Dog Report by K.C. Lax, 1975
'Here are a few notes on the care and the handling of the dogs...Because so many people will be driving them, as opposed to one team to one doggy man, it is essential that the commands be standardized. The commands that we use, and to which they now respond, are:
"Are you ready?" - at which point they will start moving, and as soon as they move say...
"Yea" - They will eventually just respond to the Yea. It should sound like a command, positive.
Should they fail to respond ot the commands, reiterate the command "are you ready" but in a very positive,almost querulous tone of voice.
"Irrrrrrrrrra" - long drawn out command for turning LEFT. If the dogs do not respond immediately and turn left, then don't just keep repeating the command, because they'll just stop listening to you. After a couple of attempts to get them to turn left, stop them ("Aaaaah now"), walk up to them calmly, and move them over in the direction you wish them to go, repeating the command as you move them. Don't frighten them, don't pull them over too harshly and don't let them slide out of their harnesses. Do not chastise them at this stage. They will most likely shoot off like the clappers in the new direction; if they return to their previous course, then stop them and repeat the process. You may have to do this several times before they get the message and understand what it is that you require them to do. Even after you get to know them really well (and I've run them about a thousand miles) they will still act dumb sometimes.
"Auk. Auk. Auk. Auk" - the command for turning right. The pitch of the voice should rise with each successive Auk. Same procedure as for turning left if they do not respond.
"Aaaaaaaaaah now" - the command to stop. This is a very long drawn out command (about 3 seconds of AAAAAh if you see what I mean). It should be a very soothing sound.
"Yes.Yes." - this command covers a multitude of things, and its meaning varies greatly with the tone and severity of the command.
"Wheat" -is used as a term of admonition and is always an "angry" command and should sound severe, loud and threatening.
If you see that they are going to stop anyway, regardless of what you are going to say (hopefully not too often) then give them the command to stop anyway, let them have their sniff, and the inevitable urination, and then give them the command to get them going again...
Until you really know the dogs really well do not chastise them physically. A sharp tone is sufficient. The word "No" SHOUTED will stop them doing almost anything. Never lose your temper with them, they don't deserve your wrath and it will be your own incompetence ninety nine times out of a hundred that has led to the misunderstanding. In no case must you chastise the dog after a misdemeanour, you must actually catch him perpetrating the mischief...
They are flesh and blood, not furry skidoos. it is essential that they know you, know your smell and know your behaviour. It is doubly important that you know them well enough to appreciate when they are a bit "off", or fed up, or raring to go. You must not mistake their desire to have their bellies tickled as lack of interest in work. It is quite common for them to lie on their backs to have their bellies tickled before starting work. This is not an endearing trait in a working dog, but the die had already been cast before I started to drive them. I have tried to cure them of this habit but without success and I would recommend them that you humour them on this matter. As soon as you have made the necessary overtures and got their harnesses on, then it is all business from then on...
The dogs will always welcome visitors to the spans, it helps relieve their monotony, and it helps them become acquainted with people. They like to see everyone....When you have finished running them make a fuss of them before you put them on their spans and give them a quick once over for bangs, scratches and the like ( they are less frisky after a run).
If you treat them as though they have the mentality of an eight year old child then your judgements will be tempered correctly. Don't assume they are cleverer than they actually are, and don't assume that they are always wilfully disobeying you, somethimes they just don't understand what it is that you want them to do. Remember too, that objects on the bondu that are obvious to you, may not be significant, or even visible from a dog's eye view...
If you feel that more weight can be tolerated (in the summer) then take dog nutty and not extra manfood goodies. As Amundsen said "It was dog first, and dogs last with us. They were always uppermost in our minds, and nothing was too much trouble for them."
As soon as it is too dark to run the dogs very much, then it is time to bring them inside. Another factor of course is the cold. Once it is consistently below -45 degrees Celsius then it is time to bring them in...They are well accustomed to clambering in and out of the tunnel and quite enjoy it (watch he doesn't drag you down with him). The best plot is to bring them in one at a time...It is hard work looking after the dogs through the winter. It is essential that they are kept clean, fresh and happy. It is vital that they get plenty of fresh snow every day and the the kennels are swobbed daily. The technique that I used was to put a board across the shaft so that they couldn't wander around the passageway and then I shovelled all the dirty snow out of the kennels and threw it to the floor of the shaft. Then I let the dogs off so that they could have their daily crap on the old snow. They have become accustomed to this routine and will wait for my arrival and subsequent shovelling, before having a crap...
About 7 lbs of seal (excluding weight of bone) every other day per dog. If he has not finished his old piece, then remove it and save it for a rainy day. It seems that sometimes they just get fed up with one particular piece of meat... '