Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Skiing with Greyhounds- Another Season Starts!

  Ummm... Cliff. Wrong way.

Last winter I decided to stop whining about the cold winters around here and embrace them instead... and I bought a pair of cross-country skis to go on winter outings with Cliff! The sport of skiing with dogs is called "Skijoring" and is a really fun activity. This is REAL skijoring:

Yeah, I don't do that. First of all, I can barely ski at slow-speed, much less FULL-speed. And second of all, my greyhounds would kill me in my sleep if I ever asked for them to actually PULL me, in a sled-dog type way. And that's what real skijoring dogs do.

These women are very brave and I am envious of them. If I was going that fast I would NOT be laughing.

This fall Cliff has really slowed down, and it seems that arthritis has really taken over his bad back leg. I need to get it x-rayed. I'm a little reluctant to go skijoring with Cliff unless it's a pretty short trip... first of all, I don't want him breaking trail (that's tough) and second of all, he really seems to experience pain in that leg getting in and out of the car (poor boy!). Makes it hard to drive to the trailhead. So, needless to say, I've been grooming young Jack to be my ski companion this winter.

First came harness and lead training this fall:

For the past few weeks, Jack has been getting special training sessions on the retractable lead. I am NOT the type of person to just throw my dog on a retractable and hope for the best. They can be dangerous in the hands of incompetent people, children, or daydreamers so it's important for dogs (especially sighthounds, imho) to really be trained to them and for their humans to be very aware of the environment they're walking their dogs through. Since adoption, we've been working on Jack's tendency to bolt at squirrels and cats on walks, and he's shown remarkable progress(remarkable in the fact that he's really not the brightest bulb in the package, and I mean that in the most loving way possible lol!). Once Jack began demonstrating excellent 6-foot leash manners, we slowly moved to the retractable (WITH secure safety of course... if you drop the leash, you don't want that plastic casing clanking on the ground after the dog, scaring it to bolt. I use an old trouser sock to tether the casing to my wrist. Not the sexiest accessory, but I wouldn't be without it!!). We've been testing the retractable in the neighborhood AND at the local nature trail, where rabbits, squirrels and even deer cross the trails in plain view. I've been very proud of my pup! He's showing great attentiveness to me on the lead, even more so than Cliff who has been using a retractable for years.

So anyway... with Jack's lead training going full-throttle and the first snow on the ground, we went off to the local A-F Trail earlier this week for our first skijor!

Yep, Jack did REALLY well. I'm proud! He was a bit nervous of my skiis when I pulled them out of the car, but once he got to sniff them, he was totally okay. He stayed out front as I skied (ski'ed? Skiid? How do you spell that?) almost the whole time.

Of course, we did have our moments....

There were quite a few potty stops. Can't let a scent go unmarked, of course!...

...and a few times, Jack decided off-trail was more interesting than ON-trail...

...Come back, Jack!

...But don't come THIS far back!

Anyway, it was a fun first outing. We got a lot more snow last night, too, so there will be more skijoring to come! Can't wait! Experiencing the woods in the winter is so special, even more so than in the summer I think. There is something so mysterious and -profound- about a snow-filled forest.

Example one, of my first ski outing with Cliff last winter. Bear Swamp. I hadn't been on skis in over a decade, forgot Cliff's harness, and was WAY overdressed (you get hot skiing- it's like jogging!). But man, the woods were spectacular. Take a look at that, have you ever seen anything so pretty in your life?



runswithdog said...

I was lmao at the description of you training Jack startig way back in the fall. It is so, so,'s so JEN! :-) Anyways, he looks like he is doing great out there in front of you!

IHateToast said...

that was fascinating and humorous.

Sarah said...

go Jack! and good for you too Jen, getting out in the winter snow to burn some calories instead of sitting around you can have more candy when you get home right? :)
that picture of the woods in winter is beautiful, I do miss it! It is 60 and sunny right now, having a hard time getting into the winter/Christmas spirit!

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

That looks like so much fun! I would love to do that with mine!