Sunday, 25 April 2010

Sweat Equity

The simple fact is that the number one ingredient in building a good dog team is sweat equity. Sure, time is important and a lot of folks throw a lot of money at their dog teams, but in my opinion, until you throw some plain old SWEAT into the mix, things just aren't going to come together!

Yesterday morning I threw A LOT of sweat into my dog team!

It started off while I was gathering the 16 dogs to be run that morning. There was a loud CRACK and one of the end posts of our 'ready chain' snapped. Now that post has been there for over 10 years and has secured thousands of dog teams for us, so I understand if it has had enough, but it could have picked a better moment then when I had 14 dogs (many of them obnoxious 2 year olds) secured to it and was on my own!!

A few minutes of serious scrambling and everyone got safely moved over to our second 'ready chain'.

(and yes, that is rain/snow falling from the sky!!)

The hookup went not too badly, but leaving the dog yard took 3 tries - and with 8 of the dogs on the team being young and the lack of necklines, each time I stopped pandemonium broke out with dogs visiting dogs in the yard and wrapping themselves around trees - but finally we cleared the yard and for a bit everything went well!

Then everyone started testing my commitment to the 'no neckline' concept. I had tangled dogs, backwards dogs and dogs off in the weeds. I think I was off the ATV more then I was on it for the next 1/2 hour or so.

After the 'half hour of hell' things improved somewhat, with moments of brilliance and scattered amongst the moments of hell - but we pushed on.

Yup, this is the BIG puddle! Not a drop of water there now!

When we got back into the yard dogs were everywhere. I spent over 30 minutes just working on getting dogs to point forward. It was alot of work, but in the end I saw some improvement in the youngsters and the veterans and Grimmy seemed to have it almost completely figured out.

About that time, Pop decided that he wanted to join the party and chewed off his collar (or maybe Rocky helped him out) so he could run up the hill and join us. I rounded up the collarless monster and carried him up the hill where I put him in a pen till I could deal with him later. Then back to the team where it took 10 more minutes to get everyone's brains back to the 'point forward' issue we had been discussing before Pop's interruption.

I wrestled and sweated my way through 30 more minutes of unhooking, with only one harness paying the price of the day and being eaten by Bubba.

The entire FIVE mile run took THREE hours from start to finish. Oiy!

This morning's run was MUCH better though!
The 'ready chain' is back to working order.

And the team, lead by young SUPERstar, Rocky (with a bit of help from Dasher) rocked!!

I was even successful with getting Irving running next to another dog!!! Wahoo!! (That is why Jolt doesn't have a running partner - I left a space in the team in case I had to move the dog running next to Irv!).

In closing I just wanted to show what I think are a few advantages of the 'no neckline' thing.
This picture of a tight cornering was from yesterday. Notice how the gangline is tight into the corner, but the dogs are free to move far to the left. Don't know how this will work with sled steering, but it is sure nicer for the dogs!

And this picture of the team getting water at one of our neighbour's dugouts this morning. MUCH easier for them to get down to the water without necklines!

Yup, the wheel dogs got the short end of the stick again - but I went down and got water for them!!

Flash and Jolt getting a drink!

Have a great day everyone!


Deb Rawaillot said...

'Oy' is right, Karen! I hope you had a nice glass of wine last night!

Pat in MN said...

People watching the Iditarod festivities probably think the dogs line out nicely out of instinct. They have no idea the time and patience it takes to accomplish that. Way to go Karen! Wish I could have stayed and helped you Sunday AM.

Bakavi said...

Good mushers have to be a patient lot but I think you win the prize. 3 miles in five hours?