...we wondered why he was given up to the animal shelter as a dud.
Ichabod has always been one of the hardest working dogs in our team. From the first day of his arrival it was clear this guy wanted to be a sled dog, and wanted it bad! From the moment he was hooked into the team he was ready to go, tight on his tug line with energy to spare. With such an intense drive to work we wondered why he was given up to the animal shelter as a dud. It could have been that he wasn't fast enough for his team but here, where speed doesn't matter, he fits right in.
Ichabod was so intense about his job that we have never been able to train him on commands. He only knows the word go and nothing else. Once he is hooked in he just wants to go, and go fast! Even when stopped for breaks on the trail it was clear Ichabod would require lengthy training to learn how to rest so he could continue with us on our longer runs in comfort.
It didn't take long for Ichabod to bond to us after his arrival. From the start he proved to be great off lead and only slightly hesitant to come when called. Loose dropping him with the others before runs became one of his favorite pastimes and we were content knowing that he would never be far. So it came as a great surprise one fall afternoon when he was harnessed up with the others and took off on his own!
The gang-line was stretched out, harnesses laid in place and the four wheeler ready to warm up. As soon as the key was turned and the engine started to rev something clicked in Ichabod's brain and he was off! Since the other dogs were also loose they took Ichabod's cue and the entire team was running off down through the neighborhood!
We quickly unhooked the gang-line and hopped on the the four wheeler in hot pursuit but by the time we made it down the driveway our more reliable dogs were already on their way back with happy smiles on their faces realizing what a mistake they had made. Ichabod was nowhere in sight.
After leading the others back behind the kennel fence we started to make plans for scouting the area by car but by the time the car keys were found here comes Ichabod trotting down the driveway no worse for wear. Having the entire team safely back at home we were able to breathe a sigh of relief and get back to the business at hand letting the dogs out once again, this time with Ichabod tight in hand and the four wheeler key safely in the off position until he was firmly hooked in to the line by his harness and collar!
Ichabod slipped quickly into retirement in 2013 making only casual appearances on the trail a year later. At the time we thought it was only age that was creeping up and slowing him down but deep below the skin cancer was starting to rear its ugly head.
Being the stoic husky that he always was Ichabod showed no pain and retained a healthy attitude and appetite day after day. As soon as a tumor started to show we knew his time was limited. And in 2015, when he told our volunteers that he no longer wanted to spend time walking down the trail we knew it was getting very near the time that we would have to help Ichabod in his transition. Day after day he continued to hang on with a great appetite but as soon as we saw weakness in his legs and a struggle to stand we called on our vet to help us.
It is so tough to loose the old ones, even tougher when they have been here so long. It had been years since we had the pleasure to be in his company on the trail with the team but we still think of him so very often and how much this boy absolutely loved his job. His memory will forever be with us on and off the trail...
Ichabod was featured in Jane Sobel Klonsky's Project Unconditional. To read more about this wonderful senior dog project visit her website at: www.ProjectUnconditional.com.