Love for sled dog sport? Planning new dog?

I presume most of you watch the Dog Power Movie? If not, please watch it. It is only 25 minutes and it is defo worth if you are looking for a dog for the sport.

My story

I have been reading a lot around and hearing a lot of questions from people regarding hounds or greyster which are great breeds and dogs for the sport. I have followed a lot of groups and forums to get to know the breed but let me tell you my story first.

As you may know I started my adventure with canicross in February 2016 with Roger. Great pullying dog. I thought this will be an additional fun hobby we can do together. How wrong I was?! I was so hooked after my first run that I went home and signed for my first race in April 2016. Despite I hated running. Roger loved it and he was very tired that afternoon. Our first race was with CSS in Plean Country Park. It was very challenging and hilly route, but I loved it even more. That time I discovered that it isn’t just canicross that’s there but there are more to this whole crazy thing. Yes, I was hooked and excited. Literally, I was buzzing after talking to so many folks and meet very good athletes. I started doing my research into the sport.

First proper season

I have decided to compete around UK with Roger and see how things look like and where we stand. I discover that a lot of folks have pointers in the sport, but also dogs specially breed for the sport called eurohound or greyster. I always dreamed about having two dogs so I started to think maybe I could get a pointer and be a bit more speedy than just 22 minutes per 5k with Roger.

I started looking for another dog, that I thought could make me faster. I have trained every day so hard to improve my running. In September 2016 I have enquired about pointer puppy in Greece. To make whole story short Laferra arrived to Scotland in October 2016. This was my first experience with a pointer breed. I read a lot about that they are energetic and full beans, but later on I learnt what that really means. As I am qualified behaviorist I was very confident that I will manage no problem. Laferra was only 4.5 months old and not really house-trained. Personally, it was my first puppy that I needed to teach what is the world.

Basic training started from day one, as I really wanted her to be spot on with everything to make my life easier, as Roger being an older rescue is very high demanding (separation anxiety, behavioral problems and reactive). I always knew staffies don’t understand your personal space, but later I have learnt that pointers are even worst. So house-training became and it was smooth, she was one clever girl. On the other hand, she was a nightmare to be left alone or in Roger’s companion. Laferra was loving to chew two things: socks and plastic things. Constantly something was chewed and I started to worry that something might happen to her. I don’t believe in crates and unfortunately, that wasn’t an option (Roger hates crate so he has access to the whole house, so I couldn’t just close Lafie).

Back to basics

I have started saying to myself she is only a puppy so I presume she will grew up from this stupid chewing. Later on I discover others pointers’ owners had the same issues, but dogs grew up from it. Ok she is only a baby. Laferra learnt quickly to do her “business” outside (very quick actually) and her recall was brilliant! I trusted her everywhere and she wasn’t even bothered when she met a horse on our walk one day. I thought fantastic I have a brilliant pet that I can trust being let off lead!

She was growing super fast and Roger loved her more and more. I could see that he liked to have her around. However, every day coming back home there was evidence that she found something and chewed. I gave up on “5min per month” rule and started really making her tired on walks but also playing games like I do with Roger. You can read a bit more here. It started to work, she finally stopped most of the time, but she was growing and being tall she could reach to the places she shouldn’t be even interested in. The kitchen counter got hoovered so many time and I knew Roger was delighted with her being able to reach there as she shared everything with him. I still kept saying to myself she is only a puppy.

However, being a puppy and being a pointer puppy was a bit different. For Laferra one day of me being lazy (meaning not playing a game or proper long-running off lead walk), she literally destroyed things mainly my clothes: lines, necks, zips and so on. She was bored where I was hoping she would sleep.

Old enough for more running

In 2017 I have discovered bikejor so I started training that with Roger, but to get skills I started riding bike on my own. I thought brilliant as Laferra is great off lead I can take her with me and she could get the activities that she needed. She was old enough to start doing it and be my trail dog.

I was learning myself and building up my fitness but Laferra had the best time ever and she could go for a long time. Our rides were minimum of 10 miles every time we went out. I was gutted that Roger couldn’t join us, but tough life if you have a zero recall. Anyways finally princess stopped all the chewing and she was tired sleeping when left alone. You probably want to ask how do I know this? I watched my dogs on camera while at work, just to make sure they are not stressed. The only problem was that I couldn’t ride a bike everyday I needed to do something with Roger too.

Running around

Laferra learnt canicross, being a bikejor dog and pull the scooter around. I always thought Roger was high demanding, but he was tired after 20 minutes training, where Laferra could go again and always tried to play with him at home. I thought she is young so she must have a lot of energy, but at 19 months old now she has even more energy.

My life changed a lot having her, I wake up 4.30-5am to make sure I go out there let them off lead and let them run around before I head to work. Usually, they have a dog walker during the day who takes them for an hour walk which is usually off lead walk and finally in the evening we drive outside Edinburgh to train: canicross, bikejor or scooter, or just me running with Laferra being off lead. Only Friday is my day that I don’t do anything with the dogs in the evenings (well we clean the house, which is great fun with two barking dogs). If one day I am being lazy and ruin the routine I come back to chewed things! And Laferra isn’t a puppy anymore.

