Ivan now has 60 miles in harness on his big body. About 17.5 miles of that is running solo. He’s getting more confident and stronger each day. Every night when the sun is going down he gets worked up to go run. Just like in the morning before sunup he’s ready for his 1.5-mile foot walk with Cooper and Nikki. The video is last night’s solo run. Music is a cover of Time Machine by Grand Funk Railroad. Performed by my old band. Kevin, Dave, and me. A power trio that kicked ass in my opinion.
Night Moves: So, what’s it like to hook a couple of powerhouse dogs up to a 3-wheeled contraption and head out into the dark? I don’t know what people who have been doing this for years would tell you, but I can tell you how I feel about it. As I’ve only been doing this for about five years, mostly in the daylight.
Things change and you have to adjust to your environment. It used to be that there were few dogs around the neighborhood. People move, come and go and the last couple of years have seen an increase in dogs. I don’t mind that one bit if they remain under control. Some folks think it’s fine to open the front door and let Fido out to do whatever. Then they go back to re-runs of Mayberry RFD and forget the dog.
This lets the dog run wild to do whatever. Dog’s are protective of their home ground and when someone walking their dog, or God forbid a Husky train whizzing by makes them go insane. Especially the Terriers. They think nothing of attacking a pack of dogs 10 times their size. Kamikazes with four legs absolutely have no fear. They should! So, the sun is setting and the dogs want to run. I’m thinking about all the bad things that can happen on any given run. The dogs don’t think like that at all. That is why they have me. My job is to think of those things that could hurt us and be ready for it. Now, it may be dangerous to run dogs in Alaska because of a big Moose, or a drunk snowmobiler. The city has its own dangers as well.
Pitch dark, loose dogs, not to mention cars and trucks that may be driven by drunks as well. All of this needs to be considered and planned for to the best of your ability. The dogs and your own life may hang in the balance when split seconds matter. A relaxing run you say? Not hardly, not if you care about those dogs and your own body.
For me, I have to slowly work myself up into the proper mood before I hook up any dog. I’m filled with some anxiety thinking about what might happen and how I would deal with it. The dogs, hey they are jumping around and ready to rock n’ roll. Their job is to pull and run, they leave safety up to me.
Each run to me is an intense exercise in observing everything around us. That includes watching my dog’s ears, and body language. They can see in the dark and give suttle warnings that something is out there. A night run takes concentration and a strong constitution. Once moving the game is on. You have to be ready to react to whatever comes out of the dark to ruin your run. The dogs sense it too. Maybe from me but when we are on the last stretch to get back home they cut loose. They know we are almost home. Maybe they feel my thoughts of relief that we made it without any incidents.
I know that when we make it back safe and sound from another run, that I can let my guard down at last. The dogs are happy and so am I. To them, it was a grand adventure, and to me, it was too. We did it together, and that’s pretty much how it should be.
Maybe I’m a worrywart, but I have too much invested in my dogs. Not as financially important as the emotional attachment with them. They are everything to me, and that’s why I worry about each and every run with them. That’s my job, to keep them safe to run another day. They know their job as well as I know mine. It’s a team effort. Together we get it done. There is a lot of satisfaction in that for all of us. A job well done, maybe not a perfect run, but we live to run another night. That’s urban mushing for me.
Your writing put me on the edge of my seat with this post. I love your mushing, but want you to know that I enjoy your writing too, and especially notice how much improvement there has been.