A day as a handler
It’s just past 7AM and I cross the courtyard to greet the dogs. Far the in the front of the dog kennel is Kompis, who, before my alarm goes off, know it is time to get up. However, this early hour is for me and a hearty breakfast, the Huskies are the priority at other times. It is still light at this time, even if the sun no longer comes around the mountaintop. Soon when the polar nights begin, I always have my headlamp within reach. A quick glance at the sky foreshadows a rather gloomy Autumn day. We’ve already been training for a couple of weeks, and have so much fun that the bruises and twisted fingers of the first days have been forgotten, and the sore muscles long gone thanks to the sauna. Now, we’re waiting for the snow, which can’t come soon enough.
42 sledding dogs and 5 XXX, for which their first season approaches with great strides. First order is to learn names and do it fast, because it is an indispensable foundation for good teamwork. Only then can individual commands be addressed correctly. In the dog kennel there is always something to do.
Before we can hit the training trails the quadbike, a monstrosity at first glance, has to be equipped with chains because the trails are often slippery. Until there is a sufficiently thick layer of snow to use the sleds we use Quad for training. If there is minimal sludge allowing me to keep the vehicle steady whilst being pulled by the hard-working powerhouses in the front we train in teams of 10, and only with 8 in rougher conditions. We have just opened a new course for our training. An old trail and two connections were cleared by two of us armed with chainsaws and bush cutters. Now we explore the new trail daily. The dogs aren’t bothered by the noisy quadbike, making its way over stones and sticks behind them, they are in their element.
However, before we start doing our rounds the pack gets breakfast, a meat soup to ensure that everyone receives enough liquid. Then the dog kennels have to be cleaned. Already one and a half hours have flown by. Then once the quad or sled has been brought to the starting line and the harnesses have been dragged out, deafening barks and squeals break out in the kennel. They are ready to go now and are making themselves heard. Getting these explosive balls of furs into their harnesses is a real tour de force and requires a lot of patience, not only from those already waiting in their harnesses. Soaking in sweat I swing onto the training vehicle and off we go.