Thank You

My last post garnered a pretty big response from friends, acquaintances, and even strangers. I wanted to thank everyone who checked on me—for the encouragement, suggestions, and support. Coming to terms with this decision has put me in a better place mentally, but check back when I start making moves. It will get harder. 

After writing my April 15th post, Facebook’s “On This Day” reminded me of this entry from exactly one year before—when I had announced my decision to move to California. What the hell, man. (I think April 15th will be a personal holiday going forward.)

In that post and several since, I’ve explained why I thought California would work for me and the dogs. If you’ve been following along, you’ve heard my reasoning: low humidity, plenty of snow, close to my employer, cool in the summer, trails near the house, yada yada yada. I did leave something pretty major out: I’m here because Will wants to be in Los Angeles. 

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I don’t talk about relationships in this blog. In the past, boyfriends have had little impact on my mushing life. Most were supportive and interested, which is all I ask of them. But when you get up and move across the country with someone, that changes things.

I knew from day one that Will was destined for a warmer climate. He warned me early that he didn’t stick around for winter and wanted to make a permanent move out of New York City. I didn’t know, specifically, what that meant—but I figured we’d cross that bridge when we got there. And that bridge took us to southern California.

A mountain is the only ecosystem that could potentially sustain us. Will would have Los Angeles for warmth and city life and I’d be (roughly) two hours away and over a mile up. When we visited Big Bear in the winter of 2017, it was snow covered and full of potential. (We also ate donuts, which may have clouded my judgement.)

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I had to give this a shot and I'm so grateful for everything Will has done to try and make this work for me. While he isn’t going to be up in the frosty, predawn hours to run dogs, he has been the most supportive fan of Blue Eyes and Spitfire thus far. When we were still in the Hudson Valley of New York, he put a fence up around his property so the dogs could run. He traveled with me when I got both Blitzen and Hubble from their breeders. He’s dealt with hair, poop, pee, muddy paw prints, and dead groundhogs throughout the house. And about a thousand chewed up socks.

He drove across the country twice—the second time so I wouldn’t have to do it alone. He bought this house so that I’d have somewhere to live with the dogs, since renting is not an option. He put up another fence out here, to keep our neighbor’s dog from mauling mine through the chainlink. He’s secretly purchased a tougher dryland rig and a metal sled to help me survive this rough terrain. I don’t think I could ever repay him for everything he’s done for me. And that’s just the dog-related stuff.

That’s all I want to write about this. I don’t like talking about relationships here (or, uh, at all) and I’m sure this will make him feel weird, too. Still, it’s a piece of the puzzle and part of this story. If you weren’t aware of it, you’d probably raise an eyebrow as to why I made the choice to move here.

So, there you have it.

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Dog Mushing Will Break Your Heart

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If your only interaction with a person is through social media, there’s a good chance you’re not getting the full story.

Instagram is criticized as being a false representation of peoples’ actual lives, and a breeding ground for envy. Think about it—the main feature of the app allows you to apply filters and modify reality to look better. It’s an accessible version of Photoshop (or Lightroom) for the novice photographer, or, well, just about everyone these days.

I get annoyed when I see the #vanlife posts with perfectly designed van interiors, lined with succulents and knickknacks. I know from experience that each and every item shakes and jiggles and falls when you’re in a van that actually moves. Van-lifers also pass off these amazing tailgate views of National Parks as “just woke up from van-camping” shots, while just outside the frame are tourbuses, restrooms, and parking lots. Oh, and you can't actually park in that spot overnight.

I try to be authentic when writing this blog, but I’ve been leaving out some of the rougher parts. This lifestyle doesn’t come easily. It requires almost all of your time, physical strength, piles of money, and sacrifice. 

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No one wants to live on a rural chunk of land, tucked away in a forest, far from the conveniences of even a small city. No one wants to dig out from snowstorm after snowstorm. No one wants to deal with negative 20°F windchills. No one wants to wake up hours before dawn to train dogs. This life means solitude.

I recently read Thru-hiking Will Break Your Heart by Carrot Quinn and I can relate. It's about the Pacific Crest Trail that runs from Mexico all the way to Canada. Over on the east coast, my friend Brett recently hiked the Appalachian Trail. As we speak, my friend Maxine is making her way north on the AT. A common trend in thru-hikers is a feeling of disconnect after the trail ends and trouble acclimating back home. Once you get a taste of that primal, wild life—how do you go back? 

