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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fall Fun; Big Dog Bash

Waiting for our turn to cross the pond

Our accommodations

Icoa and Oken, after the muck portion of the trail. Neil holds the team down from the cart.

Klaus leading us through the muck. Don't drink the water! Crazy dog.

Neil with Sweet Pea and Zala.

Passing practice

Klaus in lead giving his typical 110%. Zala behind in a similar stance.

We've been trying to make the Big Dog Bash event in Togo, MN for years and this year we were finally able to make it happen. There was available time in the schedule and four new pups to socialize and acclimate to a new situation. In addition, our visitor from the UK is eager to participate and learn all he can about the dog mushing lifestyle so he flew over for the event.

There were a total of 12 teams and approximately 105 dogs at the event. the dogs consisted of Malamutes, Inuit Dogs, Siberians and large Alaskans. We arrived on a Sunday evening, put up our tent, set up the dogs and got a good night sleep, ready for a very busy day on Monday. The goal for the event was to introduce the now year old puppies to running with and passing other teams. We wanted to tire them out but make it as low stress as possible so there were no plans of placing those pups in lead during this event. Oken quickly proved he was ready for the challenge and on his second run, he was up in lead with Klaus and did quite a good job. Other than the occasional bark at an on coming team, he minded his own business and stayed perfectly in line. The other pups could have very well been ready for this challenge after their run, however the musher decided that working with one pup under these new circumstances was quite enough.

Our first run was with five dogs, two people and a cart with a tire dragging behind it for resistance. We must have found every single muck hole on the place. The dogs were filthy dirty but happy as can be. We did get the chance to run them through clean pond water to not only cool them off but clean them off. Klaus was in single lead and lead us confidently through and around every obstacle.

Our second run was with six dogs, two people and a cart with a tire dragging behind it for resistance. This run had much less challenging terrain as we stayed on the gravel road. The goal was to work with Tuloon and Phoenix, two relatively new leaders, in a situation where they would have to run next to, into and weave through other teams. One issue that quickly corrected itself for the next run of this team was Zodiak's tendency to get under the line and pull to the left. The new leaders were excellent.

The next day's runs were flip flopped. The first team from the previous day did the easier run to get passing practice and the second team did the muck run.

We all returned home from this event exhausted, muddy and with many new experiences under our belts. We were very pleased with the puppies' adaptability and work ethic in this new situation and the reliability of those dogs accustomed to running with other teams in this setting.

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