Note: Laferra doesn’t understand personal space at all as per below photo ( you wake up to this).

Sled dog sport

I started my story to show you that a pointer changed so much my life as she has so much more energy than Roger or any other dog really. She also made me super busy with making sure she gets rid of this crazy energy.

Now being in the sport for 2 years, I started looking and learning about those “special breeds” for the sport. There are a lot of folks out there with those dogs, a lot of forums and groups on facebook that talks about them. However, I felt it was just talks and people opinions, I wanted to know the truth. As you know I had a brilliant opportunity and qualified to go to the IFSS World Championship in Poland (you can read here about it). I met with so many breeders but also athletes who own those dogs. This trip allowed me to watch the dogs at home (I stayed with few in the same accommodation) but also I could watch them during the big event racing or just sitting at the stake out.

IFSS World Championship gave me the chance to meet so many those pretty puppies but also see those adult dogs in action. They all were fantastic, strong and very keen to run, no matter if it was canicross or four dog team. Fantastic to watch but I thought there must be something more to it. I started talking around and surprisingly people were happy to share their experience. I discovered that those breeds can vary in mix of the breeds they have already and this mix was changing the way dogs behaved. All those breeds are full of energy, and I knew this kind of dog means more than Laferra herself.

On forums and groups you can read how much they destroy and how difficult they are to be left alone in crate. I know different dogs are different, but people told me it is a tough life to own one of those dogs, they really need attention. In case of the greyster they also need some attention as they love being around people. After few discussion I can easily say that those dogs cant be just pet, you need to train them every day. Canicross isn’t enough for them, and also they are that strong that running in a harness isn’t an option for every day training, so you need to do a lot bikejor and scooter- be brave enough as the speed you can go is crazy. Couple athletes in Poland told me that if I ever decided on that kind of dog I will need to make sure I am prepared for life to change (and there was me thinking, Laferra changed my life enough), otherwise this dog will ruin my house no matter if it is greyster or eurohound. A few of those dogs are only one person dogs, so not really a family dogs either. A lot to take on board before you decided about them.

I am not trying to put you off! I just want that people realize that those dogs are pretty and amazing runners, but there is more to just looking pretty athletes! In my case, how would my dog walker cop with having a greyster on a group walk pullying him?! This is just an example. Do your research, it took me a year to collect all the facts until now and I am still learning every day about them. I use the opportunity to go to different events to spend time with those dogs and their owners. I love to get to know them and see how really different they are.

One more thing before you get bored reading this. Those dogs breed for the sport and there are a lot of wonderful breeders with a long waiting list, but to have a confident and super athlete you need to put a lot of effort and train it correctly! What’s the recipe? Noone knows and you can only try and do as I tried with Laferra (I am still learning that recipe!).

I hope you enjoyed this post and have a better idea! I would defo recommend doing your own homework. Laferra is only pointer, no more crazy breeds in there and one day I was thinking Roger is high demanding right?! There are a lot of things to take into consideration when willing to buy a sled dog and bring it to your house.

For now I just focus on Laferra and Roger, They are both great for the sport and I feel it is great progress for me. Starting canicross at 30min with Roger and going down to 22min and with Laferra down to around 19:30min. I think I am on the right track, slow progress and improvment. I have learnt a lot about other breeds for the sport and still have plenty to learn.

 

 

The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare.

This post will be all about training how when and why from my own experience and my own opinion what I would have done differently and why.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beginning

Let’s say it loud there is no one right recipe for how to teach the dog  how to canicross. There are a lot of  knowledgeable folks there who are happy to share their experience, but there is no right or wrong way. You need to find the way that will work for your dog.

Roger and his start was the easiest job ever! He is a natural puller, harness on, bungee attached and he is off! He is smart cookie so knows the commands very well. Yes, 2 years old dog and he knew very quickly what to do. Roger was just getting better with every training. I knew I could trust him 100% when running.

On the other hand, Laferra was a puppy when she landed on my doorstep. I had no clue what to do and why. I have search internet, talk to folks and really couldn’t find the perfect recipe for training the dog from zero. It was a really good lesson for her. Let’s start from the beginning then.

Puppy training

You look around on youtube, Instagram and facebook and a lot of top athletes from sled dog sport are starting training their puppies at age of 7-8 months. They run them for 0.5-1mile canicross or even bikejor. I felt for Lafie it is too early and I wanted her to be a puppy for as long as possible. Usually, the start time for dogs according to race rules is they need to be 12 months old for canicross and 18months for bikejor and scooter. I have decided to just make her familiar with a harness so she was running off lead with harness on. I also focused my training on 100% recall of lead as I knew I would train her off lead on bike for her fitness and take her up the mountains when I was out with my MTB pals. We did well there, she has 100% recall! I know you think: not a chance. Well, I have tested it with having fox, horse and deer on the way!

