Sunday, September 25, 2011

Saturday and Sunday Training

Excited happy dogs woke me at 04:30 to go running, but I managed to convince them to wait until 7.  Okay, I ignored their pleadings until 6:30 when it was just starting to get light out.  The morning birds had not woken up yet, and the sounds of crickets and tree frogs were still going strong.  The chirps of sparrows waking peeped softly from the bushes, and fog blanketed the mountains in a gray mist.  Dew shone like diamonds in the light, and glittered on each blade of grass like silver filligree.

Cool 42 degree air invigorated me as I pulled out the cart and wheeled it to the back of the truck.  I looped the tie off around the hitch and connected the quick release to the back of the cart.  I also turned on the tail light I put on it last week since it was still moderately dark.  I then went inside to wake Jim and James and harness up the race team. 

With their help, I put Princess and Yukon in wheel and Bucky and Freya in lead.  This worked out pretty good as then Bucky had no gangline to bite and pull, however, Princess was beginning to rival Bucky's "Wild Man" status, jumping, howling and screaming to get going.  So furious was her antics, she flipped the cart upside down.  As soon as Freya was hooked in, I flipped the cart back over and gave the signal to get clear.  As soon as I hit the quick release and said "OKAY!" Off we flew!

We were over the bridge and rounding the corner in record speed.  Quick as thought, we had already passed the half mile mark, then the three quarter, the mile, the mile and a half and Yukon was beginning to slow.  I gave the command to halt and come around.  Freya executed another perfect come around, and we were off towards home.  Yukon was keeping up, but wasn't keeping his tug tight.  Lights from behind warned me a car was approaching, so I called the over haw and woah.  Locking the break and pulling the team off the road to the left, I waved as my astonnished neighbors drove past.  With no prompting necessary we were off, and Yukon was tight on his tug again.  Praising them we rounded the corner and they ran all the way up the hill to home and I hardley needed to pedal assist.  With this team, I think we will be real contenders.

My training and experiment to get Samantha back in a pulling team has not been very successful.  This morning I put her in single lead with Demon and Ace in wheel.  She must have thought that since she was in single lead that she was in charge and could do whatever she wanted.  So, she immediately wandered off the side of the road sniffing while Demon and Ace ran over her.  Bringing them to a halt, James and Jim helped me sort them out again, and off we went for about a hundred yards before Samantha wanted to sniff something else.  This resulted in another tangle and a little assistance to sort out.

One more time I called the Hike up and this time, she actually got it and loped out in front of Demon and Ace, making it across the bridge, around the corner and up the hill before slowing and slackening her tug.  Encouraging her to keep going, she stepped out again, and though she wasn't pulling, at least she didn't let Demon and Ace run over her again.  We made it to the one half mile mark before meeting a truck coming up the road.  I halted the team and pulled them off the side to let them pass, and Samantha decided she should follow the truck, shrugging, I let her have her way.  Back homewards, she slackened then loped, then slackened, half the time with the neckline of Demon and Ace pushing on her butt, but at least she kept going and didn't end up in a tangle.  Of course without her pulling, this meant I had to pedal the whole way to keep from tiring Ace and Demon too much.  The two of them did fantastic together. 

Half way up the hill, I heard another truck coming up behind, and pulled the team to the side of the road.  Samantha took this as the signal to wander off into the field of our sideyard pulling Ace, Demon, me and the cart behind her.  Of all the times she decided to lean in to her tug!  Grunting in frustration I asked James to get her back on the road so we could get the team back to the driveway and home.  Pushing and steering the cart, we made it back to the house with James practically dragging Samantha with him.

It took me four minutes to catch my breath enough to get the dogs inside and me to face the fact that Samantha just wasn't cut out to be a sled dog.  I'll still take her jogging with me, we both need our exercise, but I think this is the last time I'll see her hooked to the cart.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fall Training and a Few Random Musings

Monday and Tuesday it was too hot and humid to train, but Wednesday finally saw cool enough weather for a canicross run with Samantha.  It was spitting down moisture that really wasn't even thick enough to even call a misting.  Happily Samantha plodded ahead of me, even better at keeping her tug tight and concentrating on the run rather than the sights and smells, that is, up until she saw the raccoon...

