Saturday, October 10, 2009

Youngsters in training

"A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself." - Josh Billings

I am running young dogs. Yeti, my up-and-coming leader, will be two years old this month. Gwennie is two, and my other girls, Ruffian and Big Brown, are yearlings. In fact, Ruffian and Big Brown have only about a dozen hook ups, including a couple from this past spring, total. They are about as green as they come.

So, it probably goes without saying that this last month since I started training the youngsters, I've spent just about as much time redirecting and correcting as I have running. It's vitally important - especially with young dogs in training - to make things fun and keep the initial runs shorter and light, stopping frequently to give praise (even if you're cursing under your breath).

Running dogs can be joyful. It can also be incredibly frustrating, and a hell of a lotta work. Especially with youngsters.

Imagine my joy, then, when during the last two training runs, I've witnessed things begin to click in their little heads. I've seen the transformation of my little pack go from haphazardly free running in the kennel area to working as a well-oiled team along the trail. There is no joy like it.

Today was a gorgeous fall day. The rain we've had for weeks finally stopped, and the clouds opened up, revealing the vibrant orange hues of fall against the contrasting bright blue sky. I went for a three and a half mile brisk hike alone in the woods, then loaded up the huskies and went for a blissful five mile training run. Now that the youngsters are starting to know what's expected of them, I will begin slowly adding miles.

Here is a silly video from tonight's training run. Happy trails!

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