Older puppy

I was super excited to finally start working with her, but I haven’t rushed to anything. At 10months old, we started doing power walk with canicross equipment. She was all over the place. Comparing to Roger she was just daft. We continue that even tho it was very frustrating at times as she wasn’t really good at focusing and listening what I tell her. She just wanted to say hi and be best friends with every single dog. I have never tried her with Roger either, and I know some did. It worked for them, pro-dog teaching new dog. In my case, I wanted to make her confident on her own as she is very shy and submissive dog. We just continue the training, she was more interested in birds and stops when she could cuddle with me. It was frustrating every single time. Now I only laugh at it as she is such a baby.

My teenage dog

She turned 12 months and we started doing more during the run, which was much easier than power walking due to that there was less time for her to get distracted. Finally, she started to understand what is this all about. Training was going really great until our first race! Our first race (first race report is here), Laferra thought we will do exactly what we did at training and we will stop for cuddles. Oh! Princess, we need to run to the finish line! Not successful but we finished our first race.

Racing

Although training was going well I discover that she didn’t understand the 5km distance and stop at the finish line (not when she felt like it). I realized all this few months I did it wrong. I didn’t build her for distance. Don’t take me wrong, she was fit to run it or even longer. It was just her head not ready for 22 minutes constant run or even other dogs on the trails. She was 15 months already so I really felt like I wasted time. It was time for changing the game, or at least I thought I did. Another race and unfortunately another fail (you can read here). We didn’t finish the race and I never give up. I was devastated and very upset that I really tried to prepare her.

I had two months to make sure she is ready as I already committed to going to IFSS World Championship (you can read about it here). After few days having a break from all the running, I sat and wrote a plan.

The new plan which changed the game

I knew that my dogs don’t care about winning or loosing, they just want to run with me. I just couldn’t disappoint them myself. Laferra and I started building up the speed and the distance at that speed. We ran 1 mile! Next week we did 2 miles and so on. I started doing more of 1-2miles with her on scooter or bike. She was loving it. Eventually after few years saying I will never go to parkrun, we went to parkrun and ran it. It was amazing to see how she cops with all the people, noise and distraction.

She was just amazing and I could see all these worked for her, which showed at the World Championship that it was all worth the patient. The time we spent together also build fantastic bonding between us. I have learnt one thing, if one training doesn’t work try something different. Dogs are different. She loves running and her harness.

Reward

Yes, I had an easy life with Roger, but the most rewarding with Laferra. I feel very emotional when we go out there and race. She just loves it. It isn’t always perfect, as you always learn something new right?! Sometimes we go back to basic or a small thing makes her distracted. However, at only 19months coming all the way from Greek streets, she really grew up to a fantastic “sled dog”. I am looking forward to our future and more competition. We both have fun and that what’s matter most.

What I would do different?

I think this time I would make sure Laferra is more familiar with wheels from early stages of her life. Even just putting it near her feeding place. She is brilliant MTB and with scooter, but she isn’t 100% sure about bike. Probably also would make her more familiar with hydration after training as she hates drinking water after training or race (no clue why). Finally, I would defo allow her runnning free when I did training with Roger on wheels or just canicross. She would have watched the wee pro doing it perfectly. Maybe this would help me to have less time being frustrated.

I probably wouldn’t attach her to bike or just run with both of them, but would defo want her to see more of Roger in action. Maybe two dog scooter one day! I presume she would love to have Roger with her during training now.

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Note: here are other posts which has some tips on training.

 

 

Bring on 2018

Ok so we had a look what we did in 2017 it is time to look what we will do in 2018. So far it doesn’t look that busy yet.

January

We are away to Wales this weekend for our first qualification for IFSS ECh in Sweden which will happen 24-26th October in Nybro, Sweden. Apparently Pembery is lovely, so hopefully, it is worth the drive. Roger is suffering from an allergy so rest for him.

A week after that we are away to Muiravonside Country Park for another Scottish Championship race. I think Roger might run this one, but it all depends on his allergy.

February

I am planning to attend D&A time trial in Tentsmuir and check how we progress in 4 months with Laferra. Lovely place for walks too.

The middle of a month is taking us to England for BSSF National Championship, which is a second part of the qualification for Sweden. Another long trip for some great races. We loved it last year.

Laferra was still a pup, but during that trip, she proved she is an easy dog to take on travels. That was when I knew if we managed for Poland, she is going (and as you know she was a great companion).

I am tempted to fly to Italy for races on snow at the end of February. Of course not to compete but just go and watch it.

March

I might go and do one of SDAS races in Ford (all depends timing).

As per our tradition, we always did Plean race, as that was our first race ever with Roger. This year we will miss it as we are away for third and last BSSF National Championship somewhere in Scotland.

Our Easter weekend this year we will hopefully spend at one of the Midlands Canicross Series. Four days of racing in different classes.

April

We still be at Midlands races but also we are away to CSS Strathallan Castle races. As last year plan is to do canicross and bikejor.

May

We are away to France for the weekend. Yay super excited about this.

