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Benny's Summer Job
Benny's summer job: moving next winter's wood from driveway to woodshed. I made shafts for the wagon - he is so steady, he took to them right away, and has already mastered tight turns (requires him to cross his legs) and hold back on the hills! Malamutes rock!
I was asked about the training for this, whether or not I had to start with just the shafts. The answer is no. Benny is a rock steady dog. I just laid the shafts down on the ground and asked him to line up, so he did, just like he does on the sled. Then there was a lot friggin around while I fitted everything. I told him to stand still, like I do for harnessiing or grooming , so he did. Once I got everything adjusted I said lets go, walked beside him as I wasn't sure he wouldn't jump the shafts, but he didn't. He right away figured out what to do with his body to make the turns and the down hills etc. easier.
I think Benny is a dog who likes to use his own head in his own good time. The slow work of hauling wood with the requirement that he think where he puts his feet and his weight, particularly as we have a lot of steep hills up and down and sharp turns throughout to negotiate when we are doing this, seems to suit him. I think a more high energy dog would require more training.
My Nico would be very nervous about the shafts. He has pulled wood in the wagon for me in the past, but only only a line, like we use for the sled. I would not put him between shafts; he's never liked the wagon much. Its too erratic, without shafts, and yet I know he would feel trapped in the shafts, especially if something went wrong. Benny on the other hand just waits calmly for me to solve the problem. Benny also is a much slower, but steadier puller. Nico likes to run, and pulls because something is attached him when he is running.
Benny on the other hand just likes to pull. Benny is calm and very trusting. So he can devote all of his mind to figuring things out as he goes, instead of getting all panicked, and not being able to learn for wanting to run away. Once he's shown something that works, he remembers and does it again on his own. He also loves weight. I am going light right now while he figures things out, but I learned with the toboggan that the more he has to pull, the more he seems to get excited -- er,, in a calm "Benny"sort of way!
So Benny has become my wood hauling dog; Nico, as befits his station as the senior dog around here watches over the work from the yard, giving, no doubt advice which Benny, no doubt, ignores. When Benny is done his job, they both get a nice treat: Benny for doing the job, Nico, for just being Nico. What a team!