Archive for the ‘ACTIVITIES & WORK’ Categoryby Northernmost on September 6, 2014 in ACTIVITIES & WORK, Agility & Rally, Gemma, Hilary, Titan, Wilder with No Comments
We visited our dog club today with Gemma, Titan, Wilder and Hilary to train agility at Åbyn-Byske Brukshundklubb’s new outdoor training area. We’ve had a long break from agility during summer as it’s been too hot to do anything strenuous, but now that autumn is here we plan to continue our weekly training sessions at home and at the dog club. Agility (and rally obedience) is a great complement to exercise in harness as it provides that extra mental stimulation that most Malamutes need. It also improves their coordination, strengthens muscles, increases endurance and helps boost their overall confidence. There are many reasons to train agility with your dog and above all, it’s fun!
Below is a short clip of Fredrik and Wilder from today. Wilder is getting soo good at agility! He is fast, accurate and simply LOVES this game!
After a hot and lazy summer it’s time to get in shape again. We have slowly started conditioning work by heading out for long and brisk walks in the evenings and taking the dogs jogging and bikejoring when the weather allows. Today was a perfect day for work in harness as the temperature dropped down to 5°C degrees (41°F) in the afternoon. Fredrik hooked up Gem and Wilder while I ran our seniors, Leia and Thunder. As you can see in the pics, we left our helmets at home by mistake, but the rule is – ALWAYS wear a helmet when you go bikejoring!
Wilder teamed up with his Auntie Gem today. Wilder is nearly 20 months and Gemma is turning 7 years young next week. Time sure flies by fast!
Gem has a soft spot for her nephew and enjoys working with him…
…and Wilder continues to impress us with his focus and drive. He prefers to be up front at all times.
Also Leia and Thunder seem to be in fairly good shape after the summer…
…they leaned into their harnesses and gave me a fun ride on the bike!
Running on sand is FUN says Leia!
We let the dogs cool down in the sea before we turned around and headed back to the car.
Hope y’all are having a happy and active weekend!
+31°C (87°F) and we’re melting away here on the northern coast. It’s too hot to do anything much but a bit of Rally training in the garden works fine, as long as we return to the shade quickly afterwards. We haven’t trained Rally-O since November last year so yesterday’s session was a bit rocky. Still, it is fun to see how much the dogs remember, especially Wilder who has only tried his paws at this sport once or twice before. What’s so great about Rally is that you are permitted to talk, praise and encourage your dog, and use unlimited commands and hand signals. Rally is a positive sport in many ways and a great option for those who dislike the stuffiness of formal obedience.
We have printed and laminated all the Novice Rally signs so we can use them for training in any weather. If you want to buy SBK’s signs for Novice class in soft plastic, you find them here.
Titan and I practise the “Halt – Down – Walk Around Dog”
According to Swedish Rally regulations, you are not allowed to use treats or toys in the ring but we do of course use plenty of rewards during training. I do my best to avoid using the leash to steer the dog in position, as in rally points are deducted every time the leash is tight (in the more advanced classes the dog is working off leash). However, I sometimes forget about the leash and that’s why it’s good to film your training sessions, so that you can spot mistakes and correct them.
Not sure what Titan thinks about Rally?? LOL
Below is a video with some clips of me training with Lyra and Wilder. Btw, you won’t recognise Wilder as he barely has a hair on his body. At least he’s dressed for the weather! After yesterday’s session I know that there are several areas that need improvement; we need to improve our sits, as they are often more than 45 degrees out of heel position, improve call fronts, and our turns are too sloppy. I also need to improve Wilder’s heelwork, as he is often crowding me. Well, there are many areas that need improving but hey, that’s what training is all about!
It’s an amazing luxury to be able to go on a mountain trip after work, and experience the sunset on the runners of the sled. We left home at around 6.30 pm and returned just before 11.00 pm – and it was still not completely dark when I unharnessed Hilary and Wilder in their pen. On the way up to Ounastunturi we met only one skier, a man who wanted to stop and chat about the dogs as he had owned a Malamute in the past, but during the rest of the trip we had the trail and the views to ourselves. It was a magical evening – completely calm and quiet and the trails were frozen and fast. If I didn’t have to work tomorrow we would have stayed overnight in one of the open huts and continued the journey further into the mountains in the morning. The dogs were eager to go on and it was almost difficult to make them turn around and head home instead. Not sure if this was our last run of the season but I don’t mind if it was, as this evening will stay with me for a long time to come.
