Saturday, February 16, 2013

Two People, Two Dogs and Six Loads of Sh...PEEP

I truly regret not having pictures to go along with this post. They would make you laugh. They would make you feel inspired. And most definitely they would make you wonder about our mental health.

Let me assure you that we are mentally fit. At least we think so, although I guess that it could be a topic for debate, because living alone in the middle of nowhere with 60 dogs, not seeing much of other human beings and not leaving the land of woods and lakes for literary years, can actually effect our sanity.

Weather crazy or not, we at least know for sure, that we are physically fit. We have tested that numerous times and ultimately yesterday.
In this case the "we" refers to my handler Katka and myself. Two mad women, who are stuck in the wilderness with no snow machine. And no trails. In a kennel with sixty dogs who poo a lot. Or, not really so much, as they have a very high quality nutrition, but still - there is a lot of poop after sixty dogs. Period.

You can do the math: No snow machine. No trils. Tons of shit. (Sorry, poop doesn´t sound so just in this case). Guess you know what that means.

Yes, dog handlers, kennel owners and mushers are masters at poop scooping. But the next step is a super easy task - load it all on a trailer or sled and haul it out of the yard with an atv or snow machine. Yeah. That´s how it goes in the normal kennels.

How do we do it, you ask? We pull it in tubs and a small pulka by ourselves into the woods. I do not have to mention, that the trail to our dog poop dumpster is uphills. How else? It would be quite boring and way less challenging otherwise.

But somehow, we skipped a trip here and there and ended up with a pretty large pile of (forigve me once again) shit. And yesterday was the day. Day D. Or I should say day S. 
It took six loads to get rid of majority of our poo "collection". Katka made a comment somewhere in the middle of the process, that we both had a wild laugh about. "If we had money equaling this amount of shit, we´d be all up in Alaska, and all the dogs would be flown in there first class, we´d be running the Yukon Quest (a thousand mile race between Canada and Alaska) and hanging out at a bar each night", she said. Hahaha. If only dog poo could turn into gold.

So how does one pull a load of shit on an ungroomed trail? That is why I wish I had pictures for you. We hook up a husky in a harness. We hook ourselves up behind the husky, with a line across our hips. And then we both set on a pilgrimage to the dumpster. The husky is the lead dog and the human is the wheel dog. Or wheel man. In our case wheel woman. It is actually quite efficient, this tandem hitch. We take a few breaks to catch (the human) breath, while the husky wonders we did we stop. They are definitely the stronger ones. The tougher ones. Mind you, they weigh five times less than us!

You get to realize that you are always going to be the weakest link in your dog team. It is actually a great exercise to do to think for a bit, how the dogs feel, how they need to pull and unite, what motivates them and so on. Let me tell you, after the six loads I did yesterday, I honestly have to say that if I was someone´s wheel dog pulling a heavy sled, being asked to go through unbroken trails, to go faster, to rest little, I would seriously consider biting the person in their ass, if they ever treated me not right. 

After six loads, we were done. Done as in wasted. Hawky and Dasher hopped happily around, happy to get a bit of meat soup for their efforts, while we went to take a hot shower, as we were sweating from head to toes. My hair (and it is quite thick and very long) was soaken completely through, as if I just washed it. I felt as if I took shower in my clothes. 
We also made ourselves a soup, topped with about a liter of tea for each, to rebuild our water loss.

It was tough. It was fun. But next time I am doing just one load a day. Or better, have a functional snow machine. This winter is not over yet, though. Lots of loads of dog poop are still to be hauled. I better go and do my daily workout, to keep myself in shape for the wheel dog job.

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