Archive for the ‘Thunder’ Categoryby Northernmost on December 15, 2012 in Daily Life, Gemma, Hilary, Leia, Thunder, Tuisku with No Comments
Things don’t always go according to plan. Just as the sledding season was kicking off I had to visit hospital to undergo back surgery due to a slipped disc that has caused me pain for a really long time. The surgery went well and I’ve now been allowed to return home. However, while my back is healing, I have to stay away from both skijoring and sledding. I bet you can imagine I’m more than a bit frustrated right now. Hopefully, if I follow doctor’s orders, my back will heal sooner rather than later but it will still take a long time before things are back to normal. In this kind of situation it’s good to have back up and luckily my mum lives just next door to us and can help out with the dogs when needed. Fredrik does most of the work but when he’s occupied my mum helps out with feeding and watering the dogs for example, and she also takes them out for walks. I’ve been watching their activities through the window today, feeling a little sorry for myself as I can’t go out and enjoy the snow. But as long as the dogs are happy I shouldn’t complain, we have a long winter and hopefully I won’t miss out on the entire season.
Thunder’s looking handsome in any weather.
Tuisku and Hilary hanging out with Fredrik in the playarea.
Look at Tuisku’s face… 🙂
Leia comes out from her dog house and gets a big kiss!
Grandma Kaisa and Gemmy go for a walk. This is fun says Gemma!
Since I have to take to easy at the moment I’m taking the opportunity to do some good reading. Right now I have three books lined up: “City Wolves” by Canadian author and Malamute owner Dorris Heffron, “On Time Delivery – the dog team mail carriers” by William S. Schneider, and “Malamute Man – Memoirs of an Arctic Traveler” by Joe G. Henderson. Three really interesting books which in different ways tell stories about sled dogs and Malamutes. I will post full reviews when I’ve finished reading them. Have a good weekend everyone!
We kicked-off the sledding season with a weekend trip to magical Aktse. Aktse is an old mountain settlement in Swedish Lapland, known also as The Gate to Sarek. This is where many hikers start their journey into Sarek, which is a large and mountainous wilderness area located north of the Arctic Circle. Dogs are only allowed to enter the Sarek National Park between January and April so we could go no further than Aktse. But from here we enjoyed amazing views into the famous u-shaped Rapadalen valley.
Surrounded by three distinct mountains; Tjahkkelij, Nammásj, and the holy mountain of Skierffe, Aktse is a unique place in many ways. For over 200 years a Sámi family has maintained a homestead on the meadows just below Skierffe, making their living from hunting and fishing, and later also by providing a boat-taxi service to summer visitors. The Swedish Tourist Association (STF) has a mountain hut close to the homestead but this time of the year all guests are long gone and won’t return until February, when the sun yet again rises above the horizon.
Heading towards Aktse on the ice of Lake Lájtávrre. We kept as close to the shore as possible as the ice conditions are still unpredictable in early December.
Fredrik and I enjoy visiting the mountains during the off-season, the scenery is so quiet and beautiful this time of the year – like a dream in blue, pink and white.
Our initial plan was to run three dogs in front of the Nordic sled and attach both mine and Fredrik’s skijoring line to it, but the trail turned out to be so narrow in many places that there wasn’t room for both of us. Instead we placed Thunder and Hilary in front of the sled, while Tuisku had “the day off” and pulled only me behind. As you can see in the photo, Tuisku was all fired up and eager to go.
Passing through the snowclad virgin forests of Ultevis Fjällurskog Nature Reserve.
Fredrik, Hilary and Thunder with Tjahkkelj in the background.
The name Aktse means “nine” in the Lule Sámi language and, according to the legend, nine bears have been killed near the large “aktsekallio” boulder which rests on the ridge leading up to Skierffe.
Luckily we didn’t encounter any bears on our trip, but reindeer and elks crossed our path on Sunday.
Hilary completed two legs towards her WTD-title during this excursion. She has a fantastic pulling ability and always wants to keep going, regardless of weather or trail conditions. These are qualities that we really value in a Malamute and since we run small teams, the effort of each dog really counts.
We had planned to spend the night camping under the star-studded sky but the winds picked up during Saturday evening and the combination of strong winds and chilly -22C (-8F) made us opt to sleep indoors instead (as a precaution we had borrowed the key to one of the cabins). When we arrived to the cabin the indoor temperature was -13C (9F) so we had to work hard to keep the fire going and warm up the place to an acceptable sleeping temperature. After feeding the dogs and ourselves we listened to classical music on the battery-powered radio and stayed awake until the candles burned out. A very relaxing weekend in the mountains and a great start to the sledding season. You can see some more photos from our trip in our Aktse Gallery.
