If you told me last summer that Hoover would be running lead, I would have laughed at you. Hoover? In lead? No way! She barely pulled! To me, Hoover’s success this season just goes to show how putting time into our dogs and developing each of them individually has really paid off.
First of all, Hoover has great parents. Her mother XENA was a 3 time Iditarod Champion with Lance Mackey. Her dad, PILOT, was an incredible dog who always gave his everything. Great lineage is always a good indicator that a dog will be a good sled dog but it certainly doesn’t guarantee it. Pilot and Xena both led, so seeing Hoover lead really shouldn’t be a surprise, but it is.
And here’s why:
Last year, Hoover was a total flake in training. She would pull and look incredible and then she would stop pulling. She was a dog who habitually had to look around. While her teammates heads were focused on the trail ahead of them, Hoover was bobbing around looking side to side. She was, it often seemed, more interested in the scenery we were passing by and less interested in running.
We thought she was going to flunk out of Sled dog 101. “Maybe we should find her a pet home?” We talked about it on and off. She seemed like she had so much promise.
Why wasn’t this strong, happy female interested in pulling? Was she not having fun?
And then, it seemed, sometime Mid-May something clicked. We hooked Hoover up and she was running. Not just running either — she was pulling hard. Over the winter it seemed, our little catipillar had found her wings.
She loved running. And, more importantly, she excelled at it. In early July I made the decision to hook her up with our tried and true lead dog Zema. Hoover took to the front flawlessly, following Zema’s lead.
Now, she’s run lead half-a-dozen times. Her time up front totals close to about an hour of running time and during that she’s probably had to respond to GEE or HAW nearly 70 times. She’s slowly starting to get it!
We are so excited to see this great dog starting to succeed. She and her sister SHARK will be doing some pretty amazing things for us. Their mom had quite the legacy, we are excited to see the legacy they will create for themselves!
Thanks Hoover! We are glad to have such a quirky dog like you in our kennel.