Spring is our favourite time of year to run dogs, we have more daylight, weather is usually dry and we get cold mornings and we started having some fabulously fun runs and using the 5 acre free run field just up the road. We were excited to continue running dogs for as long as temperatures allow usually till about August for us down here and then we start back up in September and then the plan was then to finish the human side of the travelling husky hotel before race season. Well, best laid plans of mice and men we have had to change these plans due to the terrible covid-19 sweeping the world so to comply with social distancing it means we can't travel to our training forests. The dogs are coping well on week two of lock down, lots of sunbathing, treats, local walks and we have dusted off the fitfurlife treadmill to give the dogs a safe outlet for their energy. This is not the same as running in a beautiful forest but we just all have to step up and do what needs to be done to not put pressure on the NHS and try and limit the spread of the virus. At least we have plenty to do and apart from not running dogs it business as usual. Matt as part of the military covid support force is busying supporting the flying of scientists and VIP's around the UK and my job being mostly online based, I continue to work from home for the Charity. In our spare time we have started working on the van a bit earlier than planned and hope to have the human side finished in the next few weeks!
A local race venue to us was opened back up to the race community after a break, and this venue was always a highlight of the season for us. However, it was being the held the same day as working day at Crufts and we had entered Mars and we couldn't do both. It was not a hard decision to make, we decided to take part in the night race held at Moors Valley Country park, Mars would much prefer getting muddy on a run with pals on really fun trail!
Mars Bar and Zinny enjoyed chasing shadows at the night race, passing two teams and picking up a first place from ten teams on their way with a one minute lead on second place and an average per mile of 14.32 over 3.3 miles. Matt also enjoyed playing with his early birthday present of new Exposure Lights.
Not forgetting our awesome veteran girly team who picked up a third place and looking so happy as they came in to the finish here. Great way to finish our competitive season!
Mars has joined his best pals, Leo the Lion, Binks and Tundra on team Janskcoo for the Sled Dog Association of Scotland Championship series this season and enjoyed runs on fun, technical trailsat Darnaway and Ford Estate and achieved a Silver placing in the championship. Good dogs all!
We had planned a few more races in February but the awfully wet and windy February continued to stop play. Happily the wind and rain took a bit of a break at the end of the month and we travelled to Thetford, Norfolk for the end of season races with the British Siberian Husky Racing association. The trail distances are far shorter than what we have been doing in training but it's nice to get the dogs out on different trails and dry trails and see folk and we had a really great time.
Matt ran Mars and Zinny, seppala people in the two dog class and came a very respectable 6th place from 19 teams amongst the top teams in the country and I ran a girly veteran three dog with our winterdance girlies, Laika 11 years young, with half sis Cassidy (9) and neice who Kara celebrated her 9th birthday with a jolly family run. The following day I ran Mars and Zinny to a fifth place from 10 teams. This was the first time I (Lou) had run these two at a race and I was happy we had a nice clean run, passing a few teams on our way round. Matt ran a four with the three winterdances and a Pickle who had a nice blast out on the long straights of Cranwich trails.
Due to human health issues and hospital visits, we haven't really had a set 'plan' for attending events this working season, just getting the dogs out and making sure they are happy, content and well exercised and taking each day at a time. Right now, we feel life is too short for spending time on motorways every weekend travelling to events. We have still attended at least two working events a month and taken part in events in Scotland, 'up North' and Suffolk but we have concentrated on getting the miles up more locally, happily we have four training permits permits that we use for forests in the West Country and South Wales so we can still enjoy a variety of trails for the dogs this season and we are averaging about 8-10 miles a run, but we have been focusing on attending events with good, fun trails that are only a couple of hours away or events that mean that we can return home after running which feels like an absolute luxury! Just to be able to come home, wash kit, cook a meal and the dogs sleep in their own beds at home, before their their second day run has been really wonderful. It has actually been one of the most enjoyable seasons we have had with the dogs.
We opened February with a 16 plus mile trek event with AMWA race organisation, at a beautiful private estate venue just up the road in Wiltshire. The estate was gorgeous with the added fun of the venue being used to breed pheasants so there was lots of open pheasant pens which kept things interesting. Nothing like a bit of pheasant turbo! We saw lots of deer too and it was just lovely to run the dogs amongst beautiful scenery and seeing the wildlife, it is fun just to be out with the dogs, following a marked trail over a longer distance. The trails were mainly grassy but uneven and were holding a lot of water so it was quite hard going for the dogs with the passenger rig which, with the added weight does sink into the ground and get stuck in ruts more than a light rig. There was also some hard packed trail and this is where it's super great to have the passenger rig and being able to control the speed. We like to mix the teams up during our run and we all enjoy a refreshment stop midway and the dogs did great. The second day of the event we were not blessed weather wise with storm Ciara which increased the temps and humidity as well as very strong winds so we scratched the run but the dogs were happy and content after their run on the Saturday and we all spent a rare lazy day on the sofa.
Staring February with a jam packed calendar full of planned events which worked out we were doing an event every weekend and some of the events would mean a 10 hour round trip in the van. So we have decided to change plans and have a more relaxed month with just the three events planned a bit more local and in between, weekends away camping and running dogs at our favourite place in Wales at Pembrey Forest. Its about a two hour drive from us and an easy drive on good roads, trails are fabulous and we have the added bonus of being next to the beach where we can relax with the dogs after lovely runs.
Parts of the trail at Pembrey are quite flooded with our usual start completely underwater so we did our usual route in reverse and we just had 'puddles', doing the trail in reverse was really good training for the dogs and think we will mix things up when the trails dry out for the future and alternate between doing the trails in reverse and the usual route. We had a nice 5 mile run on grass and sand dunes which makes a really good work out for the dogs. A good thing about these type of challenges is that it makes you think about approaching things differently and the challenge of underwater trails was a great example of that and turning a negative into a positive!