Friday, November 06, 2009

Every Picture Tells A Story

Note: This is an excerpt from my contributions to the SP Kennel Dog Log

We had just a little sun the other day when Aliy took a visitor out for a ride-along on a training run, so I grabbed a bunch of shots as they were leaving the Kennel. Although at first glance they don't really seem to be very informative, a closer look shows that every picture tells a story. Take a look at this photo and see what you can see.

Besides the obvious facts that there are 14 dogs running and we don't have much snow yet, let's zoom in on a few parts of the photo to see what else we can observe… Especially about the personalities of the individual dogs.

First of all, we've got talented young Dingle in lead with his head down and working very hard to impress his beautiful, leggy co-leader, Petunia. Dingle is a 3-year old who is really coming into his prime. He was one of Allen's main leaders on the Iditarod last year.

Petunia is a 5-year old who is fully in her prime. Although she is an absolute sweetheart around the Kennel, she is always a focused, hard working dog with strong leadership qualities while in harness. She knows she is one of the prettiest sled dogs in the world, and she uses that to her advantage.

Next, we've got the veteran Spicy, an experienced and talented 5-year old, running in swing with Malibu, a 2-year old rising star. True to her nature, Spicy has her head down and her tug line tight with her focus clearly on the trail in front of her.

Malibu has momentarily picked her head up to check me out. While in some cases this can be a sign of lost concentration, here it is a sign of "surveying the scene" that lead dogs must be very good at. Keep your eye on Malibu this season, as she is likely to be an important young member of the team.

Behind them you can see 7-year old Bullet, one of those rare dogs who can -- and will -- do anything you ask her to. Whether it is leading in the most difficult situations, setting the pace while running in swing or being a solid member of the team as she is here, Bullet is a dog who earns everybody's respect. She may be shy and not very affectionate around the Kennel, but Aliy won't go anywhere without her.

Finally, we've got the rest of the team:

Skittles is head up and sassy, and Spot is "in the zone." Behind them you can barely see both solid young Chica and the always hard working and cheerful Teddy. Next is Quito, another of the talented 3-year old crew, and behind her are Tyson and Nutmeg, working hard like good team dogs do.

And who do we have back in wheel position? The last dog on the right is young Bonita, yet another of the solidly developing 3-year olds. The last dog on the left… Well, that's our dear, sweet, dumb girl Happy… No focus, looking off the trail and momentarily "gone mental" as Aliy calls it. If I had to guess, right now she is thinking "Squirrel!"

Every dog is an individual, every team is unique and every picture tells a story!

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