So simplesite.com is having issues saving posts, sooooo... Here is one of the latest retellings..
THRICE THE FUN.... or not
It has been a busy couple of months! Family health issues, new puppy, holidays, kids being kids (ugh), and trying to train in weather that cannot quite decide if it should be winter or spring, making for a very messy and slippery mess of things. My boy and girl had quite the time of adjustment to the new pup; my girl realized she could be a big sister and play with the munchkin.. My boy, well he took a bit longer to warm up to another, let alone a cute 'nother' horning in on his time. Finding a way to work two advanced dogs, train a super talented third pup in threee different disciplines amongst the chaos of the season, WHEW!! When an aged urban trail presents itself for both dogs, I am exctied and my dogs are over the top thrilled. Waiting through the evening and night is exhausting, my boy and girl obviously aware of the gift awaiting them in the morning are obnoxious in their anticipation and joy. Unfortunately, my new puppy girl has learned the routine in a very short period of time and is adding to the mayhem with her own noise variations and unending energy. It is a long night.... Morning comes at around 0500 with all three trailing fiends ready for a day of fun... Me? I'm ready for COFFEE! Morning chores seem to take twice as long as I have furry bodies hugging my legs, never letting me out of eyesight and ready to dart to the car at the thought of my slightest intention. Upon the light nod of my head, twelve paws race to the car with glee.. the puppy yipping with unbridled excitement. After loading them up, I jog back into the house and grab scent articles and an evidence/closure item I can set at the end of the track. The drive to the PLS, a church which is in session, is fairly quiet but my knuckles are white from gripping the steering wheel trying not to slip on the ice that has formed over the night. Strong 35mph winds varying in direction, pound the area through the darkness, and morning winds are still strong at a steady 12mph, gusts of 20mph. Every street I cross I cringe as I know just how insane these trails will be. Just exiting the car is a risk, but the six eyes borring holes into me drive me to take the challenge on. I have decided I will test the puppy first and see if this 15wks old trailing genius can grab a fully urban 25hr old trail...SHE DOES!! Besides having a few 'puppy moments' where she lapses into bursts of tug on the leash for about 10' or so before dropping her nose again, and working the odor, this little girl sucks every viable morsel of odor into her little nostrils and processes them into a beautiful trail... albeit slipping and slidding and a few choice unmentionable words from me. I accidentally pull her off track trying to avoid a street like an ice rink, but we reconnect to the track and she works her way into the article, a blanket and the wiggles and tail wags of pride is priceless! She carries her toy triumphantly back to the car where her big sis and bro glare at her with jealousy (being first seems to be a badge of honor; one that they think should be reserved for seniority, not youth). I decide to work my boy next as I know the trail, it is what the puppers just ran, and since my boy is slower, I will feel safer on the now known ice and the safer places to put my feet. He does a wonderful job, and despite the both of us looking like loony tunes on ice at various moments, we survive unscathed and he makes his 'find' despite initially passing it, going a circular block (amazing how that can be done geometrically) and coming back to make his article find. He gets his goodies and as I load him up I am met with the little girl, tendrils of rug hanging out of her mouth like a prized kill. The whole of the carpet laid in the back over the seats to protect my car, has been pulled back and expertly dismantled. Gutted. Left exposed and lifeless. The shards of brown and tan fiber hang loosely from the puppies jowls, a sign that she has been more than busy, and quite content with her redecorating. I give my girl a scolding look, "Why didn't you stop her?" I question... My girls look speaks volumes; disgust at being last to trail, to have to suffer the idignities of 'babysitting' her little sister, she had no intention of stopping her from getting her little charge in trouble. ok Great. Now, I have to take the little munchkin with us on my girls trail... On ice.. With a freight train pulling dog... With speed... Joy... NOT!! I pull the frayed fibers from her mouth praying that she doesn't poop out a ball of yarn... or worse, doesn't poop at all. I pull all the dogs out and with looks that could spear a fish, wraning them not to move while I try to put