I’ve always been inspired by thru-hikers, but it’s not the path for me. Instead, I’ve realized my adventure will be with the dogs (duh). I’ll grow the team and increase their endurance. We’ll go for longer runs, over greater distances. I'll plan an expedition by dogsled and spend the days running and the nights camping. We’ll endure whatever Mother Nature throws at us and rely solely on the contents of the sled to make it through. (I’ve started a Patreon that will document this more, but, I’ll still write about it here.)

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I’ve come to terms with wanting and needing to do this. Still, I’m taking a leap into unknown territory. I’ve held onto the “recreational” musher label for almost a decade. I’ve exhausted myself trying to live a double life. I've stuffed half a dozen sled dogs into suburban households where I could still see friends, be near family, and have relationships. For four years, I juggled a job in New York City while still mushing. I’ve tried (and often failed) to maintain a social life—going to bars at night and prying myself out of bed before dawn to run dogs.

I thought California would be the answer. The mountains held promises of snow and low temperatures, even in the peak of summer. I’d have some friends and co-workers within a few hours—but with plenty of wilderness to explore.

Three months in, I have to admit I’m unhappy here. There are trails right outside my door, but they’re far from secluded. The neighborhood is tightly packed with retirees, dogs, and tourists. Trying to mush when there’s tiny or loose dogs on the trail is a nightmare and we’ve already had our share of bad experiences. 

Even if the trails were empty, they’re rocky and dangerous. The dogs have been able to maneuver them, but my gear has suffered. The terrain rattles me to my core and makes my joints ache. My wool sweater gave me rug burn on my wrists from the vibration. (Who knew that could happen?) There's also the potential for rattlesnakes, cougars, and fires as the weather warms up.

My mushing adventures won’t expand here—they simply can't. While it’s no worse than the suburbs of New Jersey, I am ready for something far better. I’m nearing my 31st year on this planet. I just got a raise at my fully remote job. I have a solid savings account and my credit score is killer. It’s now or never.

The future is uncertain and I'll be embarking alone, but I've got to see where this adventure takes me.

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Adventure Everyday

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California is a beautiful state. Drive in any direction for a few hours and you’re bound to see some epic nature. Drive several hours and you’re likely to pass through several entirely different ecosystems. This past weekend was full of exploring—something I need to take advantage of way more often.

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Friday evening and Saturday morning were spent mushing. I was nervous to see how the newly repaired dog cart would hold up, but it did just fine. The dogs were on fire Friday evening after having a few days off. Saturday morning was a different story. We went out to Holcomb Valley and tried some new trails. It ended up being mostly slow-going, with a lot of uphill and washed out trails. The team still did great, don’t get me wrong, they were just keeping things steady instead of exploding out onto the trail. (Probably for the best when exploring new routes and navigating giant ice-craters)

Once the dogs were thoroughly exhausted, Will and I went out for a short but strenuous hike up to Castle Rock. This is one of the more popular trails in Big Bear, but we managed to hike beyond the flatlander chaos and found some pretty solid viewpoints. Hiking in early spring was always a bummer on the east coast; you’re so eager to get outside, but everything is muddy and grey and brown. There’s some mud from snowmelt out here, but everything is vibrant conifer green and red, and trails dry out quick.

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On Sunday I had planned to hunker down and figure out some self-promotion. I’ve set up a Patreon for dog mushing and a Kofi for art. The thing is, I don’t feel like a “real” musher, worthy of collecting money from people to pursue this hobby. And I don’t feel like a good enough artist to accept donations for drawing, either. I’m putting a pin in these ideas, until I figure out something that actually makes me feel good. (If anyone has suggestions, feel free to message me)

I had the urge to detach from both my computer and Big Bear, so we took a day trip north. After researching mountains (as one does), I learned that Mt. Whitney—the tallest peak in the lower 48—was just over three hours away. I have zero interest in climbing mountains, let me be clear. I am no mountaineer. Still, I love seeing mountains, and decided the tallest peak in the continental United States was worth a day of driving.

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And she sure was.

Mt. Whitney is listed as being part of Sequoia National Park and Inyo National Forest. Except you can’t really get a good look at the peak from entering these parks. Apparently, the place to go is a tiny town called Lone Pine. We drove up the eastern side of the Sierras, which is primarily vast desert landscapes, to reach this little portal town. 

