Sunday, 3 February 2008

February 3, 2008 NorthWapiti's Sir Gallahad - "Surge"

NorthWapiti's Sir Gallahad - "Surge"
December 27, 1998 - February 3rd, 2008
As many of you are aware, Surge had a bout of pneumonia when I was down in Montana in January. Our vets and Kathryn worked tremendously hard on our behalf to bring Surge back to health, but an ironic twist of fate this morning, Surge got overly excited at seeing Tic outside on the deck and collapsed (Surge killed one of our cats at 6 months of age and spent the rest of his life desperately trying to increase that number). Kathryn rushed him to the vet, but he passed away on the drive in.
We are extremely grateful to Kathryn, Gabi and Jocelyn for all they did to help Surge in the last month - especially Kathryn, who moved Surge into the house and treated him with the respect and kindness he so deserved.

It is hard to determine Surge's greatest legacy in our lives. Of course, his remarkable and incredibly promising offspring - Tess, Watt, Charge - and 'The Blacks' he had with Kara earlier this year are a tremendous legacy - but I think his greatest gift to our kennel goes further back then that.
See, we didn't breed Surge (although his parents were both NorthWapiti dogs) - he was a 'stud puppy' - in other words, I took a pick out of his litter in lieu of a stud fee. I met his breeder in Minnesota during my first trip out to train with Jamie Nelson in Togo. Surge was my choice of the litter when I saw them at 3 months of age. I brought him back to Jamie's where he spent his days in one of her puppy pens. After my last chores were done for the day, I'd bring him up to 'the Dog House', we'd share dinner and he'd tag along behind me up to the Bunkhouse when he curl up in my sleeping bag and spent the night.
One day Jamie announced that I was going to ruin him with all this spoiling and that because of that he would never be the top notch sled dog I needed him to be. I shrugged and continued my routine. In fact, once I got back home, he slept at the end of Mark and my bed until the three of us just plain didn't all fit on there anymore.

Surge finished his first Iditarod at 27 months of age - obviously the 'spoiling' had no effect on his performance - and the basis of the 'NorthWapiti' theory of puppy rearing was set. THAT is Surge's greatest legacy in my mind.

Surge was never cute or cuddly - he was strong, powerful and an athlete to the core of his being. I don't even have to close my eyes to picture him in harness outside of Nome on the 2004 Iditarod. Eleven hundred miles of trail had taken no toll on him - it just made him better. His stride was efficient and powerful as a dog's could be. His muscles rippled when he moved and everything about him stated that he was in his element here - doing what he was born to do.

He well may have been one of the greatest athletes that our kennel has ever produced.

Just yesterday I had his amazing young daughter Tess in lead on a training run here in Alaska. Her performance was incredible. I can't help but think that Surge made sure I knew he had left me in good 'paws' before moving on.

We will never forget the things he taught us and the gifts he left us.

Godspeed my friend - you will always own a piece of my heart.


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