Thursday, August 31, 2006

Slacker Team

Still no luck with pictures. Bummer.

I finished up the month running all the dogs except the retired ones. I ran the last team after dark. It was the one I call the slacker team. That is the team that is made up of all the dogs who think they don't have to pull. Don't get me wrong - these dogs love to run. Some of them are even harness-banging maniacs when we are stopped, but as soon as we are moving, they try to jog along with a slack line, thinking that someone else will do the work for them. Sooo, I stick them all together so that there are no hard workers to pick up the slack. They all slack off together, and if they want to run ... which they do ... then they all have to start pulling.

It turned out to be a good thing to run them after dark. You see, I can't really see individual tuglines too well at night, so I did not have to feel frustrated at watching certain dogs slacking off worse than others. The dogs pulled only just enough to keep us moving. The lack of power was astonishing compared to every other team I ran. However, another month or two of training should have these guys learning to pull consistently, and then we will be zipping along at the speed they are capable of. These guys are smart enough to figure out that they are no longer in a team where the other dogs will do the work for them, and they soon learn to work harder.

There are a number of reasons for a dog to be on the slacker team. One dog is on the team because she lacks the natural drive to pull hard and push the pace. She pulls well, but not hard enough to allow all the others to slack off and still keep the ATV moving. Another learned to save herself for longer distances by not pulling. I will retrain her by teaching her to pull first and then increasing the distance much more gradually than she has done in the past. A young dog, Boron, is on the team because he simply has not learned how to pull yet. With each hookup he is looking better, and I will soon have to bump him off the team for pulling too much.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Heat Wave

I don't know if this latest heat wave has anything to do with it, but blogger won't let me post any pictures. For a couple weeks, it wouldn't let me post text, either. I know that pictures are what everyone wants, but I guess I will just have to do plain text for a while. In spite of the heat, we have had some cool nights, and fall colors are beginning to show, especially in some of the new plants. The Rocky Mountain Maple has turned completely red, and the Golden Currants are turning pink and red. The Native Mountain Ashes are showing orange fall color, beginning with the lowest leaves. I also spotted a section of yellow on our one large aspen.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Too Hot

Last week was cool enough to run all the dogs except the retirees, but this week has been blazing hot. Last night I waited until dark, and it was still above 70 degrees! Not normal here. Some of the new trees have dropped their leaves from the heat and continuous, dessicating winds. I think they are dead. Missing even one day of watering can be fatal. Tonight I went to a talk on fire ecology and climate changes, and it was very clear from the graphs and charts that we have entered a hotter, dryer epoch.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

New Month, New Weather

Amazing! It is as if the weather knew that we had started a new month. Today was dramatically cooler. We had rain and thunder and hail. The wind blew the hail into the corner of the windowsill.

I started fall training today. Okay, yes, it is still summer, but we call it fall training anyway. I took out two teams of eight dogs each with last year's puppies and all the yearlings. Luna led the first team. After her experience in Race To The Sky this year, she has been retired to training the puppies and the slower teams. She is still a tremendous asset to my kennel.