On Thursday morning a blizzard blew in from the north, with winds over 30 mph and temps below zero. It was so severe that schools, city government, and even the hospital closed down (except the ER and the inpatient unit). The storm had blown through by Thursday night and all was quiet. On Friday the weather shifted, a new storm blew in from the south, and suddenly we had +30 degrees and lots more snow and wind. Since that storm passed, all has remained quiet, and the thermometer has continued to hover around freezing. After 20 below, this feels so warm it is almost spring-like.
Henry and I took another puppy team out yesterday for a short run and it went really well. A “puppy team” isn’t all puppies; two or three of the seven-month-olds are hooked up with five or six seasoned adults. Puppy discipline is the job of the adult that the pup is paired with on the gangline. Puppies are exuberant and tend to jump around and climb on their partners, get tangled in the lines, and sometimes chew their harnesses. With a few growls and a well-placed biting snap or two, the puppy learns to stand in place on the gangline, ready to move out at the musher’s command.
Puppy runs need to be short and fun, to build the pups’ enthusiasm for their work. The trail from Henry’s dog yard to
The trip home is easier, as those two tall banks are much simpler to run down than up. The whole trip takes only an hour, twenty minutes each way and a twenty minute rest.
All five of the ten puppies we ran this week did well; they pulled hard, ate their fish snacks quickly, and didn’t mess around too much with their line partners. My favorite puppy went twice (inadvertently, because I harnessed the wrong dog). Her name is Butch, named for Susan Butcher. Her mother, Little Belle, is the offspring of the dog I bought from Susan in 2000. Butch was the only female in Little Belle’s litter, and so far shows excellent promise of living up to her prestigious heritage. She may develop into a great lead dog.
Along with these photos, I also shot several 30-second video clips of our run as seen from the back of the sled. Each one is about 60 MB, which is way too large for Blogger to upload. I would love to post them, as they give you a much more realistic feel for the experience of mushing than still photographs can. If anyone knows how to do it, please leave a comment and tell me.
Photos by The Tundra PA. In the photo of the team, Little Belle is the left wheel dog (closest to the sled). Butch at her house.
Labels: Dog Mushing