Sunday, December 5, 2010

Can't Depend On Snow

It's a great name, really.  "Can't Depend on Snow".  That's what they call this annual race put on every year to benefit the Make A Wish Foundation.  December in Wisconsin, you really can't depend on snow.

Speaking of snow, given that snow has fallen just about everywhere in the Upper Midwest BUT where I live, I'm feeling a little ripped off.  I'm holding onto the idea that maybe this means rather than a few dustings here and there, we will get one nice heavy dump of snow sooner or later... I just have to be patient.  Yeah, that's it, just be patient.

Today, my friend Kat and I headed about an hour and half south to go watch the Can't Depend On Snow sled dog race.  It was quite a lot of fun.   There was just a light covering of snow on the ground which gave racers the option to stick with wheels or go for a sled.  I love seeing the cool dry land rigs people come up with.

So, here's a bunch of pictures from just outside the starting chute:


This picture makes things look like it went smoothly, but these dogs sure gave this poor handler a hard time.

Check it out!  A team of Australian Shepherds!  Sweet!

This rig was nice, with a big 'ol spring under the seat and everything.



A team headed for the finish line.



 In the home stretch, the very definition of "dog tired".
It was obvious a lot of teams hadn't gotten a lot of running in for this year yet, and it wasn't as cold as they dogs would have preferred it (though it was plenty cold for me).


CDOS01_2010.12.04I am relatively certain this team won their class.  The were running as hard through the finish as they were out of the chute.  Clearly they were a very well conditioned team, and their handler is just a little bit crazy to be riding a bike on a slippery golf course with a dusting of snow over it.



It's way cool to see kids handling a team.  This young man had his dogs in the weight pull as well.

That's an awfully big smile for a guy who's rig broke down and he had to run with his team the rest of the way.  His rig is on the trailer behind that big orange Argo-type thing behind him.  This picture makes me feel a little guilty for not getting my butt to the gym today.

This is a 12 dog team a guy had for giving kids sled dog rides.  They went in a big circle, all the while the handler on the rear of the stripped down dune buggy screamed "Right, Right, Right, Right...".  It didn't take long for the dogs to become disenchanted with the whole running in circles idea... and to get hot.

The helpers brought them water every time they stopped to let different kids onto the cart.

Given that this was on a golf course, I was totally shocked the first time I saw the guy throw his snow hook into the turf.  It appears this particular spot is being "remodeled", as you can tell by the tree that has been cut down, so they must not have been too concerned.  In case you have never seen one, this is a snow hook:

Sled Stopper Snow Hook 1
Normally, you would stomp this into the snow to anchor a team so they don't take off on you.  Big teams, like you see in the Iditarod and such often have to be held with more than one hook.  You can imagine bringing a team of twelve dogs to a screeching halt with a hook like that is going to leave a bit of a "divot" in a golf course.  :)
This white husky was the nicest moving one of the bunch.  It was so interesting to watch them run - when most of the team was at a gallop, and he was just trotting along making it look effortless.  It's not hard to see what a difference good movement makes in a sled dog.  I wish I brought my video camera so I could take some video of it.

This lady's dogs had never pulled a rig before.  They were the only Sammies I saw there all day so I had to take some pictures of them.  They were more interested in sniffing around at first.
This was after the race, they borrowed a rig from somebody just to give it a try.

It's a good thing the rig was easy for her to steer.

I won't say too much about this except that this is something you would never see me doing.  I am a bit of a stickler for preparation.  When I help people with training I do everything I can to drill into their heads how incredibly important it is to NEVER set your dog up to fail.  I will freely admit that quite often my dogs are "over prepared" (if that's even possible) for a lot of things, but I can also say that means they don't get thrown into situations they're not prepared to handle.  I have always found that it is 100 times easier to "over plan" an experience for a dog and ensure that they succeed (and do it correctly) than it is to jump in on a whim and wind up having to go back and fix mistakes.

**Please excuse me while I climb down from my soap box, now.**

Fortunately, it seems they did eventually catch on.



  1. Looks like a ton of fun!
    I wonder if Luna would pull with a harness on. She can sure pull on a leash:( Yeah, something I haven't spent much time working on, I have to admit.

  2. Wow, that looks totally fun. Great pix! I'll have to see if there's something like that here in Delaware.
    We do see huskies pulling their humans on bikes and scooters. but not a competition.


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