dogs today to have more control. Doppler and Ruger in Wheel and Pumpkin and Fir up front.
No Go. They "Geed" instead of "Hawing" tried to run into the Garage and then wrapped the gangline around a bush. Ruger got turned around and got tangled with Doppler, had a small scuffle. No bloodshed thank goodness.

So I took Pumpkin out of lead, she actually was looking the right direction when I gave commamds but let Fir, who was testing me, overpower her. So I gave her a break and put Ruger and Doppler away and Tried Just Fir and JJ in lead.

JJ turned around five times before we went a half a mile. I got rope burn from grabbing the gangline. She is a very strong determined dog, hard to hold back. But I tried to be more stubborn than she and kept turning her back around.

We went OK for the second half of the mile, then at the place I had planned to turn around, she turned around with out me giving a command. I let her do it but shouldn't have. Her bad habit started with bike training when I let her turn around on me. I let her do it because I was concerned that I was running her too far and this was her way of letting me know it was time to go back. But after that she started to turn around sooner and sooner, untill she began to turn around at the end of the driveway. That is how the bad habit got established.

Well anyway the one mile run back went well and they either obeyed my commands or just wanted to get back, hard to tell which, there are only two turns.

So I posted a question on SDC on how to solve this, watered and snacked all the dogs and took a break.

I tried Fir and Pumpkin in lead again, hoping to just run those two by themselves, but they kept screwing around, wouldn't hold the line out, so I got fed up and put them back.

Then I got an idea. Doppler, one of my yearling, seems to really like me. He looks at me like he thinks I am God(little does he know what a newbie I am.) He has a really responsive eager to please personality. Then there is Strider, my pet German shepherd husky mix. Super strong, even though he is slower than my other dogs. I did try him one time before on the Bike with Fir but he couldn't keep up with the sheer speed of Fir and necklined the whole way. So I ran him loose along side us. He is a pretty obedient dog.

I went and pused the sled up to my shed and loaded 5 old car tires on there. Two feild mice scurried out of them looking confused.
Sorry Guys

I then hooked up Doppler and Strider by themselves on a shortened Gangline. After some coaxing running up front they got the hang of it and passed me, I jumped on the sled as it went by and we were off! What little Doppler knew of the Haw command, he obeyed better than my three trained lead dogs. I run up front to guide Strider in the right direction. Strider ran with his head down, a natural puller. When they got distracted and pulled to the side of the trail, I yelled "On by!" in a firm yet positive tone. No doubt Doppler had heard that before and it registered. Strider followed his example.

I was pumping most of the way or running behind the sled, but it was loaded with tires so they were pulling weight. They weren't used to it though so when the friction increased a bit they would stop, then I would run out front and coax them along until they would pass me and then I would jump on as the sled went by.

We did that off and on till we got to the top of the hill at the one mile point. I did not use any kind of "Come Gee or "Come haw" command, but guided them around.
The down hill went well,

On the way up and on the way back we did run into two gut piles but that just gave me an opportunity to work on the "on by command" and for some reason these two guys have this idea that they are supposed to listen to me. Kind of nice for a change.

I just might run these two dogs in lead for a while with the loaded sled working the vetrans into wheel untill I am confident enugh to run all six again, then finally, eightafter I add a section.

Hopefully if I run every day all the dogs will get run at least every other day.

Goal for today

OK. I was tempted not to post my first disasterous run...but I am striving for realism with this sled dog blog and that's how it really went. I am thinking lack of atv training(that's how most mushers train in the fall with the dogs pulling an ATV) this fall is why the team has not come together yet . I was training my leaders with the bike but that was only working out so well and then it got destroyed.
So the goal is two runs today. First with four dogs: Ruger and JJ in Wheel, Pumpkin and Fir up front. Pumpkin was the sharpest with commands on the bike training but never really pulls.
Fir and JJ seem to be very similar in that they pull really hard and seem not to be listening to commands well. Out and Back on the two track is four miles but will play it by ear. This is fall training milage still untill we build up.

Then I want to run the young dogs. Two older dogs with two younger dogs in wheel. Whatever two of the three leaders look the best, up front.

I am sticking to four dogs at a time untill a semblence of control is achieved.

I really don't want to neglect these two yearlings. They are actually very well bred dogs, that I got a good deal on.
They were bred by Clint Warnke, who won the Canadian Challenge last season with their parents.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Overall a good run...considering.

Snow-check. (not really enough though)
sled dog team-not quite.
Well, on the surface, I would say our first run on snow with the sled was a disaster. But a few things did happen that I think would bring the run slightly over into the plus column.
The problem started when Fir and Pumpkin forgot what "haw" means (it means "left")
The dog yard is about a hunderd yards or so from the house. then we need to hang a rather sharp left onto our drive way at the shed. So far this has been the tricky part.
Ruger's house is actually right there at the turn in front of the shed. Ruger was in wheel position so the house was empty. So after about five "haw" commands, Pumpkin decided to get away from all the stress and noise and go inside Rugers house, bringing the team behind her.