She stopped dead, and the raccoon panicked and fled up the mountainside, Samantha in hot pursuit until she was abruplty stopped by a deadweight (me) on the end of the tug line.  The line yanked hard on me, tightening around my waist.  Fortunately, she listened to me once she realized I was not going to let her give chase.  Obediently she climbed back down the exposed hillside and trotted out in front of me as if nothing whatsoever had happened.  Cheeky girl!  Adjusting the tug away from the new cinch marks, I followed. 

I have to admit I've grown fond of running in the dark.  There is a mystery and beauty to the mountains untainted by the presence of humanity.  The soft caw of a roosting crow, the scream of a falcon just waking, the chirping of various night insects, and the whistle screech of a buck calling to warn off other males fill the pre-dawn darkness with sound.  We are alone on the the road through the mountains, but watched by wary eyes to either side. 

We run a half mile out and a half mile back to the house, as we are both still getting in to shape.  I feel better than I have since last racing season and know I'm on the right track.  This year I hope I will not be the one holding the dogs back!

Thursday was cool enough for a Bikejor, and I knew it was Princess' turn to run, but who to match her up with so that she won't kill me with her enthusiasm?  Yukon seemed the best candidate, as he is as fast as she is, and by far more manageable.  So I harnessed them up much to the disappointment of the other dogs. 

Princess threw a fit when I left her inside so I could get the bike out and ready, and she had all eleven dogs howling by the time I got back in to get her and Yukon.  To prevent escapees, I had to put the other dogs out the back door, and Princess screamed and whined the whole time while waiting for me.  She is something!

Finally I was able to get her and Yukon out the door, but it took a lot to get her hooked in as she kept jumping and screaming to go.  Yukon danced and shimmied, but settled immediately when I told him to wait.  Quivering with anticipation, he let me finish hooking him in and connecting the neckline between him and Princess.  He's such a good dog!  He even waited when I told him to wait on the road, holding back a screaming jumping Princess while I wheeled the bike to the center of the road and got my foot on the pedal.

When I said "Okay!" He lunged into his harness, and we were off!  Princess was yipping in excitement with every stride!  Yukon kept up with her for the first quarter mile, then began to slack off a bit, and I wondered if he was ok.  He looked like he was running fine, but only just keeping up with Princess, and not keeping tight on his tug.  Taking note of this, I turned us around at the 1.5 mile mark and headed us towards home. 

They both very eagerly consumed their meat patty treat, and I checked their feet, ankles, wrists, shoulders and general condition.  They both seemed fine, so I let the other dogs in, and gave G'kar his glucosamine chewies.  Yukon was begging for one, so I handed him one, which probably was a mistake.  He ended up throwing up his meat patty and the chewie (they have corn in them, so he may have developed an intollerance for corn since I do not feed them any food with corn in it, or it may be the richness of the chewie upset his stomach having already been hot from running?)  So I cleaned that up before giving Bandit his medicine ball, then cooking his breakfast for the rest of his medicine.

I ate my breakfast while Bandit's cooled in freezer (usual morning routine with my epi boy).  I usually make a little extra for a treat for the rest of the dogs, but Thursday morning's extra I fed mostly to Princess.  Before leaving for work, I asked Jim to keep an eye on Yukon and make sure he wasn't sick.

When I got home, I checked Yukon over, and he seemed fine, even playful, but Bandit seemed overly whiney and clingy.  I didn't feel the weirdness I get before Bandit seizes, but kept an eye on him anyway.  When I went to bed, he crawled in the bed next to me and whined softly.  I pet him until he fell deeply asleep. 

This morning it was a cool 55 degrees, and I wanted to give Moony the chance for some exercise, but who to run with her?  I ended up choosing Ace mostly because she was there and bugging me to go.  Moony whined and howled, excited to get the chance to go and Ace kept jumping on me and dancing around quietly.  She rarely makes noise.  James got up and I asked him to help me put the other dogs out back, and when that was done, he went back to bed.  After readying the bike, I went back for Moony and Ace.

