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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

First Run of 2009/2010 Season!

Linda and Second Team

Neil and First Team

13 week old White Feather with papa McKenzie

13 week old Topa with Klaus

Monday, upon our return from the Points Unknown cabin, it was cool enough to finally get the dogs out for their first run! It was overcast with temps in the upper 40s and low 50s and WINDY, extremely windy.

Since it was on the warmer side for running we took several breaks along the way for water and lots of praise. We always train and run small teams unless the conditions dictate otherwise. This way, the dogs really learn to pull and get used to it as the norm rather than dividing the work among twice as many dogs.

First Team

Klaus and Oken in lead. This will be Oken's second season in lead and we'll be challenging him more and also expecting more out of him. Klaus, well, he just needs to get the kinks out right now. This dog is a seasoned veteran and has excellent leader abilities. It may be a bit more of a challenge for us to come up with challenges for this boy but we'll try!

They both did an excellent job for their first run barring a bit of a distraction for young Oken. It seems that because Neil was walking on the main path while we took an offshoot to make a fluid "haw come" (turn around to the left and go back), Oken thought we should be with Neil and decided to try to take the team down a steep embankment to get to him! Klaus kept the line tight and tried to keep us in the right direction but Oken was so determined and the downward force so strong that Klaus ended up getting pulled a ways down the embankment backwards by Oken. The remainder of the team, however did not follow and all was well after a reminder that we were actually going to continue going straight regardless of where Neil was walking.

Zodiak in point/team. He has done some maturing recently and with his neuter in the spring, we are hoping we will be able to override some of his dominant tendencies. We also plan to put him up front a lot more this year and give him more responsibility if he earns it.

What a great job this boy did on our run! He not only pulled his heart out as usual but when met with a hairy situation, he minded his own business and focused on the trail. What hairy situation you ask? Well, the one when Oken got the idea that we were not going to follow him down the embankment and came back into the team before getting into his leader position and got into a tangle with Zodiak.

Ilu and Icoa in wheel. Our two Inuit Dogs will be moving beyond wheel this year as we try and challenge everyone in the team a lot more with running in lead in front of bigger teams. Each dog gets to lead many times during our season with a partner at our women's adventures, however this is only for the introduction and only in a two to three dog team. After that, these two have gone back to wheel to carry out their duties. Not this year!

The traditional cheerleaders didn't disappoint us this year and as usual, couldn't contain their enthusiasm prior to and at hook-up. They seemed to stay in super shape this season because they were able to keep up with the huskies the entire run. They say you are only as fast as your slowest dog. Even though speed is not our goal, these two kept a pretty good pace for our first run and did their usual excellent work.

Second Team

Phoenix and Journey in lead. This will be their second season in lead. More challenges will be coming their way. Phoenix has done very little single lead and Journey has done none. This will be in their training for this season.

Since Tuloon is season, Phoenix attempted to run full speed ahead with his head turned back at Tuloon. It made for quite the sight and didn't last long. Phoenix turns into a testosterone zombie during these times and it takes a minute to get him to focus. Poor guy. I don't expect much of the dogs for their first run other than to mind their manners and give it their best. I pick my battles and don't necessarily worry too much if we aren't as "geed over" (far to the right side of the trail) as I would otherwise like but Journey was really drifting to the left so I decided to give the "gee over" command. Phoenix carried it out like a pro. Journey will need a few reminders in future training sessions but put all she had into the run and we remain in awe of her fluid gait and work ethic.

Tuloon and Zala in point/team. Tuloon spent all of her time in lead last season and began to take advantage of that position so she will be in point position for a while. Her "princess" complex (that we have nurtured) has caught up with her and although she still is our princess, she'll need to take her job a bit more seriously before she gets the reward back of running in lead. Zala will be given a lot more responsibility this year, if she wants it. She will spend more time in lead.

They both did a wonderful job on their first run. Tuloon was serious about working but didn't seem to be too concerned that she wasn't in front. We'll keep an eye on her to see how this plays out. Zala so resembles her uncle Klaus in how she puts her head to the ground and digs in with everything she has. All 45lbs of her along with heart and soul are given to her job.

McKenzie and Sweet Pea in wheel. McKenzie needs some work this season on patience while being hooked up and waiting to go. We like our dogs to be calm at hook up and remain calm until we give the command to go. Who would have thought that the most mild mannered and virtually the most silent dog in our kennel could put up such a fuss at hook up and while waiting for take off! And what noises he makes! Sweet Pea will be challenged and moved around in various positions this year. We hope she will want to help lead Neil's team when we run both teams in the Mush for a Cure in March. She gets bored easily so we'll need to work on keeping her on her toes.

McKenzie was very attentive to my requirements at hook up for our first run. Yes, he was impatient, but not as much so and most definitely toned it down based upon my commands. Last season it was as if he was in a total haze during this time and it was difficult to get through to him. Sweet Pea! Oh my gosh, Sweet Pea! This is the girl who hates to be harnessed and hooked up. She just doesn't like being handled that way but once we take off, she loves to pull. Well, we heard a very unfamiliar sound coming from the line and when I turned around, there she was! She was all hyped up to go and making all kinds of interesting noises! What a great way to start the season with Sweet Pea! Since she is getting older, it has been hard to keep her weight down so I thought that she might have a bit of an issue on the first run with keeping up with everyone. No so!

White Feather and Topa in puppy positions. These two came along in the truck for the ride and got to get out and hang out with each team as we returned. They then went around to greet everyone and spent time on tied out on a long leash for their first introduction to a tie out.

Zulu, Copper and Blueberry in house dog positions. These three stayed home and relaxed in the comfort of our warm home on their respective plush comforter beds until our return when they were taken out for a walk around the property then promptly plopped down on the couch next to us for some evening spoiling.

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