Practice makes…….

27 September 2011     3.00 PM            43 F                   Blue skies and sunny

………………us slightly less imperfect each time.

Regular readers (does such a person exist?) will be aware that we have rather more dogs than we did at this stage last year. Lots of running dogs generally should be regarded as a good thing. It’s nice to have choice and not to be concerned about maybe not having enough dogs to make up a team. Equally, lots of running dogs could be regarded as not such a good thing, because it’s hard to share your time around them all and with the best will in the world, not all dogs will perform at the same level.

So, these initial runs are being used as a kind of shakedown to find the dogs that even at this early stage, won’t be asked to push themselves.

It’s also been good to finally get to see those new dogs in action. Both pleasingly and excitingly, all of the new dogs have done very well in the team and that includes a couple of adults that at nearly 3 and 4 years old had never been in a harness prior to this month. As previously mentioned, these first few runs are always interesting (where interesting is the word used instead of the combination of phrases involving sweary words, deep breaths and chewed equipment). The last post on the blog tallied the damage sustained during that first week of runs. Now, a further 2 weeks on, I’m delighted to say that nothing else has been destroyed (fingers crossed, touching wood etc, etc).

Oscar and Kazek at the head of our teamQuick water break, Oscar & Kaz at lead. Quiz wants to keep going.

The weather has been great, nice and cool in the mornings with generally sunny, warmer afternoons. It’s great to see those dogs that were working hard being able to lie about and sunbathe in the September sunshine.

One of the things that we intended to do much better this year, was to have a training schedule and to stick to it. Sadly, that has already proven to be a forlorn hope and our initial schedule can safely be considered as redundant. There usually is a fairly good reason why we don’t attain the targets we set – normally, it’s because I’m lying about the floor whimpering about my back being sore. This time it seemed we were either at the vets, on the way to the vets or on the phone to , yes you guessed, the vets.

Cone head dog and sore legWink with her cone and her sore leg

Wink has been the main cause for concern, having had a lump removed on her left front leg, that just won’t heal. Poor girlie is being a great patient, despite a couple of trips to the vet and being poked, prodded and injected more times than I care to recall. She is dealing with the Comfy Cone pretty well, the other house dogs don’t seem to be bothered by it and our legs are happy that when she barges into us, the cone is soft and folds up.  The only ones who seem disturbed by the cone are the yard dogs who, without exception freak out when Wink, the square headed dog appears in the back garden.

We also had a day off because we attended the excellent Willow Dog Mushers’ symposium. John Baker was the keynote speaker, and was wonderful to listen to. A pretty laid back, humourous guy with an amazing depth of knowledge and great way of relaying his tales. Of the many things he said, one struck a particular chord with me. He feels that he, his handlers and the dogs all have their part to play in the team. He expects that his dogs will pull and eat. He’ll give them good food and all they have to do is eat it. As he said, how hard can that be !

There were several other sessions during the day that we attended and the symposium was finished off with A Parade of Champions – a panel consisting of Egil Ellis, Dallas Seavey and John Baker, compered by the inimitable Vern Halter.  All in all, another really good symposium organised by WDMA.

And one final piece of great news. Our friend Lizzy flew into Anchorage late last night from Scotland for a 6 month stay. She is going to help us with the dogs and try to see a bit of Alaska too. We’re very happy to have her here and look forward to putting that extra set of hands to good use. Alaska did its part to welcome her with a great display of the Northern Lights on her first night and wonderfully cool 20F morning.

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