Click on any
of the pictures for a larger view and more information....
Click on any of the pictures
for a larger view and more information....
Borzoi have been pictured on old postcards,
pulling children in wagons. Why should kids have all the fun?
In October of 2001, I found a source
for a cart designed just for dogs, the Sacco
cart, made in Norway. It is used for
organized sport in Europe, and in the U.S., it is often used
for training lead dogs for sled teams.
Our cart arrived the end of November,
2001, and within three weeks, the girls, Caldonia and Tattoo, were pulling me a couple of miles at a time
around our rural neighborhood. Boston and Zorro, the boy team, had to wait until the larger
sized harnesses arrived, but by the week after Christmas, both
teams were able to make regular 8 mile drives.
Our driving season is greatly limited
by the Florida heat. Fifty degrees is really the upper temperature
limit for an 8 mile drive. At 60 degrees, we are cut to no more
than 4 miles. By the time the temperature is 70 degrees, two
miles is the most that is fun for dogs and humans. We go out
first thing in the morning for the coolest temperatures, but
this driver won't go out until it is above freezing.
Dirt roads are the most fun, since traffic
is not a consideration, but we have to drive two miles one direction,
or one mile the other on the highway, in order to get to the
dirt roads. All four dogs quickly adapted to the cars and big
trucks zooming by in the next lane at 55 mph. The drivers have
been unfailingly considerate and we are careful never to impede
the flow of traffic.
We've now logged over 1000 miles in
harness with the original two teams. This season, India
has replaced Boston to run with her father, Zorro, and Fiona
has joined Caldonia . Virago, or one of the other coursing dogs,
usually runs alongside on a separate leash.
We count among our friends and mentors,
George and Ann Cook of Alkas'iber
Siberian Husky racing kennel. The early
training was aided by hints and tips from their wealth of racing
sled dog experience. At George's suggestion, I've kept a log
of all our driving trips. The cart is equipped with a speedometer
and odometer, which also records average speed, maximum speed,
and travel time. In addition to recording speed and mileage in
the log, I note temperature, the route driven, how the team performed,
and any significant happenings along the way each trip.
Speed varies according to terrain, temperature,
and how far we go. The boys regularly go over 20 mph down our
drive to the front gate, with ten other dogs running wildly alongside.
Way too fast. The first mile out on the highway is usually 10
to 12 mph, and as they settle into a comfortable pace, the speed
will drop down to a steady 6 to 8 mph.
The highway speed record was set by
the boy team; 35.1 mph pursuing their arch-enemy farm dogs barking
from the back of a speeding pick-up truck. They stayed over 30
mph for a quarter mile. For safety reasons I'll never allow it
to happen again, but it was exciting (and terrifying) to do once.
Sometimes, in the past, Caldonia was
hitched out in front on a cable as a lead dog on the traffic-free
dirt roads with Boston and Zorro. The three of them as a unit
provided a lot of dog power! Next year, we hope to have a 4 dog
Borzoi team trained to run in a sled dog race on snow.
Harness work is great cross-training
for both the conformation ring and the lure coursing field, building
confidence, timing, muscle, and endurance. From the step on the
rear of the cart, where I spend 95% of driving time, I can kick
off behind, much like a Nordic-Trac, and help the team along,
especially on hills. Therefore, it is also good exercise for
the driver. Mostly, it is just FUN for all of us.
| Christopher and Patti Neale
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