Archive for the ‘Lyra’ Categoryby Northernmost on March 19, 2012 in ACTIVITIES & WORK, Hilary, Leia, Lyra, Skijoring & Sledding, Thunder with No Comments
Spring has arrived with a bang! There’s open water on the lake and the whooper swans are keeping us awake at night with their loud “whooping” calls that can be heard for kilometres. Another sure sign of spring are our females in season. We are keeping our fingers crossed they’ll all be in and out of season before we travel to Lapland later this month. This weekend was filled with fun activities; we went to an interesting and rewarding puppy class on Saturday and enjoyed a long sunny walk afterwards. On Sunday we put our skis on and conditions are really perfect right now – we can ski anywhere on the hard frozen crust and are not limited to any trails. When you’re skijoring behind an eager Malamute, with the wind at your back and the sun on your face, it’s easy travelling
We’ve been on a weekend trip to Vålådalen in Jämtland to meet with our friends Aimee Campbell and Ian Elliott from the UK. Ian and Aimee are on holiday in Dalarna in Sweden so we decided to meet up about halfway between Dalarna and our home for a fun “Malamute weekend”. Sweden is a relatively big country so the journey from our home on the coast to Vålådalen is 580km (360 mi) single way. I wish we had been closer as then we would have been able to spend more time together.
Ian and Aimee are the owners of Twisp and Leader (Mountain Home’s Packice Twisp WTD WPD WWPD and Mountain Home’s Lead Dog at Packice WTD WPD WWPD) who are full siblings of our girl Hilary but from a previous litter. They also own Dash, who is the uncle of our Titan, and senior girls Breezer and Kia who are related to Dash. It was therefore natural for us to bring along Hilary and Titan on this trip and also our girl Lyra, who is related to the Packice dogs through both Mountain Home and the UK bloodlines. Talk about a family reunion!
From left to right: Leader, Breezer, Dash and Twisp.
We had all kinds of weather during our stay in Vålådalen – snow, rain, strong winds and a glimpse of the sun too. I didn’t use the camera much because of the weather but I know Aimee took some pictures so hopefully we’ll get to see them later. We had a lovely time together and made two short trips along the local trails. The Packice Malamutes have superb manners and are perfect trail companions so it was an ideal opportunity for our gang (who very rarely encounter other dogs when out working) to share the trail with these friendly Mals. Hopefully we’ll be able to have a similar “family reunion” another year!
Puppy training update:
Hilary and Lyra worked really well in harness throughout the weekend and we are very pleased with their performance – they are true naturals in harness! While the girls haven’t completed many miles they have nevertheless experienced many useful things during their first working season:
- Working on a 2-dog skijoring team
Working on a 3-dog sledding team
Different terrains – flat and hilly
Different weather and trail conditions
Working alongside unknown dogs
Encountering snowmobiles, people and wildlife on the trail
To us, puppy training is more about “trail socialization” than actual physical training. Most important is that all early experiences are of a positive kind so that the harness, sled and skis is associated with having fun! We feel that Hilary and Lyra now have a good foundation for the future and during the rest of the season we can focus more on training our adult dogs. You can view photos from the girls’ first season in harness in their Working Gallery.
March has arrived with southern winds and above zero temperatures. There’s no risk our snow will disappear completely as we have plenty of it, but the trails are mushy and wet and we need a couple of days of cold weather before we can hit the trail again. I’ve added some mixed photos from the last few days; before the mild weather arrived we went on a skijoring excursion with Titan and Gem, exploring the trails of a neighbouring village. There are also a few pics of Hilary and Lyra hanging out in their playarea. The pups play outside for a few hours each day and then we bring them inside for the night. The original plan was to let them move outdoors permanently around this age but we’ve become so used to having them in our kitchen that I’m not sure we’re ready to let them move outdoors just yet. Are we spoiling them??? Nooooooo….