Moony was by far faster than Ace, so I had to hold her back so Ace did not get discouraged.  I think from now on, I'll only run Ace with Demon since they seem to get along well and run at the same speed.  Moony will move up to running with one of the race team.

After medicating and feeding myself and the pack, down came the rain.  Thank goodness it waited until I was done.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Good Run!

It was a good weekend.  Saturday morning it was 41 degrees out and the dogs were excited.  They bounded around the house, knowing it was going to be a running day!  In my mind I had already chosen the team, and after giving Bandit his medicine and breakfast, I harnessed up Princess, Freya, Bucky and Yukon.  Each of them took off running out back to show the other dogs their harnesses while I went out front to get the cart ready.

Dragging the cart out of the shed, I rolled it to the road, locking the brakes just after passing the rear of my truck.  From the dog tack box I removed the gangline, quick release, and rope, placed them in the seat of the cart while I hooked up the rope and quick release to the back of the cart.  To the front of the cart I hooked up the bridle and safety ropes already attached to the gangline.  I smiled at the blue and gold gangline made for me by my husband last year.  Blue and gold have been my favorite combination of colors since I was a teenager, and as striking in my mind as black and silver. 

When everything was laid out, the sun was just creeping up on the horizon as I went in and woke Jim and James.  I gathered helmet, gloves, necklines, and a sweatshirt from my bathroom, and readied myself for the run as they crawled out of bed.  By the time I had the leashes on the 4 and the rest of the dogs outside, they were ready to assist me.

Yukon and Bucky were out first, and though Bucky had been good on the bike, he returned to be "The Wild Man" when hooked in to the gangline.  He jumped and howled, whined, barked and pulled on the gangline to get going.  That's my Wild Man!  I hurriedly went back for Princess and Freya who were screaming in a frenzy to go.  They were so wound up, they nearly dragged James out to the cart on his butt.  I quickly snapped them in, but while doing so, Bucky ended up pulling so hard, he pulled off Yukon's collar and we had to struggle to get his collar back on.  Princess was screaming "AAAHHH YAAAA YAAAA YAAAA!" while Bucky and Freya barked and howled.

I ran back to the cart which was jumping off the ground from the power of the dogs (good thing the tether held!), and as soon as Jim and James were clear, I pulled the quick release.  Like a shot out of a cannon we were off!  We flew down to the bridge in a flash, rounded the corner, up the hill and half a mile gone in a matter of seconds.  We were past the mini-railroad without breaking stride.  It wasn't until about a mile and a quarter when their initial speed began to slow, so I let them run another quarter mile before asking Freya to come around.

Perfectly they executed the turn around, not a single tangle from the start nor through the come around, and we were off again back towards the house.  Princess was a huge motivator for the team, and her enthusiasm was contagious.  They all wanted to keep up, and she was more than happy to pour her heart into it the whole way!  This was the most flawless run I've ever had, and probably one of the fastest 3 milers to date.  They flew back up the hill home, not slowing down until Jim was in front of them, and they were turning in to the driveway.  What an amazing team! 

After each of them slaked their thirst and ate their frozen meat pattie snack, I unharnessed, rubbed them down and checked their feet.  All looking and feeling good so far!

Samantha loves to tickle people to hear them laugh.
Sunday it was a bit warmer at 53, but cool enough to run, and again the dogs were whining and jumping around even before I was dressed.  I wanted to get Samantha, Moony and Demon some exercise, plus wanted to see if Ace got the idea to pull from our canicross sessions.  It was an experiement, and I hoped it would pan out.  In the past, Samantha has not wanted to pull, and put on the brakes enough to scrape her pads.  Ace too had put on brakes in harness more than once, but I had been working with them both at canicross, and hoped they both were over their fear of running on a team.

