Sheryl's Alaskan Malamutes - Activities - Weight Pulling - AMAEP - Harrisburg - April 15/16, 2011
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Weight Pulling

April 15, 2011 - AMAEP - Harrisburg, PA
Our trip to Harrisburg starting at dawn was uneventful and blessedly short at 90 minutes. Beautiful blue sky, oh how welcome that is. Two days in a row of sunshine. I was thankful for the sun the day before as I'd laundered the harnesses and they got to dry in the sun.

I had taken in the first crate from the car and was trying to decide where to setup when someone asked me if I had the Saturn with two husky type dogs in it. Yes, well your car alarm is going off. I setup the crate & went back out. The alarm was off, but I asked one of the parking lot patrols if the alarm had gone off and he said yes. He said the big black dog was messing around in the front seat and the alarm went off and you should've seen him hop back to the back seat and sit like he did nothing wrong. :) Hello world, Sebastian is here! Of course Dave G wanted to know if that was my horn he heard, and so did Brenda Lemon. Always got to make a splash entrance.

Got my boys setup without any further issues, and was able to park in a decent spot. Not as far away as in other years.

Plenty of time to check in with folks & chat and see if anyone needed to put me to work on anything. Roseann had everything set for conformation but wanted help later with the weightpull which would of course be no problem.

87 malamutes were entered into conformation which I thought was a good sized entry, but evidently 30 less than last year which was less than the year before. Darn this economy. In the whole complex there were over 2600 dogs entered in conformation. But the easy parking, even that early in the morning, showed that it's still down overall from 2 years ago.

I didn't see Dave for a while and couldn't locate Rich Deutch (he's putting on the pull). They had to go out to find a wheel for the cart, there was a flat. So their morning was hopping.

While that was happening I had time to chat with Brenda & Val while Raider was getting groomed and check in with their puppy Darla (or Darling Darla as I call her, the fluff ball). Then a chat with Laura Heft (GraniteMals) while she was grooming Tassi. She had Tassi, Rhya & Ashlar with her. I love her Ashlar, a beautiful silver who's 12 years old. Then a quick chat with Lori Hicks and greeting two of her puppies I hadn't met yet (same litter as Michele Izzo's Polar, and the Gallaghers' Cuda & Carly). Barb & Jenny with Bee Gee & Trace arrived. Barb was doing Rally with Trace in the morning, then weightpull with both boys in the afternoon. Barb gave me a cd of photos from an agility match in 2009 that include some of Cinnabar - can't wait to see them! Then Laura (CelticWolf) arrived with Nanook. Dave & Rich got back from the great tire hunt, guess they had to go several places, but got what they needed. Moses arrived with prizes and his camera! We got to work moving the tables to where they needed to be, Laura (CelticWolf) setup the prizes on that table and we strung the banners. The first for National Dog Food, because, bless their hearts, they provide the bags of dog food that serve as the weights for the cart. The second, Dave, Rich & Moses strung which Brenda, Val & Barb Lichota brought which signified the challenge prizes they brought:

weight pull challenge banner
You may recognize a few of the dogs on the banner - :)

Val said that Raider was not chipper, but laid back and wanted to get him amped up to go in the ring, and hoped he'd see a girl that he liked to perk him up. I said bring him over to see Cinnabar, because he always makes goo-goo eyes at him. Brenda did bring him by a little later and sure enough the two boys had a good time together and Raider was pretty perky when he left.

Then we got down to getting the weigh-in setup. Sebastian weighed in without a peep, he was a really good boy. He was 140. Cinnabar was 109. I was recording the weights and getting the entry forms & taking the money for Rich. Moses handled the heavy lifting for the weigh ins.

Conformation ended about 1:30 and we got started in the weightpull a little after 2:30. We had 20 dogs pulling. 8 dogs in the 80lb class, 9 in the 100lb class, 2 in the 120lb class, and Sebastian solo in the unlimited.

Because of AMCA rules, the most I can start them at is 500 lbs. I really would rather start them around 1000 lbs, especially with weight increments of only 100lbs, but oh well.

The first few rounds, I hooked & Dave braked. Then we switched off with Brenda when our dogs were up. Then I spelled her with hooking again and after I spelled Dave at brake when his dogs came up, a friend of his asked me if he could brake - perfect!! Rich had talked about how much you learn when you work the cart during the handlers meeting & I reinforced it, but we didn't have any other takers. Hoping with a larger turnout on Saturday we will have more takers :)

Nanook had himself quite a day, he did great for Laura, and pulled a personal best of 1800lbs!

Bee Gee did well, and young Trace (after getting his excellent title in Rally in the morning) also did great pulling 900 in only his second weight pull (he got a WWPD leg with that).