We left home before 3.00 p.m. today and it was already dark. Without fresh batteries in our headlamps we couldn’t see much of the trail in front of us and when a thick fog settled over the forest we couldn’t see anything. Luckily the dogs can see and sense the trail better than us and took all the right turns in the woods.
Thunder and Hilary were well matched in wheel, working with synchronized steps and heads down.
Hilary is learning a lot from the older boys. When she gets too impatient, her natural instinct is to chew the lines but with some training she’s learning to sit down and wait for the command “Go!”.Thunder was a line chewer too as a puppy but is better behaved today…
…but when he thinks we’re not watching…!!
After nearly a month of constant rain we woke up this morning to blue skies and a garden covered in glimmering frost. The thermometer showed minus three degrees Celsius – perfect weather for running dogs! We decided to hook up the girls and take them for a spin with two of our experienced boys, Tuisku and Thunder, to see what they remembered from last spring. Hilary and Lyra haven’t worked in harness since April, as we have wanted to give them time to grow and develop during summer, and just be “pups” for a while. They are now 14 months of age and seem ready to start a new working season. As soon as we put their harnesses on this morning they leaped into the air with excitement!
We placed Hilary and Tuisku in lead and Thunder and Lyra in wheel. Next time it will be Lyra’s turn to work up front. We always try our young dogs in different positions before we see which position they excel in naturally. Just as important as drive, is the ability to listen and learn.
Even though the girls have had a long break from work in harness, they knew exactly what to do and continue to impress us with their focus and drive.
Both girls stepped up today!
The frost from the morning lasted all day – now it won’t be long before winter is here 🙂
We received some more test results this week: our boys Nordiclight’s Thunder and Keikewabic’s Tundra Tuisku have both been tested for polyneuropathy with the result homozygous normal. You can learn more about this hereditary disease by reading the article Perspectives on Polyneuropathy published by the AMCA. If you wish to test your Malamute we recommend that you visit the website www.ampoly.info or contact your breed club for more information.
Thunder & Tuisku
Two young Canadian boys together in front of the sled in 2006. Thunder was 19 months old and Tuisku 7 months old. They both did really well during their first sledding season.
Today was a beautiful autumn day, perfect for going on a small packing trip in the forest near our home. Hilary is still too young to carry weighs so we filled her bags with lighter stuff, just to make her accustomed to carrying a bulky pack in preparation for future packing trips. She did not seem to mind the pack at all, so that’s a good sign.
My trail companions: Thunder 8 years old and Hilary 13 months.
The forest is beautiful in autumn, no mosquitoes to worry about, just soft and quiet.
There’s still plenty of ripe blueberries so we stopped to grab some along the trail.
Hilary looks more and more like her handsome sire, Jake.
Especially in this picture…
We practised “sit” in many different places today, here on top of a rock 🙂
This summer we have been on many smaller hikes but it has mainly been along the trails by the coast. I miss the mountains…hopefully we will be able to squeeze in a longer packing trip before winter. *Fingers crossed it won’t snow until November*
Went on a nice run with Tuisku, Thunder and Leia this evening. We explored a new trail which turned out to be mostly uphill, but the trio did well, especially Tuisku in lead. Thanks to the cool and rainy weather we’ve had this summer we’ve been able to go on many early morning and late evening runs and the dogs have stayed in good condition, even during what’s normally our “lazy months”. Will be interesting to see how this will affect our sledding season, maybe we’ll be ready to hit the longer trails early in winter?
Waterbreak, about halfway into the trail.
Is there an end to that uphill??
When things are busy at work and the days are quickly getting shorter it’s great to have an agility course at home where we can activate our dogs without having to travel anywhere. In less than five minutes the obstacles are assembled and we’re ready to go. Today was a perfect day for agility as the grass was dry and the sun came out from behind the clouds. As soon as we bring out the obstacles the dogs start howling “Can I go first?!!”, “No, me, me!!”, as everyone wants to have a go at this fun game. Leia and Thunder were most eager so we let them and Titan and Gem do agility today and then ended the evening with a walk along the coast with Tuisku and the girls. Feels good to know that we’ve involved all dogs in fun activities, despite being quite tired after work. Managing a multidog household is not an easy game, but we love it 🙂
Having happy dogs is our main goal, always.
