Saturday, November 24, 2007
Since the snow has all melted in town and there is no ice to speak of anywhere, Kim and I took Niko up to Hatcher's pass again. We met Kim's friend and his three dogs at the start of Archangel road with the hopes that his dogs could help Niko out with his skijoring. This trip proved to be more eventful than our first attempt.
After getting all four dogs untangled at the trailhead, we started out on the trail. It's mostly uphill on the way out so the dogs got tired out pulling us up. We skied out about 2-3 miles and then turned around to ski back down the hill. Niko did well at first but I was a little nervous about going down hill because he really doesn't yet understand the command for stop, "Whoa!" and frankly I don't really know how to stop on cross country skis. I usually just glide to a stop, or fall over.
We started picking up speed and naturally I was saying, "Easy, easy.." to Niko and trying to snow plow to slow him down. Every time I talked he sped up. So eventually we are flying down this hill and I am yelling, "Whoa! Whoa Niko!" to no avail. So I fell over. And Niko got yanked back and came running over to me to cuddle up to me.
Okay, so I think, let's try again. Once again we get going too fast and I yell, "Whoa!" as I'm falling to the ground and Niko gets pulled back violently. This happened about two more times until I finally gave up on the downhill and let Niko off the leash. When I got back to a flat area, I hooked him up again.
Now he's been conditioned to stop abruptly when he thinks I am going to fall. He does not understand that the command, "Whoa!" means stop. He thinks that if I say ANYTHING that means that I'm going to fall and he needs to stop. So we get going pretty fast and I say, "Good boy!" and Niko halts to a stop and sits down on the tracks. Naturally I ski right into him, he yelps and runs behind me, around the back and then continues forward, clotheslining my legs with the leash. So now this is his new routine. Just as this happened one time, a couple happened to be skiing in the opposite direction and witnessed the whole sequence of events. I looked up and they were staring at me as if to say, "Why don't you get control of your dog?" I thought, that's rude, but just smiled at them and said, "We're learning."