Soon the sun will stay up all night and if the snow remains it will be possible to go sledding and skiing under the midnight sun – Northern Lapland is a magical place 🙂
We’re making the most of our holiday and have been out on trips nearly every day, either sledding or skijoring. There are endless trails to explore in Enontekiö and as always we wish we could stay until the snow melts. The weather has been very mild during the last couple of days and the trails are quickly getting soft and mushy but according to the forecast the temperature will drop again during Easter – fingers crossed for a few more days of good sledding! Below are some mixed pics from last week, there are also some new photos in our Lapland Spring 2014 gallery.
Our “Britkids”, Lyra and Titan, getting ready for a run.
Hilary and Wilder heading up to the top of the Särkitunturi fell in Muonio County.
We had to climb a steep, long hill to get there…
…but it was worth it, as the view from the top was spectacular.
The Pallas-Ylläs fell on the horizon is our “home fell”, here seen from a different angle.
The Finns are practical people – on the top of Särkitunturi was a tiny outhouse.
Wilder is starting to look quite grown up – at least in this picture.
We didn’t spend a lot of time on the fell as it was too windy to sit down and enjoy a picnic.
Down in the valley the sun was shining again.
Hilary and Wilder don’t really need a neckline – they are joined at the hip anyway 😉
On a different day we sledded to the Sissanki Lap Hut where we cooked lunch over the open fire.
The dogs rested peacefully on the stakeout while we had lunch but woke up when four dog teams from the local sled dog operator Hetta Huskies passed by the hut. If you ever visit Enontekiö as a tourist I recommend looking up Hetta Huskies. They offer activities year round and take excellent care of their dogs. Many of their sled dogs are rehabilitated rescue dogs.
Titan and Lyra doing a snow roll together.
Lyra has grown into a super sled dog. She loves to work and seems to have endless energy. Lyra is probably the one among our dogs who requires most exercise but as long as she gets her daily run she’s happy and content and a very sweet dog to have around – she loves to give kisses!
Hilary too has grown into a great sled dog, both on and off the trail. While her soft looks may be deceiving she is in fact a high-energy dog like Lyra, who needs lots of daily exercise to be happy. That’s something to remember if you’re new to the breed and interested in buying a Malamute; they are gorgeous looking dogs but unless you are willing to take your dog sledding / skijoring / biking / hiking / running, regardless of the weather, on a daily basis – this breed is probably not for you.
Someone said that Lapland is a place where heaven touches the earth and I think it’s true, especially on a sunny day in spring. When the sky is blue and you’re up above the treeline, it feels as if you could almost reach out and touch the candy floss clouds with your hands. We had a wonderful time out on the trail and I’ve taken lots of photos that I’ve uploaded to a gallery. Below are some of our favourite moments from a trip that can be summed up by “perfect weather and perfect dogs” 🙂
Hello mountains here we come!
The dogs ran like clockwork, despite not having had much training on snow this winter.
Titan and Lyra teamed up well.
Me & our Miss Congeniality aka Hilary.
Fredrik setting up our tent in the snow – clear skies meant a cold night but we managed with reindeer hides and down sleeping bags. I kept my feet warm wearing nuvttagat.
From left to right – Wilder, Hilary, Titan and Lyra.
This was Wilder’s first multiday excursion and he did everything we asked from him – worked like a pro in front of the pulk and slept quietly on the stakeout at night. His big sis is a good teacher!
You could almost touch the sky here.
This was around 8.00 o’clock in the morning – we got up when it was still dark to feed the dogs and when we hit the trail a couple of hours later we had it all to ourselves.
Love my new small-sized Polaris sled – it glides on the snow like a dream.
Lyra found herself a good lookout spot – she likes to keep an eye on everything that’s going on.
