ROLLERBLADING WITH MALAMUTES
What is it about human nature that makes us do certain things without really thinking it through? Is it a genetic thing or a male or female thing?
I like to think that it happens to everyone at some point in their life but then again, I’m quite familiar with what I call “Audrey moments.” These are moments I’ve experienced throughout my life where in the midst of something I’ve decided to do, I actually get a lightning bolt realization that maybe this wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done.
I have literally heard the words “I’m so totally screwed” in my head. I’ve gone so far as to say them out loud just to make sure I heard them but guess what – that didn’t deter me from going on to the next Audrey moment.
Here’s a classic Audrey moment I won’t be forgetting any time soon!
Podcast Link on PodBean
You can listen to my ad lib audio standup routine on my experience rollerblading with malamutes by connecting here to Podbean.com for the podcast~
This is how it could have gone! Way to behave, Caspian!
Anyone who knows me knows that I love dogs. I can’t help it. I rescue dogs, I think about their well being and I try to do whatever I can to make their life visit with me a good one. I’ve had a lot of dogs over the years as I seem to be a magnet for the throwaways but one dog will always live in my heart as one of my favorites….my Kodi boy.
Kodi was part malamute and because of him, I started on my journey with malamutes. I raised him from 6 weeks old and he was a handful. He was more than active. He was pure mischief but in his defense, he had 2 old dogs he was trying desperately to engage with who wouldn’t give him the time of day. Thinking about it and feeling that there must be some solution to his boredom, I got another malamute when one of my older dogs passed on. This malamute happened to be a rescued and abused malamute. At the recommendation of the gal who came to interview me and check out the new surroundings, the idea of running malamutes to keep them happy and healthy was born.
So…now I have 2 malamutes and I know relatively little about training much less actually running malamutes. After some more advice from my now mentor, Carmen, I do some research taking her advice and find that it’s not all that hard to run malamutes. All you need is a scooter, something called a towline, and a couple of dog harnesses. What could be simpler? People are doing it all over – it’s called urban mushing!
I talked my husband Bob into going with me to a pulling “clinic” and of course, as I knew they would, my 2 dogs took to it like ducks to water. They pulled a tire across the field several times just to prove their expertise and there was no doubt in my mind that this was just the thing for my dogs.
Without a hesitation, I went home, did some more research, called up and ordered a mountain bike/kick scooter. It was the Diggler scooter, advertised appropriately as a dog scooter. I measured them for harnesses, got the towline and the harnesses from a local outfitter, and all I had to do was sit back and wait for the scooter to arrive.
Anyone who knows me will attest to this fact also – I am NOT a patient person. I just can’t do it! As hard as I try to see the bigger picture, in my zeal to get on with things, I get more than a little impatient. Days went by which turned into a week or so and still no scooter. “How long does it take to make a scooter?” I asked Bob every day? What are they doing…knitting the bloody thing?”
He in his patient way would just shake his head and go about his business. “Patience is a virtue, Audrey – you’d do well to remember that once in a while” – falling on deaf ears as I stomped from the room.
Well, after about 2 weeks of waiting patiently (hmmpf) for the scooter to arrive, I’d just about lost what little patience I had. I was anxious to get started – NOW! I had the dogs trained after all!! I knew that they could do it – I had the equipment – all except the stupid scooter! What was I supposed to do in the meantime – just sit around hoping for the scooter to arrive? What if it never came?!
As I ruminated on these things and became progressively more agitated in having to wait to get out and about with the dogs, I came up with a brilliant idea – actually several brilliant ideas! I didn’t need to wait for any stupid scooter to arrive. I had the pieces I needed after all; I had the dogs, I had the harnesses, I had the towline…..all I needed to do was start running them. But with what? On what?
Ah ha! The light bulb went on as I remembered that my daughter had left her roller blades in our attic. She had wanted to store some stuff with us and that just happened to be one of the items! How fantastic! The fact that we had feet that were exactly the same size – even more perfect! See….it was meant to be! Now how to go about it.
I thought about it long and hard – probably about 10 minutes. I decided I didn’t want to spoil this with any lectures or admonitions not to do this so I conveniently decided to eliminate the part about telling Bob – or anyone for that matter – what I intended to do. What did I need them raining on my parade for? I was an adult – well into my 40’s I might add here. I could make up my own mind and do what I wanted to do, right? NO ONE was going to tell me this was a hair-brained scheme and no matter anyhow – I was doing it! I needed to get on with the business of training these dogs and I needed to get it going now!
I waited until Bob had gone to run some errands – what a coincidence~! I assembled all the parts that I would need – the roller blades, the towline, the harnesses and took them all out, meticulously laying them on the driveway to begin the training. At the very last minute, I decided that just maybe there was a small flaw in my plan – should I be harnessing up 2 dogs that weighed almost 200 pounds? Somehow that little realization permeated my excitement-crazed mind and I decided at the very last second that no, indeed, I’d better just train 1 dog at a time and then see how that went. So of course, I picked Kodi because he was bigger and stronger – definitely thought this one through!
