Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What a Difference a Harness Makes!

Last night I took the dogs out for a short (but not quick, due to the
trail conditions) run on the alternate side. I had recently bought a
new Manmat half-harness for Clover so I can give Lexi's harness that
I've been using back, but I realized that the harness also will adjust
to fit Balu as well. It took a little extra bit of iron rope to tie
onto the tug of the new harness to make it the right length for my
lines, but I got it fixed up pretty quickly and we headed out to the
trail. Soon, Balu was sporting the new red Manmat harness and my, he
looked handsome!

I decided to put him up into lead with Calvin for the first part of
our run. Shortly after pulling out of the staging area, we made a
right turn onto the trail that heads down to Beach Lake. I was
absolutely astounded by what I saw before me -- my funny-looking,
blue-eyed, orange dog, a habitual trotter and a relatively slow
leader, was LOPING down the trail. LOPING!! In the year and a half
that I have known this dog, I have never seen him use any gait but a
trot while tooling down the trail. No matter how fast you were going,
Balu would trot or pace along, sometimes switching from one gait to
the other and then back later, but never loping. Here was a dog
before me that was ambling along at a slow lope and looked comfortable
doing it. I was absolutely flabbergasted.

All I can figure is that all of these years, he has been running in an
X-back harness and perhaps there has been something about that harness
that has made him uncomfortable at a lope, so he has simply stayed at
a trot or a pace. Well, he's like a new dog now. I will be
interested to see whether he gives up the pacing bit or keeps that up
-- I'll have to pay more attention the next time that we run, maybe
put him closer to me so I can see him better.

I hope to go out again on Thursday night, but the forecast is calling
for high temperatures and some rain. If that happens, the snow will
be hard, crusty, and icy, and conditions may not be safe for such a
novice as I. I hate to say it, but I think that this may be "the year
that I didn't get to run much." <frown> Ah well, hope for the best!


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