Harnessing the energy of the dog

19 Feb

It was a beautiful day in Whitehorse today, above zero and sunny. Now that it’s actually still light out when I go home in the evening, trying to fit a dog walk in at the end of a single-parenting workday seems a lot more doable. We had a whole bunch of leftovers in the fridge, so I didn’t have to worry about supper. I got Jade dressed for sledding — much lighter layers than in previous weeks, hurrah! — and we headed out.

Since it’s warmed up and lots of skidoos have been out, the trails are packed and slippery, meaning even small hills make for fun sliding. We headed out in a direction with lots of ups and downs so that we could slide on the downhill bits.

Nanuq is a great dog, but he does have one terrible habit: he turns into an idiot whenever people are on sleds. He runs alongside, barking his head off, and often trying to nip at the passengers of the sled. He once almost took off with one of Jade’s mittens. Now whenever we slide with him around I give him a pre-emptive growl to behave himself, and often have to shout “No” at him as we’re sliding, too.

Nanuq decided to be particularly obnoxious this evening, barking his head off in my face before we’d even started down this one hill. As we were starting to gain a bit of momentum, I grabbed him by the collar in order to keep his face (and teeth!) away from us. Next moment, he took off like a shot, me hanging onto the collar; he was pulling us along all the way down the hill and even partway up the next incline. He was a galloping charger and he didn’t bark once! He actually seemed to enjoy it, although perhaps what I took for a big doggy grin was just him trying to breathe while keeping up such a clip.

We did it again on three more hills on the way home. Not only do we slide faster down the hills than we otherwise would, but steering is improved since Nanuq does a great job of keeping us in the middle of the trail.

I’m very excited about our newly dog-powered sled. The best part is that even if Nanuq decides he doesn’t like this new game, he will have to stay further away from us from now on in order to prevent himself getting collared. And if he does continue to like it, why, then everybody wins!

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