Friday, April 10, 2009

The Big Day

Finally the DAY arrived!

It´s tons of snow here in Vedjeön, the sun is shining and Magpie´s puppies are celebrating their 7 months´ "birthday" today. It is a perfect day to harness-break them :)

With the big help of Jachym (who had an extra hard job of chief-handler, cameraman and photographer in one person), Alexandra, Malte (the handlers), Bliss, Ziggi, Tazlina, Galena (the lead dog proffesors), Frostie, Buck, Granite and Magpie (the board of teachers), Hawky, Runner, Rizey and Huggy Bear (aka the babies) got their first taste of the sled dog job today.

PHASE 1: Get the Tigers out of the cage
To get them out of the kennel and actually put a collar on them was a chapter for itself, as documented in the music video.

PHASE 2: Get the monsters to the stakeout
(without losing fingers (or nerves)
Get the twisting, whining, finger breaking rookies from the kennel to the stakeout hook up area, without getting your fingers broken and with as low number of puppies slipping out of their collar, as possible.

PHASE 3: Stake-out training
That was a relatively easy task. I must admit the puppies learned the manners fast on the stakeout, by watching the pros being cool. Hmm, that looks promissing!

PHASE 4: Harnessing
Wow! That went easy and without getting any harnesses chewed up. The puppies really calmed down.

PHASE 5: Hooking up
Absolutely great - easy, calm, watching the adults taking it easy, the babies just followed their teachers. That´s why I picked up the dogs I did. None of the adult dogs were just rendom selected.

PHASE 6: Let´s go!
Awsome! These puppies have drive and speed, no hesitation for a moment!

As you can see from the line-up on the white board, we split the puppies in two teams. The "green" team went first, with Hawky in wheel and Rizey in team. Hawky just blew me out! What a talet, pulling his guts off, running effortlessly, not looking around for milisecond! 3km (1,9 miles) of pure work. He even got himself out of tangled lines while running full speed, without blink of an eye.

Rizey went forward, fast as the wind, as she always is when running lose in the woods. A bit unfocussed at short times, but otherwise same talent and drive!

As we came down to the swamp at Lillsjön lake (the turn around spot), we crossed fresh bear tracks. These were tiny though, unlike the ones I saw a week ago on the island. No camera with me and no mobile phone either.
As the leaders turned the team around on my command, one of the runners got stuck between two small birches and I had to start a long "operation". I basically had to tie the front of the team to a tree and then the back of the gangline to antoher one. Then unsanp the dogs and keep them just on their necklines and disconnect the gangline from the sled in order to get the sled rescued out from between the trees. Wow! I never had gotten stuck so badly with the sled. The dogs were totally great - cool and relaxed. Having Ziggi and Galena as leaders is always such a pleasure. They are irreplacable! (Photos above: left - Hawky, right - Rizey)

In the process, Magpie got lose as I forot to hook her by her collar. A whistle and kibble got her immediately back from her plan to go ahead of us back home :)
Sled losened out, turned, snow hooks set, team attached back to the sled and rehooked. A huge praize to all the dogs and the very patient Hawky and Rizey, who thought it was all part of the experience and made no big deal out of it. They actually had this big grin on their faces, thinking this is the coolest thing on the planet! :)
Team 2, aka the "blue" team had Runner in wheel and Huggy Bear in team. Not exactly a happy constalation. While Runner just took to the business and follwed his rival-brother Hawky´s example of "born with the talent", our little childish, good hearted Huggy Bear wanted to run with his brother and kept turning around, tangling the team up couple times. By the time I got up to the forrest, I stopped a few times and eventually placed him in the wheel beside Frostie. Now he tried to follow and keep up with his brother and went forward.
After few more hundred meters, he got into it and leaned against his harness, ears flat back on the head and the typical Huggy Bear style grin from ear to ear on. What a sweet boy!

This time I was equipped with Jachym´s mobile phone (to his big dismey) and took a few short videos and pictures. Down at the swamp I tried a few pics of the bear tracks, which have almost completely vanished in the afternoon heat, in the meatime.

After turning the team around (this time uneventfully), I took some time to praize all the dogs and take a few more pictures.
On the way back both boys worked hard and dugg into the hills.
A great way to start the Easter holidays and total pleasure to work these babies! I can´t wait to see them develop their skills gradulally. These babies will be something! I mean... they already are! :)
(photo on left: Runner, right: Huggy Bear)

  • Watch the music video, featuring the "green team":

  • See the short videos I took, while running team 2 (the "blue" team) in the following post (above), named:
    Harness Breaking - Bonus Features

1 comment:

Malin Aspaas/Nordic sleddog's said...


just lovely to see the sibblings to Hidalgo - they like it too run in the harness, i see ;)

best regards malin