Beckie = 1 Puppies = 0
Foot care… This is VERY important to sled dogs. Sore feet and dogs don’t want to run or they will but their gait will be affected which can lead to other issues on down the line. That being said as a musher we like our dogs to just stand there and let us look at their feet!! This includes nail trims. In the summer I don’t have a problem, giving tours on the terrain that we are on keeps them nice and short! In the fall – they are also pretty good. Now in the winter, dogs get trimmed as needed. They can’t be too long or they will burn through booties and it also affects their gait. Needless to say mushers are good at nail trims! I have an added bonus of being trained at nail trims (veterinary technician) and I’ve never had a dog I couldn’t trim.
I can trim every big dog foot in the kennel (30 dogs x 4 feet x 4 toes = 480 toes) in less than 40 minutes. It took me 30 minutes to do 5 puppies…that’s only 80 toes! But I won! It’s one of those events that I prefer to be in the dog yard by myself… I am pretty happy that there is no human around when I start working with them on holding still and letting me check feet and how we stand when we get our feet checked! I ended up with poop smeared all over me, sand in my mouth and lots of puppy kisses and a little bit of blood from a nicked quick! I got every little toe clipped and showed the little stinkers what I’m expecting from them. Actually I think it might be funny to have someone video me in this process because I would like to see how I hang on to those slippery little suckers! I might learn a few more secret moves!
This situation leads into my original thought …Someone asked me when I start training my puppies. Well that’s actually a loaded question! Training starts from Day 1. Day 1 I start handling them. I am not a hovering parent waiting for every pup to come shooting out of the mother. I let the momma do their job and my girls so far have not let me down! They both have been fabulous mothers and have waited until they were alone to start having their pups. I find the new freshies in the morning healthy, happy and clean! But training does start at Day 1 with most sled dogs. It has to, we breed high intense athletes, and these dogs need direction and purpose. The more we work with them and show them how we want them to behave the better off we are and happier the dogs are!
I am pretty lucky that so far my babies have been born in Alaska, at Alaska Excursions so they are handled by a lot of different people for their first 12 weeks or until they become extremely rambunctious and then become selectively handled by only the brave who want to take the sharks out of the tank! For the most part they come out VERY friendly and they love people! A few have been shy but that is their personality, not everyone can be a social butterfly! I prefer to breed dogs that have a friendly personality because I think it causes less stress when they have to deal with people they don’t know, in different situations (races, training runs etc.) but that’s just me.
It is very important that these cute little balls of fur don’t train the handlers. These dogs aren’t stupid and they know what they want and when they want it! By screaming and carrying on people will put them down and put them back….This is the part that I’m dealing with right now! They don’t like to hold still and they don’t want to be forced to do it! They will learn, they are smart and it will only take a few times before they understand what I’m trying to do and it’s easier to just let me do what I need to do! They are stubborn but so am I!! And I have a secret weapon…thumbs