The battle was on between Cassi & Quest in the 80lb class. They went tit for tat for quite a while. Neither of them could make their last pull & Cassi got it on time from the previous round. Both of them were spectacular.

Cinnabar getting unhooked
Cinnabar getting unhooked - photo by Moses Martin

Sebastian getting unhooked
Sebastian getting unhooked - photo by Moses Martin

My boys were breezing through and I was double passing them up to 2900 lbs. I single passed after that, which turned out to be a mistake, I should not have passed.

Cinnabar digging in
Cinnabar digging in - photo by Moses Martin

Cinnabar completing the pull
Cinnabar completing the pull - photo by Moses Martin

At that point it was the same 4 dogs "as usual" in the final four - Ranger, Raider, Sebastian & Cinnabar.

Both Raider & Ranger made the 3000lb pull (which I had passed).

On the 3100 pull, Raider didn't make it. Ranger did and in a nice little clip of time, too.

Cinnabar started his backing up routine and backed almost out of his harness for a tangle. I reset him and he started again with the backing up. I used harsh voice for him, it focused him more and he really tried, but he got the wheels to roll a little, but had himself in a spot where despite him digging in he wasn't starting it. I had them push it on his next effort and praised him.

Cinnabar thinking about it
Cinnabar thinking about it - photo by Moses Martin

Cinnabar getting it
Cinnabar getting it - photo by Moses Martin

Cinnabar getting it
Cinnabar getting it - photo by Moses Martin

Sebastian easily started the cart. He'd been in a "yawn mood" all day, and his last pull was wandering off to my right and I was concerned about him leaving it short, which he didn't do on that pull. He did on this one. I put him in a sit and asked him to start again, he did try several times, but his shenanigans bit him in the butt and he didn't finish the pull on his own, but with a push.

Sebastian starting the pull
Sebastian starting the pull - photo by Moses Martin

Sebastian rolling along
Sebastian rolling along - photo by Moses Martin

Sebastian still rolling along
Sebastian still rolling along - photo by Moses Martin

Sebastian left it short trying to restart
Sebastian left it short trying to restart - photo by Moses Martin

So, Ranger got MWP and Cassi got top body percentage! Congratulations!!

As usual, it was a fun day, and a great pull. My favorite pull of the year.

On the way home, as I got my ticket for the Turnpike I went to stash it behind the garage remote on the passenger side visor. It wasn't there. I figured that Sebastian had knocked it off and would look for it when we stopped after we got off the Turnpike. Then I was wondering how I'd get in the house without it. I came up with a few scenarios, but was really hoping I could find it. When we stopped, I tore through all the stuff (harnesses, crate sheets, equipment bag, etc) looking for it and it wasn't anywhere. Then I thought, what if he didn't knock it off, but took it. Sure enough, there it was in the back seat. Sigh.

We were home by 9:15 and they crashed.

More photos of Sebastian & Cinnabar

All of Moses' photos from April 15, 2011

April 16, 2010 - AMAEP - Harrisburg, PA
Left at dawn again, but a little darker because of all the clouds. An uneventful trip, and no one set off the car alarm this time! Oh my, I got there at the same time, but it was obvious this day was better attended than the day before. There was a line to get into the parking lot at 7:30am. The attendants throughout the lot were more attentive to where we parked and were really jamming us in, but it turned out to be a better spot. I was right up at the wall of the equine building, just two buildings away.

I moved our crates from their previous location on Friday, as that was to be the Swissy grooming area over to what was the true crate area for the weightpull. Very shortly after that Eileen arrived, she was pulling Kodi, and we got her setup in that area, too. Dave, Eileen & I were talking and Shawn (SHvar arrived) with Tikaani.

It was obvious we weren't going to have the glorious weather from the day before, sunshine and close to 60 degrees. It started drizzling, and then regular rain.

Then I saw Michele and with her was John! That meant she was bringing all her dogs - woo hoo! Our little holding area was filling up quickly.

I went to get the sign up forms from Roseann and figure out where the scale was so we could be weighing in dogs while conformation was continuing. Dave helped me setup the scale and we got started with the weighins. There was a gentleman there with a big gorgeous black & white mal puppy named FreightTrain who wanted to give pulling a try. This pup was gorgeous, big head, beautiful mask and I estimated between 90-100 lbs, but 11 months old so he couldn't pull in the competition, but we would give him an opportunity to try it before the pull started. He was watching us weigh in the dogs and after Shawn brought Takaani over to weighin (Takaani was good as gold being hoisted up), wanted to see what his pup weighed. FreightTrain was rambunctious and mouthy, not as in noise, but grabbing arms with his mouth. I told the pup, no teeth touch me, but he was used to not listening. I was having trouble just trying to get one paw in the sling and he was mouthy with my hair and I declined to continue trying to weigh him in. Dave, who was doing the hoisting, was glad I did that. This beautiful dog, with a naturally sweet temperament, is out of control with that behavior and his dad isn't doing anything to curb it. A real shame. He needs to get him under control. He did pull the empty cart without any issues at all.

