I'd had Nicky and Alice for one week. We'd been getting along great. The weather in early May was still cool. We decided it was time for our first-ever run!
I get out the quad and the harnesses - this is gonna be great! The dogs are fired up, they want to go! I get them hooked up (Alice was a challenge, she can't stay still) at the quad, parked by the trailhead, twenty feet in front of us.
I had cut a short walking trail around an acre of mostly grass and weeds with a few trees and scrub brush - the "East Woods" as we hope it will become. It is crossed by a grassy waterway that runs a quarter mile down through a cornfield. "They will just follow any trail" I was told, and I think that the waterway "looks" like a trail. I fire up the quad and yell "Hike!" and the dogs pull completely to the side, around towards the back! So I go up and talk to them, and pull them toward the trailhead. A couple of false starts later (I am working on remaining calm) and we actually get moving! We make a fifty foot run and hit the junction with the waterway. "Haw" commands the dog driver. Straight run the sled dogs. I stop and pull them to the left. "Right here, let's go" I tell them. Eventually, we head down the waterway. Hmm, it's really wide and nothing like a trail, I realize. Part way down, we stop and I physically turn them around and we actually RUN back up to the East Woods trail! Yay, I'm a MUSHER! Sweet, this is fun! We go around the trail (they DO follow a trail) and come back to the waterway. "Haw" commands the driver, straight run the sled dogs. Time to jump off the quad and pull them to the "trail". This is a good workout for me, I'm working up a sweat already! Down the waterway, stop, drag them around, back to the trail. This is fun when we're running, but we need to work on our "Gee" and "Haw".
After about a mile and a half, I turn them around and we head back to the kennel. Hey, they'll run that way! We unhook and get petted and watered. I was a bit frustrated, I waited years to actually "mush" and it wasn't very smooth. Mrs. Loon reminds me that it is our first run and I knew that we will ALL be learning, but you know, I just wanted it to be easy!
Stay tuned for more later...