6 December 2011 1.00 PM 20 F Overcast
Ugh, what a horrible couple of days we’ve had. After my last post about our weather, I’m loathe to make it the subject of this entry too, but needs must and all that.
Since my last effort, we’ve actually had some fine weather, some very cold spells, down under -30 F for a day or three and the trails have really settled well. We’ve been out running dogs quite a lot and explored some new (to us) trails, thanks to Dave for acting as tour guide.
It’s been quite an experience to run under the main Highway by dogsled and head out into the unknown. It seems I’m not quite the intrepid explorer that I fondly imagined, as I have discovered that I like to know the way home. I have also discovered that my lead dogs are pretty darn smart and require me to pay more attention. It seems one run is enough for them to figure out which way we are going. This led to a couple of “discussions” between me and them during the next run on the trail as I wanted to go a different way from the previous day’s travels. We do now seem to have reached some degree of understanding, they won’t anticipate turns and I will keep taking us alternative routes.
I’m sure I have previously mentioned that one of issues we have with our dogteam is a certain lack of discipline when it comes to passing other teams. In the spirit of getting your excuses in early, I have always wondered if our loose living dogs think it’s perfectly ok to socialise with passing visitors. We have done some training using our own dogs in different teams and they always behave and pass in an exemplary manner. However, throw a team of strangers in our path and it’s a whole new ballgame. It is interesting enough when using the 4 wheelers for training to get past, on a sled, on the much narrower trails, it becomes a much more harrowing experience. It seems that most of our dogs are a little intimidated by the sights and sounds of the oncoming team and tend to shy away from what, I’m assuming, they perceive as approaching conflict. Of course, as we stop moving forward, the team naturally spreads out sideways a bit and fills the trail, making passing even more of a process. So, we’ve been working on trying to keep the “forward focus” of the leaders, getting them to trust us and to believe that the other teams aren’t really interested in them. Which in most cases, is true. As part of this ongoing training, we managed to convince friends and neighbours to provide the sacrificial teams for us to practice with.
“Passapalooza” was set up with Dave, TC, TJ , Lindsey and I all hitting the trail on Friday on a 10 mile, figure 8 looped run that would give each of our teams several head on passing opportunities. My report card for my 5 passes reads –
- Shambles but funny,
- Very good,
- Not good but not bad either.
Could do better, but shows signs of potential, just needs to apply himself more, as my school report cards had a habit of reading, but also applies to my review of our efforts on that run. Thanks to all who took part and hopefully we can do it again, and again……
Intending to get back onto the trails to follow up our good work, whilst it was still fresh in their minds, the next day’s run got called off because a big dump of snow meant that I had to finally clear our driveway before we got stranded. A task I had been putting off as there always seemed something less onerous and more interesting to do. So, no sooner had I spent a few hours moving snow around than it started to warm up quite dramatically. The snow turned to rain which proceeded to fall for the next 20 hours. We got temperatures well above freezing and are now in the middle of that horrible wet mess refreezing, with the ruts and footprints offering numerous opportunities for injury to human and dog.
Those couple of warm days have played havoc with the trails, rumours abound of open water and punchy trails, full of moose holes and now, with a couple of colder nights, a harsh abrasive ice layer. I’ve decided to be safe, cautious and sensible. Our dogs can wait another day or two before going back out. Hopefully it will snow soon.
The only good thing about not getting out with the team is the chance to spend more time with the puppies. They will be 4 weeks old tomorrow but they seem so much bigger than that. We’ve started the process of weaning them onto food, figuring that Cuchi will be grateful for the help in feeding 4 seemingly insatiable not so little puppies.
We’ve also finally agreed on names for them all. Dawson and Braeburn for the boys, Teslin (Tess) and Brooks for the girls. I’m truly thankful that we don’t have a lot of litters, goodness knows how long it would take us to pick names if we bred every year.