A wide shot of the Andes Mountains with a snow covered Mt. Ausangate in the center. The 2020 team of eleven are hiking in the foreground on a beautiful day.

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A Blind Sled Dog? A Story of Cooperation and Success
17 Feb
2013
By 2020
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By Randy Pierce

Quinn and Randy are not the only blind team hitting the trails in New Hampshire. Gonzo, a blind Alaskan husky, is running with the team thanks in large part to adaptive techniques he developed with his brother Poncho!

When the young dog began tripping over his food dish, a veterinarian soon diagnosed the blindness and more importantly this treatment: “Keep him running!” That is exactly what the great folks at Muddy Paws Kennel decided to do with him and the two run side by side as an effective part of the 8-dog team.

Gonzo leans into his brother’s shoulder, which initially drew a less than enthusiastic response. Poncho soon realized his brother was using the contact to determine speed and turns. With the primary problem understood, the two began to effectively work together demonstrating yet another incredible example of “Ability Awareness.”

Having hiked along trails where travel has packed it sufficiently for increased speed, I’ve personally faced the challenge of blindness causing me to step too close to the edge and thus plummeting into a “post hole.” Sometimes the snow mere inches off the packed sections can drop several feet into soft powdery snow.

When this happened for Gonzo on one deeper trail, Poncho immediately leaned over and took the harness into his jaws and pulled his scrambling brother back onto the trail. Problem-solving on the fly has kept the team running successfully in NH’s North Country.

This reminds me of the benefit of working with others to find the best solutions to keep us in pursuit of our goals and dreams. I am eager for Quinn and me to make the trip north and visit these guys and thank them personally for the joint mission we share!

See Gonzo’s story on Youtube:

References:

CBS coverage

Muddy Paw Kennel & Raft website

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