Training Logs, 2008-2009

UKC weightpull (3 legs 20x bodyweight on rails = UWP)– Great Smoky Mtn Dog Club & Working Dog Association on Oct 18-19 Athens, TN, AND Nov 8-9 Jeff City.  Three months to train for 4 pulls.  $21 register dogs with UKC, $20 first dog, $15 second dog, etc.  After basic title, can work on Champion weightpulling titles, points for percentages, placements, etc. 

No idea yet who will pull and who won’t.  Will start with a truck tire and work on basic commands, familiarity with the process, harnesses, tugging, breaking loose and head down.  Work up to pulling to the store (Chattin Market) & back which is 1m each way….. not sure it is even possible with 1 dog pulling the tire, but 3 months to find out.  Have a scooter for cardio work outs, but it is WARM WARM WARM.  Need to pull around 7a to keep the temps down, can’t help the humidity, before that it’s pretty dusky and we’ll be close to the highway working.

Going to attempt to pull 1 dog/day through July/August, teams in September/October on the scooter later for cardio and when it’s cooler and they have a LOT more harness experience.

Note to Self (NtS): Hadn’t run in harness for 2 winters between my injuries and warm temps.  This year, hope to get WTD on 3y Clay, 2y Brady, 1y Amak, & 3y Sera, 2y Tori, 2y Honey, 1y Parka, 1y Music, 1y Karma & 1y Rtic — worry about that in November after the weightpulls are over and I have some harness trained dogs to splice into teams.

I’ll be working 3 boys, 3 girls — Maestro, Clay, Brady and Sera, Tori, Honey — Sunny & Storm are busy with puppies and the GSMDC promises a spring show with weightpulling…

Maestro (75#, 5y in September) has pulled at the 06 NS — spun a lot, acted foolish, manic when he was unsure of himself — but did manage to pull 1000# on wheels
Clay (70#, 3y) is Kotzebue and has a heritage of working, but he’s very laid back and almost soft
Brady (80#, 2y) is Storm Kloud, Nanuke & Czech — for sure the SK dogs in his ped are pullers
Seranade (82#, 3y) is a goof, I’m hoping for another Egret in working ability but she’s SILLY and can stress, as evidenced by July Rally Advanced 84 & fell apart the next day — I didn’t teach her heeling enough, but she stressed and shut down like Tom has done.  Back to heeling!
Tori-nado (77#, 2y in October) is a tough broad, hardheaded and I hope to turn that into stubbornness in harness.  Hasn’t had much training since puppy school & Beginner’s with Honey below.
Honey Bear (67#, 2y in December) is a Marine, will see if I can get her to want to pull

July 2008

Goal: Get STARTED with the 2y-6y dogs pulling

July 18, 7:30a Friday

Maestro 80-harness, hooked him up, spun around — UKC you can pull with the dog next to you, not several feet away, I corrected every spin and praised every time his head went down to work.  Got down the driveway to the highway and turned back — an intro to harness work.  He pulled steadily all the way uphill back to the house.

July 19, 7:00a Saturday

Sera 100-harness too big in neck, but she’s a loooong dog, she doesn’t know diddly about harnesses, lots of squats and spins, corrected mildly everyone with leash and voice, when she put her head down she CHARGED instead of slow and steady.  But head was down.  Pulls in fits and starts, still unsure of herself.

July 20, 7:45a Sunday

Clay 60-harness did some crawl-pulls, and had to be tugged with leash a little bit.  Made it down driveway and to highway right of way, half way across the front fence.  On way home he charged up the hill and then stopped, maybe 30 feet increments.  I’m saying HUP when he is pulling and good boy/lots of smiles & petting when we stop.

NtS: They are crated daily so that should eliminate crate stress, but not in public.  In October, make a point of taking all participating dogs to Spring City Park, set up crates, harness them and practice with the tire there, so they get used to a show-type setup.  At least twice.  That will make sure trailer is ready to go and that I have enough crates for everyone.

NtS: Get better shoes.

July 21, 6:55a Monday 

Brady 100-harness was a little loose but it was the right shape for Brady-Boy.  He’s 26-27″ but not filled in yet since he’s only 2y.  We started out well, he stood for the harness, lifted each leg as I asked for it, let me fit the harness over his head, settle it in his ruff, stretch it down his body.  He sniffed the tire indifferently and let me walk him into a STRETCH after I hooked him up.  We went down the driveway (3/8″ washed gravel has a lot of assistance with ROLL) at a trot, head level and leaning into his harness, got all the way out of the valley and up to the highway when we hit his first resistance… “See the pretty puppy SIT?  See how pretty he sits?”  Mmm, well, yeah, but Bray-Bray, we’re PULLING here, dear… Big grin, N-n-n-not me, I’m a show dog and a Rally dog, and I’m sitting PRETTY for the lady.  We walked backwards and headed home and while the tire was rolling, he was great, beautiful form.  Back up the hill, he needed a little tug on the harness loop to get him going, otherwise he’d sit pretty or down pretty and wag his tail with a grin.  Waiting for me to help…
I remember training 73# Storm, my one-ton baby, and we went out into the tall grass of the hayfield (not the first day of course) and when she got stuck, I walked away from her and left here there — maybe 50 feet away.  And I made her fuss and thrash and woo and roll around on the ground all by herself, but she eventually GOT IT, put her head down and PULLED towards me and we threw a party when she arrived at me… didn’t do that with Maestro or Sunny and they don’t BELIEVE they can move a heavy object…  Wonder if, after we learn some technique and get in better shape, I should do the same to the others… so they BELIEVE they can pull whatever they are hooked up to?

