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Old January 3rd, 2010, 10:36 AM
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Was it worth it?

Camping in the truck with the dogs at -22C?

You bet it was! Every year not too far away from me there is an opportunity for mushers to go stay at a hunt camp and do some training on the nearby trails. This is the first time I've gone. Of course, pretty much everyone else has northern breed dogs that live outside, so they stay in their dogboxes while the mushers stay in the camp, complete with bunkbeds, woodstoves (2) and even a sauna. My spoiled guys however are more what you'd call "sled pets" and are used to not only living in the house, but sleeping on the furniture and bed with me too. Wasn't sure how the whole camping in the truck in the middle of winter thing was going to go, but I decided to try. I figured that if I stayed with them in the truck not only would I be adding one more body for heat, but also I could monitor how cold it was and if necessary start the truck every now and then and warm it up. I wasn't accounting for the fact that once in my sleeping bag and pinned down by several dogs I could not move to start the truck or risk loosing my spot (and the sleeping bag!) Of course the night I spent there turned out to be the coldest one of the week, isn't that just Murphy's Law? It wasn't supposed to be that cold that night, but the cold weather moved in a day earlier than was predicted. Anyways, we all survived and here are some pictures from on the trails we were running.
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 10:42 AM
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Here are a few more. This is the camp we were at, and a friend of mine who competes in skijoring.
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 11:26 AM
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Looks like a beautiful area, Gail! How long were the trails? From the pics, you got in a good bit of training The dogs' butts and tails look very happy!
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by hazelrunpack View Post
Looks like a beautiful area, Gail! How long were the trails? From the pics, you got in a good bit of training The dogs' butts and tails look very happy!
The trails around there go for miles, much further that I am training for. Lots of the mid-distance/distance people come to the camp for training runs, they are often going out for 20-40 miles or more. The main trail that we were using is a 15 mile loop around the hunt camp if you keep staying left whenever you come to a fork, but I only did 5-5 1/2 mile runs, so they were out-and-back runs on the same trail for me.

The dogs were very happy to have a new place to train, and one where we're not doing laps around the same short trail. Even by the end of the runs they were still very strong and eager, especially once they were within earshot of the other dogs at the camp that were barking, they would go blasting back up the driveway and over to my truck. Really nice to see that kind of energy I'm looking forward to racing them.
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 01:35 PM
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Wow, sounds like a great facility for training! Do you typically run shorter distance races?
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 04:51 PM
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Now that is my kind of weekend, looks like a beautiful place to sled with your dogs

"Sled pets" that's a good one.
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 05:44 PM
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Looks like a great place Gail, crystal blue skies

Gail could you post the link for this year's race dates please...
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 07:54 PM
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this all SERIOUSLY looks like SO. MUCH. FUN.
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 09:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gail P View Post
Camping in the truck with the dogs at -22C? ...I wasn't accounting for the fact that once in my sleeping bag and pinned down by several dogs I could not move to start the truck or risk loosing my spot (and the sleeping bag!) ...
WHERE ARE THE PICTURES ????

Love the ones you posted but would like to see you squished amongst the pooches in the truck too .
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 10:38 PM
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That all looks so fun and exciting.
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 10:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hazelrunpack View Post
Wow, sounds like a great facility for training! Do you typically run shorter distance races?
I race in the 4-dog sprint class which is 4 miles long. In the sprint classes the distance is generally the same as the number of dogs you're running, so for the 2-dog novice or youth classes, it's usually 2 miles; 4-dog, 4 miles; 6-dog, 6 miles; 8-dog, 8 miles, although in some areas races that are 15 miles or so are also considered to be sprints and they're probably using 8 dogs. Sometimes the distance for a sprint class also depends on what trails a venue has available, they'll sometimes race 8 dogs on a 6-mile course, but then there are also 8-dog mid-distance teams too that may do 20 miles and up. There are limited classes which specify the maximum and minimum number of dogs you can use, and there are open classes (longer distances) where you can use more dogs (10, 12 and more). In races like the Iditarod they're starting with 16 dogs.