Bad tangle....Bad tangle. Well I corrected that, my wife standing on the break, Then Fir and Pumpkin decided to try to climb under a hole I used to have in my backyard fence., where they often exercise. Bad tangle. So, I had to think fast. I reduced the team by a dog. Tossing Jack over the fence. He was an easy choice since having been hooked up last, he had time to chew his harness and began the run in a "Y-back "harness instead of an "x-back. "

Slightly less power now in the team and slightly less excitement. Jack is a very "high attitude" dog. But he got to play in the back yard with my big German shepherd mix, so he still got to have some fun.

200 yards..down the driveway finally, now all we had to do was hang another sharp left onto the two track into the woods.

"Haw." I said.

There was no haw.
"Linda, Lay on the Break as hard as you can!"
I ran up and brough the leaders onto the trail. We began to run for about 50 yards, then Fir takes a dogleg left right into a thicket. Bad tangle, some growling. Get the team all straightened out.

"Hike!" Team takes off. Runners slip out of my hand, my wife goes up the trail without me at about 18 mph.
For a second there I had to say, they looked good. I wished I had my camera.

Fortunately, Fir executes a "come gee" which is kind of like an about face maneuver. miraculously, no tangle, totally on Fir's initiative (I am being sarcastic this is not what I want him to do).
But it worked out. I grab onto the handle bar standing on the right runer, my wife on the left. The way back, (we had gone a whopping 300 yards) Consisted of two "Gee" commands, which Fir executed perfectly.

So I untie everyone and and water them. I let Doppler know that he did a god job. I want this to be fun for him even though everything basically went wrong. I don't praise Fir though, but I don't yell at him either. The run is over.
Ruger did a good job. JJ did a god job.

So, very dissapointed. I thought for a while.

OK. We are going to have a good run today. We'll try three dogs.

Ruger in wheel, Fir and Pumpkin up front.

Big no go. Still no "Haw" command. We dropped Ruger off at his house and I ran Pumpkin back to her house. Linda stayed and held Fir. I ran back.

I decided that I needed to build better rapport with my leaders. They haven't forgotten the English language, they just need to get used to hearing it from me. So I said "Fir, it's just you today, buddy. Me and you are going the be the lead dogs. With linda, on the runners, pumping with her foot and running behind when need be, me, jogging alongside Fir, neckline in hand, we took off down the driveway.
"Haw." I said, firmly, at the end of the driveway.
Fir seemed to get it. His head was down, and he was pulling. We jogged a mile up to the top of the Hill, Not fast, I eventually ended up becoming drenched with sweat, but it was progress.
Linda got a work out too. She peddled most of the way, but took rests where Fir was doing some pretty good pulling. Then at the top of the Hill at the one mile point we executed a "come Gee." Took a short rest. Then we both rode a runner cruising down the hill at a moderate clip.

Fir, executed two excellent "gees" (he seems to have no problem with his gees, especially on the way back)
I gave him a big chunk of venison and a nice rub down. He seemed pretty affectionate, I think we are getting to know each other, better.

As I walked Jack back to the house, I was struck with how well developed his back legs were and how smooth his movement was. The though occured to me that I have way better dogs than I deserve. I want to do well with these dogs. We are not a team yet. I decided that I want to use the same determination with these dogs that I use with my Art when I bring a peice to completion. I erase a lot. All my erasers wear out before my pencils get very short. I keep trying, knowing what the picture is going to look like at the end not giving up untill it does, or gets really close.

I am determined to do that with these dogs. I know what a good team looks like, I can see it in these dogs, They have all sucessfully run before. It will all come together.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Doppler, athlete

Doppler got loose today. I have these "quick links" with which I attach the dogs snap to their chains. They look like a chain link with an open part that screws shut. One day while the dogs were exercising in my back yard, I went around and tightened them all with a pair of vise grips.

All except one, now that remember....I was rotating the young males into the yard without having more than one young intact male in the yard at a time, to keep the testosterone level down a little, and I remember Dopplers never got tightened.
Luckily, he must like the dog yard because he never ran off but merely stole Jack's bone and ran around the yard teasing all the other dogs. I put him in the back yard untill I could locate another quick link and went back to do chores.
He jumped the fence and came out to see me. I got to see him free running toward me on this long straight away. I thought "Hmm..nice verticle leap, nice 40 yard dash." My JV football coach always said those too go together and are a sign of a good athlete.

Well things are kind of slow now, No snow, even though the harnesses came in. First,I had four inches of snow and no harnesses, then the snow melted in the rain and the harnesses came in the next day. That's all for now. Pray for snow.

Thursday, December 02, 2004


I posted a discussion on about "old school dogs". Someone e-mailed me a link to photos of Canadian musher, Frank Turner's Yukon Quest team:

I was inspired by a perticularly handsome dog named Kirby, to compose this sketch:

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Wednesday, December 01, 2004

"Old School dogs"

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Here is my dog Ruger. He is seven years old and was bred by Can AM 250 winning musher Keith Aili. He sold this dog and his littermates (They are all named after guns) to the musher I got them from, Pat Faherty. He was trying to get some faster dogs. Since then he has apparently intoduced some newer faster bloodlines yet again.
I kind of like the older style of dog like Ruger.

Here is Ruger if he were racier:

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Here is the non-distorted photo, I was just screwing around because the first photo makes him look really blocky.
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