There are more than 50 dogs in the dog yard at the time of writing this post. Some have run to Nome in past Iditarod races. Some have not been to Nome, but have competed in other races and may be included in a future Iditarod team. Here are some of the unique dogs I am currently training. There are many more who I will introduce in later posts.
A little education in sled dog position lingo
The pair of dogs who hold the position immediately in front of the sled are called wheel dogs. Wheel is a position for the bigger, most powerful dogs. Leaders are just that, leaders. They may not be a big, powerful dog, in fact they are often small. Desirable lead dogs show great confidence, listen well and follows verbal commands. Swing dogs are the pair placed immediately behind the leaders. Swing dogs also show strong leader characteristics and help the front pair lead the team. All the other positions are referred to as team positions.
An Iditarod team is made up of 16 dogs. Most all other races, a musher will have up to 12 dogs. The difference of power of a 16 dog team compared to a 12 dog team is remarkably different, which I will tell you about in the Trials and Tribulations posts.
Cosmo is a scrappy dog and he is Mr. Tough Guy. He is always excited to run and loves to play. When he is in his harness, hitched up to the gangline he growls like a "tough guy". He has never done anything aggressive other than growl like a "tough guy". He leaps, spins and barks whenever I come to see him. While Cosmo is not a big dog, he is strong and is great "team" dog.
As you can see from the photo, there is an obvious reason this guy is named Socks. Socks has been on several Iditarod teams. He has a sweet disposition and is always ready to get hitched up for a run. He is vocal when I call him by name and loves to nuzzle and play whenever given the opportunity. Socks best position is wheel, but he has been in lead as well.
Felix is a BIG dog. When I lead Felix from his house to the gangline I am always challenged as he is so very strong. If I do not get his front feet up, off the ground he can easily drag me wherever he wants to go. Felix is a happy dog and if he were a person, he would be the type of guy that would be everyones friend. Felix is a wheel dog and does a great job at it.
When I first met Copper he seemed quiet and reserved. But, now that we have gotten to know each other, he is any thing but that. He is such an affectionate guy and when I kneel down to give him a scratch, he acts as if he cannot get close enough. He puts his head on my shoulder and leans against me with all his weight. Then he changes shoulders and groans in sheer delight as I rub his back and shoulder muscles. Copper is usually the one who leads all 50 + dogs in a daily group howl.
Stonewall Jackson, aka, Stone is a quiet, reserved fellow but don't let that reserved personality trick you into thinking he is not a team player. Stone pulls like a truck and is all muscle, bone and sinew !
He loves one-on-one attention and will practically turn himself inside out when I talk to him and give him a good scratchin'. Stone and Felix are litter mates.
Others who may be introduced at a later time, in no particular order; Shred, Brother, Patsy, General, Rommell, Angus, Straight, Katara, Right Eye, Left Eye, Broker, Benny, Bullseye, Elmo and so many more...