Sunday, January 13, 2008
When the SKOAC Renegade Racing team trained up in Mora last weekend, we had Rookie the Wonder Dog accompany us on the Memorial Trail loop. Yesterday I figured if he could run the trails he might as well be dragging me behind him. Skijoring is a kind of cross between sled dog running and cross country skiing. I dug out an old skijoring harness from a previous mutt, hooked the boy up, and headed for the 4k golf course loop. The only problem was what sort of line I might use to hook me to the dog. Being a guy who likes multipurpose gear and hates buying a piece of equipment that can only do one thing, I figured my Lotus Designs towing rig from my kayaking pfd should do the trick. It has a nice wide belt, a quick release buckle, and a sturdy carbiner. If I can tow another kayak with it, Rookie should certainly be able to tow me. My skijoring theory was that if the VoiceOfReason was skiing ahead The Rook would trot along and follow her. This theory worked well about 50% of the time. We humans with our exceedingly poor sense of smell just don't realize the olfactory pleasures that lie at the base of nearly every tree and fencepost, especially in public areas. Rookie was not only aware of them but felt that they were far more interesting than following the VOR down some ski track. Several times I glided past him as he was verifying just who had visited that particular tree before him. It was tough on me a couple times as far as keeping my balance with all the jerking but it went bad for the Rook a couple of times too. As I was cruising down a hill he decided to run off to the side for some extracurricular sniffing. I knew I couldn't stop in time and when the line tightened up it jerked him off his feet and I dragged him down the hill about 10 yards. The look of surprise on his face was priceless. The other incident was a bit more traumatic, especially from a male perspective. He had fallen behind as I climbed a slight hill. He went up racing ahead, oblivious that the tow rope had slipped from the middle of his back to right between his legs. As the rope became taut, the tow bag came flying up and slapped the boy right in his you-know-what. He yelped, plopped down in the snow, and turned around with a very accusatory look at me.
Other breaks of course, had to be taken when nature called. The whole skijoring concept seemed to work OK however, at least well enough so I'll try it again. The poor guy was so tired and mildly traumatized when I stuck him in the car after the 4k loop, that he didn't even do his usual whining and complaining. He just laid down with a somewhat quizzical look on his face as if he was saying, "I don't know what the heck that was but it seemed kinda fun; how did I do?". I plan on getting him out again to get both of us a bit better shape. The goal will be to see if we can go straight down the trail at least 60% of the time next time out. Gotta do this in little chunks I guess.