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Gonzo, the sled dog who lost his sight but kept his job, thanks to a little help from
Gonzo, the sled dog who lost his sight but kept his job, thanks to a little help from his all-seeing brother
Gonzo's blindness spotted three years ago when he tripped over his food
Brother Poncho senses Gonzo needs help and lets him lean into him on runs
He once pulled him out of the snow by gripping his harness with his teeth
Pair are among 120 dogs at home for retired sled dogs and rescue dogs
They take tourists out on tours that range from 20 minutes to overnight
By Sean O'hare
These pictures show how blind Alaskan husky dog Gonzo overcame his handicap to do what he does best - pulling tourists on 50 mile overnight sled tours across New Hampshire's North Country.
With the help of his brother Poncho, who acts as his eyes, Gonzo has kept his place in the eight-dog teams, although admittedly not as a front runner.
Gonzo is one of 120 dogs at Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel in New Hampshire, a temporary home for retired professional sled dogs and rescue dogs.
Together they make up multiple eight-dog sled teams that pull tourists across trails that can run from 20 minutes to 50 miles overnight tours.
Staff first noticed something wasn't quite right with Gonzo when he started to trip over his food.
Once blindness was diagnosed the vet's advised that rather retiring Gonzo he should be kept running and that's exactly what he's been doing.
'Even though he's blind, he still knows when hook-ups are happening. He's still very aware,' Kennel manager Ben Morehouse told Associated Press.
'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.'
Kennel owner Neil Beaulieu described a time when Gonzo's brother Poncho plucked him out of the snow by grabbing his harness with his teeth.
Beaulieu said. 'I've run dogs in a lot of places, all over the country, and it was the most amazing thing I've ever seen sled dogs do.'
Now Gonzo leans into his brother when out on sled runs and uses him to get a feel of the direction and pace of the run.
'At first, he'd be a little bit nervous when Gonzo would lean into him. And then somehow - I don't know how dogs communicate - he learned that he was utilising him to determine where the turns are and how fast they were going. And he would let him do that — he wouldn't get as grumbly as he did in the beginning,' Moorhouse added.
The pair are always partnered together and usually towards the back of the eight-dog team.
While all the other dogs look straight ahead when they run, Gonzo tilts his head to the right, to make the most of his sense of smell and hearing.
Mr Beaulieu got into the dog sledding business after he volunteered to take care of a team of dogs on the 1,000 mile Iditarod dog sled race ten years when the dogs' owner dropped out.
The same owner then said she never wanted to see a sled dog again and he found himself taking them on full time.
He later gained experience helping a friend run sled tours from a hotel before starting his own business.
The money he makes now from running tours is used to find loving homes for sled dogs that sadly so many owners consider unadoptable.
'For myself and the entire crew here, we know that's false. They are very adoptable,' he said.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...#ixzz2J0WLS29z
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