I appologize for including a pic from last year. Brilliant me remembered to bring the camera, but left it in the truck during the race.
Since the start times were going to be close together and not much time between classes, I hurried and got our four dogs on the new drop leads Jim had made to attach to the trailer. This allowed me to bootie them up, and them to promptly remove the booties. After re-booting the dogs, I got their harnesses on, and gave them some water. It was pushing 43 degrees and climbing by the time I was done and I was worried. Jim was able to put the snow hook into the soft ground to help hold the rig in place while I hooked up the dogs and he stood on the gangline.
Getting the dogs and rig across the railroad tracks and the highway proved to be the next challenge we faced. After Jim trying to lead the dogs while I rode the cart and the brakes proved to be very inefficient, Jim got on the cart and I lead the dogs. All was going well until we needed to stop. Jim tried putting his feet down. 4 dogs > Jim's feet, and they pulled the cart over his ankle. I asked him why he didn't use the brake? It is still a mystery to me. Fortunately he was only bruised, and we continued on. Once in the grass by the start zone, Jim set the hook while I held the dogs.
The weather was pushing 45 degrees and climbing by the time the two dog class was done. We waited for the start of the 4 dog, hoping to be done before it got too hot. After a long unexpected break, 2 freight trains full of loud horns and nervous dogs later we finally got to start. The weather was closing in on 50 so I held the team back as much as possible. Freya unfortunately took this as a signal that she was doing the wrong thing and started to meander at the first turn, not believing I meant "Haw". A tangle later and convincing her that was the way I really did want her to go, she took off again making me ride the break to keep them from overexerting in the warm weather.
Poor Freya, she must have thought she was doing wrong again, and tried to go straight through the next turn as well. So I had to untangle her and Bucky again, and convince them which direction I wanted them to go (Gee). It took a while for her to understand that she wasn't doing wrong, and by that time she just wanted to go home. It was then I realized her heart was not in the race, but she was running because she simply loved to run. We played hopskotch with Brett and his team, and I was very proud that the dogs on my team ignored his when told to (except Bucky who thought it was social hour, but got pulled away by the other three dogs). Every turn off from the straight way became a struggle with Freya, even after the second time around the same track, so I figured it was too hot for her early pregnancy and dropped her with Jim for the final go round. At the first turn, Bucky nearly ran over Bandit and got tangled in his tugs. As Bandit straightened out, it swept Bucky off his feet and split a nail. I couldn't see how bad it was, but saw his bloody toe. Not knowing if he had also broken it and was ignoring the pain (Bucky is not known for letting a small injury stop him from running!) or if it was only a minor injury, I errored on caution and unhooked his tug, turned the cart around and headed back to the start walking alongside the cart.
This proved to be very difficult, as the dogs didn't want to pull when I wasn't in it and the cart didn't want to follow along nicely without someone to steer. Bucky was only very slightly limping, so I figured he would be ok to walk instead of call on the radio for help in getting him back. He seemed not in the least bit bothered by his bloody toe.
I managed to make it back after everyone had already taken their dogs back to their vehicles, but I thank those that stayed behind and helped. Also thank you to Brett for use of his peroxide to help clean the wound. After cleaning up Bucky's paw, it was apparent that the injury was very minor. There was only a little blood in his fur and it had stopped shortly after I looked at it the first time. I've seen worse clipping nails. With everything packed back up, we met with the rest of the folks at the Armory for lunch. The BBQ sandwiches were outstanding, and the company even better!
Thank you Rodney for organizing the event and thanks especially to the sponsors whose support allowed the event to take place! We had a great time!
The journey home was again long and uneventful, and the pack greeted us at the door sniffing to find out where we had been. I checked each of the dogs carefully to make sure again that there was nothing else to worry about, and let them run outside and play with their packmates (more like let their packmates fuss at them for being gone somewhere without them).
Watching the interaction made me think that re-introduction of dogs taken on trips may be problematic in the future as the dogs coming in were annoyed with the dogs who had been home all the time being rather pushy about sniffing and letting them back in the house. Bandit in particular took exception to being scruitinized, and I had to chastize him for having his ruff up and growling. Freya and Samantha also were close to violence, and I had to intervene. Yukon ignored them and shot through the group as if they weren't there, and Bucky gave what he got. It was a little tense for about an hour and I had to repeatedly tell dogs to settle down.
It is food for thought and I will need to think of some intermediate re-introduction on return from trips. It is a part of the pack dynamics that has to be carefully evaluated and planned around that hadn't been much of a problem before, but as time wears on has become worse. It is an odd mixture of jealousy for my attention and elitism if I were to put it in human terms. It isn't quite the same, but it makes it easier to understand.