Shawn's Takaani also gave it a try. He was initially confused. He's been good on a sled following another dog, but weight pull is different. No one to follow. I got down on the floor with Shawn and stayed right in front of Tikaani and he pulled the cart while licking and then attempting to lick my face. On his next try, he was still timid and I showed Shawn how to encourage the behavior wanted while tugging on the shoulder of the harness. On his final attempt, there was a little light bulb moment and he was getting with the program. A really fine first attempt. Tikaani is a sweet tempered dog and a very good boy.

Haley showed up with her mom & dad. Good grief it's so obvious she and Ziggy are related. Sweet, happy, ready to meet everyone and similar looking to the Ziggster. She is just a joy. She got weighed in with no problem at all. She used Cinnabar's first harness.

We had a few more conformation people that wanted to give weightpull a try and we got them weighed in and figured out who had harnesses that fit. Michele lent Shiver's harness to Maggie Mae, so there was double duty with the harness there, which was good practice for Maggie Mae's mom, getting it on and off several times.

Steve & Peggy Anderson were there with Idy & Bragi and they were easy to weigh in.

10 more dogs than the day before!

I had the ribbons from Rich, and got the prizes from Roseann. Barb & I set those up on the prize table. Val setup the beautiful challenge plates on the next table. Next task was to setup the computer and get the new dogs entered on the spreadsheet. We've got Moses' laptop and that gets hooked to a monitor so that all coming to the scorers table can see. Same as the day before, Jenny was our scorer and booming out the order of the pull. She always does a great job with that.

Rich told me he had gotten pulled into a bench trial and that he would have Brenda judging after 3:30 when he had to attend that trial. He also told me the Governor was going to be on hand at some point. During the handlers' meeting he stressed that even more and how important good sportsmanship is, and positive reinforcement.

Then I saw April and she brought Klondike, whom I got to meet after my boys pulled their first round. What a sweet, sweet girl. Ashley (Skylinemalamutes) was on hand too! Then I saw Patty, but no Ziggy :( She said that he was coughing and didn't want to bring him in. I missed not getting to see Ziggy, but loved getting to see Patty again!

When conformation ended, Laura (CelticWolf) & I got the chairs from ringside and brought them over to chuteside. It seemed as soon as we did, spectators just showed up.

We got started earlier than the day before, handlers meeting at 1:00 and we ready to roll. I was taking Sebastian out for potty and April told me she'd take Cinnabar. I didn't have his gentle leader on him & warned her & that I could put it on him before we went, but she was ok. At least I forewarned her, but I should've just put the sucker on him. We went down the steps of the loading dock and past 3 rows of RVs to the fence by the creek. It was still raining and the puddles were quite large & the back area was very muddy. But, we got the task accomplished.

I took Sebastian into one of the indoor ex pens the day before but he did nothing. Only pottying outside has ever been acceptable, and despite all the smells in there, he still did nothing, so outside potty trips for my boys are a must.

We had lots of cart help! Steve Anderson was hooking for about 2/3 of the pull and bunches of us took turns braking. What a difference that makes in not wearing people out.

We again started out at 500lbs and I double passed them, same as the day before, and just stayed on that schedule.

Barb's Trace again did well, as did Bee Gee. Laura took a walk on the wild side and passed the empty cart (it's always tough to do that first time - you're scared to death they're not going to pull it and you've got nothing to show for it), but Nook pulled it and again did great for her.

Laura's (Granitemals) Tassi also did well again.

Michele's Shiver did well. I see real improvement with her. Her Yukon did really well. She's had John pulling him the last couple months and it's obvious he's a daddy's boy. John just talks quietly to him, "c'mon Yukie" and he responds. Michele is a very good handler, and made a good choice in letting John pull him. Her Tundra was doing really well and looking good, but on one pull (I think we were around 1500 lbs) she dug in started and then looked like it just occurred to her that she had to go back and make friends with Steve Anderson who was hooking. Michele is always quick to go in and correct and she did this time, too. It's a hard thing to do because your pull is done once you cross that line, but she does the right thing by going in that quickly. Her Nikko also looked good in the chute. I didn't see what round he went out, but think he was over 2000?

Eileen's Kodi also did well, he's really improving. She's done a good job working with him and it's paying off

As the pull was continuing, so was the rain and it was getting worse.

