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BS: All On A Winter's Day

John Hardly 10 Jan 09 - 05:56 PM
Ebbie 10 Jan 09 - 06:05 PM
Janie 10 Jan 09 - 06:19 PM
Jeri 10 Jan 09 - 06:23 PM
Bee 10 Jan 09 - 06:34 PM
Stilly River Sage 10 Jan 09 - 06:40 PM
Janie 10 Jan 09 - 08:16 PM
John Hardly 12 Jan 09 - 01:17 PM
John Hardly 12 Jan 09 - 01:21 PM
Sorcha 12 Jan 09 - 04:32 PM
jeffp 12 Jan 09 - 11:16 PM
John Hardly 13 Jan 09 - 08:22 AM
Sorcha 13 Jan 09 - 05:11 PM
John Hardly 13 Jan 09 - 05:31 PM

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Subject: BS: All On A Winter's Day
From: John Hardly
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 05:56 PM

I just got back from skiing with my malamute, Breeze. Breeze and I "skijor" together. With me wearing a wide, padded belt, a towline between us, and Breeze in harness, we can make pretty good time cross country. But for years I've been using a "Flexi" leash instead of a towline. This is because the Flexi automatically retracts. That way it never gets tangled, I never run over it, and Breeze never steps over it (tangling himself).

Today I was skiing alongside railroad tracks when a deer popped out of the woods ahead of us.

Breeze popped the Flexi line from the Flexi as though it was attached to it merely with a paper clip. He was off like a shot and there was NO way he would be deterred from getting that deer.

And maybe he wouldn't have had a chance if the deer hadn't doubled back on him...

...as deer are inclined to do -- I've had it told me (and so I'm sure it's true) that though a deer can out sprint most dogs, in the long run it will not outrun them. Hence, it needs to elude them by the trickery of doubling back or jumping fences that the dogs cannot also jump.

Anyway, whether that's true or not, it would have appeared so as I watched Breeze nearly get the deer (They were about 75 yards ahead of me when it looked as though they made contact, so I couldn't actually tell if Breeze got a piece of the deer) on the deer's first double back.

Then I watched in horror and wonder as the two went up a rise and crossed the railroad tracks and out of sight.   I skied for all I was worth to get past that rise that blocked my view of the two of them. Just as I got to the end of the rise, I saw that the deer and Breeze had found two different breaks in the old fence that lined the harvested cornfield that lay on the other side of the tracks. The deer's break was east of us both, but Breezy had stood his ground, working on navigating a break in the fence much closer to where the two had initially crossed the tracks.

That meant that at exactly the same time the deer turned back to the west again (I don't know why it decided to double back yet again when it didn't work the first time) Breeze had made his way through his break in the fence and was on the deer's heels again.

I watched in amazement. If you'd asked me if a malamute had ANY chance of keeping up with a deer at a dead run, I wouldn't have hesitated a minute. I would have said an unequivocal "no way".

Way.

By the time I got out of my skis and made it over the broken down fence to the cornfield, both animals were out of sight. I looked and I called. The field is more than a half-mile both ways -- unbroken landscape -- and yet I couldn't see either of them. Even if they were within the range of my sight (they didn't appear to be), the two of them have white tails running both away from me and against a snowy-white background.

Suddenly, almost at the limits of the distance of what I could see, a single dot of brown against that snow white had just turned south that entire half mile away from me. It was moving FAST. It was the deer and it had come to the end of the length of cornfield east to west and was now heading south along a tree line that bordered the field.

And then...

...there he was.

Awesome.

A second dot of brown against snow white broke to the south. Breeze was STILL on that deer's tail. As god is my witness, Breeze was still only about twenty yards behind the deer.

And I was a bundle of raw and mixed emotion. I was scared shitless as to how I was EVER going to get Breeze to return to me. And yet I was witnessing one of the most beautiful scenes of a dog in action that I have EVER seen.

He was so far away now that I doubted he could even hear my shouts. The nearest cross road -- my second-biggest fear -- was a half mile away. But it was to the south. That's the direction they were headed.

I lost sight of them.

I kept walking toward where I last saw them. I kept calling, though I figured that by then I was doing so to no listening dog.   Still I walked. Still I called.

I had probably been walking no more than five minutes. But fear stretched those minutes to what felt more like hours.

Then...

About a half mile out. Brown/gray dot heading my way. Closer now. Now close enough to see the touch of pink of a lolling tongue. Breeze.

And he was coming directly to me across that field. No veer to the right for an interesting scent. No turn to the left for a look at anything. Just straight across the field -- looking straight at me and smiling all the way -- to a now kneeling and hugely smiling dad, waiting with open arms. I pulled him to me and we rolled over together. Happy dog. Relieved, and now happy dad.

