Saturday, December 13, 2008

First Snowshoe Run of the Season

Today it is downright balmy! 36F and only a hint of a breeze. What a day! Tomorrow the temps should fall 30 degrees during the day along with 4 " of snow. Monday's high is 5. Enjoy today!

Last night while running on the trail I was slipping and sliding all over. I went off trail to scout out some new areas and the snow was about 4". Good enough for a snow shoe run.

This morning Topaz and I hit the trail at 4 AM, early enough to get in 20 miles before the boys would be ready for Belgian Waffles at 9.

I couldn't help but think about the two bear I saw on the trail last week, I couldn't help but think of the big tracks I saw last night..when I looked up the description of what it was that I saw, I read it was a wolf. I'm not sure. I am not a master of tracking! I enjoy looking at tracks and poop surely that isn't too odd..the poop. Maybe that is why Nancy and Alicia brought back "Who Pooped in the Park?" for me while they were out traveling..and trying to figure out what it is what I am seeing. Remember the poop with the paw in it last year? Amazing.

Anyhow, it was a very mild morning, beautifully so. Every hour or so we would loop back to the car for water and gels. Topaz is too excited to drink from a bowl when we are out at the trail. He simply refuses. He did eat a lot of snow, but I wish he'd drink some water!

At 650 I could see the first light of dawn; beautiful pinks, reds and purples. The birds began to sing and move around. It reminded me of while running a 100, the morning arrives and the animals begin to move and make noise.

As the sun rose I put away my flash light and began to look at the tracks. It seemed that two people were on skis up ahead of me. It seemed that they had a few dogs, off leash, as the tracks weren't near the skis, they were all over the place. Topaz was following the dog tracks, sniffing, and peeing all over the pee that was peed before him.

I fear loose dogs while running. You may recall that I was bit by a black lab on one of my earlier runs. I was training for my first Twin Cities Marathon and 1 mile into a 20, I was bit by a dog that I had run by almost every fricking day. On this day he decided to chase me down and bite me in the butt. I stood there, screaming at this dog. "I HAVE A 20 MILE RUN TODAY. WHY DID YOU BITE ME?" A neighbor the owners of the dog were in the house sleeping off a hangover and would not open the door of the mean dog brought me over some Advil and a roll of paper toweling that I proceeded to stuff into my shorts. "You are not going to continue running?" "Um, yeah, I am, I'll stop here later to deal with the drunks". And off I went. 20 miles and a shower later I was at ER getting 32 stitches into my butt. NICE!

So, yeah, I fear lose dogs while running. I now assume every dog will attack me. Sad but true. It is an irrational fear that I can't get over. Maybe not irrational. Topaz would bite if scared enough.

So back to this morning; I am running along, fearing a pack of out of control loose dogs. Soon enough, Topaz begins to act out his people and dog signal. He returns to me, running just a foot in front of me, looking back at me, waiting for a command. "It's ok Pazzie. Run on, we'll catch them soon". Sure enough I see two women on cross country skis. I don't see any dogs. I cough, trying to get their attention. I yell TOPAZ HEEL. Even though he is right at my side, he knows this is to get THEIR attention. He heels tighter to me and the women look back and see us. They panic. They begin to yell for their pack of dogs which are darting here and there. They are yelling loudly, taking of their skis and running through the woods trying to reach their dogs. It was almost comical. Topaz and I patiently wait for the untrained women and untrained dogs to come together. Gee, they only have 4 leashes. 3 dogs are eventually snapped onto leads, 2 dogs are held in arms with leashes dangling all over the place. One dog refuses to come. A big beautiful white shepherd stands 3 feet in front of the woman. She is screaming at him, GET OVER HERE.COME. COME HERE. I wouldn't want to come either. She looks at me "I think he'll be OK" Oh good lord woman, are you retarded? Why would you come out here with six dogs, off leash, and think this is OK. Why wouldn't you train your dogs you stupid bitch. They need to be on leash if you can't control them. I look at her and say "Maybe if you get down on your knees like this and I get down on my knees, and say come on in a sing song voice which I do and the COME ON in a respect me voice he'll come. Guess what? Beautiful white shepherd looks at me, cocked his head, made eye contact, wagged his tail and butt and proceeded to trot to me. I couldn't believe it. Topaz wagged his butt, whitey wagged his butt and off Topaz and I went. The woman stood there with her mouth wide open.

I don't get it. I will never understand some people. Many people. But people with dogs need to train their dogs. I don't know that there are stupid dogs but I know that there are stupid people.

Whenever Topaz and I are out running I always have his lead and collar along. As soon as we come up on a person I snap on his collar and lead. It's happened so many times that when we begins to smell a person he comes to me and drops down as he knows that is the command I would give if necessary. I snap on the lead and we pass the person. Even when he is out herding deer during our run, one click of the tongue and bam (!) he is at my side. If I hadn't been trained to train him he would not be running offleash.

End Of Rant.

My shoulders and neck began to feel tension after we left these women. I told myself to forget it, everything turned out fine. Pretty soon Topaz looks to the left of the trail and becomes all bristly. Oh come on! Not something out there in the woods. Not the bear. Not the wolf. He growls! Topaz never growls. He legthens his neck out toward the deep woods and sniffs the air. Oh good lord I can't take it. No bear. I look and look, we go off trail, looking for tracks but I didn't see anything. I shrugged my shoulders, rolled my neck and gave up the tension. Time to enjoy this run again. And enjoy I did!

We finished up our 20 miles via snowshoe in plenty of time for the Belgian Waffle fun before I and the boys went running errands. They had some shopping they wanted to do.

Tonight I'm going to Bucca with my ultra runner friends for a Christmas Dinner. I suppose I could replenish the glycogen stores with some carbs..I'll probably stick to the warm tomato/chicken/spinach salad. Woohoo! Enjoy today :)


jurgey said...

Hey Julie I was wondering what you based your training for Topaz on. Did you follow a book or hire someone to help you out?

Anonymous said...

Hi Julie...
Stupid owners = Stupid dogs.

Karen....Foot Potion customer :)
Owner of 4 Not stupid dogs....

Julie B said...

jurgey-when Topaz was 6 months old (I purchased him at 5 months old) we began puppy obedience at Golden Oak Kennels; a Golden Retriever breeder/show owner. She gave the classes in her pole barn. Puppy Obedience consisted of a class of 20 puppies running around the building at their free will for 20 minutes for socialization. We then snapped on 'gentle leaders' a collar/harness type thing that we used for training. We only focused on the basics: sit, stay, come. No heeling. After Topaz 'graduated', second in his class to another Border Collie we went onto Beginning Obedience, same trainer, still using 'gentle leaders'. There we met once a week for 10 weeks, as we did for puppy, and learned long stays, down, heeling and recal over and over and over. After that class where Topaz graduated first :) we went onto Advanced Beginner. There we again met once a week for 10 weeks. Now we removed the 'gentle leader' and used a plain leather collar with a 6 ft. lead. We focused on the basics but for much longer period of times with many many more distractions. We learned to use eye contact and hand signals as well as whistles. After that it was onto agility which Topaz and I just loved. Jumping herdles, up ladders, through chutes; amazing. It begins with puppy classes..even local Community Education classes usually offer puppy classes.

Karen-right on! The apple doesn't fall from the tree. Glad you are liking the Foot Potion!