Titan doing his signature snow roll 😉
♥ Happiness is tired dogs ♥
The yearning for snow became so strong that we decided to travel up to Lapland for a couple of weeks of real winter! There are HEAPS of snow in Lapland and everything is just the way it should be in April: heavy snowfall one day, brilliant sunshine the next and the trails are still frozen and fast. We’ve brought along Hilary, Wilder, Lyra and Titan and look forward to a fun holiday together. Lapland in April is pure bliss 🙂
Finally some snow !!!
It’s been a lousy winter here on Sweden’s northern coast. In fact, this is the first time in fifteen years that I’ve gone through a winter without proper snow. We received a tiny bit of fluff in January but for the most part the ground has been covered in a thick layer of ice with only a dusting of snow on top. It’s easy to get frustrated when you have eight dogs that are eager to hit the trail but what can you do? Well, we decided to put on our studded shoes and take the dogs running instead. Between January and now all our dogs have run an average of 30 km per week and even though most of the ice is gone now we continue to run. What’s great about running is that you only need a pair of good running shoes, a hip belt and a leash and you’re ready to go. Having two eager dogs in front of you is the best motivation 🙂
Wilder, 14 months, harnessed up and ready to go.
Running IN the sea is also fun – but icy cold in March!
When we start out from home we have to run along the road for a short while before we reach the forest track. We try to avoid hard surfaces as much as possible as it can be too tough on joints and feet. I easily get shin splints if I run on asphalt for too long or too often.
We don’t always use necklines but it works really well for Tuisku and Lyra who keep the same pace. Tuisku is a little bit faster on the way out and Lyra is a bit quicker on the way home.
My running buddies today – Wilder and Hilary.
“I hate running, but I love having ran” used to be my favourite quote but I don’t hate running anymore, the hardest part for me is getting on those running clothes and walking out that front door. I dont really know why its so hard, as soon as I get out the door I actually love it.
The Swedish Baggen Softbelt is our favourite belt for canicross and skijoring. We use it together with the Baggen Expandable Leash (2 metres long) which has a built-in bungee. I have the X1 belt, which looks the same as X2 but provides softer damping, while Fredrik who is taller and stronger uses the X2. You can buy detachable leg loops from Baggen that stops the belt from sliding up around your waist when you run or ski.
Another good canicross belt is the Norwegian Non-step Comfort Belt. This belt has no in-built bungee (and must be used together with a bungee leash) but is designed to help spread the strain over a larger area of the hip/back. As the name hints, this belt is really comfortable but for my sensitive back the Baggen Softbelt works best, especially when skijoring on a bumpy trail.
Our studded Icebug shoes have really saved us this winter but now the roads are almost ice free and I have to get a new pair of shoes that work for both road and trail running.
Running equals happiness – have a great weekend everyone!
We went skijoring this morning but the trail was too soft and punchy for the dogs and we had to travel slowly to avoid injuries. Can’t believe how mild this winter has been…we have hardly had two weeks of continuous cold weather since November! Today we had +4°C which is much too warm for double-coated Malamutes. The forecast for next week is rain and even higher temperatures, I wonder if there will be any snow left by the end of this month?! I’m glad we still have our holiday in Lapland to look forward to as we haven’t been able to complete many miles this winter. But, why stress about snow and mileage when the dogs are happy and healthy? It’s not like we’re training for the Iditarod… 😉
Pretty Gem at nearly 6.5 years of age.
It’s too hot!!!
We continue to add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to Gem’s food and her coat looks great!
We’ve been away on a quick visit to Dalarna to meet with Ian and Aimee and Mark and Allison from the UK who are in Sweden on holiday together with their Alaskan Malamutes. Ian and Aimee own Hilary’s full siblings Leader and Twisp (from a different breeding) and this year it was premiere for Twisp’s pups, Rolo, Sasha and Rossi, to gain some working experience on snow. We spent two sunny days together in Drevdagen in northwestern Dalarna which has plenty of beautiful trails and is quickly becoming a popular vacation spot for mushers from all over Europe. It was a lovely break from the dull weather we have had on the coast this winter and a great chance for Hilary and Wilder to share trail with two teams of friendly dogs. We had plenty of opportunities to train passings and trail etiquette which is an invaluable experience, especially for a young dog like Wilder. It doesn’t look that far on the map but it took about twelve hours to drive down to Dalarna (including breaks for the dogs) but it was well worth it!
