Remember the little fluff balls from this summer? Well they're not so little anymore! Nile, Badger, Nala, Vanessa, Elmer, King Louie, and Flash are now 7 1/2 months old and LOVE being sled dogs. They've been in harness several times over the last month and have really started to become comfortable and driven in the team. Amelia and Cooke are still too young for harness, so they get their exercise during free walks.
When running the seven-month-olds, I try to run them in two teams: three pups plus two adult leaders in one team and four pups plus two adult leaders in another. By running smaller teams, I can easily manage the speed, bring them to a stop, and work on manners....or so I thought.
In the video below, I tried to get a short clip of the team with all their happy faces and wagging tails; however, they became a tad impatient and tried to leave without me! This video is a perfect response to the question "How do you teach them to pull" Answer- "Pulling isn't the problem, it's teaching them to stop!"
For the next video of the puppies, I learned from the previous run and made sure to tie off to a tree this time! In this video, you'll see Frosty and Wombat in lead followed by King Louie, Vanessa, and Nile in wheel.
How is each pup doing?
King Louie- King Louie is winning at being a sled dog. Not only does Louie get vocal at hookup, but he screams for the first minute after take off urging the team to go faster, faster, faster! Pretty sure this guy already has the biggest head and thickest neck in the yard. Just muscle, everywhere.
Nala- Nala is beautiful and agile. She's all legs and tends to get tangled at hookup because she's so impatient to get moving. Once she's in motion, Nala is very focused (unless she's running next to her sister Vanessa, and then they like to pester each other a bit). Her tail is so long, it reminds me of a monkey's tail!
Vanessa- Vanessa is a little Perm. Loud, sassy, smooth movements, and super affectionate with every person she meets. If the puppies are all riled up in the yard, you can assume it's because Vanessa is doing laps and barking at all of her neighbors.
Nile- I'm scared to think of how BIG Nile will be when he's full grown. Nile is already wearing a red/yellow harness (as big as Coot), and he just keeps growing! You'd think that such a big pup would be a gangling mess running down the trail, but instead he's already starting to learn how to control his massive limbs into a fluid, graceful trot.
Badger- As a puppy, Badger was a bit of a sissy. He stayed close on puppy walks, and I'll be honest, he didn't seem to have the drive of a sled dog. Well, Badger proved me wrong! At the moment, Badger is one of the strongest pups in harness. But don't worry- even though he's grown into a cocky teenager, Badger still has his lovable, cuddly personality.
Elmer- Most people that meet Elmer ask if he's part Belgian Malinois, and he does look just like one! Elmer is always happy, always playing with his neighbors, and has a laid-back personality that everyone loves. Elmer has been running in swing (the position behind the leaders) because he's so focused!
Flash- Flash is gorgeous with her two-toned eyes and long, long legs. The first few times in harness, the pups were pulling the ATV, and Flash was a little distracted. However, now that we've moved to sleds, Flash has been very focused and loves to lope down the trail! Flash is a little more calm and relaxed than the other pups as if she's wise beyond her years.
Amelia- Amelia has yet to be in harness, but I can't wait until she's old enough to join the team! She's beautiful, agile, and so intense that I think being a sled dog is the only way to channel her nonstop energy. For now, she's wreaks havoc on the old dogs and pesters Stormy on puppy walks.
Cooke- This little cuddle bug is like a roley poley right now. So fat, so furry, I just want to hug and squeeze him all the time! Too. Much. Cuteness. Cooke lives with Crazy (11-year-old retired champion Iditarod dog turned nanny) since there are no puppies his age. I just wonder what stories Crazy tells Cooke from the trail as they snuggle up together at night.