The dogs came along for the ride, even though the majority of it was spent in their van crates. We could have left them crated at home, but this way, they got a brief run and water break midway through the day. (And a chicken nugget each, for being such good sports)

Of course, I couldn't miss out on these photo ops.

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After the cross-country trip, they’re all pretty much pros at travel. I say “pretty much” because Hubble managed to pee in his crate roughly 10 minutes away from home. He alerted us earlier on when he had to go, and we pulled over. Not so much the second time. 

Urine aside, this weekend’s adventures were a nice reminder that there’s a lot to explore while I’m out here. Even if California doesn’t end up being home forever (will there even be such a place? I guess the dirt, when I’m dead), I’ll make the most of big nature while I’m out here.

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Community

I have wanted to abandon Facebook for years now. It’s mostly a time-suck that brings little value to my life. With all this Cambridge Analytica crap surfacing, I want to delete my account more than ever. I can stay in touch with family and friends through other means, so why stay?

Because mushing, damnit. (It always comes back to dogs, huh)

Facebook groups tie me to hundreds, if not thousands, of other mushers throughout the United States and the world. The group I created (Mushers of the Northeast US) has over a thousand members. When I moved to SoCal, I immediately had contacts on this side of the country, thanks to the mushing community. 

Recently, the community saved my dog sled. It only took minutes (minutes!) to find someone with sled-working experience, who lived nearby, who was kind enough to repair my busted tie and drag mat. Will brought the sled down the hill on Monday and it’s already back, good as new. (Thanks, David!)

We also found a local metal worker to weld my busted dryland cart. Even though he’s not part of the mushing community, he’s excited to learn more about it and may start building his own version of a dryland rig. Dryland dog carts and rigs are hard to come by, so introducing a new builder to the community would be rewarding.

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While I’ve been dabbling in #musherTwitter, the vast majority of mushers communicate through Facebook. It’s how people buy and sell dogs, pair with mentors, share events, find trails, swap gear—everything.

So what can we do? Can someone build a MushBook? 

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Rocky Road

We’re headed into another few days of rest for the team, but not due to warm weather or visiting friends. This is an unplanned break because my equipment has been falling apart. These SoCal mountains are beautiful, but the rocky trails are taking a toll on us.

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We had a series of light snowfalls the past few days and I made the mistake of going out for a midday sled run. First, we ran into a loose dog on the trail which resulted in me flipping the sled and twisting my ankle (the dog ended up being mostly chill and was soon wrangled by his owner). Right after that, the sled’s drag mat (a device that folds down onto the ground—you stand on it to slow down without completely stopping) snagged a rock and set off a chain reaction through the sled—the drag mat bent, the left runner got yanked, and a stanchion tie was pulled loose. 

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The sled was still usable, so I decided to keep going, busted drag mat and ankle be damned. By the end of the run, much of the snow had melted from the trail, and I had to text Will to come meet us a quarter mile from the house. Without snow cover, I couldn’t slow the team down with the drag mat or use the bar brake without fear of snagging another rock and breaking things more. Luckily, Will arrived in time and helped control the team on our way back home.

The next day we got more snow, but it wasn’t quite enough to sled on, and I wasn’t about to repeat the last fiasco. I waited until evening (after the tourists cleared out) and ran the dogs via dryland rig. Important backstory: a few weeks ago, one of the support bars on the rig snapped due to the rocky terrain. I was able to temporarily fix it with duct tape and a hose clamp. Fast-forward to our run: about two miles in, the bar snapped again, this time in such a way that temporary repair wasn’t possible. The rig was still usable, but steering became wobbly. We managed to finish the run despite the break, but it’s clear this will need to be welded before I can safely run the team again.

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So, this week is all about repairs. I tapped into the expansive online mushing community and immediately found someone in my area willing to repair the sled (thank you David!), so it will be headed down the mountain tomorrow. We also found a local welder who will (hopefully) be able to repair my dryland rig this week.

My fingers are crossed that we don't experience too much downtime without our gear, and that this week's rain storms don't turn into a blizzard while we're without-sled. 

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Ups and Downs

We surpassed our season goal of 300 miles last week. I knew we’d go beyond it, but I have no idea how much further we’ll get—or when our “season” will actually end. According to climate data, the average low in July (the hottest month) is 48 degrees:

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Combined with consistently low humidity, this means we could potentially mush year round. Of course, that average low is probably somewhere in the middle of the night. I suspect our runs will decrease over the summer months, but who knows if we’ll have a well-defined season end.