 

Oh yes there might be more to come for sure! But that’s all that I have defo planned and put in our calendars. Actually it looks busier than I thought. Happy racing yay.

 

 

Never give up, never give in, and when the upper hand is ours, may we have the ability to handle the win with the dignity that we absorbed the loss.

It is time

It has been a stressful week, preparing to make sure I thought about everything for the dogs and myself. I have been traveling a lot abroad but never with a dog. Just stressing about everything. I will definitely share my traveling experience with you when we are back.

I wish Roger could go with us, I feel anxious leaving him behind, so he defo comes for adventure with us next year.

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He deserved a short holiday off from training as he worked really hard last 18 months.

Pack the bags

Oh! I hate packing, this is stressing me a lot. I have new jackets for Laferra, her favourite food. Time to pack her bag and my bag too. A list is long but I really don’t want to take too much.

Lucky me my parents are coming so they will bring me some additional stuff if needed.

Travelling

We are leaving tomorrow, long drive before we meet with BSSF for some last briefing chat for Team Leader role and reaching to a friend. On Monday we will be on the way to Eurotunnel and Polska. 1923km from home to the race HQ. Hoping to arrive on Tuesday if Kim and I will drive well. I can’t believe my parents did this route twice by a car.

Training

Today was our last Parkrun run and training for Poland. Princess will rest and get full energy for the races on Saturday and Sunday. I will probably do some wee jaunts around to make my legs going.

Keep an eye on our FB page for some updates how are we doing and how our adventure looks like. Full update when we are back.

 

History to be made

Here are some photos from the past and how we all started this crazy sport.

This was our first time ever…

 

Happy Saturday.

Every champion was once a contender who refused to give up

Motivation

Someone shared with me an interesting link recently. Its quote from “Rocky” is just spot on.

“it aint about how hard you are hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward…”

I always dream and always make sure I put 100% to make my dreams become true. <3

Dreams

Counting has begun. On the 19th of November, we will be on the way after dropping Roger for his holidays. I am nervous and super excited. This is all happening! I think I still can’t believe that I am going to the World Championship. My dream trip. I will finally meet my canicross friends from around the world.

Princess Laferra will make new dogs friends too. Together we will promote rescue dogs too.

Last few trainings

We have been working really hard in last few weeks that looking at my times and paces I am buzzing even more. Such a progress from both of us.

Our most favorite location for training is the Abercon which has nice soft trails with uphill and downhills and even open field. Love it there. A lot of water stops for the dogs.

9 days to go which means we have maybe 5 more trainings. We both had long journey in last 3 months. Time to start thinking about the packing for real now! I have not started yet.

I am buzzing and no one will take that away from me. My dream, my life! I will keep you posted how we are getting on our adventure. Watch this space.

 

Big dreams turns into hard work!

Most important preparation just started, in 5 weeks from today, Laferra and I will be probably heading to start line to have one first race at the World Championship. Just writing this gives me goosebumps, so I can’t even imagine how I will feel there.

Preparation

Proper preparation started a few weeks ago, and I can see massive progress in me as an athlete who runs, in my body and in my head. I also see my girl is growing up in confidence too. She has her up and down, but it is going well. As they always say it is better to do mistakes at training and work on them, the actual race. I have decided that I will do my best myself, and have fun. I will not put any pressure on my girl. She is an amazing dog anyways!

Vet check

Part of the preparation for that kind of event, we needed to have a passport ready to travel abroad but also a vaccination so she can compete. Surprisingly even tho day before the event there is a vet check if the dogs are fine to compete, you still need to ask your vet for a clear green light and health check! Laferra is ready!

Planning the journey

I think this is the most exciting part where you need to plan when to leave, which way to go and when you will arrive there. What an exciting thing… I am going to leave earlier than we have planned, so we can be in Poland earlier, and recover for races. It is a long journey. 1291 miles. Many hours of driving. We need to plan where to stop too, as having dogs with us we need to make sure they can properly stretch their legs too.

Game up

As per the previous post, I really needed to pick up the game and make sure Lafie is ready. She is shy and timid, so I needed to find the way to build her confidence in very short time. A friend of mine recommended me to start going to parkrun. I always refused parkrun, as they are just too busy for me. It was great to test us last Saturday. I didn’t know what to expect (exactly like it will be a World CHampionship) so I was a bit nervous. What a surprise to see my girl chilled and relaxed around so many people.

We went to Falkirk to Callendar Park. I can say we stormed it! I was super proud of my girl, even tho she slowed down twice. I had a great time and going to be back again this Saturday. Going to ask if we can start at the beginning rather than overtaking 200 folks.

Obedience training

We work hard at home and outside. I make sure it is loud and busy so she can get used that it is all ok. Does anyone want to go to the pub? Let me know. The more unusual places the better. She is doing great.

Running

I feel like it is going up and down, not always the best! But we are getting there. The most important thing is that we both enjoy it and have fun. I feel again that I am getting addicted to all this running! Rest days turn into more running. Maybe eventually it will pay back.