NtS: Take the 6 to the vets for actual weights.

July 22, Tuesday RAIN

July 23 Wednesday 

Maestro yelped when he leaned into the harness and then sat down and wouldn’t even stand until I took it off him.  Also yelped jumping into his double-stacked crate.  Vet says crate rest.  Terrific.  Seems sound by nightfall.

July 24, 8a Thursday

Honey wears a 70 harness and has a smooth, head down, effortless gait that will be absolutely priceless on the sled team, but we haven’t yet gotten the hang of the weightpull effort yet.  If I gave a slight encouragement on the tugline, she was moving right along, but not yet shouldering into it.  I am SO PLEASED at her work ethic for a first-time-in-harness gal…

July 25, 7a, Friday

Sunny who I wasn’t going to work, but her milk is dried up and she goes BONKERS when someone else leaves the house harnessed up.  So… it was a scramble to keep her puppies kenneled when she popped out — we’re going towards the unfenced highway, so they can’t accompany.  Sunny puts her head down and PULLS all the way down hill <G>.  Started across the flat, still working, then back uphill towards the mailbox and she stopped, sat, and wooed…. I remember this from the 06 Nationals in Knoxville.  She worked better coming back up the long driveway hill with a little help on the tugline, like Honey the day before, but more shouldering into it.

Added to training Group

Sunny (80#, 5y in September) has pulled at the 06 NS — quits when it gets hard, she’s such a princess.  This year will work on convincing her she CAN do this.  Did manage to pull 1000# on wheels at the 06 National in Knoxville.

July 26, Saturday (rainy 8a)

Tori-Baby-Wow! that’s her new name.  Took me 10x as long to harness her up (90-harness) because Tori-Baby-Wow! has so much enthusiasm that she couldn’t hold still.  Frequent tangler because she’s SO revved up.  But once IN harness and hooked up to the truck tire, Tori-Baby-Wow! put her head down in perfect weightpulling form and P-U-L-L-E-D, baby, did she pull.  All the way down the hill, across the flat, and charged up the hill to the mailbox, then down the side of the highway in tall grass (much much harder than gravel which rolls with the tire) for almost 50 feet.  Not bad at all for a first pull — no, that’s not fair, the BEST first-time puller I’ve seen at Wayeh.  She was bumping into me at first, pulling to the left, then the right, without rhythm, but P-U-L-L-I-N-G the whole time.  Got her turned around and she dropped her head into perfect form and pulled all the way back uphill to the house at a run.  All I’ve got to say is Da-amn.  Tori-Baby-Go!



Rain-rain-rain go away, come again some other day.

Then we had annual vet exams for everyone, which means a week where we were ferrying back and fourth to the vets for vaccinations, fecals, weights, and thyroid tests…  Then the temps dropped!

August 2008

Goal: Figure out who is going to be pulling this fall and focus on those dogs

(After rain delays & a week of annual vet visits…)

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
8/11, tire
8/12, tire

8/14, tire
8/15, tire
8/16, tire
Tom & Sera

August 11, 2008 (Monday) 60 degrees F @ 7:00a

Maestro (75#) 80# harness, pulled ONE MILE.  Every time his head dropped I said “YES,” every time he was REALLY pulling, I said “PULL.”  We went down the driveway at a twirly run.  Then I straightened him out and walked on his left and he tucked head and pulled.  Down the driveway, across the flat, left at the fence, through short grass, into the hayfield through tall grass, back to the shoulder of the highway, all the way to Pegasus Way.  Rested a moment and came back.  I am so proud, he took the last hill at a run all the way to the gate. <gBg> (Note, pull from Maestro’s  left side.)

August 12, 2008 (Tuesday) 65 degrees F @ 7:30a

Sunny (should be 75# and will be down to 75# soon) 80# harness, pulled ONE MILE.  Again, every time her head dropped, I said YES.  She took the same route as Maestro, only slower, more deliberate, but very consistent and steady.  She took the hill at a head-down, determined PUUUUUULLLLLLL, calmly, but absolutely sure of herself.  Can pull from either side, but she does best if I am in heel position, where Maestro wanted to be out front with me back at the tugbar.

August 14, 2008 (Thursday) 70 degrees F @ 7:30a

Tori (77# in an 80# harness) did us PROUD!  She, too, pulled the mile, when she gets nervous or unsure of herself she is a little grabby with the teeth, it’s not aggression, it’s stress.  But I don’t want teeth on me for any reason, so I both stayed out of her way and corrected (gently) every instance of teeth on humans.  A gentle correction for 2 reasons, it’s a side-affect behavior for stress so I didn’t want to sternly correct unless I have to, and I don’t want to dampen her enthusiasm.  She figured it out with a few ah-ah noises and a step backwards.  She’s got SO MUCH enthusiasm, I just want to grin when I look at her.  For a young dog, she’ll be 2y in October, she’s enjoying the heck out of this training.

