13 Sept 2011 2.00 PM 56 F Overcast
We are jump up and down happy here. We’ve started running dogs regularly, the dreadful Aug-rain-ust month is over and the temperatures have started to cool down appreciably. We had our first morning below freezing, the other day. It’s amazing that a simple thing like seeing the sheen of ice on a water bucket can bring such a smile to my face.
Of course, the cooler weather has been pleasing to the dogs too. Maybe there is some kind of doggie underground radio, perhaps they have their own version of t’internet or it could of course, simply be that they can hear the screamin’ and a hollerin’ from all the other kennels around but it is safe to say our dogs were ready to run. And not at all shy about letting me know it, either.
One of the many great things about living here is the ability for us to train straight out of our yard. No time wasted loading dogs, driving to training areas. unloading dogs – only to find you’ve forgotten some vital piece of equipment, like say, harnesses or running lines, or water bowls. Not that I’ve ever done that. Well, okay, I did forget the bowls once.
Once we are training regularly, we have a fine routine in place and everything is pretty simple. These first few runs are just a little bit different, let’s call it a fine tuning process – whilst we get ourselves fully organised. The dogs look on bemused as I end up trekking across the yard several times to collect the little things I forgot I needed or couldn’t find the first time I looked. Actually, they’re not just looking on bemused, most of them are screaming, digging huge holes, banging against their chains or jumping on and off their doghouses, presumably in an effort to give the human a bit more encouragement.
Needless to say, once everything is set, the fine madness that is hook up can commence. With so many new dogs, last year’s practice of simply turning the running dogs loose and calling them over one at a time to be harnessed, was deemed to be possibly a little unwise. So, the trusted ones were allowed loose and harnessed, the semi-trusted ones (also known as the harness chewers) were allowed to just run loose and the “jury is still out on your loose behaviour” ones were harnessed at their posts.
And so, the dance begins. Leaders lined out, except Oscar wants to stand beside the swing dogs. Harry the other leader, is a chewer, so he’s still on his post, unharnessed. Quiz and Kaz are being great. Rimi, hmmm, not so much. You – stop that…… Ciara, stop chewing his ear………………. noooooo leave that line alone. Irina is standing quietly in her spot, nice. MILLOY !!!!! Let go of Friddy’s neck ! Oh well, that’ll maybe teach you….. Ahhh Irina, dammmmm, when did you chew your harness.
And so on, for what seemed like for ever. An extra pair of hands or eyes would have been most helpful. However, eventually, after all the chaos, I was ready to roll out of the yard and onto whatever excitement and adventures awaited me on our first run of the season.
And after all the nonsense getting out of the yard, the run itself was remarkable only for its unremarkableness. No silliness, no grumbling, no issues. A good solid base from which to build.
Of course, the more times we get out there, the more polished the routine becomes. So, perhaps we should say there’s still room for some more polishing. However, with the numbers of dogs we have here, and our penchant for allowing all of them to run in a team, at least we’ll have plenty of practice. Realistically, we know we’ll have to whittle down the main running group to a much more manageable selection pool quite soon so we can focus on the race team. But until then, everyone gets to play. Even if they are not too happy at how long it takes for it to become their turn!
In the last blog entry, I made mention of the joyfulness that Mother Nature bestows upon our females once or twice a year. At the time, we had around 6 bitches in season – and now we have 11. The good thing about that is, at least we get it over and done with reasonably quickly. The bad thing – that’s one heck of a lot of oestrogen swanning about – which in turns leads to loads of testosterone hanging around the other side of the fence. We’ve also had the dubious pleasure of seeing two girls who were in season early in the summer and had been returned to the general population, being overwhelmed by the pheromones and feeling that they should come back in, again. Oh the joy. It’s fair to say that St Trinian’s is being put to great use.
With so many females unable to mix with our males, the obvious solution is to run them as an all girlie team. It was a thought that didn’t exactly thrill me, visions of sexual carnage – or worse, flashed before my eyes – the prospect of meeting another team when I have 5 females in full standing heat seemed more than a little daunting. However, they all promised to behave and be good girls, so I fell for it. Actually, they did behave, in fact they were all really well behaved and happily, we haven’t met anyone else out there yet, so that fear was groundless too.
And so the summary of our first week back in action. 2 chewed harnesses, 1 chewed neckline, 1 slightly chewed muzzle, 3 chewed dog houses, 2 exceedingly large holes, innumerable exasperated sighs and a continuing, unbounded love of running dogs.