After hitting our goal, the dogs had a few days off from running. I took a day to reconfigure the dog van’s setup. I removed the second row seats (which had been folded, but still took up a lot of space) and added two additional crates. Now, each dog has their own crate, which should make road trips a lot easier. I also adjusted how the crates are secured, which makes everything a bit safer.

Aside from housekeeping, the temperatures were warm and then rainy. This was the first time I’ve seen rain since our road trip west!

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My friend Terri came to visit and we managed to get some exploring in, between the showers. I even got to take her mushing one morning, which the dogs desperately needed after several days of inactivity.

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Mushing is my favorite thing, but it's usually a solo hobby, and can get lonely. It was nice to take some days off (from both regular work and working dogs) and spend time with a friend. As we often did in New Jersey (and various other states), Terri and I went hiking—my first real hike in Big Bear, too. It seemed pretty easy compared to hikes I’ve done, but judging by the soreness days later, it kinda kicked my ass.

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We also drove down to Joshua Tree for an afternoon, which always feels like visiting another planet. Adventures aside, it was nice to reconnect with one of my best friends while I’m still adjusting to this new place. The simple stuff, like visiting the local shops, restaurants, brewery, and movie theater, helped make this place feel a bit more like home.

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Getting back to work today was a struggle, but thankfully, the week is nearly over. It snowed last night and I desperately want to get the sled out, but after a bad encounter with a neighbor, I’m not sure when it will be “safe" to run. I’m not ready to put that story into writing—for now, I’ll just say that it’s become a real struggle to share these trails with the locals, which puts a big damper on things.

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Donkeys, Mushers, and Dogs

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Temperatures have finally taken a nosedive and we've been treated to a little snow. Mushing has been swell. On Saturday, we stayed local and ran up and down the mountain next door. We even spotted a wild donkey along the way! The dogs smelled him before I saw him and I had to make sure to keep them on the trail—so no photo this time. I’m not sure if these guys will act like deer and run or act like moose and charge. I’m not really looking to find out, but I hope to see them again—from a distance.

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Sunday we were back at Holcomb Valley, this time for a late afternoon run. I prefer running in the early morning not only because it’s cold, but also because there are rarely any people around. Fewer people means less opportunities for trouble, like loose dogs or horseback riders. Since we were going out late, Will came along to act as “handler". As I was getting set up, he noticed two other dog teams making a turn nearby. Surprised, we both trotted over to say hello and see who they were. Both were members of the Urban Mushing group in SoCal—I didn’t see their post about coming up to Holcomb that weekend. One musher was running a 5-dog team on an Arctis Cart, just like me. After socializing, we continued on our own run, completing just over six miles as the sun set.

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Monday was a holiday from work and a minor snow storm hit the mountain. There was only a thin layer of snow when I woke up, so I decided to sleep in (if 7:30 AM counts as sleeping in). By late afternoon, snow had kicked back up, and there was maybe 2-3” on the ground. I debated taking the sled out, but I wasn’t sure how well covered the trails would be. I also wanted the extra weight of the rig, in case I ran into people and loose dogs (holiday weekend + snow = tourists).

Sure enough, less than a mile into our run we came upon a beautiful loose malamute. I saw his person dip over to an adjacent trail, and my leaders started to follow, but I was able to keep them on track. For a moment, Denali and Willow dipped around a bush to take a look at the loose dog, and they were out of my field of vision. Another loose dog appeared at my side, and for a second I thought Denali had somehow slipped her harness and collar. Then I realized this was a second loose dog—another beautiful malamute. They both retreated back to their person, and I got a better look at them. They weren’t even wearing collars, which gave me a pang of anxiety. They looked so much like wolves, I wouldn’t have risked bringing them out to the woods without a bright orange vest. (And yes, I know the difference between dogs, wolves, and wolf dogs. I’ve worked with them. These may have been low content wolf dogs.)

