Saturday, November 30, 2013

November: make it or break it

November is the month in fall dog training where, in my opinion, the most growth occurs. November is when we move from the shorter, fun runs of October into longer mileage. The early days of November can still be mild, but by this time in the season, the runs are long, cold, and sometimes tedious.

I have changed my strategy this season. In the past, I've been most concerned with the number of miles accumulated on the team. This season, I've focused on consistent, quality hook-ups and time on the trail rather than the accumulated total miles.

The biggest challenge this season has been training exclusively from the farm in Ohio. I have to run partially on roads, and though I have trained the dogs to run on the berm, we still have to rely on roadways to cross into trails. This can really take a toll on paws and joints, so on almost every run, I have been double-booting the dogs to protect their feet.

This can take a toll on my purse!

These are dog booties. Image courtesy of Katy and Troy Groeneveld of Ten Squared Racing.  

Booties range from $1.50 - $2.50 per boot. I currently have nine dogs in training, and covering back feet is imperative for seven of the 9 dogs I have. That's 28 boots. For one run. Dollar-wise, that's about  $42 in booties. Most of the time, I re-use booties. But often, the outer most bootie can't be re-used.

Then, there are necklines, snaps and rope.

A handful of fresh, clean necklines 

I happen to have a team of sharks instead of dogs. They think necklines and tuglines - the rope that connects the team to the mainline that pulls the sled - are dental floss. I have to babysit them while I am hooking up to make sure they don't chew threw my necklines while I'm hooking the rest of the team. I've gone through more necklines this season than I care to count.

So I had an idea.

Secret weapon against neckline chewing?
A bottle of hot sauce costs about .59 cents. I doused my lines with the stuff in an attempt to prevent the dogs from chomping through them during hook-ups. I thought it was sure to work.

Turns out, dogs think hot sauce is the cat's meow. They were licking my line - and their lips - more than ever.

So much for that.

I am currently looking for sponsors to help offset the cost of booties, necklines, and all the other costs associated with keeping the team healthy and happy. All sponsors receive a "thank you" calendar of your choice of photos from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the beautiful land we train and race in or of the dogs.

If you'd like to make a donation to the kennel, click here

Our first race, The Tahquamenon Country Sled Dog Race, is January 4 along the shores of Lake Superior. December will be busy! Stay tuned!

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