Friday, December 02, 2005

Sled dogs

That last post obviously didn't have anything to do with sled dogs. But sled dogs are on my mind this winter. It always happens when there is snow on the ground. This time last year I began my first sled dog runs with my new team. Now the key members of that team are in Alaska with Clint Warnke. Who knows if they will ever race? Jack, Fir and Doppler, each had their draw backs as sled dogs. Otherwise I wouldn't have gotten them. Still, they were some amazing dogs. I think having a small team, allowed me more time to bring out their leadership skills. One thing I learned is that buying a pre-trained leader is somewhat of a myth. Its a handy myth for selling a lead dog, but in reality, it seems to me that dogs lead for their masters. They lead based on the bond that has developed with their master through the training. I never got any of my "lead dogs" that I bought to consistently lead for me.

And when I gave my dogs back to Karen Land after I got divorced they no doubt were not then lead dogs for her. They had far less miles on them than her other dogs and they were used to leading a six dog team not sixteen. A six dog team of racing culls and retirees. So they were sold back to Clint Warnke, who had originally bred them.
But they without a doubt knew Gee from Haw and how to hold out a line. I think their greatest gift to me is the coinfidence of knowing I can train my own lead dogs. Although I only had them a short while, I will never forget this team.

Jack, I think had the most potential. He looks a lot like Joe Runyans famous lead dog "Furlin." He is a medium sized dog, with a thick wolf colorored coat and rippling muscles. Karen Land's mentor, Terry Adkins, a bit of a lengend himself, showed an interest in the dog after I returned him to Karen. But Jack has this annoying habit of getting so excited at hook up that it is nearly impossible to put his harness on. As a small time recreational musher, I simply thought it was funny and a bit annoying. I tried to work on him and break the habit. My solution seemed a bit counter intuitive. I hooked him up first and trained him to hold out the line and began training him to lead. It was the only thing that could channel his boundless enthusiasm.

But to a serious racer with several dozen dogs and not a lot of time to waste, its no laughing matter apparently. So Terry, neutered Jack, to prevent this annoying habit of being passed on, and gave him back to Karen, who sold him to Clint.

Who knows if I will ever see him again? Maybe he will find his way to the iditarod. In my opinion he is a great sled dog. I miss him quite a bit.


Anonymous k9_niseko said...

hi how are you!
good sledding today.

this picture dog is lool like my dog .
she is hybrit walf.

January 18, 2006 at 7:04 PM  
Blogger George Forgan-Smith said...

Interesting... I am still looking for a great alaskan malamute breeders do you know of directory or something?

March 31, 2006 at 6:45 PM  
Blogger George Forgan-Smith said...

Gee I didn't think of that. Have you seen Darksky Kennels where I got my new pup from?

May 2, 2006 at 3:20 AM  

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