Monday, Nov. 8, 2010
It was business as usual, sort of. I declined a ride on the ATV and jogged up to the dog yard with Greg following on the four wheeler. I had gained twenty pounds over the summer and needed to get in shape. Doug had told me that was typical and happened to him every year when he was running the Iditarod. The place was much more subdued now, from the days when he had 125 dogs and three handlers. The pace was relaxed. I only had 17 veteran race dogs, 16 two year olds, 19 yearlings and two retired dogs to take care for.
Greg parked the four wheeler and stretched out the towline. We harnessed and put the twenty dogs I would be running on the line and waited. We let them lunge and bark their heads off. I tried to calm them down by petting them. Doug arrived and told me to leave them alone. He was trying to condition them to wait and said my petting them was reinforcing their behavior. Because I was old, inexperienced and out of shape, he had to get the dogs used to running slower and not get so excited. Finally, Doug and Greg took off with the dogs and I cleaned the yard.
Greg went home that evening. He would be staying at Doug’s and handling Friday through Monday every week. That was when we would run the dogs. That left me Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to do chores around the house and care for the dogs.