This morning the dogs seemed almost inclined to let me sleep in. Only Bandit softly howled his deep low howl to let me know he was anxious to run. At 5:07 it was 35 degrees, perfect weather after two days of running dogs on the weekend. The dogs were playful, but not overly anxious to run except Princess and Samantha who constantly bugged me as I got dressed and put my socks and shoes on. I got the bike out and ready, then went back in to harness up Bucky and Yukon (having already made my choice last night). Escorting the rest of the dogs out back before shutting the door, I put the leashes on them and got the rest of my cold weather gear on. (Balaclava, thick lined jacket and gloves)
I walked Bucky and Yukon out to the bike and Bucky whined and quivered, but didn't pull excessively. Yukon is Yukon, a stoic philosopher, and though he gets excited, he keeps good control of himself, which is why he makes an excellent partner for Bucky doing Bikejor. I quickly hooked up Bucky's tug, and he sat politely! Was that Bucky? He whined and quivered, excitement oozing off him, but he kept seated while I hooked in Yukon! I praised him highly as I turned on the collar light, and hooked up their neckline, releasing their leashes, and Bucky still sat there!!!!
Once he took off, though, he was off! He flew down the road practically dragging Yukon behind him, and Yukon is a very fast dog! I had to brake back so Yukon could keep up, and once we hit the corner and the first hill, Yukon was able to gain his momentum and they both pulled together. Over the hill and Bucky again stretched out, pulling Yukon, so I braked again to ensure Yukon pulled on his tug. Another meteor streaked in the night sky as we broke through the cover of overhanging trees by the remains of the mobile home on the right.
The roof had collapsed straight down on the base after the people took the metal roof off and rain made the insulation heavy. It was now a sad silent lump of metal and wood that we quickly left behind for the living tunnel of trees on the other side. Up the slight rise, down and around the bend where the road went right and a side road for the mini-railroad butted in to the left. Bucky didn't need the "Gee" command, but it was a reinforcement of direction. With the slight downhill, he was leaving Yukon behind again, so I had to brake to hold him back again. On the up hill, both dogs were on their tugs, and we passed the old barn. At the 1.5 mile mark I called the halt "Whoah!" and "Come Around". Yukon lead the turn this time surprisingly enough, and executed a good come around gee!
"Easy!" and the boys simply trotted to tighten the gangline. "Okay!" and they took off! It was awesome to have them beginning to learn to slow down at the "Easy" command! We lit off back towards the house. Yukon was leaning in to his tug up until the hill past the turn, then he started slacking off again on the downhill, unable to keep up with Bucky. So I applied the brakes to slow Bucky so that Yukon could keep up, but he still slacked on his tug. I'll have to check him thuroughly and have the vet check him out to be sure there is nothing wrong. If Bandit continues to perform well and not have any seizures, I may substitute Bandit for Yukon in the team.
Bucky and Yukon sprinted up the last hill, even though the neighbor dogs were running by us barking their fool heads off. With a "Leave It" they paid them no mind, and ran all the way up to our mailbox when I said "Easy". But instead of trotting on, they stopped, Bucky intent on trying to socialize with the neighbor dogs. I had to pull their tugs to get them to follow me in to our yard. Disappointed, Bucky finally got it and trotted ahead of me as I picked up the leashes.
Yukon loves to run, but he seems to be slowing down this season. He'll pull if the pace is slow enough, but Bucky is a bit fast for him. I may have to trade Yukon out of the race team for Bandit should he continue to do well.