...Eddie had shown himself to be a bit of a diva.
Of the many dogs we take in some remain a mystery as to why they were given up, while with dogs like Eddie it only takes a bit of time for us to figure out their quirks. From the very moment of his arrival Eddie was accepted by all the dogs. There was something about him that everyone liked, and we mean EVERYONE! This doesn't happen very often but Eddie is special.
He ate well, never fought, was very mellow and turned out to be the best food bucket cleaner in the yard. Every night after feeding we would leave the bucket within his reach and when we had finished making our second rounds with water, it would be spotless, not a crumb left behind. His personality in the yard was a delight to all but his behavior changed when put in harness.
Like any sled dog at the start up of a run he was very vocal, impatient to go, pulling tight against his harness ready to go. Once the brake was pulled and the dogs were off Eddie seemed to grow confused and was very slow to start. As he pulled here and there it was like he didn't know what to do or just didn't want to work. His behavior before leaving the yard showed us that he really wanted to travel so we were quite stumped as to why his work ethic was so inconsistent.
Since Eddie was so good with people he was a clear choice to go to summer camp in Kantishna working with tourists and running a short loop with his teammates pulling a four wheeler. That summer we didn't hear much about his progress but as fall came around and we scheduled a time to pick him up his handler had a little story to tell. Apparently Eddie had shown himself to be a bit of a diva.
On clear days he would run the track with no issues and come back to the dog yard soaking up all the attention from the tourists as they fawned over him and his beautiful big blue eyes. On the days it rained, the dirt half of the track became soft and wet, a delight to most dogs as they cooled their feet in the mud, but Eddie disliked the sensation. Over and over this scenario would play out on rainy days with no change. Once Eddie hit the soft dirt he would pull back and show disdain for the trail. Then, when the team wound back again to gravel he would pull against his harness as if nothing happened.
Even though he went over the same track time and time again his behavior remained unchanged all summer. We had hoped summer camp might help Eddie become mentally stronger but when the snow came and he was hooked into our team the same behavior presented itself. He was happy to go along and pull when he wanted to but there was something going on in his mind that wasn't quite right.
We tried Eddie in many different positions in the team and found that the place he liked best was in lead but only when he was running behind another team. If he was following the musher ahead he would work his heart out with no issue. Eddie still needs some work to rise over these obstacles and show us what special training he needs. He loves to be out on the trail working away with his friends but there are still miles yet to go to perfect his training. Over the years we will slowly work to build his confidence as he teaches us even more about sled dog behavior and those with special needs.
We have no doubt Eddie is a bit of a diva, that may be what is blocking his mind out on the trail, but we can also see the strong able sled dog he may yet become. Whoever Eddie chooses to be it is certain that he will always attract attention from both dogs and humans alike and will remain the perfect model of good behavior to dogs everywhere.
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