3 October 2011 3.00 PM 45 F Blue skies and sunny
During our first October in Alaska, all those years ago, oh ok, was it really only two years ago……….. well anyway, whenever it was, it was October and I remember watching with some amusement, our builder sending a couple of his younger employees out on an errand. Their job was simple, go around the building site (our house and yard) and collect all of the tools, equipment and materials that had become spread out all over the site. Not an unreasonable request, what made it funny for me was the cause. He was concerned that it was going to snow and/or freeze soon and they’d lose those things until the Spring. I understood the concept, I was just a little surprised that early October was the start of the “find everything we think we might want or need in the next 5 months that’s been lying about outside since April”, period. As it turned out, it was a couple of weeks before it snowed, and even then, it only lasted a couple of days before melting. It wasn’t until mid November we saw our first real snow, enough snow to hide all those tools and things the boys had already carefully gathered up and secured.
Which is a rather long-winded way of saying it’s October, it’s getting colder and I spent Sunday running around our place collecting in those things that have been lying about outside all summer. The Skeeter Vacs have been brought inside as the annual battle with the mosquitoes has been declared over for another year. I’ve put away all the gardening implements, the hoses (fire hazards are hopefully done until the Spring), folded up and stored the deck chairs, mowed the lawn for the last time and have, very graciously I feel, left my wife’s window boxes for her to deal with.
Our friend/handler Lizzy has been here a week now. She still says she’s enjoying it – which either means she’s lying or else I’m not working her hard enough.
One of the things that has stood out for me in this first week, is how much my wife and I must communicate telepathically. It is either that, or more likely (but much less interestingly) we have been together with our dogs for so long, that we have an established routine and each knows what the other will do. We’re also guilty of talking in half sentences, the unspoken words seem obvious to us, but poor Liz has been seen with a glazed and perplexed look on her face a few times. Hopefully, we’re getting better at explaining ourselves and aren’t complicating her life much more than it already is.
She has confessed to not yet having remembered all of our dogs names. I’m not sure that’s really a hanging offence but it has led to more of those glazed and perplexed looks. I will admit that often those looks are my fault – I accept that asking her to bring me Echo and waving my arm in the general direction of a line of dogs on a picket chain possibly isn’t the clearest of directions. Especially when, after being asked which one Echo is, I blithely say – the white one. Of course, as luck would have it, Echo happens to be standing beside Kalekh, who also happens to be white and with a 50 50 chance of being right, we end up with the other dog.
Some of the dogs have been a little unsure of the new person working around them, Oak in particular was loud and barky on her first night. Lizzy does seem to be winning them over and I’m sure in time, they’ll all want to be her best buddy.
Of course, there is one additional hurdle to be overcome in the dog recognition game.
Training has been going reasonably well and the dogs are starting to look solid. We have also drawn up yet another training schedule – one that we are determined to stick to, this time ! Most of the running dogs have had good days and not quite so good days, one or two have had more of the latter than the former and there’s a few that have been wonderful. Shining lights so far have been Harry, Oscar, Ruby, Kaz and Quiz. Teague gets an honourable mention for a couple of recent strong performances as does Lightfoot. The “Invisibles” look to have a couple of new members, which is always gratifying and perhaps the biggest and most pleasant surprise of the season so far has been the form of the Terrible Twosome – sisters Lily & Rosie. They likely could cause trouble in an empty room but they have both been putting in a tremendous effort in harness. It would be nice if they weren’t quite such dinky little things though. Just how much pull does a 30lb dog contribute to the team?