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Friday, October 12, 2007

First Run of the Season

Zulu and Phoenix in lead. Lilly in point. Tukisi and Isis in wheel.

Klaus in lead.

Frankie and Sweet Pea in Point.

Icoa and her puppy, Ilu, in wheel.

Journey, along for the ride.

The team's first run of the season was on the day of Amaruq's horribly unexpected death. The vet informed me of the tragedy as I had just unloaded the dogs from a our run.

The successes of each dog on the team during their first run of the season need to be celebrated, even if overshadowed on that day, by the death of a beloved team member.

First Run goal: We kept it simple; have good manners and pull. Goal accomplished!

Temps: 38 degrees F at the beginning of the run and 44 degrees at the end.

Distance: 3 miles, each team.

Weight: An estimated 480lbs for each team. The dogs are split into two separate, smaller teams so that they can gain the strength they need to pull heavy loads.

Team members: 1st run - Zulu and Phoenix in lead. Lilly(Points Unknown dog handler, Chris' dog) in point. Tukisi and Isis in wheel. 2nd run - Klaus in lead, Klaus and Sweet Pea on the way back. Sweet Pea and Frankie(Chris' dog) in point. Ilu and Icoa in wheel.

Items of interest: The 2nd portion of last season, Tukisi stopped pulling. His coat was extremely coarse and he lacked his normal spark. He was diagnosed with hypothyroidism a couple of months ago and was put on medication. We were excited to see how he would do on this first run. He pulled the entire time with all of his heart and soul and never slacked. Tuki's back to his old self, thanks to the proper diagnosis and medication!

Journey came along for the ride in the truck to get her used to the routine. She was able to get out between runs to mingle with the other dogs and hopefully they shared some good trail tips with her. She sure was upset to get put back in her box when we headed out on the run.

This is the first year that Phoenix will run full-time lead. He was amazing when placed up with Zulu at 10 months old and we anxiously awaited his first season run. This boy is a natural. Holding the line tight, he showed excellent leadership skills. He remained calm at hook up and sat while the rest of the team was hooked-up. With Zulu to guide him, he smoothly did the requested "gee come" to head back to the truck.

Zulu is 11 yrs old this season and didn't miss a beat. He'll be monitored for signs of stiffness through out the season. As long as his attitude is good and he wants to run, and his health allows, he will run. When not running, he is being prepped to be a house dog.

Klaus pulls his heart out period. He is an exceptional sled dog and becoming an exceptional leader.

Sweet Pea is an awesome puller. She will lead but only if she has to. She would prefer to take the commands from point position because it feels a little less intimidating to her.

Icoa and Ilu provided the sound effects for the run. While all of the Alaskans are quiet as can be, these two enjoy vocalizing their excitement at the top of their lungs until the command to go is given. Once running, they go silent and pull, pull, pull.

Isis is 9 years old this year and suffered an unexplained seizure last year. There were concerned that she may want to retire this year. This run proved quite differently.

Tuloon is out with the puppies until roughly mid-December. At that time, we'll have to slowly work her up to the same distance and load of the other dogs.

Chris, the Points Unknown dog handler, brings his dogs Lilly and Frankie along to train with the Points Unknown dogs in the fall. Lilly came from a mid-distance kennel to Chris and his family a year ago and is all go, go, go. Frankie is a traditional sled dog from northern Minnesota and has been with Chris for 3 1/2 years. He's usually a serious puller but looks like he'll need a couple more runs to get him in a little better shape. Too much couch napping for this guy possibly? Not a thing wrong with that. Two more runs and he'll be back to his powerful pulling self.

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