Psalm 37:4-6

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Dog sledding

Three years ago, we got hooked into the fun, chaotic, unpredictable and addicting pasttime of dog sledding. It all started when I went skijoring with a friend who owns and runs sled dogs. Skijoring is cross-country skiing while being pulled by one, two or more dogs--the brave (or perhaps insane) ski with four or five! The dogs each have a harness that is attached to a bungee line that is attached to a person wearing a climbing harness/skijor belt.

I loved the whole experience and soon convinced FarmDad to try it. He had the same reaction and was soon trying to convince me to get one of our friends' many sled dog puppies. I finally gave in, but when we went to pick it up it soon became obvious that we couldn't just get one of those cute little bundles of energy. So, we brought home two.

Needless to say, after going to several races and getting FarmDad's parents hooked as well, after buying some dogs and rescuing some dogs and raising some puppies of our own--we now (along with Grandpa and Grandma P) have a total of 16 dogs.  Of course, once we had enough for a dog sled team (4 or more), we had to buy a sled (3 actually) and give that a try.

All that being said, three years after I said "Okay, fine, but only two," my dear husband is training an 8-dog team for a 100 mile race. Thankfully, we only keep five here at our house and the rest are over at my in-laws.

I have to admit that I love dog sledding. Feeding, untangling ganglines, repairing ganglines, thawing frozen water, picking up poop and washing endless amounts of clothes that shall forever smell like wet dog can get tiring. However, five minutes after our dogs take off on a sled run with me standing on the back of the sled, the chaotic barking turns to the quiet huff, huff of the dogs' breathing and the swish of the sled across soft snow. The world immediately turns peaceful. The dogs are in their element--it is what they were bred for, what they live for. They would run forever if they could, and their contentment is contagious.

Following a generally crazy start (with dogs chewing lines, breaking lines, and sometimes starting a fight because they want to go so bad) the peacefulness of the snow covered trees and open trail is soothing and relaxing. There is nothing more fun than a long dog sled run through softly falling snowflakes. It's as close as I can get to "Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh," and I relish being able to live in an area where we get snow 6 months of the year.

The first winter I lived here, pregnant and stuck in the house for six months, I nearly went crazy wondering if I could live in a winter wonderland for 6 months of every year. It didn't take me long to learn that in order to survive, I would have to learn to love it.

So I did. I learned to cross-country ski, ice skate, skijor and dog sled. Now I love the winter and look forward to it every year.

This winter is the first time FarmDad has trained for a race longer than 12 miles. I know, crazy huh?  It has been an adventure to train 10 sprint dogs (half still young and inexperienced) to pace themselves to run long distances.

We are very excited about the race though. Our friends did it last year and loved it. The race takes place in the Wallowa Mountains in eastern Oregon. The whole town of Joseph, Oregon gets involved in helping out with the race and hosting the mushers and their dogs. We get to stay and a B&B in Joseph that looks beautiful. Here is their website:

Here is the website for the race: Eagle Cap Extreme

If I can figure out how, I'll try to post a video of one of our training runs. Meanwhile, I'm trying to prepare for our trip next weekend. So far, I have compiled a list of 4 whole pages of things to take along. I will never complain about packing for a family vacation again. Try packing for 10 dogs in addition to all the necessary family gear and food! It will definitely be an adventure! I'll give an update when we return.

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