Thursday, 28 November 2002

November 28, 2002

I’m pouting this morning because of the warm temperatures. It was 5C (just over 40F) here this morning. I guess it will melt all that ice that has been making training with the 4- wheeler so treacherous lately. I was kind of hoping that it would get covered with snow though – rather then melted away.

Despite the miserable weather, training is still going well. I’m a little behind where I want to be, but the dogs are looking good enough that I’m feeling okay with it.

Last weekend Mark and I went out on an overnight camping trip. We did 28 ½ miles out to the Forfar Campground, stayed overnight and came home the next morning. It was good for the dogs – but also important for Mark to test out his camping gear before some of our planned longer trips in late December. Unfortunately, his gear failed him – although his sleeping bag was warm enough, it certainly wasn’t big enough for him to sleep comfortably in outside. Better to find out now then on a really long trip.

Overall the trip was good though. We found a great camping spot near the lake  - seems that campgrounds aren’t too crowded in November – go figure! There was even a pile of nice dry firewood and we were able to get a nice fire going. It took us a bit to figure out that the moaning and groaning we kept hearing was the ice on the lake – you should have heard some of the different ideas we were throwing out before we figured that out!! The moon came out and was so bright that headlamps weren’t even really necessary to work around the campsite! The next morning everything was covered with a thick layer of frost. The dogs where able to shake their frost off, but it took a little scraping to get the seats of the 4 wheelers clear!

This week I’m just trying to stay alive for the last few days of hunting season. Those hunters that haven’t yet filled their tags are getting a little punchy and the woods are filled with sounds of gunshots at dawn and dusk! Only 3 days to go!!! Still, hunting season here is never as bad as Minnesota where the state color is blaze orange and the state motto is ‘If it’s brown – it’s down’.

I need to take a moment to sing the praises of one of my wonderful critters. Sometimes dogs ‘sneak up’ on me and slip into maturity without my really noticing it. The ‘now retired’ Spud was one of those dogs. As a youngster, he was a lousy leader. Every year I’d faithfully try him in lead – shake my head and then put him back into the team, where he worked hard and solid. Then one day when he was about 4 or 5, I put him in lead during a Race and he never looked back. From that day forward, he was one of my most reliable and dependable leaders. Now Draco (not surprisingly – a Spud grandson) has decided to do just this. Draco and his brother, Orion, are remarkable, strong, and important dogs in my team, but Orion has always been the one that I thought was going to be the ‘leader’ out of the two. Orion was leading at 2 years of age, Draco was distracted by butterflies, leaves…. anything. Over the last few years, there have been a few signs that Draco was maturing – but nothing dramatic. When I was out in Minnesota I put him in lead a few times – and all of a sudden it occurred to me that most of my best runs were the ones where he was up front. I started testing him in lead by putting him with some young leaders to see if he was picking up cues off of the really experienced leaders he had been running with or whether he was doing this all on his own. Surprise, surprise - it was all Draco. Since Minnesota, Draco has been leading A LOT. In fact, he is out performing his brother on a regular basis. Watch for this neat, affectionate, big dark gray and white boy at the front of my team a lot this winter! Way to go Pointy Whiskers!!

Well, I’m off to run the carpet cleaner around the front room. Between having a 16-year-old housedog and my mad rush to the bathroom from the dog yard this morning with my boots on, our light beige rug is looking pretty bad! One of these days I need to battle the squirrels for supremacy of our outhouse – or just tear up all our carpet and put down hardwood!  I’m not sure which sounds like a better plan!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American family and friends!!

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