August 15, 2008 (Friday) 70 degrees F @ 8a (missed the alarm this morning)

Brady (78# and I put him in the 100# harness because he’s got a lot rear angulation when he’s pulling).  Brady is a classic reason why there is no set schedule for weightpull training.  Every dog at their own pace.  (Maestro was a complete flake at 2-3y in harness, now at 4-5y he’s a MONSTER of WEIGHTPULL — in a good way.) Brady pulled 1/3 mile today and I am as proud of him as I was the mile for Maestro, Sunny, & Tori.  Why?  Have my standards fallen in 24 hours?  No, because this 1/3 mile was harder for him than the full mile was for them.  Brady is not convinced he can do this yet.  Not really convinced.  He pulled the tire downhill just fine on gravel, because there’s a lot of roll on 3/8″ washed gravel going downhill (leash hooked to his tugline).  As soon as we hit the short grass on the flat (more friction and he had to work now) he stopped, sat, and wagged his tail at me.  I gave a slight tug to help and he was head down pulling again.  Every step we took when he was actually head down and pulling (even if I was helping) I said YES!  bright and cheerful.  I did NOT help Maestro, Sunny, and Tori because they know they can do it, and they have demonstrated they can do it.  Brady doesn’t KNOW IT yet.  And it wasn’t a lot of help.  He’ll be wonderful on a team, because he’ll take his confidence and enthusiasm from a team mate, even one who is not helping much.  So here we are off through the tall grass, hip to shoulder, me giving the slightest bit of help, and YES for every little thing he is doing right because if I don’t set him up for success, even a slightly cheated success, then he’ll never get told he’s RIGHT when weightpulling and he’ll quickly learn to hate it.   It’s the same concept of loose leash walking — if you shorten up the leash in fear that they will pull, the leash is always tight and they are always WRONG.  If you give them the whole leash and turn and walk the other way when the leash goes tight, for a moment there, the leash is loose and you have a moment to give PRAISE.  
Brady and I got to Antique Lane (before we get to the highway shoulder on our normal route) and turned him around.  Now he got “assistance” all the way to this point, first with the downhill gravel and then with my slight tugs.  NOW we turn towards home and I don’t help him one little bit.  NOW, the training is going to change and I hook the leash to his collar.  When he sits there, wagging, I give the slightest tug on his leash and command PULL! at the same time.  Up until now, I have just rewarded when he was right, now I’m going to ASK more of him.  He popped up in surprise and pulled, and I went back to YES! for every step that he was head down and pulling.  THIS time there is no assistance on the tugline because I am hooked to his collar.  When he passes me, I flip the leash over his back so it doesn’t interfere with his feet.  After a dozen steps or so, he stops and looks for me.  THAT’S OK.  I say WHOA as he stops and come up and rub and pet and praise his efforts for a job well done.  Then we do it all over again.  All the way back home.  On the last uphill climb on gravel, he was head down and determined and fighting to pull the tire…. YES!!!!!!  I don’t think he’s 100% got it after a couple of training sessions.  But what we’re doing is building good habits, and each time asking for a little more.  It’s not all positive reinforcement at this point, because of the collar pops.  But they are a mild correction as corrections go, and he’s a dog who needs to know right now, when he’s right and when he’s wrong.  I don’t think he’s going to get this on his own, but when he DOES get it, you can see the lightbulb go off!  Thus the changed training methods from the other dogs.

