Friday, September 3, 2010

Suicidal Run (with happy ending)

Today I got a phone call from a Facebook friend. While we chatted about (what else than) dogs, I told him "mushing isn´t for those with lack of humor".

And that sentence was proven in reality just very recently! :)

Lately we´ve been blessed with fabulous weather - a typical indian summer, with cold nights and sunny days. So we´ve been busy running dogs.

Yesterday´s run was nothing but perfection -- the coordiantion between leaders Galena and Ziggi (both actually in standing heat!) was awsome, they obeyed commands like a clock and turned the team around beautifully without a single tangle, on the infamous and often cursed spot (see, our fall training is done mostly on dead end forrest roads).
The team ran smoothly and came back home strong and fresh, and by the time we were watering them, half of the dogs were screaming on top of their lungs, leaning into their harnesses and banging their tugs ready for another run.

This morning was the yin of of the yang or vice versa. Everything that could go wrong went wrong.

I have to stress out, that I did receive a number of warning signals, but being an ignorat human being, I didn´t pay attention.

One of the first signs came to me, when I wrote the team line up, ending up with 5 girls in heat, out of which 3 were in standing heat. "I did that yesterday and all went fine" I thought for myself. But I realized the depth of the difference, when I took a second look at the white board while bringing dogs to the ready chain.

Comparing to yesterday, I had one good and experienced female leader today (yes, of course in standing heat) (thank you Star and my apology for causing you so much stress!), a bunch of unexperienced ones and the rest male leaders.

Since we always run girls in heat in the front of the team, you might imagine where I am getting with the story.

And so we headed out into the beautiful crispy and sunny early autumn morning.

At first it was great, everyone was foccused, the girls were fast and the boys were desperately trying to catch up with them (silly boys) and worked with double enthusiasm.

Then Ginger, who ran lead beside Star, peed.

All the dogs passed the spot with noses on the ground. In a moment Huggy Bear (today renamed to Trouble Bear) picked up a fight with his neighbour Nitro. I shouted, called the dogs up to go faster, but since none of the usual methodes worked, I pressed the horn, which stopped them finally. They went back to their business, but in that moment another new adventure started. Ginger turned around and tangled the first six dogs.
During this manuver, Grayling tried to breed Krtek.

With a smile I patiently went on to untagle everyone, prevent the breeding and clean the bloody heads of the two trouble makers, to see what the demange has been. After realizing Nitro had a bite in his tongue and Huggy Bear just a scratch on one ear (none being serious), we continued our journey.

Then Ginger turned around after crossing the swamp, and tangled part of the team.
I remained patient.

The run along the road was surprisingly uneventful.

The watering break was relatively uneventful.

Climbing the hill towards the critical turning point was more-less uneventful.

Towards the end of the hill Star decided to turn the team around in the middle of the trail, without my command. I was patient and untangled the dogs.

At the top of the hill, Star decided again it was time to turn the team around by herself. I patiently untagled the dogs and turned the team the right direction with a reasuring command "on by".

Two years old Rizey, one of the "freshmen" on the mainstring, running right behind the leaders, looked at me and her eyes read "mom, what is this confusion?".

Back on the ATV, and another "on by".

Ginger jumped into the nearby bushes, then got back on the trail, turned around and started having discussion with Snowy running right behind her.

Too late to think about moving forward. Another untangling. I took my jacket off. Rizey started wondering what´s so great about being on the main string.

As soon as I shouted my "on by" command, Star and Ginger turned the team around, and when they heard my little unpatient voice, went through the first pair of team dogs and returned into their "line out" positions, creating an amazing tangle. Grayling started trying to breed Krtek again. Untangling, unharnessing some of the dogs and harnessing them back, apologising to Rizey, who by now thought we are all nuts, and wished she was back at the kennel or living in some way nicer place, where they have a nice and obedient team.
I realized how hot one can actually feel at +5°C.

Now the dogs actually moved forward on my command, following the trail! Ha!

As soon as we reached the turn-around spot, I called "haw" and Star went on to turn the team around ON MY COMMAND! It felt amazing.

Not for long, though. Ginger went through the team and went to say hi to the boys when the team was half turned. Rizey decided she hates mushing and slipped out of her colar.

I don´t remember anymore how many times we tangled and untangled, and how many times I apologized to Rizey.
I just know time stopped and I felt like a gladiator in the middle of coloseum full of beasts. And the only clear thing on my mind was to not let them win. "I will turn this team around when I want and how I want" was the mantra I heard inside mmy head.

After the last untangling, sweating and swearing, I went through the team and realized there was no way to get another leader upfront to change Ginger, who completely lost her sences. The boys were already desperate and the whole team was kind of unpatient by now. So I took another girl in standing heat - Krtek, and knowing how she puts her butt infront of the boys, I connected her with Star with a leader neckline.

I don´t remember more comming attempts, because I was the gladiator who lost track of timme, feeling of pain, and I felt like I was outside my body looking at this woman who looked like me, but swore like a sailor.

But eventually, at one point, I saw the team lined up, myself runnig back to the ATV for a millionth time, calling "haw" and actually the team turning around, pair by pair, seven pairs of dogs and the ATV followed and guess what - without a single tangle they made this nice round and we were back on track. And the world was green again and the birds sang and trees smelled and Rizey smiled again.

And then I found myslef laughing out loud, almost all the way home.

A beautifully smooth start... :)

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