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December 14, 2014

Tanner and Shoshone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was late spring of 2006 when I drove down to Missoula International Airport to pick up a pair of two year olds.  Actually, Tanner had turned two and Shoshone hadn’t.  After getting both crates to my truck, I took the dogs out for a quick walk.  Tanner was easy.  Shone, however, was trying to get away from me.  It took a bit of skill to keep him in his collar, which was loose, but I managed.

It didn’t take long after their joining the Silly Lake Pack for Tanner to decide I was cool.  Shoshone took some convincing.  What finally did it was when we started training.  After only one or two hook-ups, however, he decided he loved me. 

My first impression was that the two youngsters were diametric opposites.  Shoshone was serious and intense.  Tanner seemed like a goofball.  The only thing that pointed to something other than this was that, during training runs, only Tanner would be trotting up to the same speed as Quid, and it did look to me like the two boys were competing to see who could hold off the longest before breaking into a lope. 

The runs that convinced Shoshone that I was cool were my first training runs for the 2007 Race to the Sky.  During that race, Jake, Shoshone, and Tanner, particularly, stood out.  Shoshone and Jake---Shone was two and a half at the time--had led most of the race.  Both did stints in single lead.  Tanner, continued to appear a happy go-lucky goof, but his tugline had been taut for more of the race than any of the other dogs on the team.  In subsequent years, I became convinced that adding Tanner and Shoshone, alone, was the biggest single season addition to my kennel I have had.

When I started skijoring again, the end of the 2012-2013 season, my first runs were with Tanner and Shone, and they didn’t disappoint.  We knocked off a sixteen and then a twenty-three mile run, and had no issues completing either.  Prior to that, the longest sled runs they had done were eighteen miles and part of a ten dog team, not a two dog team. 

Last season, Shoshone continued to star, but Tanner started falling a little behind others.  Lolo, a half sibling and about a week older than Tanner, passed him up, as did Gaiya. 

This year, few of Tanner’s runs have been very good.  In the middle of the sequence of runs we’ve done, he came down with idiopathic vestibular disorder, canine vertigo.  The runs before he started showing symptoms, may well have been degraded by the condition.  After the time off, I carefully tried to get him back on the A-Team, but it hasn’t worked.  I’m not sure if it’s residual problems from his condition, or aging relative to others---the dogs certainly do age differently---but he has dropped behind several dogs he easily beat a couple of years ago.

And with this, I’ve moved him over to the B-Team.  With these guys, he should do fine.  He has a lot more mileage than they do, and he’s still faster than their pace.  He also gives me a third dog I can rotate into the B-Team wheel and a fourth dog I can throw into lead, though I will have to be careful about that. 

At ten and a half, the fact that Tanner no longer makes the A-Team has been much easier to watch than what’s happened to some of my other dogs.  The reality is he’s just had trouble keeping up, but with a slower pace, I expect him to do well.  There hasn’t been any real sign of a gait issue that would indicate either arthritis or spinal problems, both of which I’ve also seen in my dogs as they’ve grown older.  And, of course, ten and a half is roughly the equivalent of a sixty-six year old person---he really isn’t a youngster. 

Moving Tanner to the B-team does remind me that my time with my dogs is limited.  They are all getting old.  It also reminds me of the nicety of having a an A-team and a B-team or, more accurately, a B-team and a C-team.  I’m not selling my dogs to a different kennel, or retiring them, the two normal procedures for racing kennels. I am watching them grow old and I am running them and we, the Silly Lake Pack, are all enjoying it.  Bring on the snow!  

   
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