Rey can be boiled down to one essential element: this is a sweet and gentle dog. Some dogs express their enthusiasm by jumping or barking... Rey expresses it by leaning into the nearest human and groaning expressively. She is the easiest dog to harness because she is a *contained* Buddy... At least until we pull the hook. Then it's GO time, and go she does! Here's how the past year-- her first mushing season!-- has been for Rey:
Rey was the most affectionate of the four Star Wars Pups from the beginning. She was always ready to jump into someone's arms for a cuddle, or roll over for a belly scratch. As she got older, that didn't change-- She just added running prowess to her sweetness! Her clear intelligence led me to select Rey as an early candidate for a puppy leader. Of the puppy leaders we tried, Rey was one of the best. She has a great forward drive, and a smooth gait. She's the biggest of the three Star Wars sisters (a plot twist, since she was the smallest as a pup!), and looks much like her momma, Pineapple, who was a great leader for Martin Buser at his Happy Trails Kennel.
Rey was one of those dogs last year who was always good. Her one tiny naughtiness is that she, like her brother R2, sometimes channels her excitement of running into chewing, which can result in going through a lot of extra necklines. We'll wait until the end of the team to hook Rey into the line so that she can run as soon as she's connected-- and not chew up lines!
The running partners that Rey worked best with were her sisters, Rogue and Rebel, or any of the older dogs. Sometimes Rey would decide to lord over the youngest pups (Furiosa, Cassidy, and Sundance), given the chance.
Rey runs best on the right side of the line. Some people like to train their dogs to run well on either side of the line, but I prefer to place the dog where they are most comfy, and where they have the best gait. This is the right side for Rey. When she's on the left side, she swings way out, as though trying to reach the familiar comfort of the edge of the trail. She gets to hug the edge of the trail on the right, which seems to make her feel happier.
Like most of the team, Rey works really hard. She loves to run and loves to KEEP GOING! If we stop, she will be one of the first to start barking impatiently. She is only interested in *forward.* Sometimes, due to her chewing proclivities, I won't use a neckline for her (the line that connects dogs' collars to the main line). You might never notice this, because she never turns away from *forward,* or looks backwards. (Eventually we may not use necklines for most of the team, provided they maintain good manners when passing other teams!)
Last year, Rey led perhaps every 10 runs or so. She did a great job, but wasn't yet quite as confident up front as Rebel was. This year, I'm excited to focus on building Rey up into the leader she shows the potential of being.
Letting beautiful Rey lean against you while you pet her is such a connected, warm experience. I'm grateful for this very good girl. I can't wait to go to Nome with her in the next couple of years!