Dreams

My dogs changed my life. I always dreamed of things, but when I have them I live the dream. I make sure all my dreams are becoming true. Dream big, live big. Last year I said I will go to Poland and we are. We will represent My Home country in my Homeland! I am super excited! Counting down begins. And noone said it will be easy! It is hard work.

Happy Friday Folks.

 

 

 

Cause weekends are all about fun.

I love my weekends. Also full of something, always being outdoors and having fun. That makes me happy.

Beecraigs Country Park

But firstly just a quick note. We were back to Beecraigs Country Park. It was getting dark but before the run, I wanted to walk the dogs. I thought quick power walk around and we will be fine to come back to the car before the dusk. Well, it was fine, until we were halfway through and I lost a bit of orientation and it was getting darker and darker.

My advice is always to have your head torch, as I was really anxious that I couldn’t see anything when walking. We only went for a walk around (square). On the other hand, princess Laferra had a blast as she was on a mission as there must have been something in woods.

New location that we explored

So we had a chance to join West Lothian Canicross club for a run at the new location for us. Lionthorn Woods is situated near Callendar Park. An excellent place full of mixed wood with a beautiful burn. It links with Union Canal which is nearby. I didn’t realise until I was halfway through that actually I have been here before. I came here with my MTB group. If you want to practise hills than this is the place to be for either MTB or canicross. Nice and soft paths around with livestock which is a very exciting place for the dogs to run.

Another weekend full of fun

I always try to plan so many things to do with dogs during the weekend. A lot of friends complain that I never have time for them! Well, weekends are for me and dogs. haha For a change this weekend we have spent it differently and we worked on the bonding.

We have spent time with my friends, who lives in heaven. Literally, heaven. I had the opportunity to cuddle and feed goats. They are amazing. Such a cuddly and soft nature pets. I really want a goat now. Roger got over obsessed with them, probably as they were moving quite fast. I have decided to take him out and let him be around until he got overexcited. When he was overexcited he was back to crate to chill.

As you probably know from my previous post, Roger is obsessed about livestock, he doesn’t remember me or hear me when he smells other animals. I have never tried it before so this was our opportunity to see what Roger will do to the horses or around them. Firstly wee walk around the field and boom he is gone and Laferra follows him. I try to recall him, and unfortunately, zero reaction, what is worst Laferra is just chasing Roger. After few minutes Laferra realises it isn’t fun anymore and she comes back to me no problem. Roger runs my way, does the eye contact and just go straight back near the goats. Surprisingly horses didn’t interest him so much.

Bonding

I think that kind of weekend help me and the dogs to build our bonding even more. It isn’t all about running or biking. It is all about happiness and having fun! I like to be outdoors and explore.

Overall amazing day

In short, it was an amazing day as this was the first time I could let my dogs so close to other animals and also I had a shoot of ponny! I used to do horse-riding so it was amazing to feel like a child again.

4 hours of playing and having fun! What a great weekend. Looking forward to our next weekend, which is race weekend! Yay

Happy Friday Folks.

Equipment that will make you a “Pro” Canicrosser or Bikejorer!

I have decided to write a post about equipment as there are a lot of posts on facebook where people are asking for what is the best!

I am not an expert but I have learnt a lot in last few months being involved in the sport. So here’s my experience and only my opinion (you don’t need to agree).

Canicross

Let’s start with canicross. As of yourself, you will need something comfy for running:

It is an easy choice for people as there are a lot of different running companies that sell the right gear, but when it comes to dogs gear that’s another story. When I started my adventures with canicross, I couldn’t find much or I found information that now I know they were misleading. A lot of companies are trying to say their equipment is right for running with dogs, but I have learnt that a lot of them are purely business and money orientated and know nothing about canicross, and not talking here about faster pace sports like bikejor or scooter.

Dogs equipment

I struggled to understand and find something that will be good for Roger. He has an unusual shape. So I made him run in his walking harness (what a stupid idea that was, note on that my own gear wasn’t good either). I have decided to buy my first equipment back in Poland. DC Grizzly belt for myself, manmat bungee line and Roger had his walking harness. We were very slow but we enjoyed the runs (as per photo above).

Eventually, I have learnt that it is very important to have the right equipment:

  • A dog can get injured, if harness is incorrect for pulling.
  • Dogs should be able to use their shoulders without any restrictions.
  • The harness shouldn’t be too high on their throats.
  • Bungee line has a different length for different sports.

So my first equipment was a wrong choice. My belt hurt my lower back. Now I use this belt for hiking and it is just perfect. My bungee lead was too long (bikejor line) and it was harder to work together as a team. Also, Roger harness made restrictions on his running style and choked him.

Right choice

I still struggled to find the right equipment. I thought I went in the right directions and ordered a customised harness for Roger. Well, once again wrong decision. I was close to giving up when I decided to go and ask for recommendations from folks who do the sport for years. They know the sport and they know what is right for the sport and why.

My old equipment ended up in a bag. Roger got his brand new harness from Dragratten. How surprised I was on our next run, his pull was stronger. I noticed that more often when he saw his harness he got super excited. Note from me: his harness was tight, it wasn’t loose, it worked really well with his running style.

