Athletic and Working Dogs - SportsVet.com

A great big thanks to Rob Gillette for supporting my little sled team through B.A.R.K! Be sure to visit his website and ‘like’ his Facebook page, especially those of you in the NJ-area with athletic working dogs.

B.A.R.K stands for “Buy A Round of Kibble”, for more info: www.sleddogcentral.com/bark.htm

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Finishing the Season

The dogs and I hit Brendan T. Byrne this past weekend to finish out the mushing season. I had a three day weekend thanks to the holiday, but Friday was a wash with 70 degree temperatures and rain. We made the most of Saturday and Sunday, though!

Saturday morning we arrived early and got a quick five miles in before it got too warm. Then I spent the afternoon reading Wild and cooking on my new camp stove while the dogs lounged around.

We were up before the sun the next morning and started our run directly from the campsite, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. It was a struggle to pull myself out of a toasty sleeping bag into below freezing temperatures, but it was worth it. All I had to do was throw clothes on myself, harness the dogs, and roll out.

We finished the season with our longest run of the year at almost 10 miles. There were a few points where it was slow-going, but overall, I’m very happy and proud of the pups. Especially Dexter, who has shown he can still keep up with the youngins’… at least after their initial burst of speed. I’m working on controlling their pacing, which will work out better for all three of them.

Cheers to the 2014/2015 mushing season coming to an end, and here’s to the beginning of 2015 hiking season!

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Home Again

Looks like the Icelandic weather followed me home! I expected the trails in the Pine Barrens to be clear this morning, but there was still a decent amount of snow. Probably should’ve brought the sled instead, but we made it through!

Looks like the Icelandic weather followed me home! I expected the trails in the Pine Barrens to be clear this morning, but there was still a decent amount of snow. Probably should’ve brought the sled instead, but we made it through!

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Mush with Friends

The dogs and I got to introduce a few more of my friends to mushing this weekend. Even though I’ve been running dogs for a few years now, it hasn’t been an easy hobby to share with others. Pulling a passenger’s weight is difficult with only three dogs, even when trail conditions are perfect. 

The trails at Six Mile Run were absolutely stunning. The thick, heavy snow coated everything like frosting. I’ve mushed and hiked here dozens of times, and it still manages to surprise me by looking completely different.

Unfortunately, the deep snow made sled rides almost impossible. Temperatures shot up today and look like they’ll be staying up for awhile, so this may have been our last sled run of the season. 

I’ll be in Iceland at the end of this week, but I’m looking forward to camping trips with the dogs as spring creeps in. Mornings will still be cold enough for some dryland runs, and I’m set on finishing our 150 mile goal for the season. Just 20 more miles to go!

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On Top of the World

Coldest day of winter (so far)? No problem! 7.6 miles at  Stokes/High Point State Forest .

Coldest day of winter (so far)? No problem! 7.6 miles at Stokes/High Point State Forest.

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Race Day

We had a great time at the Betty Carhart Memorial Race this weekend. I ran Denali and Knox in the two dog pro bike-jor class. Dexter came along as our cheerleader, but he didn’t run. He’s made it clear he prefers slow-paced runs, so I’m not going to run him competitively for the time being. 

The race was Saturday and Sunday, with our run on Saturday being one of our fastest to date. We were technically second out the chute, but the team before us didn’t show up, so we went first. Two other teams started behind us, including a team of super-speedy hounds. We had a very strong start, and right as the dogs began to slow down, the hound team passed us.

Some folks get upset when teams pass them, but this was a victory for us. I pulled to the side of the trail and commanded the dogs to let the other team by, and they listened. There was no issue, no tangles, no attempts to mess with the passing team. Then, we got the added bonus of a team to chase to the finish line. Yes, we finished second, but our time would not have been what it was without those speedy hounds in front of us. 

Sunday was about 20 degrees warmer, so I kept the dogs running a little bit slower. The rest of our class didn’t show up, so we were the only team to complete the two day race (in two dog bike-jor). We were guaranteed first place, but I’m still very proud of how the dogs performed.

I’m looking forward to our next race, held in the same spot (Mt. Misery in Brendan T. Byrne) but by the Pennsylvania Sled Dog Club. January 10th and 11th, mush on!

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We’re still here, trucking along. Our first race is this weekend (the Betty Carhart Memorial Race) and we’ll be competing in the 2-dog pro bike-jor class. I’ve decided to sit Dexter out for this first race, since he’s a bit slower than Denali and Knox. Normally, I really don’t care about speed, but I’d like to see what my youngsters can do without having to keep Dexter’s pace. Should be a fun weekend!

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Hot October

Camping in the Pine Barrens came with its share of ups and downs.

I had to commute into Manhattan for a work meeting, so we didn’t get down to the campsite until about 4:30 PM. Denali and Knox were immediately comfortable on their tie-outs, since we had camped there this summer. Dexter was a bit antsy, but I still managed to set up my new (bigger) tent and cook dinner. The sun sets around 6 PM and we made it a pretty early night.

It was in the mid-40’s when we woke up on Saturday. I cooked up a quick breakfast (pork roll, eggs, and tea) and loaded the dogs for our first run. The campsite is about five minutes from the Mt. Misery trail, so it was nice to get an early start without the usual hour and a half drive.

The dogs did great – I know I say it a lot, but they’re really starting to round out as a team. Even Dexter has been keeping a better pace with the speedy huskies. I wanted to explore the surrounding trails a bit more, but it warmed up too fast. 

Most of Saturday was peaceful, until a family rolled up and took the campsite directly next to mine. That’s the one thing you can’t prepare for when you book online – families that just drive in without reservations.

The kids weren’t really bad, I just wanted to relax and not listen to their squeaky little voices. The family also had a small dog with them. It was perfectly well behaved, but of course my meatheads wanted to either wrestle it or eat it (can’t be too sure).

I eagerly awaited sundown so I could cook my dinner and have the darkness provide some seclusion. It was another early night, since I wasn’t sure if it would be cold enough to run the dogs the next morning.

I’m glad I decided to stay, despite family, because Sunday’s run was beautiful. I drove out before breakfast, since it was already nearly 50 degrees when I woke up. We were on the trail as the sun was rising, and it made for some beautiful light through the pines.

While it was warm at the campsite and at the trail head, the trail itself felt a few degrees cooler. I wasn’t going to push the dogs, and had planned to just do a mile and a half, but they were on fire. We took a few breaks for water, but they were revved up and ready to run each time.

We did the whole 3.8 mile trail again, and they ended strong. There’s a hill towards the very end of the run, and Denali must have seen an animal or something, because they took the hill full speed, when normally I have to pedal the rig along.

The dogs got a well-deserved breakfast of kibble, beef, and eggs while I cooked my own (awesome) campfire omelette. My neighbors were wide awake, so I decided to pack up and head home before my “check out” time.

All in all, I’m glad I went, but I’m looking forward to colder temperatures and (hopefully) fewer campers next time.

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