We walked a mile toward home. Then I dropped the skis and put them on again. Our last mile we skijorred home -- this time with the line secured to my belt.

Breeze is nearly asleep beside me as I'm typing this. His side is pushed up against my leg. He's tired and he's content. And I'm relieved.


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Subject: RE: BS: All On A Winter's Day
From: Ebbie
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 06:05 PM

What an adventure for the both of you! Maybe for all three of you!


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Subject: RE: BS: All On A Winter's Day
From: Janie
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 06:19 PM

What Ebbie said, with this addendum....Do you know if he got the deer? If he did, do you plan on bringing it home and making use of it, to feed the dog if nothing else?


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Subject: RE: BS: All On A Winter's Day
From: Jeri
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 06:23 PM

John, that was exhilarating just to read!


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Subject: RE: BS: All On A Winter's Day
From: Bee
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 06:34 PM

Oh, yes, John! There is nothing like watching your own big healthy dog show their stuff - although we rather it not be chasing deer.

I've permanent memories of our old girl in her prime, running like the wind on top of a long coastal hill for the pure joy of running, long fur streaming and tail like a pennant. When she finally stopped and began loping down to me through the meadow, her face was one big grin of delight.


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Subject: RE: BS: All On A Winter's Day
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 06:40 PM

If the dog got the deer, he'd know, it wouldn't have come back, or at least, he would have been covered in blood. But it sounds like an incredible dog adventure!

Every time I take my two across to a favorite little wild stretch of prairie down here they revert to a wild dog stance of sniffing, rooting, digging at burrows, it really is beautiful to see them do what they innately know dogs do.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: All On A Winter's Day
From: Janie
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 08:16 PM

You guys have got me missing my dog. She went with hubby in the separation. She could come to visit, except I now don't live close enough to work to come home and walk her during the day.

In what part of the country do you reside, John, that you have enough snow to do this cross country skiing with your dog?


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Subject: RE: BS: All On A Winter's Day
From: John Hardly
Date: 12 Jan 09 - 01:17 PM

"What an adventure for the both of you! Maybe for all three of you!"

Yeah, I can just see the deer...gets back to his deer house and his deer computer (with hoof-friendly keypad) writing to his deer internet pals about his adventure -- his having given the slip to a crazed dog followed by a screaming humanthing.


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Subject: RE: BS: All On A Winter's Day
From: John Hardly
Date: 12 Jan 09 - 01:21 PM

Yeah, Janie, what Maggie said -- no blood. The deer obviously got away. Breeze and I skied in that area quite a bit last year and I noticed there's an unbroken fence that runs through what is now wooded. I think the deer probably jumped the fence there, and Breeze couldn't figure out a way through. I'm just guessing that that's where the deer got away because it all happened out of my sight.

I'm in northern Indiana. We've got about 6 inches of snow right now -- more to come tonight.


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Subject: RE: BS: All On A Winter's Day
From: Sorcha
Date: 12 Jan 09 - 04:32 PM

So, you learned about flexi leads, huh? They have been banned by the AKC on 'show sites' but the actual 'meaning' of 'site' hasn't been determined. They are NOT trustworthy.


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Subject: RE: BS: All On A Winter's Day
From: jeffp
Date: 12 Jan 09 - 11:16 PM

Great piece of writing, John!


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Subject: RE: BS: All On A Winter's Day
From: John Hardly
Date: 13 Jan 09 - 08:22 AM

Thanks, jeffp.

Sorcha, where did you get the info, re: flexis and AKC? My wife was at an AKC agility trial (with Ariel) at the very time I was having the above adventure. I asked her about AKC banning flexis and she said she hadn't heard anything like that, and that the place/event was full of flexis.

Pinch collars are banned, and off-leash exercising has always been outlawed. But I can't find anything about flexis.


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Subject: RE: BS: All On A Winter's Day
From: Sorcha
Date: 13 Jan 09 - 05:11 PM

Well, as I said...it depends on the interpretation of 'site'. MOST show sites interpret it to mean the building/s that the show is actually IN...not the grounds, grooming area, etc...I'll find out for sure and let you know.


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Subject: RE: BS: All On A Winter's Day
From: John Hardly
Date: 13 Jan 09 - 05:31 PM

Actually, in that case I think I'd agree. It's not so much about flexis or their trustworthiness (or untrustworthiness, as I found out), but rather the legal length of a lead inside the building of an AKC event. I think there is an allowable length limit.

People exercise their dogs OUTSIDE with a flexi, but have to have the dog on a short lead indoors.


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