I have changed my belt for the lightweight and it was sitting on my hips too. Amazing, no more pain in my lower back. Bungee line was a bit shorter and the whole experience of canicross has changed. We started to progress with our times and I could see it helped as to become stronger.

My younger dog got her pro harness straight away. She will probably grow up from it soon, but it is defo worth the money as she learns in the right equipment from the start. She was 10 months when she got her first proper sled dog harness. 

Why use a collar?

I decided to keep Roger as he pulls a lot during a walk in a harness, but it is a different one than his running. Laferra walks on the collar, which helps before races that I can keep her on the collar when she is trying to be mental. Also during training, it is handy with her to have the collar to cool her down or walk her to start point. When I am nearly starting running I clip her on harness so she knows she needs to pull.

Bikejor and scooter equipment

Ok with caniross you can make mistakes and learn from it, but when it comes to faster speed sports you better with the right equipment. So what do you need here:

  • MTB bike or scooter.
  • Helmet and gloves.
  • Bikejor/Scooter bungee lead (longer than canicross).
  • Dog harness.
  • Arm antenna to keep the lead away from wheels.

People ask why do you have arm antenna on your bike. Ok on the photo above you can see lead is a bit slack as Roger slowed down due to big stones and hill. Arm kept the line away from wheels so I didn’t have an accident. I tried bikejor and scootering without the arm and instead of having fun I was thinking about line and brakes all the time.

Once again a lot of money if you think, but again it changed the way we train and how much we enjoy all this. I use same arm antenna for my scooter.

Equipment is very important

I have learnt: it is all worth the money! The dogs love it more and you can really push your team at training and races.

There are a lot of companies who say they are great for canicross, but think twice. In last couple months, I have managed to stay injury free and my dogs got excited when they see harnesses.

Think twice about your dog health! Use the right equipment, ask experienced folks for advises! It changed my experience and I hope you will find the right path to the right equipment yourself!

I am not an expert but been to may races in UK, I watched and observed, I have learnt out of my own mistakes!.Be happy, enjoy your running with furry friends.

 

Good shop with equipment: https://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/

 

 

 

Highland Fling Canicross Race

I don’t really know where to start with this post. Probably because my head is still buzzing after the weekend and I am still shattered.

Aviemore

I always thought that Aviemore is further than it actually is. I have packed the car in the morning and then we went away. If you don’t know what to pack remember to read my post: Camping with dogs.

Anyways traveling up there was amazing. All those views with purple everywhere. I think it is the best time of the year to go up North. Sooo pretty. I was driving so I haven’t taken any photos. But thanks to my friend Catherine there is one photo how pretty it was. I love Scotland and hopefully one day I can live up north.

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The road up to Aviemore is nice even tho one line most of the time. I felt the traffic was busy, but it didn’t make me tired. We arrived at the Dalraddy Holiday Park after 2.5h driving. Dogs were way fast asleep. Women at the reception were very welcomed and gave us a map how to get to our pitch. Unfortunately, there were no more strawberries left, but they told me there will be more tomorrow (those strawberries are just the best).

Campsite

A lovely park set in 97 acres of mixed native pine & birch woodland with spectacular views of the Cairngorm Mountains range, which now forms part of the Cairngorm National Park. It is only 3 miles south of Aviemore, close to Loch Insh for a superb variety of all water sports activities. An excellent location for walking along the Badenoch Way, taking in the breathtaking scenery starting from holiday park, with some stunning sights along the 16km walk following a path through the lovely village of Kincraig, leading you to Ruthven Barracks in Kingussie.

So there we are driving to search for our pitch. We found out that it was between start and finish line so actually perfect spot. We have arrived and noticed our canicross friends around on other pitches, which was awesome. Dalraddy campsite is dog friendly (only 2 dogs allowed), but you need to keep your dog under control and on lead all the time. The pitches are separated by trees from each other, so my dogs couldn’t really see other dogs. Roger and Laferra really chilled and played tug game at our pitch, not bother with what’s happening around.

It was nice and sunny, so we managed to set up our camp very fast. The pop-up tent is amazing, a few minutes later that’s tent up. A wee walks around to say hi to everyone and few fixes to the bike. All sorted couple minutes later. Great to see everyone again after summer break.