the back of the car into some semblance of order, then I load my boy up and harness my girl; the puppy leaping into the harness holes enough times she could have been a dolphin jumping through hoops. Exhasperated already, I can tell this is going to be a challenge. My arm is throbbing, the puppy is yipping, my girl sits with barely contained composure awaiting the scent article. I quickly snap a lead on the pup, throw some treats in my pocket, find the scent article, scent my girl, and try to disarticulate myself from the leather weave the puppy has just wove around my legs. I barely get a chance to shut the door before my girl who has already skillfully found a way to sniff the bagged scent article dangling from my multi-tasking hand, has determined DOT and decided her trail has been delayed long enough. She leaps the snow mound intent on taking the odor to task.. unfortunately, this is her rude awakening to the verglas coating the whole of the road; if you have seen the movie Bambie, then you will know what I mean when I say she does a perfect imitation of the splay and spin, the line wrapping around her body as she twirls. The laughter that erupts from me is short lived as my foot also hits the slick surface and I dance a disjointed jig trying to reaquire a balance; dignity left at the car. The pup does a slid dance but her shorter legs give her the advantage and she has traction before I do but not before my girl has managed to fight gravity and righted herself moving forward on the trail. This dual action serves but one purpose: pull me off balance once again as a combined total of 137lbs of canine surge forward; my girl intent on odor, the pup intent on catching up to my girl. I skate behind them in a spastic attempt to stay vertical, any thoughts of looking composed have been shoved to the back, staying alive is the priority! I spot a snow bank that looks like it has traction and make a desperate leap towards it. It is at moments like these that time can stand still and the bigger picture can be grasped. For instance, a freeze frame shot would show the 30' of line I hold for my girl to run the trail, snaking out in coiled loops that the puppy, whose lolling tongue and wild eyed glee is about to be lassoed into. All the while, the 6' line I also hold in the same hand (as my left arm is quite useless except to send shudder worthy pain ripping up and down its length) is inadvertently jerking the pup directly into my landing space. This Kodak moment brings instant terror of the squished puppy about to be had, the medical bills, the trauma and drama about to unfold. What it does not show is the power my girl has via momentum and focus; her whole body is leaning in to the harness and the taunt line, which, if we unfreeze the frame and allow time to resume, will allow me to narrowly miss the puppers by a hair, the propulsion translated through the line taking me beyond my intital calculated point and thus, thankfully, averting disaster. The relief is short lived, for my landing quickly has the coiled loops wrap around the pup and effectively take her legs out from under her. She falls in front of me and I leap over her. Cue slapstick comedy music. This trail is NOT going as planned! My exhasperated growl stops my girl; she is well aware of the sound, and she pushes the halo above her ears and stops, waiting for me to unjumble the mass of line twisted into knots around the puppy and my legs. Little Miss Puppy wiggles and jumps, making this endeavor twice as long and my patience that much shorter. Once uncoiled and the line in a manageable wad in my hand, I give my girl a nod; the pup is on a short lead which I hope will make for safer movement. "Ok, good girl," is the signal for my seasoned girl to move forward and resume her work. Her halo firmly esconsed, she steps out at a slower pace, perhaps to save herself from any more undignified ice capades, but I don't care the reason, the pace is appreciated. During this lull, I am to take in her body language and note the head pops she has to our left towards a different street then the laid trail, but parallel to it. The winds are definitely strong and aiding in the odor displacement, and as much as I would like for her to follow the track laid, I know my interference on how she works odor will do neither us, nor those lost souls we try to find, any good. When she settles on taking that street, I don't try to influence her. The pups antics, however, are making that choice very difficult! When I try to let the coil out for my girl to have more leeway, the pup (aka Girl2) seizes the moment and lunges forward taking a coil out of her line and gaining more freedom.. turkey! When I pull back on her line, my girl whips a head back in my direction to see if I was giving