It was not a pretty start.  Each time Moony took off, Samantha would haul backwards, bringing her to a halt.  After the third time, Samantha began to realize she was in control, and when I held moony back so she wasn't pulling Samantha forward, she began to pull!  It was a huge and major breakthrough!  Ace surprised me, and hauled on her tug the whole way!  Not wanting to let any of them get overwhelmed, I only let them go half a mile before turning them around.  Samantha was winded by the time we got back, but she had pulled and pulled hard!  I was proud of her, and ever so glad I took the time to re-train her and listen to what she was telling me!  Moony was fabulous, and will make a good leader someday, but needs to build strength and stamina.  Ace was amazing!  She and Moony will make great additions to the team when they have had enough time in harness.  Demon was rock solid as usual, and he and Ace made a great running pair.  Even though he hadn't been pulling on the team for some time, he was a champ wheel dog, and I was glad to be able to give him some exercise with dogs that were more his speed.

Altogether a great weekend of running with some valuable lessons learned and risks taken that paid off!  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Full Moon

Dew glittered in the gloomy illumination of a full moon this morning.  The calm silence of pre-dawn was about to be broken as the dogs nudged me out of bed.  All excited, they knew it was cool enough to be a running day.  Ten quivering furry bodies scurried to and fro in my room, voicing their need to run in excited whines and howls.  Zena was still in my son's room, enjoying her bond with him as she enjoys the privacy of his room.  Yukon kept standing on his hind legs, gently trying to place his front paws on my chest, reminding me of his presence and eagerness to be the one chosen to run.  Princess danced and howl-whined as she kept jumping like popcorn from a hot pan, making sure her eyes met mine on an even level.  Sleepily I picked up the purple tug and white tug harnesses which excited Yukon all the more.  He knew the purple tug was for him! 
It only remained to figure out who to take with him.  Moony and Freya both needed exercise, but Moony was still getting used to running with the team, and would slow Yukon down.  Freya was the obvious choice, so I harnessed her up when she came inside.  One by one, I escorted the other dogs out the back door, much to their disappointment.  Princess howled and whined, scratching at the door in desperation.  Sorry girl, not today.

As I got the bike out, I could hear the dogs in the yard pleading with me to reconsider my choices, but there was little time to console them.  Ensuring the bike was in working condition still (after yesterday's escapades, this was a necessity), I leaned it up against the truck so I could go get Yukon and Freya.  Silvery light illuminated the field of my sideyard, giving each blade of grass a metallic sheen.  The treeline was a mass of black lumpy shapes from which the songs of insects and night birds issued into the pre-dawn.  The smell of early fall, of leaves beginning to rot, of fresh cold dew, of scraped loam and cut grass each left an impression on my olfactory perceptions.  As the dogs pulled through my spearmint bed, the smell brought a smile to my face.  There is nothing that speaks to me of home and comfort more than fresh mint.  Every place I go, I plant a mint garden for mint tea, for animal control (most wild animals hate mint and steer well clear of it), and to help ease my husband's chronic digestive issues, but mostly because I love the smell.  Its clear cold scent is light, airy, wintery, and full of life and passion.  It is a tradition I hope to keep all of my days.

Out on the side of the road, Freya whined and jumped and pulled despite my attempts to keep her under control.  She is incredibly strong, and if she wanted to, she could have dragged me down the road on my butt solo, but fortunately she was sort of listening even if she didn't want to.  I put the clip on light on her collar, attached the neckline between her and Yukon (Yukon tends to drift, so I make sure he stays close in case I have to pull them off the road to let cars by), hooked up both of their tugs.  To Freya this was the sign to start pulling, and I grit my teeth and held on as I tried to get their leashes unhooked as fast as possible. 

With that done, I slowly let out the gangline until it was tight and I was hanging on to the handlebars.  Easing the bike into the middle of the road, I felt for the pedal, stood on it and off we went.  Freya was like freight train, blasting down the trail, her legs a blur in the bobbing light attached to her collar. Yukon seemed to float just above the surface of the earth, his back hardly seeming to move, just hovering while paws flashed beneath.  Their running was pure poetry, legs in graceful rhythm, paws striking the ground in sync.  It is a wonder to behold when two or more dogs run as one.  To be a part of such beautiful symmetry is beyond words.  They run for me, and because they can run with me.  It is a part of their soul, a game that is not a game, but the very essence of their being, an essence they share gladly with me, wanting me to be a part of something greater than any of us.  Unlike the younger dogs, the elders relish the connection, being a part of a team that works together in the joy of exhilleration.  The feeling is so different, so satisfying, and I know that the young ones will eventually honor the teamwork as much as their elders and not just the chance to run.  It is a moment I look forward to.

