Judah has finally gotten “good” enough (and I have finally gotten the guts) to get on some roller blades and go for an adventure with my husky man. I have always wanted to do this but have always been concerned that Judah would, well, kill me. He is a very good boy and has always been pretty responsive to me but he’s still a dog, a fast, strong dog. He also has a propensity for chasing squirrel and/or chipmunks. He also has an aptitude for catching them. Now when most people hear me say that I get a response like they are repulsed or saddened by this, no need! Judah is a catch and release man. In fact he usually seems surprised and confused when he catches them, he looks at me with concern in his eyes and a mouth full of creature. Then when I say, “Drop it” he does, and watches said creature run away.
Well the other day I finally decided to go for it. Just a little up and down the street in front of my mom’s house. I had a witness (chaperone) keep an eye on me just in case but all went pretty well! The only time I fell was when the puppy decided he wanted to try and he got a little tangled up in my feet. It wasn’t a bad fall, a little road rash but no broken skin. Judah knows (and is great with) voice commands, he has pulled me before on skis and has done a lot of running (in front of the car) so he has had lots of practice. He knows commands for faster, slower, right and left (not perfect on the turn directions but he gets the idea) and stop. Well after our successful, though short, first time with husky pulling woman on roller blades I decided we were ready to step it up a bit.
Sunday I got up, ate breakfast and had some coffee. After that I decided, “What the hell? Why not give it a try?” so I suited up. I packed my meter, a juice, told Marshall which direction we were going to head in and we agreed if I wasn’t back in an hour and fifteen minutes he’d jump in the car and come peel me off of the pavement. I took a deep breath and headed out the door. Judah knew exactly what we were doing and he seemed pretty happy about it. He walked next to me down the driveway poking the roller blades every other step and wagging his tail ferociously (he’s not really a tail wager). We made it to the end of the driveway and I sat down to put my blades on. Check my sugar one last time (155 mg/dl a little high but the activity would bring it down so no correction). Put on Judah’s vest and head out!
Confession: Right now Judah is pulling in his Service Dog vest… controversial I know. The truth is I am doing this for two reasons; 1.) I had a custom pulling harness made for Judah a couple winters ago and it no longer fits him. So until I get a new one… 2.) If I go down out on the road and am unresponsive- it is important that any emergency responders know that Judah is my SD, and he shouldn’t be separated from me. Marshall and my mother both expressed concern about this blurring the line between work and play. I don’t share this concern mostly because I don’t have issues distinguishing between the two with him. In addition once I have his new harness made we will switch to the pulling harness for these running activities. Then perhaps I will have to get a couple SD patches for the harness just in case…?
Judah took off at a VERY fast pace right out of the gate and I had a moment of hesitation. What was I thinking, I’m not that good on roller blades and living out in the boonies means these roads are not straight or flat. I mean what happens if he decides to keep charging downhill? Granted I could just let the leash go and call him back but that defeats the purpose and is too dangerous on the road. Luckily as we approached the end of the street we live on and I gave the “whoa” command he immediately fell to a heal position and gave me eye contact. We nicely stopped at the end of the road and watched two cars pass. I decided to go against traffic so I could easily see oncoming traffic but quickly realized this was not going to be the right approach to this adventure. The truth is we were going way too fast to be traveling like a pedestrian. We have clocked Judah running (with no back pack and not pulling) at 30MPH, we weren’t going that fast but would have easily flown by a leisurely bike rider. So after we cleared our first downhill we switch back to the right side of the road to continue our run, never missing a beat.
Up hill, downhill, corners and over the bridge, Judah kept running. He was very responsive and clearly in his bliss, it was honestly the coolest thing I have ever done with this dog. He was doing what he truly loves to do, what he was made for. At every uphill I would start to skate to try and relieve the pressure on Judah, I didn’t want to push him too far our first time out. Well I would relieve the tension from the pulling lead (attached to the vest, I had another longer leash on his flat collar for direction and control) he would push forward and take the tension back up, he loved the sensation of pulling me, and I loved it too! I began getting into a “tuck” (like I used too when dry land training for alpine skiing) and letting him pull me freely. It didn’t take long and he completely picked up on what we were doing and how it needed to be done.
On our adventure we passed, loose dogs, tied dogs, squirrels and birds- Judah did little more than tip an ear at them and when I’d say, “On by, hike hike” his ear would come off them and he’d continue forward. We even had a deer run across the road in front of us on our way back and while he did get a little faster a quick, “ah ah leave it, easy” set him right back into rhythm. We made it all the way home and came to a nice stop at the end of the dirt driveway. I gave the “stay here” command and took my blades off as well as Judah’s equipment. When I had my crocs back on we walked up the driveway (yeah he actually walked somewhere without being told to heal). I came in the front door and when Marshall heard me he appeared in the stairway looking concerned.
“We just made it to the post office and back.”
He looked stunned, “You have been gone for 35 minutes I thought something was wrong because you were back so fast.”
“How far do you think that is?”
“It has to be at least 4 or 5 miles, at least.”
We went back out again today and did the same run. This time we shaved off at least 5 minutes! This boy loves to run! I will try to get some pictures and maybe even video of this soon! He is really something to see when he’s moving like that, absolutely gorgeous!