Finger Pointing

23 August 2011        11.00 PM       52 F       Dark (but dry)

Despite the speed with which the days generally fly by, I do occasionally wonder if the dogs get bored waiting for the cooler weather. All our dogs spend a large part of the day off their tethers, indeed some of them are only on the chains long enough to get fed and then we turn them loose again. They have a large exercise/play area that they dig in and chase each other or stupid birds around in but mostly they just sunbathe or hide from the rain.

With the cooling weather, comes a bit more activity from them and I look forward to getting the harnesses out and hooking them up. We’ve used a 4 wheeler (atv or  quad – the name seems to vary depending on where you’re from) for training until the snows fly. It’s a good training tool, stable, safe and capable of holding back a large strings of dogs. It’s also a little dull, and not quite my favourite way of taking the dogs out.

So on my wife’s last trip home, she arranged to have my Fritz Dyck training cart shipped over from Scotland. I love my Fritz, it’s a heavy 4 wheel cart, with brakes on each wheel and a digger/claw brake capable of holding 8 dogs at a standstill. I’ve used it with teams from 4 up to 12 and it even has a seat for a passenger. Best of all, you stand on it, so you can run, pedal, jump about or even hide from the flying mud by crouching down and letting your passenger shield you.

It’s a long slow process getting something that big shipped. My brother-in-law crated it up and it was collected by the shipping agents and then dispatched by boat to Seattle. The time it took to get there, I did wonder if perhaps it was being paddled over the Atlantic by canoe. When eventually it got into the US, we had quite the palaver with Customs and our clearance agents over what it was, what it was worth and why we were bringing it in. In the end, it was all resolved amicably if not a little expensively. The box was sent on its way north, bound for Anchorage via Outer Mongolia and another interminable wait whilst it was couriered onward by pack horse and sherpa. Eventually, and I do mean eventually, as in a ridiculously long time later, it left Scotland in the middle of March and made it to Alaska in early August, it was here.

Big box on a trailerThe excitement mounts as we figure out a way into the “box”

It has to be said my brother-in-law did an excellent job crating the cart. It even came with fairly idiotproof instructions – he must have remembered my “skills” with power tools – there were big arrows and the comment ” unscrew here to remove lid”. Awesome.  And oh so simple. Sort of.  Because the lid had already been removed in transit, presumably during a Customs inspection and had been reattached by someone who obviously felt that simply putting it back together the way they found it, would indeed be too simple and straightforward.

Happily, my friend Mike was still here and between us, and with only a little bickering, we managed to break our way in. I mean, successfully remove the lid. I gazed into the depths of the box and smiled at seeing my rig and stepped back to help move the box off the trailer.

Fritz Dyck heavy training cartA sturdy, heavy duty Fritz Dyck training cart

And then it struck me – that wasn’t my Fritz Dyck cart. I jumped back onto the trailer and stared into the box again, nope, definitely not a Fritz. Oh bother, I thought – or something very similar. How terribly unfortunate, my wife seems to have mistakenly packed up the wrong rig.
And what I actually got was my lightweight 4 wheel racing rig. Now, I really like it and it’s a joy to run behind a composed, disciplined race team on the relatively smooth trails we ran on in the UK. It’s not an ideal training tool however and it’s really not going to see much action over here. I may try and persuade some of my friends here to try it out and let them see what mushing UK style is like.

Lightweight racing rigMy ultra-lightweight EVR racing rig

As it happens, my wife was back in Scotland at the crucial moment, so during one of our daily phone calls, I broke the news to her. I already knew it was my fault. I am the husband !  However I did wonder if there could be any possibility of some degree of the blame being apportioned, after all, I didn’t pack it or tell my brother-in-law that was the one. Apparently not, no opportunity for shared blame, it was all my fault because I said the rig was in the storage container and the EVR was in there – ergo that must be the one I wanted. Despite the fact that we had had  several long conversations about how great it would be to have the Fritz over.

I don’t think the two rigs look anything alike, one weighs 200 lbs, the other less than 40. One has a seat, the other doesn’t. One has a large claw brake, the other doesn’t. One has had her sit in its seat and race with her as a passenger, the other, ummm no.  Okay, they do both have 4 wheels and are vaguely similar shades of grey/metal colours………….

So, no fun Fritz cart for training, it will be back to the 4 wheeler for us.

8 of our dogs taking a break on a frosty morningThe Fritz behind an 8 dog team, led by Wink and Teague, running in Scotland.

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