Archive for the ‘ACTIVITIES & WORK’ Categoryby Northernmost on September 22, 2013 in ACTIVITIES & WORK, Hiking & Packing, Lyra with No Comments
Lyra completed her second WPD-leg today on a hike along the Åbyälven River north of Skellefteå. My mother accompanied us and we had a lovely day on the trail, following the winding forest river from Blåfors to Renholmen. Lyra loves going on adventures and the weight on her back didn’t seem to slow her down one bit. We affectionately call her Lyra-Myra, as “myra” means ant in Swedish, and Lyra may be a bit on the smaller side, but she is strong and tireless like a worker ant.
The summer has quickly turned into autumn and today’s cool weather was ideal for a packing trip.
Love the colours of September. The trees seem to change from green to yellow and red overnight.
Besides pike, perch and whitefish, the Åbyälven River also has populations of salmon, sea trout and grayling. The protected freshwater pearl mussel can also be found here.
Going for a swim?
My mother Kaisa ♥
We found chantarelles in the forest and took a break to pick mushrooms and lingonberries.
A beaver had left nibbled trees and brushpiles along the trail. We heard him jump into the water but didn’t catch a glimpse of him this time.
Lyra demonstrates how to use a walking stick – Malamute style 😉
Well done Lyra on completing your second WPD-leg!
While my mum and I were out hiking Fredrik was busy clearing trees at home. Eleven pine trees had to be cleared as we are expanding the kennel area into the forest. Next week we are going to start limbing and preparing for the logs to be transported to the local sawmill. Plenty of work still remains before we can start building the pens but I think we can make it before winter, if we’re lucky 😉
Lyra and Hilary’s Rally Obedience and Agility classes continue on a weekly basis and both girls – and their handlers – are making good progress. Some of the elements that seemed complicated and hard at our first sessions have turned out not to be so difficult, while other elements will take a lot of practice to get it right. Fredrik and Hilary have been introduced to all the agility obstacles apart from the teeter-totter and so far the weaves is their biggest challenge. At Rally-O, Lyra and I have attempted 20 of the 30 signs that make up the Rally Novice class in Sweden and it’s obvious that we have some work in front of us when it comes to improving our precision and smoothness. I think both Fredrik and I could easily get bitten by the training and trialling bug, as this is great fun! However, one disadvantage of having multiple dogs (in our case 8 dogs) is that we do not have the time to become really specialised in individual sports, as we need to make sure that all our dogs get their fair share of attention and training. But we will definitely make the most of our classes this autumn and the girls are having a blast!
The A-frame is a walk in the park for Hilary as she loves to climb on top of things.
The jumps are still her favourite obstacles but we’ll have to improve our “send away” technique.
And while balancing on things is fun, we have to make sure that she doesn’t miss the contact areas by running too fast across.
Rally-O is all about establishing great teamwork with your dog through positive training.
One of the most important skills your dog needs to do well is the ability to walk on a loose leash – as a tight leash, even if it’s just for a moment, will deduct points from your score.
What I particularly like about Rally is that you are allowed and encouraged to talk to your dog throughout the course to keep him/her happy and interested. As you can see in the photos, I use a lot of verbal cues (and yummy Orijen Treats!) to keep Lyra alert and on the ball. In fact, I probably talk too much and should focus more on developing a more effective body language.
We are already looking forward to next week!
We joined our friends Kjerstin and Johan and their dog training group for an active walk in the forest yesterday. It’s been nearly a year since we last took part in their Wednesday walking and training session, as it often collides with our other activities, but it was great to see everyone again and join in the fun. For Wilder it was the first time that he met with the “Bernese Mountain Dog Gang” but he blended in fast and was keen to say hello to all the dogs, which besides the large BMDs also included a Cocker Spaniel and two Terriers. Wilder is now in adolescence which makes it even more important that we continue with positive socialisation and let him meet friendly dogs of different breeds, sex and age to experience fun things together on a regular basis. Hilary is a great asset in these situations, as her positive outlook on life is passed on to Wilder and to the dogs that she meets. “The more the merrier” seems to be her motto!
