Monday, November 26, 2007

Ana playing on my new sled. She was saying "C'mon girls, straight ahead, straight ahead!" She had her stuffed dogs infront of the sled.

Larry running the team on a fun 8 miler

Star (black dog) and Cowgirl in lead

Another team out for a run with Larry

Otter & Odessa in lead
Our runs are still going well. We still have a total of 21 dogs in training for our two teams. We'd love to sell a couple of dogs, but it seems that every time we put one on the 4-sale list, they come off a few days later because everyone is STILL hanging in there. Otter and Star are really shining in lead. Otter is SUPER on commands and is only 3 years old, so I will have many more seasons with her leading my team. Larry broke the 8 mile record again last weekend, running it in 32 minutes with the ATV. The dogs were flyin'!! That was the team above with Cowgirl and Star leading. We are still running our 14.5 mile trail and the dogs are finishing strong. We will move them up to the 17.5 mile trail on Friday. I wish we'd get atleast a bit more snow to cushion the dog's feet some. The trails are getting slick and are a bit icy. We had some small cuts on some feet after last night's run. Looks like it is time to bootie some feet, yuck, booties can start getting expensive when we don't get snow soon enough. The trails get rock hard and that is not good on their feet. Hopefully we'll also be on sleds in the next week or so if we get the snow we are supposed to get. I always get worried about the transition to the sled though because our trip out of the driveway and down a plowed road before our 2nd turn can get a bit hairy. I've lost teams on that 2nd turn more times than I want to admit. My dad is usually following me on the snowmachine, thankfully, so we can catch the team as quick as possible. That turn to Larry is nothing. He goes out of the driveway with a 12 dog team like a piece of cake. It is so easy for him.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Deer Camp & Dog Trainin' Ana's 1st deer camp stay