August 16, 2008 (Saturday) 60 degrees F @ 7a 

Tom, yes, Tom T., a blast from the past.  He has patiently watched me pull harnesses next to his crate in the house, patiently watched me harness up dogs out his window, and patiently watched us leave down the driveway… this morning, not so very patient.  He’s 8y and my weightpulling fiend — in his youth.  Well, what the hell.  I grabbed the 110# harness (Tom T. is 106# @ 8y, up from 99# at 2y and we’re working on slimming him back to his 2y weight… what better way to work off flab, then by calorie reduction AND exercise increase…?)  So Tom was as happy as I’ve seen him in a while.  Tail up, head down, those gorgeous massive snowshoe feet reaching for ground, those long strong legs driving forward… sigh, what a beautiful sight… We went to Antique Lane, about 1/3 mile, and we did it in 50-foot increments, just as I taught him all those years ago when we were pulling with the IWPA.  Hand waved in front of his face, Wait.  Walk away.  Turn and look at him and he pulls nice and steady towards me, expecting the lean-over-him-belly-hug.  Of course I obliged, this is Mr. Perfect, Tom T. his-own-self.  Not sure if this is going anywhere, but we enjoyed the morning.
Seranade & the Cardio Workout (100# harness, probably should be a 90# harness neck on a 100# harness length, but let’s see if she’s going to pull before we buy something for her…. started down the driveway and she was my Whirly Girl, like brother Maestro was on TV at the 06′ National Specialty in Knoxville.  So I corrected every whirl, not harshly, because she doesn’t know the rules yet, but grabbed handfuls of hair and talked sternly and walked her back around to untangle herself.  Start as you want to end, so we want a nice straight-FORWARD pulling technique.  She was all over the place for the first 100 feet or so, and then just… sank into a rhythm of head-down pulling in perfect heel position… because she’s my rally-obedience dog…. understanding of course, that she does NOT have perfect heel position when she’s doing rally-obedience…  But she is GETTING it!  I am so proud of my hooligan girl that I get overconfident and drop the leash over her back… when she stops pulling, I walk on a few steps and look back at her (thinking of Tom T. I guess, but this is NOT Tom T. with 8 years of training under his harness, this is a green dog with an excitement quotient Tom never dreamed of.)  She pulls right up to me and pauses, so I walk away again, just like Tom T.  I look back over my shoulder, just like I did with Tom T. and…. OH MY GOD!  She’s backing out of the harness!  I run back to her, too late, she’s out, she’s free, and she’s RUNNING towards the highway. Training lesson #1 — if your dog is running away from you, do NOT chase, do NOT scream.  If you want the dog to follow you, you run AWAY from the dog, in the opposite direction the dog is running, making happy noises while you do.  When they glance back (and they always glance back given enough time and the absence of cars) and see you chasing, it spurs them on.  When they glance back and see you running AWAY, they will often, not always, turn and follow.
Sera ran towards the highway, and I took 3-4 steps after her, then remembered, and turned and bolted back towards the house.  Either she will follow or I will get the truck and pray I find her…. and I had taken no more than 20 steps when a long, low silver streak went by at subsonic speeds — “SERANADE!”  Streaks by, and keeps going, so I turn and run back towards the tire, calling her name happily, and that high-speed, low-altitude heat-seeking missile streaks by again, so I turn and run back towards the house, calling her name and laughing now, and she streaks passed, makes an arc, and I sit down in the grass and she trots right up to me… And gets hugs, and pets, and ear scratches, and all-over body rubs, and I tell her what a gorgeous, wonderful, strong, all powerful female of the canine species she is — all in a happy relieved voice, because I am happy and I am relieved, and if I give her a HINT of unhappiness or correction, even a whisper of it, she will remember that the next time I call her to me…But her memory is going to be a long love session and then I happily walk her back to the tire and hook her up, still ear-rubbing and body-scratching and smiling… because I am happy.  My girl has a lot of energy.  So we’re 1/3m into the training route at this point and we are going to finish it.  But instead of me just walking next to my dog, in or out of heel position, I’m going to POWER WALK this route, because not only do I have a lot of adrenaline to work off, but Seranade has a lot of adrenaline to work off, as well.  LEASHED, Sera does the whole course at a fast walk, head down, imitating the perfectly obedient Golden Retriever she is not.  And she POWERED up the hill at the end, me jogging to keep up.
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
8/18 8/19 8/20

8/21, tire
Clay, Honey
8/22, tire
8/23, tire
8/24, tire

August 17-18-19-20, 2008 (Sunday-Wednesday) too hot and muggy to pull, even at 6:30a

August 21, 2008 (Thursday) 70 degrees 7a

Clay has a swollen foot and is completely off it — again, he gets a vet visit today — again.  (UPDATE: Clay has SLICED his pad wide open, looks like the sharp edge of an unfortunate rock — he’s done for at least 2 months, staples, antibiotics, and pain meds.)
Honey would NOT pull, would not even pull downhill.  Could be a lot of things, it’s muggy, she’s coming in season, she doesn’t want to pull…..?  Will try again when it’s cooler, if she doesn’t come in season (although she is due).

August 22, 2008, (Friday) 70 degrees 7a

Maestro Mr. Reliable — snicker, snicker — but in this case, absolutely true.  As he matures (he’ll be 5y in September) he is so much more confident… not that he doesn’t do the Twirly Girl thing when we start out, but he’s just got SO MUCH energy.  Ideally, I would run him a couple of miles on the scooter right before he goes into the weightpull chute.. which is back-asterisks-wards if I ever heard it, most dogs NEED their energy, Maestro needs to burn OFF some energy before the brain kicks in… but not as much energy as when he was a randy 2y. <G>  Today I rewarded every head down pulling position, instead of just every head down position, Yes, Yes, Yes, for every OTHER step that he was head down AND pulling.  We went through tall grass for 3/4m today because we stayed on the highway right of way (ROW), instead of going down to the shoulder for 1/2m in the middle of the run.  Next time, I’ll pull him the whole mile on the ROW, which is hard on my ankles and knees but makes for a MUCH tougher workout for the dogs.  No rain expected until next week, which means high temps in the meanwhile, paired with really high humidity… blech.

August 23, 2008 (Saturday) 70 degrees 7a

Try to start 2-dogs/day pulls if temps allow.  Sera & Brady?
Pulled Brady, and today he GOT the tire, he GOT what we were trying to do, he GOT the point of nose down = YES! from me.  We pulled the full mile, the middle half on the asphalt shoulder, let’s give him a pull to catch up with the others.  I’m going to really have to consider how to take water with us, in the tire, with a bowl.  They are pulling longer and longer distances, and doing it in shorter periods.  On the way back, we practiced Whoa, then Wait, then point to the ground under his nose and say, PULL!  He did it all and trotted up the gravel driveway in the end, a strong, powerful, gorgeous head-down trot…. <G>
By 7:40 when we got back, it was too muggy to pull anyone else.  Won’t take tomorrow off and that will give Sera a shot.

