About me...

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Hi! My name is Conor Maguire. I live in Dublin (Ireland) and I want to tell you about my Alaskan Malamutes. Since first reading Jack London's "The call of the wild" when I was 10 or 11 years old, I've been fascinated by everthing outdoor and dog related. (NOTE: Conor can be contacted at IronMountain-Malamutes@hotmail.com ) So, if you wouldn't know an Alaskan Malamute from a Siberian Husky if it drooled all over your face, read on...

... and my dogs

Their names are Kodi and Buck. Kodi is the ‘lead dog’ and is three years old. Buck is a one year old and is learning his commands very fast. Both dogs are very strong and robust, but Kodi is more solid than Buck. Maybe Buck will grow into his skin and fill out as he gets older, but already he is very strong and very fast (for a Malamute). Mals are generally used for their strength and endurance, rather than speed. If you want speed get a Siberian husky ...

COMMANDS: when giving a command to a dog it is essential to be consistent and relatively firm. The dog wants to be told what to do, not asked. The following are the traditional instructions for sled dogs and they seem to work fine:

Left turn is ‘go haw’; right turn is ‘go gee’; straight on is ‘go along’; and most importantly to get them to run I say ‘let’s go’ and to stop them I say ‘whoa’.

The only people who say "mush!" are the folks who roar it at me as I pass them on the streets. They get a great laugh at this ... and I pretend it's the first time I've heard it...! Although dog-sledders are referred to as 'mushers', we never use the word as a command. The word itself is an anglicization of the French word 'marche', which the French trappers once used.

07 July 2008

So who said Alaskan Malamutes don't pull sleds anymore?

OK, so there's not much snow around, but these dogs seem to adapt well to their environment. With so little snow and so much rain (I sometimes think I should have invested in water spaniels!) around we have to make do with wheeled rigs. My own rig is a three-wheeler, built in the UK where the sport is more common than in Ireland. The rig runs on grass (as you can see from the attached video clip, which was shot in the Phoenix Park), on sand or on the roadway. I run my dogs on Dollymount strand when the tide is low and the sand is fairly well packed. If it's too soft the wheels just sink in and make it difficult for the dogs. On evenings when the time just is not available to go for a beach run, I take the dogs for relatively short runs (4 - 6 miles) through Glasnevin, Finglas or Ballymun. If you see me with the dogs in harness feel free to wave or shout a greeting (mush...?) as I pass by. I don't like to stop when running them, so excuse me if I seem rude. The dogs get a little impatient if stopped for anything other than crossing a junction or something similar. They also sometimes turn and tangle the lead lines, which is a hassle. If you have a dog with you, I'd much appreciate if you would give me room to pass. The smaller the dog you have, the more room I'd appreciate. Although Mals are a gentle dog by nature, they still have a hunting instinct and if your toy dog looks like a cat, or a rabbit, or lunch in one form or another, be aware that if it comes inside the bite-range of a Mal, it could have some very sad consequences. The VERY LAST thing I want to see is anyone else's pet either terrified or hurt. Please give me room to pass. I frequently cross to the other side of the road to avoid meeting other dogs, but sometimes its easier for a person walking a single dog on a lead to cross, than it is for me with my two dogs on an 8-foot long lead, with the rig behind. And don't get me started on dogs who are off the lead and come running over, barking and growling... On the other hand, Mals DON'T eat children (or big people!). They are the friendliest dog breed you could come across. The worst they'll do is give a big sloppy lick. Some people like that. Others don't. Because of their friendliness they sometimes 'nose' a hand as they pass people by. If you are wearing head-phones, with the volume up high, and don't hear me calling you as we approach from behind, and you don't hear the dog's bells ringing and the dog touches your hand with his wet nose ... don't hit the roof and certainly don't hit the dogs! We haven't sneaked up on you with the intent of causing a heart attack! One unfortunate lady on Ballymun Road took great fright when Buck nosed her hand in passing. SHE hit the roof. I was very apologetic up to the point where she became abusive. Yes indeed!

1 comment:

Daithai C said...

Not sure who you are taking after here Fangio or Jack London with Buck but the results are impressive!