Monday, 18 September 2006

September 18, 2006 Impressive Youngsters

…Just Mark and I, 2 crazy cats (one crazier then the other), one Australian Shepherd and a pack of Siberians!!

Make no mistake Mom, Marlene, Mike, Kathy, Brooke, Fall Warm Up guests, Marty, Colleen, Joel, Anne, Donna and Joe – we loved having you all visit, but when the last of our, constant since the beginning of August, string of guests left on Sunday, we let out a big sigh!!! Company is wonderful and all our guests are quick to make themselves helpful with yard chores, which is very appreciated, but the flow of the house is just easier when it is just Mark and I – especially when our training is beginning to kick it up a notch.

Somewhere among all the company, I managed to sneak off to a dog show in Edmonton with Crunchie and Dasher. Neither one did anything startling at the show, but both were well behaved and seemed to have a good time. I was especially proud of Crunch, who was taking his first shot at being a ‘show dog’. He handled the crowds, the judges and the rest of the pomp with hardly a flick of his ear. What a man!

The Saturday night of the show I whipped down to Red Deer to put on a ‘Tales of the Trail’ presentation for the Red Deer and District Kennel Club. A few close friends, like my best bud, Lynda (all the way from Grande Prairie) and Jackie and Rick showed up, as well as a bunch of Iditarod fans from the Red Deer area. The questions asked were great – it was obviously a knowledgeable crowd and I had a really good time. I hope the same was true for all the folks that attended! (It seemed to be, as they were all very kind with their comments and remarks afterwards)

Next up are a few school presentations in New Hampshire and the New England Sled Dog Trade Fair in 10 days. That’s the last of the presentations for the year, as it is already past time to be solely focusing on running dogs!

Training is going very well, despite about 10 days of poor weather that we are just finishing up. Poor weather for dog mushers at this time of year means warm temperatures and rain. Most may agree with me on the rain being bad, but it is hard to get sympathy when you are whining about warm weather in September in Alberta!

I’ve been trying to focus on getting a number of the two to three year olds up front leading. For some, like Batdog, Junior and Jinx – it is basically a refresher course from last year and beginning to work on adding more responsibility (commands, etc) - but for others – like Q, Tess, Spider, and Runner – I’m starting from scratch.

I must say that, so far, I have been nothing but impressed with the youngsters! If the kids live up to the potential they are showing in lead, I may get to race season with the strongest pool of ‘front end’ dogs I’ve had in years. That is very exciting for me, as for many mushers; the difference between a good season and a great season is often the quality of your leaders!

I have a cute little story to share from my run this morning (it is only cute because it worked out so well – it had the potential to be particularly gory actually).

This morning I had Runner in lead for the first time ever. Next to him I had Draco, who is having a TREMENDOUS season so far (really unbelievable if you remember my past season’s training journals where I was often mumbling about how awful Draco tends to be in fall training) – in fact, I’ve been using Draco in lead a lot, especially with my young males inaugural experiences in lead. 

We were having a great run and as I started along in the ditch of Highway 2, I caught a glimpse of something dark moving around ahead of us. “Please don’t let it be wildlife”, I thought. Runner does like to chase things and I was fairly certain he didn’t have the discipline to get by wildlife while in lead.

As we got closer, I realized the movement was birds – a lot of birds – a lot of crows, to be exact. Crows in the ditch generally means ROADKILL. Man, if you think wildlife is hard to get by, roadkill takes things to a whole different level.

When we were about ¼ of a mile away, about 30 birds took to the air. That definitely got the dogs attention – and mine. Starting the week wrestling a mangled animal corpse out to the jaws of a pack of sled dogs is just not my idea of a good time. There had to be a way around this!

As we were closing in on the site, I could see that there was a big pool of blood in the grass on the right hand side of the trail and then a blood trail crossing our trail and leading to the carcass about 15 feet off of the trail on the left side.

It turns out that this was one of the times that not babbling at my dogs while running really paid off. Just as we were almost to the dead thing, I called out “Alright – On by’. As I don’t often give commands out of the blue like that, it snapped everyone’s attention onto what I had just said – afterall, when I take the time to say something – it must be important, and we rolled right by the gore. I breathed a sigh of relief as a few noses came up and heads swivelled around, but the opportunity was already by them. That brief moment of undivided attention from them was enough to save me a really ugly WWF worthy match.

Just one more case for keeping quiet unless you really need to say something while running dogs!
As has already been mentioned in posts on NorthWapitiNews, we have had a few dogs leave for new homes in the last while. 

First off, Mike and Kathy Carmichael managed to talk me out of Piper. I’m not really sure how that happened, but I know she will be very well cared for and loved.

Janet and Jay, from Washington got a major scoop from me – Pepsi. Peps had a few health issues crop up this summer that made her making my team this winter doubtful. They will not stop her from being a great addition to Janet and Jay’s team and household, so it is really a great match!

Razzle left for her new home in Montana last week. I hear she is settling in wonderfully and has already stolen everyone’s heart.

The most surprising departure came when Marty and Colleen Hovind left after the Fall Warm-Up weekend with Smiley in their truck. I’ll admit, I woke up the morning before they left with a knot in my stomach, but I just couldn’t deny Smiley the wonderful home that Marty and Colleen are going to give him – and he will be a really steady (well, reasonably steady – he is Smiley after all) influence in their young team, allowing them to have some fun while they teach Blaze, Thunder and Sparky to lead.
I hear he has appropriated their couch already. Go Smiley!!!

The newest NorthWapiti dual purpose Siberian - Smiley
Puppy Trainer / Couch Potato
(Click to enlarge)

Well, that’s it for today – consider yourselves all updated!

No comments: