Happy Jack Road

Wyoming Headquarters TrailI have spent the last couple of weeks in Idaho. I am on Lisa Smith-Batchen‘s 508 crew and I have been doing some training with her and helping with the Grand Teton Races that Jay, Lisa and Zach put on at Grand Targhee over Labor Day weekend.

The races were great. One of the highlights was getting to meet Olga. She wasn’t able to run this year and many of the competitors can be thankful for that. She was out the entire 36 hours of the race giving runners great assistance at the main aid station. She was filling water bottles, helping with drop bags, taping feet, giving massages, encouragement, ultra-wisdom and smiles. I don’t know how many shoes and socks I saw her change. Her energy was amazing. She never seemed to tire.

Bonnie on at Happy Jack WyomingOn the drive from Colorado to Idaho Bonnie and I stopped and for an early morning trail run near the “Lincoln Monument” east of Laramie. There are some beautiful single track trails in the area. From I-80 West I took a right from the Happy Jack exit and another right past the Lincoln Monument and about 1/2 mile on a dirt road to a trail head. I started on the “National Headquarters” trail and looped around on a couple others for about a half hour. Bonnie loved it and helped me find the way back to the car. I had just picked up my orthotics the afternoon before. They felt great.

Keeping your pup cool

Bonnie staying cool. 28 July 2007.I really don’t recommend taking your canine family members to an extreme climate like Death Valley. It is very stressful to realize that even a few seconds lack of vigilance could result in severe injury to your best friend. I had hoped not to have Bonnie in the hottest parts of Death Valley, other than driving through, but I did not know what temperatures we would encounter on our California trip, so I prepared as well as I could. It turned out that she was near Badwater, Furnace Creek, Stovepipe Wells, and Panamint Springs for over 24 hours in 100+ F degree heat, with maximum temp of about 126 F. At times the car A/C was on. At others it was not.

In the photo she has been sitting in the car with windows and back open, no A/C, for about 20 minutes. The temperature was about 105 F. It helps that my car is white and has maximum legal window tinting, but the first line of defense when it was really hot was a space tarp clipped to the outside of the car on the sun side. These cheapo, small clips, and one of these ball bungees, secured the tarp at maximum speed of over 40 mph. If you you want to use the clips more than one day, it’s probably best to go for the larger, heavy-duty ones. The cheap ones were falling apart after a few hours in the heat and sun. It was amazing HOW much cooler it was in the car with the tarp in place.

She also had a small Cool Core Bed. She didn’t particularly like it at first, but as the temps rose, she was on it all the time. I kept it in a refrigerator overnight when I could and re-filled it with chilled water a couple times during the hottest day/evening. I think you could also put small ice cubes in it, but that would not work great with the foam core.

The towels are Cool ‘n Dry which I had first seen one of the CDD Frisbee dogs using earlier in the summer. I tried one for a few moments myself to see how much cooler it was. I did not want to give it back. Knowing humans are much more efficient at cooling themselves than dogs, I did. : ) I could tell that she felt noticeably cooler with one or two of these towels over her.

For additional ventilation, a few times I used one of these to keep the tailgate open, but secured. I have used that device much more in Colorado. I also brought along several battery operated fans, inherited from my grandfather, similar to these, but I never used them.

Those are all my canine cooling tips. Bonnie hardly panted the whole time we were in Death Valley, mostly when we were on a moonlight walk in 107 F, so I think we did a pretty good job keeping her cool. Bonnie is a naturally low key dog and I think that made it much easier to keep her cool. She was content to lie on her cooling bed and rest under her cooling towels. It would have been much more difficult to keep a dog like Jessie cool, who would have watched, and mentally taken, every step with the relay runners.

Running with dogs (on a leash)

Jessie spoiled me. She did not need a leash anywhere. Bonnie, well, she has her own good qualities.

Easy Walk HarnessThere are two items that make being leashed to my dog much more enjoyable. One is the Easy Walk Harness. It stopped almost all pulling immediately. It was recommended to me by a Colorado Disc Dog member. Unlike the Gentle Leader, manufactured by the same company, there is no risk of neck injury if the dog gets excited and pulls anyway. Here is a link to another woman’s experience with the Easy Walk Harness.

The Buddy Sytem LeashThe Buddy System, Hands-Free Leash is not perfect, but it is much better than any other leash I’ve tried. The separate waist belt means it doesn’t tighten when the leash is pulled. Also, I’ve found that a non-elastic leash is much more effective in giving Bonnie feedback; i.e. she is more focused on our walk. I use the Small Dog System with Bonnie and usually have the leash length around 36″ when we are running.

The hands-free leash and Easy Walk halter make being tied together fun and low-stress for both Bonnie and me.

Mini crew

Yet more dog pack photos. Hey, it’s my blog!
Bonnie heeling. 31 Mar 07
Yummmm. Can’t wait for that Wing-a-ling dinner.

I never anticipated how great it would be to have pockets on Bonnie. Today she carried 1.5 pounds, including dog biscuits (we’re out of Vanilla Hammer Gel), Gu and my gloves. She only weighs 27 pounds so 6-7 pounds is about her max carrying capacity and I’ll probably keep it under 4 most of the time. Still it is very handy to have those easily accessible pouches in addition to the pockets on the waistbelt of my Stratos.

Bonnie. Fetch at Dodgeton Trail Meadow. 31 Mar 07.Bonnie ran in her pack. She played in her pack. She also rolled in her pack. She will not be carrying my sunglasses. : )

OTN: 4.5 hour hike/run. Trail conditions – snow and mud.