Kodi seemed absolutely thrilled to be doing this – he was so excited I could barely contain him, even though he didn’t have a clue what we were doing…somehow I think that might have been true of the other participant as well.
What to tie the tugline on though…..I had decided that I’d use a belt around my waist and attach the tugline to that. That should do the trick! However, of course there was no quick release mechanism, just basically tying me to the towline via a nice huge knot like an umbilical cord~! Brilliant!
I slipped the harness on Kodi, attached him to the other end of the towline, and then sat down to put on the roller blades. Hmmmmm – one very important fact I should mention here is this. I have never put on roller blades in my life. In fact, I knew very little about roller blades. As I sat on the driveway slipping my foot into them though I thought to myself “How hard can it be? I’ve roller skated and ice skated – what kind of moron couldn’t roller blade?”
Wow – they seemed a bit stiff – “What’s up with that – your ankle definitely isn’t going to be moving too much inside one of those puppies,” I thought to myself. “Not much give in these but I guess it’ll all become clear to me once I get up and get going.”
Whew – after wrestling around with those and finally getting them cinched up and ready to go, I stood up. Kodi is in front of me, looking still quite excited by all this for sure – although I could swear now on thinking back on it, he did have a frown on his face. Perhaps he was giving me a mental challenge like “Are you SURE about this?”
Hmpfff – I’m not going to be told what to do by anyone – much less a DOG~! “Of course I know what I’m doing,” I told myself. I’m athletic – I’m coordinated – I’m good at this kind of rugged stuff!
Then I uttered the words I’ll never forget – “Let’s go, Kodi”. Well – dumber words were never spoken. He took off like the hounds of hell were chasing him. I knew I was in trouble when the towline snapped tight between us and I took off like a rolling shot. Who said that roller blades were easy to use? Was that ME back there crowing about how athletic I am?
Ohhh-Myyy-Gawd – We took off down the street and hadn’t even been gone 2 seconds and he was hitting overdrive. He was digging into the pavement like we were running on snow and coming across the finish line at the Iditarod.
I quickly assessed the situation and told myself to remain calm – CALM? Are you CRAZY? I’m flying past houses and cars at the speed of light. How can I stay calm? “Okay – get control of the situation, you idiot” I told myself. “He knows commands and he was an excellent puller. Just tell him to slow down or to stop” – oh yeah – commands……
“Whoa, Kodi, whoa, Kodi – STOPPPP Kodi, slow down, Kodi……..”
“KOOOOOODDDDDIIIII” I screamed with all I was worth. He must have been deafened by the wind tunnel that was caused by the speed he was running at – he was NOT listening. In fact, he was going faster…..”Oh holy mother of GOD what have I done?”
Houses are flying by at an alarming rate – I’m afraid to look to either side for fear of losing my balance. I’m lucky I’m still upright as with that first lurch out of the chute, I thought I was going down on all 4’s or prone on the pavement. I feel like I’m water skiing behind a powerful motorboat – only this guy’s just in 1stgear. I can tell that he’s ratcheting it up a notch and all my screaming isn’t doing a darned bit of good.
I start to flail my arms, I guess hoping for some wind resistance…..not working!!! On he plows as if he is pulling a freight truck….I didn’t think I was that heavy~! He’s really digging now, trying to prove to me I suppose that this is “his thing” and that he can do it well. I look up and much to my further dismay, I see the very busy road up ahead. I have a little bit of time (IF I stay upright that is) before we reach it and I simply HAVE to get this ship under control.
“Think – THINK, you idiot” I chastise myself as I continue barreling down the road. What do you do on roller blades to stop yourself? I knew I’d heard it somewhere and it was just at the fringes of my memory…..”Oh YEAH – now I remember – you put your heel down and you stop that way”…..okay – no time like the present.
Kodi kicks it up to second gear about now and I confidently think to myself “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, pal – wait until I slam on these brakes”…..I put my heel down and wait for us to grind to an abrupt halt. “What the hell’s wrong here?” I squeak out as my heel hits the pavement and proceeds to start smoking? Nothing’s happening!!!!! I’m not stopping – I’m just burning up the heel of the damned roller blade.
“Okay – maybe I got it wrong – maybe you put your TOE down”……zzzzzzzziiiiiitttttt.
More smoke – ah crap – that’s not it either~~~~ I’m still going at the same speed and now probably have no toe or heel left on the blasted roller blades. I’m still going and I’m still trying to apply the brakes. What kind of freaking brakes are these? What are they supposed to stop? Nothing? Or something big like AIR?
