Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Understanding Fir

We had a warm spell and a lot of the snow melted and then we had a cold snap and now a lot of the standing water turned to ice. So most of my trails are composed of ice and bare patches of frozen mud. Not the greatest conditions for sledding, though I might still take the dogs out. My sled is getting trashed. It was a cheap sled to begin with and I have pretty much knocked the tar out of it. It flexes like a sprint sled, even though it is a stiff unflexible toboggan. Its a Tobogan built from a kit that can be purchased online for $ 250.00 then shipped and assembled. I bought it when I bought my dog trailer. The owner of the trailer didn't know who made it but I did. She was selling it for $300.00 and it was several years old. I tried to explain to her that it is only worth about $100.00 but at the time no one was selling any sleds online for that cheap that I knew of, so I bought it for $200.00. It may have been worth 100.00 but that doesn't mean I could get one for that much at that time. It came with one extra runner plastic. I have used that and now one other runner has worn down to the metal and I am tempted to order some new runner plastic, but wonder if the snow will last long enough for me to get it. With my luck I will sit around for a few weeks waiting for it to arrive and then once all the snow is melted the runner plastic will arrive.

So I have decided to run until my sled gets destroyed and then that will be the end of the season for me and next spring I will get a new sled.

So anyway, I decided to walk Fir today, on a leash. I have a special leash that hooks
one line to the collar and one line that I hook up to a harness that I put on the dog. That way he can pull hard on the leash, like sled dogs do, and not throttle himself. The pressure is spread out by the harness just like if he was pulling a sled.

Fir is a dog that has not been run much at all this winter. He is a dog I got from Karen Land, along with Doppler and Fir. Fir led 500 miles or so of her iditarod team last year.

I can't relate to this dog. I basically bought him becsause he was a trained lead dog, but I never could get him to lead for me and then early in the season he got in a fight with Ruger and sprained his ankle, for month he limped and hopped around but now seems to be fully recovered, but I just have not run him.

He has kind of an odd personality. He is very hyper and a little skittish. He is affectionate, but petting him makes him more hyper and bark more. Usually a dog will bark to get you to pet him and then when you pet him he will stop and let you pet him.
Fir barks more after you pet him and then gets more riled up while you are petting him. He has a little wiry grey hound like body and a short harsh coat. He sems to have mostly wiry guard hairs and not much undercoat, so when you pet him you feel mostly rough feeling hair, hard muscle and bone, plus he won't hold still and has this annoying bark. So really this is the only way I have interacted with this dog all winter, that is, by petting him, and even that is not enjoyable. Before he got injured, he wouldn't listen to commands from me at all. I was running him with JJ and he picked right up on her turning around habit, but never helped reinforce her when she was listrening to commands. Sometimes one lead dog will be a little confused and then the other will pull or nudge the other dog in the right direction. Fir didn't do that. He also requires more food than all my other dogs even when not being run.

So basically, I have this dog I don't particularly like, then he got injured. Now he's OK but hasn't been run all season. So basically selling him would be very hard.

People don't flock to newbies running dogs their first year to buy dogs, especially if the dog has other features going against it like just coming off an injury.

Another ironic thing is that most mushers, at least racers, value speed above almost everything else and this dog is very fast. Probably the fastest dog I have. He is also a decent worker.

Maybe some racers would think I have romantic unrealistic notions of what a sled dog should be, But I figure why not have dogs I like? They are my dogs. I am the one running them and caring for them.

So I walked Fir today to see if I could get to know him, understand him and bond with him a little. Nothing.

I can't figure him out and the more time I spend with him the more he bugs me.
I just don't like hyper active skittish little greyhound like alaskan huskies. I was thinking about my other dogs and why I like them, because of this.

My two favorites are Ruger and Jack. Two pretty old fashioned type dogs. Tough dogs, yet very outgoing and friendly. They also look like huskies not like a saluki or some type of hound. They are energetic but not what I would call skitish. They don't have little twig like bones. Everything about them is tough and durable. They don't have a bird like metabolism and a short coat requiring tons of food.

Basically what they are are siberian huskies. Those are the main characteristics about them that stand out. They aren't pure bred of AKC registered but what I like about siberian huskies I like about them.

So at least I know what I like. Probably the next dog I buy will be a siberian husky, which won't be for a while.

What I should do with Fir is run him next year get him in shape race some races with him and then try to sell him. It's not his fault, I don't like him. And now that I own him I have responsibility towards him to take good care of him.


Anonymous Klaus said...

Hello, enjoy your blog. I am a 1st winter newbie from Ottawa. I have 2 sib huskies, no papers, but as far as I'm concerned better than the real thing... I was wondering about your term " throttle his self" when it came to walking fir. Our family frequently walk our dogs and they have also ran all winter, the walks tend to stretch your arms a bit... anyways I really enjoy your blog and wish you all the luck

April 16, 2005 at 4:01 PM  
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October 9, 2005 at 9:22 PM  
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October 18, 2005 at 10:38 PM  
Anonymous Alaskan Malamutes said...

LOL, but isn't life always like that. BTW I have been trying to find a good alaskan malamute dog do you have any ideas? Nancy

March 31, 2006 at 6:50 PM  
Anonymous Jason Matthews said...

Hey Did you sell Fir to Matt Anderson? Because, I have an older Alaskan Husky named Fir, that Matt said was from Karen's Iditarod team. he is mainly black with salt and pepper hair around face and chest. Runs lead, pretty fast, probably around 9 years old. Trying to learn more about him/bloodlines etc...

June 1, 2008 at 12:32 PM  

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