A Year in the life of an Irish Sled Dog Kennel – mud, mud, rain and mud

We travelled to two BSA rallies early in January, both of which were held under the misnomer of dryland mushing rallies. Noah floated past us at one point on the trail in Wareham, but on the bright side, who needs to pay for expensive beauty treatments when you can get free mud packs running dogs. The dogs don’t seem to mind the rain, except poor Vincent, who is a woolly siberian husky, he also runs at wheel (dog nearest to the rig) so he gets all of the mud that the front two dogs kick up. Due to his coat texture, which is very long, he gets wet through and caked in mud which is very hard to remove. Wareham is very sandy, so during the race we would be aquaplaning through a large puddle, then hit a patch of sand, with the wheels digging in. The dogs all worked really hard, and the Team SA showed that all of the training and experience pays off, when they stood patiently and let me unwrap the line from around the front wheel of the rig after I had decided to tip it over and throw myself to the floor. This sport is never dull.
The following week we ran at the Iain Hutchinson memorial rally in the Forest of Dean, which is a Saturday night/Sunday morning race. It had been a lovely, dry week, but then when the rig came out of the van, the rain started again. There were times on the Saturday night when I couldn’t see where we were going, due to the torrential rain and mud on my goggles, but the dogs got me round safe. That could have been due to them being desperate to get back to the van and get their dinner though. Sunday morning was dry, well, when I say dry, I mean there was nothing falling from the sky, there was still plenty of water on the trail. Just a small FYI – poo bags around your feet in boots don’t keep them dry.
I have been working with Ghost for the last 4 months, he is a siberian husky/golden retriever cross that was removed from a puppy farm along with his Mam and litter mates when he was a tiny pup. He was adopted by a family that struggled with his enthusiasm and bounciness. I was asked to work with him and get him ready to go to another rescue for rehoming. He has come a huge way since he’s been here, he had some issues due to lack of socialisation when he was younger, but he is very smart and picks things up quickly. He still has some minor issues, so he will be staying with us as a permanent member of our family. He has been doing short runs in harness to get him used to it, and he is a born sled dog. At the FoD on the Sunday I took him out in the recreation class that is for dogs that haven’t competed, usually older or younger dogs go out in this, or dogs recovering from an injury. It is a short course, so is perfect to let a young dog have a run. He was hooked up with a friend’s husky that he had only met a short while before, when he met Timber he just wanted to play with him, but when his harness was put on, and the pair of them were hooked up, he ignored Timber and was focused on the trail. Unfortunately Timber wasn’t as enthusiastic, and after a very short run, I decided to swap dogs, so Rooney ran with Ghost instead. We had a great time out in the forest, all of the markers had been taken in by this stage, so it was a matter of guess work and trying to remember which tree we had to turn at, bearing in mind that it was a shorter course that we hadn’t been around.

This Saturday night we will be at The Curragh in Kildare at the Irish Federation of Sleddog Sports rally, and we’re really looking forward to a more local race – still over 3 hours away, but thats local for us.

This week I will also be experimenting with the new dog treats we will be selling. Watch this space, biscuits and training treats. I don’t think that my own dogs will mind being the testers.


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