Thursday, 13 December 2007

December 13, 2007 Bingo

"There was a musher had a dog and BINGO was her name, oh. B-I-N-G-O B-I-N-G-O - and BINGO was her name, oh"

Bingo is the kind of dog that makes a musher's life easier. She is easy to live with, does her job every time you put her in harness, eats well and is always happy. However, because she is never causing trouble or being loud or obnoxious - she is easy to overlook.

I frequently find myself talking about my outstanding rookies - and then saying "Oh yeah - and Bingo".

Yesterday, right before I was heading out the door to run I was on the phone with Mike Carmichael talking about some stuff for my trip to Montana next month. Of course, I was asking how his training was going and how his NorthWapiti kids were doing. In telling a story about Lexx, Mike mentioned having Bang - Bingo's sister - in lead. That got me thinking about Bingo and why exactly it was I hadn't tried this solid little gal in lead. When I headed out the door a bit later, Bingo's name was at the top of the list of dogs running that day.

Giving her a solid support system, I had Hilda running next to her and Jinx and Holly behind her.

Hook up went pretty well, with Hilda making sure everyone stayed lined out while I tried to explain to Bingo that she needed to stay up front. The first few miles went very smooth, I even took time to arrange my iPod and get some tunes rolling. When we got close to the highway, a big tractor trailer with a giant piece of oilfield equipment roared by, spewing highway junk and wet snow behind it. That made my little rookie leader a bit unsure and she backed off, but recovered well.

As it had been storming the previous day, I knew the field we cut through to avoid our evil nemesis, PorkChop, would be very drifted in but I thought better to try that with the team rather then the annoying farm dog and his little American Eskimo Dog friend, Emma.

Both Hilda and Bingo leapt into the drifted field, even though there was absolutely no sign of our previous trail. The whole team looked like little show jumping horses as they jumped through the snow for a solid ½ mile. Maybe once or twice there was an indentation in the snow to confirm to them they were on the right path, but that was it. And never was the snow cover thin enough that they could plow through it rather then leap. When we hit the far side of the field, I picked my jaw up off the ground and went up front to HEAP praise on my leaders. Little Bingo absolutely wiggled from head to toe at the praise. She adored being the focus of all that positive attention. Of course all the dogs get praise during a run, but being a leader definitely comes with more pressure, and therefore over the top praise when they get things right - especially when they are still learning.

The rest of the run Bingo continued to do well. She had another moment of hesitation crossing a secondary highway at another semi, but recovered and later in the run passed the idling County of Athabasca grader, after we caught up with it. She ignored loose dogs, passed a neighbor on horseback, and continued to simply vibrate at the praise heaped on her.

Thirty seven miles later when we pulled back into the yard -  Bingo was still in lead. She has now officially given up her 'wallflower' status in the kennel.

 ".and BINGO was her name - OH!".


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