Fall training has been up and down this year. Towards the end of the summer, Squash pulled a muscle in his shoulder during an off leash hike that required rest for several weeks. Subsequently, he re-injured it at agility and had to rest again. We’ve been doing exercises and stretches and slowly building back to normal activities, and he’s good for mushing so we’ve been working on conditioning. He’s still out of agility at the moment but should be good to go back, restarting slowly, in the next week or two.
Today I didn’t grab the GoPro as I was heading out for a run but didn’t think much of it. Some days I bring it, other days I don’t. Of course today of all days it would have been nice to have because we had some challenging tests of our ON BY skills, one of which I’m sure would be hilarious to the viewing audience, and went 1 and 1 with them.
In the first, Squash and I had an epic battle of wills over a squirrel which inexplicably decided to run only 5-6 feet up a tree that was only a foot or two off the trail. In other words, pretty much in front of the dogs’ faces. Maisy was perfect as (almost) always but she’s little in the face of a determined Squash. For that matter, the two of us together are little in the face of a determined Squash. I spent a good amount of time untangling lines and resetting the dogs only to have him spin and stare/whine at the squirrel. Eventually, though, our impasse ended and we got moving again.
While he was still amped up on adrenaline from that encounter, we came to a fork in the road and I must say the dogs executed a committed, stunning right turn despite the turkeys standing in the middle of the trail down the left turn. He knew they were there, he was longing to hear COME ON HAW pass my lips, but he turned GEE when I asked him to.
I do this for fun and to exercise my dogs. Other than a few skijor races, I don’t compete in events. I don’t make a living running dogs. So my standards for my dogs are perhaps slightly lax compared to other mushers. That being said, although I can appreciate the humor in spectacular failures like our 5 minute squirrel standoff this morning, it can be frustrating to put time into training and practicing and have something go so wrong.
I don’t always get the instant gratification of a beautiful success right after an ugly failure like I did today, but it was a nice lesson for me. Just keep mushing, just keep mushing. Nobody is perfect, and one flop doesn’t erase all the successes. For every squirrel standoff there’s a turkey turn. Just keep mushing.