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Working Dog Title for Aus Ch. Satinka
by Daniel Ciguenza - On Saturday 26th June, Satinka, now known as Aus Ch. Bordalaska Runnin On Ice WTD, completed the last leg of her AMCNSW Inc. Working Title. Racing in the 2004 Siberian Express Sled Dog Sprint 2-Dog class, Satinka completed the race in the required time to qualify her for a WTD.
Satinka's story is one of success against all odds. Her campaign for a WTD began at the age of 2 with the 2001 Siberian Express Sled Dog Sprint. While not being the required distance to qualify for a leg of the WTD, this race proved to be a great learning experience for her and I. Later that year, Satinka competed in the AMCNSW Southern Highlands Freight Run 1-Dog class covering 2 heats of 7.8km. With an average speed of 15.86 and 17.00 km/h, Satinka had completed her first two legs towards her WTD. She continued competing in races throughout the Winter of 2001 and introduced Mojo to the exhiliration that is sled dog running. They teamed up for Mojo's first Sled Dog race and were placed 2nd Malamute team in the 2-Dog class at the Sydney Sled Dog Shield.

The offseason of 2001-2002 proved to be a disasterous one for Satinka. Forced to endure a debarking operation, Satinka did not recover as well as was hoped. Throughout 2002, Satinka increasingly suffered shortness of breath and could hardly spend 5 minutes wrestling with playmate, Mojo before having to retire to her shady kennel for a rest. Two failed attempts at fixing the problems - caused by the build up of too much scar tissue around her airways - saw Olivia and I almost give up hope that Satinka would one day be able to enjoy life as a sled dog, running around and playing with Mojo. The approaching hot Australian summer of 2003-2004 was proving to be the worst for Satinka. Unseasonal early high temperatures meant Satinka was confined to an air-conditioned room just to be able to survive the hostest parts of day. Olivia and I finally decided that something else needed to be done. Specialist advice was sought and Satinka was to undergo her fourth operation in 2 years.

After two weeks of absolute silent recovery, we both noticed a big difference. Satinka could now sneak up behind us and steal a cookie without being heard. This revelation brought tears of joy to our eyes. After two months Satinka was retrieving tennis balls for 30 minutes without retiring and her playtime with Mojo extended to hours on end. That is when we decided to pursue Satinka's Working Title. She deserved it. A training track was established on an adjoining reserve allowing Satinka and Mojo to train for the upcoming Winter of 2004. In the months leading up to Satinka's final assault on the Working Title, we were running 20km per week and loving it. We had targetted the 2-Dog class at the Siberian Express Sled Dog Sprint as the race that Satinka would attempt to run her last leg of her WTD. All was going well in training with Mojo and Satinka working well as a team and covering the distance at a good speed. More importantly, Satinka hasn't had any difficulty breathing and her recovery is as quick as Mojo's.

The week before the race, Mojo starts limping and by Thursday - 2 days prior to the race heat - Mojo is walking on 3 legs. What could we do? The 1-Dog class distance wasn't enough for it to be considered a qualifying race. Satinka could easily run the 5.2km 2-Dog course by herself, but the rules stated that the 2-Dog class required 2 dogs to complete the race. On Friday before the race, I was about to request that Satinka be entered in the 1-Dog class. She'd done the work, she loved running, so may as well let her run the 3km course. Fellow Malamute musher, Natalie Church then selflessly offered me the services of one of her dogs, Conner. Satinka had never met Conner so an introduction was in order. It was like love at first sight. Satinka's eyes lit up and the decision was made for us. Satinka and Conner would form a new team allowing Satinka a chance to complete her last leg.

The rest, as they say, "is history". They ran well together and crossed the finish line with an average speed of 15.17km/h giving Satinka her Working Dog Title. Olivia and I would like to very much thank Natalie and Mandy Church for their selfless gesture. Entrusting me with their dog in a team that had never run together before was very generous and says a lot for the type of people they are.

Owned and maintained by Daniel and Olivia Ciguenza