The forest walk was combined with balancing exercises on rocks and fallen trees – a good mix of mental and physical exercise which made it more interesting for the dogs.
Wilder had completely forgotten how to walk nicely on a leash, he just wanted to be up front!
Hilary was more calm yesterday, maybe she is growing up, or maybe it was just a temporary thing 😉
Luna and Hilary posing together on a rock.
Nellie and Precious working on their balance skills in the background.
The BMD group is a great place to socialise our dogs with calm and friendly “big black dogs”.
The whole gang, minus two photographers.
Kjerstin and Johan’s Wednesday gatherings is all about having fun with your dog, using positive and creative training methods and not be afraid to try new things. After the walk we all sat down for a 10-minute relaxation and massage exercise – a perfect opportunity to train “Settle Down” with our two Duracell dogs 😉 Thanks everyone for a great time, we hope to see you again soon!
Lyra completed her first WPD-leg last weekend, hiking 23.6 kilometres on a round trip on the Furuögrund Trail on Skellefteå’s northern coast together with her buddy Tuisku. It’s been a warm and sunny end to August here in northern Sweden and last Sunday there was hardly a cloud in the sky and we worried it may be too warm for a packing excursion. Luckily the trail followed the coastline closely and the dogs were able to cool down in the sea from time to time. We have been building up the weight gradually during our evening walks this summer and this was the first time that Lyra carried full weight (30% of her body weight) in her back pack. She did a great job and showed how much she enjoys being out on the trail and performing a job.
Sledog Dream Leaper, aka “Lyra”, at 2 years of age.
Crossing the Salmon Bridge over Byske River at the start of the hike.
For the most part the trail hugged the beautiful coastline between Byske and Furuögrund.
Being so close to the waves, Tuisku of course had to go for a swim…
Lyra relaxing on the beach, enjoying the cool breeze from the sea.
She took a brief nap during our lunch break…
...and Tuisku too.
Part of the trail was marked by wooden walkways.
We climbed up to the top of a lighthouse to admire the view.
When we returned home in the evening a thick fog had rolled in from the Bothnian Bay.
Well done Lyra on completing your first WPD-leg!
We’re hoping to explore more of our local trails this autumn, as one of the many great things about the AMCA Working Dog Program is that you can most often carry out legs towards your dogs’ working titles in your local area (depending a little on where you live) and do not need to spend hours (or days!) in the car to reach the location of a centralised test. This way, the AMCA program truly encourages people to work their dogs and that’s what a working program should be all about, right?
Hilary and Lyra have turned two years old during August so we thought this autumn would be a good time for them to go to school and learn something more than just the basic training that we do at home and in our everyday life. Since Hilary loves to run, jump and climb, agility was the first sport that came to mind. Lyra, on the other hand, enjoys close teamwork and needs more mental stimulation so we decided that rally obedience would be a good challenge for her. Hilary and Fredrik took part in their first agility class last week while Lyra and I went to our first rally-o session yesterday evening. Considering that neither Hilary nor Lyra have been to any classes since they were puppies I think they both did really well and it looked like they were having FUN!
Fredrik and Hilary tried out the weave poles and some jumps at their first class.
One of Hilary’s biggest challenges will probably be to resist the urge of running up to all the other dogs at class to say hello. She went on a couple of detours during the first 15 minutes, before she realised that playing with other dogs during class is not allowed. Luckily Hilary hasn’t got a bad bone in her body so if she does run off she won’t cause any major trouble.
Lyra and I at the class last evening. This was my first attempt at Rally-O and I can tell you that it wasn’t just Lyra who got a mental workout; after doing a number of 360s and 270° left and right turns my head was almost spinning 😉
Did we have fun? I think her smile says it all!
Leia had some fun with the agility obstacles today. First she tried out the hula-hoop…
OK, so what do you want me to do here?
Jump through it? Okay here I come!
This was fun, can I try again?
We need to get higher jumps, this one is much too easy for the flying fluff!
The weave poles are Leia’s favourite obstacle.
