|Gump: Dec 3, 1998 - Sept 2, 2010 : A True Canine Gentleman|
Today I was awakened by a phone call from our handler, Ted Kirby. Ted reported that when he went out to tend to the dogs this morning he found Gump dead on his tether. Gump ate his supper last night with his useful hearty enthusiasm and had joined in with the team's evening song. There were no signs of a struggle so apparently Gump's passing was very sudden.
Gump was a classic village dog, with the fox-like features common to historical "Indian dogs". He saw some tough times in his life, including some starving times from which he was rescued by his original breeders. Not all of his team mates survived that event.
When he came to Loving Companions Animal Rescue, he was still very thin and his coat was dry and ragged. In spite of his experiences and the resulting health issues he was alert and interested in what the humans were doing, and ready to join the party. Gump came home to the Stardancer kennel and recovered his coat and health quickly. Although he was advertised as a lead dog, he really didn't do well up front. His forte' was in swing or team.
He wasn't a hard worker all of the time. In fact, when on flat and easy terrain Gump didn't work much at all. When the terrain turned steep and tough Gump came into his own, slamming into the tug line and doing more than his share to get through the hard spots. It was almost like shifting a truck into a lower gear. Gump worked smart - putting in maximum effort when needed and conserving energy the rest of the time.
Gump's best quality was his personality. I frequently described him as the canine version of a distinguished gentleman. He was unfailingly kind and polite to both humans and dogs. Gump was especially good at sharing his enthusiasm and confidence with shy, anxious dogs or young pups. Introducing a newly rescued dog or a young dog to working in a team was easy with Gump around. We'd just hitch the worried dog next to Gump, and the goofy big gentleman soon convinced the newcomer that running on a sled dog team is THE best thing in the world. Well, the best thing other than eating.
Gump was a good dog. He showed us that kindness wins hearts and minds and showed us that one can indeed survive the most extreme of hardships without becoming cruel or bitter.
I should resist writing this, but I think ol' Gump would appreciate the irony. His passing leaves a hole in the kennel. Actually, it leaves several holes - Gump was also a recreational digger.
See ya later, buddy.