Watching a large string of sled dogs turn around on voice command is a thing of beauty. If you would like to see how beautiful it looks done well - check out this KD Lang video 'Barefoot' (which also happens to be one of my very favourite songs) at 3:16. Not sure whose dog team it is, but I do know it was shot in Kotzebue, Alaska, so I have a few guesses.
Anyway, this blog is not about one of those beautiful turns.
Actually, many, many years ago I had an awesome dog named Iceman. He was GREAT at turning teams around on command - and on whim. A bad night on Race to the Sky when I snapped back from dozing off and wasn't sure whether I was going forward or backward made me make the decision to not teach this command to my leaders anymore.
So now if I want to turn my team around, I just go up front and lead my leaders around. It's still a bit of a trick to get all around without a tangle, as everyone needs to wait and come around in turn. Usually they all figure out what we are doing and rush to get to the head of the line. Keeners.
Today I had young, HIGHLY ENTHUSIASTIC Neo in lead with his mom Tramp on our run. Tramp is GREAT on commands, but like her boy, not great on standing still. Thankfully she usually bounces around but keeps her tugline tight. I had put some of my very best leaders - Tess, Wifi, See and Boo - behind them without necklines - just in case.
I was zigging and zagging and really putting some pressure on young Neo and he was responding beautifully.
And then we came upon this......
As we were coming up on it I was pretty certain I could get the ATV over, but it became apparent very quickly that that was not the case. Time to turn around!
Coming around politely and holding them lined out patiently in the woods while I sort everything out is DEFINITELY above Neo's pay grade. I could have swapped out him for one of his top notch backups, but that wouldn't teach him anything - and these are TRAINING runs, after all.
I took a deep breath and brought everyone around.
Pandemonium ensued. The main line got tangled in branches, there was apparently something in the woods of INTENSE interest, and I must have had to put Neo back where he was supposed to be 40 or 50 times.
Eventually though we got it sorted.
No....wait....Eventually we got it sorted.
No....wait....EVENTUALLY we got it sorted....
For the record the tree was SHOT down by ....idiots ..... target shooting earlier in the week. They left all their shell casings, targets and the tree blocking the trail.
I was going to curse them on the blog and say I wished them a totally unsuccessful hunting season....but then I saw this and figured it was a given anyway.