I will have a full account of our 8th place finish in the Don Bowers 200 last week soon, but first wanted to share a story about Wifi!!
Wifi is a VERY high energy, enthusiastic 3 year old. Last year he raced a bit with Mark, but this year he has been finding himself mostly in my group. Despite his smaller size and not great confirmation, he is a hard driving and solid addition to my team.
He did a great job on the first leg of the Don Bowers 200, but a few hours into our return trip it became obvious he wasn't 100%. I stopped and checked all the things that might be a 'quick fix' (harness issues, snowballs, needing booties, etc). It appeared to be a mild shoulder injury. I scratched his ears and asked if he wanted a ride. He pointed his nose down the trail and banged his harness a few times. "Okay", I said, "Let me know if you change your mind".
Wifi kept his tug tight, continued to snack well and bang his harness every time we stopped for 'too long' (according to him), but I could still see a slight limp.
With about 30 miles to go Wifi's tug line started to get slack. He was still happy on our stops but I figured I was going to have to load him in the sled bag soon. Sure enough a few miles later he started to 'neckline' alittle and I stopped the team.
I swapped around a few pieces of gear in my sled to make a more comfortable spot for him and then tucked him in. He was tired and surprisingly got settled into the sled with little fuss.
When I called the team up and we started to move Wi's eyes got big. I steadied him by the collar while he got used to the movement of the ride. Pretty quickly he relaxed and tucked his head onto the sled bag for a nap. Little dips and a few big hills on the trail would briefly wake him up, but in no time he would relax and his eyes would drift shut.
After about an hour or so, he decided he wasn't very tired anymore and my trouble began.
Wifi began to pay attention to the landscape around him. He watched the ground roll by under us, he watched the dogs, he stared at the moon (actually many of the dogs were fascinated by the big full moon on that trip).
Then he started staring off into the woods, lifting his nose into the air and then snapping his head around to stare fixedly off into the dark.
"Okay Wi, you are beginning to freak me out. Stop it". He replied by sniffing and twisting around to try and see the trail behind us. A couple times he got excited enough that he started to try to get out of the sled bag. I reassured myself that there were not hundreds of moose hanging out in these woods and that he was making up a bunch of his 'sightings' - if not all of them.
After about an hour or so he must have decided he had milked that trick for all it was worth and began looking for something else to do. "Maybe I'll just get out", he said. I disagreed. We began to argue. Soon I had to snap a second neckline to his collar to secure him better in the bag. He was frustrated by that and decided that whining and howling might be a good past time. Each time he start to whine the team would all slow and start looking over their shoulders.
"Find another hobby", I suggested sternly - but nope, he was liking this one. Finally I stopped and let him out of the bag for a break. He trotted around a bit and had a good long pee while the team rolled in the snow.
I went to tuck him in the bag and he said "Oh no, it's no fun in there". We wrestled a bit but I finally managed to get all his feet grouped together and stuff him back in the bag. I snapped in his necklines and off we went.
"Let me OUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUT", sang Wifi. "It's for your own good",I countered.
And so we proceeded till the trail dropped back onto the Big Su river. There Wifi decided to take a stand and threw himself out of the sled bag. I struggled to keep control of the sled and get a hold of my errant sled dog. Once we were back under control I stomped in the snow hook and said "ENOUGH".
I shuffled gear around a bit more to make a 'deeper' seat for Wifi in the sled, stuffed him in and zippered the bag closed. "Deal with that". Not a sound or movement came from the bag.
Five minutes or so later I peeked in the bag "You there Wifi?" I asked. He turned his head away and stared at the bottom of the sled bag. Apparently he was no longer speaking to me. Good.
A few miles later I peaked in the bag again, then reached in and scratched his ear. He continued to stare at the bottom of the bag. In fact for the next 10 miles he stared sullenly at the bottom on the sled bag. It wasn't until we started to pass a few houses near Willow Lake when his nose tentatively poked out of the bag.
When we rolled up to the finish line, I unzipped the top of the bag so the checkers could account for all 13 of my dogs. Like a Jack in the Box Wifi came shooting out. I grabbed his collar and wrestled to keep him under control while the checkers tried to look at my mandatory gear.
Wifi spied his dog truck and double his effort to escape. Finally Donna came over to grab him from me and take him to the dog truck, but Wifi hadn't gotten the final word in yet. As we helped him out of my sled bag, he let go and PEED all over the inside of my bag.
I guess that means he didn't appreciate the ride!! What a brat!!!