a line correction. Thankfully, my girl is not easily offended when in odor, and a simple, "Good girl! Sorry!" is all it takes for her to continue on her way. Railroad tracks loom before us, and I am grateful.. Usually a pain for the open expanse and the high speed bulk of a train can carry odor long distance off the actual track, but for today, it means snow and less ice! Yes! My girl moves forward and I let out more coils so she can work the odor in any direction. She works a circle, casting herself around and to either side, sniffing the vegetation where odor lurks and sticks, and then testing the air to see if any fresh scent rides the waves of wind. The pup watches intently, and I can see the wheels turning; she is learning. Good! It isn't long before my girl has determined where the odor trail continues and we begin to move forward, across icy driveways and a narrow primitive road better served as an ice rink. I am grateful we all are focused on foot placement and not speed. Once across the death road, my girl lifts her nose to the odor surfing the air currents and heads again, to her left, and to my horror, a shiny street looking like pristine glass. Oh no! This is also the time my girls halo slips a bit, and the speed demon that shares space with the angel, pops out and she leans hard into her harness and extends her stride. I know she is getting track odor a block further down, the winds are driving this scent to her and she is cutting the track. I am both grateful and terrified; a shorter trail means safety is reached sooner. ON the other hand, it also means I have to survive the peril in front of me. Of course the pup is ready to surge forward and catch up to big sis, once again causing me to be propelled faster then is reasonable or safe. I think my shouts of sheer terror are frozen in the air around that block, probably to be thawed out sometime come spring. I am not sure if I slid, skated, slipped, skid, most of the way, all I know is I felt totally out of control and at the mercy of my trailing dog(s) turned dog sled team(s) pull (and that a chiropractic adjustment was soon to follow (OR 6MOS TRACTION)!). The ice soon collided with a snow bank, and while I am being generous in calling it 'snow' for it felt more like ice bricks, I was grateful for the stop, albeit sudden. The jumble of lines are jarred out of my hand and the coils fall gracefully over the puppy, who quickly makes the coils into knots by her jubiliant movement. For the upteenth time this day, I yell a "Wait!" to my girl who of course is already to continue, but mercifully obeys. Now, during warm weather, I wear my flourescent SAR K9 shirt, so people aren't overly concerned with someone with their dog 'lurking' in their neighborhood or by their home. But winter is different, and the one flourescent jacket I have is in my car for missions; so I wear a jacket that has the patches of my certifying organization and the disciplines we have certifyied in. It looks very professional, but the jacket itself is a muted color. I say all this for as my circus soleil on ice routine seemed to have been noticed by quite a few people. I notice movement out of the corner of my eye as I unjumble the leather mass around my pup, and as I glance up I see the movement of curtains as a head disappears quickly. I scan the area around, and notice several more curious noggins peaking through their warm safe houses. Sure, why not? Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the show! But please, call 911 and an ambulance when/if you see me eat it hard and no movement, well, other then my unconcious body being drug away by a determined trailing dog who HAS to finish her trail... When I finally have the lines back into working order, I give a nod and the "Okay" for my girl to proceed with her trail. The snow bank continues in the direction we are going, and although I should be directly behind my dog so as not to influence direction, I am sticking to the 'safer' route on the snow. My girl and the pup seem to have as much difficulty, but youth or vanity (not sure which) keep them on the ice in spite of the fact they have done some spectacular slips and slides and even a few falls. The sidewalk appearing in front of us is a welcome relief. The evidence of snow melt brings a smile to my face: SAFETY! My girls paws hit the caustic stuff, but it doesn't faze her or the pup, they both continue on.. pulling like a moose in rut. My girl swings in favor of the odor, having reconnected with the actual track when the sidewalk was reached. Her pace is quickening once more, and I know she feels that she is 'catching up' with the odor, and her quarry (or the remnants), and I willingly jog behind her if not just to ease the pull on my arm. The pup feels this is a