Sunday morning was another perfect morning for running dogs, so eagerly I dressed, fed the dogs, gave them treats and medicine, fed myself, had coffee, and waited for dawn (it is a bit dangerous riding around here while it's dark, and the dogs get me up at 4:30 am every morning irrespectful of the weekend). By the dim twilight between dawn and the time the sun actually climbs above the mountain ridge I uncovered the ATV and again began the ritual of trying to start the infernal machine.
This session ended with another careen down the hill towards the stream, dumping the clutch and applying the gas, only this time I was wisened up to its tricks and did not let it stall out! I kept the engine reving relentlessly (and probably annoying my neighbors, but well...). I zipped up to the top of the hill and let it run for a bit to warm up before shutting it back down, locking the brakes and going for gangline and dogs.
With the gangline in place, I rousted Jim and James to help with the dogs as I began harnessing up the dogs of choice. This morning was the race team, but since Buck had run yesterday I wasn't sure about putting him in harness until his exhuberance overwhelmed me (read as knocked me over and began giving me a husky face bath whining exicitedly). So, knowing that tired huskies tend not to get into trouble, and Bucky did more than his fair share of that, I harnessed him up with a grin and put his leash on (I leash up the dogs that are going on the run to make it easier to separate them from those not going. The dogs not going are shuffled one by one out to the back yard where they won't interfere or try to get out while taking the running dogs out to the gangline).
Jame began herding puppies and dogs outside besides the ones I've named for Sunday's run, Freya and Bandit for lead, Yukon and Buck in wheel. The dogs put outside began to howl and whine in disappointment, which was also quite noisy. Jim grabbed up a bunch of the cheap hot dogs that we buy for training the dogs, and chopped them up quickly and stuck them in his pocket so he could help control the team while I put them in position and hooked them up. First out was Yukon. He's always pretty mild and easy to control, so it only makes sense to have him out first. Jim got him lined out and ready in no time. Next out was Buck, who is a bit less easy to control, but being in wheel would make it easier on Jim to hold the two rear dogs than one front and one rear. Jim finally got him lined out and sitting calmly until I came out with Bandit. Bandit and Buck is a chemical mixture that is volatile in the extreme, so Jim yelled before I got up the hill to have James bring out Freya at the same time to minimize exposure to Buck and Bandit's wild antics to get going.
I still had to stop prior to climbing aboard to try to talk some sense into Buck that was screaming and biting at his neckline to get going, but he hardly heard a word I said... While talking to him, Freya and Bandit had enough of standing around and both leaped forward dragging the riderless ATV with all 4 tires locked up... scrambling and holding on to the gangline, I leapt back to the seat and jumped on before the team began dragging it further. Several kicks later and I just let the dogs pull the ATV in neutral with no engine, and man did they pull! We flew down the slight incline to the bridge as I tried to dump the clutch and start the ATV to no avail. They pulled the ATV up the next hill and around the corner without the engine. On the slight downhill there, I tried another clutch start, no good, but this didn't bother the team in the slightest! They continued to race on down the road, picking up speed again.
For the third time, I tried to clutch start the ATV without luck, only this time it stopped the team, as there was not enough incline to keep rolling. This is when the car came by, so in retrospect it was a good time to stop since Freya didn't want to Gee Over since she was already on her half of the road...I jumped off and pulled tight on the gangline to be sure she didn't turn in front of the car. The man driving was amazed at the sight of the quad being pulled by three rather large siberians and one medium sized one.
"That's quite an outfit!" He yelled out the window with a grin.
"Thanks!" I replied, not sure what else to say as he politely drove past slowly.
Freya decided since he was driving so slow that she was supposed to follow him, so she came around haw right behind the car. Since we had already hit the .75 mile mark and they had been pulling hard the whole way, I decided it would be ok to shorten the run time and turn around. If I had the engine fired up, I would have kept the team going, but at that point, they had been moving me and the ATV by sheer dog muscle and determination!
Keeping the gangline tight up against my thigh I hoped would keep it from getting wrapped around the tire axle again while I manhandled the ATV turn around. Not so! Despite my best efforts, the gangline decided it liked being wound around in the tire axle... But this time it was by far easier to unwind as the carabiners did not get bound up in the hub of the wheel.
Then, there was something on the side of the road that Yukon simply had to have, and of course, Freya and Bandit were curious what would distract the usually stoic Yukon, so they balled up and started digging in the dirt...
This reminded me of several colorful bits of language I hadn't used Saturday as I untangled them and got Freya pointed to the house. But by the time I got back on the ATV, the interesting patch of dirt had them in a ball again... Two more repetitions of this behavior and Freya finally figured she had frustrated me enough for one day and did as I asked and kept the team lined out and ready to head back.
On the slope down to the bridge, I tried again to start the ATV... nadda. I knew the run uphill was going to be a bear, and I was probably going to have to help push the heavy monstrocity uphill, so I jumped on the kick start five times before it finally roared to life... figures... So for the last two tenths of a mile, the dogs did not have to pull...
All in all though, I was very proud of them and amazed at how the team did in this new configuration! Yukon pulled much harder in wheel than he generally does in lead after the initial rush, Buck was as solid as ever, pulling his heart out and not stopping unless the whole team stopped. Bandit was great! He was not distracted by anything until Freya was, and he was quickly learning the routine and commands from her. He will be an awesome leader as well as an amazing powerhouse runner! Freya, as always was beyond amazing up until she decided that whatever Yukon was in to was even more fun than running. But again, that girl is definitely the star of the team!