Monday, November 19, 2007

Fun with skis and dogs

So I’ve decided to hold off on buying the fat tired bike for the time being. Maybe next year, if there is a next year. Who knows. Since I have a dog that loves to pull me around whenever we go on walks, I figured I would invest in a toy that both of us could enjoy.

So, I recently purchased equipment for skijoring. The set up is pretty simple. Dog harness with crisscrossed weave across the back and loops at the back for hooking in the tow line. The tow line has elastic in parts in it to help absorb some of the shock of your dog taking off suddenly. It stretches out about 15 feet ahead of the skier. The belt the skier wears is padded in the back, has two loops for your legs (almost like a climbing harness), and has an elastic “V” set up in the front much like water skiing. The belt also has a quick release halyard in case the skier falls and has to release the dog quickly. The halyard attaches to one end of the tow line and the other end of the tow line attaches to the back of the dog harness. The only thing left is get some chump with x-country skis, minimal coordination, and the willingness to try anything once, hook him up to the dog, sit back and enjoy some comic relief. It works with biking, roller blading, and running as well, but I haven’t tried any of that yet.

The comic relief only happened the first couple of times, although, I’m sure there will be more comedy acts farther down the road. As any dog owner knows, you never know what your dog might do or when he/she will do it. Like the time Katja pushed the door shut behind me when I stepped outside for a second. The door was locked and where would you guess the keys were? Inside, of course. That was a minor inconvenience.

Anyway, back to skijoring. Today, Katja and I went out for about an hour and a half. There is barely enough snow to really ski the roads without running into bare patches wind swept of snow. Eventually we got a snow machine track and Katja needed minimal directions from there. She is an incredible puller and can follow a trail very naturally with little distractions. We followed the snow machine trail east towards Tununak (about 7 miles away). You can probably look it up on Google Earth. The trail wasn’t very established, yet but it was sufficient for us. Later in the year, it should be very established and allow a skier or possibly biker to travel all the way fairly easily. We got about 3 miles away from Tununak before we turned around and followed our tracks back to Toksook.

When we got back, Katja was ready to go again. I was ready for a serious nap and many carbs to replenish my energy supply. It was the most successful outing we have had so far with the skis. Katja is really getting a grip on the commands. “Wait,” means just stand or sit there. “Line out” means put some tension on the tow line. “Let’s Go!!!” means take off. “Gee” means turn right, “Haw” means turn left. “Easy” means slow it down and “Whoa” means stop. That’s pretty much it. The problem is half the time, I forget the stupid commands and Katja is left standing there looking at me, probably thinking to herself, “What is his problem?” Oh well, I’ll get better with practice. Katja is very patient with me.

I hope that many of you are enjoying the wintertime as much as Katja and I are here in Toksook Bay, Alaska.

Thanks for reading,