The sounds of the night are drowned in the wind and sounds of exertion.  The scree of the brakes is harsh in my ears, a sacrelidge in the pristine temple of the night, but necessary to keep Freya's energy from discouraging the older Yukon.  The lamp on the handlebars stabs out into the dark, illuminating the way we must go, as the moon slips behind the trees and blackness swallows us.  The road around the mountain is always in shadow, even on the brightest day.  My eyes and ears strain to pick up sights and sounds ahead as we approach the blind curve.  Hearing nothing, we are through it before thought, and up the slight rise.  The trees break revealing a hollowed out shell of a mobilehome, its skeleton bleached in the pale moonlight.  Across from it on our left is a small meadow crisscrossed with fresh deer trails, but no sign of movement. 

We fly on, down the hill to the intersection where we vere right with a quick "Gee".  Off to the left a small road leads through a meadow where another mobile home's carcass stands exposed, the blackened ash from the fire still taints the air and colors the remains with a sooty brush.  By it a rugged trail leads up the side of the mountain, crosses the ridgeline and heads in to one of the wonders of Scott County, the mini-railroad.  All this we leave behind us as our path lies along the road west and not south.  The trees close thickly overhead, and no light filters down.  To the right looms the old barn, and Freya slows only a moment to see if I will ask her to turn around here.  Happily she runs past and picks up speed again.  Yukon is beginning to slack off on his tug, he has not been able to keep up his activity over the summer, having been neutered one month ago.  Though the wound is long healed, he has not yet gotten back in to shape. 

Seeing this, I call the halt and ask Freya to come around.  With only a longing glance back towards the west, she pulls Yukon around to face east and home.  In an instant we are off, and Yukon is not as enthusiastic as he was when we started.  His tug is slack, and he is a half a pace behind Freya.  I hold Freya back a bit, but it only makes Yukon slow more and his tug is still slack.  "Hike up Yukon!" He puts a little more effort in to it.  When we reach the mini-train turn off, I see lights coming down the road, so pull the dogs close as I shuffle off the left hand side of the road.  The car slows way down, and I can feel the eyes even in the dark.  The sheer wonder and amazement to see sled dogs and a bicycle and not knowing what the heck we are doing.  I smile and wave as they pass, and they speed up as if it is contagious.  Slowly I let the gangline back out, and we are off at a better pace this time, Yukon leaning in to his tug again. 

By the time we reach the blind curve the neighbor's dogs are in full cry again, and Yukon perks up, hoping to get in some social time.  Freya is not interested in socializing, she is interested in the joy of running, and all of her focus and strength is in that one sole purpose.  I slow them as we approach the house, and call them to a halt so I can pick up the leashes on the side of the road.  I walk them down to the mint garden, tell them "whoa" and lay the bike down.  As quickly as possible, I hook up their leashes, unhook the neckline and take off their tugs.  They nearly drag me to the door in anticipation of their reward, and I smile as I let them in.  They rush for the water bowl, drinking to ease their thirst and cool their heat as I open the freezer.  Excitedly Freya dances at my side until I hand her a meat patty.  Yukon bounds up to me to claim his, and they scatter to their dark corners to consume their snacks with relish.  The dogs outside clamour for some, howling and whining, but in vain, for they know the rewards only come after being chosen for the joy of running. 

While they are eating, I remove the leash, light and harness from Freya.  She licks my hand and goes back to the job of polishing off her snack.  Yukon is finished by the time I get to him, so I remove his leash and harness and check his feet.  A good rubdown has his tail wagging and as I rub his belly, he licks my face.  As Freya finishes, I check her feet and rub her down.  She wiggles excitedly, constantly trying to lick my face and show her love for me.  She is so affectionate now, and I smile as I remember the puppy that I had to back in to a corner just to allow me to pet her as she cringed.  My little feral girl is now a happy well adjusted dog who loves our family unconditionally, but is still reserved around strangers.  One day, she will not cringe from the chute, and my heart will burst with pride in how far she has come, even as I celebrate her progress so far.

