Today was the first hook up I have ever done without Jacob.
Ever since I got him almost 4 years ago, Jacob has been leading my team in every race and nearly every training run since then. The only time he didn’t run lead is when I was giving him a break from the tough position.
I’ll admit that I was very nervous about not having him on the team this morning. Before, even when he didn’t run lead, he was still on the team so if I had a problem I could always put him back in lead.
Today I didn’t have him at all.
And it showed too, especially during hook up. Jacob was my anchor for the team – I could count on him to hold the gangline out and to keep the dogs looking forward while I hooked them up; something of which Salsa has never been good at. (She was the brains of the operation, knowing gee and haw, while Jacob was the strength and sturdiness.)
Jacob, demonstrating his "lineout" on a training run last winter.
We weren’t 5 minutes into the run this morning when the neighbor’s dogs came charging out of their yard and blew through the team.
Without Jacob to keep the team moving in the right direction, the dogs got confused and tangled.
Before, the dogs wouldn’t even have stopped and we probably would have out run the loose dogs.
To put it plainly, I’m going to miss Jacob very much this year. I always knew he was a good sled dog but now I see how truly amazing he was (they say you don’t know what you have until it’s gone…).
My team running in Kinross last year. This was Char's first race in lead...
I put 100% of my trust in him but now without him, I don’t know what to expect.
I obviously have my work cut out for me this fall. The run today showed me what needs to be worked on…and it’s a pretty long list.
How well my team does this year depends 100% on me and how well I’m able to teach them.
The pressure on me makes my stomach churn. I want my team to do well and if they don’t, that means I’ve failed them in some way.
I have always been afraid of failure; it’s just not an option for me.
When the temperatures get cooler, we’ll be working harder than ever. Char, Jazz and especially Sydney have shown leader potential so I will be working with them one on one teaching them commands and hopefully instilling confidence in them. That’s one thing Jacob will be helping me with.
Once I’ve worked with each dog one on one, I will be hooking them up with Jacob to my bike.
Jacob helping Char learn the ropes of running in front.
He will probably be able to teach them more than I can.
So with that, I want to say thank you, Jacob, for being such a great athlete. It was a pleasure having you on the team and I'm glad you are a part of my life.