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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Hailey and Melanie Out on the Lake

Hailey gets her leaders, Phoenix and Journey, ready for the run.

Views of our rural wildlife lake

Returning to the base

Melanie's turn on the runners

Tuloon and Klaus were her leaders

Since I am still recovering from an upper respiratory infection, I haven't been able to get the dogs out the last couple of days. Hailey and Melanie took on the task of exercising the dogs. Actually, it was quite a momentous occasion as this would be the first time either had run a team with a passenger and out on their own without a team to follow. Hailey had run her first six dog team with me as a passenger the day before and I was surprised how the dogs took her commands so well as they typically will only take commands from their musher. She was completely on top of things and took full control of the dogs and the sled. No problem. Since Melanie had spent the entire day earlier in the week working with the dogs at the Audubon Center, I knew she was ready as well.

We went over a quick checklist of items including avoiding "German Shepherd Bay" where a seemingly not-so-well intentioned and very large German Shepherd stands guard over his shoreline and staying clear of the thin ice on the far side of Oake Lake. The aerator, although not in full function at the moment, still manages to keep the ice thin in this spot allowing oxygen to penetrate the water to keep the fish alive.

As I watched from the warmth inside the front picture window, Hailey, Melanie and the dogs sped off across the lake. Neil snapped photos from the balcony.

Returning almost an hour later, now with Melanie on the runners, they made their way into the proper "chute". The dogs were unharnessed, collars were removed and a treat of fat was given. Hailey had an amazing story on their journey of Klaus taking a "Haw Come" from her upon entering "German Shepherd Bay" when the barking of the great guardian threatened their safe passage. She simply told Klaus to turn around to the left and go back the way they came and he did it for her, veering clear of the inconvenient threat! Now that is excellent team work!

Today, Hailey's family came to pick her up, but first a run with the dogs and her sister Erika. Erika had not been on a sled before and Hailey had a lot to teach her big sister. As we commented, it took "forever" for them to get going because of all of the talking(there's an awful lot to learn in such a short time!) but once they did, poof! They took off before Neil and Ron had gotten to their spots for optimum picture taking and whizzed by.

This time, Phoenix and Journey would lead their way. Apparently, those two gave Hailey a workout and didn't want to listen as well as they could have which makes for another fun learning experience for all. They did, however, finally manage to convince them that it wasn't the best idea to go and visit the wildly barking dog heading their way. I often wonder what people think will happen when their off leash dog runs for a team of sled dogs. Even though my dogs are well socialized with other dogs, when in a pack situation, they will try to protect their pack and one improper show of body language could make for a huge dog pile that will not be pleasant to break up. Not to mention the vet visit that will likely occur for many involved, which most definitely includes their dog.

Both Hailey and Melanie looked like pros out there behind the teams on the lake. I am becoming envious of their fun with the dogs after several days of house arrest created by this very bothersome cold/flu bug. I hope it moves quickly away because winter is wasting!

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