God bless the Internet. That’s where it all started.
If someone had told me fourteen months ago that someday I would willingly climb atop a scooter attached to two young dogs and allow – nay, encourage! – them pull me around on it, I would have laughed. Oh, how I would have laughed. Because frankly it would have seemed reckless, dangerous, and pointless… and how is THAT fun?
But then I fell in love with an Alaskan Husky. How did this happen to someone who didn’t even know what an Alaskan Husky was until she fell in love? It was the internet, see.
Another member of an online dog forum I frequent, a recreational musher who until then had been sledding with a team made up mostly of rescued husky mixes, had recently added an experienced working line female Alaskan to her crew to help sharpen her dogs’ skills. But unbeknownst to anyone, a secret tryst had taken place shortly before this dog joined her household. And it soon became apparent that she was not, in fact, just getting fatter – she was getting puppy fatter.
I voyeuristically followed a thread documenting the rest of the pregnancy and the birth of the puppies without any serious interest. After all, I already had two dogs and while I casually had intermittent thoughts about adding a third, I wasn’t decided on it. But then, shortly before Christmas 2010, this picture went up:
And I was lost. I’m still not completely sure why. It wasn’t simple puppy cuteness because he has four siblings and none of the others affected me like he did. Far be it from me to encourage anyone to get a dog impulsively, but upon seeing this picture I was struck with such a monumental “that’s my dog!” feeling that I didn’t even worry about convincing my husband that we (ok, I) needed him. It was simply going to happen, and I was simply going to master the art of skijoring to keep him happy and exercised. After all, I was a Minnesotan, dammit! Family cross country skiing had been frequent weekend entertainment throughout my childhood, at least until I broke a ski tip roaring down a hill and jamming it into a crudely-constructed jump. And I was simply going to start dryland training in the summer to help prepare for skijoring. (Although admittedly at the time I didn’t know it was called dryland training.)
It was all settled. Now all I had to do was convince my husband, apply for the puppy, be approved for the puppy, figure out how to get him from Ohio to Minnesota, and learn how to skijor. Simple.
Happily, so far things really did turn out to be Just That Simple, although I’m still working on the last one. I’m not going to belabor the details, but my husband had my back, the puppy’s mama’s owner/musher did me the honor of approving me for a puppy, and my best friend accompanied me on a whirlwind weekend drive to Ohio and back on the heels of Snowpocalypse in early February 2011. And thus, Squash joined our household and introduced me to a whole new world of dog sports that has become an incredible bonding and training experience as well as being thoroughly exhilarating and, yes, FUN.
It was always my intention to learn how to skijor with Squash. When I started, I knew a little less than nothing about it, and now that I know a little more than nothing about it I wish I had taken the time to document that transition from total ignorance to (advanced?) beginner as it happened. We’ve come a long way, and we have a long way to go. So I suppose it’s better late than never, and since we’re finally getting some snow around here I thought it would be a good time to start recreating the past summer/fall dryland training season and capturing the upcoming transition into skijor season. Hopefully I can entertain you along the way, or even inspire you to willingly attach yourself to your dog and get pulled around.
LET’S GO, PUPPIES!