Our Gem inside the tunnel.
Titan is polishing his jumping skills.
While Fredrik and I don’t hunt ourselves we nevertheless enjoy training our dogs in the field of blood tracking. A trained blood tracking dog is a valuable resource when recovering wounded game and can also help locate animals that have been wounded in traffic. In Sweden, a registered blood tracking dog must according to law be available within two hours when hunting moose, deer and other big animals, to avoid unnecessary suffering if the animal is wounded but not immediately found. As a result, it’s quite common for dog owners to train their dogs in the field of blood tracking. The great thing about this sport is that your dog get to spend a lot of time in the great outdoors while doing what comes absolutely naturally to him.
We find blood tracking to be especially suitable for restless teenage dogs as it allows them to use both their bodies and brains during a relatively relaxed working assignment. It is also a great activity for senior Mals who may not be able to run on the sledding team but still need regular exercise and stimulation. So far we haven’t come across a Malamute that doesn’t enjoy tracking. Someone once suggested that blood tracking is detrimental to the working discipline of sled dogs since it encourages their hunting instincts and make them more prone to chasing wild animals. In our view, this is far from the truth. In fact we feel that dogs that are trained regularly in the sport of blood tracking are able to focus better at any sport they are involved in, simply because tracking and spending time in the great outdoors make them generally more relaxed, happy and harmonious.
Our boy Thunder has successfully completed the Swedish aptitude test in blood tracking.The test instructor provided the following written critique after the test: “A dog that works purposefully and seeks and solves his tracking task with elegance. He displays excellent tracking ability and good cooperative skills.” Since Thunder really enjoys tracking we are now working towards having him approved as a certified blood tracking dog.
Titan has also tried his paw at blood tracking. Last weekend we prepared a 400 metre long trail for him to practice at. At the official tracking trials the trail is over 600 metres (1969 ft) long.
Mission accomplished – Titan found the hoof! While some dogs like to carry the hoof when the work is completed, others are not that interested and prefer to be rewarded with a treat or toy instead. After the training session we put the hoof back in the freezer, that way it can be used many times.
HOW TO DO IT
When laying a scent line we drag a moose hoof behind us while sprinkling small amounts of blood at regular intervals from a plastic bottle. We use no more than 2 deciliter blood over 600 metres. The trails at the official tracking trials in Sweden include at least 4 angles and a shorter section where no blood is used and we design our trails to resemble these as much as possible. We mark the trail with coloured tape which we place high on trees to make them less visible to the dog. Through these markings we know if the dog is going in the right direction and can gently correct his/her work if needed. To make things easier for us, we use different colours for straight track, for angles, and for sections without blood. We let the track age for at least 12 hours before going out, as otherwise it would be too easy for the dog. When training puppies and inexperienced dogs we use lines that are fresh and gradually build up the level of difficulty. By always laying the track downwind we encourage our dogs to work with a deep nose.
If you are interested in learning more about blood tracking we recommend the following books:
In Swedish: Aktivera din hund genom viltspårning, Kristian Carlsson (2006) and Träna Viltspår : Grunderna i eftersök för dig och din hund, Marita Carlsson (2009).
In English: Tracking Dogs for Finding Wounded Deer, John Jeanneney (2004). This book is often referred to as the “bible of blood tracking” and is suitable for beginners and veterans alike. You can also learn more about blood tracking (American style) by visiting the website of United Blood Trackers and by reading the blog of tracking experts John and Jolanta Jeanneney, named Born To Track.
The perhaps important thing to remember when starting your dog in tracking is to trust your dog and allow him or her to work in front of you. Ideally, you should be no closer to your dog than 5 metres (16ft) behind. Dogs are natural trackers and do best when they are allowed to work without any help or interference. Most dogs, regardless of breed, love to track!
Here are some pics from last Sunday’s agility session. Two of our girls are in season right now so we do our best to distract the boys with fun activities to make them focus on something else than just “GIRLS” for a while 😉
Leia goes absolutely crazy when we bring out the agilty obstacles, she loves it!
Tuisku trotting out from the closed chute.
Lyra waits while Fredrik adjusts the height. This pretty pup turned 1 year old last week – time flies!
We ended the working week by taking Gem and Thunder for a walk along the coast near Bjuröklubb. All that fresh sea air means we’re going to sleep well tonight. Have a happy weekend everyone!