23 November 2013

Meet the Musher: Lori

Meet Lori.  She makes her home in San Fransciso with the Raging Bulldogges. Check out their video.


What dog powered sports have you been involved with?

I do scootering, carting and sulkying.

How  did you first get started in these sports?

I started about 6 years ago because I hurt my back, and was having a hard time giving my dog enough exercise.  Riding a scooter was the only thing that didn't hurt.

For many of us, running dogs is a lifestyle.   When did you know you were hooked on the sport?

When I took my Boston Terrier to a mushing clinic 200 miles away, carpooling and sharing a motel room with a complete stranger, LOL.

Tell us about this picture.

 This is This is Ivy at the mushing clinic in Oct. 2008.  The white dog in front of her looking back in disbelief ran the iditarod the year before

 What is mushing like in your neck of the woods?

For me, it's pretty sedate.  I live in San Francisco, and because of the hills, there aren't a lot of suitable places to ride.  We do most of our riding a block away in Golden Gate Park, riding to areas that are fun for the dogs.  They take me there, and then I throw the ball for them.  It's a win/win situation.  I do have some friends that I can ride with on weekends if I want to.  Unfortunately, the places they ride are usually about a 40-60 mile round trip for me to drive.  One of the reasons I got into this sport was because, unlike many other dog sports, once you have your dog powered vehicle, there's very little expense.  Driving that far would really add up in bridge tolls and gas money.  I do try to get up there with them once or twice a season.  We also have a fun race in October called "So Mush Fun" that raises money for homeless huskies.  I do that every year.

What is your favourite activity to do with your dogs?


How do you control a sulky?  Does it have brakes?

My racing sulky has no brakes; it weighs only 24#.  You use your feet.  My everyday sulky has disc brakes.  I steer with reins attached to a driving collar on Otto, the middle dog.  They also knows gee and haw.
What other kinds of training have you done with your dogs?


What else have you trained your dogs to do?

I have competed in obedience, agility, and tracking.  I have done pet assisted therapy, and have trained 2 assistance dogs.  I am now trying to train them to hunt squirrels.

Tell us about the Raging Bulldogges.

I have 3 dogs, all related.  My oldest is Ivy, the one I took to the mushing clinic.  She will be 9 in Feb. 2014.  She is a purebred Boston Terrier and weighs 18#.  The other 2 are her pups, Otto and Suzy.  Otto weighs 31#, and Suzy weighs 19#.  Their father was an Olde Boston Bulldogge named Roman.  He weighs 32# and runs marathons with his owner!  Otto and Suzy will be 4 years old in December 2013.  They are litter mates.  They all get along really well, and are quite a handful when out walking.  If I didn't have them trained to pull me around, I think they would drive me nuts!

 What characteristics do you look for in a new dog?

  The most important thing to me is having a dog I like and can get along with.  There are many breeds that are better suited to this sport than mine, but I couldn't get along with them for various reasons.  Specifically for DP sports, well, these are the only ones I've had.  I trained what I had, I didn't specifically go looking for a special dog. 
However, I have thought about it a lot.  Because it is warm here and never snows, I would look for a dog with a very short coat, preferably in a light color.  I find that light colored dogs take warm weather much better. 
 You need a fairly energetic dog that likes going places, a dog that's resilient.  A really sensitive dog that freaks out from noises or things rattling behind is not going to enjoy this sport. 
You need a forgiving dog that won't get bent out of shape if you run into it, which you will occasionally do. I would also look for a dog that is non dog aggressive.  Having a dog that wants to fight with other dogs while in harness is a nightmare. 
 I wouldn't want any kind of hound or "nosy" dog that always had its nose to the ground.  I like a muscular dog with good length of leg underneath him, but a fairly low center of gravity.  Legs should be straight, with no crooks or bends at the joints, and good feet are really important, meaning tough pads and well arched toes.  Yes, you can bootie them, but it's a pain in the butt and an added expense. 

Scooter verses Sulky. Which one wins? 

I love, love, LOVE, my sulky.  Did I mention that I love my sulky? The scooter is fun, and we go faster on the scooter.  But for me, being an old lady, it can be a little scary at times.  You have to balance, steer, watch out for the line, watch out for roots and rocks and holes, and if you are moving fast, you need quick reactions.  The sulky is much more refined and relaxing. I can sit there and ride, and I actually get to see the countryside, even better than when I am walking with them.  I love it.

Describe a perfect run with your dogs.  

Oh, every run is great as long as no one gets hurt, LOL.  I do like it when they run for a while on the sulky, instead of just trotting.  Because of the hard hitch and the natural spring of the sulky, you feel the motion of the dog, and it's a lot like riding a good horse at a gentle canter when they run.  It's a wonderful feeling.

What is the best advice you have ever been given for mushing? 

Always wear a helmet.

What resources have you used to further your training?

Probably all of them, ha ha ha.   The mushing clinic given by SNDDA (Sierra Nevada Dog Drivers Association) was a big help.  I got to hook Ivy up with a real team.  It taught her a lot.  I have a pic of her hitched up with a dog that ran the Iditarod the year before.  You should see the expression on her face!  Barbara Schaefer, a friend I met at the clinic, was also a big help. 

 The other thing that really helped me was a book by Darlette Rathschen called "Travel at the Speed of Dog".  It's geared specifically to the sulky, but really, its advice is good for any DP vehicle.  It's especially good if you are starting out with one dog and you have no one to help you or a trained dog to run your dog with.  Darlette is also on the Chariots of the Dogs Face Book page, and she is very knowledgeable and generous with her time and advice.

Why do you run your dogs?

Because I have done so many other dog sports, I can honestly say this is the most fun.  I am getting too old to waste my time on things that frustrate me.  Along with age comes wisdom, right? 
Well, I'm just too wise (or maybe just too lazy) to spend a lot of time trying to bend a dog to my will to make it do unnatural things like precision heeling.  Been there, done that. 
This is FUN, and I want to have fun for the time I have left.  And I want my dogs to have fun, too.

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