The remainder of our run was uneventful but beautiful. The snow made things a bit tougher, and I wished I had a rig that could convert its wheels into runners. While out there, I realized I had achieved the perfect combination of clothing to remain comfortable—hot, even—while in bitter cold. The wind was ripping through the mountains at 7,500 feet up and the snow was swirling all around us. I could feel the wind pushing against me, but it didn’t get through. For those interested, I was wearing:

  • Merino wool socks
  • Leg warmers
  • Muck Arctic boots
  • Fleece-lined leggings
  • Singbring windproof/waterproof hiking pants
  • Tanktop
  • Uniqlo thermal long sleeve
  • North Face fleece
  • Columbia Catacomb Crest Insulated Parka
  • Face guard
  • Ski helmet
  • Waterproof, tight fitting gloves (for working with my hands)
  • Mittens (one size up, over gloves)

And that, folks, is how you spend a winter weekend.

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California Dreamin'

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We’ve been living in the Southern California mountains for a month now and here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. It’s oppressively sunny. Like, every day.
  2. It’s dry, too. (Lotion expenses are on the rise.)
  3. You’ll feel winded and lightheaded going up the stairs when you live at 7,200 feet.
  4. The dogs feel no difference and demand even more activity given the smaller yard size.
  5. California income tax is the highest in the country. (Who knew? A lot of people. Not me.)
  6. Dry shampoo BURSTS out of the bottle at high altitudes.

This has been an unusually warm and snowless winter for Big Bear, as the locals tell me when they find out I’m a dog musher. It’s been below freezing at night and in the morning, but the day heats up quick—it’s been in the 60s most afternoons. Aside from the snow storm we arrived in and one other squall (both happened at night) there’s been barely a cloud in the sky for a month straight. 

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We’ve settled into a pretty steady routine of mushing the local trails during the week. On weekends, we go to Holcomb Valley for some different scenery and faster, smoother runs.

Hubble has begun some very low-key training with the team. He took to the puppy x-back without issue and did well with cani-cross at six months. As he gets older, I’ll continue to integrate him into our runs, making sure that he sets the pace and we keep mileage low. (Worth noting—when and how you introduce a new dog to mushing is a hotly debated topic that I already wrote about and don’t intend to dive into again.)

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Since we're keeping things slow, I attempted a brief 6-dog team by throwing Dexter back into the mix. We only went around two and a half miles and our average speed was less than four miles per hour, but it was thrilling to look out at six dogs, working together.

In other dog-related news, I’ve switched the team from Annamaet Extra 26% to Inukshuk 32/32. Since we’re running four or five days a week now (Saturday and Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, plus one additional day), upping the fat content should help the dogs stay fit. I’ve also ordered a tub of fat that I plan to freeze into snack-sized cubes for trail boosts. Poop quality yet to be determined. 

Aside from dog-stuff, the humans have made a couple treks down the mountain into the heat of the Inland Empire. The ride is long but beautiful. The strip malls are not. It’s very weird to mush in a 28°F morning, and in the same day, come out of a movie to a 75°F evening, but I’ve done it. And I don’t mind it.

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Things are a bit more simple these days. I’m no longer bouncing between houses (Pawling, Brooklyn, central New Jersey). I don’t have many plans, but it's kind of nice. I've set a lot of personal goals for myself  out here (freelance design work, make time for art, write more) but, so far, I've been content to just run dogs more.

Despite my semi-secluded lifestyle, I am looking forward to friends visiting—at least one per month for the next few months, it seems! I'm also looking forward to snow on Valentine’s Day. Even if the storm is a flop, temperatures are looking cooler for the next few days. I’ll take it.

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A Disclaimer

I don’t usually give training advice in this blog. I’ve been writing about my adventures for years now, but I shy away from sharing techniques or how-to's. I rarely feel like I have the authority to advise others. I might explain why I train a certain way, but avoid the details of how.

My last post sparked a debate on Facebook, which I was afraid of and also didn’t really expect from this particular topic. I was honestly surprised to hear how problematic it could be for some teams. It’s good to take in others’ experiences, though, and I don’t want to do the mushing world a disservice by implying my way is the only right way. 

When it comes to using the come-haw/come-gee commands, there are two things I forgot to mention: first, your dogs need to know how to stop (“whoa”) before initiating the turn, and second, be aware of tangles. Tangled lines can be a very real danger for a dog team of any size. Mushers should always carry a knife to free a tangled dog (in worst case scenarios). On our first local run in California, after I had used come-haw a few times, I unhooked my wheel dogs’ neck lines as a precaution. 