She can do them super fast!
Tip of the day – buy a hula-hoop at the supermarket and have some fun with your dog!
Here are some tips on the tricks you can do with a hula-hoop, your Malamute will love it!
Our week in Lapland went by very quickly but we managed to squeeze in a little hike before it was time to return home. On a sunny morning we packed our bags to go on an 18 km (11.2 mi) dayhike to Lake Pahtajärvi, just outside the village of Hetta. Titan and Hilary carried our picnic in their bags while puppy Wilder carried an empty pack, just to get used to having something strapped to his back. The temperature was just above 10o C (50o F) and it was a perfect day to spend on the trail.
Wilder chose to work up front for large parts of the hike – that’s promising for the future.
The “work horses”, Titan and Hilary, crossing a bog on a wooden boardwalk.
Two happy Mals – Wilder, 7 months, and Titan, who will be 4 years old in October.
The goal of our hike – a lean-to with a view by Lake Pahtajärvi.
When we arrived at the laavu, Hilary cooled down in the lake. There were reindeer nearby so we had to keep her on a leash but that didn’t stop her from swimming back and forth in the cool water. This girl loves to swim – is this another sign of the beaver gene??
This 18 km hike could have counted as a WPD-leg for Hilary and Titan, who have yet to complete their packing titles, but since we did not have access to a scale at our cabin we were unable to weigh the contents of their bags prior to the hike. So the hike ended up being just a “leisure hike”, but I think the dogs were just as happy 😉
Wilder did well on his first longer hike; soon it’s time to start training him in harness!
The trails in Finland are well marked and often offer good facilities along the way. During the second half of August most of the mosquitoes are gone and one can enjoy the scenery in peace and quiet.The beautiful autumn colours don’t start to appear until September, which is also a great month for hiking in Lapland. The website www.Outdoors.fi has useful information about trails and nature areas in Finland, and is available in Finnish, Sámi, Swedish and English.
Last week we visited the Höga Kusten (The High Coast), about three hours south, for a fun day hike in beautiful surroundings. The High Coast is listed as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site and is named after the area’s many tall cliff formations that were created by postglacial rebound. The Skuleskogens National Park lies just off the European Highway E4 and is one of the many attractions along the approx. 130 km long High Coast Trail. The area is suitable for both easy day hikes and longer treks and dogs are welcome too, as long as they are kept on a leash.
An impressive entrance to the higher sections of the trail.
The majestic Slåttdalsskrevan ravine is almost 200 metres long and only 7 metres wide.
From the Slåttdalsberget we enjoyed fantastic views of the Bothnian Sea and the archipelago.
The way down was rather steep and rocky – a good opportunity to train “slow down”, “go behind” and “stop!”. Both Hilary and Wilder did a god job following these commands.
In the forest we had to keep our eyes on our feet to avoid stumbling over protruding tree roots.
In many places the ground vegetation was already showing off beautiful autumn colours.
Our hiking companions – Hilary & Wilder. Can you tell that they are half-siblings?
Puppy Wilder had a fun day on the trail 🙂
This week he turns 7 months old – time flies!
If you’d like to find out more about the High Coast, visit www.hogakusten.com and www.skuleskogen.se It’s an accessible part of Sweden – situated about halfway between Stockholm and Haparanda, on Sweden’s beautiful east coast.
The weeks are flying by right now and we’re busy from sunrise to sunset. I haven’t been able to keep up with my email lately due to a busy schedule at work, but I promise to get back to each and everyone as soon as my summer holiday starts. Below are some pics from this weekend’s agility fun with the gang. All dogs took part except for Thunder, who spent the day being pampered at Grandma’s. Our best jumpers are definitely Leia and Hilary who have great technique and fly effortlessly through the obstacles. But everyone did their best and had FUN! And that’s all that matters 🙂
Sunday is funday here in Nedre Bäck and yesterday was a perfect day to train agility in the garden. After a cloudy morning the sun came out in the afternoon and for the first time in weeks there wasn’t a single mosquito in sight! Yay!! We have a handful of very basic agility obstacles that we bring out just for fun in the weekends. Our goal is not to become competitive but to keep our Malamutes active and happy during the summer months. Like most dogs, our Mals love agility!