Pre-race night sleep

I was worried that Laferra won’t settle in as this was her first time in a tent, although she camped before with Roger and me in a car. How surprised I was when I zipped tent and took their collars off to see them getting comfy in their bed. Not moving or barking during the night. A very warm and good night sleep for us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Race day- morning

I felt a bit nervous even tho I did this racing thing for a year now. It was new to me to do two dogs and there wasn’t much time between classes. Dogs walked and hydrated back in the crate and there was me putting and planning ahead my comfy outfits for running and bikejoring. I did help at the registration and then off to prepare dogs for the race. Here is our schedule for preparation (always same routine):

7:30 am Last wee hydration for dog

7:40 am Clothes on, Greeprs fasten

7:50 am Quick walk for pees and poops

8 am Wee energy snack for race

8:05 am Quick run for me including toilet (stress pee) 🙂

8:15 am Another quick walk for dog

8:25 am Harness on

8:26 am Fitline drink for me

8:27 am Laferra’s warm-up

8:30 am Long course starting

8:35 am Standing near start line in a queue

8:46 am Off we go

During race

I think I was more stressed than Laferra as it was her first race. All the time that she was with me since a puppy around races probably helped her to get the right attitude and knowing what will happen. First “haw” and first “gee”: she is amazing on first two corners, which is unusual as she is a wee bugger when it comes to directions. First straight, car passing behind the fence and she doesn’t bother with it. Laferra keeps doing what she supposed to. Approaching the first marshal and I can see it is James, the person she likes a lot. I am calm and shouting: “on by” and she pass without even looking at James. He cheered us too, but she was just keen to continue the run.

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Half way through

I feel so good with her and keep encouraging her. She was fantastic until after single track around 3km, she was a bit confused with tarmac, but she found a nice soft path to run on. Next turn and she is back again on a single track: so focused, but she is terrified of a tape. I reassured her that we just need to pass it and let her go back to front, she is back on track. I didn’t need to encourage her to pull, she was on a mission. We have passed another marshal and once again she didn’t even look. Approaching chalets, difficult crossing, and a marshal, I shout “haw” and there is my girl keen to say hi to marshal (as she does all the time). Somehow we have managed to continue. Around 4.2km I needed to remind her to “get on” with it and start pulling again. Almost at the finish on a nice single track again she picks up the pace. Amazing finish for my girl although she was a bit confused with people standing before the finish line!

She knocked out 1.5min off the time I had last year with Roger. I am super proud and there is a lot of space for improvement. Quick back to the car, water out with some sardine’s oil in, harness off and a lot of praise. Time to get ready for Bikejor.

Race number 2

Same schedule as before. I always have the same routine so my body and my dogs know what we are doing. In the meantime, 20 minutes after canicross I gave Laferra Fastdog- recovery biscuit. 10 am approaching so time for another race.

Start line and as always Roger is super calm. Sniffing around and saying hi to marshals. Oh, I love this boy such a change from last year. The new bike was amazing, it felt so easy to pedal for this wee boy. So much fun riding and shouting in the woods with my favorite. He was as always running his socks off.

Oh how much I love him. We have managed to do our target time, so I am very pleased with him. Back to finish line and he is one happy dog. Got his sardines and water. Harness off and back to the crate. 20 minutes after the run he gets his recover biscuits while I walk Laferra.

Human recovery

Oh, I can feel having two dogs will be hard work, but at the same time, it will be so much fun this season. Right, so I needed to recover fast for my evening races. I felt tired actually very tired, after not doing much in last few weeks due to my business trips.

I have decided to check if the best strawberries are still in a wee shop at the campsite. How chuffed I was when I saw still few boxes left. Quickly ate one box (fine gave 4 to the dogs). I also had some soup and decided to have a nap in a tent. So put the dogs on leads and snooze a bit while they could have fun outside.

Dogs recovered super fast

How surprised I was when I saw them back full beans again just 2 hours after the races. It must have been the biscuits. I was hoping I have something like this for myself. Drunk a bit of my Fitline drink and went to snooze.

Around 4 pm I had a chicken pasta which really filled me and I was ready to go again (well that what I thought).

Evening race time- bikejor

Here we go again. Even tho I thought I feel fine, I felt tired but didn’t want disappoint my dogs, so I kept thinking I can do it. Roger was so excited to be first out in the evening. There we go again. As Rogerowski is cross Staffie and Border collie, he is a good thinker. Sometimes I wish he isn’t that smart. 2nd run: he is doing fine and I feel pain and heavy muscles. He pulls and keeps going, smart boy slowing down at bits with sharp bigger stones, but I am totally fine with it (we are here to have fun). Passing the marshal and stones and he is back pullying like a train. I am super proud and putting as much as I can on the bike. Last single track and he still pulls. There we are at the finish line and Roger is one happy pup rolling all over the grass. Quick hydration and change of clothes. Time for last race of the day.

Canicross in the evening

Last race, I feel really tired. I am hoping for nice and easy run as Laferra never canicross for that long. She does long distance off the lead with me on a bike (MTB), but never canicross.

Start line and there she is, again keen to go and can’t wait for her turn. First “haw” and I am thinking: oh gosh she is great again! First “gee”, I am thinking I am not going to skip training ever again, no excuses. Half way through I hear the noise and thinking: oh no train. Once again she didn’t bother with noise and continue her running. My girl did well. Two races in one day is a lot for such a young dog without experience, but she did it without looking that she struggled.

Wearing Merrells helped my legs for sure. Super light, super comfy was definitely what I needed for my tired feet.

The last corner to run to the single track through the trees, I feel my legs are saying no and I feel awful cramps. I think: Laferra must feel same! I can do it. She sees trees and picks up a strong pull. I cheer her as I really need her help. We did it. We did it again and I have an amazing dog.

