The Union Recorder

Local Sports

January 25, 2013

Blind NH sled dog thrives with brother's help

JEFFERSON, N.H. — When Gonzo started tripping over his food dish three years ago, no one could explain or stop the Alaskan husky's quickly advancing blindness. But a veterinarian offered some simple advice: "Run this dog."

Gonzo, one of 120 dogs at Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel, was happy to comply. With help from his brother, Poncho, he soon resumed his place pulling a sled all over New Hampshire's North Country to the delight of tourists and his caretakers, who quickly realized that if Gonzo didn't treat his blindness like an obstacle, neither would they. Given the dog's obvious eagerness, he was allowed to continue on as usual.

"Even though he's blind, he still knows when hook-ups are happening. He's still very aware," said kennel manager Ben Morehouse. "When you have a dog such as Gonzo, with such a want and a drive and a desire ... you try it, you hook up, you see what happens."

A frenzy of excited barking engulfs the kennel whenever Morehouse and other staffers haul out a sled. The chosen team is outfitted with harnesses and booties; those left behind scramble onto their doghouse roofs and howl. Gonzo and Poncho are lined up side-by-side, usually toward the back of the eight-member team — "brains to brawn" is how Morehouse describes the order.

"A lot of people say everything about dog sledding is efficiency. Gonzo and Poncho are not the most efficient sled dogs out there. They won't set a speed record, they won't pull the most you've ever seen," Morehouse said. "To be honest, they're probably some of the goofiest dogs you can put in harness. But they're just fun."

Some dogs at the kennel, including Gonzo and Poncho, were born there. But it's also home to what kennel owner Neil Beaulieu calls "second-chance" dogs — former professional sled dogs a bit past their prime — as well as dogs rescued from bad situations.

Text Only
Local Sports
  • State amputee golf tournament this week

    The Milledgeville Country Club will host the Georgia State Amputee Golf Tournament beginning Friday with a shotgun start at 12:30 p.m. for the four-person scramble prior to the individual stroke play portion the following two days.

    July 10, 2014

  • Kalie Todd.jpg Elite Gymnastics posts strong showing at nationals

    Competing on the national stage at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Fla. June 11-15, Elite Gymnastics posted some of its best results in program history at the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Gymnastics National Championship.

    July 9, 2014 5 Photos

  • 06-26 Jayla Waller.jpg Former Bravette to play for Georgia College

    One of the most decorated players in Baldwin High School girls’ basketball history, Jayla Waller advanced to the collegiate level competing for Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. this past season as a freshman.

    June 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • 06-21 Ramsey.JPG Amateur golf talent turns pro

    Professional golf is unforgiving and expensive.

    June 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • 06-14 GMC summer basketball.jpg Bulldog basketball busy this summer

    Georgia Military Prep School boys’ basketball coach James Lunsford is notorious for working his players year-round to become better athletes and better students.

    June 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • IMG_2312.JPG Ross a future star

    The numbers speak loudly for David Ross Jr.

    June 11, 2014 5 Photos

  • 06-06 Blackbelt.jpg Mother-daughter combo make history at local karate studio

    History was made on Thursday, May 22 at Drouillard’s Karate Studio, as the school’s first mother-daughter combination in Mary Beth and Lindsey Atkinson tested and achieved the pinnacle black belt status on the same night.

    June 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_1061.JPG Youth explore tennis during GC camp

    Georgia College's tennis courts appeared to be a busy place on Wednesday afternoon.

    June 5, 2014 3 Photos

  • coach k camp.JPG Coach K's Soccer Camp kicks off with sweat

    Kids attending Coach K's Soccer Camp get their cleats dirty day one.

    June 3, 2014 3 Photos

  • 05-31 Cody Miller 3.JPG Miller’s versatility boosted Trojans this season

    Representing the John Milledge Academy baseball team well this spring, junior Cody Miller proved versatility is a key ingredient at the high school level as he led his team offensively and in pitching, earning him 2014 All-County Player of the Year honors.

    June 1, 2014 1 Photo