Sunday, 9 September 2007

September 9th, 2007 Isis's Story

Isis is one of Kara and Grover's superhero kids.

In the spring of 2006 I sold Isis, along with Dare (Smiley x Oreo) to a nice woman in Yellowknife, who came to me with some very good references.

Icey was still young and hadn't been harness broke, but given her pedigree, I had nothing but confidence that she would be a good addition to Jo's team down the road.

Imagine my surprise when many months later Jo contacted me and said they were having problems harness breaking her. The problem had begun when running down some pavement that Jo had to travel on to get to their training area and then got magnified from there. I offered some suggestions and told her to keep in touch with me.

After a number of months and trying everything they could think of, Jo, very sadly, contacted me wishing to return Ice. As I always do, I refunded back Jo's purchase price in full and Jo shipped her back down to Edmonton.

Ice settled back into our kennel routine quite easily and we began a calculated long-term approach to re-schooling her attitudes about running in harness. I knew that we realistically only had one shot to change her mind about being a sled dog.  My goal was to make her reliable enough that I could find her a home on a recreational team. Despite being a Grover/Kara kid, I was convinced she just wasn't a 'special' dog.

So, over the course of last fall, Ice got accustom to being on a leash, a drop chain and eventually living on a stake out chain. This spring I finally felt the time was right and hooked her up with a carefully selected team. She balked a bit, but never really showed any indication that she was going to through a 'feet in the air' temper tantrum like she did in Yellowknife.

I ran her a few times with good results before giving her a few months off. Through out the summer Mark and I both started to become rather enchanted with this little piebald gal. Jo had always maintained that she was an absolute sweetheart in their kennel and we were really seeing that here, but I did begin to look for a new home for her.

I offered her to a few folks, but no one was really taken with her, despite her great pedigree and the fact that I was now insisting that was 'something' about her.

When we started running again in July, Ice was right in there with the rest of the crew. She still balked a bit when we crossed or traveled down our gravel road, but otherwise was doing just great on our runs.

Then in the last few weeks she really began to 'find her feet'. Last week she was roaring down the trail, out performing even her star brother, Wolvie. I decided it was time to up the pressure on her and 4 days ago took her on a run up our driveway, which is all gravel. She didn't miss a beat.

This morning I decided to listen to my gut and put the young lady in lead. She was a STAR.

When we hit the driveway I was curious to see what she would do when she had no other dogs pulling her forward. She balked for a second then looked for ways to run off the gravel on the side of the road, but Dasher was blocking that option for her on the right. She tried to swing to the left but because the rest of the team was on the right side of the road, couldn't reach the side of the road. She hesitated for a half second and then hit her harness hard and got back to work.

Watching her traveling hard and fast down the road, driving solidly into her harness was wonderful. I was so proud of her.

She lead a big, fast 14-dog team for over 5 miles before I hit some trail that was above her leader skills and swapped her out for Tess.

Just in case anyone was wondering - she is no longer for sale.


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