Saturday, April 23, 2011

Fun Runs and Pictures

At the end of the season I always try to sneak in some fun runs. The dogs and I went to a lot of different places and they seemed to really enjoy themselves on the Lincoln/Breadloaf Trail. Here are a few pictures from our last two runs there. Also after the Can-Am a local butcher gave us a WHOLE cow carcass that the dogs are still enjoying chewing on almost 2 months later....

Henry running away with a piece of a leg!

Munchkin and Carmine sharing a portion of ribs, so cute like Lady and the Tramp.

Random Blizzard on our second to last day of running!

Eventually all the dogs made a snowangel.

Same trail as above but on a clear day before sunset. The shadows were very long.

Look a picture with all of us together!

The wooded portion of this trail is hard to get photos of, its very windy but I managed to get the camera out on the straight section

Henry at about 9 months on the left, and 3 year old Elli on the right. I am hoping Henry's growth slows a little bit, he is already a MONSTER!

End of Winter 2011

So, with a wedding to plan I went straight from Running dogs to planning a wedding. Most that check list is complete so it gave me a chance to write about the end of our season.

After the Wilderness Race we had a we had a few really good training runs and a long off leash snowshoe before the Sandwich Notch 20 mile race. The weather had warmed up and there was really fast conditions, I even wore a helmet! Jersey broke her toe so she was out for the rest of the season, so I ran 5 dogs. Ellie and Eli in lead, Carmine by himself and then Munchkin and Dubs in wheel. The dogs loved the trail and they all remembered it from last year. The tight wooden turns with lots of ups and downs were fueling the team to go faster. They were solid even when we hit the windy open fields ( my sled was being blown sideways). I was feeling awesome, we kept passing teams and they acting like real professionals, even passing a whole pile of dog kibble dumped on the trail! It wasn't until the last 5 miles when this small soft spoken woman came FLYING, literary FLYING past us like we were not moving. At which point I yelled back to Corina Alexander and said " Who was that!?" I was totally impressed. We kept going and caught up with Sydney Plante who is young but couragous. We stayed with her through the difficult road/bridge crossing and then finished really strong. I was so proud of the dogs they were on their A game all day. We came in second!

Dubs came up really lame after the run, even with extra rub downs. So for the Can-am I borrowed Scofflaw Dawgs Ollie and Squint again. We had some nice long runs before hand and the 6 dogs were working well together. We stayed with Julia Bayly in her cute cabin up behind her house. The dogs liked staying there because I could let them off to run around for a bit after the long drive. The weather was a wet snow making me nervous, but we started in the middle of the pack and as we left the spectator packed main street start and entered the wide snowmobile trail we started to pass other teams.

Giving the dogs good luck kisses at the start

I look calm on the outside, I waved at all the spectators and thanked them for coming out in such nasty weather
Eli and Ellie in Lead, Eli paces making his gate look very uncomfortable.

On the snowmobile trail

We passed 3 teams on that 7 mile stretch and the dogs made a perfect Haw turn onto the wooded Can-Am Trail. The dogs were great, feeding off the now super fun trail! The thing about the Can-Am trail is that most of it is just for dogs, they are old logging roads and trails with all these small pines and firs growing up along them. This makes it hard to see around the corners and even with a 6 dog team I was loosing sight of the leaders. We caught up with Holly Dionne, a rookie teamed with her sister Amy a future champion. I stayed with her for a long time and we passed a bunch of other teams. I lost her after a wide logging yard section and we were on our own in the woods for a while. It was really quiet and sometimes unnerving until the odor of the wood fire of the halfway station waffed in the air and the dogs picked it up. After cruising by the old log cabin we continued on and caught up with Caroline Blair Smith. The two of us fed off each other for the rest of the race. Amy Dionne passed us in the rolling potato fields like a frieght train and it was the first time that I had ever seen someone peddling behind a team going down hill. I tried to stay with her but her dogs are just faster, despite Eli trying his hardest. The trail was very wet and punchy in the big fields and we started to slow dog. Eli was getting really hot so I stopped pushing him hard. Squint and Ollie were still charging to go even towards the end and a few times they tried to pass Eli and Ellie. Those two were total super stars. Squint is so young just about 2 now and has more drive than any dog I have ever met. Ollie is extremely constant and doesn't want to stop. I don't think I had to say a thing the whole day to the wheel dogs Munchkin and Carmine the whole time either! Eli is a big dog and that is his strength and weakness. He was a lot faster this year compared to last but still has to work on being faster. He is the best competitor out there though and loves to run and coupled with Ellie they make a really nice leading pair. I was very happy with the dogs at the end and was totally shocked to hear that we had come in 6th! Last year we came in 12th!

I am very excited for the future of our team in racing. Every year we get a little faster, a little smarter and more experienced. Next year will be Dubs's last if we can heal his wrists and next year will be Henry and Suzie first race season. Till then we will just be having fun!

Life with 9 Dogs.

Life with the dogs is always a lot of fun, when you put things they do into preceptive. You have to be patient and figure them out when they are doing something totally irritating and annoying. When Lee and I moved into our house we barely ever let the dogs into the house. We went the whole winter enjoying their nightly howls after dinner and morning wake up.

Until we were told by a neighbor that we were the "Neighbors from Hell" and that if we didn't do something about all that howling they were going to sue us. So, the dogs moved into the house! I had never intended to have 9 house dogs but I do and it has worked out.

The dogs come in from their kennel each night to the walk out basement, they eat dinner inside, have their after dinner howl and then have playtime either supervised outside or through out the whole house.... They sleep in crates and on the weekends have to stay in past 9am. With all the restrictions on noise it makes life interesting. The dogs periodically wear bark collars ( when I can afford the batteries) and I cannot go out after work, because the dogs have to be inside at a decent hour, since I don't get out of work until 6 and it is an hour away, I have to go straight home. But as Lee says if you don't adapt and over come you will be no where in life.

Dogs helping me with leftovers

But now the dogs are spoiled, they have learned that if they cry in their crates or outside I will come running immediately to see why they are making noise. Causes a bit of stress for me! The dogs love being inside the house and days that I am home and force them out so I can clean they often just sit by the basement door waiting to be let back in. I have to remember that they are social creatures and they just want to be with me, their Owner.

They often chew or dig their way out to come sit by the basement door.
This particular incident allowed 5 dogs to break free!

With all the extra work involved in having so many house dogs the benefits have out weighed them. I have a strong bond with each dog, I can have everyone off leash and can recall them with out treats, they are experts at watching my body language and can pick up any change of my mood.

The last has helped us the most, especially on the trail. When I am freaking out they calm down, when I get excited and want them to go faster they pick it up. When something is serious and dangerous they look to me for extra guidance. They are fun to have around and are often more entertaining than the latest "Must see TV."

Munchkin was very small in size then but had the makings of a big heart!

The also have helped Lee and I learn a lot of valuable life lessons, humility, patience , understanding. Research shows that dogs are really good at detecting human emotion and I have seen it first hand, it is true that they are Mans Best Friend no matter how loud they are.

Dubs on Mount Mansfield