Come Gee! Come Haw! – A Sled Dog Ride to Remember

We enjoyed a spectacular morning as a family today. A sled dog ride to commemorate our unit study of the Arctic and the Iditarod. It was truly a wonderful experience and one we will never forget.

The kids had been a little nervous on the drive up to the mountain. They weren’t sure what to expect and didn’t want to be scared. I assured them it wouldn’t be scary…. that it would be similar to me pushing them in the jogging stroller only they would be pulled by dogs instead. This seemed to alleviate their concerns.

We arrived a little early so that we would have an opportunity to get to know the dogs and help with the feeding. When we arrived at the site, the dogs were tied to stakes awaiting their turn to pull the sled. They run anywhere from 1-6 tour runs a day – alternating dog teams for each. There were two teams out pulling sleds and we waited from them to return before they harnessed the dogs for the next two sleds (one for us and one for another family). The dogs were very amicable and enjoyed our caresses. One dog even put his front right paw around another woman’s leg in what resembled a hug as she was petting him.

When the dogs were brought to the tow line, they were lifted up onto their back legs and walked on two legs to the line. I asked the mushers why they did this and they explained that the dogs are strong and anxious… it is one of the first things they are taught when they start working with the dogs. It essentially takes them out of ‘4 wheel drive’ and helps assure the musher isn’t overpowered and so the dog doesn’t take off.

Twelve dogs pulled our sled… I didn’t catch the names of the Team Dogs but the others were as follows:

Lead Dogs: Pepper & Ripples
Swing Dogs: Pele & Echo
Wheel Dogs: Yoda & Joe

It was amazing to see how their personalities and experience had a huge impact on the sled. Both Pele and Echo were essentially puppies (18 and 12 months). Occasionally, Echo would get distracted and would look over his shoulder or get a little tangled in the line.

These are the same dogs that Rachael Scdoris trains with and it was great to essentially meet ‘her family’. Mushing is certainly a lifestyle – but it was nice to take a peak into that way of life, even if just for a couple of hours.Along the trail, Sweetie even asked, “Can we do this again?”

Like all organized tours, they even had a photographer to take our picture. I can’t wait to see them! 🙂

Check out my Squidoo lens The Iditarod: A Homeschool Unit Study for resources and activities to bring this historic race to life for your family.

Learning Nonetheless

The kiddos and I met the COOL group downtown today to attend The Miracle Worker, a theatrical play about Helen Keller. It was an educational experience…. but not in the way you would expect.

When I was in the fourth grade, I remember reading a biography on Helen Keller and was captivated by her story. I started writing my name on my paper in Braille… Mr. Claska, my teacher, said it took him quite a while to figure out whose paper it was. This, of course, inspired me to complete entire assignments in Braille as well. I basically poked tiny holes in my paper using a soft eraser underneath so the hole wouldn’t puncture all the way through the paper… just enough to make a little bump. To accomplish this, I had to write out the dotted alphabet backwards, so when the paper was turned over and positioned correctly, the words would be spelled correctly and thus legible with fingers.

So you can imagine my excitement when I learned that a local theater group would be presenting the play. We borrowed several books from the library and read up on Helen Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan. Sweetie added Helen Keller to her ‘Book of Centuries‘. We were both surprised to learn that she was born in 1880, the same year that we protray at the museum.

Before our arrival, I discussed with the kids my expectations for their behavior. Both insisted that they would remain quiet and seated throughout the performance. I even stooped low and said we’d go out for hot cocoa or ice-cream (their choice) afterwards if they indeed behaved themselves.

I should not have gotten my hopes up for no sooner were we shown our seats and Buddy starts to climb up and down the steps…. walk up the aisles…. investigate the restrooms…. bang on the seats… he just doesn’t sit still and to top it off, continually makes noises throughout the first act. I tried to pacify him with a lollipop but he devoured it in just a few minutes. At one point, he gets his foot caught and twisted between two seats as he is attempting to climb out of my lap and into the vacant seat beside me. He cries in pain. As soon as he calms down, an usher comes up to us and hints that we should probably leave if he can’t settle down. URGH! I decide not to try any longer and we pack up.

I am embarrassed once again (yesterday, his behavior elicted an ‘involuntary vacation‘ from the fitness center). Sweetie was very disappointed herself. I hated that his misdeeds were causing her to miss out on something she has looked forward to doing.

As it was just 10:30, we went to Costco for groceries. On the way home, we made a quick stop at Dairy Queen so Sweetie could get the ice cream treat she had been promised. Buddy was furious that he didn’t get to pick out a treat. When we got home and I proceeded to unbuckle him from his carseat, he kicked me in the chin. He thereby earned himself another timeout – buckled in his seat – as I unloaded the car.

I have had to remind myself that a lesson was learned today. Not the one necessarily planned but a life lesson nonetheless.

I am perplexed. I don’t know exactly how to approach his misbehavior. I’ve been using the same strategies with him as I did with Sweetie. Time-outs just don’t seem to work with him. I’ve tried taking toys away and he actually brings them to me… even his favorites. The Love & Logic strategies I’ve always used do not seem to work as well with him. He is just 2 1/2 years old… I hope it is just a phase.