Dogs Gone, That You Just Keep On Missing

Some dogs you just can’t get over missing them, even years after they are gone.  It may happen when walking by a simple spot, that you shared a moment.  Or a day she ran past you to to warn you of a huge rattlesnake on the trail just ahead.  Could have been a moment on a lake in your boat with him curled by your feet as the shadows extend out over the lake.

I have had many great dogs, with each dog having his or her unique special ability.  Louise was one such dog.  She was white, (except for one black ear) that I purchased as a two year old from a veteran distance musher from central Oregon.  Louise had the most determined mental ability to finish a task.  Whether it was busting trail chest high snow or getting over the next mountain through high winds to the next checkpoint….you could always count her.

She first proved herself while we were making our third try at finishing the challenging 350 mile Race To The Sky in Montana.  We were on the last long leg of the return trip with thirty miles to finish.  We approach a fork in the trail that takes you into the White Tail Resort, which on the outbound route we turned into for a mandatory four hour layover. Louise and an older dog named Ghost were in co-lead.  On the return route there was no planned layover rest stop.  It is a straight run of fifty five miles to the finish.  When Ghost saw that turn into the White Tail Resort he figured he had a rest stop coming.  He tried over and over to turn the team onto that trail while I am giving Louise the command to go straight ahead.  Louise, the young leader finally decides that enough is enough and leans hard up the trail just about dragging Ghost from turning off the main trail.  After convincing Ghost there wasn’t going to be any resting there, they charged up over Huckleberry Pass and on down to the finish line.

Later that season I borrowed Louise the the musher that I got her from.  She was going to the 1149 mile Iditarod Sled Dog Race in Alaska.  My friend had a dog pick up and injury and didn’t want to start the race short a dog, so he took Louise out for a trial run and that was it.  She was going to get do do something I never did get to do.  Run the Iditarod.  Half way into the race(600 miles) the two young leaders of the team lost their confidence and wanted to lie down and quit on the trail.  The dog driver remembered what I said about Louise.  “She will run any position on the team and won’t quit on you.”  He decided to give it a try and put Louise in solo lead.  She got the team up and moving and she went on to lead the team to finish the Iditarod!  She had that no quit finish to the end.  At eighteen years old when it got to the point where I had to help her and on her feet up each morning I knew it was  her time move on.

To this day when I get to that spot in the kennel I have to stop and remember her.  The only dog in history that was trained in CA., to run and complete the Iditarod Sled Dog Race !!

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