The photo at the top is my beautiful boy George in lead. He looks so pleased with himself, I love that face. Stevie my puppy, also made her debut in lead and honestly out of my new leaders she has shown the most drive. Stevie has this insane need to move forward, the consistent tight tug line and incessant screaming didn't fall away with the new responsibilities of lead. Something ive only seen in one other dog, my sweet Ghost.
Stevie and Ghost have defied logic when it comes to trying a new pup in lead. Where some show uncertainty or shyness, they show confidence and a need to see around the next corner first. They are born leaders. Their training comes in the form of team responsibilities not in boosting their confidence. These two already know in their hearts they can run through anything they may see out on the trail, newer the experience- the better for them. I wish I could bottle that quality to share with future dogs.
Those team responsibilities that they need to learn is a big deal though. Holding out the gangeline so the team doesn't tangle, keeping us moving forward and past oncoming teams are big ones I am going to be working on with them this winter season. So patience, I need to have patience to not just run through the wildness of Alaska with my two equally wild lead dogs but instead give them the proper footing in training to properly lead the team.
All of my dogs have now tried their paw at lead and every dog I raised up has the confidence to move us forward. Incredible. It feels good to know that in any scenario we would be safe, any one of us can lead us safely. This is not necessarily very common that every one in my kennel feels comfortable enough with themselves on the trail to willingly be a lead dog. It could be genetics or luck in what members have joined my family but I do think it has to do with the work we do together. I spend time every single day (back home) loose with these guys. Letting them use their own brains in new situations, listening to mom and learning how to work together. Qualities that I think have translated into confidence in their own skins.
That being said they wouldnt all make perfect command leaders. Each pup would have some quality that would make them either better in lead or futher back in team, I just need to figure out which ones will thrive the most in lead and single them out for this seasons training. Lead is such a nuanced position that the most experience I can give my dogs the better if thats to be their role in our family. Its fun to toy with the idea though that as the years progress I can work with all of them in lead and maybe by the time we have our first pups their going to have a whole family full of teachers for our future leaders.
As it goes now though my thought is currently at these standings and I hope to have an even better idea once we're back home:
Top leaders in-training: Ghost, George, Ridge, Stevie
Second tier leader in-training: Mania, Schnaps
Current co-leads in our back pocket: Fitz, Floki
Kick butt team dog/ leader in non-racing: Axel
Mascots: Pale and Bobo
The levels of the different leaders in training is subject to change over the next month we are here in Juneau. I do plan to focus on Ghost and two more in lead come October- what fun watching these dogs mature and take on new roles! I can't wait to get to fall atv training!