August 24, 2008 (Sun) 70 degrees 7a

Sera & Rtic
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
8/25 rain 8/26 rain 8/27 rain

8/28 8/29 8/30 9/1

August 25-26-27, 2008 (Monday)

Rain, so much rain, we get flood warnings

September 2008

Rain for the first part of the month, then too warm, then I stepped in a hole and gave myself 10 days off… when we started back, with crisp fall temps in the morning, I saw immediate improvement in attitude and performance, the willingness was there, and they pushed through now where they wouldn’t before.

Clay is recovering from a foot injury, not in time for October pulls, perhaps November
Brady works sometimes, doesn’t work sometimes.  Getting better, and he’s still young.  Will try him on the scooter with Sera and see if that’s more to his liking, and might give him a mental boost as well.
Sera pulling tires & Rtic on lead is not something I ever want to do again, neither does Sera, she got fed up, Rtic kept getting tangled, and I stepped in the hole.  ;<
Storm is a powerhouse, any harness, any circumstances, she’s just a joy.
Sunny is a love, not quite Storm’s willingness in harness, but she’s a world better than she was at the National.  Will see if she can make it work in the time constraints of a structured pull.
Maestro is Mr. Cool these days, nose down, and shoulders into it.  What a joy.  Also on the scooter, WOW.
Tori is pregnant and not working for now.  May try Music with her poppa Maestro since they are built the same, they may work really well on the scooter. 
Honey is a team player and not really into solo sports right now, will try again next year for pulling, will run her on a scooter with one of the boys this winter.

October 2008

Goals: October 18-19, Athens, TN, UKC Weightpull#1-2Great Smoky Mtn Dog Club

Note-to-Self from July: They are crated daily so that should eliminate crate stress, but not in public.  In October, make a point of taking all participating dogs to Spring City Park, set up crates, harness them and practice with the tire there, so they get used to a show-type setup.  At least twice.  That will make sure trailer is ready to go and that I have enough crates for everyone.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
9/29, scooter
9/30, scooter
Maestro & Sunny
  10/2 scooter
Maestro & Music
Short tire pulls – all 5

Weightpull Camp

Oct 2, 2008 (Thurs) 50°F @ 8:00a, too dark before then

First Maestro & Music, story below.  Then Seranade — she’s a soft squishy marshmallow of a dog.  She weightpulls because I ask her to, she scooters…. not very well.  She isn’t a lead dog, she wants to be a teamdog.  She only pulls because it pleases me.  I will run her mother Singer with her from now on, or Brady after I do some ground work — see below.

Dumb, dumb, dumb. I know better. Did it anyway. Hoped for the best like a loon and got it…. for a while. No one got hurt, but it took the better part of an hour to do 2 miles.

When you’re hooking up a new dog, you start on the GROUND. If I’ve said this 1 time, I’ve said it 100 times. Sledding starts with footwork. The reason is that you are introducing a dog to a lot of new things at once and if they get all that input PLUS speed, well, it’s not usually the stuff that dreams are made of.

So, what did Einstein do this morning? She hooked up Maestro to the scooter, and then added his daughter Music. Oy ve.

Music will be 2 in March. Ideally, I would have put the harness on her and taught her to pull a small tire in the front yard a long time ago, between my injuries, family, and weather I just haven’t. Then after the tire in the yard, we should have graduated to a larger tire, then added tall grass, gravel, different surfaces. All the while teaching silly things like WHOA, ON-BY, ON-BY-DAMMIT, and an occasional Gee or Haw, Hike and Stretch out.

But no. She’s been pestering me every time a team goes out and this morning with a little chill in the air and white breath frosting, I completely lost my mind, and hooked her up next to her poppa Maestro.

Now, they are built the same and she looks remarkably like him, both of them tall and short-coupled with plenty of running machine under them. Which translates, in some universes, as SPEED and POWER. This universe, for instance. Lots O Speed, Lots O Power.

Now at first, I had necklines and tuglines hooked up and we went about 3 feet, in a circle wrapped around my legs, and I got the brilliant idea to unhook the neckline so we only had ONE set of ropes to untangle. This worked better and we got all the way down the driveway. Music is happy and grinning and I am stupid with joy because we haven’t actually done anything but walk down the driveway, brakes on the scooter, me on the ground.

And the dogs are both stretched out, one to the left and one to the right, but not tangling, and since it’s THEIR driveway, they at least know which direction we are going. To be fair, Maestro KNOWS where we are going, but he’s not sure if the dork knows… the dork would be me. Because HE knows, if I don’t remember at the moment, all the groundwork HE went through, weightpull training, tire work, even the plastic toboggan sled loaded with dog food. Maestro remembers that it was a long summer before he got to go FAST. And Music gets to go the first time she wears a harness. Oh, this is gonna be fun.

And it was. It was giddy, grinning, joyful fun. For the first mile or so. Maestro is head down and smoothly running, Music mimics him, even if she doesn’t understand, the two of them all things powerful, the shadow of Miacis (the first dog) at their shoulder, all their ancestors pleased and proud. Trumpets sounded, the swell of strings, the sun breaks over the ridge and casts a cool glimmer across their plush coats. 

