Take a Break

25 October 2011     3.00 PM      44 F           Cloudy

dog team workingHeading off down the trail

As previously mentioned, we had constructed a new, updated training schedule, one that we were adhering to. It was all going so well, the dogs were working hard and we were actually seeing definite signs of progress. Our established leaders, such as Oscar, Harry, Ruby and Teague have all been doing a good job up front. The brightest news has been the showing of the younger leader trainees, dogs like Quiz, Oak and Kazek have really stepped up and have been doing much better than I could have hoped, and consistently, too.

Overall, team manners have improved as well. Hook up is still loud and exciting, but it’s not fraught with the same tension wondering who was going to eat what.

dog team waiting patiently, ready to goHarry & Quiz poised to lead us out.

We’ve even managed a couple of acceptable head on passes as well as several of the “could do better” variety. One of the major difficulties in training the dogs how to deal with passing is simply the lack of opportunities to practice it in a structured manner.  We did try a couple of training runs with our own dogs in separate teams so we could work on this area. Our dogs were great, behaved impeccably towards each other and did exactly what we would have wanted.

smooth overtakeHarry & Quiz lead their team smoothly past the team led by Kazek & Avery

However, they still find other people’s dog teams much more interesting and worthy of further investigation. When our friends arrive in Willow in a couple of weeks with their teams, we’re going to beg them for some help in setting up passing situations.

However. lest we get carried away with all the positives, it should be pointed out that our dogs are currently all having an enforced break. Yes, injuries have already taken their toll. As you may suspect, it isn’t actually the dogs but yours truly that is once again the weak link. The good news segment of the bad news chapter is that for once it isn’t my back that has incapacitated me and the team. I tore my gastrocnemius muscle – that’s the big calf muscle for those of you without access to Dr Google.  Sadly, I found this definition online – Calf (Gastrocnemius) muscle tears commonly occur in middle-aged recreational athletes while performing actions that require sudden changes in direction. As if that wasn’t mean enough to us middle-aged athletes, it continues so….  Calf (Gastrocnemius) muscle tears typically occur in moderately active individuals in their 30s, 40s, and 50s while performing actions that put maximal tension on the gastrocnemius muscle. “Weekend warriors”, who have often lost flexibility in their muscles are at greater risk for partial or complete muscle rupture.

I think they are trying to temper the “weekend warrior” insult with the moderately active athlete description. I’ll have them know, I had my injury midweek. So there ! The upshot of this undoubtedly traumatic injury is I was forced to endure a few days of watching daytime TV whilst undergoing R.I.C.E. and my wife had to do all the dog chores. At least this time, she had an assistant to help her.

I am on the road to recovery and am mobile enough now to be a pain in the backside to Lizzy and Joyce, with my finger pointing and advice giving, as I hirple about, yelling instructions like a one legged pirate. Hopefully, it won’t be too much longer before we can get back on the trail.

the first snow fall in OctoberA brief snow flurry – that didn’t last. 17 Oct

The weather has been a little strange. We had a cold spell earlier in the month that everyone thought was going to be the start of winter and since then, we’ve had rain, temperatures that haven’t dropped below freezing in the last 2 weeks or so and other than the brief snow flurry pictured above, you’d be hard pressed to know this is late October in Alaska.

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