Wilder and Hilary together with Leader and Twisp.
Ian with the Packice team – Leader and Twisp in lead, Sasha in team and Dash and Rolo in wheel.
Mark and his team out on the snowy trail.
On the first day Fredrik and I skijored with one dog each. The trails were quite heavy in some places.
Hilary and Fredrik passing by!
So much snow – the dogs were in seventh heaven!
On the second day, Wilder and Hilary worked in front of our new Polaris Nordic sled.
Wilder at 13 months of age.
It was fun to spend some time with “the twins” and we could see many familiar Mountain Home traits. Leader and Twisp were born in 2010 and are one year older than Hilary.
It was also fun to get to know Twisp’s lovely nine-month-old pups. Rolo is the name of the handsome boy looking through the fence.
Fredrik and I stayed at the cosy Mon Gård in Storbo, just a short drive from Drevdagen.
Snow is lacking in many parts of Sweden this winter – but not here!
Thank you Aimee, Ian, Allison and Mark for a great time! We hope to see you again next year!
We’re having a mild spell here on the coast and during the weekend we took the chance to go skijoring for the first time this winter. The fun but rather unsteady first run of the season always makes me think of Diane Gayer’s wonderful article about skijoring, “Communing with Raw Energy”, which was published in Mushing Magazine March/April 1998. In Gayer’s words: “The rush, the lack of control, the immediacy – these are what make skijoring worth doing.” During the first few minutes at least, you do feel out of control. But gradually your balance is restored and you start moving in synch with your dogs, rather than being dragged behind them. It makes for a magical experience when it all comes together.
Fredrik took Tuisku and Lyra for a premiere 5 km run – pure joy for the dogs!
When Lyra was a puppy, Tuisku set the pace and showed her what fun it is to work in harness. In the coming years, when Tuisku gets older, it will be the other way around – Lyra will set the pace and make sure his enthusiasm doesn’t fade. As skijoring dogs, they are a perfect match!
We normally introduce our dogs to skijoring when they are pups, to make sure they get accustomed to the equipment during their important first formative year, but this winter the weather hasn’t cooperated and Wilder turned 13 months on Sunday when I took him skijoring for the first time.
Luckily he’s the kind of dog that doesn’t bother to look what’s behind him – he just takes off and keeps his eyes focused on the trail ahead. I think I will need to use a Nordic sled with a handbrake when training Wilder, as he doesn’t respond 100% to left and right yet and is so strong that I can’t slow him down by snowplowing or by pulling the line. I should probably work on the Whoa! too!!
There’s a lot of power in this package!
Hopefully the mild weather will continue for a couple of days so that we can pack the trail with the snowmobile and make it wide enough for our skate skis. If you haven’t tried skijoring with your dog yet you must do so this winter – most Malamutes love it!
During January we have continued to have fun on the agility course, attending a beginner class with Wilder on Mondays and going to group training/individual sessions with Hilary on Thursdays. Wilder’s Monday classes at Åbyn-Byske Brukshundklubb are a lot of fun – a great bunch of dogs and owners and knowledgeable instructors who know how to set up each dog for success. Wilder has now been introduced to all the obstacles (except for the pause table and the panel jump) and it looks like the tunnels and chutes are his favourites. The most difficult obstacles will probably be the teeter and the weaves (surprise, surprise) but he has a very positive attitude towards learning so I think we’ll master those too with some training. Wilder really LOVES going to class – he gets to see other dogs, run around, and get lots of treats. Could it get any better?
The Beginner Class participants – Bosse, Aksa, Finezz, Alice, Trassel and Wilder.
The two boys in the class – Wilder and Bosse. Poodles are such elegant creatures!
Here is a clip from our Thursday training – both Hilary and Wilder had some fun on the course this week. As you can see in the video, Wilder sometimes chooses to lie down at the start line. Not an ideal starting position but I’m going to let him do that, as I think it’s his way of dealing with excitement and “start line stress” and I’m sure our speed will improve with time anyway. If you want to hear the music audio to this video, we recommend that you use Chrome or IE as your browser as Vimeo seems to have a bug affecting Mozilla Firefox right now.