For training I try to work between 4-6 miles to keep the speed up. I want them to be conditioned to run a fast 4 miles. The dogs could go further, but they would adjust their pace to a more moderate speed that they can maintain for a longer time. That's the sort of thing we'll do after the race season when we go out and spend a few hours on the trails at a time. Do a few miles, stop for a rest/snack/water break. Do a few more, stop for lunch etc. Lots of fun. Last year the most we did at the end of the season were a couple of runs of 8 and 10 miles. Maybe we'll do more this year now that we've got more dogs ready. More dogs doesn't give you more speed but it does give you more power, so it's easier on all the dogs on hills etc. and they won't tire as quickly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris21711 View Post
Looks like a great place Gail, crystal blue skies

Gail could you post the link for this year's race dates please...
This is the link to the Sled Dog Central main schedule that shows all the categories (sprint, skijor, distance, etc.) for Canada, USA, Europe etc. From there I go into the Canada - East sprint section to get the information for the sprint races in our area. http://www.sleddogcentral.com/schedu..._schedules.htm

The Ontario Federation of Sleddog Sports (OFSS) also has a schedule listed here http://www.ofss.ca/schedule.htm

The races I'll be at are:
Feb. 6/7 Kearney
Feb. 13/14 Haliburton
Feb. 20/21 Cannington
Feb. 27 Apsley

Quote:
Originally Posted by luckypenny View Post
WHERE ARE THE PICTURES ????

Love the ones you posted but would like to see you squished amongst the pooches in the truck too .
No pictures of me squished in the truck with the dogs. I didn't even dig the camera out until the next day because it was a more overcast day the first day and I didn't think the pictures would turn out as well. Plus, if I had the camera in where I was sleeping with the dogs it too might have gotten squashed The sleeping arrangements were "interesting". It's a Chev Tahoe I drive and I used to just have a screen up behind the back seats to keep all the dogs back there, but when I would get to a race that meant having to try to carefully open up the back and get leashes on everyone and then let them all jump out together. Quite a handful. So I decided to try to divide up the truck a bit more. Not enough room to put in a bunch of crates but what I did was fold down part of my back seat and put a crate there, then I took my dividing screen down and ran it lengthwise rather than across the truck so it split the back in half (like two very large crates). I put one dog in the backseat crate, 3 dogs in the larger side of the back part of the truck (where the back seat is folded down it leaves a bit more space that the other side has and the crate in front serves to keep the dogs from climbing all over the place), and 2 dogs on the other side in the back. For sleeping, I folded down the other part of the back seat too so that the smaller side then became the largest area, open from behind the front seat all the way to the back of the truck. In the cold I figured I'd be sleeping curled up, not all stretched out so I put blankets and a dog bed up above where my head was going to be (Lightning slept there) and Rain and Dru curled up on the sleeping bag with me. Dru isn't big but he's like a lead weight and he loves to cuddle as close as possible and won't move! Once he's on your chest or your blankets you are well and truly pinned down. Flurry and Storm slept beside me on the other side of the divider and Thunder slept in the crate. A couple of times I woke up a bit chilly (mostly my nose), but it wasn't really too bad. The worst part was not having enough room to roll over once I was pinned down in that amount of space. Dru was on my sleeping bag and crammed in a narrow space between me and the divider. Even with all the layers of blankets and a foam pad under me there seemed to be a pressure point that was bothering me. I think I would camp in the truck again but the next time I might try just sleeping in the front seat and fold it back as much as I can with the crate behind it. I thought it would be warmer being in the back with the dogs (body heat with them cuddled up), but in that space it felt cramped. I would love to have something like a cube van or a mini school bus set up for camping with the dogs. A series of dog crates on one side of the truck with a bed or bunkbeds on the other side. Space between the crates and bed to slide my sled into rather than having to put it up on the roof and secure it (where it gets splashed by salt etc. while driving). Oh and heat would be good too
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Last edited by Gail P; January 3rd, 2010 at 10:44 PM.
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 11:46 PM
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Sounds like it was a great trip Cuddling in the truck w/all the dogs I'd take being pinned down by a cuddling BC to a roomier front seat alone
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Old January 4th, 2010, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by growler View Post
I'd take being pinned down by a cuddling BC to a roomier front seat alone
That's what I thought too, but I ended up with a pretty sore hip the way I was crammed in. If I could find a way to get more comfortable I'd definitely prefer to be with the dogs, I love having them on the bed with me at night and waking up with them all snuggled up. I think the center divider just makes it a little too narrow in the truck.
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