Friday, January 9, 2009

The Incredible Abilities Of Isobel, A Blind Sled Dog

In the frozen climes of Manitoba a remarkable sled dog named Isobel spends the long winters sprinting gleefully across the snow. With her playful personality and keen sense of direction, Isobel is just like her team-mates except for one distinguishing factor: she cannot see. The tenacious Husky lost her vision several years ago after her retinas detached, possibly due to a virus.

Isobel's guardian, Jenafor Ollander, runs an outdoor expedition company and recalls the reaction to Isobel's sudden blindness: "I remember a couple of people mumbling 'What good is a blind sled dog? You should just take her out and shoot her.' And I'm a bit stubborn in nature... and I said, so what if she can't be a sled dog? She's a good dog."

As it turned out, Isobel wasn't ready to retire from racing. She happily returned to the snow and resumed her position pulling the sled with the pack. "That dog ran like you wouldn't believe," said Jenafor. "She ran better than when she had her eyesight."

Since losing her vision, Isobel has even lead the team in tandem with another dog. Isobel's veterinarian, Evan Fisk, isn't surprised by her continued ability to race. "I believe that their senses adapt and they adjust, just like a person. We know that people hone in well on their hearing skills and their sense of vibration and time and distance and smell... dogs become really acute at that," said Dr. Fisk. "When they lose their vision, the rest of their senses kind of take over."

From the shores of Hudson Bay and beyond, Isobel's perseverance has amazed and inspired countless people. It's easy to see why, too! Sled dogs are truly phenomenal creatures, and Isobel's enduring spirit is especially remarkable.

1 comment:

Randall and Co. said...

What a wonderful story! Thanks for posting!