Some of the events at Winterfest are for the dogs… in a good way.
The Jim Lodbell Weight Pull — by Iron Dog — held Saturday and Sunday featured more than 15 dogs giving it their all.
Each dog was weighed in, put into a special harness, and hooked to a sled. Then, they were asked to pull that sled — with weight piled on it — down a short, snowy track.
One of those dogs was a 3-year-old sheepadoodle from Warren.
I have been hooked to Rocket enough to know that he has no trouble making 200-plus pounds go where he wants it to go. I’ve seen him launch humans through the air and drag them through grass and snow.
I thought it would be fun and informative to get some details on just how strong he is.
Four of us took Rocket to Chapman State Park for the event.
We didn’t know what to expect. The bets were: 1. pulling the sled like he pulls people; 2. sniffing out the area because there had been so many other dogs there and not even trying; and 3. urinating on everything and not even trying. (Urinating on the track is discouraged — too distracting to the dogs who pull later.)
He was a good boy on the way through the park, pleasantly greeting the many other dogs around.
When we got to the weight pull area, he was curious, but a little hesitant. There were many dogs — including a whole truck-load from Maryland — and a lot of barking.
I introduced myself, I had spoken with Jenna Starr of Iron Dog on the phone, but we had not met in person.
I signed two forms, paid the entry fee, and took Rocket to the scale.
It was slippery and it took several tries to get my energetic (and not graceful) sheepadoodle fully on the platform.
He had put on some weight – the scale tipped at 80 pounds — right at the top of a weight category.
Starr expertly strapped him into the harness and we walked him to the sled.
It didn’t occur to me that Rocket would pull and it wouldn’t work. He is a very strong dog. But that’s how it started.
He jumped forward a little, then turned around to see what was going on when he didn’t move.
With some coaxing — and some ‘assistance’ from the back of the sled — Rocket got the load moving. Once it was under way, he had no problem keeping it going. He wasn’t in any rush, but he got the weight — 480 pounds — down the short track.
That was a practice round. He got to try again. I didn’t want to take time away from the serious competitors — and I had other work responsibilities for Winterfest – so we had him go again right away.
He was less confused this time – no surprise that something heavy was holding him back — but still needed some help.
According to the results, Rocket officially pulled 480 pounds in a time of 9.15 seconds — good enough for second in the “Novice: 71 to 80 pounds” category.
To give that some comparison — on Sunday, two dogs smaller than Rocket pulled sleds bearing over 1,200 pounds in nine to 11 seconds.
The only other local entrant in the competition — Kai, with Kim Flatt, was in the 91-100 pound class. He pulled 680 pounds in 8.00 seconds.
It was a lot of fun. Rocket seemed to enjoy it, but it’s hard to tell, he seems to enjoy everything.
We might give it another shot next year.
THE RESULTS (FROM IRON DOG)
First: Kepler (Baltimore, Md.) — 730 pounds in 7.97 seconds.
First: Kepler — 1,256 pounds in 10.92 seconds.
First: JoJo (Knoxville, Md.) — 730 pounds in 5.91 seconds;
Second: Reason (Adamstown, Md.) — 380 pounts in 8.98 seconds; and
Third: Hellga (Knoxville) — 230 pounds in 4.53 seconds.
First: JoJo — 1,206 pounds in 10.92 seconds;
Second: Reason — 430 pounds in 5.38 seconds; and
Third: Hellga — 280 pounds in 4.65 seconds.
First: Xena (Knoxville) — 330 pounds in 7.69 seconds; and
Second: Pearl (Knoxville) — 230 pounds in 16.92 seconds.
First: Xena — 330 pounds in 5.81 seconds; and
Second: Pearl — 280 pounds in 10.13 seconds.
First: Xela (Knoxville) — 730 pounds in 9.50 seconds;
Second: Kai (Warren) — 680 pounds in 8.00 seconds;
Third: Lamara (Knoxville) — 430 pounds in 4.44 seconds; and
Fourth: Mysty (Knoxville) — 130 pounds in 12.75 seconds.
First: Xela — 830 pounds in 6.32 seconds;
Second: Lamara — 630 pounds in 25.50 seconds; and
Third: Mysty– 130 pounds in 8.69 seconds.
First: Dezzy (Knoxville) — 780 pounds in 5.22 seconds.
First: Dezzy — 1,256 pounds in 7.35 seconds.
Novice 71-80 pounds
First: Carson (Butler) — 580 pounds in 7.03 seconds;
Second: Rocket (Warren) — 480 pounds in 9.15 seconds; and
Third: Gunner (New Castle) — 430 pounds in 19.56 seconds.
First: Gunner — 280 pounds in 16.25 seconds.
Novice 81-90 pounds
First: Wakanda (Salysburg) — 730 pounds in 7.07 seconds.
First: Louis (Pittsburgh) — 330 pounds in 4.41 seconds.