Tuesday, 15 November 2011

And Then There Was One....

I started this year's training with 5 dogs over 9 years of age in the training pool. That is pretty exceptional for me, but then again those 5 dogs are pretty exceptional. They were -

Dasher - she is just about to turn 9 and has been my main leader for the past 3 or 4 years.
Hector and Herman - 10 year old brothers that have finished 3 Iditarods with me
Barq - 10 years and not looking or acting a bit like it.
and Crunchie - well, pretty much everyone that follows this blog knows Crunch. He is a superstar here!

The first to get cut from the main string was Hec. He struggled a bit during racing last season, so it really wasn't much of a surprise to me.
Next to get cut was his brother Herman.

The third cut was a tough one - Dasher. I struggled with that one. She's still a bouncy, opinionated gal that was happy to keep young leaders in line but she was struggling with the speed of the big strings I was running. I'd tell myself I was cutting her, then put her right back into the next team. I knew the 'right' decision, but that doesn't make it any easier.
Last week I 'sucked it up' and moved Dasher to a stakeout with the 'B' string. I couldn't meet her eyes for a few days but she has adjusted very well!

Day before yesterday, I made the decision to cut Barq. He is still a tremendous dog, but he was having trouble keeping weight on and I could see him making some compensation in his gait to try and keep up with the team when they were moving fast.

That leaves one - Crunchie.

Everyone that knows me knows that cutting Crunchie would/will be a very difficult and emotional decision for me. He is an extremely special dog to me but also respect him far too much to ever set him up for failure. When the time comes - I will do what is right for him.
Thankfully, he is not putting me even close to a point of struggling with that decision yet. He is moving well, happy, driving hard and keen to go.

Crunchie, the black, black dog second up on the left, drives hard up a hill on yesterday's training run. That is his son Turtle beside him and his other son, Pop directly in front of him.
 He's an amazing dog.



Teanna said...

Nice insight into the workings of large teams. Us recreational mushers with two dogs just slow down and pedal more... ;)

Jane Eagle said...

Beautiful post, Karen. I will never forget the first moment I saw Crunchie at the Nationals: i was so taken with him, I didn't even notice you!

Jane Eagle said...

Beautiful post, Karen. I will never forget the first moment I saw Crunchie at the Nationals: i was so taken with him, I didn't even notice you!

Natalie - Snowdrift Siberians said...

Go Crunchie.... Da Main Man... cannot wait to finally meet you in person... !

Those of us who follow NW's every move know that you ALWAYS put your dog's first Karen... and also know that you will know the right time to retire this amazing athlete...

It has been a priviledge to have been able to "follow" this awesome Siberian Husky all his life... and to see him blossom from a gangly pup to an unbelievable sleddog...

Helen Thorgalsen said...

Crunchie will let you know when he is ready to take a break. In the mean time it is clear he is still training his sons to be as powerful and awesome as he is!

SnikkiTee said...

Thank you Karen, for showing me that the decision will never get any easier. I have about a year before I cut my best and sweetest dog - And I am already struggling with the decision to do so. They are all so special.

Anonymous said...

It's always sad to read about the old, loyal friends having to slow down. They have done well for you & you always write things so amazingly emotional.
I love seeing Crunchie there alongside his sons. You are right when you say he is one spectacular dog! Hang in there Crunchmeister & get Karen through that wonderful arch in Nome one more time!!
We will all be rooting for you!
Hugs, Sitka's Mom Lisa

Caron said...

Thank you so much for sharing.
I am still new in the husky owning and sledding game and my female was not keeping up with the boys and she is still young, so I retired her and it breaks my heart as she still sits by her harness with her paw on it to show me she wants to run, so I currently run her seperately to keep her fit and meet her need as she loves running :-)So strongs to you when you make the decision around Crunchie and may he have happy trails till that day and beyond.