While we don't have any snow, yet, I've been catching dog sled fever and I am beginning to work on some of the many issues that I have being a VERY beginning musher. For those who may be new to 24 Paws, I am not any kind of professional, I only run the dogs for fun and nothing serious. Basically, I don't have a clue what I am doing, but I love it!
I got hooked when I got Brut. Started reading books, looking up info on line and going to local races when I could. I bought Brut his first harness when he was 5 months old and began by tying a piece of firewood to his harness for him to pull. The firewood was mention because it won't slide up and hit the dog's back legs in the snow. Brut never minded the harness and still doesn't. Being able to start at a young age makes such a huge difference.
I began by building up the weight, by using a kiddie sled and adding more firewood. We would make loops around the yard that always ended in a treat. Brut took to pulling quite easy. The first time I took him out on the road with his kiddie sled and wood in tote, I struggle to keep up with him. That boy took off like he was a free dog on the loose! You'd never know he was hauling a pile of wood. Didn't phase him a bit.
We made a homemade sled out of chair and a pair of skis when I took Brut for his first real run. Brut takes to pulling like he's taking a walk. He still had to sniff and mark everything which made it difficult for me having to stop and start so many times, but in these early stages I just wanted to get the feel of this unique sport. I have never been able to get Brut to run, instead he does a quick trot. Which in all actuality makes for a nice ride and helps in watching for dangers going down the road. Especially when it didn't take long for Brut to realize the amount of control he had with me behind him on a sled. After about a year of having no connection to him other than the sled, I now use a long lead hooked at the collar in order to gain control when needed. You wouldn't believe the difference this security line has made for me. I must have missed that section in the books what with all my excitement!
I have been playing around with Brut and pulling wood in the backyard. Not only is a good sled dog puller, but he enjoys to haul wood from the wood shed to the house. He's probably only in it for the treats, but you'd be surprised enthusiastic he gets when we have our little together time. Not that going back and forth to the house is a big thrill, but we make a game out of it and have a good time. So I have been started him out with small loads to build those muscles and will increase when there is snow on the ground.
The sport is addictive. It is a ton of work, but I really enjoy the learning experience. All of the other dogs enjoy pulling, except for Silver, who makes a good side kick to run along with. I have paired her with Zappa, Fiona and Chance, and while the others may take the bulk of the weight, she helps keep it fun so they don't have to run alone.
And while we probably won't get into anything too serious as far as racing, you never know what the future may hold...
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