Today was the first "real" training run. The temp was a little warmer than I liked at 47, but it was overcast. The first couple of days of training are usually disorganized until I remember the routine. It was nice to have the new dog truck, but now I have to find places for all of the stuff. I foresee a couple of modifications next summer. Nothing that can't be worked through this year. The biggest help was having Mary being able to go out today. She didn't go out on the 4 wheeler, but stayed behind to water and harness dogs. This saved about an hour for me as I would have to drop dogs while I took care of the current team and then load the dogs not running. I don't like to leave dogs on the tie-outs while I am running another team.
As we pulled into the staging area, there was a sign stating a bear had been sighted. Not to worry as this is Alaska and believe it or not there are bears here. Wolves and moose too. I did have my Uncle Ruger along for company.
The staging area was muddy. I have seen it worse, but still everything will get muddy to include the new dog box. Today we are only trained 15 dogs as Waylon is still nursing a shoulder injury and I want to give him another week off. He is moving ok and the range of motion check I did was very positive, but still a week off now will save 3 weeks to a month off down the road.
The plan was to run 3 teams of 5. I have 3 strong leaders. Ok, they work for me. I have a few "trail leaders" or up and coming leaders.
Team 1: Bear and Alli in lead. Alli is Bear's Mom and the "queen bee" and although she knows her commands, she knows she is royalty. At swing was Velma and then Tolby (Alli's second litter) and Thursby at Wheel. After a mile, I couldn't take Alli's Sunday driving, so I swapped her out with Velma. That worked well. We were able to get 2 head-on passes and 1 tail on-pass. Not bad for the first run of the year.
Team 2: Bogey and Zia (Bear's littermates) at lead, with Amizette (Alli's second litter) at swing and Apollo and Timber at wheel. Zia started to develop into a trail leader last year, but still lacks self-confidence. She knows her commands, but relies on the leader next to her. Zia didn't seem to want to be up front so I swapped her out. Unlike Team 1, there aren't alot of options for leaders. This was Apollo's first run with me and Timber likes to be in the back of the bus. Amizette is a little over 14 months old and only been in harness 2 other times, but what the heck. She has tight tug and Bogey is a strong leader. Amizette did great. I really don't like running puppies at lead, especially rookies.
Team 3: Luna (Bear's littermate) and Gabby (Bogey's daughter) at lead, Cyphers (Alli's second litter) at swing and Lasar and Hawkeye at wheel. Through the first half of the run Cyphers kept pulling way to the left which through off the leaders and the wheelers. I swapped Hawkeye for Cyphers and that fixed that problem. Lasar is a little bigger than Cyphers and made a great wall. Hawkeye won the muddies dog award.
Each run was 2.5 miles through a bunch of mud puddles.