Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Harness Training Puppies

I am beginning to wonder if we are ever going to get a break from the extreme cold, temperatures are staying between -30 and -50f with most days being about -40f. I have taken advantage of the warmer -30 days to take the race team out on longer runs, and then on the colder days I have been trying to catch up on my sewing and other projects I have going. I spent part of our very short daylight hours yesterday and today harness training puppies. When harness training puppies the idea is to keep everything fun, not scary, and also to prevent them from chewing on things like their harness. I have been taking teams of 3 puppies and 4-5 adult dogs out at a time. The adults job is to set a good example, pull most of the weight so the pups don't have to, and of course keep the team moving in the right direction. This group of puppies is by far the easiest I have ever trained, they catch on quickly, haven't even tried chewing on anything, and just want to run and pull. I have been taking them on runs about 3 miles long and they come back wagging their tails still wanting more which is exactly what I want to see. I am looking forward to having these pups on my race team next year.
Below are a few pictures of a couple of the pups learning the ropes.

Tramp (L) and Charley (R) being really good and patiently
waiting to start the run. Their sister Jana looks on from her spot in
the dog yard, she ran with the team on the previous day.

Drift (7.5 month old pup) with Summit (an almost 2 year old adult)

Charley and tramp in wheel with drift on the left in front
of them about a mile into the run. 

Matrix during a quick break during yesterdays run, refusing to look at
me so that I can take her picture. I honestly think this dog knows what a camera
is, she will refuse to look at just about any camera but will look at you all you want if you
aren't holding one. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A cold start to the new year

So far 2012 has been cold, with temperatures ranging from in the -40's on colder days to the -20's on warmer days. The cold weather hasn't slowed us down to much though, we've still been getting out with the dogs. Going on runs up to 36 miles and we've even started getting some of our pups into harness for the first time and going on 2.5 mile runs with them. It is a lot of fun watching pups grow up and become part of the team. They change so much in their first year of life it's amazing. They go from being blind, deaf , and unable to walk at birth to amazing athletes at just over a year old who can run 50-100 miles in a day.

Everything takes longer when its cold out, you have to put more gear on before going out side, let the truck run longer to warm up before driving anywhere, and last but not least put booties, coats and fox tails on all of the dogs before a run. The only thing that happens quickly when its this cold out is things freezing. At -40 a cup of boiling water will turn to steam instantly when thrown into the air. -40 is also cold enough to freeze bubbles before they can pop.

This is my friend Jana, she went on a 20 mile dog run
with me on Monday, and about 8 miles from home tipped
her sled over and fell in some overflow while crossing spinach
creek.  we were able to get some dry clothes on her but she had a
mostly damp cold ride home. It was -20 when we started the run and
-30 when we got home about 2.5 hours later.
The photo below is of Jana's pants after we got back to the cabin
She had so much ice on them she could hardly bend her legs and had to
stand in front of the heater for a very long time just to thaw them out
enough to get them off. Due to good cold weather gear and only a 8 mile
run to get home she managed to escape the incident with little to no frost bite.

Here Rogue shows of her fancy coat that is designed to
keep her belly and inner thighs warm and protected from the wind
while running as these are some of the areas more prone to frostbite
on female dogs. Swamper the tall handsome guy next to her is wearing
a fox tail to help protect the sheath of his penis from getting frostbitten
while running in cold temperatures. I sew Velcro to both ends of the
fox tails so that I can quickly attach them to their harnesses while gearing
up the team.