Sponsored by Chris Garby
Gem Gem! Gem is a fun loving three year old slip of a hound dog, playful and friendly. Gem came to the team as a two year old, arriving at the end of fall training and thus not training with the team until the following year as a three year old. Thanks to the impeccable training of Don and Angel Hibbs, Gem possesses incredible discipline and manners, leaping to her platform and waiting for attention instead of pawing me.
Gem’s first year in the team she quietly showed she’s got what it takes to lead and be a racing dog. It was early in September when Gem first led the team, with a confident charge forward, nary a glance over her shoulder. While Gem took to leadership well, in her first year racing there were a lot of other things she had to learn: pacing herself, sleeping in straw, snacking on the trail, the communicative work between musher and dogs to manage and care for injuries and feet. Also, as Gem grew more confident in leadership, she started challenging her co-leaders in taking commands. More than a few times, Gem insisted on going the wrong way, and it took a few tries for Aurora or Ariel to correct her.
Gem made her way onto the Beargrease team, running in point just behind the leaders for the entire race. Her attitude was high and her work ethic strong. Her love of treats has always translated to a love of snacking on the trail, and yet the one thing that she persistently refuses to do is sleep in straw, preferring to sit upright and doze. Gem was unfazed by the crowds, the photographers, the noise and chaos of checkpoints, and also unfazed by the cold, her tongue turning her entire face white with frost.
As my errors in team management resulted in injuries to key dogs like Aurora and Ariel, Gem rose to the front out of necessity. Halfway through the first leg of the Can Am 250, Gem moved to lead and stayed there throughout the remainder of the race. Gem is tough, but it was a lot to ask of her, but she took on that race with everything she had and then some, charging into turns, checkpoints, and up hills. I did not expect the crux of that race to come down to Gem, but it did. Gem gave everything she had, as the 'senior' leader, when it came down to her. When we reached the end of our race, on the trail, Gem climbed into my lap in understanding. Thank you, Gem.
Gem earned her name as a puppy, where Don and Angel knew she was a special dog, that indeed she would be a ‘Gem.’
Can Am 250 (Leader)