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!  

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