And then the truck came by. The one who set down on his air brakes and made that big BLAAAAAT noise, just as we were passing a roadsign. Just as two of the three of us were passing it on the right, and one of the three of us was passing it on the left. OK. Another thing that wouldn’t have been so bad if dork had been using her head and trained the young dog on the GROUND so that the first time she heard air brakes wasn’t while going lickety-split down the road to the operatic swell of Wagner, or some other dead German. And maybe, if the fates had aligned and I hadn’t been thinking sacrilegious thoughts about what a “perfect” pair of dogs I had, there wouldn’t have happened to be a mean old road sign just waiting to reach out and GRAB her.

The ONLY thing I did smart today was put a belly band on Music’s harness so when she decided to VACATE the premesis, she couldn’t actually leave. So I calmed her down, untangled everyone, and we had a nice sit on the side of the road with 2 Malamutes in my lap and gradually all three of our hearts slowed down a bit.

OK, so let’s get back on our feet, straighten out ganglines, inspect the scooter, we’re ready to go.

Except Music is standing at my side and refuses to go out front. Where bad things happen. Because dork shoved her in the deep end and made sure she wasn’t prepared for bad things to happen. And we tangle.

Untangle. Hook up necklines. Start. Maestro drags Music forward. We tangle. Unhook necklines. Start. Music’s gangline gets in the tire. We tangle. Dogs are unsure and frustrated. I’m telling them it’s OK. It’s not. They don’t believe me anyway. This goes on for a while.

We sit on the side of the road. Music is anxious. Maestro is impatient, but looking to me for an answer. I’m a little stumped. Figured it STILL wasn’t working, so let’s have a thunk and see what new ideas spring forth.

Mmm, an idea has sprung. We’ll try again. This time, I decide that Music needs to understand where I want her. More importantly, she needs to understand where I do NOT want her. So at a crawling-pace, barely able to keep the scooter balanced, I run the wheel towards her and say, “LOOK OUT!” And Music scoots away from the wheel. “GOOD DOG!” I tug on the brakes a little and she is suddenly in front “GOOD DOG!!!!” And the gangline goes tight and — she stops in her tracks.

OK, we had a moment where this worked. I start over. Not to HIT her, working very hard NOT to hit her. But to “scoot her” away from me. Steer towards her, Good dog, she gets out front, Good dog, lines go tight and I say softly, yes………

And she looks back over her shoulder and we tangle… 

What FINALLY worked was hooking her to Maestro’s neckline and in the end, she HAPPILY dragged him down the road. With a half mile to the driveway, I stopped them again. What a glutton I am. And hooked her back into the gangline, removed her neckline, and kept smiling and softly telling them how happy I was with them. And when we started back up…

It was perfect. In fact Maestro & Music pulled me up the gravel driveway, even on the hill, and their tails were down working, tongues hanging out, breath frosting. When I opened the gate, Music jumped up for a hug and then so did Maestro, and we all fell down. But who cares about that part?

Tomorrow Music learns about the tire. And dork starts all the yearlings on tire work BEFORE they get hooked into harness next to a speed demon like poppa Maestro.

Oct 3, 2008 (Fri)  60 °F @ 8:00a

Everyone on short tire pulls – Storm, Maestro, Sunny, Sera, Brady

Oct 4, 2008 (Sat)  __ °F @ 7:00a

Applied for TLNs for all 5 with the UKC, once I have the numbers, I’ll overnight the entries for breed AND wpull

Oct 5, 2008 (Sun)  60 °F @ 7:00a

Applied for registration numbers for the Fabulous Five — Storm, Sunny, Maestro, Seranade, & Brady. Once I have those numbers, they say Monday morning, I’ll overnight the entry fees for both breed and weightpull. One of my puppy buyers, Darlene Manning who has Naula (Yogi X Sera), is coming for the weekend and she’s going to get a crash course in conformation showing and being a “dog handler” for weightpull. <G> She may never speak to me again. Haha!

Will enter all 5 in weightpull, and putting Storm & Sunny, Brady & Maestro in for conformation/breed. There will be 2 breed shows on Saturday, & 2 on Sunday. One weightpull each day.

In order to title in UKC conformation, Storm or Sunny will win Best Female, if one of them gets 3 of the 4, they will be a U-CH (United Kennel Club Champion). If we get a 2 & 2 wins, we have to go back and duke it out<G>. Same for Maestro & Brady. 

In order to title in UKC weightpull, each dog competes against their own best pull, and if they pull 3x @ 8x their body weight, they will be a UWP (United Kennel Club Weight Puller). There are ways to get more weightpull titles, but they have to have the UWP first, and the higher titles involve either pulling for multiples o body weight or qualifying on different vehicles (wheels, rails, sleds). The qualifying “legs” mean that 80# Brady “only” has to pull 640# on wheels (pneumatic tires). To put that in perspective, Tom T. pulled 2200# on wheels…. when he WANTED to…. the trick to weightpull is strength (the weight) and endurance (you start with a lower weight and keep adding weight to the cart for “rounds”), the determination to pull when you’d rather be socializing and the heart to pull when you really don’t think you can… 73# Storm pulled 2000# at the National in Knoxville — different club, different pulling surface.

