Puppy diary: the first canicross session

Our little Kute has been growing a lot. He is 10,5 months old and is over 30 kilos. Finally starting to look like a proper dog an not a puppy. I haven`t been writing about his development in the past 4 months, so let`s catch up a bit.

Until now he has been doing loads of freerunning with us, he joined us when I was training the others with the sled, when we were skiing or running, and occasionally he could try to pull. He is so eager about it, runs to us whenever we are about to attach one of the dogs and pushes his but towards us, hoping that he will be the lucky one. He vines when we are about to start, he is so nervous and barks if he is left behind for a while, like when he takes a wrong turn and realizes it too late, so he has to run and catch up. Then everybody can hear him complaining.

Early winter he still got tired just from following the dog that was pulling, but by the end of the season his endurance and power finally got to the place we wanted it to be. Since dogs cannot be unleashed from the 1st of April we were super happy to see, that he is finally ready for some more pulling sessions.

We want Kute to think that he is superman. If you listen to this podcast episode with Dallas Seavey you will understand what I mean. We want him to trust us, to know that we will never make him do something he cannot do. Therefore it is super important to not overtrain him and don`t tire him too much. Pulling has to be fun.

I was so eager to see what he can do, so I got to be the partner on his first proper training. After some warming up for both of us Mikal took the huskies, and we headed out after them to do some intervals. The plan was 3 minutes, 2 minutes, 2 minutes and 3 minutes intervals over a not technical, but slightly undulating road with a few minutes rest. We headed out to our first one, almost only uphill. Kute was so eager, since he could smell and after a while because we were so fast see the huskies and Mikal. He flew and I could feel that I haven`t been canicrossing with a strong dog for a while. My legs were burning.

After a few minutes rest with walking on the collar it was time for the second lap, but here we had to pass Mikal and the huskies. Kute got a bit unsure, this was something new, especially with me (he is more attached to Mikal), but for my biggest happiness he continued! I could feel, that he went a bit back in pulling, but after a few meters he was pushing again. We met a dogwalker, and he went up to the dog, got a big NO and a CONTINUE and luckily we managed well. Time for another rest.

We reached the end of the road, so we had to turn back. Here it was a mess, Mikal and the huskies were coming, we had to pass them again, Kute fell a bit apart in head, I was not planning to have so many mental tasks for him. We continued until he started to pull well again and then we stopped. It was important, that he got back into the rythm and it was me deciding when to stop, not him. We only ran a 100 meter circa, but we decided to take a small rest and then run again. Not it was time for the downhills, and memories came rushing back, how it was running behind Anti in Nybro. Painful. I thought Kute will be better, but it was the same feeling.

We met the dogwalker again, it was an even worse passing, but we managed, but had to stop right after, since our 2 minutes were up. Rest time. Mikal caught up in the meantime with the huskies and passed us, so did the dogwalker, so Kute went nuts, hysterical, the whole village could hear him. He started like he was shot out of a pistol, I was just hanging behind, my legs were dying. We passed the dogwalker super cleanly, making both the owners and me cheer out loud. Then Kute fell apart again, no clue what he smelled, but his nose was just attached to the ground, still pulling, but making it really uncomfortable. But then suddenly he just clicked and on the last downhill, which was the steepest one of course, he stormed down with the biggest concentration. I think he heard Mikal say something to the huskies, we caught up with them once we almost reached the car, they were not that far in front.

I was done, but it was time for the cool down. Kute dragged me across the road, he was obviously not tired, but we made it home eventually.

Kute amazed me. I feel bad for putting him into such a mentally challenging situation, neither did me or Mikal think that we will meet this much on the trail, I don`t know how we managed to do it like this. Luckily Kute did great, and it was definitely a super practice for him, but I think for the next few sessions Mikal and I will work with him alone.

Once we got home and I saw the time results I was even more shocked about this little guy`s performance.

First uphill interval: 2.49 average (1.07 km – 3:01 min), second interval: 3:10 avg (0,63 km 2:01min), messy interval 5:55 avg (0.11 km 0:29 min), third interval (downhill mostly) 3:11 avg (0,62 km 2:00 min), last interval (downhill) 2:55 avg (0,97 km 2:49 min).

We all have loads of training ahead of us, but I can barely wait for the autumn season, where now we will have two dogs to choose from when we want to compete hard. Of course the huskies also get to join if there is a trail they enjoy, but that has to be either crazy technical or really flat 😀

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