Ana helping with the dogs

Well, we've been busy as usual around here, so I haven't been able to post another blog entry in awhile. We just got back from spending 3 nights out at deer camp for the opening weekend of the gun season. We had so much fun out there and Ana LOVED it and didn't want to leave today. We all saw some deer, but nobody saw anything big enough to take. There were a total of 4 spike horns that were seen, but we don't shoot spikes to let them get bigger. My dad got a big 10 point in Canada the week before that will score in the high 150's on the B&C scale, so he didn't mind not getting anything. We LOVE deer camp. It is so relaxing and the food is awesome!!! I'm so glad Ana liked it out there, which means we will stay more often now that she's a bit older.
I've been super busy training dogs lately with the longer miles. We ran 14.5 last week and followed that up with two fast, fun 8.1 mile runs. We finally broke our ATV record time this year for the 8.1 mile trail. Larry ran a 14 dog team with 8 yearlings in it on Saturday and did the run in 34 minutes, averaging 14.29 mph. I ran it the day before in 35, so of course Larry had to beat that with his team. He even changed leaders once during the run!! The dogs were cookin and came in so happy with tails just a waggin. Before that we broke our 11 mile trail record. Before it was 1:08, which I did about a month ago. Doesn't sound too fast, but last year we ran it in 1:14 and it is an extremely hilly/difficult trail. Well, about a week and a half ago I ran it in 1:03. The dogs came in not even looking like they ran, so we upped their mileage. My team this year is half yearlings, so I am very excited for next season when they will have a racing and training season under their belts. So, we've been pretty pleased with our training so far. We've had a couple flat runs, but most all our runs are going very well this year. Well, I will post more training pics after Turkey Day. So, HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Trouble on the TrailFender (grey dog) and her brother Jackson
Well, we have snow!!! It should be exciting, but really it kind of messes up training this time of year. The trails are a sloppy mess so you can't do as much speed stuff because there's not enough snow for sleds, there are trees down in the trail, and it makes kennel chores very annoying. We had a good 11 mile run this week. The dogs are ready to move up mileage, but we will finish out the week with our 8-11 mile runs. Last night I ran 14 dogs on our 8.1 mile trail. This was supposed to be fast and fun and I always try to beat my best time for this particular trail when running it if everything is going well. We have a record ATV time and sled time for this trail. Obviously the ATV time is slower than the sled time because the dogs are pulling me and a 500 lb ATV. Plus, there are TONS of HUGE hills here. For example, in the last 3 miles of this particular trail there is the "Huge" hill and the "Big" hill. I know, we are creative with the names! The "Huge" hill is about a 1/4 mile long, but very steep, like a ski hill. We live near an area that had a ski resort in the 70's. Then, after that we encounter the "Big" hill, which is less steep, but still big, hence the name, and it is .7 miles long. So, this trail isn't flat by any means. So, anyways the run was going awesome. I tried to stop the team a couple of times for a break, but they wanted none of it. They were nuts and wanted to keep going!! We were maintaining 15 mph pretty much the whole run, sometimes up to 16 mph. We made it up the "Huge" hill and at the bottom the team was again cruisin at about 15 mph. By this time we were at 26 minutes total and the record for this run with ATV is 36 min., 13.5 mph average. We only had about 2 miles to go, so we could easily do it! by the time we almost reached the "Big" hill, I saw a HUGE tree laying across the trail. Uh oh, I stopped the team and went up to investigate. It was too big to move, I tried. The trunk was 3/4 of the way across the trail and its branches extended all the way to a steep bank on the left side of the trail. The dogs were foaming at the mouth to go. I pulled Star and Cowgirl ontop of the bank and decided we'd try and go around it. I knew we'd have trouble getting the ATV up it though, but this is all we could do. Star and Cowgirl ran on the bank and went around the tree like good dogs, but when they dropped back onto the trail after the tree, the rest of the team followed and got drug into the tree. The team pulled all the dogs through its big branches, except Cowboy, who was running infont of wheel. His necline broke and he was spun around facing me and tangled in the tree branches. I stopped and went to untangle him, but the team was pulling forward and his tugline was still hooked up, so it was really putting pressure on Cowboy's body. His harness was completely wrapped around some of the branches. I tried to untangle him, as the team was pulling on him harder and harder. THEN the light bulb in my brain went off and I finally remembered why I've been carrying a leatherman all these years in my pocket. I cut his tugline loop and he was free and seemed ok, so I fixed his lines and put him back in the team. We finally made it home, but the record will have to wait till another run. We did do it in 42 minutes though, even after all that chaos. Cowboy was fine, but he had a scratch on his back from the tree. Thank goodness it wasn't anything more serious. Oh, incase you are wondering, our record with the sled is 28 minutes for this trail, averaging 17.35 mph.

Friday, November 2, 2007

November TrainingOtter & Fender (right)
The temps have been great here lately, so we've had some nice training runs. We did our first 11 mile run last night with 8 yearlings and 6 adults in the team. They did super! We ended up doing the run 7 minutes faster than a really good 11 miler that we ran last season. We even had lots of stops for various reasons, one being a tree down in the trail. Thankfully, there was a small opening and I just pulled the team around it and kept going. Last season, me and Jerry Papke ran that same trail and there were two HUGE trees in the trail. Going over the 2nd tree, my ATV tipped over on its side. It was after a really bad storm. That was a scary run there for a bit, but we both finished fine. We will continue to run 8-11 mile runs for the next week, with a fun run or two (shorter run) thrown in there every once in awhile, then we will go up to our 13-15 mile trails for most of November. I like to be up to 20 miles by the first of December for the racing we are doing- shorter mid-distance. Surprisingly, the yearlings are handling everything we are throwing at them speed & mileage wise. They finish every run with wagging tails and ALWAYS want to run. That is what I like about these guys. A number of them are also running a very good lead at this time: Fender (finished in lead last night), Jersey, Boston, Jackson, Gibson & Eddie to name a few. My main veteran leaders are shaping up to be Star & Otter for commands and speed and Zoey as a back up leader. Of course, we rotate different dogs into lead every training run so everyone gets a chance up there. Well, I hope this weather stays nice and cold this month so we have great training and we have snow by December 1st!!!