As the birds and the bees start to be seen less in the fall, I hope our conversations of the birds and the bees dwindle as well. School has started up and we (Walter and I) miss the sisters being away at school all day. Dog training season has started. Damon has started to put miles on the team after the temps dropped below 60. Tillie, our hunting dog got to run with the team as long as she was having fun, but about a month into it, she started to slow. Then she sat down on a run, which in the mushing world means, I quit. Our old girl Olive still tries to hobble out to get hooked up, yet can’t even walk straight. If Damon takes the snapper, She can site in the back and bark and holler at everyone. You could tell from the perk in her ears and her wagging tail that she was loving it. I hope that she makes it to another spring to get back in the snapper for another ride.
The team howls and howls to run. They can’t wait to put the miles on. The amount of howling is almost ridiculous. They cry if Damon leaves in the dog truck without taking them with or for a run. The training started at 5 miles at a time. It increases no more than 10% a week (usually less than that) to keep the team injury free. And so far 48 dogs are in the running. Being in MN, you would think that we would have plenty of snow to run on. But no, it’s only been in Mid December that we have had enough snow to run the trails. All the other training miles have had to be on the roads and with a 4 wheeler instead of a sled. The gravel is really hard on paws, so Damon hasn’t been able to increase the miles like he wants. He’s only getting in 40-50 miles at a time. WHAT! I can’t imagine going 5 miles with 18 dogs in front of me, in below 0 temps, on the back of a four wheeler. Holy smokes, I got bored on the 3 miles ride I took with them one day.
As the season has progressed there continues to be highs and lows. Damon came home tonight with news that he put some of our young girl dogs up in lead for the first time and they were rock stars. And you would never know it from their personality and size. One is painfully timid. I hope that we can keep here at our house this summer so she gets lots of kid time and more interaction. She’s the sister of some of our pups but hasn’t had the hands on like they have. The other surprise of the day where our little sisters. They are two little girls dogs named Norma and Aurora. Both are tiny and sweet, but they are some of the hardest working dogs on the team. They keep the tempo fast and pull hard. Its been great watching them mature.
However, the team had 2 cuts tonight. Our Koyak just doesn’t seem to be pulling with intensity and Damon worries that he’s just not enjoying it. It’s hard because it might be the roads/ four wheeler vs lots of snow/ sled running. And he’s doing OK, but they have to make 7 cuts in the next week. Also our little Yettna seems to have hurt her shoulder. I guess that it has something to do with running on the roads, but she probably wont be healed before they leave for Montana. And it’s not worth pushing her too hard and ruining her experience or possibly hurting her for a longer period of time. The next time they run and don’t put these two in, it’s going to be so sad. They have this really sad howl and it sounds horrible. It sounds like they are crying or in pain. It’s heartbreaking.
So far it’s been the dogs decision or an injurty to cause the cut. But now it’s the heartbreaking process for the mushers to have to make. There is the dogs performance, health and heart that they take in mind. Like the little sisters, they are small, but have lots of heart. But their are stronger dogs that do just fine. A lot of decisions have to be made in the next 4 days.
Well for now I better sign off. I have another 10 days of single parenting (not including the 8 days before this), 7 visitors coming for the weekend, packing up damon and the dogs to leave for Montana a week before the race starts, and then packing up myself and the kids to leave for 8 days for Montana. I’m excited, but lots of work to be done.
Stay with me, I may need a hand to hold.