We introduced our puppies to sledding today and they did great! The sun was shining from a clear blue sky and the trail was hard-packed and frozen so the conditions were perfect for hooking up Hilary and Lyra in front of the sled. Tuisku worked in single lead and did a good job of keeping the gangline tight and showing the girls how it’s done. We only let the pups run a tiny distance since they are still young, instead the purpose of training right now is to get them accustomed to the set up and make sure they look forward to their next time in harness. Lyra and Hilary showed they are natural sled dogs by keeping their tuglines tight and staying focused on the trail ahead. Well done pups!!
The northern coast was hit by a storm during the weekend and we got stuck in a snowdrift on our way home from Hilary’s puppy class on Saturday afternoon. It was an eventful evening but all went well in the end. The heavy snowfall continued on Sunday and we spent a few hours shovelling out the area in and around the dog pens to be able to open the pen doors and prevent the dogs from jumping across the fence. The storm blew over during the night and this morning we woke up to a beautiful sunrise and took Tuisku and the pups out for a walk on the lake. Isn’t it typical that the sun is shining from a clear blue sky when you have to stay inside and work…my dad used to call it “Monday weather”…
Today it was time for Lyra and Hilary’s second run in harness and they did amazingly well. I tried to keep them at a steady trot but it was hard as they were eager to run. Below are some mixed pics from today, it was a beautiful Sunday!
You can view a short clip of the pups on YouTube:
Lyra and Hilary had company in the playarea today by Fredrik’s Mother’s 7-month old Labrador, “James”. Two Malamute girls and a high-energy Lab boy – I think you can imagine the scene! We thought the girls had endless energy but when Lyra and Hilary started to slow down, James was still going strong! Playing with a friendly dog of a different breed is such a valuable experience as the pups learn to read and respond to different nuances of the canine language. James is a lovely, happy boy and the trio had great fun together! After our guests had gone home, Hilary and Lyra fell sound asleep. Two hours later they are still sleeping…
Lyra and Hilary have had a busy week. These girls have fun from morning to evening with some short breaks for napping. Yesterday both pups took part in the final session of Lyra’s puppy class which consisted of a socialization walk in the city centre. We are very pleased with both girls who, despite being country bumpkins, were completely relaxed in the busy city environment (so relaxed that they rolled over on their backs, lol!). They were also great with the other dogs at class, helping a frightened Cavalier King Charles Spaniel trust larger dogs again. Well done girls!! Lyra will now have a short break from formal training, while Hilary starts her class next Saturday.
We highly recommend Hannas Hundsupport for those of you who live near Umeå and are interested in dog training classes using positive reinforcement. Instructor Hanna Vernerlund is a skilled obedience trainer with wide knowledge about canine behaviour.
Pretty Lyra has turned 5 months and will soon be old enough to try out her first harness. We’re looking forward to the adventures of spring, if we’re lucky snow will remain well into April and she will have plenty of time to gain experience from the trail. Training pups in harness is fun!
It’s been a fun weekend for puppy Lyra with plenty of playtime with both pack members and outside dogs. Today we met with the local dog club for a Sunday walk around town. For this first walk of the year only two other dog owners turned up so in total there were four dogs present, which is a rather manageable number. After the walk we let the dogs loose for a play session in the snow. Lyra had fun with everyone and we were really impressed with 2-year-old Titan who behaved impeccably around two adult males, whom he had met for the first time today.
Today’s walk and play session was an excellent experience for Lyra who learnt two important things: some dogs need more space than others, and that must be respected, and a big black dog (in this case an adult Doberman Pinscher) can be just as friendly as any other dog.
With one puppy in the family, and another one joining us soon, we will probably be spending more time on socialization and “puppy stuff”, than on working activities this winter. However, considering that dogs can remain active sled dogs for more than ten years of their lives, while the key period for socialization is during the first year, it’s not a difficult choice to make. Next year all our dogs will be old enough to work in harness and hopefully they will have benefited from the “work” we’re doing now.