The rest of the dogs thunder in as I open the door, trying to be the first one in to check for scraps and maybe beg for a handout.  With some disappointment they find nothing of the meat patties, but are happy the bones are still lying around and waiting.  They whirl around the house in excitement, hoping against hope they will get to go next.  Failing that, they jump and tussel with one another, and bug me for attention which I gladly give as much as I'm able before I set about the morning chores.

Monday, September 12, 2011

It Must be Monday!

Saturday bright and early I got up to go to Ohio with Cathy.  I gathered up supplies, showered and gave Bandit his pills, then cooked breakfast for him so he could have the rest of his meds.  With Princess and Ace in tow, I jumped in the truck and headed over to her house.  While waiting, Princess decided that she really wanted in the front of the truck and chewed a hole through the rope grate.  Thank goodness I had my front windows rolled 3/4 of the way up!  Narrowly averting disaster, I followed Cathy up to Owensville, and then she followed me with the GPS to the fairgrounds.

We got there a little early, but not quite enough time to get the girls CERF tested.  So I changed in a port-a-pot (never a pleasant experience) and got ready to go in the ring after doing a bit of window shopping.  Snickers is always a fun happy puppy!  She decided she wasn't getting in to the ring fast enough, so kept trying to jump the white fencing to get in.  Since I wouldn't let her in the ring, she wanted to see what was going on, so she jumped up so high and so precise, she touched my nose with hers.  This startled me a little until I figured out what she wanted, so was ready for her second jump.  I caught her and held her in my arms so she could have a good look around.  This made the judge giggle a little, and charmed a few people standing around watching.  Snickers is such a good natured, cute little pup, and she communicates her wants to me pretty clearly.  Fortunately she is a very food-focused pup, so a little bit of bait goes a long way with her.

She performed beautifully when it was finally her turn.  She hammed it up, and even wiggled her body happily as the judge approached her.  She gently licked her on the nose when he bent to check her bite.  She charmed her I think, and ate up the attention.  She moved and performed like a pro!  I hardly had to correct her stance when she stacked, and she was so happy to play the "show" game!  She won against another 7-12 mo girl, and got winners reserve.  Glory got BOS, so it was a good day. 

Sunday I got up early hoping to do some training, but the weather wasn't cooperating.  It was 62 degrees and the humidity was enough to drown in.  So I got out the scooper and did my overdo lawn chores.  Finished clearing the fenceline, and picked up 3 bags of nuts from the dogyard (chestnuts and black walnuts).  After I was done, the heat and humidity wore on me, and I fought valiantly against a headache and barely won.  Not feeling great, instead of going out, I read the book "Ballad of the Northland" by Iditarod musher Jason Barron (still reading it, and it has a lot of potential).

This morning (Monday) I got up at 5am and the weather was inviting, so I dressed hurriedly and harnessed Princess.  The other racers seemed occupied playing in the yard and only Bucky kept bugging me to go, so he got harnessed too.

Both these pups taught me two valuable lessons today.
#1 They are an awesome running team!  Both are fast and incredibly strong!
#2 Don't take both of them out withough a helping handler!!!!!! 
It took all of my might just to hold them back while putting on the tug lines, then all my strength to keep them from yanking the bike out of my hands as I tried to get it on the road.  I leaned over the seat and crossbar because I couldn't get my foot on the pedal as they took off even as I tried to restrain them.  They pulled a bit left, which cause me to counter right to stay up.  Unfortunately this put the front tire off the pavement on the right, which wasn't so bad, but impossible to cut back on to the blacktop as it was a six inch verticle and I still didn't have my feet on the pedals.

