We are soo excited for you to meet our family!!! We have now acquired 13 dogs.
Greenlandic dogs are scarcer now, as the Inuit hunter is slowly becoming a thing of the past. This town used to have over 1000 dogs and only has a fraction of that now. The Inuit hunters that Lonnie knew from 20 years ago are getting older and slowly retiring, few of the younger generation are taking it up. Switching from hunting to fishing - choosing snowmobiles over sled dogs.
Our dogs came from a couple of different owners who are getting older and had to make the big decision to move on from running dogs. It's a loss of their identity - being a hunter is who they are. In fact, there was no Inuktun word for "man" when a boy was born, he was a hunter. It's bittersweet really - akin to older folks losing their driving license; their independence to get around easily and on their own whim. The dogs were not being run much and needed some fattening up, so we've been doing just that. LOTS of food and fat and now some training runs. We will have them ready for the big journey north on March 8th! (Photo above by Hans Jensen where Lonnie seals the deal for the purchase of some dogs from Paulus Simigaq.)
We expected some major fights on the first outing. When new dogs all get put together to run for the first time it can get really nasty. Well... turns out we have a great team! We have a couple of younger dogs who are still getting the hang of it, really cute to see them get tangled in a million creative ways. A few close friends and family opted to support the project by sponsoring a dog via Kickstarter. After sending us their dog name and preferred character attributes, we were able to match them up perfectly. We are so thankful to have you along the journey with us! Without further ado, here are the superstars of the North! We are proud of these dogs, they all have so much love and excitement to share.
That's his natural temporary name too... yep, he's our class bully. Aggressive and dominant. Growls and leaps. STRONG and big. We really had to keep an eye on him that first run, we were afraid he'd pick a fight with a few but turns out all was okay. Still, though, we are on watch. He's a good dog when he's working, we just have to work to keep portions fair when we are feeding!
Scout is our tallest and wisest, most experienced dog. So far, he's a candidate for the lead dog position. He's the one who recognizes and acts upon the commands for turning left, right, and stopping. The others follow his example, he's teaching the team. Scout is keeping his original harness because it fits him so well. He's a little sleepy in this picture, he worked hard on our first run! I gotta get a better picture of Scout ;) Jon, Scout is a dog you can be proud of! He's got grit and tenacity for sure!
Meet Charley II. Charley is one of our most easy-going dogs, and hasn't really attracted much attention - that is a good thing. It means he's not bullying, he plays nice at feeding time, he runs well, and never gets tangled. He's the one we can just rely on to be okay! Wish we had more like Charley II! Eldon, you would approve of Charley II - we've no doubt!
Midnight was a late addition. He's brother to Blacky below - quite obviously. We can't wait to see how they run together. Today will be their first run reunited. Midnight has energy, he is often scratching the snow... primed to get running!
Jumpy Jumpy is one of the females on the team. Guess what... she's jumpy. We gave her that name, but reserve the right to change it as we see more of her personality and we train her not to jump so much. She's got boundless energy, always tugging at her line - a real wild one! Turns out those characteristics make for a wonderful sled dog - she pulled fervently and never let up. Yay for Jumpy!
That's his temporary name for now. Blacky looks like a wolf. He's aloof and stays back. He wouldn't let any of us get near at first, clearly abused in the past. After a week of gentle talking, just one little soft stroke at a time... he's now come around. Even when we couldn't approach him, he still pounced up and down so playfully and happily in the distance upon our presence, we knew he wanted to be part of the group, but just needed a little reassurance. He's regal in his stare. Look forward to seeing what he develops to be...
Fritz is truly unique. His colour, his small frame, his gentle demeanour, a total cuddle bug! He's a puppy. We think it might have been his first-ever run. Oh gosh... it was hit or miss for him that day - he wasn't too sure what was going on. Sometimes he ran sideways distracted by something else, often got snagged on ice blocks - we had a really close call with Fritz. But he made it! and by the end of the run, he was running along with the others. He sometimes loses interest, ends up running backward (which is really hilarious to see), but figures it out. He sure makes us laugh. Fritz Theatre, you have a special little gem!
Meet Jack. He's our only dog with a little reddish/brown fur cap - super stylish! Jack is strong-willed - a resilient one for sure. Jack is named in honour of my uncle Jack, a hard-working and super funny guy. He's fighting for his life right now... we feel a calm beauty in Jack's unwavering determination.
Max is a really beautiful dog. Serene but his little bent-over ear flopping can't help but make you smile. Max is strong and knows what he's doing - one of the more experienced additions to our team. We already know we can count on him! Elke und Jürge, we've no doubt Max will be resilient on our toughest days.
Update... we have just recently realized that Max is actually a female!!! I don't know how we missed that, but she sure is! On heck of a strong female dog she is.
This dog is gorgeous and strong. He's a later addition to the team and is one of the fittest dogs we have at this point. When Guster pulls... we feel it! All pictures of Guster are great - he's a real charmer! We can tell he's smart and he carries a calm demeanor despite his clear eagerness to get up and go! Jane, you would love Guster - he sure has a presence on the team!
Jasper & Theo Mitch, check out your two dogs! Theo is gorgeous. Jasper is big and strong. They are some of the healthier dogs we have. Theo is young, so he's still trying to figure out the pulling thing, sometimes his line is slack, which leads to it getting snagged on ice blocks. That can be deadly if he gets run over by the sled or choked as we move forward. He'll figure it out! Jasper had to have a harness change as he's gaining weight nicely. Some pics show him in a red harness, then in a black harness. He's got drive and determination shining through strongly.
Peter, meet Shila. She's the third female on the team. She was a perfect "Shila" - which means flame - for the colour of her reddish fur. It's not easy to be a female on these teams, but she holds her own. She sure gets a lot of attention. She's good, we don't have to worry about who gets tied up with Shila, seems to get along with all.
Photo: Lonnie coming in from the inaugural first run with the team - was a very special day for all!
That's it for now... we may get a couple more, it all depends how these dogs work together and how strong and experienced they are. We take them on a real extended 3-day outing soon and that will tell us a lot!
Photos: Josefin Kuschela