SP Kennel is a premier sled dog racing kennel in Two Rivers, Alaska, dedicated to the individual dog through excellent health, nutrition, training and specialized care.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Wes and Wendy's Weather Ten

It looks like Spring has finally started here in the North! We've had consistently sunny weather, blue skies, and above 0 temperatures since returning from Nome. (Which was AMAZING to be in the finish chute!!) We still have over 12 inches of snow hanging around from our big storm the first week of March. This guarantees we will be running dogs for a few more weeks, and enjoying some "fun runs" around the area. The Two Rivers "Valley Finale" is scheduled this Saturday and it's expected to be a warm 20 mile race. We are still debating whether to enter a small team in the race as most of our sleds and dogs are gone; enjoying a vacation up on the North Slope. We do have some great dogs left in the yard-Olivia, Boondocks, Butterscotch, Dingle, Chica, who are resting after the Iditarod. We'll just have to wait and see how they look on Friday.

Since Spring is here, it's time to think about PUPPIES! Last week, Aliy decided it was time to start the Latino puppies' training. We found small traditional harnesses for each of five puppies
and managed to get them on to the main line. We chose a team of slow, steady veterans including Cha Cha and Bullet in Lead, Teddy and Mismo in swing, Hank and Nelson, Pepe and Felix, and Izzy in Wheel by herself. Aliy jumped in the sled bag, and I (Wendy) on the runners and off we went down the driveway. I fully expected to have a slow, trotting run; with puppies stopping and sitting down, not knowing what to do with themselves. "How much can 20 lb puppies pull anyway?!" I wondered. Much to my surprise, we rocketed around the first corner and I found myself off the runners and running down the driveway after a puppy team and sled! They go MUCH faster than I imagined. Aliy had them stopped and waiting for me as I jumped back on and we took off again--this time I was much wiser!

Puppy training takes patience and enthusiasm. Every 5 minutes or so, we'd stop the team. I stood on the brake while Aliy went down the line clapping, petting and praising the puppies; sometimes untangling or straightening puppy lines. She'd hop back in the sled and off we'd go again. Our total trip was about 2.5 miles down the Baseline trail and around Pheasant Farm Road and back. We stayed to the wide hard packed trails to give plenty of room to turn around. People ask, "How do you train the puppies to run on the mainline with harnesses?". Aliy always responds, "It comes naturally, we really don't have to train them". Though I had heard this discussion a few times before, I really didn't understand how naturally it comes until I watched the Latino puppies. They have NEVER been in a harness before last week. We put them on the mainline and they ran in straight lines following their teammates. They had tight tug lines and pulled immediately. They pulled the whole way without resting or sitting down until we stopped them. They had their tails tucked and ears back and "smiles". In case we thought the first run was a fluke, Wes hooked the puppies up again with the veteran adults. This time only 2 or 3 puppies went on the line. Each one performed great again! Nelson and Mismo, the two largest puppies, seem to really "get" the running part. Felix and Pepe gettangled when stopped because they love to play. Izzy continues to pull with all her strength. At the end of the day, they were born to run, and that's what they are doing. Their parents, Biscuit and Quito, just finished both the Yukon Quest and Iditarod in 2nd place. It's in the puppies' bloodlines to be champions, and they are well on their way to becoming just that.

5 comments:

Macgellan said...

Thanks Wendy for another fantastic update!

What fun you got to "run the pups"... I know exactly what you mean... The first time I saw pups run --Boris, Raffie and Mac -- I couldn't believe my eyes!... It's one thing to hear they're "naturals" and another to actually witness it first hand!

I do hope you'll run in the Two Rivers finale... Not only because it's good for the dogs and the community, but because you guys deserve to have some "racing" fun of your own... Surely you've got enough gear around to do it... And there are plenty of folks in the neighborhood who would loan you sleds!... So, get after it!

I'd love to read about two little SPK teams taking 1st and 2nd in the TRF!!!... That would be fantastic!!!!

JQ said...

What a thrill it must be to see those young dogs just take off and follow the lead. Way to go Wendy.

Linda Toth said...

Wes, Wendy I hope the dogs are well enough to race. Like Mac, I'd love to see you have some fun after the hard work you've done this year. I loved reading about the Latino litter .. they are sure to be stars!

weedabble said...

Yeah ChaCha and Teddy...teaching the youngun's ...Love those two dog!!!

NCL said...

Wonderful insight into puppy training for those of us who don't know but are eager to learn. Will be waiting for an update on your decision for the race this weekend.