Who is there??
Wilder started off by watching the others, then he tried some of the obstacles himself.
The closed chute was a bit strange at first…
Agility is a great way to build a dog’s attention and contact. We only train each dog for short sessions at a time, making sure it never becomes boring or too hard. This is especially important when training puppies. We strive to always end the training on a high note!
And the obstacles are of course adjusted to suit puppies 😉
Hilary was third out and was whining a little in her dog pen when she had to wait for her turn. Hilary is normally a very quiet dog but she loves agility so much that waiting around wasn’t easy.
We finally let her out so that she could show Wilder how to jump through the ring…
…and after we had adjusted the height a little, Wilder completed the jump too 🙂
Tuisku also did some agility but he still has a lot of coat so yesterday was a bit too warm for him. Hopefully, after his next bath what’s left of his undercoat will be gone.
We went on a small hike today up to a cabin that sits on a hill in the forest. Titan and Hilary carried our picnic in their backpacks while Wilder came along just for fun. It’s too warm and humid right now for the dogs to carry out any real work but we nevertheless try to keep them exercised and happy with smaller activities each day. Wilder still gets most of his exercise from playing at home but at this age we also introduce “working walks”, i.e. shorter walks where the focus is on going forward, rather than on stopping to smell everywhere. Today we trained On by, Left/Right and Whoa, and Wilder did really well following these commands – with a little help from his friends 😉
Fredrik with Wilder, Hilary and Titan.
Preventing tangling when walking with three dogs on long lines is not an easy task…
Going up the hill with synchronised steps.
Wilder fell asleep on a soft tuft of moss. For a young puppy even a short hike is a big adventure 😉
We’ve been away on a wilderness adventure with Lyra, Hilary, Tuisku and Thunder, travelling on the ice of the frozen lakes of Tjaktajaure and Laitaure and making daytrips into the magnificent Sarek National Park in Swedish Lapland. Fantastic weather, amazing views and happy, hardworking dogs – what more could you ask for? The only hiccup on this trip were our sleeping bags that didn’t perform when the temperature dropped down to around -20ºC (-4ºF) at night. But with a warm dog to snuggle up to it wasn’t a huge problem. We learn something from every trip; about ourselves and the gear, and what needs to be improved before we set out on our next adventure. We can’t complain about the dogs though, they went like clockwork from day one, displaying the drive and stamina which we have come to expect from them, even though they always manage to amaze us just a little more on each trip. Without our Alaskan Malamutes, we’d sure miss out on some great adventures in life!
We had fantastic weather during most of our trip…
…but we started the journey in an almost complete whiteout which forced us to rely on the map and compass for navigation as we couldn’t see much of the surrounding landscape, just snow and mist and a myriad of trails to choose from.
The next morning, and during the rest of our trip, we had brilliant sunshine and temperatures around -12ºC (10ºF) – ideal conditions for the dogs who could work at a good pace without getting too warm.
Lyra and Tuisku with the Sarek National Park in the backdrop.
We set up camp in the woods near the mountain of Tjahkkelij where we found a spring with crystal clear water for us and the dogs. Having access to water is a luxury on winter camping trips as melting snow for drinking and cooking can be a time-consuming process.
Our dogs took turns sleeping in the tent and did a good job keeping us warm at night.
After setting up camp we were able to leave our gear behind and go on fun day trips to explore the landscape. In this photo Fredrik is on his way to Nammásj – a holy mountain in the Sámi tradition.
Hilary and Thunder, with Skierffe’s peak in the background.
We could have stayed on the trail for many more days, continuing the trip further into the Rapa Valley, but unfortunately work and other duties called us back to civilization.
While most people probably prefer to have their holiday during the summer, our ideal would be to have the whole month of April off, to be able to go on longer journeys into the wild. Maybe next year?
To view more photos from our trip, visit our Aktse April 2013 Gallery.