As the day before, Cassi & Quest went tit for tat in the 80lb class, with Quest going out first at one more round than the day before.

Then there was an announcement on the loudspeaker about checking where your cars were parked, the creek had overflowed. Dave ran out to check where he was parked and we all waited until he got back. While we were doing that I went out on the loading dock. Oh my, the creek had overflowed. Where April & I had pottied my boys was underwater by about a foot or so, and it was water all the way to the base of the dock, but only a couple inches there. Within five minutes, it was 6 inches at the base. They were getting the RVs out of there. Just past our building it's an incline and was not under water.

When I went back into the building, all the prizes were gone (I was only outside 10 minutes) and other stuff was being packed up and moved away from the outer wall as there was some leaking & stuff was getting wet. Dave came back and said his car was in a good place. I asked Roseann about the equine building and she said, nope you're on high ground you're ok. Rich was missing all this action as he was still in the bench trial and Brenda had been doing a great job of judging and filling in for him.

More announcements on the PA system about getting cars out of the flood zone, I looked outside and it was much worse. Roseann recommended to Brenda that we shut the event down, and said since she was judging it would be her decision. I agreed with Roseann, and so did Brenda. We all wanted to continue to pull, but not at the expense of safety. As it was we were looking at a nightmare of lugging stuff through multiple buildings and that was going to take some time. Dave wasn't crazy with the decision because with the event shut down, no prizes were going to be awarded. It wouldn't take away any legs earned, but no prizes awarded and he was in competition mode & wanted Cassi to get top percentage. He took a look outside at the loading dock, which was now much, much worse and said essentially, you guys are right.

The dogs that were still left in the pull at the time the event shut down were Cassi, Ranger, Raider, Cinnabar, Dream and Sebastian. I think all had pulled 2400 lbs.

Rich got back in time for the shut down. He said he'd met the governor and asked me if I'd seen him. He's our new governor and to tell the truth I wouldn't know if I saw him. Well, he'd evidently been at chuteside for a while and enjoyed what he saw. I do remember seeing men in suits, but was so into the pull didn't think about it - LOL!

I took Cinnabar (gentle leader on) to the back of our building, into the North Building and out that way to my car, which was just fine. I moved it a little closer and walked back. As I was in the North Building, I noticed the Northwest Building was open and what looked like wet tire tracks through it. I asked one of the official looking guys if I could drive my car through it and he said that's why it's open. Yay!! I went back to the car and knew I was going to have to drive through one deep area (maybe 4 " of water) to get into that building, but that was doable, and so I did that and ended up in the alley between the Northwest Building and our building (West). Much easier. I let several people know, and some already knew. I got Sebastian out into the car and his crate into the trunk.

Haley's dad took Cinnabar's crate out for me, and her mom took bunches of other stuff for me. Saved me two trips at least - thank you!!! Haley was the only dog in novice and would've gotten a wonderful prize & I was tempted to ask Roseann for an exemption on that prize, but it wouldn't be right , so I didn't. I was just remembering Cinnabar's first year when he won novice and how wonderful it made me feel to get a prize for him.

April & Patty came out to say good bye to the boys. They were staying overnight so weren't going to have to drive a long distance in the rain.

I went back in to say good byes to everyone, feeling badly that I wasn't going to stay to help, but the semi at the end of the alley had water halfway up it's wheels and I had a feeling I was going to be driving through more than 4" of water on my way out of the Northwest Building. I took a last peek out on the loading dock and the water covered the first two, maybe three steps from the parking lot. Rich was taking pictures of it. Hugs & goodbyes and I walked out with Laura, who wasn't happy I don't have a cell and said she'd look for me on the Turnpike.

That water I was worried about was about 9" now and I knew I'd have to drive through it fast not to stall in it. Just as I revved up, made my run and entered it a man emerged from the RV next to it and got showered from my car and screamed at me. I felt badly about it, but it was my only way out.

On the way to the turnpike I could tell it was good the car was going to be on for awhile so that the engine heat would dry things, it felt like I had a spark plug that was misfiring. Once on the turnpike, the rain really slowed down and that spark plug got back to normal. The rain was intermittent all the way home, either light or torrential and I was hydroplaning in some spots. I took it at about 55, not just because of the hydroplaning, but the wind was really buffeting the car in spots. I was glad that I didn't know about the tornado warnings at the time.

Off the turnpike and near home, the rain eased up, but I could see with all the debris on the road, the wind had been strong for a long while. We made it home in one piece, and crashed.

I still had a great day, despite the unexpected "excitement". I love this pull and being with all the great malamute people.

10 month old Sebastian - down/stay with hand signals only
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