Spirits were soaring and tongues were on the ground this morning as it finally cooled down enough to make our first run of the new season. The weather has been nothing short of atrocious this summer, (which is why we haven’t written in so long…too bummed out). Until yesterday, it had rained for roughly 70 days straight. Even the days that weren’t pouring, the sky was still dark and cloudy. The weatherman actually reoprted for the month of June there were only 17 hours of dry, sunny skies. Finally that all changed.
We woke up this morning to 38 degree temps and knew it was “go time.” We got the wheeler out and as soon as the dogs saw the harnesses they went crazy. A neighbor from across the street said their histarics woke her up from a dead sleep.
For the first team Zoom and Quigley led the way (see photo below), while Metoo and Brick led the second run. They were all so raring to go. Even with new front and back breaks put in the wheeler last week, and those brakes tied down, the dogs still managed to drag the wheeler before the whole team was hooked in. I guess we’ll be chucking the wheels and tying the wheeler down early this year.
It’s exciting to think about all this season will hold. Some dogs remain the same from year to year, but some dogs dramatically change from one year to the next. We can’t wait to see who will step up and lead, or who will become the next power house, especially since this year we have so many up-and-comers. Metoo and all her brothers will be two this year, so they will really start to get tested in some tough races, and Klaus and Boo will be yearlings, so they will be largely learning the ropes of distance training, since they didn’t do anything over 10 miles last year as pups.
As we train these young guys, we will do some of the work, but largely we rely on the other dogs to teach them for us. One of the ways we do this is to run a dog in lead who knows what they’re doing with a dog who is not so knowledgeable. This already began this morning. Quigley is a big, powerful male who just loves to go, go, go. He began picking up some of the basics of gee and haw last year, but he still has trouble with the “line out” command, which is so essential for leaders to know. Lining the team out at hook up, during tangles, or at the end of a run, keeps dogs from getting wrapped in the lines, and it just basically makes everything run smoother. ALL leaders must know it. So to teach Quigly to line out, we are running him with other big dogs, like Zoom, who will is too big and heavy for him to drag around. This morning when we finished the run Quigley tried to wander a few times, but Zoom knowing what needed to be done, looked at us and then deliberately layed down so she could use her weight to keep him from going anywhere.
Brick, who ran with Metoo (Quigley’s sister), employed a different technique. Brick really loves leading. She’ll even try to run around the dog in front of her if she’s not in the front of the team. When we put her in next to Metoo, she just pulled forward so hard, there was nothing Metoo could do but stand there lining out next to her. Metoo got the hint and started to do the same. The photo above is of Brick AT THE END OF THE RUN, and she still was leaning into her harness and lining out like the excellent leader she is.