There is a time and place for good judgment. Then there is a time, and that time is after a fresh snowfall and with a dog who needs some exercise, for just doin’ stuff. Stuff like taking Squash skijoring even though I might technically have displayed better judgment by sticking with Maisy for awhile. But I’ve always learned best by doing, so I thought to myself, “if I’m going to just end up doing this someday anyway, why not now?” LOGIC.
It went fine and more than fine. After some initial hesitation, something about the combination of snow + harness has unlocked something inside of Squash and he goes absolutely bananas for pulling me on the skis. He’s never shown this level of enthusiasm with the scooter in the absence of an external motivator (that is, deer or turkeys).
Sadly, I neglected to charge my camera battery prior to this outing, so the only video I was able to take before it died was right at the trailhead when he was still a bit hesitant. But although it’s hard to see well, he does get out pulling even within this short time frame.
And look at his lovely line-out.
The biggest problem with him alone was (no surprises here) what his biggest problem has always been – getting sidetracked by all the things to smell and pee on. When the dogs are together, Maisy keeps that in check but when he’s alone and he sees something shiny… well, let’s just say it’s hard to enforce an ON BY from the skis. Let’s just also say that if there is a technique that exists to not fall when you are getting pulled sideways on your skis by your dog who just ran off into the woods at a ninety degree angle to the trail, I haven’t learned it yet… despite a lot of practice. A LOT. Of practice. Falling. So much falling to the side.
Then it actually occurred to me that, as unlikely as it might seem, this skijoring business might actually be easier with the both of them if it would prevent all this sideways falling. “Plus,” I thought, “if I’m going to just end up doing this someday anyway…” and well, you know the rest.
And it went more than fine. As expected, Maisy kept her big little brother on the trail so all our energy was focused on forward rather than sideways motion. I only fell when I biffed a couple of turns; I am not yet the master of making turns at speed though I am learning. In fact, I didn’t fall on the final turn of the day… although I did go careening slightly off course, which is still an improvement in my mind.
Once again my lack of technical skills has resulted in an appalling shortage of video. I replaced my GorillaPod but I haven’t quite learned exactly the best arrangement for it yet. When I had the camera positioned correctly, I didn’t hit the button right. When I hit the button right, the camera was mostly pointing at the ground. And when I hit the button right and the camera was positioned correctly, I apparently leaned too far forward and shut the camera off. Anyway, here’s what I have for now, and I’ll keep fiddling with the camera position. These actually aren’t too bad, the first is quite early in our run today (you can see Maisy is still a bit uncomfortable with the foot-sticks at this point) and the second is right in the middle.
It breaks my heart that I did not capture a short stretch right at the end where they executed a PERFECT whoa, absolutely perfect, because I thought I had started recording but had not. Most because up until that point all of our whoas had consisted of me yelling WHOOOOOAAAAA, the dogs mostly ignoring me, and then me just flopping to the ground to enforce it with my dead weight. And finally, FINALLY they listened. *shakes fist*
Oh, well. I’m sure next time they’ll be absolutely perfect angels and I’ll capture like ten perfect whoas on video.
I’m saving the one where I’m yelling SQUASH WHOA SQUASH WHOA as we whip around a turn and I fall to the ground for the blooper reel, though.
In all seriousness, I’m very happy that we actually became skijorers, all three of us as the team we started this journey on, before 2012 came to a close. And from our hearts to yours, I wish you a very Happy New Year.
That’s so interesting about Maisy not liking the snow feel and sound at first. Have you tried some lightweight booties on her? Once she gets going, she’s just a site to behold. So focused and in line. And I see how she bumps against Squashie and works to set and keep the pace, even though he clearly wants to full-out lope. She’s a great little leader. Wish she liked other dogs. I’d love to run Ginsberg with her to help him keep focused. He’s such as “kid” still, wanting to stiff and pee and go off trail at will. I also really appreciate how positive you sound. Do you ever say “no” . . . or have you edited out any of the less-than-upbeat communication?
Unfortunately she HATES having her feet even touched, let alone booties on her feet. They break her heart into a million tiny pieces.
Thanks, I try to stay positive with them. I do use verbal corrections, usually something like “EH EH guys, on by!” The times I’ve lost my temper and just hollered, it rolls off Squash like water off a duck, and breaks Maisy’s heart. So I have to control myself, since it doesn’t really do any good.
Oh, and Maisy might be ok with Ginsberg – she is generally better with boys than girls, and it’s not like she immediately hates every dog she sees or wanders around picking fights. But if other dogs get snarky with her she gets really, really reactive to that.