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xRunning With The Stamina Queen
by Roger Dean
Michele and I have had four Norwegian Elkhounds, all special in their own way. Our new addition is Inga, the Stamina Queen. She is the first Elkhound we have had who would run by our sides off leash.
Elkhounds are bred and trained to hunt moose and bear in the Old Country. They range out, keeping track of the handler and bark when prey is found. In their circling fashion, their additional role is to protect the handler from bear, cougars and wolves.
Merv Carlson, the breeder in Grand Forks Canada from whom we got Inga, relates stories about Elkhounds in the wilderness. Most Elkhounds when seeing a bear will stop and quietly watch.
If Merv tells his dogs “Move it” they will silently advance. Their mere presence can tree a bear. Cougars are a different story. If sensing a big cat, the Elkhounds typically rush back to the handler – “Time to exit” they warn.
If you would like to visit Merv’s site www.kamiakennels.com there are a number of videos of Elkhounds in action, inspiring and entertaining to watch. To see his videos in chronological order, visit Merv Carlson You Tube. You can see Inga there in several videos. Lastly, ww.kamiakennels.ca will give you more information on the breeding program.
We got Inga when she was four months old. She had spent two months training in off leash wilderness hiking. Merv relies on older mentor dogs to do the teaching. On the second day we had her, we let Inga free in the forest.
She might disappear into the brush, but she would pop out of the entanglement with a simple voice command. Typically, no command was even necessary, she always checked in and knew where we were at all times.
Someone who had lived in Norway asked why we choose Elkhounds. I admitted maybe it’s force of habit. Then it struck me – they are so authentic, these forest runners.
It’s like having a wolf-like creature who curls up affectionately when the lamps are dimming low. Watching her run at full speed with acrobatic twists and turns over fallen logs is jaw dropping. Your feet come alive, “Let’s run, let’s run”.
Between walking and forest running, she gets in 4-5 miles a day and wants more. Merv jokes that having Inga will add years to our lives and put more life into us.
She will run by my side off leash or with a long leash to control an interval like workout.
On the “go” command, she will range ahead 30-40 feet, the leash hanging loose.
Her slow trot speed is my race pace, so when I need a walk recovery, I call out “slow”, she comes to a walk. If I need to tie my shoe, I’ll say “stay”. She looks back. “Come on slow poke, we have miles to go and adventures to behold.”
As of this report, Inga is six months old, a forest athlete and a therapy dog in the making. I have run off and on competitively for 69 years, chasing ribbons, medals and trophies. Now I chase a curly Elkhound tail. That intrinsic reward fills my heart with joy. I’m falling in love with running all over again.
Elkhounds love to run and hunt. Merv reminded us “Run or hike for 20 minutes, then stop and rest for 20 minutes – it helps with bonding.” Our running and walking promote health, our resting in quiet contemplation helps us bond with ourselves, why we run.