Needless to say, the front tire stopped, the back kept going, and slammed me half-on, half off the pavement head-first.  Good thing I have a hard head (and a helmet).  To add insult to injury, the bike slammed down on my back, but at least this allowed me to grab it and keep the dogs from dragging it off, for a split second anyway...  I tried to get up, but while trying to hold back two young incredibly strong dogs, it didn't go very well, and they yanked the bike out of my hands and took off with it dragging behind them.  It didn't even seem to slow them at all.  Poor bike, I think it got the worst of it, second only to me.

They careened around the corner on the other side of the bridge, but lodged the bike in the lee of the curve bewteen the pavement and the guardrail.  I ran after them, catching up to them out of breath and in no little amount of pain.  For a few seconds I couldn't figure out why the front brake was locked up, so unhooked the spotlight from the front handlebar only to realize they had twisted the forks around 360, wrapping the brake cable around tight enough to cause the seize.  I twisted them back in to place, all the while still trying to hold back two young, incredibly athletic dogs... Now I know I'm crazy for wanting to do this, and I still question the sanity of jumping on the pedal, and letting the pups take off.

This is when I discovered the seat was backwards too.  Ah well, who needs to sit down?  We raced to the old barn where I finally got them to halt, quickly turned the seat back around as they executed a 'come around haw'.  I barely got back on the pedals in time for them to take off back towards home.  Bucky wanted to visit with the neighbor dogs, but a quick "Leave It" reminded him this wasn't social hour, and we made it back to the driveway in a reasonable amount of pieces.  I grabbed up the leashes as they walked in to the front yard.  I still had to hold on to the bike after laying it down on the lawn, so I could unhook the two youngsters, leash them up and escort them in to the house.

Two meat patties later, and I was finally able to take stock of my injuries.  Mostly bumps and bruises, a fat lip, one large scrape down my belly where I was laying on the bar, and a black eye... Well if it was easy, everyone would do it, right?  I certainly feel every one of my years today...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Blue Grass Classic Scorcher

This weekend was a very fun weekend for me, and a great learning experience. My thanks to Shadetree Siberians for allowing me to handle Snickers, inviting me to Mary's party, sharing food, fun and good times! It was very enjoyable, moreso than doing it all alone. It was good to see many familiar faces, see some gorgeous dogs and new breeds. I'm sorry to hear of those who succumbed to the heat, it was a real test of fortitude! Scorching hot Thursday through Sunday, and cold moving in on Monday (I thought it felt great, but most thought it was freezing). I got to meet and talk to/with some great people and made some good friends. In the dog world, I think this was the most fun and best time I've had showing.

Snickers made Reserve in breed for all three days I showed her. Thursday (someone else showing her), she even made BOS! She is such a beautiful puppy! She has the most wonderful, outgoing and loving personality! She loved every minute of being at the show, even after 4 long days in excruciating heat (plenty of water and rest in AC when not in the ring) and one in temps that make huskies sing. Even the 100+ degree temps only slightly dampened her happiness! If ever there was a temperment I would strive for in a husky, Snickers embodied that temperment!

I think we are very fortunate that Bandit made it through the 100+ degree day Saturday without a seizure. I had been quite worried he would have one since we still weren't sure if they were caused by overheating or just the jerky treats. I think Saturday was the true test. So I will attempt to train him normally this fall, only once a week to see if he has any seizures then move to more. There hasn't been a morning yet below 50, so still waiting for a day in the 40's or below to start his training.

Samantha and I went for a mile run this morning at 5:15 am. I was eager to try out the new collar lights I got at the show, dug out my head band light, put the reflective harness on her, hooked her up to me, and off we went. The collar light was super! It helped light the road ahead of us and really made the only car we saw slow down a lot! Samantha still didn't pull hard, but she did much better than our first run! I think after a few more runs, she'll get the hang of what I'm asking of her and be more enthusiastic about pulling just me, because I'm certainly not faster than she is! Tomorrow if it is still cool, I'll get Yukon and Bucky out on the bike.

The training plan for me, is Canicross every other morning, and bikejoring when the weather is cool enough. Ideally it will be canicross-bike-canicross-bike-canicross-bike-bike (or cart-cart if the weather is below 50) for every week up until the race at the end of October. I hope I can take it, as I know the dogs love it!