Wednesday, February 24, 2010
True Heros of the Trail
I am so proud of my dogs for their accomplishment. Without them and their ability and desire, we never would have had this opportunity. I had the privilege of watching pups who were born on the floor next to my bed become accomplished veteran dogs. And not only that, they shone in a team of dogs with more age and experience.
Margarita is a big girl and did an excellent job. She is sponsored by Dotty Webster of Landrum, SC (thank you Dotty). Margarita actually gained weight in the first few days of racing as she is a very effective bowl cleaner. If someone else didn't finish their meal, Margarita made sure the dish was clean and ready to go back in the sled. She had a sore wrist for a few early days on the trail but worked through it and finished with no issues at all. Being a young dog, Margarita got more tired than some of the older dogs, but she never gave up or stopped pulling her weight in the team. I see a bright future for this girl and expect to see her in the lead next year.
Sneezy is the fourth yearling, though he is 5 months older than the other 3. Sneezy led at least 250 miles of the Quest and ran in swing, just behind the leaders, a good portion of the rest of the time. Sneezy was a maintanence-free dog, never needing wrist wraps or shoulder rubs to keep him primed. The only thing Sneezy ever did that wasn't perfect was get in a fight with Lightning coming into the Mile 101 checkpoint because we had to wait 5 minutes to park as we came in behind 2 other teams. They didn't want to stop there at all.
There were also 4 two year olds in the finishing team. They contributed so much to the team and even surprised me at their staying power. Boggle was the 5th two year old who was dropped in Dawson as he was tired and not having fun anymore.
Goon did a great job and lead one of the earlier legs. She was consistent and ran wherever and with whoever I needed her to be. She never needed any maintanence and never missed a beat. Goon was always the first to get up off the straw when it was time to go and never needed any extra encouragement to get out of bed and hit the trail. She learned a lot on this trip and I expect to see her leading the team a lot more in the future.
Margaret led from the start with Shilo. It was a crazy maze of people for the first mile or so. I was really worried that it would back her off. But after the first 100 yards or so of reassuring her, she hit the end of her tug and wove her way right through the middle of the crowd. Margaret was one of my best leaders early on for ice, overflow, and wind blown trails. She is serious about her job in lead and works hard no matter where she is in the team. Margaret so impressed me with her leadership, showing up some of the older dogs, she earned her royal title "Milady Margaret" and will be leading the team to great successes to come.
And lastly, the ladies who deserve the most credit for leadership and staying power:
Whitney is worth her weight in gold. That would be 41.3 pounds of gold. The smallest dogs on the team but most deserving of praise, Whitney led more than half of the race. Despite being tired and sore at times, she always got up when it was time to go and led the team out of camp and down the trail. Once she figured out ice and overflow, she never balked at anything. This little dog gave 200% at all times. Whitney led the team into Whitehorse with Shilo where I heard comments on how amazing it was that they continued to hold the line tight even though they were done and there were people milling about. Even when all the other dogs had got to the truck, Whit and Shilo did their jobs and kept the line tight until their turn to walk to the truck and curl up for a much deserved sleep. I hope to have Whitney in my team for any race I ever do.
So those are the real heros of the story. They are happy to be home and have a different look in their eye. They have been somewhere and done something and are now stronger and wiser. These dogs are my friends and travelling companions and for that I give them my love and care and respect. Now we all get a much needed and deserved break and we're going to go have some fun in the hills of Montana.