snow ledge

Sheldon–the Sled Dog

Yesterday, I decided to run Sheldon and Joker in lead on my afternoon run. As I watched Sheldon pee on the tire of Theo’s 4 wheeler as we attempted to pass her team (yes, he was peeing on the tire while we were all still moving), I realized that this was not going to be one of his good days. Sheldon is one of those sled dogs that I am absolutely smitten with, while at the same time, he can send my blood pressure sky rocketing quicker than any other being on earth. To say that he is enthusiastic is an understatement. We have actually been working on the command “chill” this summer, in hopes that this winter, when I am dealing with some mishap on trail, I can distract him from slamming and screaming like a possessed crazy dog just long enough to let me sort out said mishap in relative peace. I am not overly optimistic.

Sometimes, while I am replacing a tug line that Sheldon has just chewed in half, or trying to yell over his incessant cheer leading as I attempt to communicate with my lead dogs, I wonder why I am so drawn to this maniac of a fuzzball. Yesterday, it came to me; he reminds me of another maniac fuzzball that I love. The very first dog that I harnessed at White Wilderness was a blue eyed, whirling dervish of a dog named Frank. Frank had more energy than he knew what to do with, and he was more than happy to let it show. My first year, I couldn’t stand him. He drove me bonkers! Then, one day, Peter suggested that I try him in lead…9 years later I still consider him one of the best leaders that I have ever run, as well as one of my best friends. He, Black Bird and I were a team, and when they both retired at 8 years old, they came home to live with my husband and I.

Frank was my shadow. He still drove me bonkers; always moving too fast and knocking things over, trying to take my fingers along with the treats I handed him, but he was also a great companion. He stuck close to me on our romps in the woods, and often walked at my side, bumping my hand with the top of his head as we walked. When we were in the car, he would sometimes sniff my ear as I drove, making me laugh every time, and eventually resulting in an ear scratch for him. He ended up being the perfect dog to bring to work, and was excellent company no matter the task.

Frank died unexpectedly this spring, and I still miss that goofy dog. But, now I understand why I have such a soft spot for the new whirling dervish in my life. As I scratched Sheldon’s belly at the end of that ridiculous run (during which we did finally get in a few good passes), I couldn’t help thinking of another spastic white dog who had somehow stolen my heart, and I decided that maybe I like having a challenge or two in my life.

(Written by Heather)

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