I seriously considered putting both toes down or both heels but upon further consideration of that little scenario decided I must have air for brains.
In the next few moments, my life literally flashed before my eyes. I had visions of him running out into the cross street which was heavy with traffic at this time of day and me being pulled into the side of a car, or better yet thrown up on top of one, and then pulled over the other side and road rashed all the way to the next street.
Still applying the brakes and screaming bloody murder at my exuberant dog, I’m convinced I’m going to be dead in just a few moments. “Why oh why didn’t I think this through more carefully,” I was crying to myself! What makes me so mindless of the consequences?
What to do, what to do….tick tock, tick tock. By now I’ve vowed that the dog will be mercilessly trained within an inch of his life if I EVER decide to get on a scooter with him but the most urgent prospect right now was getting him to stop. There was just no way – he was going to run until he ran out of gas – probably NEVER! Even at a limp, I’d be dead because I couldn’t possibly survive crossing that street and I certainly wasn’t getting him to do a U-turn!
It came to me in a flash – I remembered the old Laugh In shows and Arte Johnson riding his bike and suddenly, it became clear to me that this was the only lifesaving measure left to me in this predicament. Come hell or high water, I’d just have to literally throw myself down and suffer the consequences. Better that than be towed out into traffic where there was no hope for either of us.
So as I saw the busy road approaching maybe a half block away, I gathered up my strength and tried to make myself into Arte Johnson. I literally was up one minute and the next throwing myself sideways onto the pavement. There couldn’t have even been any grass – it had to be gravel and pavement. For one brief second, I thought I was going to be towed along right behind him on the pavement but thank GOD he stopped on a dime. The jolt must have made him realize that things weren’t going like they should and he stood looking down at me with a chagrined look on his poor face.
I laid there for a minute, trying to assess the damage – some gravel in my leg and a little bit sore….but not too bad. Lucky for me, when I hit, I stopped the bloody boy from dragging me any further – but now there I lay on my side in the dirt, hoarse from screaming, with the damned roller blades still on my feet. How was I supposed to get up for Pete’s sake?
While I lay there, mortified and seething at my own stupidity, I heard car doors slam and excited voices….people running towards us – “Oh my GOD – are you okay? That was a nasty fall you took there, lady.” Oh perfect – just what I need – witnesses to my insanity.
Kodi was all too eager to have the attention so of course he stood innocently by with a look that said “I don’t know what she’s doing down there – I didn’t do it” while they fawned over him. “What a pretty fellow you are” – (yeah wait ’til we get home, pal – we’ll see how pretty you look then!)
Again, “Miss – are you okay?” Well…. the last time someone called me miss – I don’t even remember when.
“Sure,” I managed from the pavement. “No worries – just training the dog……I do this all the time.”
“Training the dog?” incredulously came from several of the onlookers. “Of course….what does it look like I’m doing”? (other than trying to commit suicide on roller blades)
Well, they helped me up and asked if I needed a ride home. But I decided no, I needed the time to collect my thoughts (and body parts) so waved them on – after I had taken off the roller blades and thrown them as far as I possibly could!
I untied the towline from my belt – just in case Kodi decided he’d like to teach me some more tricks – and painfully limped home in my bare feet.
Could I possibly catch a break? No way – just as I limped up the driveway, Bob turned in and sat watching me as I approached. “You have GOT to be kidding me!” (This is incidentally a phrase that has been aimed at me more than once – I’m pretty used to it.
“Tell me you did NOT take that dog out alone and do something stupid.”
“Okay – I didn’t take the dog out alone and do something stupid.” I kept walking.
“Why are you barefoot and holding the towline and a belt?”
“Just a little running training, Bob – nothing major,” I answered as I limped into the garage and literally threw all the equipment on the floor. Grabbing Kodi by the collar, I quickly divested him of his harness and shoved him none too kindly into the backyard.
Patiently I asked “Can I borrow the car for a minute?” –
He seemed a little puzzled but said “Okay – sure – mind if I go with you?”
I decided to just let him drive and directed him down the street where I’d thrown my daughter’s roller blades. I thought about asking him to run over them a few times – it really would be fun – but on second thought, I couldn’t do it so I painfully got out of the car and stooped to pick up the evil boots.
Tramping back to the car, throwing the roller blades into the car more forcefully than necessary, Bob is shaking his head. “Okay he says – out with it – this is gonna be hilarious~!”
And so ends the tale of how I came to train my malamutes to pull a scooter….Lesson 1 did not go as well as expected and I have never – I repeat NEVER – put on a pair of roller blades since. In fact, if I see them in a store or anyone is out and about with them on skating, I shudder.
Did I learn from this little escapade and learn to train my dogs safely and smartly? You’ll have to be the judge. Another day, another story. It’s hard to keep an impulsive woman down.
YouTube Audio Recording Rollerblading with Malamutes
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