From rescues to best pets

Lafie and Rogerowski had a tough start of their lives, they have ended up with me. Every day I am thankful how lucky I am to be able to rescue both. Such a different dogs, but both amazing. Roger is natural at canicross and bikejor. Laferra started from basic, but she has potential with all the hard work we put in she is amazing already. From being homeless and hopeless they become my pets and my life the best. They do everything you ask them for. They are Champions to me no matter what!

Weekend

This weekend was great, so much fun with dogs and friends. Time to rest before more hard training. Couple days off for the dogs, but not for me. Yin Yoga on Mondays is spot on for all those stiff muscles and today I am ready to go again. I will make sure next time I can do as much as those two without a pain in my legs. I am so ready for it. Let’s the fun begins.

I hope you had a great weekend too.

If you have any questions or comments messaged me.

 

 

Ruff Dugger

An unusual event is happening every so often in Scotland (check Ruff Dugger Facebook page for more details). Team La Rogata has been four already. We participate but we also help as much as we can. Last time I only helped and it was still great experience to stand at the finish line and see everyone happy and smiley. You probably wonder why people were so happy, so continue reading this post. 

So what’s all the fuss about?

Ruff Dugger is a cross-country run with your dog around challenging course with obstacles such as muddy trenches and roots or even a tree on a way. It is great fun for you and your four-legged friend. You get very dirty. It tests your teamwork for sure. You can sign as an individual team (you and your dog) or you can sign with your bestie (you, your bestie and dog each or even you, your dog and your bestie without dog). 

I have done it as a team with my “volleyball” friend and we had so much laugh that my belly was sore for the next few days. As a team, two dogs and two humans need to work together. You laugh and run together as a team you need to cross the finish line.

The great thing about Ruff Dugger is that it isn’t timed. It is a race, but it doesn’t matter when you cross the line. It matters how much you enjoy it and how much it challenged your team. Ruff Dugger starts in Waves. I absolutely love the names: Mucky Pups (kids), Speedy Gonzales, Dies Hards, Trotters and Hikers. 

Laferra’s first race

I have signed with my younger dog, who has never raced before. She was at races before, but only to spectate. So this was a great opportunity to see how she deals with it. Oh wow, I am speechless. At the starting line, Laferra was crazy so keen to go. As it was a nice big field we had a lot of space from other runners. 5…4…3…2…1… Go and here we go running into the first paddle. Yyy very deep paddle. Laferra wanted to say hi to few people but nicely passed the paddle and here we go again.

On the muddy bits, Laferra decided to go around or stopped, which wasn’t a bad idea as that mud was deep. It was great to work hard with my girl when there were trees on paths. She waited patiently for me to carry her over. The muddy trench was so much fun. It was so slippy and deep, so I carried her. Of course, I don’t force the dog to anything, but I didn’t want to take a chicken leg. It was all about fun. She did amazing staying focused, but she forgot ”

Overall Laferra did amazing staying focused, but she forgot “haw” and “gee”, so we definitely need to work on that. Oh, and she decided she wants to say hi to marshals when they said hi to us. So please any marshal out there, just smile when we pass hahaha I think this will need some extra practice too. We had a chance to overtake but also has been overtaken. She nailed it!

Anyway, I still have a smile on my face as it was hard work running or passing that deep mud and a great afternoon to see all our canicross friends.

What to expect?

What can you expect from the Ruff Dugger:

  • Great experience for you and your dog.
  • Challenging course with muddy trails.
  • Some roots on the way.
  • Lying trees to make you jump over.
  • Maybe some slippy hills.
  • Water crosses.
  • Muddy trenches.
  • A lot of turns- twisty trails (watch for those signs and tapes). One of the Ruff Dugger course has a maze.
  • Marked as normal races, so you can practise reading the signs and giving directions to your dog.
  • Very friendly atmosphere.
  • Great Marshalls.
  • Great advice from Cani-fit regarding equipment for canicross.
  • Nice gadgets from the event. You can buy Ruff Dugger tops, towels or toys for the dogs.
  • Remember to bring clothes to change afterwards or your car will be very muddy.
  • Hose with running water to clean yourself and your dog afterwards.
  • A nice goody bag.
  • A lot of photos for you to remember how much fun you had.
  • Fantastic memories forever.
  • Everyone welcome.

Friends of Team La Rogata

I asked my two friends what they thought about Ruff Dugger, just so you know it isn’t only me loving it. Thanks to Aisling and Fiona for sharing their experience.

“Ruff Dugger was one of the most fun days out for me and my dog Coral. It was just relaxing to have a run in which we were not running against the clock, but working together as a team to get through the muddiest course I have ever been on! She loved it so much, we were smiling the whole way around and I can’t wait for the next one, bring on the mud! ” Aisling Gribbin with Coral

“This is the second Ruff Dugger that I have done with Dakota and she loves it, she was really excited and pulled the whole way round. It’s great to have fun and work as a team getting muddy even if it did mean she had to have a bath after!” Fiona Duxbury with Dakota