wonderful option, and gleefully trots behind her big sis, nose on the ground sucking up any remaining odors. Our happy pack and carefree ways comes to an abrupt end when my girl follows the trail onto the next shimmering death trap. Why oh why did I ever think this was a 'good' idea???!!!! I will spare you all the drama, comedy and tragedy that unfolded.. Let us just say, slips were had, more line tanglement thanks to puppy face who insisted on straddling my girls line thus lifting her up, hind end first, multiple times. A few mumbled words (or maybe shouted) were with less decorum then I usually maintain, and when a Deacon steps out from the church we are passing, I am shagrined. Thankfully, he is a deputy friend, and he did not come out due to the noise, but perhaps the comedy routine, and was checking to see if 'someone' needed help. Once he saw it was me, and the vexed look I had, he surpressed the giggle I know was itching to escape, and was actually able to ask if I needed any help. "No.. Thanks," (said quite flatly), "My girl is running an aged trail and the puppy thought it fun to eat the car... So here we are.. trying not to die..." The giggle escapes his lips... "Ok, well, God bless!" He turns and leaves and I know it is because he does not want to laugh in front of me, and if I was not being drug behind an elephant of a dog, I probably would have been able to glance behind me and see a crowd of brothers and sisters in Christ, watching to see if I reach the pearly gates safely... I guess some of them were praying, because somehow, I make it through the perilous lake of ice and once again cross train tracks. My girl's nose is bobbing up and down from the ground to about shoulder height, and I can feel the electricty and excitment coursing through her, but our partnership has blossomed, and she restrains herself keeping to a slow jog. The neighborhood we pass through is beautiful, adorned with trimmings of snow on the branches of graceful red pines. Little red berries have already appeared on many of the bushes, and birds chirp and sing songs of love to each other; if not for the leathal ice, one would not ever know it was winter, but perhaps spring (in January). The moment of tranquility is welcomed, and I realize the knots in my shoulders and neck from the tension I have been carrying (or being pulled by... debatable). The streets and sidewalks are much safer, the ice having been broken up by the wonderful invention and use of 'ice melt.' This magical world where birds sing and life is safe soon passes under paws and boots, and once again we enter the world where one's existence can be snuffed out by a single slip on treacherous, evil, insidious, ICE! The knots are back... My joy is complete when I spot the light purple sweatshirt (still partially in the scent bag) that denotes the ending of the trail. My girl must have been getting wiffs of the precious item, for she lifts her nose up trying to 'catch' any stronger odors telling her the location of her subject. The winds are strong and not in her favor, so she goes back to the trail odor and actually passes the article laying in a large snow bank crevice. The pup has not missed it though, and she is straining with all she has, to get to it, tail wagging furiously, as if it can propel her forward like a motor. But, my girl is very seasoned, and when she notices that the fresh odor scent pool has been worked out of, she quickly casts herself around and works right to the prize. She sits proud of her accomplishment, and ready for her rewards...which the pup feels she should share in, since she 'ran' the trail too.... Treats are doled out to my girl, praise is heaped on her, pets and a small treat to the pup for....surviving? Seriously, she did learn and was very observant, when she wasn't getting into constant mischief. My girls trail was laid at .92 miles, 25hr aged. She ran the trail .70 and I could not be prouder, or happier, lol! She mirrored the trail laid, just ran to the inside of the track and the influence of the wind. Despite the stress and strain of the day, it was very successful! Three dogs ran in difficult conditions, successfully. My girl had to run a trail despite RIDICULOUS amounts of distraction and extra hazard. The pup ran her second EVER, aged track that was 25hrs old (yes, I intend to have her work trails aging in lower increments and allowing her to 'adjust' to all the nuances of aging) and almost a mile long. She had a few 'puppy' moments where she lost focus, but not for long. She is very driven when in odor, and has talent spilling out of every pore. My boy ran his trail almost perfectly. A slight ride on the wind currents had him have to circle back to his article, but all in all, a great day.. .and no one died! GOD IS GOOD!