Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sunny hookup

by Nardo Drouven

Yesterday evening Katerina decided she wanted to do a training run with the dogs this morning. Training runs this time a year are done with the ATV and 16 dogs, quite the adrenaline boost during hookup, as well as during the run itself, I'm sure :-)

The thing we do as handlers is take the board with the names that Katerina wrote, bring it outside to the dogyard and put the selected lucky ones to the stakeout to harness them. When the dogs spot you walking with the board though, they all go ballistic! They all get over excited, bark their vocal chords out and run like mad around their houses or kennels.... then, the fun part starts.. Our job is to collect the dogs on the list and chain them to the stakeout (the stakeout is the chain where the dogs wait until they are being harnessed and put to the line of the sled of atv). This is a very exciting and adrenaline-sport like job, probably the most tiring and energetic one at the farm.

The ideal situation is as follows: you struggle your way toward target dog (much like a celebrity going through a busy street full of fans who want to shake your hand or take your picture), then you unhook them from their chain (which is a skill in itself, for the dog pulls at full strength so the chain is usually tight), bring them to the stakeout, which means struggling through all the other dogs that want to be taken too, or fight the dog at the end of your arm, and hook them to the stakeout chain. In case it is a kennel dog (some dogs are in kennels, some are in the yard at their houses) the procedure is slightly different, but no less challenging: you go to the kennel, which holds two to three eager-for-action beasts, go into the kennel without letting the dogs out just jet (also an skill!) grab the one you need and take it out without letting the other(s) escape. Since we are two, it is slightly easier, for one of us can go into the kennel,hold all dogs that live there and hand target dog to the other person. This complete process is repeated until all required dogs are on the stakeout. Then there is a time of relative peace and just noise, when the harnesses are sorted, and then the rush begins anew... When Katerina assigned each dog their harness, we all four harness the dogs, this again is rather a struggle, for the dogs are so excited the hardly can't bear to stand still, still, we harness them all together pretty fast.... today Katerina remarked it would be fun to have a contest...

When the harnessing is finished, it is time to actually hook them up, which means putting them to the pulling line in front of the sled or atv. This too is a bit of a struggle, but the dogs always help you go fast in the right direction :-p. When all the dogs are hooked up, the team is off, and every time, we are struck by the sudden silence as those tails wave away in the distance :-p

Today was an extremely nice morning, with sun and little wind, so I was sweating my ass off in my warm overalls which I wore, since I expected it to be colder :-p A beautiful morning and an adrenaline filled hookup! The rest of the day was filled with the usual husky-farm tasks, feeding, poopscooping, today we changed the water in all their buckets, and we learned a new skill, to split logs with a wood-splitter! Never did it before, but it is very easy, and a very safe machine... although I was struck by the brutality of it, it does not actually cut the wood, like I am used to, it slowly pushes the wood to a metal axe-like blade and pushes so hard that the wood splits.... it seems clean and easy and gives little noise but the brutal force was demonstrated to me when a knotted log was pushed wrongly and tilted.... I could see the inside, the fibers were not cut but thrashed.... slow and very strong indeed... We are still not sure if it is quicker by axe... I think it is, but this is less effort...

Ok, so I'm gonna leave it at this for now, it is time for dinner :-)

cheers from the farm!

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