I’ve always placed a heavy emphasis on “line management” with my dogs, which is a perk of running a smaller team. New dogs get a very slow introduction to running, starting with canicross well before entering the main string. When we run, the lines must be in their appropriate places. I don’t allow my dogs to cross the center line. I reinforce line-out at all times. It can be exhausting to continually stop and correct a dog, but it seems to be successful in reducing bad tangles. (And, for the record, my worst tangles happened during unexpected head-on passes and when loose dogs attacked us, not during a come-haw.)

It should be made clear that what works for me may not work for a team of 14-dogs running through the Alaskan wilderness or a single-dog scooter running through Central Park. I’m experienced in running a small team (four dogs) on narrow, hilly trails—often used by mountain bikes, hikers, loose dogs, or even shared by vehicles. For much of our history, we’ve been a “sprint” team (if you’re looking for an industry term) and rarely run more than 10 miles at a time. As my team grows to five and hopefully six dogs, I do want to move towards mid-distance running, but that requires a lot of other considerations for us. 

I’m not a competitive sled dog racer. In the eight years I’ve been running dogs, I’ve competed in less than a dozen races—and only a few of them sanctioned. If you’re looking for advice to apply during races, this may not be the place. I run to keep my dogs happy and healthy, and because I love the bond we share when we’re out in the woods working together. When I do compete, it’s usually to help support the clubs I’ve joined. 

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know everything about mushing. Hell, I still buy lines rather than learn how to use a fid (it’s a goal for this year, I swear). But I have been shaping my life around this hobby. I joined clubs and found mentors before I got my first husky. I’ve read books and watched documentaries. I’ve followed dozens of other mushers via blogs and social media, gaining insight from their successes and failures. I’ve been lucky enough to attend races and trade fairs where experienced mushers have lectured and shared stories. I have incredible breeders just a DM away to answer questions or share their knowledge. I’m a researcher by nature and a project manager by trade, so I’m constantly looking to optimize and improve all aspects of my life. And most of my life revolves around these dogs.

I don't mean to sound defensive or combative with this discussion. I just want to offer an explanation and a bit of insight for those who read this blog. Take all internet advice with a grain of salt and use your head when applying training methods to your own team. I can only share my own perspectives here and hope that it helps others in their adventures. 

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Around and Around

After receiving some feedback on this post, I decided it was important to include a disclaimer message. Please read the next post if you decide to teach this command to your team.


A valuable command to have in your dog team’s arsenal is “come haw” (or “come gee”—either works, we just tend to haw). Come haw is used when I want to turn the entire team around (towards the left—"haw"). It comes in handy  when you’re running an out-and-back style trail, rather than a loop, but it can also save your butt in difficult situations.

When I moved out west, our first run could’ve been a lot more difficult had my leaders not known how to turn the team around. Since the trail was unfamiliar, we hit a lot of roadblocks trying to complete a loop. We had to turn around at least a half dozen times, which is frustrating for everyone, but they managed it well. We kept hitting downed trees, boulders, and fencing—all stuff the dogs could maneuver around or under, but I could not pass with the cart. So, come haw they did, and we turned back to find another route.

This command also helps in more serious situations. I’ve used it when I saw loose dogs approaching us from down the trail. It has also been useful when approaching road intersections that may not be safe to cross. There’s plenty of reasons why you may need to abruptly turn the hell around, so it’s an important command to train.

 

Teaching your team to turn around starts with making sure your leaders know what to do—so train them alone, or with a small team, before trying to turn around a string of 12 dogs. Use the command when training on a dead-end trail if you can. Find a spot where the trail very clearly comes to an end and the dogs wouldn’t be able to proceed easily forward. 

The first few times, you’ll likely have to dismount from your rig or sled (good brakes, digger claws, or snow hooks are key) and maneuver the leaders around. Once they get the hang of turning around at the dead-end, try using the command on a wide trail that hasn’t ended yet. (A wide trail is easier to turn around on) Be patient—going forward into the unknown is a lot more fun than going back the way they came, so it’s not an easy command to master. Eventually, try using it on narrower trails or when something particularly exciting is in front of them. That’s the true test.

My leading ladies know the command and will obey it... most of the time. Usually, they’re quite good about it, especially when there’s a sense of urgency or an obvious reason to 180. However, they will test it if I try to turn them around simply because they’re slowing down or goofing off. In those situations, come haw becomes a threat—"do your job or we’re going back home". In some cases, it motivates them to pick up the pace and keep rolling… but if I hold the brakes long enough, they’ll roll their eyes and make the turn.

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