Inconsistent musher, stubborn dogs and a pre Christmas summing up

I have had the opportunity to spend a few days in solitude with the dogs, my PC, tons of work and sled dog rides at my tiny backcountry cabin.
My dogs pull – of yes, they pull. Sometimes harder than I wish for, for example when I stop and there is no firm surface for the hook. I have two males that are always on the go: good speed, but one has to be in the back of the team as he is not yet a fully experienced command taker nor passer-by. He is young and a bit timid.  The boys and one girl are fast, stubborn, independent and take a lot of initiative. Head-strong. Good when it is needed, bad when they want something else than you.
I have been a bit inconsistent on two matters: one being running on the right side of a road: near our house there are ski trails on the right side, and I have asked my dogs to be on the left on those trails. We oiften run there. This has unfortunately translated to leftsidedness other places too. I work hard to hold them along the right side, but two of them will not learn. I guess sometimes I am just “let go” on it, and they learn that I am inconsistent. Alas!
The other issue I have to work on, is turnaround. Again, at home, we have out and in along the same route, and not very broad places to turn around on. So I have taught them to do 180 degree turns. It works in controlled situations with not too big teams. They know it means going home again. But unfortunately they also want to use this strategy when I want them to do a larger loop in open landscapes. Especislly if we run two teams. The second one, once they see the first one heading 180 degrees back, they make a short hairpin turn by themselves. This has lead to a bit of trouble- since I currently alos have threee ladies in heat, and they don’t ignore males head on—–or let’s say: I dont like it. The males are a bit uptight about the ladies, and tend to not tolerate too close body contact…… :-)
I don’t blame the dogs. They are being run by four different mushers, and they are independent personalities with a lot of experience and stamina, some tensions around heat, but in general problem solving dogs with a lot of determination to head on. But I have to be even firmer and more easy to read fro them.  Today I really worked on the “right side of the road” issue, and after 45 minutes I feel they understand what I want. Not easy when the road is very slippery, but indeed also a safety issue. Running on the ledt when large log vehicles are out on the same road is NOT ok.

Now all of them sleeep soundly in their dog houses, and they look very content and happy and still pretty confident in me. We are trying at least!

O holidays, o dogs, o sled rides, o holy shit there is so much to think about!Dogs are smart and stubborn. So I have to be, too!

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Winter training and snow

Oh what a wonder. We have snow. Real white cold snow, and we can train from home. Maybe not during the day of weekends, alas, there are skiers, but the trail grommers have only put in a sole, with no tracks, so it is good for sledding too. Or we take our pickup and travel an hour to get to Romeriksåsen.
(There is a problem in the house: we either do not have water or we have too much. Now we have had to turn it all off becuse the toilet flushes continuously – and the septic tank fills up accordingly. A week ago we did NOT have water.)
But we are plentiful when it comes to buckets.
Today’s trail at Romeriksåsen involved trailbreaking (mainly Thor) and dearing lake passings on fragile ice…..with a long security rope (also Thor).

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We also went by his house to mend the sled – the front bar had broken. Handymen are just all right.
We are still not too far in distance, but we are out almost every day. Time constraints.
Sajo is growing big and is a quick learner: skijoring.
The others seem fine. Racer has a tooth problem and Finse likes the great indoors. Nenanais in heat and our new Beda seems to follow. She is otherwise a quiet and hard working lady.

Friends

I have friends of all ages. That is the beauty of life. Many friends like dog sledding, so I guess that in the middle of it, we like being with people who share a common agenda, like to do things together. Last weekend was one of friendship, dogs and snow. And wind. Since Syningen got cancelled, we took off – 4 people – 20 dogs – to my log cabin in Hemsedal, where we heard rumours that there was a little snow.

The road was icy but definitely sled-fit, so we hooked up and got to the cabin before dark. The terrain was not too good for mushing outside the dirtroads, since many junipers and mountains birch bushes hooked on to the tuglines and stopped the team, much to the dogs (TIPP!!) frustration…..and mine too!  So we had a few turns on the road before we settled for a good meal. During the night it snowed well, so the next day was ” winter wonderland “. The dogs loved being on the white stuff, and so did we. Sanne managed the sled well – first timer…… Augustus has gotten a lot of routine. Thor’s team runs like locomotive.
The very heavy wind (we like to call it storm, but maybe only in between…?) took all the snow with it from the icy road, so after a restless night (Thor’s dogs slept outside in the gale!) our Sunday started with packing and going. Getting down to under 1000 meters it got better, so we had a nice trip even that day.
Back to town, and to PC and facebook and blogs. I like Facebook- since days of work and dogs give me few hours to be social – when parents of 85 and grandchildren of 5 and 3 have had their share. It is interesting to see how people relate to that site. Some are event oriented, and tell their events. Exciting! Some make quizz, or repeat other people’s entries. There are a few, but not many, real good discussions with a lot of interesting opinions. Some are “show off” and only tell good news. Some add sweet talk to their “like” – ohh myy sooo pretttttyyyyy and sooo niiiice……Some just tell tings, true or not true.

Some have a lot of humor (I love you for that!!!). Some are very short and factual. Some talk a lot, and some only talk strategically, with “important” entrants. Some avoid “liking” or commenting on you EVEN if they are friends in real life ( Unresolved conflicts or just don’t wanna?). Some just let you get a glimpse into very ordinary days of a regular life. Sort of ok that, too.

There is a lot of competition in Facebook though: who does that better ? – who finds the best trail, who does more miles, who make the best stuff, who travels more to exciting places, who have more friends and likes and all that. I cannot take my full self to electronic media. Work and family stays at home. For the most. My little life is not always so interesting to others.

The dog life needs Facebook. Mushing is a lonely sport. That is the only thing I dislike with mushing. And that is why I love events like Syningen or other joint training times. I like adventures! Trips, camping, mushing in various places, diversity! I am not awfully comptetitive in the trail and rtace arena, but I like being with people and dogs. They may not all like me, but that’s life! At least I can comfort myself with a few “likes” on most of my F-book quotes. Good to know that some people care about us.  Though: If I disappeared from the surface I think that the dogs would be the first to notice………I REALLY like my dogs!