When I got the dogs I made a resolution to myself that I would try and update the blog with regular, small posts just about how things are going. I haven’t been very good at it, but resolutions are the beginning of good things, so with this I will try to be better and get myself on it more often. It’s been long now since I’ve written anything!
Seven dogs came in the fall, eleven are present since the beginning of May. It’s not really a surprise I suppose, but we have a few more dogs now than we did a couple of weeks ago. It was nice to start small and slow, but having only seven working dogs left us too vulnerable to injuries if we wish to accomplish anything with them. And we do.
Tora and Indi arrived shortly after Easter. We picked them up from two mushers who live right across the mountain from us and who have been showing us a lot of the trails up here. Tora is just over a year old and still very young. Indi is a well-trained commando leader who can hopefully pair up with Mánnu to make a killer team in lead.
We had our first puppy born, too! On the race back in March we had a little incident with a neighboring male dog while Mánnu was in high heat. It was a really good male, though, and we like the mother very much, so we decided that we’d let the pregnancy go on. Surprisingly enough only one puppy was born: Bagheera came into this world on May 9. He’s been growing so fast it seems like ages ago when we could just hold him in the palm of our hands. At six weeks he’s the size of a puppy two weeks older, so we’re a little excited to see how he will turn out as a male dog. And he’s doing so well, both in interacting with humans and with the rest of the pack. It’s really joyful to come home and see him rolling around, playing with his mom.
The corona lockdown provided us with the time to build the infrastructure necessary for the expansion. We needed more kennels – we only had two this winter – as well as a dog yard suited for puppies. I’ve never done so much DYI in my lifetime, as we built for 40 days straight to get a whole list of things done. We transformed the chicken enclosure into a puppy cage, built two additional dog yards, cleaned out the shed that is now the kennel house, treated the woodwork on the house and did some painting inside. I’ve never been very much into these things but it’s surprisingly rewarding when you get into projects after getting a place of your own. Everything that gets done makes it just that little nicer for the future. The list of what needs to be done, especially in regard to the dogs, is still long, but one project at a time we are making it better.
The snow this year lasted forever. From half of April it was too hard, icy and rocky to drive in our own backyard. As long as the lockdown was in place I didn’t wish to venture out on long trips. It just felt wrong in a way. But after restrictions eased in April I wanted to train the dogs and myself for overnight trips next winter. It was also a really nice occasion to get to know the newcomers better and to start a productive relationship with them. With huskies it depends so much on what and how much you do with them in order for them to integrate into the pack and establish a good relationship with the owner. Running them is an essential part of this.
The first trip to Hardangervidda was a disaster: my sled broke, the dogs didn’t listen a single bit and we couldn’t see even a meter ahead. I was together with a friend and we decided to camp close to the car and try again the next day. The 30km that followed sparked an enthusiasm to go back and in the end of May I made a little solotrip on the outskirts of the plateau. Unfortunately I didn’t have time for more as I started working again, but it was great to be out there and amazing to still stand on the sled after the 20th of May.
These dogs have given me so much more than I could imagine when we brought them over from Sweden: a whole new means of exploring, a new network of amazing, interesting people and not in the least the confidence to trust my own judgement again. I’ve struggled with the latter ever since the trip to Nepal. It’s hard to get out the door when you don’t know if you can trust your gut feeling anymore, resulting in a gut feeling that is always wretched even when conditions seem perfect. It’s been a long way up and it’s taken a lot of internal discussion to get more out in the open again. When I was out with the dogs on Hardangervidda I really, truly enjoyed myself for the first time in a very long time, without worrying that things would take a turn for the worst.
Now it’s summer and there’s not much running going on, but the building continues. Let’s see how far we get by the time training seasons starts again!