JEFFERSON, NH (CBS) – When an Alaskan husky started tripping over his food dish three years ago – no one could explain or stop the sled dog’s quickly advancing blindness. But a veterinarian offered some simple advice: run this dog.
And Gonzo was eager to comply.
Kennel manager Ben Morehouse says, “When you have a dog such as Gonzo, with such a want and a drive and a desire, even though he’s blind, he still knows when hook-ups are happening, he’s still very aware.”
When Gonzo first went blind, his brother didn’t treat him any different. But kennel workers said Poncho later realized his brother needed help and took on the role of guide dog.
“He learned that he was utilizing him to determine where the turns are and how fast they were going,” says Karen Tolin.
Gonzo, who’s now 8-years-old, also uses his hearing and sense of smell to pull a sled all over New Hampshire’s North Country.
Gonzo and Poncho are lined up side-by-side, usually toward the back of the eight-member team.
Once Gonzo was on a trail known for its deep snow and he strayed to the edge. With the team still moving, Poncho reached over to pull his brother out.
“He essentially picked him up out of the powder, and again the team is still moving at this point,” says kennel owner Neil Beulieu. “Picked him up by his harness, threw him back on the trail and just kept going forward and never skipped a beat.”
The dogs are taken on tours which range from 20-minute trips to 50-mile overnighters.
Money from the tours helps support Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel in Jefferson, New Hampshire which also serves as an adoption shelter for 120 rescued and retired sled dogs.