Friday, October 29, 2010

The Sparking Sparky

Sparky and I go a long ways back. We´ve got a lot of history together.
He was raised by his aging mom and his human family, as the only puppy. He was bottle fed. Three long weeks have passed since his dramatic birth, before we could finally relax, nothing was sure before then.

Being the first son of our super dog Buck, the foundation male of our kennel, and the only descendant of the blood of our "B" litter (which I consider our most acomplished litter to-date), of course makes him special. But it also put a plage on his shoulder and gave him really huge shoes (or should I say dog booties? :)) to fill.

Since the very beginning, Sparky was a special puppy and a special dog overall. And needless to say, he also knew it.

He was brilliant at learning any kind of commands and shocked me when he started bringing me toys on command at bare 4,5 weeks of age!!!
Until now, I can take him loose for a walk anywhere I go, he won´t chase animals, and will always stay around. If he runs a bit further, he always makes sure to check up on us, if we follow, and either comes back towards us or waits.

He loves being asigned new challenges and things to figure out.

That of course naturally led me to trying him in lead as a yearling. And he did well, learned a whole bunch of commands at once - such as line out, gee, haw, etc.

But then he got into a rebelious period. He became a macho, being aware of his size and power (he´s probably the strongest dog in our kennel). He realized he can drag the team wherever he wants, if he´s upfront and he thought it was pretty funny to bully his running partner and to shout into his or her face, causing a disgus in the other leaders, until no one wanted to run beside him anymore.

So his wheel and team dog career began.

Then a new period arrived - a common case of "too smart to pull" kind of thing.

And so on the advice and help of my friend Karen Ramstead, we began the "education of a little rebel", resulting in Sparky becomming a bull in the sled dog world.

He became an unseparable part of the main string team. I so much depend on his power and enthusiasm. If we´re going too slow or the energy of the team in an uphill passage isn´t to his liking, Sparky will yell, and jump in his harness up and down, to get the team into the right mode.

In the meantime, Sparky also became one of the sherifs of our pack. Most packs, if given the chance to roam together, have a leader, the alfa animal. Often, it is a female. But in our pack, we have two leaders, both males. Frostie and Sparky take a responsible share in keeping the order and good manners of our entire pack, which counts around 50 dogs.

And so it happened, that one day, when Sparky was 6,5 years old, I put him infront of a 14 dog team. And I had my mouth wide open the entire run. The confidence, the obeying of commands, keeping the team responsibly at the edge of the road, yet using his own head to ease up the team and choosing a nice part of the trail when given the chance.
And correcting the experienced, but stubborn leader beside him, who decided to avoid my command! I remember this only in one of our leaders before - Sparky´s uncle Bering.

Another thing I´ve learned is that Sparky, not being a loper whatsoever, if put upfront of the team, sets and maintains an even speed, comfortable for most of the dogs. It isn´t the fastest pace in the world, but on a longer run, the team never gets tired, trotting comfortably up to 17km/hour on the ATV with resistance of the engine!

Now, all we´re missing is Sparky offspring! And we´ll be sure to work on that sometime soon! :)
I love this dog and I love the bond the two of us have establised over the years. As I mentioned, it already began when he was a newborn, miracle puppy. When he made it against all the odds. His love of life is infectious and it has become impossible to even think of not having him in the team. He sets the spirit of the team high with his constantly good mood.

He´s truely his father´s son, in every single aspect - handsome, well structured, tough, happy, smart, good temperd, healthy, great eater, tough feet, loving and cheerful attitude. But most of all, he reached to his dady´s level of the "dog of my life".

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