Today, I set up a Mini Weightpull camp for the Fabulous Five. Want to duplicate an actual pull as much as possible, so lined up 5 crates, 3 wires and 2 pet porters across the kennels, draped with shade mesh and sheets for shade/privacy. Have all the harnesses, new collars, 2 necklines to serve as leashes (have to have a BIG pocket to put it in on pull day), water buckets, a tire with a milkcrate on top to add 2 cinderblocks as needed. 

Will need to bring water, chairs, change of clothes because it may get HOT or COLD mid-October. 

But today, I took the 5 dogs from their kennels and put in their mini-weightpull event crates, girl-boy-girl-boy-girl. Once they were all crated, I pulled them out one at a time and harnessed them, the re-crated them. Took out one at a time, to the tire and hooked up, neckline in pocket, pulled ONE direction, 50 feet, and then praise-praise-praise while I walked them back to their crate. Tossed milkbone into the crate and they followed, got the next dog.

Pulled everyone one direction 50 feet, then started over by adding ONE concrete block and repeating.

Pulled everyone one direction 50 feet, then started over by adding a SECOND concrete block and repeating.

It’s not an actual pull, it’s still on the home turf, but it DOES give them a chance to see the routine. And if you have any delusions about the minor weight they pulled, first I couldn’t pull the tire with 2 concrete blocks on it — not on grass/dirt. And second

*Need to get someone to BE HERE while I’m getting them to pull, and stand next to the tire, see if I can call them OFF the person to pull towards me.

And by the way, the dogs did GREAT through tire, then through 1 block, and most of them had no trouble with 2 blocks, once they got GOING…. will try this every day for a while and see what happens.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday

Weightpull Camp





October 7 (Tue) 70°F @ 8:00a

Pulled Sunny, Maestro, Seranade, & Brady today. Pulled them out of their kennels and crated them in the “hold area.” Harnessed them and put them back in their crates. 

Sunny wears an 100# harness
Maestro 80#
Sera 110# (too big through the neck — ordered a custom-fit Black Ice Harness from Shilon today)
Brady 90#

In that order I pulled them out, walked to the “on deck” area, then walked to the front of the “cart” which looks remarkably like a 20″ truck tire, stretched the harness back, hooked them up, and lined them out with the lines up off the ground. Then told them PULL and pointed to the ground at their feet.

On the first round, empty tire, I generally had to run to catch up with them at the fence 90′ away.

At the end, I gave them full body scratches and hugs and told them how wonderful they are, and then had them repeat back down the chute towards their crates. The first part is slightly uphill, the second part slightly downhill. I want them to know they can PULL even after a really hard pull, so it’s slightly easier for them headed back to the crates.

On the second round, I put a milk crate in the tire and loaded a solid 4x8x16 concrete block. I wasn’t sure they could all do it. Sunny faltered, then put head down and PULLED. Maestro pulled right off all the way down the 40′ “chute.” Sera spun around twice and then worked it. Brady was head down immediately and working.

The third round I added a half block to the full block. Sunny never hesitated (surprised me!) Maestro never hesitated. Sera said, Oh, No, this is too much work. So I walked away and sat down. She dithered around, everytime she was pointed in the right direction, I said YES! And when she finally put head down and pulled I shouted Hup! Hup! Until she was climbing into my lap. She pulled the way back without hesitation. Brady hit the harness and then backed all the way up and looked at me like I was nuts. This is HARD. So I walked back and went nose to nose with him and said, “You CAN do this, you WILL do this, now pull.” And he did. Both directions.

I thought about going right to two blocks and am glad we did the half block. They will be pulling WHEELS at Athens, which is’nt the dead weight of a tire. And will have a psychological edge because it will keep moving if pressure is applied… I can’t duplicate that safely without someone here to stop the cart if it’s about to roll over the dog. So we’ll stick to drag tires. I am thinking about trying the 6′ plastic toboggan sled loaded with dogfood, it will “slide” better on dirt, but I can put more weight on it. Will see how it goes with the tire/concrete block training for now.

All in all, they did GREAT! I am very proud of their three rounds today!

Snacked them in their crates after — 1/2c Blue Buffalo Wilderness (no grains, high protein) 1/2c their normal Diamond Naturals Large Breed Lamb & Rice Puppy

October 8 (Wed) __ °F @ 7:00a

Realized at kennel club obedience class last night that Sera’s pads were worn smooth and thin in places.  So today we give everyone on the UKC-pull team a rest and will train/practice the yearlings and injured reserve on an empty tire…
Amak, Rtic, Winter, BaRoo, Karma, Music, Honey, Parka, & Clay 

October 9-10-11-12 45 °F @ 8:00a

Scooter Teams

October 12 (Sun) __ °F @ 7:00a

Scooter Teams
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday







October 13 (Mon) __ °F @ 7:00a

Weightpull Camp

October 15 (Wed) __ °F @ 7:00a

tall grass, weighted tire

October 16 (Thur) __ °F @ 7:00a

Take trailer, dogs, crates, and set up mini weightpull at Spring City Park as PRACTICE, have them pull weighted tire in grass

