Sunday, July 22, 2012

Big Brown's story: this week's featured dog

This week's featured dog doesn't live up to her name at all. See her there, in the picture above, yelling out orders to go? That's Big Brown - BB for short -  and she is neither big or brown. But I didn't name her.

She was named after a race horse, along with her sister, Ruffian (next to her in the above photo) by my good friend, mentor, and horse racing fan, Joann Fortier.

Big Brown at four weeks in 2008
I bought Big Brown and Ruffian from Joann in March of 2009 when they were only 10 months old. She had barely been harness broken with only four runs under her, but from the very minute I met her, I knew she was special. She was clearly very smart, and I loved her outgoing and silly personality. Joann says she gets her silliness from her mom, Odessa.

BB looks at me upside down in her house
Over the last two seasons, I faithfully ran BB in point position, behind the leaders, without thinking much of trying her in lead until this past season. Ruffian was a natural leader, but a little too intense for Yeti, my main leader. Ruffian would bark in his face if he didn't take a turn immediately, and things got to the point where Yeti cowered from Ruffian's intensity.

So, on a whim, I put BB up front with Yeti one training run early last fall. BB looked so small in her 40 pound frame next to a hulking Yeti, who is about 65 pounds. But, suddenly, BB had found her birthright.

I blinked my eyes in wonder as I shot this photo last fall in Michigan, BB holding the line taut and strong in lead. How could I have not seen this before? Without hesitation, right from the first time in lead, she shouldered big Yeti into turns the second I called them out. What's more, she kept a naturally fast pace - far faster than Yeti. Suddenly, I had found my natural "crack" leader. Right in my kennel. (For a detailed description of a "crack" leader - as well as other types of lead dogs, click here.)

Navigating a twisty part of the Tahquamenon trail last winter. Big Brown and Ruffian in lead. Photo by Dino Mandoli

Big Brown blossomed in lead last season. At just three years of age, she led every race I competed in.

Munching on a Cliff bar on the second leg of the Midnight Run last season. BB in lead with Yeti. Photo by Dino Mandoli

Big Brown models her new dog jacket at a race in upstate New York

Big Brown is, paws down, one of the most valuable dogs in my kennel. She is a super leader, super sweet, super smart, and doesn't take up much space :)

On the trail in Michigan with Ruffian and Big Brown in lead
I am looking for a sponsor for Big Brown for the 2012/2013 season. Won't you consider sponsoring a dog?

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