Thursday, December 29, 2011

Introducing Thor

Sometimes things happen pretty quick around here, and sometimes it takes a while.  This is obviously my year to bring in younger dogs with an eye toward future trails.  Just a couple of days ago I was told that Abbie West might have some dogs available.  Abbie's current team all come from Jay Cadzow, originally of Fort Yukon.  The quality of Jay's breedings is unmatched and I doubt anyone in the region has a more thorough knowledge of the village dogs that were once a common part of every bush or rural household. 

When I spoke with Abbie, she recommended Thor as a good match for my team and mushing goals.  Thor is an 11 month old intact male from Jay's best dogs.  He has wonderful tight, tough feet and ran with Abbie's race team through much of her fall training.  Jay has tried him in lead, and when I asked how he did up front Jay's answer was "He always pulled forward."  In such a young dog I think that's a pretty good sign of the trait that Mitch Seavey referred to as "Forward orientation" in his book Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way.  (an excellent read, by the way)

Thor is taller than his siblings, is deep chested, with conformation similar to that I've seen in other working dogs from bush villages in the same region.  He was a bit shy when I first approached him, but not in a fearful sort of way.  He let me examine him all over, lifting his feet readily, letting me press on his spine, lift his lips and so forth.  Although not accustomed to doing so, he took treats readily from my fingertips and did so very nicely. 

The opportunity to purchase a dog of this caliber, from known and highly respected "village" lines doesn't come around every day.  In fact, it doesn't come around very often at all.  I really like what I see in Thor, so now Thor is out in the center of the Stardancer yard, getting acquainted with some of his new kennel mates.  When I checked on him just a few seconds ago he and Midnight's Son were playing with each other while Orion was not so patiently waiting his turn.  I imagine after a couple of feedings young Thor will feel right at home.

Here is a photo I shot of Thor earlier this afternoon, just minutes after he arrived at his new home.  As he gets settled and comfortable I'll try to capture some more images that better display his conformation.

Thor - from the Fort Yukon lines of Jay Cadzow
Even though he was still plenty nervous about his sudden change in lifestyle, he was willing to look at the camera, which is a very hard thing for many dogs to do.  I have a really good feeling about this young boy.

Thor will get a couple of days to settle in to his new digs before I can run him on a team.  I have to run some errands in town tomorrow, and it looks like the cold snap that the weather service has been predicting for the past week is finally arriving, so it may be a few days before I hook him up with a team to show him some of our local trails.  

Every time I talk to Jay I learn something really cool about the dogs of the Fort Yukon region.  Today I learned that some of the smaller dogs from that area were referred to as "River Dogs" as opposed to trail dogs, and were used primarily for fast travel over ice covered rivers.  From the looks of some of the dogs Jay pointed out as being that type, I suspect that Abbie will have no trouble retaining her crown as the fastest women to run the Yukon Quest. 


1 comment:

  1. He has a beautiful, dark face! Looking forward to more photos when he is more relaxed with his new team mates in his new home.