October 17 (Fri) __ °F @ 7:00a


October 18-19, 2008 (Sat-Sun) Athens, TN weightpull

How’d we do?
Saturday weightpull – Working Dog Association
88# Naula (Yogi X Seranade) — pulled 160#
83# Brady — 305#
82# Seranade (Nikko X Singer) —  585#
80# Maestro (Charles X Singer) — 725# QUALIFYING PULL, 1st leg of UWP title
89# Sunny (Charles X Singer) — 1005# 4th place QUALIFYING PULL, 1st leg of UWP title Saturday all breed show1
Best Male/Best of Winners/Best of Breed/Group1 Maestro
Best Female Sunny Saturday all breed show2
Best Female/Best of Winners/Best of Breed/Group1 Sunny
Best Male Maestro **Sunny & Maestro placed Best Male/Female AND earned a qualifying performance leg at the same show, so they were 2 of only 3 dogs at the show who qualified for a TOTAL DOG AWARD. Sunday weightpull – Working Dog Association 
88# Naula (Yogi X Seranade) — pulled 160#
83# Brady — 445# (160# better than yesterday)
80# Maestro (Charles X Singer) — 865# (160# better than yesterday) QUALIFYING PULL, 1st leg of UWP title
89# Sunny (Charles X Singer) — 1165# (160# better than yesterday) 4th place QUALIFYING PULL, 1st leg of UWP title Sunday all breed show1
Best Male/Best of Winners/Best of Breed/Group1 Brady
Best Female Naula Sunday all breed show2
Best Male/Best of Winners/Best of Breed/Group1/RESERVE BEST IN SHOW Brady
Best Female Sunny **Sunny placed Best Female AND earned a qualifying performance leg at the same show, so she was 1 of 2 dogs at the sunday shows who qualified for a TOTAL DOG AWARD. So….. totals this weekend are: Sunny 2 (of 3) UWP legs, 75 CH points, 3 majors (need 100 pts & 3 majors)
Maestro 2 (of 3) UWP legs, 70 CH points, 2 majors
RBIS UKC Brady 90 CH points, 2 majors
Naula 45 CH points, 1 major 
  I couldn’t be more proud of ALL of them.  Pictures soon!
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday







October 20 (Mon) __ °F @ 7:00a


October 21 (Tue) __ °F @ 7:00a

Light work-out Scooter teams

October 22 (Wed) __ °F @ 7:00a


October 23 (Thur) __ °F @ 7:00a


October 24 (Fri) __ °F @ 7:00a


October 25 (Sat) __ °F @ 7:00a


October 26 (Sun) __ °F @ 7:00a


November 2008

Weightpull – Niota, UKC weightpulls #3-4 – 11/1-2/08
Weightpull @ Jefferson City, TN – 11/8-9/08

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday






November 1, 2008 (Saturday) __ degrees F @ 7:00a

Weekend Scooter Teams

November 2, 2008 (Sunday) __ degrees F @ 7:00a

Weekend Scooter Teams
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday






November 3, 2008 (Monday) __ degrees F @ 7:00a

Weekday tall grass, weighted tire

November 4, 2008 (Tuesday) __ degrees F @ 7:00a

Weekday tall grass, weighted tire

November 5, 2008 (Wednesday) __ degrees F @ 7:00a

Weekday tall grass, weighted tire

November 6, 2008 (Thursday) __ degrees F @ 7:00a

Spring City Park, practice session with crates, trailer, weighted tire with short relay pulls

November 7, 2008 (Friday) __ degrees F @ 7:00a

Rest, pack dog trailer

November 8-9, 2008 (Sat-Sun) Jefferson City, TN weightpull

How’d we do?
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday







November 10 REST

November 11, Happy Birthday to me!

Light work-out Scooter teams

2010 Spring

Harness Training
 – UKC Weightpull (UWP) & Working Team Dogs (WTD)

We will run dogs in harness at 1y and pull them in competition at 2y.  Cart teams are great for exercise, conditioning, and fun.  I also do OFA hips, a vet weight and exam before we start any harness work.  Coming off broken wrists, we’re late starting this year, but here are the 2010 Wayeh weight pullers:

The Boys

Clay (70#, 3y, OFA Excellent) is Kotzebue and has a heritage of working, but he’s very laid back and soft and would rather climb in your lap.  Have to reward him for pulling with lots of hugs and cuddles. 
Amak (70#, 2y, OFA Good) is a Yogi & Singer son
Akai (85#, 2y, OFA Good) is a Yogi & Seranade son
Pax (85#, 18m, OFA good prelim) is a Brady & Hannah son

The Girls

Storm (70#, 7y, OFA Good) needs 1 leg to finish her UWP
Honey Bear (67#, 3y, OFA Excellent) is a Marine, will see if I can get her to want to pull
Music (67#, 3y, OFA Excellent) 
BaRoo (72#, 2y, OFA Good)

Rally Obedience Training
– AKC Rally Novice (RN), Rally Advanced (RA), Rally Excellent (RE), and Rally Advanced/Excellent (RAE)

Seranade continues on her quest for Rally titles (she’s already earned the Rally Novice RN & Rally Advanced RA).  Pax, Smoke, and Wyatt continue training.  I teach puppy & Rally at ORKC and the guys come with me for training and as demo dogs.

The Boys

Pax (85#, 18m, OFA Good prelim) working on his RN
Wyatt (80#, 14m, OFA Good prelim) working on his RN

The Girls

Seranade (85#, 5y, OFA Good) working on her RE

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