Schnaps. My odd ball, my fastest free runner, my future leader. Start to finish, Schnaps has now led the team twice! It was beautiful, she never looked back- driving ahead next to different dogs and through a rainstorm.
Schnaps has always been one of my smartest dogs. I can practically see her thinking as she scans new environments. Such a brain though has made her bored with running in team. She looks at stray pieces of grass as she runs by, up into the trees being rustled by the wind and would take up this posture that showed me she wasn't as engaged as the other dogs. I think lead is her home. She gets to use her brain and has the entire trail at her mercy. Night and day difference in her already. I want to fast forward to see her as the lead dog I know she'll become and yet watching that process evolve is just as beautiful. A dichotomy I constantly find myself in wanting to see our future but being in love with where we are.
Experience with environmental conditions while running free I've seen give my dogs such confidence that I will always make it a staple in our training. They can take things they've never experienced before at their own pace, use their brains on it and use that knowledge back in the team. So! My girls Ghost and Schnaps are heading fast into lead dog positions and I wanted to use the trails near our camp in Juneau to add some extra training time this week. I say training but it was stupid fun. Wrapping around camp a trail passes two bridges slippery with the rainforest rain and a perfect creek crossing gravel bar for some play. Ghost at no point had hesitation with the bridges but Schnaps over the first one had the hilarious baby gazelle posture across it. I'm proud to say though she was sprinting across them by the end.
Bridges I've found many sled dogs in team have some fear crossing and will either try to keep the team off it or belly sprint across it messing with everyone's rhythm. Not having the pressure of being in team and being able to sniff or pause where was comfortable, Schnaps figured it out. Now as my lead I know she'll charge across!
The creek crossing was beautiful. Both had the time of their lives from the start. No river current, white water or deep pools gave them pause. These girls are kick ass and we're lucky to have their spirits on the team!
Ghost led this week as well! Already a lead dog I had no uncertainty with her drive up front, what I wanted to work on is her uncomfort with strangers. There will be tons of people around at check points during races that I want her to have experience leading the team into a situation with people milling about and have the confidence from the whole team that she won't let that get in her way. She led just as I know is my Ghost and charged back into camp no problem. With people being closer to her here in camp then anyone will be during a race, she's going to be just fine. We'll keep up the practice but it was a very, very good sight to see!
My two peas in our awesome pod. Good work girls.